The blood drips from his face. It isn’t his, which is good, because that amount of blood coming from a head wound would probably be fatal.
His shoulders are soaked.
His grin, deranged, is focused on the ribcage clutched in his hand.
He’s panting heavily.
You can’t lie to yourself at this moment; you find it pretty hot.
Then you feel disgusted with yourself that you could think your moirail flipping his shit and murdering three people in front of you was in anyway romantic, even if he did do it for you.
At least partially. Maybe. If you were dangerously delusional enough to believe that.
“Just.... fuck damn, best friend. I ain’t feel this good in aaaaaages.”
He crushes the rib in his grasp to dust. The rest falls to the dyed sand and is licked by the waves. You feel a sting.
You had just jammed the previous night, for hours. And yet savaging these trolls who might as well be nameless made him feel better than you ever could.
You focus on your own offense rather than what he’s actually done (holy shit there is blood everywhere).
“That’s very reassuring, Gamzee. I feel so safe and protected now that I know that me papping your dumb ass is less enjoyable than you potentially killing mine.”
He sharpens up right quick. His gaze sort of hurts you, but you hold it anyway.
“I ain’t never gunna do this to you, best friend.”
He gestures vaguely to the horrible carnage at your feet. You hold his gaze to avoid looking at the things surrounding you.
“I- I needed- fuck, you need ablutions.”
You stomp over to him and don’t look down when you stumble over something fleshy.
He meekly lets you lead him off towards his hive, bending down quickly to captchalogue the sickle you (and later he) dropped.
The sand tilts you awkwardly, but you get to his push portal without losing too much dignity.
“In. You smell like an abattoir shit bucket, which falls short of even the wildly lax standards I have for your hygiene.”
He goes through the door you hold for him. Tiny splashes of blood follow him as he makes his way up the stairs.
You are acutely reminded of how differently he does even this simple thing now.
He no longer walks like slouching cullbait, hasn’t for over two sweeps. He walks like he owns everything he touches.
Which sort of makes your bloodpusher clench in stupid ways you like.
You have to focus on the positives of this relationship, or you’ll puke all over yourself.
You breathe in and lock the door. You sprint upstairs.
Gamzee is already in his ablution trap, stripped and sitting with his fronds on his knees.
He’s not in a mood to do things slow, or romantic.
You fumblingly reach forwards and grab the water ejector.
“Lean your head back; your hair is just-”
He does what you say and you spend the next 10 minutes getting most of the blood out.
Your hands are shaking by the time you’re done.
“Okay, now your, uh-“
“Just a minute bro.”
He turns off the water stream. You look at each other.
His clown paint is mostly intact, except for the streak of indigo staining his face.
“What is it?”
“I think we should all up and sort you out before we get all on this motherfucker’s cleanity issues.”
“What the fuck ever. What’s wrong?”
“Haha! What the fuck, are you serious?” Your voice cracks strangely.
“Yeah. Talk to me about it.”
You stare at him and try figuring out if he really is that much of an idiot.
“Are you kidding me? Is this the first time your idiotic, clown brain has actually managed to make a joke that makes me laugh, even sarcastically? Are you kidding me.”
“Not at this particular moment, bro.”
“I just saw you murder three people with a glee I didn’t think anyone could experience without exploding their happiness gland! What the fuck about my reaction is such a mystery to you that you would ask me such a stupid fucking question?”
He doesn’t say anything, just stares at you with that creepy half lidded gaze.
“What? What is going through your soup of a brain? Did something fly through your aurals and piss all over your internal circuitry? Did you stroke out? Oh god, did you actually get brain damage out there? I swear to fuck, if you die, and the last thing you ever heard was me calling you a moron, I will-”
He blinks then smiles a little.
“Nah, best friend. Just takin in what all you’re puttin down. Gettin my lesson on real good like.”
“What lesson is that? I clearly am completely unable to teach you anything, let alone anything while you’re buck ass fucking naked in an ablution trap, and for gods’ sake, can we please just go back to washing all that shit off?!”
“Sure thing, brother.”
He stands up and towers over you as you turn on the water ejector. He takes it from you and affixes it to it wall holster.
Heedless of the water splashing to the tile around you, his washes his upper torso and you wash his lower body. You’re a little rougher than you need to be at first.
It’s not strictly necessary; he was wearing pants when he-
(was holding one over his head and tearing them open and apart with a roaring laugh. You locked eyes with them before-)
-when it happened. But you just want to touch him. Just to be sure that he’s really here, really a troll and not a raw force of destruction.
Touching him sends shivers up your arm. You soften your hands on him.
He’s trying very hard not to let the bloody water and soap from his arms hit you. You appreciate it.
You know this troll, for all that he’s changed, for all that he’s insane.
“Best friend?” He lays a hand on your head. You look up, lean into his touch.
“You up and thinkin you wanna join me in here?”
It occurs to you that Gamzee is still very naked and you are still very much sticky with sweat steeped clothes.
You stand up. “Yeah, just let me-“
“Let me, brother.”
He reaches over and so slowly pulls off your clothes, fingers trailing on your skin. Oh yes.
You are so desperate for this that you just about fall limp from this very slight contact. The adrenaline from earlier dissipates entirely in a moment.
“Careful, best friend.”
He catches you when your knees buckle.
“Gamzee, I miss you.” You aren’t even sure what you’re saying. He pulls you into the trap while unhurriedly removing your pants.
“I’m right here, motherfucker. Right here. Not goin anywhere.”
“Please don’t kill me if I pass out.”
He inhales sharply. Fuck, why do you have to fuck everything up?
“I up and told you, motherfucker, I ain’t gunna do that to you.”
He still sounds shooshing soft, but there’s an edge there.
“Oh alright. If you say so. I’m sure your word is your bond. Just... don’t go. Don’t leave me, please. As pathetic as that request is to make to an omnicidal former junkie wearing too much make up.”
He sighs and aims the water ejector at you. It drizzles on your back as you cling to the tower of a troll in front of you.
“I ain’t goin nowhere. You’re here. You’re safe.”
He touches you so lightly down your side. One arm holds you hard against his chest, like a steel bar at your back.
“I pity you so much, motherfucker. So fuckin much.” He whispers that last part into your hair.
“Don’t ya’ll be fuckin apologizin none.
“If you’d let me finish, I’m sorry that I didn’t stop you from killing those-”
That catches your attention. He almost never says your name properly. You look up.
“Karkat, I make my own choices. It’s all my own doin what I do.”
“I’m you’re fucking moirail, dumb shit. It’s my job to keep your shit in line, not smeared across the beach like so many maimed bodies.”
“As my moirail, you’re just supposed to be here. And if you all up and think you want to get the motherfuck away from this crazy ass ninja trash, then you all up and do that. I’ll pay for your motherfuckin train ticket.’
‘But I don’t want to get away from you!”
“Not even a little?”
It’s a question, but obviously one he already knows the answer to. You sent someone to kill him once upon a time. And gave well wishes to Kanaya when she wanted to try her hand at it too.
There’s a long pause, uncomfortable but you use it to decide between being petty or honest.
“I made my choices too. I won’t lie, it’s hard being with you sometimes, especially after tonight when you just left me to-”
“I didn’t leave you!”
“Stop fucking interrupting. Do you know how long you were playing with your new paint set? Do you know how fucking long you were out there?”
“Uhhh, I got an idea.”
“You were there for four hours, Gamzee. Four fucking hours during which I was all alone watching some psycho tear apart kids about our age. Four fucking hours during which you did not listen to a single fucking word I said! Fuck, I’m such a coward. I ran away. A total fuck up. I could have saved them, I could have, but instead- oh goddamn it, Gamzee I was so scared and you weren’t there! You weren’t there, you were too b-busy trying to- ffffuck!”
You bury your face in his pectorals. You try to bite back sobs, but they seep out as whines instead. The black behind your eyelids becomes Nepeta and the near liquidized remains of her limbs, that horrible bug eyed look on Equius’ face. The way his tongue swelled between his teeth. Kids you knew but can never know again. People who are just gone from your life because of someone you love more than you should.
He freezes and you hope it’s out of guilt not just emotional incompetence. You want him to hurt for this. You want him to understand.
“They were.... they were attacking you.”
Your throat sounds ripped as you say, “Don’t try to bullshit me, Gamzee. You took your time with the third one. She wasn’t a threat anymore. You didn’t have to kill any of them, but you- you didn’t even care that I was there. Hurting strangers meant more to you than I do.”
“No best friend, no.”
“Then what it is, Gamzee? Did you think I would enjoy your religious performance art? That I would just be super psyched to reminisce about the first time you slashed your sanity to shreds and killed two of our friends? Three, if you count manipulating Terezi into killing Vriska. Oh yeah, that’s a great memory, one I really cherish. I’m glad we have that experience together.”
“Can we all like-“
He pulls you to him and sinks to the bottom of the trap, you on his lap. He drags you closer and inhales the scent of your throat. You really should feel more threatened than you do.
“’I’m real fucking sorry, brother. I didn’t mean to hurt you.”
“Then why do you do it?” You sit back to look him in the eye.
He looks at you, all desperate and defiant.
“Those voices, man. They never go away, not all the way away. And I get so motherfuckin angry, all the time it’s like my skin is fffffuckin boilin. And I hear a thing telling me to destroy everything and a voice telling me to take my time and plan the wicked ruination and I can’t tell the MOTHERFUCKIN DIFFERENCE between them and me.”
His shout echoes harshly against the tile and water.
“I’m sorry brother. I don’t even know if I’m all up and bein your motherfuckin moirail anymore because I feel like I’m all bein too many motherfuckers at once.’
‘I’m such an idiot fuck up. I ruined everything.”
He’s rocking back and forth now. Gritting his teeth and his eyes are watering.
You should hate hearing this, but you’re relieved that he’s miserable. It’s reassuring to know that despite his arrogance and cruelty and sadistic delight at bloodshed, he has enough self-awareness to hate himself.
You have enough self-awareness to hate yourself too for being comforted by his pain.
You don’t move closer but you rub your thumbs on his shoulder.
“I’m so sorry, man. That’s so shitty.”
He barks a laugh and continues.
“I’m so mad, Karkat. I hate myself, I was so motherfuckin stupid! If I hadn’t been a stupid dumbshit wriggler and stayed away from the sopor, I wouldn’t all up and be this.... thing. I have a hole in my brain through that the evil comes through. I can’t all up and sew that shit up. I’m too motherfuckin broken.’
‘I’m too broken, too dangerous for you. I’m made evil and wrong. I’m sorry.”
He hides his head in your in the crook of your neck. He whispers, to himself you think.
“i don’t know what’s real anymore. how do I know which voice is all to bein mine?”
You don’t know how to really answer that. This is the most he’s talked about those voices since after his last flip out, when he punched through someone’s chest and ate their bloodpusher, and then you shut his ‘not my fault’ woofbeastshit down.
Saying ‘the voices made me do it’ is an excuse, right? There’s no way someone could do that kind of shit and not be responsible for it.
But on the off chance that he’s not lying to you or himself, you say nothing. Just hold him closer. He clings tighter. You can hear a sob being choked back down, like he’s afraid you’ll hear it.
“Shh, shh, shhhhh. I’m right here. You’re demented and dreadful, but if you need to get snot on me, I’ll find the sainthood necessary to forgive you for that.”
You stroke down his back. He seems to realize same as you that your hands are still shaking. He leans away.
“You ain’t doin good.”
“No I’m fucking not.”
“I did that. I all up and fearified your pan, brother, all up and twisted you up and split you open inside.”
He’s speaking in something close to a monotone. He looks vacant, his mood vacillating jarringly.
As much as you think you know him, you can never really predict him.
“Gamzee, how can I know when you’re hearing voices? Ideally before you eviscerate someone in front of me again.”
Wrong thing to say. He looks horrified and like he’s about to throw up.
“Shit, just ignore me, okay? We can talk about it later. I’m an insensitive bulgebite, and I pity you even if you’re crazy beyond all reason.”
He laughs in that despairing way hopeless people do.
“I pity you too, brother. Even if you’ll never get it, I motherfuckin pity you.”
“Sorry. For, er, not getting it.”
You share a semi-uncomfortable silence with each other for a minute.
You are actually really fucking cold. You’re currently sitting in rapidly cooling water with an ice sculpture made troll, which probably isn’t doing much for your still shaking extremities.
“Okay, clownbreath, I’m fucking freezing and you’re way too fucking tall to remain in this filth pit for this long. Come on, get your circusy ass up and take your strikingly handsome moirail to your coon like you can pretend to be an almost civilized troll.”
He smiles. The eyes are too wide and the mouth moves oddly, like plasticine, but it’s better than vomit face.
You step out, in sync, and dry each other off. It’s surprisingly well coordinated, with little bumping into each other, and you both end up dry and marginally more soothed. You leave your clothes behind.
You deliberately ignore that there is still a godly about of viscera in his hair as you lead him to his recuperacoon.
He steps in first, then lifts you up (to your not at all affected ire) over the lip and settles you next to him. You shift over and accidentally elbow him in the gut and pretend not to feel bad about it.
“Not even sorry.”
“Get me givin righteous focus to these upcomin bitchtits snuggles.”
“You are terrible at language and you should stop.”
“Honk honk all up in the hood, best friend. I am all down with these radically reasonable rules you layin down good, best friend. Rest, friend. We down to lay the wicked rhythms of the evenin down to wake up all rested.”
“Stop fucking rapping!”
“Hehe. Honk. Sleep’s not enough to stop-”
“I will actually twist off your foot, and shove into your face, through no particular orifice, experimenting with technique and screaming wrath until I get the most pleasing auditory experience possible.”
“Oh so you can throw down the sick slams, but I can’t?”
“Exactly. I’m glad you finally understand. Except no, because these are not slams, they will never be slams, and no one should ever slam again, unless they want to see me, and any other logical, sane troll in existence simultaneously concave their own skulls from face palming so hard it creates a sonic boom that deafens all survivors rendering the slamming itself, pointless. I mean, more pointless than it already is.”
He just laughs that dumb laugh (the one that most definitely doesn’t make you melt even a little) and kisses you behind your ear. Then he whispers to you.
“Even if I was all up and bein deaf, best friend, your words wouldn’t never be pointless. I would read the words from your lips and memorize them as sacred scripture and have them echo in my bloodpusher until the day I up and am crushed to star dust. Everything you up and are I cherish even if I ain’t got the sense or senses to all understand it.”
Okay, that was pretty nice. Maybe even romantic, not that you’ll tell him. You’re still mad, you’ve just learned to pace your rage over the sweeps.
“Pity you proper perfectly, best friend.”
“Pity you too, you disaster made flesh.”
You don’t sleep. You can’t sleep. You can still see them begging you to save them and then your cowardly retreat back into the hive for a few hours. You don’t know if you can ever forgive yourself for that, even if you forgive him.
But the tension from your muscles no longer threatens to snap your bones, and the softly breathing troll slumbering next to you reminds you that even if you are failure given form, someone will still hold you. There is someone who has seen past all your pretenses and defensive screeching to the ugly worthless child you are inside, and has still decided to stay with you. In this moment, you can rest easy, if not entirely.