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What am I Without You?

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Karl mulls about Kinoko Kingdom, humming to himself slightly. A tune he remembers hearing somewhere, but he could never tell you where. Books need reorganizing, records need keeping. That’s how most days went lately, Karl distracting himself with tasks about the mushroom kingdom while Sapnap was far-off in the woods practicing his swordsmanship and other fighting styles. Karl was much more interested in fighting with his words, and didn’t feel the need to hone such physical crafts as that, but he supported Sapnap in his interest of it. Albeit, support from afar. Things had been strained between the two fiances lately, with the loss of their third to a life they didn’t understand, but they’d never say that. Always keeping closed off and never talking about what desperately needed conversation. It affected their relationship drastically, the two growing apart.

Sapnap returns home at sunset, dirt smudged across his face and hair tousled. Gruffly mumbling to himself, he entered his and Karl’s shared home, pulling the white bandana from his head with a sigh.

“What’s wrong my love? You seem frustrated about something.” Karl acknowledges Sapnaps demeanor while placing a book back on the shelf.
“Nothing, I just ran into Charlie in the woods today and it just made me irritated.” Sapnap exhales, sitting down in a chair in the main room of their house.

The house they built together was cozy, a crackling fire in the fireplace, warm yellow light flooding the room. There were pictures of their friends in mismatched frames covering a whole wall, smiling, laughing faces of memories long passed and friends long gone. Over the months, Sapnap had slowly started to remove photos from the wall. Ones of him and Dream slowly lose their place on the cherished wall. Karl doesn’t notice, until photos of them and Quackity slowly start disappearing also. He doesn’t mention anything about the disappearances of their third fiance.

“What's wrong with Charlie? He seems like a sweet enough guy.” Karl inquires, perching himself on an ottoman near Sapnap's side.

“Charlie himself wasn’t the issue, it was who he was talking about.” Sapnaps sighs, flopping back to fully relax in his chair while running a hand through his black hair.

Karl sucks in a breath as he sighs considerately, he knows who Charlie was speaking about. When you know where Charlie lives and works, it’s pretty easy to assume. No questions need to be asked before Karl gently places a loving hand on Sapnaps knee.

“I know my angel, I miss him too.” Karl says, barely above a whisper. Sapnap hangs his head, and reaches for the ring on his finger.

He twists it around slowly, admiring the engraved S, Q, and K on the outside of the band. Sapnap's eyes flicker to Karls hand on his knee, catching the shine of his matching ring on his finger. The tension in the air is thick.

“Do you think he still wears his?” Sapnap asks, looking up at Karl with defeated eyes. He looks tired. Karl looks far off, contemplating his answer. He shakes his head, looking crushed; no more words need to be spoken.

“Sometimes I hope he’ll come home,” Karl sighs, “I even leave the door unlocked at night. Part of me knows he’s not coming back, but laying in bed at night I still hope y’know?” He chuckles. Sapnap looks wordlessly at Karl, both of them sharing the same sentiment. “It’s okay that you miss him.”

They sit in silence for hours, Karl having moved to Sapnaps lap. Sitting together in one chair, they listen to each other's steady heartbeats at the sound of the soon-dying fire. The quiet understanding of mutual loss flows between them like water, sharing grief together. A clock on the wall ticks quietly, the only indication that time has been passing so slowly. By the time Karl stirs, it's completely dark outside; and the low hum of the crickets gives him an idea.

“Hey, get up please. there’s something I finally want to show you.” Karl nudges Sapnap's shoulder, looking at him with kind eyes. Karl walks off to a different room to retrieve a blanket, and an old sweatshirt for Sapnap. “Put this on, it’s chilly out.” Karl says as he tosses the sweatshirt onto Sapnap’s lap, wrapping the blanket around his own shoulders.

“Where are we going that’s outside? It’s nearly 1 a.m.” Sapnap squints at the clock on the wall, sitting up and stretching.

“Just trust me, it’ll be nice,” Karl extends his hand to Sapnap, pulling him up out of the chair, “c’mon.”

They exit the front door, and the chill of the air is immediately apparent. It's Autumn in Kinoko Kingdom, and all the trees are vibrant oranges and reds. The streetlamps cast dim yellow light onto the cobblestone paths, and the wind rustles the leaves and bushes surrounding the way. The kingdom is gorgeous at night, warm tones of crimson and fiery orange light up Kinoko so it could be spotted a million miles away. Karl looks down to grasp Sapnap's hand gently within his own, walking down the path towards a watch tower on the edge of the kingdom.

Sapnap pauses, standing in Kinoko’s town square, where you can see the extent of the mushroom kingdom. “I've never stopped to appreciate how beautiful this place is.” Sapnap sighs, turning around slowly, “this really is our home. I wish we could share it with Q.”

Karl grins, “Yeah, well it’s even prettier from above. Now c’mon, sweetheart.” Karl pulls Sapnap, walking quicker towards the watchtower.

They reach the tower, and Karl fumbles with a keyring that he keeps around his belt. He flicks through keys until finding one labelled W, and hums triumphantly. He opens the door and walks towards the staircase with determination, Sapnap following close behind.

“I still don’t get what we're doing in the watchtower, I’ve seen Kinoko from up here countless times.” Sapnap mutters, following close on Karl's tail. Late nights early in Kinoko’s construction, Sapnap would sleep up in the tower, because he feared something would happen to his new hope during the late hours of the night. Nothing ever happened.

“Well, nosy boy, what if I told you there was a way to go higher than the platform of the watchtower?” Karl says, turning around to Sapnap once they reach the top of the building. He walks around the back, scanning the awning of the platform until he finds a small frayed rope tacked onto the wall. He hastily removes it from its support and yanks, and drops down a ladder that leads directly onto the roof of the tower. Sapnap gasps surprisedly as Karl quickly moves up the ladder.

“Well, are you coming? Or are you scared of heights?” Karl teases Sapnap from above.

“I am not scared of heights.” Sapnap grumbles, moving up the ladder. He gasps as he enters onto the roof of the watchtower, vines from neighboring trees wrap around the structure, creating a rooftop garden. Small potted plants are scattered around the perimeter of the roof, and Karl has strung up lights around the edges to create an inviting yellow hue.

“Sometimes I come up here at night, to clear my head. I just need a breather sometimes, and it's so calm and quiet up here, above the trees.” Karl smiles to himself, relieved to be sharing this space finally with Sapnap. “But also because of this.” He points north. Far away are the neon lights of Las Nevadas, the bright sign lit up like a beacon in the night. It almost looks like daylight there in contrast with the dark surrounding landscape. Sapnap suppresses a gasp.

“From here, it’s almost like he’s still with us. Like seeing Las Nevadas means we still have a part of him.” Karl sits on the roof, eyes fixed upon the twinkling lights. “The stars blend together with the lights from there, I could only imagine what it looks like from the ground there. The sky must seem endless, so many stars. I hope he knows we all look at the same universe.”

Sapnap lays his head on Karl’s lap, looking up at the sky. The stars twinkle above the fiances, shining just for them and their missing fiance. “I miss him.” Sapnap says, barely above a whisper.

“I do too, but we’ll always have each other.” Karl looks down lovingly at Sapnap.

“What am I without you?” Sapnap whispers, head laying on Karl’s lap, looking up at the stars and his best friend.

“Yourself, silly boy,” Karl smiles, reaching down to place his hand on Sapnap's cheek, “you’re just you.”

“And that’s the best part.”