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Morning After

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John has always been proud of his ability to sleep through just about any noise there exists, but scent is another thing entirely.

He wakes when the heavenly smell of sugar-laden pancakes finishes oozing its way through his room. Well, "wakes" is a big word, but he oozes his way back along the trail. He's got a good autopilot.

Thump. Thump. Goddamn stairs. Fwump. Kitchen doors.

"Mnnp'ncakes?"

"Ah, son, good morning."

He can smell honey and about four different kinds of jam and Nutella and who knows what else. He waves vaguely in his father's direction. ... pause. Wait. His father's behind him, in the living room.

The pancakes are in front of him. Target is obvious.

Magical self-cooking pancakes. He must say it out loud because Gamzee snorfles out a seal-like laugh. "Nah bro, no miracles save that of the mixing getting its delirious alchemy on. Ain't no self-twirling mix baton as exists yet."

John flops in the closest empty chair. Too many words. "... Mn. Pancakes."

"Haha, sure thing, bro. Zoom! Make space for this rad motherfucking helicarrier with its hellnasty payload of--"

"Gamzee, food plates are not Frisbees."

Oh hey there's Karkat too. Didn't see him sitting... right in front of him. John waves hello somewhat, and then just in case he curls up defensively over and around the plate Gamzee put down in front of him with a disappointed thump.

Mm pancakes.

Those taste a little different. They are still deliriously delicious. Everything is delicious ever since Dad gave up on Batterwitch-stained cheating shortcuts.

Why, everything seems better when eating those! The groove of Karkat's permascowl looks fainter. (Hehe, like that's even possible!) Gamzee looks less creepy.

Also grayer. No wait, that's because he's not all painted up.

Huh.

Pancakes. Mm pancakes.

"This is the seventh time I witness this and I still can't believe it."

Karkat is talking at him. Karkat is not made of pancake. John glowers at him and keeps masticating happily.

"You look remarkably like a milkbeast chewing its cud."

"Y'look remarkably like a shaddup."

"Ha! It speaks. Good morning, Egbert. ...John."

"Mornin'. Gimme th'strawberry jam."

... Blink. Blink. Is that a smile on Karkat's face? It must be a muscle spasm. John stares at the jam jar Karkat just pushed into his hand. Like... Amicably. Helpfully even. Maybe it's boobytrapped?

Karkat doesn't say anything else, and Gamzee is humming a tuneless song to himself as he prods at something on the ... food preparation thing. John returns to his breakfast.

He's a bit confused, though. Gamzee's making pancakes. Like the one John just ate? Huh, maybe that's why it's a bit different. He considers it. Okay, no, there's not much to consider, actually. "Can I have another?"

"Sure thing, bro. Hehe, bro."

He munches away. Huh. Karkat looks half-asleep, but not like usual when he's half-asleep and furious about being half-asleep and like he'd kill to have some real sleep, only he can't because he's Karkat and Karkats can't have nice things and so instead he'd kill anyone who made him think about how asleep he'd love to be. More like... Half-asleep. Normalhalf-asleep.

Gamzee is shaking his skeletal booty in rhythm with the spatula. Ooookaaaay.

"... naturally," his father is saying in the other room. must be on the phone. "... would be delighted if you chose to follow but I understand if... yes, that is a very good point. John, your cousin might stay with us for a little bit, I hope you will not mind ceding your bedroom for a short while. A lady does not sleep on the couch."

Uh. Wha. "Which? Like... Jane or Jade?" Because in this weird new too-normal world, of course Jane can't be his grandma, and Jade can't be his ectosib twin mixclone, so legally cousins. He doesn't even pretend to understand the family tree.

"Jane, son." Dad points at the phone. So either she's on the phone or her creepily-like-his-own-dad dad is.

John frowns at his half-eaten pancake. With the random chomped-off bits it almost makes a picture. If he squints maybe he'll see what it reminds him of. "...But she lives next door."

His father chuckles. John's pranking alarm starts beeping in the background. Something is being hidden from him. "So she does! Yes, my apologies, Phil. You are entirely right, I must sort this out with John first. I will call you back."

He puts the phone back in its cradle and walks back into the kitchen. John scrunches his eyebrows at him, chewing warily. (Mm pancake.)

Dad drags in a chair, sits in front of him, only Karkat's already there so they kind of end up almost elbow to elbow.

Karkat doesn't shuffle away. John's pranking alarms start blaring. He has never managed to get Karkat to help him prank anyone else, but his dad is a master. If anyone could, he could. This is pretty worrisome!

And then Gamzee drifts by, wiping his hands on his apron, and stands behind Dad, and grins.

John didn't know his prank'o'meter had a defcon 3 setting. Looks like he's gonna have to wake up all the way after all. Darn.

He can't help but be excited anyway.