It happened on what would have otherwise been a normal night. The light of the dual moons was all but drowning out the pinpricks of white that were the stars, not that Karkat could notice any of that. He was bathed, instead, in the white-blue wash of light of his husktop. Well, it was a white-blue wash tinted occasionally with streaks of yellow, purple or teal from the text on the screen. Each color was kept separate from the others, bordered by the red cages of their separate Pesterchum windows. These, Karkat was sometimes shocked to realize, were the people that he’d somehow managed to connect to in the last half-cycle. Gamzee always claimed that it was MiRaClEs that brought them together, but Sollux was more pragmatic with their forum-based meeting, and Terezi just did this psychotic laugh whenever Karkat asked her what had made her pick his name at random from a list of the whole of Pesterchum users that had been online that night (but Karkat was certain it was his refusal to broadcast his blood color for all of Alternia to see).
The conversations had died down for some variety of half-offered reasons (got two deal wiith 2ome hiive ii22ue2, KK from Sollux, FL4RP T1M3 from Terezi, and the normal sort of zoning out that Gamzee was prone too), leaving Karkat to stare at his screen and think. It wasn’t something he used to do, back before he’d met them. Sure, he used to think, but mostly it was about his romcoms, or why he had to be so far away from other trolls, or about practicing with his sickles, but now he spent an almost frustrating amount of time thinking about them. His, for lack of a better word, friends. How FUCKING strange was it to think about having friends? Half a cycle ago he’d been completely alone, never having talked to anyone more than once in some random forum or chatroom, never having seen another living being except for his lusus, the mail drone, and the trolls in his movies and shows (if you counted those as real).
The thoughts, like EVERY OTHER FUCKING THING TONIGHT were soon interrupted (and Karkat refused to admit that he was relieved). Just barely audible over the whirr-buzz of his husktop was the high pitched, head-splitting sound of the entrance alarm of his hive. It was the kind of alarm that only got louder with time, and made it impossible to ignore. Most other nights, his lusus would have been the one to answer, way too protective to risk letting Karkat’s secret get out. It was a ridiculous sort of protection, though, because it wasn’t like Karkat meant to get caught showing anything. He’d learned, cycles ago, not to cry around other people, not to get embarrassed, or angry to the point where his face flushed with blood, and definitely not to let anyone see his blood directly. The tears were a diluted color and might (by some FUCKING MIRACLE) be mistaken as another color, and he knew that the red wasn’t so bad under the gray, but it was still telling. But tonight, his lusus wasn’t here, was out hunting or scavenging or whatever that FUCKING BULGE FOR BRAINS did when he wasn’t at the hive. And that meant Karkat would have to answer the door, and not just hide behind his lusus either.
The piercing, screeching alarm was still going, and with a sigh (FUCKING ASSHOLE DRONES DON’T EVEN KNOW HOW TO FUCKING LEAVE A PACKAGE BEHIND), Karkat was pushing away from his desk and heading for the entrance block of his hive. Mail drones didn’t leave until they either had given their deliveries over, or had been left waiting for hours, and since he couldn’t be sure when his lusus would be back, the only way to stop the damn sound before it got loud enough for him to start bleeding from his sound receptors, Karkat was going to have to deal with it.
Only his lusus had been gone for two nights now, and that meant that the hive was a FUCKING MESS. Not because of Karkat leaving things lying around, but because his lusus didn’t tend to tidy in that day before he left on whatever he went off to do. Cleaning always happened after the giant crab monstrosity returned. Carefully Karkat picked his way around the well-spread mess (NO FUCKING PILES OF ANY FUCKING THING IN THIS FUCKING HIVE), moving through first respite, then food, and into the relaxation block. The entrance block was in sight, and the door, when it happened, the thing that would make this a night unlike any other. A sickle left forgotten under an abandoned towel. It was only one of his training sickles, and lacked quite the same edge that he kept on others, but it was late, nearing dawn, and so his shoes had been put aside in anticipation of retiring to his recupricoon.
The pain wasn’t all that bad, even the practice blade sharp enough to cut cleanly, but it was still enough to make him hiss and stumble forward. It only took a glance back over his shoulder to see the smear of red blood left on the towel, on the floor, on his foot. Crimson starkly standing out against an ashen gray.
There was no time to clean up, not with how painfully loud the entrance alarm was getting to be. And what did he really know about how mail drones reacted to no one responding? All he knew he knew from experience. His lusus always opened the door in the end. What if the mail drones investigated the hives that gave no response after a certain amount of time? What if it came in and saw his mutant blood? A mail drone was still a drone, so it might cull him, right? Out of all the times he could make such a FUCKING STUPID mistake, why did it have to be the time his lusus wasn’t there to fix it?
The towel is quickly used to mop up what mutant candy red blood it can before being tossed behind the food preparation surface that his lusus had insisted be included in the hive (FUCKING LUCKY YOUR ARM IS STRONG ENOUGH TO THROW IT THAT FAR), and an old, too-small sign-shirt tied around his foot. That, hopefully, would hide the blood long enough, keep him safe, keep everything secret.
A door opened (SO FUCKING GOOD TO HAVE THAT ENTRANCE ALARM OFF) by shaking hands, eyes widened by too much anxiety meeting the large, spiky black bulk of the mail drone. So far as Karkat can tell, the thing doesn’t even look around, it just holds out the corrugated paper receptacal that surely holds another few romcoms. As soon as Karkat has it in his hands the drone turns, strides a few paces away from the hive door, and throws itself into flight, off to some other duty.
Karkat limps back to his respite block, a trail of brilliant red following in his wake, damning his every breath (as if his every breath wasn’t already damned by the color, and yet he couldn’t give up, was far too scared to give up, or maybe too strong). The shirt around his foot is soaked through, and even knowing that he doesn’t head for his recupricoon. The sopor will burn in the open wound, will get into his blood far worse than it normally did (HE’D START TALKING LIKE THAT FUCKING MORON GAMZEE WITH HIS SHIFTING TEXT, HIS LACK OF ATTENTION, HIS FUCKING MIRACLES). A sopor addled thinkpan would mean being unable to protect himself (AND WHO COULD BE FUCKING SURE THE DRONE REALLY HADN’T SEEN ANYTHING, HADN’T GONE OFF TO REPORT HIM FOR CULLING). Instead of recupricoon, he goes for his desk. Husktop and the sickle lying on top of a Thresh Prince DVD are pulled under the desk with him, and all Karkat can do is huddle up as small as he can under the desk and hope for his lusus to return, for the drone to have seen nothing, for some fucking…
MiRaClEs BrO. mOtHeRfUcKiNg MiRaClEs BeSt BrO.
The purple text (an accusation? a promise? a coincidence?) offers itself to him, setting him to trembling. FUCKING HIGHBLOODED BASTARD DOESN’T EVEN KNOW WHAT FUCKING MIRACLES ARE. MIRACLES ARE SURVIVING TO THE END OF THE DAY. MIRACLES ARE GETTING OUT OF THE CAVERNS WHEN YOU’RE A FUCKING MUTANT. MIRACLES ARE A LUSUS WHO NEVER LET YOU DOWN UNTIL NOW, THE WORST FUCKING TIME OF FUCKING ALL.
None of it gets typed because he’s too afraid of what will get out if he lets his trembling fingers near the keyboard. A confession, a denial, an explanation that he’s A FUCKING COWARD which will mean nothing but make the highblooded nooksniffer suspicious.
YoU tHeRe MoThErFuCkEr? Or YoU tRiPpIn On ThE wIcKeD eLiXiR? AiN’t A tHiNg LiKe It BrO. aIn’T a ThInG.
It’s the SAME THINKPAN ROTTING FUCKING SHIT that it always is from Gamzee, and for some reason it makes it better. Not much better, but better none the less. And Gamzee doesn’t let a lack of response dissuade him either, just keeps going on and on about nothing and everything. About JuGgAlOs and the MiRtHfUl MeSsIaHs and FaYgO and HoRnS and and and and until Karkat isn’t shaking anymore. Goes on long past when the outline of the too strong Alternian sun is shining around the edges of the lightblockers he’d had the presence of mind to pull down hours ago and the shirt wrapped around his foot has dried stiff. And and and and then Karkat’s typing back, cursing at him, the world, the day, everything and anything but what happened that night, and Gamzee just thinks it’s another miracle that he’s back and talking this early. They talk long past when the other names on his Pesterchum list go dim and Karkat’s eyelids are starting to droop. They talk about nothing (EVERYTHING) important, and when Karkat’s finally sure the bleeding’s stopped, that it’s safe to go to his recupricoon, that the mistake wasn’t as bad as he feared, everything seems so small, insignificant next to this utterly ridiculous troll with purple text and a nookrotting typing quirk.
HOW DO YOU FUCKING DO IT?
Do WhAt BrO?
HOW DO YOU FUCKING GET BY WHEN YOUR FUCKING POOR EXCUSE FOR A LUSUS ISN’T AROUND?
SiMpLe. I jUsT cOuNt On My BeSt FrIeNd To Be ThErE fOr Me. YoU aIn’T fAiLeD mE yEt.
How was he supposed to respond to that? Someone like this FUCKING BULGE FOR BRAINS claiming pale for him?
IT’S FUCKING EARLY HERE. SHOULD HAVE HIT THE SOPOR HOURS AGO.
HaVe A mOtHeRfUcKiNg GoOd SlEeP cYcLe BeSt FrIeNd.
Then Gamzee’s handle goes dim too, fucker probably only stayed up to talk to him. To be there for him once he’d started talking again. To be there for him…
A gray diamond is entered into the window, lingers there for just a moment before Karkat curses at himself for foolishness, deletes it, and slams the husktop closed. In the end he blames it on how early it is, how stressed he was, how FUCKING forward that FUCKING JUGGALO was. But he doesn’t forget it, or the purple one that came before.