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Battlefield Terra - Hot Spring Episode

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Dirk had explained, somewhat, that the pools were for relaxing in -- and he'd been dubious but after an afternoon spent with the aliens' war council he was just about ready to try anything that would take him off the edge.

Anything that wasn't going up to Mister Strider and beg for a quick pap, that was.

"You scumfucking highbloods," he commented, hands on his (clothed thank fuck) hips, a single toe in the holy shit that's warm water. Never mind relaxing, you'd melt in there. And who the hell went swimming to relax anyways, apart from gill-lickers.

It'd been five or six perigees. Aliens were still weirdos.

"[What (garblegarble) sayin Kaaaa(r)kaa(t)?]"

"[I say how this is fun?]"

John sprawed on a long, low chair in the light of the setting sun, face down, and didn't seem to want to move. His eyes were closed, and Karkat now knew all too well what little situational awareness he had, how Karkat could ghost right up to him and he wouldn't notice until at best the last two steps.

Maybe he was more alert around other people, but Karkat doubted it a little. He thought the only time John could be qualified as alert was on the battlefield.

He didn't want to dwell on what that made him feel, so he sat down on the edge of the pool, a bit too heavily, and plunged his leg in from the knee down. Ksst, hot hot hot.

It never quite went into hurting territory; he got used to it. After a long moment of contemplation, Karkat put in his other foot, wriggled his toes.

It might be good to feel this with his whole body, but the place was... He knew there were guards all around, and no one would find getting through them easy, but at the same time what the fuck did he know about the guards themselves, who paid them, what their private agendas were?



"[Mister Noir is where?]"

"[Uh. Close. I don't know. Do you want me to call him?]"

He knew John didn't like Noir, but he nodded anyway. John poked at his glasses, then snorted quietly. "[He says (?) get in the water, he (negative?) want (?) see your gray butt.]"

Close, then. Karkat took a deep breath and let himself slip in, slowly.

Hot. Fucking hot, and in places that were more sensitive to the heat than his hands and feet, and the bubbles tickling him in unmentionable places were really not helping! He minced his way to a submerged bench, a hand on the edge, sat.

Oh. Wow. Dizzy. Dizzy in the open, under the sky -- but there were Noir's guards, and he'd probably kill a lot of people before he let Karkat get taken, and if he couldn't then he'd probably kill Karkat so there would be no torturing intel out of him. John was half-asleep (in public, in the open) but he might also be of help, and ... anyone who might have given the order was probably still busy debating the results of the meeting earlier this afternoon.

He needed to stop fretting about his next step, he was definitely approaching the point where that did more harm than good.

He needed to... Hm.

Mnh. Warm. Felt like all the blood in his body had risen to his head, felt like he was bloating like hardened grub paste in a pot and he was only missing the sauce. Felt nice.

Felt... like...

... someone was taking running steps on the rocks his head was resting on holy shit.

John screamed something in alienese and flung his curled-up body in the water, ass first. Karkat was on him the second he resurfaced, and pushed him right back under.

"You pus-guzzling asshole! [Idiot stupid ass face!] I'll kill you by accident and critical loss of patience one day and they'll give me a medal and a first-class starship for it!"

John was laughing at him, half-floating with only his wet shoulders and his head emerging, drenched. Growling, Karkat pushed a wet lock of black hair off his stupid blue eye, and then planted that hand on his head and shoved him backward again. John didn't have the decency to sink even a little, merely let himself float away on his back.

"Some days I really wonder how you are when you hateflirt. Does anyone actually survive?"

"[I like you too, Karkat!]" the asshole sang back, a shit-eating grin on his lips. Karkat kicked water into his face.

It was too hot for a battle. Even a mock-one. He sat back on his bench, relaxed a little. (Not a lot. John was bored; it was a bad plan to close both eyes and lose track of him even just one second.)

(He did make for nice eye candy, with his glasses off and face bare and water everywhere. There were weird angles to his face, but it was subtle and Karkat had long since gotten used to it, to the big but totally flat teeth in the middle of his grin, harmless and ridiculous and oddly endearing. His hair was perfectly trollish, not spirally or oddly colored, and when it was plastered to his forehead and temples, dripping on his lip, down his chin...)


(He wanted to curl his hands over the roots of horns that had never been there, wanted to protect a terrible hole that did not exist, wanted to use his hold to guide --)


"One day I'm going to take you up on your fucked-up totally-not-come-ons and your ridiculous alien courtship rituals, and I bet you'll have the gall to be surprised."

"[Hehe, what did you say?]"

He kicked blindly, lazily at John's foot, which was trying to tickle its way under his arch. His feet wanted to float up.

"[Your face is dumb like an ass.]"

John made a weird nasal noise, like his laughter had come the wrong way up. "[My ass is smarter than your face!]"

"Prettier, maybe. Make that definitely."

"[What? Come on, not fair not translating.]"

"[I teach you words, then. Talk like I me.]"

"[Huh. Yeah, okay, let's try. I'm listening!]"

His face was all scrunched up in concentration, gone red from the water's heat. Karkat swallowed a smile. "Hey there. Is it hot in here, or is it just you?"

John's horribly garbled pick-up lines and his pouty frustrated faces at Karkat's lack of translation kept him entertained until it was time to climb out and go get something to eat.