Liv’s been shooting off the stink eye from across the room for a quarter of an hour now and Karkat figures it’s time to throw a few of broccoli pieces her way as an apology. They bounce a couple of inches in front of her, but she turns her face, and stomps her foot, and Karkat knows that the unspoken apology has been rejected.
It’s not like he can do anything to fix the situation though; John was the one to make the suggestion in the first place.
He had looked so pleased with himself when Karkat had walked through the door, suitcase in hand and tie already yanked loose. John had pulled his tie even more for a welcome home kiss before Karkat had both feet over the doorstep, but Karkat couldn’t find anything to complain about then.
“The girls’ll be here in about a week, so make sure you start picking up your socks by the couch,” John had said as soon as he pulled back, “I want everything to be really nice when they arrive.”
It was easier to be blissfully happy about their arrival when Karkat had failed to take into consideration that Jaspers would be coming along as well.
For the most part, Karkat believed Liv led a very happy life. She had been so tiny when they had brought her home for the first time and it had taken less than a day for John to fall in love.
At night, when supper is finished and the dishes washed, John and Karkat will settle together on the couch to enjoy a quick movie before bed. And it isn’t unusual for Liv to hop up between them, snuggled between their legs.
And though Karkat was hesitant about bringing her home at first, he’s never found himself regretting buying her.
She’s a pretty good grassbeast, and that’s all there is to say on the matter.
But she hasn’t been too pleased since Jaspers’ arrival.
Rose assured John that Jaspers was a well-behaved cat and wouldn’t bother Liv at all, but John was still cautious and only allowed the two to interact under supervision.
Not that it matters though, seeing as how Liv had secluded herself in her cage the moment Jaspers was let out of his. The cat does nothing more than lay in the sunlit spots on the living room floor, but that is apparently enough offense.
Karkat figures there isn’t much point to worrying over the situation; the girls will only stay for a week before returning home. Liv can survive that.
He shakes his head at Liv’s behavior and returns to cutting up the chunks of broccoli in front of him. Kanaya’s mixing up the spinach and carrots, while giving him a thorough explanation for why Rose needs to keep shoving all these vegetables in her body.
“You are failing to grasp how important it is for humans to receive an adequate amount of vitamins and minerals each day,” she explains, swinging one of the wooden tossers in his direction.
He bats it away, throwing her an annoyed look, “It’s not that I don’t understand; it’s just that I think you might be going a little overboard. John’s human too, and he never shoves this many green things in his mouth at once.”
“You, of all people, should understand how delicate our situation is right now. I’m doing the best I can.”
Karkat looks down at the broccoli in his hands, unable to meet Kanaya’s stare. Her voice had shaken a little there, and he knows he’s gone too far because he’s being his usual insensitive-ass self.
He hears her sigh and risks the chance to look up at her. He doesn’t notice it often, but he sees the way her face has aged. It’s weird thinking about how they aren’t kids any longer, and Karkat knows that these last few sweeps have been more than rough on Rose and Kanaya.
“I know, and I’m sorry,” he says, handing her a few pieces of chopped broccoli. “If you make a list, I can pick up more food items after work tomorrow.”
She accepts his offerings, knowing that he doesn’t mean half the insults he dishes out on a daily basis.
The oven starts to beep, breaking their tension, so he hurries over to shut it off and check on the baked spaghetti.
It looks good, and Karkat thinks he’s getting a better handle on this whole cooking business. John’s been a pretty decent guide, if Karkat doesn’t count John’s multiple attempts to squirt whip cream down his shirt or his eagerness to exchange sugar for salt when Karkat isn’t being attentive.
But Karkat’s learned to be sharp and actually pay attention to everything he’s handling when working in the kitchen, and Karkat sometimes wonders if that was John’s goal in the first place. The man could be strangely brilliant like that at times.
Together, he and Kanaya carry their dishes out to the dining room. John and Rose are sitting at the table and John’s right in the middle of a joke. And although Rose has heard the joke many times before, she always plays the intrigued listener, right up the punch line.
Rose is still laughing as she helps Karkat center the pan of baked spaghetti on the table and he notices how Kanaya watches Rose’s movements. It’s almost like Kanaya thinks Rose might break if she stands up too quickly.
Karkat doesn’t know how they can handle it so calmly, but he really can’t blame Kanaya for her vigilant behavior.
Rose heaps a generous serving of the mixed salad onto her plate and Karkat wonders how long it took for her to become accustomed to all these changes; when she started to accept the restrictions, instead of being blissfully unaware of her need for them.
“So, how has your recent project been coming along, John?”
John finishes piling his own plate with a mound of spaghetti and looks back up at Rose.
“The prototype is nearly finished and Dave’s already agreed to test it out. He’s good with that budgeting stuff, so I think he’ll be able to sort through the calculations quicker than I can.”
“And if the prototype is successful,” Kanaya asks, “then what will you do afterwards?”
John pauses and Karkat knows he’s been trying to work through the ‘what next’ thing for a few weeks now, “I guess I’ll just keep making more and hopefully something will happen.”
Kanaya doesn’t seem satisfied, but Karkat shoots her a look to keep her from making any suggestions. He doesn’t want to see John get frustrated with his predicament, not now when he’s enjoying his visit with Rose.
“Well, I know it’ll be a successful endeavor. And I only hope that Kanaya and I will be some of the lucky few to benefit from your genius handiwork.”
John blushes at the praise, promising Rose that he’ll whip up a new model just for them once the results from Dave arrive.
The rest of the week proceeds fairly normally for Karkat. He still has to get dressed and go to work early each day, but now he’s got more than just one human to welcome him home.
He walks into the living room, slipping his damned socks off of his feet and almost drops them at the foot of the couch when he notices Rose lying there. Jaspers is curled in a ball on her stomach, purring away contentedly, and she’s rubbing the space between his shoulders as she rests her eyes.
Karkat takes a moment to examine at her more closely, then. He knows the science and the functions of the human body, as every school-fed troll does, but it still fascinates him to watch a bit of the process in person.
“I can’t tell which one of us you’re staring at,” Rose says, turning her head in Karkat’s direction while opening her eyes, “or are you just admiring the three of us together?”
He stands there, holding his chin in his hand, playing the part of a great thinker. “I was actually appreciating how much of a cheesy photo this looks like.”
She laughs at him, but now that he’s said it, it really does start to look like a good picture. Kanaya, at the very least, would enjoy the sentimentality. “Would you mind, if I actually took a picture, that is?”
Rose shakes her head as he pulls out his phone. “How do you want me poised, oh masterful photographer?”
“Just stay as you are, and stop laughing,” he says, trying to get his camera to stop zooming out of focus, “you’re going to make the cat jump and that’ll ruin the whole setup.”
She settles down even though Jaspers hasn’t moved an inch and Karkat takes a few photos.
When he’s done, he crouches down at the edge of the couch and they look through the pictures together. A few are deleted, either because Karkat’s finger blocked part of the image or because the lighting threw off the contrast. But there’s one picture, just one, that seems to capture all the right feelings.
“This one turned out fairly decent,” Rose says, as she taps the screen with her finger. “Why, I might even hang it on my walls if you were to give me a copy.”
He looks at the photo a little longer, thinking about the promises the image holds. “Are you scared this time?”
Rose sighs, sinking back down on the couch, and Karkat wonders if he should have kept the question to himself.
“I’m more worried for Kanaya,” she says as her fingers start rubbing along Jaspers stomach, “I don’t know if she can handle another one.”
He agrees with her, but it doesn’t answer his question, “I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but you aren’t Kanaya, and I was asking about you. Kanaya and I talk often enough that I can gauge her emotional standpoints, thank you.”
She laughs again, and Karkat appreciates the fact that she takes him as lightly as she does. “Actually, I think I’m going to be okay, but I also think I’m going to throw up.”
Karkat jumps to his feet and struggles to find a way to balance haste with gentleness as he pulls Rose up as well. Jaspers, having jumped off at Karkat’s sudden movements, races in front of them as they rush to the nearest load gaper.
“You are a filthy liar and I will never forgive you, Miss Harley.”
They are crawling through vine entanglements and Feferi has had just about enough of it.
“When you said ‘swim,’ I imagined a dip in water, not wading waist deep through tropical plants. When you said ‘rain,’ I imagined liquid falling from the sky, not this awful humidity.”
Jade’s pulling herself over a fallen log and Feferi watches as bits of moss leave stains across her trousers.
“I said ‘rainforest,’ you dope, and the bit about swimming was sarcasm. I thought you enjoyed the fine art of sarcastic remarks?” Jade’s reaching down now to give her a hand up the log, but Feferi has half a mind to ignore Jade’s offer.
She decides that it’s not worth it, though, because the log is almost twice her height and she’s already pretty exhausted from all the hiking around they’ve been doing. “I enjoy sarcasm more when it’s coming out of my own mouth, not when it’s directed at me.”
“Just admit that you weren’t actually paying attention to what I was saying so we can continue our search with less arguing,” Jade says once Feferi is firmly balanced at the top of the log. “And for your information, it is incredibly hard to focus to my surroundings when you’re constantly trying to bicker with me.”
Feferi has the decency to blush at the accusation, “So, I’ve been found out. But you have to admit that life’s more fun when someone’s pestering you, right?”
Feferi knows that Jade is going to make a point of not arguing back with her, but she doesn’t really care. Knowing when to end the bantering is half the fun anyway, and Feferi’s learned to realize when Jade’s reached her daily limit.
Feferi hadn’t been lying when she said that she and Jade were waist deep in the forest, though. It was obvious that only animals came this far in on a regular basis because their machetes were barely helping at all.
They had been traveling for four days now and they seemed nowhere closer to their destination than when they had arrived.
Whatever their destination actually was, Feferi had no idea. That was the spirit of the game that Jade and Bec liked to play.
Business will be going as usual and then suddenly Bec will be standing two feet away, green light still sparking through the air, and Jade will give Feferi five minutes to prepare for a new adventure. When Feferi gives the okay, Bec will teleport the two of them to whatever new area needs to be explored.
There are no clues provided, but Feferi figures that’s what Jade likes most about their game. The only thing the two of them know is that their discovery should help with their Denizen Quest.
When they’ve found the correct item or person or whatever, Bec will return and Jade will request to go somewhere nice next. Sometimes Bec will obey, but often he’ll just leave them wherever he chooses.
Over the years, Feferi’s gotten pretty used to it and she’s actually learned to enjoy the art of adventuring, at least as long as Jade is at her side.
“I think that’s a Wollemia nobilis; we might actually be in Australia!” Jade says, pointing to at a tree in the distance. “That’s really close to our island. We definitely have to stop by there now.”
She retrieves a telescope from her sylladex, zooming in to get a better look, "They are such nice looking trees; it’s a shame they’re endangered.”
She passes the telescope to Feferi, and Feferi focuses on the seed cones hanging from the branches, “This tree looks a bit young, but maybe once it matures, we can collect a few seeds and help it out.”
“How do you always have the best idea?” Jade asks, smiling at her.
Feferi can’t help but smile back and she leans forward to deliver a kiss, “It’s a special quality that happens to belong only to me, don’t you agree?”
They continue through the forest and Jade occasionally points out different creatures. Feferi doesn’t mind the extra knowledge, but these sightings would be much more exciting if they were in the water, exploring those hidden wonders instead.
They come to a thick patch of foliage, and Feferi makes a move to start clearing a path with her machete, when there's suddenly a quick flash of green light before her.
"Good boy, Bec, you've found us!" Jade throws herself around his neck, pressing her face to his cheek.
Feferi comes up beside them, "I’m not about to complain about getting out of here, but what exactly was our discovery?"
Jade pulls back, giving Bec a curious look. "Do we need to gather a bit of these plants, boy?"
"He’s never come before we've collected, though. It's a bit strange."
Captchaloguing her machete, Feferi reaches down and rubs the top of Bec’s head, but before she can even complete the motion, the space around them pulls tight and Feferi watches as the universes races in front of them.
Feferi feels her auricular sponge clots pinch, and suddenly they're back on the island.
Jade stands, pulling her arms free of Bec’s neck, and Bec takes off, heading into the forest towards the volcano.
Jade sprints after him, shouting for him to slow down, and Feferi feels a tightness in her shoulders; this setting just seems all wrong. She races after Jade, easily catching up with her as they make their way between the overgrown trees and bushes. "I’ve had just about enough of these leafy burdens and I’ll be thankful when this day is done."
Jade doesn’t respond, but Feferi didn’t really believe she would in the first place.
There’s a bit of clearing ahead of them and Feferi can see Bec standing above a crumpled mass lying on the ground. He's staring at them, as if trying to convey a sense of understanding at what happened. But Feferi doesn’t have the same connection with the barkbeast as Jade does, so she can only hope Jade is able to translate correctly.
Jade doesn’t scream or cry or do any of the things Feferi would have imagined a weaker-willed human to do. But she does sink down, placing her fingers to her adult human lusus' neck, checking bodily temperature and pulse.
After a moment, Jade hands her lusus’ gun to Feferi and cradles the man's body in her arms. She lifts him and her shoulders give a small shake, but Feferi knows it’s not because of his weight.
Bec places himself at Jade’s side and together they walk back to the hive.
For a moment, Feferi stays back, and she watches as Jade's figure moves away from her and Feferi remembers all the reasons why she fell in love with this human woman.
It’s only been four days since they were teleported back to the island, but Feferi feels like it’s been a month.
Jade had Grandpa Harley set up in bed by the time Feferi had followed them up to his respiteblock. He looked a bit better once he wasn’t lying on the forest floor, but he had slept through the whole day and most of the night.
He woke up with a series of coughs and Feferi had to push him back down as he attempted to climb from the bed. Jade had rushed in when she heard the commotion and was able to get him settled, but Feferi could tell that the old man was irritated at his predicament.
“He just doesn’t understand that he’s getting older now,” Jade explained, “and he doesn’t want to admit that maybe he shouldn’t be hunting in the forest by himself anymore.”
It was hard for Feferi to watch as Jade also struggled to admit that her lusus was being compromised by age.
They were able to move Grandpa Harley to the den this morning and Bec has since taken to sleeping on the man’s feet, keeping him in place. Jade, after being shooed away, wandered up to the laboratory and Feferi decided it was time for a swim.
The water is cool against her skin and Feferi does a few flips in the water to watch as her hair drags around her. She pulls her fingers through the water, creating and bursting tiny bubbles in her trail. If she wasn’t so drawn to Jade, she doesn’t think she would ever leave.
She hears the whispers start after a while. They’re quiet, but Feferi races towards them, eager to meet what calls her.
Gl'bgolyb’s many tentacles race out to greet her, and Feferi can’t help but wrap her arms around a smaller one, letting herself be pulled in.
The whispers have grown louder and Feferi basks in the resonance. Her lusus has always been the most beautiful, in Feferi’s opinion; and her Gl’bgolyb’s voice is just as fascinating.
Fish swim between them as they talk and Feferi shares her distress at Jade’s situation. She knows that Gl’bgolyb is always willing to listen, even if she can’t offer any advice.
She’s worried for Jade because it’s hard to lose a lusus, especially considering how much Jade adores her grandpa. And she wonders how the man will cope with his newfound limitations; how hard it must be to trap a wild creature. It seems as absurd as tossing Gl’bgolyb into a tiny lake, instead of the great ocean.
But Feferi isn’t angry, or even really upset, that their traveling and exploring will have to be put on hold. Because Feferi will still have Jade at her side, and now she’ll also have her beloved lusus nearby as well.
The whole ocean is hers to play in for now, but Feferi knows she won’t stray too far.
There is always litter sprinkled across the hardwood floor and Kanaya is seriously starting to consider laying down a sticky mat so she doesn’t have to keep cleaning it up twice a day.
She entertains the idea before letting that little bubble burst because she knows that sticky paper would just cause Jaspers to find a new area to relieve himself, and Kanaya really doesn’t need to worry about any extra messes right now.
She’s already counting down the days before she will no longer have to be the sole person to clean the litter box. But she’s read the research, and she knows the dangers, and whenever Rose steps too close to the box, Kanaya is there to push her away.
It’s a dangerous job, but Kanaya has made the commitment.
“I see my personal savior is once again hard at work.” Rose is sitting at the kitchen counter, finishing off a plate of grilled asparagus. “Let me know when you’re ready to leave.”
Kanaya dumps the dust pan of spilled kitty litter into the garbage before standing up to clean her hands. “As always, I am ready and willing to serve.”
Rose laughs as Kanaya takes a deep bow while drying her hands, and Kanaya feels her earlier irritation slip away.
“Let me go start the car and then we can head out.”
Rose nods and eats the last asparagus spear, “And before you ask, I have my list of questions already stored.”
Kanaya heads outside, retrieving the car and turns it on. She’s about to go back inside to fetch Rose when she sees her already making her way across the lawn ring. A spark of worry races through her body and Kanaya can barely keep herself seated.
She wants to go out, grab Rose’s hand, and guide her to the car; guarding her from any dangers that might lie in waiting between their hive and the car. But Kanaya knows she’s overreacting, and she doesn’t want to make Rose agitated by being overbearing again.
It’s hard, though, being so worried while trying to act calm. Kanaya doesn’t need another breakdown; she doesn’t think she can handle seeing Rose like that again.
The drive to the perinatologist’s office is long, but they’re used to the trips. There are times when Kanaya thinks that she talks to the doctor more than she talks to her own lusus, but she knows these visits are necessary.
Rose works on her current knitting project while they sit in the waiting room. It looks like it’s turning into a pair of tiny socks and Kanaya feels a little bubble of hope.
A nurse calls them back after a while and Kanaya holds the half-completed sock and bag of knitting supplies as Rose is weighed and questioned. She hands them back when they’re moved to Dr. Duncan’s room and Rose continues to work.
Dr. Duncan arrives with a kind smile and a warm welcome shortly after. Kanaya had first been worried about the woman’s abilities; she was older and there was always a chance that this doctor held onto obsolete medical beliefs. But the woman has since proved her knowledge and skills many times over and Kanaya has long forgotten her doubts.
Dr. Duncan settles herself into her chair and rolls it closer to them. “Good morning ladies, it’s nice to see you again. How are we feeling today?”
They follow the usual pattern of questions: frequency of morning sickness, diet, abnormal pains and aches, amount of exercise. Rose retrieves her small journal and Dr. Duncan reads through her notes. Sometimes it worries Kanaya when she sees Rose entering large passages, but Dr. Duncan seems to appreciate the information Rose records.
“Your weight seems good this morning,” Dr. Duncan says, handing Rose back her journal, “and you haven’t written down anything that might indicate any recent complications.”
“I’ve been feeling quite well, all circumstances considered,” Rose stores her journal and pulls out her list, “but there are a few questions I would like to ask before we make our trip. First off, how frequently do you recommend we stop?”
Dr. Duncan answers each question as thoroughly as she can and Kanaya retrieves a pen and notebook to write everything down.
“I know driving to Washington will be quite time consuming, but I really do believe it is the safer alternative to flying.” Rose nods as Dr. Duncan continues, “I want to avoid as many dangers as possible with this pregnancy.”
Kanaya grabs Rose’s hand, giving it a gentle squeeze, “We know you’d prefer that we cancel our trip, but I believe the visit will be beneficial to Rose and I. They are good friends of ours and they will take care of us.”
When they get back home, Rose lays down on the couch for a short nap and Kanaya heads up to their respiteblock to continue packing.
They’re planning on heading out early tomorrow, but they’re not sure of when they’ll arrive. Kanaya’s mapped out several rest points for exercise, as well as multiple hotels if they need to stop and sleep for additional nights.
Dr. Duncan suggested pinpointing hospitals along their route in case of an emergency, so Kanaya is gathering and storing the information in her GPS when she hears the first few notes of the violin.
It’s soft and deep, but Kanaya can hear it echo through the whole of their hive.
She looks down at the floor and imagines Rose playing in the block below her. The song is slow, and Kanaya can almost tell that Rose hasn’t played for a while.
It feels like only a short time ago that Rose had played for their first child. They had been so excited back then, anxious too, to tell everyone the good news. But they had been patient; waiting for their doctor’s okay before calling their closest friends.
Rose had started playing because she had read that babies could still hear the music in the womb. Kanaya had thought it would be a great way to bond with the child while it was still developing, and most evenings they would tuck themselves into the couch and Rose would play.
She looked so beautiful, and she looked so alive.
But then that night had come.
And the music stopped.
For a while, they had hardly spoken to each other; so wrapped up in their guilt and anger that they almost forgot about the other.
Kanaya wonders if maybe she could have helped Rose cope if she hadn’t have been so consumed by her own emotions. Maybe she could have prevented her decline; maybe she could have been a better wife. She wonders, but she never finds any answers.
But years have gone by since the loss of their first child, years and two more babies.
There are times when Kanaya feels almost like an expert in grief. And she wonders if this is how all parents feel when they bury their children.
But experience has taught Kanaya well and instead of retreating into herself, she’s learned to gather Rose into her arms, cradling her and crying with her. Because they can’t be alone, not now, not when everything already feels like it’s been taken away again.
And they grieve together and the others grieve with them, and slowly,
slowly, the holes in their chests start to mend.
She waits until Rose tells her she’s ready again and Kanaya always wonders if maybe they’ll be successful this time.
They had invested so much into this future they had planned out, living out their lives as mothers.
And when Rose says she’s ready, Kanaya packs her up and drives her to the clinic, and they start the procedure over again.
Rose always looks so determined, and Kanaya always thinks she looks brave.
But Kanaya has grown scared to become attached to each potential child and she can tell that Rose has too. They do so much to have a healthy pregnancy, talking with so many doctors, reading through so many articles, worrying about absolutely anything that could cause their child harm. And they are still overwhelmed with so much fear.
This one seems different though, and Rose has stayed pregnant for much longer than she had with the other three.
They’re getting hopeful again, and maybe even a bit excited.
It’s starting to feel real and possible and Kanaya just wants to cry.
And she sits on their bed and presses her hands to her eyes, trying to stop the green liquid from squeezing out, and she thinks.
Because she wants this child so much, but she doesn’t understand why she couldn’t have the others as well.
Because she’s so worried that they could be wrong about this one and soon there’ll be another stone with another name and they’ll breakdown just like all the other times before.
Because Kanaya just wants Rose to be happy.
That’s all she really wants and she can’t even be successful in that endeavor.
And when the music fades away, Kanaya stands, wiping her eyes, and returns to packing.
They have to be ready to leave by tomorrow because they both need this trip. This is their way of telling themselves that things might just be okay.
And John will twirl Rose around, using steady hands to keep her balanced, and Karkat will shake his head at their antics, but he will give Kanaya a longwinded congratulations and reluctantly agree to grubsit, or, wait, babysit, is that the human term? And Kanaya will laugh at him because he knows the correct terminology but he’s getting flustered and anxious at the possibilities.
Later that night, when they’re tucked together and close to sleep, Kanaya will share her fears with Rose. But Rose will turn around and pull Kanaya to her chest, knowing just how to angle her face so she doesn’t get scratched by a sharp horn.
They’ll stay like this, even as they fall asleep, and she will listen to Rose’s heartbeat and Kanaya will think she hears a second heart beating along with it.
The city is hot, it’s always so hot, and Dave wonders if it’s time to pack up and move away. Maybe head to Alaska so he doesn’t have to feel like he’s sweating his skin off by the time he drags himself out of bed.
The windows are open and the fans are blowing, but the sweat keeps dripping from his hair and he figures it’s time for a shower anyway. Why worry about the water bill when you could die from heatstroke any moment now?
He’s grateful that Bro let him keep the apartment, and he’s even more grateful that Bro took all of his weird shit with him when he moved out of the city.
The apartment felt bare after he left, but Dave had Terezi move in pretty quick and they’ve accumulated a large amount of crap over the years.
He kicks a few scalemates out of his way to the bathroom and decides that he might try to be productive today.
Dave’s still wrapped in his towel, letting the heat of the city do its work on drying his skin, when the crow flies in. It lands on the bed, hopping towards Dave in search of a snack. Dave keeps a bag of food under the bed, so he pulls out a handful of crumbs and lets the bird eat off the bed as he unclips the camera.
It’s taken a bit of time, but he’s gotten these little beasts fairly well trained. He set up an open bird coop on the roof and attaches tiny cameras to their chests when they’re in the mood for holding still. The camera’s set to take a photo every hour as the bird flies around the city.
Usually the images are a blurred mess, or pictures of other birds’ chests, or a close-up of a taxi’s windshield. Dave thinks those are the best, but John’s always telling him that there’s no artistic value in those; it’s just a bird being a dumbass bird.
But every once in a while John will see a picture he likes and Dave will print it, frame it, and mail it to John. He knows when John’s hung them up because Karkat always calls him to yell about how he needs to stop trying to ruin the house’s décor.
He's hoping that the bird brought in some good pictures this time; you can only get excited about lamp posts and sunsets after so many shots.
Dave stands, and figures it’s probably time to get dressed anyway, since it’s already mid-afternoon.
He sends off a few messages to Jade, even though she’s offline. He thinks it’s pretty shitty that she has to go through all this stuff with her grandpa, so he sends her some lines that might make her day better before heading into his closet.
Bro spent a good amount of time converting it into a fairly functional dark room. It’s small, but they were able to squeeze in an area for running water, a couple of electrical outlets, and a vent near the top of the room to keep the fumes from clogging up. Bro might have had some weird hobbies himself, but he always had a knack for encouraging in the more artistic interests in Dave.
Dave didn’t really care as a kid; he just wanted to keep screwing around with all different sets of equipment.
For the irony, of course, never for the art.
It's getting late in the evening. Even in the dark room, he's always been good at being aware of time. It used to freak Bro out and he'd make jokes about clocks being set in Dave's bones. Dave used to place his wrists against his ears, hoping to hear a slight tick, but he never did hear a sound.
He wraps up his projects before heading out to the kitchen.
Terezi should be coming home soon, so it’s best he starts up dinner now.
Rose has sent him enough recipes with step by excruciating step of instructions, and Dave figures cooking's not really that big of a deal once he's got a system down.
It's just a lot of time and a lot of messing around, and those are two of his favorite things.
He feels out a box of rotini, with three colors because Tz likes excitement in her meals, and he sets to work on supper.
A man's got to make sure his woman's well fed after a hard day of work.
Dave hears the slight jingle of keys before he sees Terezi coming in.
She shuts the door and walks over to the couch, leaning her cane against an arm rest before throwing herself full-body on the cushions. "Why do other people suck so much?"
He can hardly hear her through the cushions, but he knows what she's getting at. "Probably because we've already sucked up all the cool in the world. Pretty hard to be amazing when the resources are freshly dried up."
"If we donate some of our coolness back, will people stop being judgmental assholes?"
Man, she looks bone-tired.
"No can do about that. Some people just need the sense beat into them." Dave can already guess at what's happened today, but he figures he'll just wait until Terezi wants to bring it up herself. No use dragging out tough emotions before she’s ready for them. "Dinner'll be ready in a sec, though, babe."
"It smells bright today," she says, lifting her head up and breathing deep.
"Chose the best colors just for you. Told that paste it had no reason to be some plain yellow. Got that pasta some rainbow ink. Changed that pasta's life for the better."
Terezi cracks a wide mouth grin and Dave thinks he handles his job as a man-wife pretty well.
She pulls herself off the couch and starts cleaning up their small table. There's various papers spread out, usually printouts of employment opportunities and notes about interviews. She taken her quest pretty seriously and Dave’s starting to feel a bit agitated for her since she keeps getting turned down.
People always say they want diversity in their working environments, but as soon as someone else starts to feel uncomfortable, then those executive decisions get made and everyone's forced back into sameness.
Except, Tz can't change the fact that she was hatched blind, so no one even gives her a chance.
Not that she should need to prove her abilities, though. Her lusus made damn sure that Terezi would be fine on her own.
"I'm getting real sick of being turned away at the door before I can even show that I know my stuff," she says, moving the papers to the floor before setting out the plates. "What's the point of having a statement about not turning away people based on disabilities if you don’t follow through? It's just so backhanded!"
The pasta looks good, finally, so Dave carries the pot over to table, placing it on a towel. "Bring dragonmom with you to the next interview. She'll roar in their faces and they'll hire you on the spot."
"I'd rather she just eat them, but I can't be hired by a person being digested in my lusus. Enough about my shitty day, though," Terezi says, passing over the serving spoon, "Made any progress yourself?"
Dave takes the spoon, scooping out his own serving. "Got some photos up and developing. Who knows, might get some good ones this time."
Terezi lets out a sigh and Dave figures that's not the answer she really wanted her hear.
"I thought you were going to start looking around for jobs today. You're the one who said funds were coming in low this month."
"Don't fret your pretty self, Tz, I'll call Bro tonight and he'll wire us some boonbucks by morn’."
Terezi still doesn't look please, "Dave, when are you going to release your suctioning orifice from your human lusus' milk producing gland?"
"Well, if that ain't a harsh thing to say."
"But it's the truth! We're both adults, and as sad as it might be, there's a time when you have to let go. Your human lusus might never hesitate about taking care of you when you ask, but isn't it time you show him that he raised you well enough to fly on your own?"
Her mouth is firm and Dave can tell she means it more this time than she did last week.
Fuck, how hard is it for her to understand that he just doesn't know what to do. He brings in enough to help her pay school loans back with his webcomics, but that's not always enough. He can't just pick a hobby at random and decide he's going to devote the rest of his life to it. She had it easy, always knowing where her main passion lied.
"I gotcha, Tz. I'll call Bro tonight, but then I'll sit down and start looking over things. Satisfied?"
He knows she's probably not, but it's the most he feels like doing now.
John’s right in the middle of hanging a new photo from Dave, nail pinched between fingers, hammer at the ready, too expensive of a frame for a Dave Strider photo held between his legs, when Jade and Bec land at the bottom of the stairs.
She’s out of breath, but she’s smiling and John knows at once. He props the frame against the wall and leaves the hammer and nail beside it before jumping down the steps to head into the kitchen.
“Karkat’s still at work,” he yells while checking Liv’s food and water before locking her cage.
Jade nods after entering the kitchen, “Do you think he’ll get fired for a dog showing up at his work?”
Grabbing his keys, John goes to each door to secure the house, “This is Karkat; do you think he’ll actually care?”
John looks around, mentally checking each part of the house. He doesn’t know how long he’ll be gone, but he knows he doesn’t want to risk missing anything if he forgets something. He can always call Casey to take care of Liv if they’re gone for too long; she knows where the spare key is hidden.
This is a great day, an exciting day. Everyone has been waiting for this day for far too long.
“I’m ready, Jade,” he says, taking ahold of her hand, “but do you think everyone else is?”
Bec comes to their side and Jade lays her other hand on his head, “No idea, but I think we’re about to find out!”
Karkat looks like he’s right in the middle of a speech, or a rant, John can’t actually tell anymore. John doesn’t really want to butt in because Karkat’s voice is passionate and he’s pointing his fingers at all sorts of workers and John just thinks he look magnificent.
But time is ticking and they have something even more magnificent to witness.
“Karkat, the baby is coming right now!” Jade’s scream echoes through the whole of the room and John can hardly keep from laughing as everyone’s heads turn to face them and Karkat’s arm slowly drops back to his side.
He looks like he’s stuck on pause, so John parts the crowd of confused employees to tug Karkat off the chair he’s been standing on, “It’s time for us to become a pair of uncles. Do you think you’re going to be alright?”
Karkat nods, but he doesn’t speak and John figures that’s good enough for now. There’s still an aisle between the two groups of people, so John laces his fingers with Karkat’s and walks him over to Jade and Bec.
“We’re really sorry for barging in on your lecture like that, but we really have to get going. So, uh, I guess you can all go back to work now.” John doesn’t really know what else to say, but Jade’s already grabbed his arm and the crowd disappears before he can keep going.
“The baby’s going to erupt from Rose’s stomach before everyone arrives if you keep working at this pace.” Feferi’s standing in front of them as they land in the hospital hallway. John doesn’t see Kanaya anywhere, but he figures she’s won’t be leaving Rose’s side until after the birth.
“You still don’t grasp the basics of birth, clearly,” and Jade and Bec disappear again to retrieve Dave and Terezi.
Feferi leads them to the set of chairs set against the wall and John pulls the chairs at an angle so they can look at each other.
“I really hope you don’t actually think that’s what human birth is all about?”
Feferi laughs and pushes her shoulder against John’s, “Jade’s sat me down to watch so many animal birth videos in the past few months. I’m actually more disgusted than the time Mr. Ellis made us watch those human sex-ed videos.”
“God, those were the worst! Do you remember how terrible that music was?” John presses a hand against his face and shuts his eyes.
“At least you sat behind Gabby. That girl was so tall and all you had to do was crouch down in your seat to avoid watching that horrible film! I actually had to watch it because every time I shut my eyes for longer than five seconds, Mr. Ellis would kick the back of my chair.”
“That’s because you were making it too obvious that you were trying to sleep!” John has to laugh then, “Why are we bringing all of these horrible memories back?”
“That’s a good question, John, because I really don’t understand why, of all times, you and Feferi think now is a perfect opportunity to reminisce about your embarrassing school-feeding memories?”
Karkat actually looks pretty nervous right now, so John swings an arm around his shoulders and pulls him close. He’s about to spew all the stuff that makes Karkat blush and flail and calm down, but suddenly there’s another ‘pop’ and 3 more people are standing in front of them.
Feferi makes a show of checking her wrist, “Wow, only two hours later. That’s a lot of progress, Jade!”
“Oh, shush. At least these two didn’t have twenty tasks to complete before we could bring them in.” Jade settles herself on the chair next to Feferi, leaning back and stretching now that her work is done, and Terezi sits down next to Karkat.
“You see, Harley, that’s the benefit to not being responsible adults,” Dave says, sitting on Terezi’s other side.
Terezi taps her cane against Dave’s leg, “Speak for yourself, mister can’t-settle-on-a-career, I’m busting my troll buttocks.”
John feels, more than he hears, Karkat let out his groan of frustration.
It gets quiet, then, and John wonders if everyone else is thinking the same thoughts as he is.
He wants this baby to be born, healthy and beautiful and bright, but he knows there’s always the chance that things could go wrong.
He wants to see everyone jump up and crowd around the new addition to their odd little family and he wants to know what it feels like to hold something so new and precious.
Most of all, he wants to see Rose and Kanaya be happy because they deserve to be the parents they’ve hoped to be for so long now.
But he knows, even if everything goes wrong, no one here would hesitate to gather around Rose and Kanaya, cradling them in their love and support, and together they would grieve as one.
John doesn’t want that, he doesn’t even want it to be a possibility. But it is, and everyone has accepted it.
“Where’d your lusus head to?” Karkat says, after clearing his throat a little. John thinks me might be trying to lighten the mood again, so he squeezes the shoulder his hand is draped over.
Jade takes a moment to realize that Karkat’s question was directed at her, “Oh, uh, he actually went back to look after Grandpa. Rose said the hospital staff would try to kick us out if they saw him inside.”
Everyone starts to talk after that, feeling a bit more relaxed again. They stop and stare at every nurse and doctor that walks in and out of the room before them, hoping to gather any updates on Rose’s progress. But no one ever stops to talk to them and the room has been strangely silent for a while now.
Dave keeps trying to crane his head to get a look into the room whenever the door opens, but he always shakes his head, saying that he can only see walls or equipment or nurses’ fine asses.
It’s frustrating being so uninformed, but John figures that’s what happens when you’re not actually blood related to the women you call sisters.
Hours drag by and they start to get restless. Jade offers to get snacks after a while and Dave volunteers to help carry everything. There isn’t much to do besides eat and talk, so John figures he can get by with grabbing a bit of sleep.
He yawns, and scoots himself as close to Karkat as he can. The armrest is digging into his side, but he opts to ignore it as he tucks his head into the space between Karkat’s head and shoulder. “Wake me when the excitement happens,” and he feels Karkat nod as he drifts to sleep.
It’s actually the sudden rush of the nurses that rouse John, but he feels Karkat shake his shoulder right after that, so he sits up, rubs his eyes, and looks around at the others.
Dave’s started pacing, but he keeps trying to play it cool, like he’s just stretching his legs and his quick looks at the door are just him working out his neck muscles. Terezi’s leaning forward in her chair, her chin resting on top of her cane. John can’t tell if she’s anxious and good at hiding it or actually bored, but he’d rather not ask.
Feferi’s unbraiding Jade’s hair (John wishes he would have thought about doing that, too, to pass the time) and Jade is wiggling under her fingers like she’s ready to burst through the doors and perform the delivery herself, angry doctors be damned.
And Karkat, well, Karkat’s just sort of sitting there, straight-backed and rigid, and John thinks that maybe he should have spent more time talking about human birth processes after supper because maybe Karkat’s getting a bit too freaked out by what’s happening behind those doors.
John stretches his arms into the air and then leans over to press a kiss into Karkat’s cheek. “How long was I out?”
Karkat blinks and turns his body to face John, “Just close to an hour, actually.”
John wants to keep the questions going to help Karkat ease back down, but suddenly there’s a pained groan from behind the doors and all the thoughts racing through John’s head just come to a halt.
There’s no anguished screams or threatening curses directed at Kanaya, and John thinks that Rose might be taking this delivery pretty well, but then there’s a few more groans and a lot of nurses talking and John figures he doesn’t really have any experience to judge Rose’s reactions.
Everyone’s pretty much stopped moving, but they’re all looking at the door, hoping that they’ll hear some doctor’s joyous call so they can all attempt to peak into the room as the kid gets cleaned up.
John forgets how much time passed while waiting, but he remembers Karkat reaching over the arm rest to clutch their hands together, and only a moment later there’s a new voice giving a little gurgle and then a crackled scream and everyone’s standing up to press against the door and listen to the kid’s first several minutes in the new world.
A nurse almost smacks them with the door as he attempts to invite them in, and John can barely apologize for their eagerness as they squeeze past him.
Rose looks exhausted, but she lights up as they come up to her. Dave bends down and presses a kiss against her forehead and Jade asks how she’s feeling.
“I’m sorry, Jade, but I don’t think I’ll be able to go into too much detail tonight,” Rose says, giving her a smile, “so I’ll be brief: relieved, and tired. I’d like to sleep, but she’ll need to feed soon.”
John sees Karkat try to peer into the bundle tucked in Kanaya’s arms, but Kanaya’s already depositing the baby to Rose’s chest.
The baby’s face is full of soft curves and there’s already a thick mat of hair on her tiny head. She wiggles a bit while settling into feeding and John feels all of his earlier worries ease out of his head.
Karkat steps away from John’s side and walks over to Kanaya. He pulls her into a hug and tells her how proud he is for them and John watches as she pulls Karkat even tighter.
After a while, the doctors and nurses pack and leave, giving them the room talk and awe at the baby.
She sleeps and eats while they talk, and after about an hour Rose is asking if Dave wants to try holding her.
He starts a little, like he can’t actually believe she’s offering, but then he’s bending over and she’s settling the kid into his arms. He holds her for a moment, looking at her face, before he re-adjusts his hold to free up an arm and push his sunglasses to the top of his head. “Hey darlin’, hope you like us because we sure won’t be leaving soon.”
Jade peers over Dave’s arm to get a better look, “Have you thought of a name, yet?”
Rose pushes herself up in her bed and Kanaya comes to sit next to her. They look at each other for a moment and Kanaya nods before Rose speaks, “We’ve decided on Karmini.”
“Wow! It’s so good to meet you, Karmini.” Jade says, securing her arms under the baby as Dave passes her over. “I promise we’ll be the best family you could ever hope for.”
It’s like a game of hot potato after that, only the opposite because everyone wants a turn but no one really wants to let go.
Terezi gives Karmini a final lick on the forehead, making a small tuft of hair stick up, and then walks straight up to Karkat and tells him to hold out his arms.
Karkat looks to Kanaya and she gives a short chuckle while telling him to be brave, but then she’s helping him position his arms and Terezi sets Karmini into them.
John doesn’t think he’s seen Karkat so nervous before, even during their first date when Karkat was fretting about everything being a huge mess. But Karmini gurgles and Karkat’s shoulders relax a bit and soon he’s tentatively bouncing her in his arms, while making short clicking noises at her.
Karkat gives a small smile at her gurgles and makes his way over to John, telling him that it’s his turn.
John thinks it might be how easily she fit into his arms, or maybe how clear her eyes are as she looks around the room trying to find her mothers’ faces again, but John feels his heart give a tight squeeze and he wonders if anything is going to be the same after this day.
He doesn’t want it to, though, because he thinks things are going to be a lot brighter.
John’s been acting a bit different around him for a few weeks now and Karkat’s starting to worry if maybe he said or did something to irritating and John hasn’t worked up the nerve to scold him about it yet.
He tries hard to think about their last several conversations, but nothing seems off even though Karkat can tell that something is different.
He looks over at John right now and wonders if he can discover what’s bothering John if he analyzes him closely enough.
John’s currently wrapping cobs of corn in tin foil, carefully tearing and folding each metal piece so it doesn’t rip (and Karkat knows how easily it does because John usually has to intervene when Karkat pokes too many holes with his nails or when he yanks too hard in haste to just cook and eat).
They’re grilling outside today because John said he wanted to admire his and Jade’s recent progress on the garden. She’s been popping into the lawn ring regularly to get a bit of extra energy worked out of her system now that she’s pretty much stuck on the island.
Karkat can always appreciate her company and he knows John does as well because he usually pulls Liv’s cage outside while he helps Jade pull weeds and decide on where each new flower should be planted.
Maybe John’s hit another roadblock with his prototype, but doesn’t want to bother Karkat with it? Maybe if Karkat brought it up first, then John wouldn’t be so hesitant about sharing details?
Karkat just wishes he understood why relationships are still complicated even though he’s been with John for so many years now.
“So, how the generator been working? Any problems recently?” There, he’s laid it out in the open and now John can complain to him without believing himself to be a bother.
John looks up from the potatoes he’s wrapping up now, “Nah, no problems there.”
“You sure? No, uh, motor difficulties like last time?”
“Actually, I’m just about finished with writing the installation instructions for Dave, so I’ll be shipping it off on Monday,” John says, shaking his head, “Hey! If you want, I can send off Rose’s picture now that we’ve got it framed and everything.”
“I think it actually turned out fairly decent. I hope the girls will like it.”
“I know they’ll love it; it’s a really sweet gesture.” John’s smiling at him now, “Are you trying to make me remember why I fell in love with you, you big softie?”
Karkat can’t fight the blush that works its way into his cheeks, but he also can’t let himself get distracted from his current mission. “I’m doing no such thing. I’m merely trying to express my emotion that is friendship.”
John laughs then and Karkat’s stuck back at square one. If it’s not John’s generator giving him problems then maybe…
“How’s Jade doing? I missed her last visit.” Alright, Jade is so close to John, maybe her recent worries are starting to rub off on him, too.
“Hmm, I think she’s alright, all things considered.” John turns and looks at the freshly planted hydrangeas against the fence. “I hope you don’t mind her coming over and adding all these new things to the garden.”
Karkat looks at the bushes too. They’re a bit small now, but Karkat’s sure they’ll be growing and blooming in the next couple years. “Of course not, she’s got to get her head into some fresh air every once in a while. What’re a few less patches of grass compared to that?”
John nods and works his way over to the grill, adding the freshly wrapped potatoes and corn. “Yeah, I’m just glad she can get away for a while every week. It’s gotta be pretty tough on everyone right now.”
Karkat agrees because he knows he’d want to take care of his lusus if something made Crabdad (as John always insists on calling him) ill or injured, but it would be hard being stuck at his old grubhive. He’s so invested in the home he’s built up with John that the thought of being away from it for too long makes him nervous.
This hive has come to represent how much progress John and him have made through the years, and Karkat wonders if maybe Jade and Feferi’s expeditions meant the same thing for them?
“Now that everything’s cooking, it shouldn’t take too much longer,” John says, flipping the hamburgers in front of him, “do you think you can bring out the plates and drinks?”
Karkat obliges, and pretty soon the table is set and John is filling up their plates.
“This tastes great, John,” and Karkat really does mean it, “thanks for cooking tonight.”
John waits until he finishes chewing his bite, “Thanks, dude. And you know I just didn’t want you to have another freak out while attempting to grill.”
“The coals take too damn long to heat up and you know it.”
“Hehe, but that’s what helps make everything taste so great.” Karkat doesn’t want to agree, but that doesn’t stop him from taking another bite.
“Actually, Karkat, I have something I’d like to talk with you about.” Karkat hears the hesitance in John’s voice and he thinks that maybe he’s about to find out what’s been bothering John for so long now.
“Of course,” Karkat says, making sure to meet John’s eyes, “you know we can always talk.”
John takes a big breath, like he’s trying to prepare himself for some sort of disaster and Karkat’s starting to doubt if he really wants to hear what John has to say. “You really like Karmini, right?”
Well, that was unexpected. “Sure I do, as much as you can love something that can only scream, poop, and stare into space. And I don’t mean to brag, but it might actually be a lot.”
John looks a bit relieved, but now Karkat’s getting confused. “Okay, well, I’ve been thinking, and it doesn’t have to be right away or anything; you should have some time to think about it, too. Like, I don’t want to make any rush decisions because that would just really be a bunch of dumb choices all wrapped into one huge failure. But this has been on my mind for a while now and I just want to know how you feel. Before I get too attached to the idea, that is, I mean, the possibilities.”
“John, stop,” Karkat says, putting a hand up to John’s mouth, “I don’t actually understand what you’re trying to ask.”
John looks down at his plate of food and Karkat tentatively removes his hand.
“Karkat, how would be feel about being a dad because I think I really want to be one now.”
This is not what Karkat was expecting at all.
It’s been an irritating day at work and Karkat is ready to be home and spend some time with John. All he wants to do is eat some good food, lay on the couch, and maybe take a nap on John’s lap while watching Jurassic Park.
John had been understanding when Karkat asked if he could use that extra time to think about things and Karkat’s gracious. He knows why John’s smitten with the idea of being a dad; Karmini is actually pretty cute, even for a wrinkled human baby.
He wonders if maybe John’s ‘biological clock,’ or whatever that’s called, started ticking when Karmini arrived, though Karkat’s pretty sure that’s usually only for human females and Jade hasn’t said anything about wanting a kid of her own.
And he knows that John would be a good dad because he’s always sweet with the neighborhood kids and he had a pretty good example of an excellent parent while growing up. But Karkat doesn’t think the same thing applies to him.
He liked being with Karmini for the short time that he and John stayed in the hospital and he enjoys Kanaya’s updates on her development, but he knows that being a dad, a good dad, requires a lot more than just occasionally looking in and reading a status update.
Karkat thinks Kanaya is good at being a parent because she had a Virgin Mother Grub as a lusus; she was practically trained since her hatching to be protective of grubs, troll or otherwise. And with Rose at her side to help her along, Kanaya probably doesn’t have much to worry about.
But it’s not like Karkat had a bad upbringing himself. Crabdad was a pretty fantastic lusus; even Karkat’s got to admit to that. He taught Karkat how to fight and protect himself, but he also helped nurture his love and study of romance and relationships (if the occasional discovery of a new movie or book laying on top of a freshly killed carcass said anything. Sure he’d have to clean off the bloodstains sometimes, but it was the gesture that counted).
These thoughts are always racing through Karkat’s head and he just can’t bring himself to make a final decision. He feels bad that he’s putting John on hold, but just can’t jump into a decision he isn’t ready for.
He pulls into the driveway and is surprised to see Jade, John, and Bec standing in the front yard.
John starts walking towards him as Karkat gets out of the car, but Jade tugs him back and comes forward instead.
“Grandpa wants to talk with John about his generator, so we’ll be gone for a while,” she says, coming to stand in front of him, “but, before you complain, there’s supper in the oven and I’ve left a movie on the table in the living room.”
“What’s this all about, Jade?” Karkat wonders if maybe he’s aggravated John by taking so long to think things through.
“Oh, don’t start acting like something bad is happening, you big dummy,” she says, placing her hands on Karkat’s shoulders. “Grandpa’s been talking about John for days and it’ll be good to let him talk to someone beside Feferi and I for once.”
She gives him a kiss on the cheek and Karkat feels the worry slide off. “Also, the movie is to help you think, but don’t tell John because he doesn’t know I left it there,” she adds with a wink.
John comes up to them now and Jade moves to the side to let him through. “I’m sorry, Karkat, I know it’s sudden and all.”
“Don’t worry, I think I can handle myself for one night, but a call would be appreciated next time.”
John follows Jade’s suit and gives Karkat a kiss on the other cheek, “Of course, dude, I guess I just got so excited I forgot to say something.”
They give their goodbyes after that and Karkat makes his way inside after watching the green lights disappear from his lawn ring.
Supper is indeed waiting for him in the oven, so he piles a generous helping on a plate and heads into the living room. The movie is laying on the table, just like Jade said, but it’s completely unmarked and looks home-made, and Karkat’s a bit hesitant to watch it.
He puts it in, though, because he doesn’t feel like watching Jurassic Park without John’s commentary. The movie starts immediately and Karkat thinks the previews have been cut out. He doesn’t even see a title and he wonders if Jade had that cut out too.
It’s an animation movie and Karkat has half a mind to shut it off because animation just isn’t as good as live-action. How can people think emotion can be projected on computer generated characters? It’s such a waste of everyone’s time.
But it looks like Jade put some effort into getting Karkat to watch the movie, even making it so he can’t go to online to read bad reviews and convince himself to stop watching it because he doesn’t even know what the damn movie is called.
So he sits and he watches, and by the time John steps through the front door later that evening, Karkat’s a crying mess because, just, goddamn was he completely wrong about everything.
“Karkat, buddy, what’s wrong,” John says, rushing to his side, crouching down to look at his face, “what happened?”
John rubs the red tears running from Karkat’s eyes and Karkat tries his hardest to calm down because he knows he’s worrying John.
“I’m not hurt, it’s okay,” he says, taking in a deep breath. He invites John to sit up on the couch with him and when John climbs up, he scoots forward so their knees are bumping and he can run his fingers down John’s face.
“First thing, I want to take back everything I said about animation movies being dumb, because they’re not and I’d like to watch more now if you don’t mind.”
John laughs a little, “Okay, that I think I can do that. But that doesn’t tell me what’s wrong. You don’t usually cry like that unless you’re watching Troll 50 First Dates.”
“That’s because I’ve come to a conclusion and I think I got a little overwhelmed by it.” Karkat makes sure John’s looking at him because he wants to let John know that’s he being completely sincere.
“Okay, so, I actually really hate the fact that Lewis had to wait such a long time to find a good pair of human lusus. And I think maybe I hate it so much because most of those human lusus were hoping for a grub that couldn’t challenge them.
“And then I just started to think about how there are grubs out there who are just like Lewis because humans and trolls and lusus die every day and I’m sure some of them leave a kid or a grub behind. And I really just think that those kids and grubs shouldn’t be abandoned like that, and I guess I just want to find a way to make things better for them.
“But I don’t know if I’d be good with, like, a tiny baby or a freshly-hatched grub because that just seems like something I wouldn’t mesh well with on a daily basis. Don’t get me wrong, Karmini is great, but I don’t know if I could handle something as fragile as her all of the time.
“Anyway, everyone already wants all the little ones because they think they can connect with them better. But where does that leave the ones who have been stuck waiting for years because they’ve outgrown the cuteness phase?
“And not every grub or kid is going to have a Robinson family to take them in when they need to be a part of a family the most.
“So that’s what I want to do, if you’re okay with it, that is.”
John looks a bit amused, but also sort of lost, “Karkat, how about we make this short and sweet, actually.”
Karkat nods and takes a moment to think of the right words.
“John, can we adopt a grubkid?”