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A Lovely Way to Burn

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At noon on Saturday, John taps on the side of Karkat's recuperacoon and says, "You awake?"

Karkat's head, smeared in goop, pokes out the top. He peers at John, makes the weird hacking noise of coughing all the sopor out of his lungs, and then says, voice scratchy, "Go away."

"I made you an omelet, though."

Karkat's eyelids flutter.

"It's bacon and mushrooms," John wheedles.

Karkat's face scrunches up and he groans. "Jesus, don't talk about food, I can't handle that, go away." He dives back down into the sopor.

John stares at the side of the recuperacoon – Karkat, turning down bacon? But maybe he's just tired. They stayed up pretty late yesterday, after all. What with watching The Sorcerer's Apprentice 2; eating ice cream on the couch; Karkat stealing some of John's cookie dough ice cream by kissing him with a mouth tasting of hazelnut; the ensuing makeout session; and the eventual progression to out-and-out sex involving a pail.


At two, John knocks at the side of the recuperacoon again. Waits a moment. There's a gloop noise that he associates with Karkat doing the troll equivalent of rolling over in bed. He knocks again.

Karkat emerges again, hacks out some of the slime, and, eyes closed, says, "Bright."

"Yep, ‘cause it's daytime," John says. "Are you hungry?"

"Go'way. Bright."

There's a red flush high on Karkat's cheeks, visible despite the green shading from the sopor slime, and he's shivering.

"Are you sick?"

Karkat shakes his head, convulsively, and shivers again.

"Yeah, okay, I don't believe you," John says, and reaches up towards Karkat, touches his forehead. It's…normal. Karkat turns his head slightly, so John's fingers brush over his temple, up to the base of one horn, where the skin is hot under his fingertips. John rubs a little gentle circle there, and Karkat doesn't move away, so he does it again, and after a few more times Karkat makes a soft chirruping noise, the same one he makes when he's happy and relaxed, only this time it sounds thick and wet.

"Do you have the troll flu?" John asks, and then, "Can I get it?"

Karkat's eyes are still closed, but he nods, then shakes his head.

"Do you want me to turn the lights off?"


John goes to the window and lowers the curtain most of the way, then returns to the side of the recuperacoon, where he slides his fingers back into Karkat's hair. Karkat's shaking now, not with cold but with exhaustion.

"How about you get out of the recuperacoon and take a hot shower, and then I'll bundle you up in bed with me and give you a head massage and keep you warm, and you can sleep near me for a while?"

Karkat blinks at him without saying anything, so John goes to the bathroom, fills the bathtub with hot water, and returns to the respiteblock/bedroom. Karkat's breathing wetly, and although he's still standing up in his recuperacoon, it looks more like reflex than will.

John takes his hand and helps him out of the recuperacoon. Karkat is slippery with sopor slime, and gets John wet when John has to hold him close to keep him upright.

He...pretty much has to carry Karkat to the tub. But once he helps Karkat sit in it, Karkat stops shivering for a bit, and when John gets naked and crawls into the bathtub behind him, he rests his head against John's chest readily enough. Sighs softly when John goes back to rubbing circles around the base of his horns, over his temples, fingers pressing into the muscles of his neck and shoulders. John isn't bothered by the way Karkat's hair is messy with sopor – truth be told, he's used it as emergency hair gel on a couple of desperate occasions.


Karkat sort of drowses against him for a little while, and round about the time John starts getting uncomfortably pruney, Karkat wakes up and starts shivering again. John helps him out of the bath, towels them both off, and herds him back into the respiteblock/bedroom.

He debates putting a pair of boxers or something on, just because the odds are that he's going to wake up with a boner, and Karkat being sick will make him feel like a pervert for it, but Karkat collapses onto the bed with a sad sort of sigh, so John just drags some extra blankets into the bedroom, throws them on the bed, and lets Karkat curl up around him before dragging all the covers back up.

Karkat is really, really warm. Like "that summer vacation where they visited Dave and the hotel's room's air conditioning unit didn't work too well and Karkat took a nap in the bed next to John and they woke up sweaty and stuck together, and then they had the messiest sex of John's life" warm.

And, yeah, okay, the boxers might've been a good idea. Not that Karkat isn't pretty familiar with John's dick or anything, but this is kind of not the time.

He doesn't try to hide it or anything, since that would just make it more obvious, so instead he keeps his hands running through Karkat's hair, over his neck and shoulders. Karkat sighs softly, happily, relaxing against him, and is asleep a few minutes later.

Karkat smells different like this. Probably because he's sick. It's not a huge difference, like a pinch of wet dog on top of the usual sweat and burnt toast kind of smell, but it's different, and John just kind of presses his cheek to the nape of Karkat's neck and holds onto him and breathes deep, hoping that troll flu doesn't cross over to humans. Karkat was immune to the flu the last time John got it, a couple of years ago, at least.

John dozes off after a little while, kept all warm by Karkat's body heat, and wakes up when Karkat rolls over and accidentally headbutts him.


"Sorry." Karkat burrows closer to him, then his face furrows. He shifts a leg, thoughtfully, against John's half-hard dick, then stops frowning. "Reproduction instincts tomorrow, probably," he says.


"Immune system going. Body might die. Pailing time." Karkat rubs the base of one horn up against John's jaw, so John takes the suggestion and starts back in on the massage.

"Oh," John says, excited and feeling like a pervert all at once.

"Sleep now," Karkat adds, relaxing slowly against him. John holds the warmth of him close. Listens to him breathe wetly and waits for him to feel better.