People offended him often, he wasn’t necessarily hard to upset. He was easily offended by most things, though most of the time he covered it up with one of his long winded speeches. Only a select few even seemed fond of him. Rufioh, Porrim, and of course, Cronus. The others had their own things going on and he just seemed to get in the way. Meenah was always rude to him, though he tried not to overthink it; she was rude to everybody, and Damara harassed him most of the time with “triggering” language and actions. She often touched him without his permission, which he has made very clear he hates.
It’d been a long day with lots of stress from all angles. It wasn’t just Meenah’s mean words and Damara’s inappropriate actions, it was everybody. Rufioh had been in a bad mood over something and had snapped at Kankri, without meaning any harm most likely, but it surprised him nonetheless. Porrim, being Porrim, was clingy over him as usual. She always mothered him, which got on his nerves more often than not, but he’d been around her pretty much all day today and he may or may not have snapped at her. He had been quite rude to her, and he felt horrible about it.
Even Cronus became a stress factor that day. Him and Mituna had been fighting, which wasn’t new. The two never got along, it was almost a daily habit for them to have it out. Kankri though just so happened to be there this time. The fight had become physical, which was also common, and Kankri had broken it up before it got too bad. He had started to scold them, and Mituna had looked quite regretful, apologizing to Kankri, but Cronus had been so mad. He’d never seen him so angry.
Now isn’t the time for you to be running your loud mouth and spouting your bullshit!
Cronus didn’t yell at him, not ever. So, he had been taken by surprise when he did so today. He understood that his anger wasn’t directed at him, but the words still hurt. So, now here he stood, in the living room to his hive, staring at his shoes as if they were the answer to all of his problems. He’d just gotten home, he hadn’t even turned on the lights, he just stood there. All of his stress had built up over the day, and now it was itching to get out; literally.
His skin had begun to itch a while ago, but he hadn’t been able to scratch it in public. If people saw how frantically he was scratching they’d think he was some sort of freak. They already do anyway, but that would just make it worse. So, after he was shut into his hive, his fingernails found his itching skin, beginning to scratch. It burned so bad, and when he pushed his fingers up the sleeves of his sweater he felt an overwhelming relief. He closed his eyes and sighed deeply, his whole body relaxing with the ministrations.
He didn’t realize it could feel so good to scar his skin.
His whole body was burning with the itch and soon his hands moved from his arms and underneath his shirt, scratching at his midsection and chest. He’s surprised he didn’t draw blood at the harshness of his scratching. At some point he ended up on the floor lying on his side, his skin burning so horribly that he couldn’t get comfortable. The scratching was comforting at first, relieving the itch, but that turned out to be just temporary. It burned so bad now, and no matter how much he scratched it wouldn’t go away. He groaned in discomfort, wrapping his arms around himself briefly before he pulled his hands out from under his shirt and bringing them up to his hair.
He ran his slim fingers through his dark locks, then he grabbed at his short horns, rubbing them to feel the smoothness, hoping that would ground him. When that didn’t work he started pulling on them. He got antagonized for his horns often, people called them “nubby” or “candy-corn horns.” Karkat got the same name calling, but he seemed to handle it better. Of course, he did. Karkat had friends, lots of them. Karkat was a likeable guy despite his horrible anger issues.
Kankri couldn’t understand why he didn’t have friends. He knew people were annoyed by him, he did talk a lot, and about topics not many enjoyed listening to, but even still. He didn’t think he was a bad person. He’s been called “selfish” and “judgemental” before though. People claimed he used his long winded speeches about “triggering” language and actions and “offensive” things to cover up his real personality. They claimed the triggers didn’t offend anyone but him, and he was just trying to protect himself. He didn’t want people hurting his feelings, so he spouted all that “bullshit” just to help himself.
He was selfish.
He told people how wrong they were, how they needed to watch what they said and what they did. He told them they were acting rudely or in a harmful way, judging them for their personalities just because maybe they were a bit more boisterous than he was.
He was judgemental.
Nobody loves someone so controlling and judgemental as him.
And he really believed that.
It wasn’t until now that he realized he was crying soundlessly, tears leaking from his eyes and down his face, dropping onto the floor underneath him. He stared across the room, still pulling on his horns. It was so dark and cold, he felt awful. He felt lightheaded, it was like he wasn’t even in the safe room of his hive. He was in the void, no one was around to help him, and why would they be? Nobody would come for him, he’d made everyone angry today. No one wanted to be around him, and could he really blame them?
He finally let go of his horns, fingers finding his mouth and feeling his teeth. They were sharp, some of them were crooked and snaggled. He wanted to bite down on his fingers, he wanted to feel some pain, something that would make him feel the way he made others feel. He wondered if they felt so bad when he insulted them and told them they were wrong.
He didn’t hear the footsteps approaching, and he didn’t hear the voice asking if he was okay. All he registered in his mind was when he was suddenly sent crashing back into reality when somebody laid their hands on him. He yelped and flinched violently, in his panic biting down on his fingers. He tasted blood filling his mouth and he felt a strong hand wrap around his wrist. He didn’t like the touch, he didn’t know who it was; he didn’t like unwarranted touch.
“Let me go! Let me go!” He yelled, eyes squeezed tightly shut.
“Kankri! It’s just me! It’s me! It’s Cronus!” The voice yelled, still trying to pull his hand away from where it was trying to push its way back into his mouth, “Stop! You’re hurtin’ yourself!”
The voice registered in his mind, the touch felt familiar. Oh. He stilled, body as stiff as a board as he turned his head and peered up at the other man, eyes wide and tears dried to his face, “Cronus…?”
“Kan, are ya okay?” He asked, looking over him with concern and shock, “You’re bleedin’,” Kankri was quiet, in a bit of shock from the recent events; Cronus understood he was in shock, so he decided to take matters into his own hands, “It’s okay, c’mon. Let’s get ya up.”
He held onto Kankri’s injured arm, putting his other hand under his other arm and helping him get to his feet. Kankri was a lot smaller than him, he wasn’t a tall troll by no means and he barely had any meat on his bones, so it was fairly easy to lift him. Kankri seemed somewhat steady on his feet, and he looked up to catch Cronus’s eyes, “Cronus... ? What…”
He looked down at his hand, fingers in pain from where he’d accidentally bitten down on them. He saw bright candy red blood covering his thin fingers, and that immediately made him feel faint. He swayed, eyes rolling to the back of his head momentarily as he started to go crashing towards the floor, but he felt strong arms wrap around his back to keep him upright.
“Whoa, it’s okay. Up ya go,” Cronus said, trying to steady Kankri on his feet but the man was having a hard time staying upright, “C’mon, let’s go clean this up.”
Kankri couldn’t walk on his own right now, already lightheaded from his panic but now more so thanks to his hemophobia. So, Cronus kept his arm wrapped around Kankri’s shoulders but his other arm went to loop underneath his knees, lifting him off the ground and holding him close. Kankri gasped as the sudden movement, not expecting to be lifted so suddenly, and he was tense the whole way to the restroom.
He was set on the closed toilet lid, and before he knew it there were bandages wrapped around his fingers. He wasn’t even really aware of anything when Cronus was cleaning his blood stained hand, he only snapped back into reality when he felt the bandages being tightened around his fingers.
He blinked in surprise, as if this were the first time he was seeing Cronus, “Cronus…? What are you doing here…?”
“Well uh…” Cronus seemed embarrassed and hesitant, scratching the back of his head as he held Kankri’s hand with his free one, “After everythin’ that happened earlier, when I was fightin’ with Mituna I mean… I had some time ta cool off and I felt really horrible for what I said, so I came over ta check on ya and apologize.”
Kankri noticed how nervous he seemed, and he felt kind of bad for that. He frowned and looked down at his shoes, “I’m sorry… It wasn’t just you today… Everything seemed off, even Rufioh got mad at me. I guess I was just more annoying than usual today.”
Cronus furrowed his eyebrows in disapproval, frowning deeply, “Kan…”
“I’m not stupid, I know most people find me to be an annoyance,” Kankri began, seeming to become a bit… angry, “But I was thinking before you arrived, about some other things about myself that may be causing others to dislike me. I now understand that I can be rather selfish and judgemental. I preach to others to try and protect myself and I judge everyone for their own opinions and ways of living. That also plays into me being controlling. I try and tell others what they can and cannot do, explaining to them what is triggering or offensive and why they need to change the way they act. But… I can’t change those things and I was foolish to think I ever could. Those ways people live, that’s part of their personality. I can’t change the way people act, and I have no right to. Why am I just now realizing this?”
“Kan--” Cronus was trying to stop his ranting, hearing the pressure starting to build in his voice, the panic.
“I can’t believe it took me so long to realize how wrong I’ve been, how mean I’ve been to others,” Kankri went on, “I’ve been acting the way I tell everyone I hate. I’ve been cruel and my refusal to understand the way other people think and act has made me quite ignorant. I guess it's very understandable why no one likes me…”
“Kan--” Again, he was cut off.
“I mean, Meenah always antagonizes me, Damara only harrasses me for sexual favors no matter how many times I’ve told her I’m celibate, Latula became fed up with me after some time as well! And today it seems I’ve finally razzled the nerves of those who still somewhat like me, such as Rufioh and possibly Mituna, and even you became angry with me! Today has been a disaster from beginning to end and I--”
“Kankri!” Cronus grabbed his shoulders to get his attention, making Kankri jump in surprise, “That’s enough!”
The other man looked offended, “Cronus Ampora! What have I told you about touching me without permission! I should--”
“I’m sorry, but I need ya ta listen ta me,” Cronus said, loosening his grip on Kankri’s shoulders so he was more comfortable.
“At least now it makes sense why everyone hates me,” Kankri said, ignoring Cronus and looking to his feet again, shaking his head in disappointment, “It’s just me! It’s the way I am! My general person is the problem!”
“Kan, don’t say that--”
“And why not, Cronus?!” Kankri lifted his head to glare into Cronus’s eyes, fire in his own, “It’s true isn’t it?! The reason everyone hates me is--”
“No one hates ya, Kan!” Cronus yelled, making Kankri lift his hands to cover his ears. Cronus took a deep breath and lowered his voice, grabbing the backs of Kankri’s hands and pulling them away from his pointed ears, “No one hates ya. I definitely don’t.”
Kankri lowered his voice too, his voice almost a whisper as he said sadly, “I’m a mess, Cronus. There are so many things wrong with me… Why am I like this?”
Cronus sighed, chewing on his lip as he thought this over, “Kan, can I be real honest with ya here?” Kankri nodded, still refusing to look at him, “Alright then, listen ta me real close then, ‘kay? Everybody has somethin’ bought themselves that they’re not fond of, those are called negative traits. I know ya know this, you’re a much smarter guy than me. But people also have positive traits, things people like. Uh, for example! I like to think I’m a pretty open-minded guy, but I’m also a bit oblivious.”
Kankri didn’t seem to buy anything he was saying, he just stayed curled into himself sitting in front of Cronus. The taller man frowned, trying to think up a solution to this. There had to be some way to make Kankri realize he wasn’t a mess. There had to be something to make Kankri realize he was perfectly fine the way he was. Cronus looked over, his eyes catching his reflection in the mirror. It was like a lightbulb lit up above his head.
“Kan, can you stand up?” Cronus asked, looking him over and wondering if any of his strength had come back since he’d been bandaged up and been sitting for a few minutes.
He nodded, “I think so.”
“Good, c’mere,” Cronus carefully reached out, holding his hands out for Kankri to take.
Kankri was hesitant, not sure what Cronus had planned here, but he slipped his hands into the taller man’s, letting him help him to his feet. He felt Cronus’s hands slip from his hands and up his arms, resting on his biceps; his hands never left his body, “Okay, now look in the mirror.”
For some reason Kankri’s face burned when he was told that, and he looked anywhere but into the mirror as he spoke, “Cronus, what is it you’re trying to--”
“Just look, chief,” Cronus said, a smile in his voice.
Kankri thought he sounded hopeful and he didn’t want to disappoint him, so he relented and did as he was told. He turned his head and looked into the mirror, seeing himself staring right back. His disheveled hair, his eyes red with irritation, his shoulders slumped with exhaustion. He sighed, “Cronus, I don’t see the point of this.”
“That’s cause we haven’t started yet,” Cronus said, and Kankri could see him smiling over his shoulder, “Now, we’re gun’ do a little exercise. I’m gun’ start from the top and move my way down, okay?”
Kankri’s face was burning, “Cronus, I feel like what you have in mind is incredibly inappropriate!”
“That’s not what I mean, Kan,” Cronus told him, though he had an amused smile on his face, “I’m gunna start right here, okay?”
He points to the top of Kankri’s head, presumably talking about his hair. Kankri nods, “Okay, do what you must.”
Cronus smiles and begins, “I love running my fingers through your hair. It’s so soft and fluffy, perfect to just mess up.”
Kankri’s eyes widened and his face burned hotter, “W-what…”
“Can I run my hand through it?” Cronus asks, and Kankri is so nervous but he swallows and nods. Cronus gently pushes his fingers through the mop of black hair, relishing in the way it felt. Kankri didn’t know what was happening right now, and he didn’t even have time to process it any more, because now Cronus was touching his horns, “I know people say mean things about these, but I think they’re cute. They’re runts, like you, which I also adore.”
Kankri cleared his throat, shifting uncomfortably, “Cronus, I don’t think this is--”
“I’m not finished,” Cronus scolded gently, hand moving down the back of Kankri’s neck and both hands gently resting on his shoulders; Cronus leaned down so he was more on level with his matesprit before he started praising his features, “Ya were talkin’ ‘bout the others not much appreciatin’ your little rants, but when you’re in the middle of one ya make this really cute face. Ya close your eyes and lift your finger, like the thing your talkin’ ‘bout is matter a fact. Hell, maybe it is, I don’t know…”
Kankri was at a loss for words, but at least now he knew what Cronus was up to; positive affirmation.
Cronus squeezed his shoulders, “Your shoulders are strong. You carry so much weight on them everyday. You’re so strong and I’m so proud of you,” Kankri bit his lip as Cronus said, “I’m going to touch your arms and hands now, is that okay?”
Kankri nodded and said very quietly, “Yes.”
Cronus’s hands were now on his arms, fingers wrapped around his toned biceps, “I know ya don’t like bringin’ it up, but I’ve seen ya kick some ass with these spindly arms a yours. You’re a pretty tough guy even though ya don’t like ta admit it.”
“Cronus…” Kankri scolded quietly, but that didn’t stop the taller man from moving forward and grabbing his hands.
“But despite the fact that you’re one tough motherfucker, your hands are so gentle and soft,” Cronus said, pressing his fingers against Kankri’s palm, massaging his hand gently, “You’re an incredibly gentle person, and your touch proves that,” He pulled his hands away and let them hover over Kankri’s midsection, “Can I touch you here?”
Kankri nodded, remaining quiet for the time being. Cronus’s hands moved to rest over Kankri’s stomach, “You got a soft tummy, which I find adorable,” One hand moved to rest in the middle of Kankri’s back, “You’ve got a strong back, makes you stand straight and tall and tell everybody just what you think and I admire that bravery,” He snickered as he threw in a joke at the end of that one, “Your back is the only straight thing about you.”
Kankri gaped in offense, “Cronus Ampora, what have I told you about making crude jokes such as that?! I could go on and--”
“Focus Kan,” Cronus said, rubbing his back soothingly, “I’m moving to your hips now, is it okay if I touch there?”
Kankri swallowed, face heating up the lower Cronus went, but he nodded anyway, “Yes.”
Two strong hands found his narrow hips, thumbs finding a patch of smooth skin underneath his shirt that had ridden up, “You’re beautiful, y’know?”
Kankri was not expecting him to say that for the area he was currently at, but it made his face burn as hot as it ever has all the same. Cronus began to speak again, “Kan, can I--”
“We’ve gotten to the point now Cronus that I know you’re going to continue touching me, so you don’t have to ask anymore,” Kankri told him, speaking fast in his nervousness.
“Oh… Okay, good to know,” Cronus said before he delivered a swift pat to Kankri’s rear, making the man yelp, “You’ve got a cute butt too.”
Kankri was as red as a tomato and he furrowed his eyebrows in annoyance, “Cronus! What do you think you’re doing?!”
Cronus shrugged, “You said I can touch ya anywhere.”
“That is not what I meant!” Kankri scolded, though he couldn’t hide the amusement in his tone.
Cronus chuckled, “Sure, okay. I believe ya.”
Kankri huffed snootily, crossing his arms stubbornly. Cronus had to kneel down, getting on his knees as he remained behind Kankri, “Quit bein’ stubborn and look at me.”
Kankri opened his eyes and looked at Cronus where he was lower than him now; he sighed, “Fine.”
Cronus smirked in amusement, placing a hand over Kankri’s thigh, “Y’know, you’re a quick little shit. Back before everythin’ happened I remember seeing the way you dodge an opponent. Even back then you weren’t the fighting’ type, only when it came down to the last option. You’re quite the agile guy, y’know that? It’s kinda hot.”
Kankri wanted to scold him for that last comment, but on this rare occasion he doesn’t and lets Cronus continue, “And now for your feetsies!” Kankri never wanted to admit that his nicknames for certain things were quite adorable, “I’ve literally seen you kick an ass with these. Actually, it was my ass.”
Kankri put his face in his hand, “Cronus, I apologize in advance for this very rude remark, but you are quite possibly the biggest dork I know.”
Cronus laughed at that, getting back up to his feet, “No offense taken, babe,” He stood hunched over, chin resting on Kankri’s shoulder and a hand lifting to rest over his chest where his heart lays, “I saved this for last on purpose.”
Kankri’s shoulders stiffen up, back straightening and arms falling to his sides to make room for Cronus’s hand as the taller man begins to speak again, “Kankri, listen ta me very closely now, okay?”
Cronus had been rubbing that spot on his hip when he said that, and Kankri had closed his eyes at the relaxing ministrations, “Okay…”
Cronus chuckled, “Open your eyes, silly, I’m tryin’ ta make a point here.”
Kankri opened his eyes, “Oh, sorry…”
“It’s okay,” Cronus chuckled before he got back to his point, gently patting the spot over Kankri’s heart, “Look me in the eyes and listen closely,” Kankri looked into the mirror at Cronus’s reflection, looking into his eyes as he was told and listened to what Cronus had to say, “You are the most kind-hearted person I know. Sometimes ya get a little over the top, sure, but you always mean the best. Ya just want people ta be nice ta each other, ya want peace, it’s not a bad thing, it’s a good thing, in fact.”
Cronus dropped his hands, instead going to grab Kankri’s shoulders and turning him to look at him, face to face now instead of in the mirror, “You’re not a mess, Kankri Vantas. You’re the best thing that has ever happened ta me.”
Kankri wasn’t sure he’s ever cried out of happiness before, he couldn’t even remember the last time he was truly happy. He felt warm tears wet his face as he stared up into Cronus’s eyes, he saw the man smile at him softly, an emotional look in his eyes as well.
The strong hands were on his face, callused thumbs wiping away his tears, “Hey, no cryin’. This is supposed ta be heartwarmin’.”
Kankri was at a loss for words, and he’s never been known to initiate physical contact, but he just couldn’t help himself. He knew he was going to sob, and the only conceivable way he could think to hide that was to latch onto Cronus like he was his lifeline. He wrapped his arms around his middle, too short to reach his shoulders, and he buried his face in a warm chest. He wet his white t-shirt with his red tears as he tried to contain his sobs.
Cronus smiled and wrapped an arm around Kankri’s shoulders, his other hand occupying itself playing with Kankri’s thick and soft hair. He leaned down, pressing a kiss to the crown of Kankri’s head, fingers brushing back black hair and grazing one of his pointy ears. He peered down at him and chuckled, “Are ya okay, Kan?”
Kankri nodded into his chest, eventually pulling away and wiping his face clean of tears, “Yes, I-I apologize. That was very--”
“You’re fine, Kan. No need ta apologize,” Cronus said, reaching forward to run a hand through Kankri’s hair and push it out of his face.
Kankri sniffled, trying not to look into Cronus’s eyes even though it was extremely difficult to avoid when they were standing so close, “I... “ He took a deep breath before he was able to say what he wanted to say, “Thank you, Cronus. Your positive affirmations have made me feel a lot better. But I feel I must apologize for angering you earlier, I meant no harm by my words and tone. I was completely out of line butting into business that was obviously not mine and--”
“Kan, it’s okay,” Cronus chuckled, putting his hands on Kankri’s shoulders before he frowned, “Look… I yelled at ya earlier and… I hated doin’ that the moment I did it. I know ya don’t like people yellin’ and I’m sorry I did that. I never want ta hurt ya and I feel like I did in that moment. I promise I’ll never do anythin’ like that again.”
Kankri was glad he apologized, and he was glad he himself apologized. He felt like a heavy weight had been lifted off his “strong shoulders” as Cronus had called them, “Cronus, may I tell you something?”
Cronus nodded, a smile coming back to his face, “Yeah, of course.”
They’ve never said this to each other before, but Kankri figured now was the right time. He knew it was because he barely even felt nervous about it. So, he just said it, “I love you.”
Okay, actually now that he’d said he felt really nervous. His self-consciousness came back with a vengeance, his anxiety shooting through the roof. What if he didn’t feel the same way? They’d just been through something wonderful together, but even still Kankri wondered if he’d made a mistake. But just as quickly as it had started, the anxiety washed away.
Cronus beamed happily, leaping forward and wrapping his arms around Kankri’s waist and lifting him up into the air, jumping up and down with him happily, laughing like he’d never laughed before, “I love you too, you wonderful, beautiful, you!”
Kankri wasn’t sure how he felt about being lifted in the air like this at first, but when he put his hands on Cronus’s shoulders he realized the taller man wouldn’t let him fall. He wouldn’t hurt him. It felt nice having that safety and love in one silly embrace. Kankri beamed wide, laughing along with Cronus as tears shone in his eyes.
He was so incredibly happy.