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You prowl forward like the fucking badass hunter that you are, stepping carefully around broken branches and dry leaves. Your prey grazes mere feet in front of you—an antlered hoofbeast with dappled gray fur and glistening black eyes. You flare your nostrils and drop your jaw some, sucking warm air into your mouth. It tastes like damp fur, sour clouds, and crushed grass. There’s not a hint of troll-scent to be found, which means your hunting partner is still downwind, and with that knowledge you strike.

You leap forward with a wild yell and the hoofbeast startles, jerking its head up and lunging forward. It crashes through the brambles, kicking wildly, and you surge after it. You’re careful to avoid the sharp points of its flailing hooves as you chase it, although you do get close enough to swing your sickle at its heels, determined to drive it in the right direction—and you must succeed, because you suddenly see a flash of movement and hear a dull thump. The hoofbeast freezes, tottering on its feet, and bawls weakly for a few brief seconds before you see another blur of movement and its skull shatters and its brain goes—well, kind of everywhere.

“That is—absolutely disgusting,” you decide, flicking a piece of gaudy red goop off your forearm and into the bracken. The hoofbeast collapses at your feet. “You have the least hunting finesse of any troll I’ve ever had the horrific misfortune to murder an animal with. Congratulations.”

“Aw, shit, bro, ain’t nothin’ but a thing,” Gamzee says, grinning sleepily at you and shaking brains and (bright red, hck) blood off of his club. “And anyway, we up and caught us some fine dinner, didn’t we? Don’t see that it matters much how it looks—it’s all gonna look the same comin’ out, anyway.” He chortles at that—he’s genuinely entertained by his own shitty shit jokes, honestly.

You huff a stream of exasperated air upwards, blowing your bangs off of your forehead for a brief moment before they flop back down into your eyes. You shake your head vigorously and kneel next to the hoofbeast—at least Gamzee had the decency to shatter one of the few parts of the creature you weren’t going to eat. After quickly examining it for any obvious diseases or parasites—you’ll have to examine the meat itself more thoroughly back at the hive—you captchalogue the carcass and wipe your hands clean on the foliage.

“Alright. C’mon, asshole,” you say, standing and stretching yourself out. You reach your fingers up towards the tallest branches in the forest, arching your back, confident that you’re in a safe enough place to risk leaving your stomach briefly unguarded. You don’t hear or smell anything bigger than a nibblevermin close by, besides Gamzee, and you know he wouldn’t do anything to hurt you. In fact, you know he likes seeing you unguarded, and—yep. He’s watching you with fervent eyes, so you flash him a smug grin before dropping your arms. “Let’s get back to the hive before it starts to rain.”

Gamzee’s jaw loosens, and you hear him breathe the air into his mouth. “Sure does taste like rain, don’t it?” he asks, captchaloguing his clubs. He offers you his hand and you—after making sure there’s no blood or brain or bone stuck to it because, again, fucking gross—slip your fingers into his and tug him along through the forest. “Ain’t that a miracle, brother? That water all fallin’ from the sky, like the ocean up and decided to swap sides for a day. You think there’s fish swimmin’ in the clouds, where we can’t see ‘em?”

“I absolutely do not think that,” you inform him, picking your way between several enormous, black-barked trees until you reach a well-worn trail. “I think that’s one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard. They’d all just fall back down with the rain.”

“Well, maybe not,” Gamzee protests lazily, and you feel him shortening his stride so he can stay behind you, let you guide him along. God, fuck, but you pity him so much, even if you think sometimes he’s the stupidest troll on Alternia. (He’s not. He’s definitely not, but sometimes, most times, it’s easier to think he is.) “What if they had powers like what the bitchin’ fleet has? Powers enough to keep ‘em floatin’ around out there, eatin’ and fuckin’ and killin’ until they die.”

“If they had that power, why the hell would they ever come back to Alternia just to float in the clouds for a few hours?” you ask, scowling. “If I had that power, I’d never come back to this shithole of a planet.”

“Where would you go?” Gamzee asks, squeezing your hand. His claws brush your knuckles—they’re getting ragged again. You need to trim them, since god knows he won’t do it himself. “If you were a fish, I mean—a fish what could swim in the clouds all the time and never fall down.”

“Mm—somewhere far away, as far away as I could. I’d live all alone—except for my moirail, of course,” you add, when you feel Gamzee’s fingers shift nervously between yours. “My dumb fish moirail and I, we’d have this great big hive. It would be the biggest hive in the whole goddamn universe, with tons of land around it—all ours. And we would never be hungry, because there’d always be something to hunt. We’d have two lusii, too, and they’d never ever leave, not unless we told them to. They’d always be there to watch the hive and make sure we were safe, but they wouldn’t boss us around or try to get us to do shit we didn’t want to do. The drones would never come to conscript us or cull us.” You sigh wistfully, glancing up at the thick, dark clouds above you. “It’d be perfect.”

Gamzee glances up with you. “You think so, best friend?” he asks, his voice quieter than usual. “You hate this place so much?”

You shrug. The rain begins to drizzle against your face and shoulders, and you pick up the pace until you’re jogging along the trail—use the exercise as an excuse not to answer him. You know he doesn’t hate Alternia the way you do. Why would he? He’s a highblood. Life is good. Except—

Except, well, it’s not. Not for either of you. Maybe he understands your hatred of Alternia more than you’d like to think.

By the time you get back to the beach, the rain has soaked through your hair and clothes and leaks into your mouth and eyes. It’s sour against your teeth, and it stings when you blink. Behind you, Gamzee sneezes. You groan. “Oh, don’t tell me you’re getting sick,” you say, looking reproachfully at him. “You haven’t even been in the rain for more than ten minutes. Don’t you and your shitty immune system dare.”

Gamzee rubs one of his eyes—that, combined with the acidic rain, smears his paint all over his face and his hand. He’s got a talent for being a mess, your moirail. A pitiable mess, but a mess all the same. “Okay, bro,” he agrees placidly, offering you a crooked smile. “I’ll pass that piece of holy wisdom along to the ol’ immune system for you.”

“You’d better,” you say. The two of you pad across the beach, your shoes sinking into the dark sand as you head for Gamzee’s hive. The lights inside are warm and inviting, and you duck into the foyer as soon as you reach it. Gamzee hesitates. You wait for a second—let him look out at the desolate seashore, where the world’s shittiest lusus isn’t—before you tug him inside. He lets you.

As soon as you’re out of the rain, you give yourself a good hard shake, splattering the walls with water droplets before beginning to tug your soggy shoes off. Gamzee plops his bony ass down on the floor and does the same. “Hey, you up for some motherfuckin’ ablutions, best friend?” he asks, glancing over at you through his mass of damp curls. “This brother’s feelin’ all kindsa sour and chilly.”

And how can you possibly say no to that face? It’s streaked with messy greasepaint, ears and cheeks flushed purple and hair sticking out in every possible direction. It’s absolutely pitiful. He’s absolutely pitiful and holy fuck you are horns over heels for this stupid troll and he’s going to be the death of you and quite honestly, at this moment, you can think of no better way to go. You’re a broken troll.

Still. You’re a broken troll with an image to maintain.

“Oh, gee,” you say, trying to make your voice as scathing as possible—which is more difficult than usual, because Gamzee. You reach out and poke the tip of his chilly nose with a claw. “I wonder why you could possibly feel that way? I just can’t seem to fathom it.”

“Well, I got my think on that it’s the rain makin’ a brother feel like this,” Gamzee explains Very Seriously and Solemnly, although there’s a gleam of ever-present amusement in his eyes.

“The rain?” you ask, feigning Great Surprise as you stand up. You haul Gamzee up after you—he’s already got almost a head of height on you, but he sure as hell doesn’t weigh more. He’s all bone, all raggedy, lean muscle—oh, and a whole lotta hair. You think his hair alone constitutes half of his body mass. “Whatever makes you think that, hm? The rain’s always so warm and sweet. It’s not like it freezes your bulge off every single time you go out in it. It’s not like it’s made of literal acid.”

Gamzee laughs, shaking his hair out of his eyes—it falls right back into them, but it’s the thought that counts, you suppose. “Now you’re just bein’ silly, brother, c’mon. Acid rain? On my peaceful, safe motherfuckin’ planet?” He winks at you. “That’s a joke worthy of the mirthful messiahs, my main motherfucker. But I did get my hear on of one little fact—” He crooks a finger at you. You obligingly lean in, eyebrows arched. “That rain tends to make little hotblooded brothers chillier than what’s healthy—their moirails gotta get a hand on helping ‘em warm their little-bitty selves up.”

Yep. There goes your face. Burning. Fuck him, seriously—

“Let a brother help you out, Karkat?” Gamzee looks at you through gleaming, half-lidded eyes, bringing a hand up to cup your chin. His pupils are wide and dark in his gray irises. Oh, wow, look at that. The burning’s spreading down your neck. He keeps his fingers on your face, guiding you back towards the ablutions block with the lightest of pressures. “You know I got a love of it. Taking care of you, gettin’ you all warm and safe and snug for me—makes a brother feel real pale for his littlest friend. Havin’ you all happy and clean and wrapped up in my arms—” A full-throated purr rumbles from him and oh shit now your shoulders are burning.

“I—you—shit, fuck,” you say, very intelligently.

Gamzee chuckles, leaning forward to kiss the tip of your nose. “I’ll take that as a yes, best friend. Arms up, now—” He coaxes your arms up so he can pull your jacket off, followed by your shirt, and then helps you shimmy out of your pants and boxers. And you (flustered though you may be, you’re determined not to be a negligent moirail) grouch at him until he lets you divest him of his wet, cold clothes, too.

“This warm enough?” Gamzee asks, holding his fingers in the stream of water from the ablutions trap after he starts it. You stick a hand into the stream above his—it’s pleasantly warm, and your traitorous body shivers happily at the feeling. Gamzee looks knowingly at you, the world’s sappiest smile on his dumb cute face.

“It’s not too hot for you, is it?” you ask. You know that what’s warm to you is often hot to him, the damned coldblood—you’re familiar with what temperatures he enjoys, at this point, but it never hurts to double-check.

Gamzee shakes his head, bringing a big hand up and resting it on your side. He steers you into the ablutions trap with that same light, insistent pressure. “Not at all,” he assures you, once you duck into the stream. You sigh in relief as the water washes away the stinging chill of the rain. “It’s just perfect. It always motherfuckin’ is.” He cards a hand through your hair, and you refuse to believe that he’s talking about anything other than the water.

“Get in, then,” you insist, tugging on his hand. “We both have to get cleaned up before we can eat—and I don’t know about you, but I’m fucking starving.”

“Mm, I’m all in agreement with that feeling, brother.” He ducks into the trap with you, and he takes up most of the room with his gangly limbs, but if you tuck yourself close to him you can make it work. You doubt it’ll work much longer if he keeps growing at this rate, though—although you won’t live to see him pupate, so you suppose it’s not your problem, even if you want it to be your problem. You want all of his problems to be your problems. You and him, together against the world or what-the-fuck-ever. You just—you want him. You want to live with him.

You want to live.

“Put your head down, let me get your hair,” you instruct Gamzee before he can look too closely at your face and the scowl you’re sure is etching itself into your features. Gamzee obediently ducks his head and you massage a copious amount of shampoo into his ridiculous curls. Once you’ve worked the shampoo into a lather, you rub your claws in soothing circles across his scalp, your chest warming as you see him relaxing beneath your touch. The undercoat of his hair is soft and thick beneath your fingers, an absolute contrast to the wiry texture of his curls, and you make sure every last strand is coated in shampoo. “Okay, head back. Keep your eyes closed.”

Gamzee tilts his head back, exposes the whole arch of his throat to you, and your breath hitches. You don’t even bother trying to resist the temptation and brush the pads of your fingers—gently, gently, as gently as you can—across his neck. He chirrs softly at you. Doesn’t even bother to open an eye and look at you, and you are sick with love for this scrawny, fucked-up troll.

You rinse the shampoo from his hair and replace it with an absolutely horrifying amount of conditioner before beginning to ease the tangles out with your fingers. He winces on occasion, but for the most part, it’s a smooth process—you’ve had a sweep of practice to perfect it. Once his mess of curls has been dealt with, you cup a hand over his eyes and rinse his hair out again. “There,” you declare, pushing his sodden bangs out of his eyes. “Done with your hair. Can you hand me the hide soap, now?”

Gamzee twists around to snag the bottle of hide soap, offering it to you. “And then I’m gonna do you, best friend. Get you all nice ‘n squeaky clean for me, my tiniest, most motherfucking perfect diamond,” he says, as you begin to lather up a washcloth with the soap. Your blush—which had almost died off—resurges, and you hiss petulantly at him. He laughs, ruffling your hair. “Aw, hey, it’s okay, motherfucker. Chill. I’m gonna take good care of you, don’t you worry.”

You’re not worried about that. You know Gamzee will take good care of you—doesn’t he always? You just—well, you nothing. Maybe you’re just looking for excuses to feel angry. It feels safer that way. Familiar.

You grumble wordlessly at him, moving the washcloth across his face, making sure to get behind his ears. You have to pause to rinse greasepaint off of the washcloth every two seconds, but it’s worth it, to see his unpainted face—open and vulnerable and the sweetest fucking thing on Alternia. For a minute, you just cup his jaw in your hand, rubbing your thumb across his cheek. A faint flush simmers just beneath his skin, and you lean forward and kiss the tip of his nose before resting your foreheads together.

“You’re beautiful,” you inform him, because you are the master romancer, it’s you. His flush darkens, to your immense satisfaction. “With or without your paint. You know that, right?”

Gamzee closes his eyes and whines at you, and ha, now who’s the flustered one?

“Yeah, you are,” you murmur, half to yourself. You hum softly and scratch your nails lightly beneath his chin. He leans into your hand, nuzzling against your palm. Cracks an eye open to look at you, and you trail your fingers lightly across the dark shadows beneath that eye. “The most beautiful diamond on Alternia.”

“You ‘n me, bro,” Gamzee says, his voice soft and warm. “You ‘n me both, we have the most beautiful diamond in the whole motherfuckin’ multiverse. Wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

“Me neither. I’m so pale for you it’s fucking stupid.” You look at him, moon-eyed like the sappy dumbass you are, then reluctantly shift your hand away from his face. As much as you love piling, the ablutions trap is not the ideal place for it. You smooth the washcloth across the rest of his skin, over his arms and chest and stupidly long legs. You take special care to scrub between each of his toes and fingers, then rub the cloth across his broad back and knobbly spine. The delicate spots between his legs are next, and you wash those gingerly, but no less thoroughly. Once you’re done, you dunk the washcloth underneath the water to rinse it out.

“All finished, brother?” Gamzee asks, peeking up hopefully at you. “Can a motherfucker get his rinse on now?”

“Yeah.” You stretch up to move the ablutions’ head, redirecting the stream of warm water towards him. He shimmies under it, rinsing suds from his skin and enfolding you in his arms at the same time. You lean your head against one scrawny bicep, watching him through lazy, half-lidded eyes. It’s so peaceful here, with him. It’s always so peaceful. No reasons for you to be angry, not really. Sometimes you wish you could stay here forever.

Then you remember that you’re a mutant freak and you’re going to die in three sweeps, when the imperial drones come for you. You guess there’s always a reason for you to be angry, no matter where you are. Ah, well.

“Let a brother help you clean up, Karbro?” Gamzee says, resting a hand in your hair. You hum your acceptance to him, suddenly too tired to think of anything witty or scathing enough to reply with. Thinking about your impending death tends to do that to you. Gamzee must notice, but for the moment, he doesn’t say anything—he simply dips his head and presses a kiss to your cheek, reaching for the shampoo. “Yeah. You just rest a while, brother. I’ll take care of you, now, it’s alright.”

You nuzzle lazily against him as he begins to massage the shampoo into your hair. He lingers longer than he needs to, really, rubbing his fingers in firm circles across your scalp and scratching behind your ears. You want to protest, but it feels so nice and you’re so tired and you don’t want to die because then you’ll miss out on this—

Gamzee tips your head back, cupping a hand across your eyes as he rinses the shampoo from your hair. The air smells clean and sharp. He begins to knead conditioner in next, scraping his claws lightly across your scalp and through the strands of your hair until you’re sure there’s a mountain of frothy bubbles on your head. Only then does he begin to rinse it out with the same slow, careful movements. Not a single bit of soap gets into your eyes.

“Theeere we go,” Gamzee murmurs, scratching along the side of your jaw. You yawn, and he rubs a finger along your bottom lip. You resist the temptation to nip him—but just barely. “Hair’s all done, little diamond. Just a couple more minutes and we’ll have you all nice ‘n tidy.”

“Better hurry,” you warn him, lifting one hand and squinting at the wrinkles on your fingertips. “I’m getting all soggy. Ick.”

Gamzee chuckles, lathering the washcloth up with fresh soap and beginning to carefully clean your face. “Well, we can’t have that, now. We’d just have to throw you in the dryer what with all these soggy clothes, I guess. Get you all motherfuckin’ toasty warm and dried out.” You snort, your ears flicking as Gamzee cleans them because it fucking tickles. “How’s that up and sound, my best brother?”

“It sounds hideously awful,” you say, as adamantly as you can when you’re snuggled up against your moirail as he rubs a washcloth in slow, fucking fantastic circles across your back and shoulders. “Dumbass. I’d probably melt.”

“Can’t be any hotter in the dryer than it is in that miracle blood of yours,” Gamzee protests, leaning back to wash your chest and stomach and arms. “Must be the hottest goddamn thing in the world, that blood, all full of fire and shit.”

“Mm, it’s hardly worth that poetic imagery.” You lean back against the trap wall when he nudges at you, letting him clean your legs and feet. “There’s nothing that special about it.”

“Well, sure there is, best friend.” Gamzee moves up, washing carefully between your legs, and you do your best not to clamp them shut even though washing there fucking tickles, too. “It’s the only blood of its color in the whole goddamn world. That’s pretty motherfuckin’ miraculous, if you ask me.”

“Everything is miraculous if I ask you,” you say, wrinkling your nose at him as he eases you back under the spray to rinse. “Besides, I’m definitely not the only thing with this shitty blood. Every single beast on this goddamned planet has it.”

You have the blood of a beast, and you’ll die just like one, too. Fucking fantastic.

“Hey, now.” A frown flickers across Gamzee’s face, and he brings his hand up to cup your chin. You blow water off of your lips and fumble to turn the spray off once the suds on your skin are gone. “Don’t you be comparing my most miraculous of brothers with any lowly beast. There’s a world of difference there, Karkat. An absolute world—fuck, a universe. You ain’t no animal, and I’m sure as hell not gonna let anybody call you one, ‘specially not yourself.”

You scowl at him because that’s stupid and romantic and you’re blushing again goddamnit. You don’t respond—nip at his fingers, instead, and he lets you. Lets you nibble at each rough, dark pad with your dull teeth, like he hasn’t the slightest fear of you biting. Your stomach flutters at the thought. He trusts you. He trusts you so much it just about makes you fucking sick.

“You’re a sappy shitstain,” you grouch at him, pressing a soft kiss to the palm of his hand before standing up and snagging a towel. You toss it into his face with a light whump, and it hooks on his horns. He shakes his head, whining petulantly as you begin to rub his hair and face dry. “Hold still—we gotta get dried off so we can eat, yeah? Don’t you wanna eat?”

Gamzee makes a little excited gasping sound at the reminder of food and stills beneath you, letting you dry the rest of him off without protest. He dries you off once you’re done with him, hands gentle and slow, and you find yourself leaning into his touch again. You can’t even bother pretending to be aloof and angry—and besides, what’s the point? It’s just you two here. Just the two of you, against the whole entire fucking world.

“There we go, bro,” Gamzee says, tossing the towel in the general direction of your laundry hamper. “Can we go get our munch on now? My stomach’s startin’ to rumble somethin’ fierce.”

“Mm, yeah—I’ll start prepping the carcass. We need clothes, though. It’s too cold to be walking around naked.” And, since both of you had been impatient and too busy flirting with each other to think, you haven’t brought any clothes into the bathroom. You sigh. “Right. I’ll go get them, you—”

“Nah, I got ‘em,” Gamzee says, stepping out of the tub. He holds a hand behind your shoulder as you climb out after him, like he’s afraid you’re going to fall, and honestly, even your lusus doesn’t treat you like such a fucking wiggler. “You can get on prepping that fine-ass carcass before we both wither away from hungerin’.”

You snort—you’re certainly not going to wither away anytime soon, but you think your beanpole of a moirail might not be so lucky. “Alright, alright. Go get some clothes—clean ones, preferably. I’ll be in the kitchen.”

Gamzee slips off towards his respiteblock, humming cheerfully, while you abscond to the kitchen. You wipe down the table—god knows what’s been on it—and set out two plates, along with silverware. You also pick one of Gamzee’s sharpest kitchen knives and rinse it off; once you’ve finished that, Gamzee slips into the kitchen, already dressed. His shirt’s on backwards, but you’ll take what you can get.

“Here you go, little invertebrother,” he says, beaming at you and handing you a mound of your clothes. You yank them on, then peek outside. The rain still splatters from the sky, and you wrinkle your nose.

“I’ll be back in a few minutes, okay? Stay in here—I don’t need you getting soaking wet again.” You snag his jacket (big and black and cozy) off of the rack next to the door, pulling it on and flipping the hood up over your head. Gamzee makes a little sound of protest behind you, but you’re out of the door before he can speak. You quickly decaptchalogue the hoofbeast carcass, skinning and gutting it with brutal and practiced efficiency. You toss the skin out onto the sand—you’ll deal with it tomorrow—and captchalogue most of the organs again, then slice the meat into smaller and more manageable parts.

Once you’ve finished that bloody work—and it never gets any less sickening, seeing your garish red color slicking your hands and arms—you duck back into the hive. Gamzee slouches at the table, scooping sopor out of one of his stupid pies with his fingers. You wrap and store the organs and most of the meat in the deep thermal hull, where Gamzee can snack on it throughout the week, but set a single haunch in the sink.

“How do you want it cooked?” you ask, sawing off a small slab of the meat and carefully examining it for parasites. Gamzee lifts his head, his nostrils flaring at the scent of lukewarm blood. Once you’ve decided the meat is safe, you toss the slab in Gamzee’s general direction. He lunges for it, and you hear the heavy snap of his jaws as he catches it.

“Mm, however you want it is chill with me,” Gamzee says, his voice muffled through his mouthful of meat as he scarfs it down.

“Don’t talk with your mouth full,” you remind him absently, focusing on the meat again. You set out a skillet and begin heating it, slicing off several thin strips of the haunch and setting them in to cook. For all the effort you went through to set out plates, they don’t get used even a single time. Once Gamzee’s finished the first slab of meat, he drifts closer to you, looming over your shoulder and snuffling at the scent gland beneath your jaw like the nasty (and adorable) goat-troll he is.

You end up feeding him the meat directly from the skillet—as soon as a slice is warmed, you scoop it out with your claws and toss it back to him. He snaps it out of the air, and you shiver, hearing the clack of those enormous highblood fangs behind you. That’s your boy. That’s your highblood. It gives you a sort of visceral satisfaction, getting to take care of him like this. He gobbles up the first few slices without complaint, but when you toss him the forth slice, he catches it and nudges your shoulder.

“What?” you ask, flipping over another slice so both sides cook evenly.

“A brother needs to eat, too,” Gamzee mumbles through the meat held gingerly between his teeth. “Here. Take this one.”

Your ears twitch in giddy embarrassment, but you are hungry, and you’re not selfless enough to turn down fresh, warm meat. So, dutifully ignoring the burn in your cheeks (which is growing far too familiar tonight), you lean in and snatch the meat from his mouth. Press a tiny kiss to his lips as you do, too, then toss your head back to get the meat between your teeth and chew. If you’d tried to take food from any other troll that way (or tried to take food from another troll period), you’d get your throat slit for your troubles. But Gamzee is your moirail, and you trust him as much as he trusts you.

At least you’d like to think so, wouldn’t you?

Gamzee chitters at you, low and slow and pleased, and you headbutt him in the chin.

The rest of dinner follows the same way—you trade off slices until almost half of the haunch is gone and your belly is full and warm. Gamzee stretches leisurely, slumping back at the table and pulling his half-finished pie closer again. You wag the knife lazily in his direction. “Don’t eat too much of that.”

It’s as far as you’ll go, right now. You don’t want Gamzee to rely on sopor, fuck, of course you don’t—but he’s not ready to let go of it, and you know if you push it’ll only backfire. It has before. And, you must admit, you’re not ready, either. Makes you sick to think it—you’re selfish and awful and terrible and deserve to be eaten by maggots while wallowing in a pit of self-loathing and despair—but you think it anyway. You don’t know Gamzee, without the sopor, but you know highbloods. They’re violent and cruel and fucking insane. You hope Gamzee isn’t like that. You’d like to think he isn’t. You’re afraid he is—and for once in your shitty fucking life, you don’t want to be proven right.

You rinse the beast’s blood from your hands, then wash the skillet and put away the plates. Gamzee washes out his pie tin, once he’s scraped it clean, and then drapes himself over you. Nestles his chin in between your horns and yawns. The sun is starting to peek over the horizon, bathing the far wall in pale golds and reds.

“You ready to get our rest on, bro?” Gamzee asks, nuzzling absently against one of your horns and sending lazy shivers down your spine. “I sure as hell am. Huntin’ makes a motherfucker real tired.”

You reach up, patting his cheeks. “Yeah. C’mon.” You lead him into his respiteblock and strip down to your boxers. He does the same, climbing into his ‘coon—it’s a red coon, you’d noticed long ago, the same color as his husktop. Rusty red, sure, but they didn’t very well make ‘coons or husktops in your freakish color, did they? You’re determined to see it as little piece of serendipity. (The fact that you may have a purple ‘coon and husktop helps, too.)

Gamzee opens his arms for you, and you climb into his ‘coon after him, snuggling up against his chest because you’re tired and shameless and you’re dying in three sweeps and you aren’t going to miss out on a day of pale cuddles because you were embarrassed. You rest your head against Gamzee’s shoulder and he turns his nose into the crook of your neck. “Good morning, best friend,” he murmurs softly, voice muffled through the sopor but no less affectionate.

You close your eyes, relax in his arms. You’re safe. As long as you’re with him, everything feels safe and like it might just, somehow, be okay—at least for these last three sweeps. “Good morning, Gamzee.”