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Breathe Me

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You hate talking about your feelings.

This is so new to you, so strange. You have never had any problems venting to anyone that will listen before, but sitting on a pile and talking to Gamzee – to your moirail – it’s different. It feels so intimate, more than you’re used to, and honestly more than you want. It’s one thing to rant and rave to a friend who’s barely listening, it’s another to bare your heart to someone and lay out all your emotions in front of you, like a wiggler setting out his marble collection. It’s exactly what you were afraid of when you agreed to enter this quadrant with Gamzee.

You try all the same. You feel terrible that it’s so hard for you; he seems so eager to listen to even the tiniest grievance, so happy to hear your stories. It’s a relief when he lets you off the hook, talks about his own problems. You try to pay attention. You’ve been so dismissive of him in the past, mostly because you didn’t want to encourage him. Gamzee doesn’t seem to have any problems being open with you, and you are jealous, deep down, that it comes so easily to him. But what has he ever had to hide? He doesn’t understand. You try to make him.

The more you explain, the more you think about everything that is wrong in your life. Your failures, real and exaggerated. You have stumbled so many times, and you have dragged your friends down with you. If you had to count up your own mistakes, even just in this game, you would use up all your fingers and run out of toes. The heaviness of it weighs you down. This is the reason, you try to tell him, that you can never get an easy night’s rest. The worries sit in your head, hunch your shoulders down. You can never let yourself relax.

He drapes an arm around your shoulders, and without meaning to you find yourself inching closer to him. The pile is a mess, made out of whatever you could find in chests – mostly towels, some horns. Something in it goes crunch when you shift your weight. “You worry enough for all twelve of us motherfuckers, and some left over besides,” Gamzee tells you firmly, “You gotta get your chill on sometimes, bro, shit ain’t healthy.”
He’s right, of course. But you are the leader, and you cannot let your guard down. They are all counting on you, and more than anything you don’t want to be a disappointment. You have spent your life feeling worthless, someone who didn’t belong anywhere. You have to prove that you can succeed at something, that your existence is more than the punchline in a joke someone else is telling.

He must feel the tension in your shoulders, because Gamzee rolls right on top of you and straddles your waist. You stiffen automatically. “What the fuck are you doing?” you hiss, and then you stop, because his hand is petting your cheek. He drapes himself across you like a friendly cat, snuggling into the crook of your neck. You wrap your arms around his back uncertainly. Physical contact is not a new thing for you, certainly, but you’ve been taking it slow mostly because you haven’t been able to spend much time together, and you’re not sure how much is okay.

Gamzee seems to know, though. He presses a few tiny, warm kisses into where your jaw meets your neck and slips his arms around your sides. He makes a happy sound when you run your hand down his spine, so you do it a couple times and then try petting his hair. It’s too snaggled and messy to run your fingers through – you remind yourself to brush it for him later – but he sighs when you stroke along his hornbed. You feel yourself getting more confident as you go along.

Gamzee’s hands slip up and under your shirt all of a sudden, and you flinch, startled. He pats soothingly at your sides and ever so gently begins to map you out with his fingertips. It feels like rain against your skin, cool drops that run across your side, your belly, your chest. You feel yourself relaxing by degrees, and you dare to return the gesture, sliding your hands up along his back. He lifts off your shirt eventually, kissing you squarely over the heart and discarding your clothing somewhere to the side.

Just as you’re getting used to the feeling of his hands on you, he slips them lower, undoes the button on your pants. You catch up his hands in a panic, and then you hesitate for a moment before you let go, uncertain. Gamzee looks at you for a long moment. He’s waiting for you to protest, you know, but you don’t know what you want to say. After what feels like an eternity he finishes pulling your fly down and cups your bulge through your underwear, keeping eye contact all the while.

You can’t help yourself, you cry out and push up into his touch. The next second you’re shrinking back, pulling away from him. His hand on you feels incredible, better than your own ever could, but you’re torn. You don’t how much is okay, when you should stop, if you should just let Gamzee touch you as much as he likes or if you should set a limit. This is something moirails do, you know, but you have no idea how soon is too soon.

Gamzee waits, watching you. “Karkat?” he asks, cautious. It’s almost a request, honestly – and somehow it’s that one word that makes up your mind, because for once it’s your name, not bro or best friend or any of the other inane nicknames he comes up with for you. You reach down and guide his hand back onto your bulge, your breath coming fast and shuddering. Gamzee kisses your forehead, slow and gentle, and slips his hand under the waistband of your briefs to pull out your bulge.

He starts off slowly, working you with long, thorough strokes. Your breath rushes right out of you and you cling to the pile, your claws scraping against the thick material of the towels. It takes you a few moments to realize that those small whimpering noises are coming from you. You take a deep breath, try to keep quiet.

“Relax,” Gamzee says in a stage whisper, and flicks his thumb across the top if your bulge without warning. You moan, and it’s the most humiliating thing that’s ever come out of your mouth. You can’t look at him or anything else; your hands are balled up tight into fists. Gamzee lets go of your bulge and takes both of them in his own hands, and you’re surprised enough at the change that you turn to look at him.

He gently pries open your fingers, threading his fingers through yours and kissing both your cheeks, each in turn. “Karkat,” he says seriously, and something about his voice helps to quell the feeling of shame boiling inside you. “Don’t be getting all motherfucking tense with me, alright? Idea’s that you’re all getting your relax on. Ain’t nothing to be embarrassed about with me.”

Somehow, incredibly, you believe him. Gamzee disentangles one of his hands from yours and returns it to your bulge, stroking faster this time and occasionally twisting his wrist. You are embarrassed at first by the way you respond to him, thrusting you hips up to meet his strokes and letting out little gasping cries – but very quickly you are too far gone to care much.

You are grateful there’s no need for a bucket, at least – without stimulation to your nook you won’t release any genetic material. But there’s still something wound up tight inside you, a last layer of control you won’t allow yourself to give up. Gamzee pumps your bulge hard and fast, and you squeeze your eyes shut and push back against him. You feel like you’re ready to break, ready to fly apart into a million little pieces, and still you’re not finishing. He leans in slowly next to you, kisses the curve of your ear. “Let go,” Gamzee whispers to you, and you feel yourself hesitate, tense, and then all at once you go limp.

You’re sobbing by the time he finally wrenches your orgasm out of you, shaking and clinging to his shoulders. Gamzee keeps working your bulge with one hand, but he pulls you close and kisses you all over; soft fluttering touches that soothe away the tears at the corners of your eyes. You arch up into his hand, and god, everything feels amazing. Your hands are trembling even as they curl into the material of his shirt.

Gamzee’s voice brings you back down once you’re finished, lying spent and limp on the pile. “Shhh, shh-shhh,” he’s murmuring as he pets down your sides, stroking you like a frightened animal. Normally you think you would find this irritating, but now you’re okay with it. His hands feel fantastic, cool and uncalloused. You inch your chest up into his touch – it’s hard, you’re so tired – and he leans down, presses his lips in a line all down your front. His hands are everywhere at once, and you love it, you love him. You tell him so.

Gamzee makes a little choking sound and you’re worried for a moment, until you see the shine in his eyes. He kisses your throat tenderly, and for a moment that lasts an age you feel incomparably precious. He loves you too, he tells you, in the way he touches you, the way he curls up next to you and holds you, just tight enough that you feel safe without being constricted. His arms, wrapped securely around your middle, tell you he wants to protect you, even from yourself.

You think that maybe, until now, you never really understood that, never thought you needed protecting – but suddenly it feels like something vital to you, a piece you can’t function without. Gamzee needs protecting too, you decide through the gentle haze of sleep settling in. He gives so much of himself, and so rarely asks for it back. You think maybe you can return it to him, this feeling. It’s something you can share.

Gamzee traces tiny diamonds on your shoulder as you settle in, and for the first time you can remember you are so relaxed that you fall easily, gently into sleep.