“I hit you with my car and was the only one to visit you in the hospital” AU
Karkat regretted a lot of things in life. Mostly his regret was composed of everything he’d ever said, typically right after he said it, but tonight he had the express pleasure of regretting not looking left as he drove down the dark street. It was in a neighborhood, nobody was supposed to be out this late, he was tired and cranky from his shift at McDonalds, and he was ready to be home. So he’d been going fast. Too fast. And now some teenager was crumpled in front of his car.
“Oh no oh no oh no oh no no no no,” Karkat sprang out of the car and knelt down next to the figure, “Hey, bud, hey, dude, hey, hey, wake up, move, fuck fuck fuck say something dammit!” Karkat could feel his panic building, like air swelling in a balloon, “Fuck, fuck, fuck!” Finally, he had the sense to pull out his phone and with shaking, slippery fingers he dialed 9-1-2- no wait back up 1 dammit 1!
“Nine one one what is your eme-”
“I just hit someone with my car!” Karkat cut the voice off. Fuck. Was that blood? Fuck that was blood his hands had blood on them he had this boy’s blood on his hands.
The operator tried to calm Karkat down, but really all the voice managed to do was get the location out of him, and say things that went in one of Karkat’s ear and straight out the other. He managed to answer the voice’s question about hazardous nearby objects. No, aside from him, there were none. He was instructed not to move the body in any way until medical professionals were there. The rest was an attempt at calm reassurance.
Karkat had never been as happy to hear sirens. The flashing lights lit up the scene- the scene Karkat had made fuck fuck fuck- more than the dim, flickering street light did. Bones were broken. Of course bones were fucking broken he’d hit the guy with his damn car for fuck’s sake but seeing them. Seeing them. Sticking out like that. Fuck there wasn’t even a joint there bones weren’t supposed to stick out the skin and there was a fucking puddle of blood and- and… fuck…
Karkat’s dad hadn’t been happy when he finally made it home that night. First there was anger- probably spawned from worry that his son was hurt. Then there was a return of worry when he saw the blood- the fucking blood. Loud fussing ensued, and then a return of anger when Karkat was revealed to be unhurt. Karkat was glad for it. Glad for someone being fucking angry with him. The medical professionals had been patient with him, focused on the boy, not him, not really. They didn’t hate Karkat like they should. And the boy- oh fuck, the guy¬- hadn’t been able to hate him. Not. Not like that. Not in the state Karkat had last seen him in. His father’s yelling coupled perfectly with the self-loathing that consumed him, poured over him like scalding water, burning him for his misdeeds, but not enough to wash the bloodstains off his hands.
Karkat had turned the shower on hot and hot only before, but fuck if anything could burn away the stains, even after all the blood had trickled down the drain.
School was definitely not a thing that would be happening the next morning. Not only had Karkat had the worst night of sleep in his life, but he knew himself well enough to know that focusing would be a literal impossibility. Instead, he took the bus to the hospital, seeing as his driving privileges were revoked first by himself, second by his father, and third probably by the law, or something.
“Hello” he told the receptionist, inwardly panicking. What if the guy was dead? What if he was still unconscious? His dad had promised to take care of all the insurance issues, for all that Karkat knew it was his fucking responsibility, so Karkat had been left utterly out of the loop. Had the hospital even called? Fuck, what if the guy didn’t want to see him, Karkat was pretty sure he wouldn’t want to see the guy who had hit him with a fucking car.
“Hello!” Oh fuck he was fucking cheerful why the fuck would a hospital receptionist be cheerful? “Can I help you find who you’re looking for?”
“That’d be why I’m talking to you, yes”
That was dumb, that was a dumb thing to say the guy was just being helpful. Karkat, as per the norm, immediately regretted saying jack shit.
“Uh, alright. Who are you looking for, then?”
Oh. Fuck. Karkat didn’t know the guy’s name.
The receptionist made a questioning noise, and Karkat glared at him. “I… hit a guy with my car last night” he grit out.
“Oh! That should make it rather, uh, easy. One moment, please.”
Karkat shoved his hands into the pocket of his hoodie, tugging on his fingers anxiously, attempting to be a rational human being and not break the fingers that didn’t pop properly.
“He’s, uh, in room 413.”
“He’s alive?” Karkat blurt out in a rush.
The receptionist looked surprised. The guy had giant ass eyes, how does that even work on someone who isn’t a fucking cow? “Yes. He’s, alive. And he was talking to his nurse earlier today. He, uh, has a lot of broken bones, but, uh, I don’t think, I should say, so I’m going to stop talking now before I violate any more rules.”
Karkat snorted. “Thanks.” He sounded more relieved and genuinely grateful than he meant to, but the guy was fucking alive. Karkat wasn’t a murderer. He took the elevator to the fourth floor, and then grumbled at the ass-backwards numbering system. 13 should be close to the elevator, not fucking 56. He wrapped his way around the building, finally stopping in front of 413. The door was wide fucking open, so it wasn’t like there was a giant “DO NOT ENTER” sign that Karkat could use to rationalize turning around and leaving right then.
The guy was reclining in bed, TV off, just staring out the window. Karkat could see the bulk of a cast on his arm, and under his shirt Karkat was sure there would be bandages for his ribs. Was the leg broken? Karkat didn’t know. Karkat shouldn’t ask that wasn’t fucking important the important thing was that the guy was semi-upright and fucking alive.
The guy giggled. The guy was staring out the four-story window, giggling at fucking nothing. What the actual fuck? For some reason, that pissed Karkat off, and with the anger came the incentive to finally walk the final few steps to the doorframe and knock- a bit too loudly- on the wood.
The stranger startled, which led to a yelp of pain- a fucking yelp- and then a pained smile directed at Karkat.
“Hey brother. What brings you here? You ain’t dressed like a motherfuckin’ nurse if I ever knew one to look like.”
He was high off of pain killers. It was the only reasonable rationale Karkat could come up with. Karkat felt an inordinate amount of rage at the fact that the guy was wincing still, practically winking if it weren’t for the fact that it was clearly from pain. He needed to. He needed. To fix it. To make that fucking expression go away.
“I’m the guy that hit you” Karkat blurted. Okay. That was probably not the best way to go about fixing jack shit but the guy’s expression did change. Slowly, pain shifted to confusion, then a flash of realization, and then the guy did the strangest fucking thing. He looked fucking guilty and hunched up, which made him wince again because he had a broken fucking arm and probably multiple broken ribs. Karkat was about to burst into hysterics and tell the guy to be fucking careful with himself when he was cut off by a mumbled, unhappy- no, fucking miserable- “I’m sorry.”
Karkat, for probably the first time in his life, was stunned speechless.
But only for a moment.
“You’re sorry?! Fuck, you’re</u> sorry?!” The guy only hunched up more. “I’m the guy that hit you!”
“I was the dumbass that walked in front of a car” the guy mumbled, not meeting Karkat’s eyes, “my own motherfuckin’ fault…”
Karkat had never felt such a powerful clash between the desire to hug this stranger and punch him square in the fucking jaw.
“No. No, shut up, no, I was driving too fast and not paying attention, you malfunctioning windshield wiper. This was entirely my fucking fault.”
The guy shifted uncomfortably, but was sort of looking at Karkat again. His crazy mop of wild, dark hair was everywhere, including his eyes, and if Karkat had to judge the guy was looking roughly at Karkat’s chest. The guy smiled, just a little, a broken, tiny, pained, sad smile. He shrugged his good shoulder, “I’m not much for wiping windows, but I’m pretty motherfuckin’ sure I’m s’posed to look both ways before crossin’.”
That… didn’t actually make sense. Both in the “this isn’t your fucking fault” way and the “how the hell are those two ideas connected to each other” way.
Karkat’s silence made the guy smiled just a little more, sort of nudging his head forward and up a bit, and his eyes, now just barely visible, were so fucking sad and hopeful Karkat could feel himself break- absolutely shatter- into a million tiny little pieces.
“I…” Karkat swallowed, probably audibly. It was certainly loud enough to him. “I’m so fucking sorry.”
“Ain’t your fault brother.” That smile. That fucking smile. It was a little bolder, a little more hopeful and a little less sad, and Karkat broke a little bit more, despite feeling like that had previous been an impossibility.
“Just. Here. Fuck. Sorry, let’s start over. Hi, I’m Karkat fucking Vantas, I like dumb romances and have a hobby of making an ass out of myself.”
The guy blinked, apparently needing to shift gears. How many drugs was he on? How badly had Karkat damaged him that he couldn’t fucking think around the painkillers?
“Gamzee.” He stretched out a thin, long arm. Too thin, too fucking thin. “Gamzee motherfuckin’ Makara brother. It’s a damn pleasure to meet you.”
He got home at around the same time he’d get home from school. A little later, since the bus was not nearly as efficient at getting from point A to point B as a car was, but still, his father was surprised at the notion that he’d gone to school that day.
“No, dad, I spent the day at the fucking hospital, talking to the guy I put in there. Seemed happy enough to have my company, as much of a shit eating grapefruit that I am.”
He didn’t go to school the next day either- or work. Instead, he and Gamzee somehow managed to fill another eight hours. What did they talk about? Karkat had no fucking clue. Half the time what Gamzee said didn’t even make any fucking sense. He would spew random nonsense that had nothing to do with what Karkat had just said, or he would talk about some weird ass religion that Karkat had never heard of, or sometimes the words themselves came out garbled and it would take Gamzee two or three tries to make his noises intelligible. At one point Gamzee interrupted himself, suddenly demanding to know where his necklace was, that thing was motherfucking important, he can’t have lost it, and he wouldn’t get off of the one-track mindset until Karkat went out, found a nurse, and asked her about it. She helped him get the thing out of Gamzee’s belongings. It was a dumb hatchetman necklace, but Gamzee was so fucking relieved to have it back that Karkat only made minimal amounts of fun at him about it.
They didn’t talk about their personal lives at all, strangely enough. Karkat never told him about how difficult it was for him to make friends, or how easily his anger flared. And he knew nothing about Gamzee’s life. He knew about Gamzee’s music taste (he couldn’t pick just one), his favorite food (pie), his favorite color (indigo), what he did for fun (juggling, and watching the clouds), but he didn’t know jack shit about the family that probably should have been visiting, or where Gamzee lived, or why he’d been crossing the street at fuck-o-clock in the morning.
Karkat dug his fingers into his favorite pillow. If he didn’t gnaw at his nails and keep them short, he would probably rip holes in the fabric. His crabby dad had been considerably less crabby than normal, and that was because he’d received a call saying that Gamzee’s family would be paying for all the medical bills.
It was Karkat’s fault. He should fucking pay for it! He flopped back onto his bed and screamed into the pillow. On one hand, he was still a dumb teen in high school. How the hell was he supposed to pay medical bills? On the other hand, it was his fucking fault.
He grumbled to himself and thanked whatever powers that existed that the next day was Saturday, and he could visit Gamzee again without missing even more school. He’d have to go back Monday. He’d have to go back to work Monday too, fuck it all, but. But Gamzee. Fuck he liked Gamzee a lot. The dumbass didn’t appreciate his fucking Shakespearian insults, but he didn’t get all pissy about them either. He was. Yeah, he was the best friend Karkat had had since Eridan moved away to California or wherever. Karkat was stupidly happy that he got two more days of uninterrupted visiting.
“You put him in the fucking hospital. When they take him off the painkillers he’s going to want nothing to do with you.” Karkat whispered to himself, half-muffled by the top edge of the pillow.
“Hey best friend.”
Karkat did not flip his shit Saturday night, and he especially, positively, for absolute certain did NOT tear up a little in the hospital when Gamzee had greeted him. Best friend. Pah. They were. They. Karkat felt bad for putting him in the hospital and was visiting to make sure he didn’t get lonely and there was no fucking way they were best friends he called me best friend he said I was his best fucking friend…
If Sunday was like a dream- a dream filled with goofy, un-drugged smiles that were unchanged from the drugged kind- then Monday was the harsh shriek of an alarm clock. Two days of school should not make the pile of homework it did, it really fucking shouldn’t. Even still, Karkat decided to bail on the idea of riding the yellow school bus home- fuck that noise; fuck all that literal and figurative noise. His high school was downtown; he’d just walk to the hospital and hang out with Gamzee until the city bus came around he’d go home on that.
Besides. In all the time he’d spent with Gamzee in that little sterile room, no one else had ever visited. And his smile. Was just. So fucking lonely before Karkat showed up.
As always, Gamzee was awake and staring out the window, reclining on the bed, when Karkat came in. He didn’t even knock- hadn’t since day one- but instead dumped his million-ton backpack on the floor and collapsed into the moderately-uncomfortable green guest chair. That chair and his ass had become quite the intimate couple over the past few days.
“Hey best friend” Gamzee said with a sleepy smile. Had he just woken up?
“Hey asshole. You’re looking as shitty as ever, do you never brush your hair?” Karkat was half tempted to bring a brush, and a wide, wide, wide toothed comb, with him tomorrow. His fingers always itched to run through that mess, pull out all the knots and kinks and smooth it in a frame around Gamzee’s pimpled, too thin face.
At least he was showing marked improvement. His cheeks weren’t as stand-outy and the fucking circles around his eyes were now just little shadows, only there if you looked for them.
Of course, Karkat was looking, and worrying, but like hell he was going to ever admit to that.
“Uh… I don’t motherfuckin’ think so. Seems a waste of time to me, if all I’m gonna do is mess it up again right after.”
Yeah, Karkat was absolutely bringing a brush, and a wide toothed comb, with him tomorrow.
“Gamzee, please tell me you at least wash it.”
Gamzee lit up, “Yeah bro, a course! Otherwise I get all motherfuckin’ kinds of smelly.”
“Glad to know you have at least two neurons to rub against each other.”
“Haha, if you say so brother.”
It was surprising, how much Karkat and Gamzee could talk to each other and still never learn anything solid about each other’s lives. It was also surprising how comfortable it was for the two of them to sit together in silence. Gamzee watched the clouds, for whatever dumbass entertainment it provided him, and Karkat did homework. Karkat departed as late as he could while still getting to his job on time, offering to go to Gamzee’s school and pick up homework for him, and Gamzee smiled painfully and kind of hunched up, but accepted the offer. Karkat had to leave or be late, and thus couldn’t pry out why getting schoolwork was such a wince-inducing nightmare.
Karkat’s driving privileges were returned to him by his father that Tuesday, thankfully, since Gamzee’s high school was some pretentious hoity-toity establishment as far away from downtown as fucking Pluto. Luckily, work was only Monday-Wednesday-Friday, so Karkat had time. Karkat didn’t think he should be back behind the wheel, but Gamzee’s tiny, stick thin body hadn’t damaged the car pretty much at ALL and like hell he was going to find a bus that went out here and whatever legal procedures were involved with this sort of thing, Karkat didn’t fucking remember them.
“Hi” Karkat said to the office staff, pissed off at nothing in particular. “I’d like to pick up homework for my friend, can I have a guest tag?”
“Do you not go to this school?”
Karkat bit down on his cheek to keep from saying “if I did, I wouldn’t need a fucking guest tag” and with Herculean effort only said, “No.”
“Does he have friends here that could pick the assignments up for him?”
“Why do you think I’m here?” Karkat snapped.
She jumped and frowned, but Karkat convinced himself to not feel bad about it. Dumbass questions deserved the responses they got.
“Alright. Do you have his schedule?”
“Yes.” And he’d looked up the teachers’ office rooms on the school’s website earlier that morning, and written all the numbers down, and could he please just have the fucking guest tag and leave already?
“Alright then, here’s your tag”
“Thanks,” Karkat grumbled.
One encounter down, seven more to go. Study hall and lunch, of course, wouldn’t require homework to be collected.
All the teachers were surprised to learn that Gamzee’s truancy was the result of being hospitalized. Hadn’t Gamzee’s parents called the fucking school? Why was a week-long absence normal for the dumbass? Gamzee’s art teacher, an older man, seemed genuinely distressed that Gamzee had been hit by a car (Karkat conveniently left out that he’d been the one to hit him) but glad that Karkat was Gamzee’s friend.
Looked like Karkat wasn’t the only one with difficulties making friends.
“Okay you giant waste of air, I have braved the sordid depths of your pretentious high school and bring you the fucking bounty of shit you probably don’t want to do.”
“Hey best friend.”
“Hey asshole.” Karkat refused to believe that his heart was a melted puddle at his feet every time Gamzee said those words and smiled that dumbass smile at him. No sir. Not Karkat Vantas.
Then he noticed the second figure in the room, the one in the wheelchair next to the chair Karkat’s ass was supposed to occupy. For a brief moment, Karkat thought that one of Gamzee’s family members had finally shown up, but upon a second and a half of speculation, the guy was actually the guy often at the front desk.
“And who are you?” Karkat asked. Brilliant. Really fucking smart Karkat. Way to make friends. Fuck, was it any wonder no one wanted to hang out with him?
“I’m, uh, Tavros.”
“Tav hangs with me on his breaks” Gamzee offered helpfully, “Makin sure I’m not all kinds of lonely waitin’ around for you to come around best friend.”
“It’s, nice to meet you” Tavros smiled, wide and friendly and wow that asshole’s eyes were too big and bright for his fucking face. If he didn’t have the softest voice Karkat had ever heard, he would be tempted to say that Tavros’ smile was actually a pretty close approximation to a shit eating grin.
“Hi” Karkat said, walking over and extending his hand. Tavros shook it, and politely excused himself- saying something about needing to head back down to the desk- as Karkat sat down in the chair.
Karkat briefly went over what Gamzee’s teachers had said about the various assignments, pulling the packets and leaflets out of his bag as he did, setting them on the table, before finally pulling out a hairbrush and comb and moving to park his ass on the bed.
“Woah brother, there ain’t no need for you to-”
“Your hair is a fucking disaster. New Orleans looked better the day after Katrina hit than your hair does right now. You are going to sit up and I am going to untangle this even if I have to hide myself in the fucking bathroom and stay here after visiting hours.”
“Haha, okay best friend, if you’re that motherfuckin’ all determined and shit I ain’t gonna stop you.”
“Good. Because you weren’t going to be able to.”
Gamzee laughed again and Karkat helped him sit up. The lanky asshole was flexible as fuck, but his ribs, leg, and arm meant he needed to be really fucking careful. Karkat started with the lowest tips, and the brush rubbed against Gamzee’s back, making the asshole giggle and squirm.
“Sit fucking still.”
“Sit still! ”
The higher Karkat worked, the tougher the going went. It was truly the most unbelievable mess. It was fucking matted in a lot of places. Sometimes what looked like a bald spot was actually Gamzee’s hair relocating itself as far from its natural position as physically possible.
“When is the last time you cut this shit?” Karkat asked, as the untangled hair stretched further and further down Gamzee’s back. It didn’t lay flat- at all- but if Karkat had to guess he could probably flat iron this shit and get it past Gamzee’s ass.
“No idea bro. Seems like it’d be an awful motherfuckin’ shame, takin’ scissors to the miracle my own head did grow all on its own.”
Hours later and about halfway through the mess, half of Gamzee’s hair laid flat-ish against his skull, neck, shoulders, and back, and the other half still stuck up at odd angles. More importantly, hours later and about halfway through the mess, Gamzee started humming. It was terribly quiet at first, and Karkat almost mistook it for a fucking purr, but Gamzee was humming. He started with a tune that Karkat either didn’t recognize, or was too quiet to recognize, but as he got louder he moved into more popular songs, or tunes that Karkat at least vaguely thought he could place to a certain artist or song. It helped Karkat recognize when he pulled too hard on a knot, because the humming would jolt out of existence for a moment.
Gamzee had dinner delivered to his room, by the same nurse that had helped Karkat find the hatchetman necklace, and Karkat briefly considered disappearing quickly for dinner for himself. As soon as the nurse was out of the room, Gamzee had other ideas, and insisted that Karkat eat at least half of what was on the tray, and that he absolutely did not leave or stop “that miracle work with your fingers and that brush.” Karkat, in return, insisted that he wasn’t actually that hungry, and that Gamzee looked like a child’s stick figure when looked at from the front, much less the side.
It was 9:00 and visiting hours were over. Karkat had finished combing through Gamzee’s entire fucking head exactly seven minutes before. Gamzee was fucking gruntled with the results to say the least. He kept insisting that Karkat feel how soft his hair was now, and Karkat reminded him that he’d just spent the last how many fucking hours feeling his hair, complying with the demand all the while.
Wednesday. The week anniversary of Karkat hitting Gamzee with a fucking car. Had it really only been a week? One single week? It felt like they’d known each other a month at least. A year. Three years.
He greeted Tavros as he passed the desk. Tavros seemed distracted, though. Nervous.
Outside room 413, Karkat figured out why. The door was closed, and Gamzee’s nurse was talking with a lumberjack of a man in a suit. Words like malnutrition, serious neglect, and drug abuse filtered into Karkat’s skull, but mostly he was looking at the man, stunned.
He looked nothing like Gamzee.
He was undoubtedly Gamzee’s father.
His eyes rather reminded Karkat of a goat, which, if he was being wholly honest with himself, Gamzee’s did too. But not to that extent. He was muscular, and… were those fucking scars? Damn. He was scary. However, the nurse was entirely unfazed, and was saying something about calling child protective services very angrily, while Makara stood there impassively. He looked…
He looked like a man with a million better things to do than visit his fucking child in the hospital.
Karkat, who often got in trouble with his classmates for his temper, who had literally flipped tables on multiple occasions, who mouthed off to teachers, who ruined friendships before he ever built them, who raged in all caps on the internet, who swore and cussed and cussed and swore, who screamed into pillows, and impulsively hurled things across the room, had never felt so angry in his life.
“That’s your fucking kid in there!” Karkat said, interrupting the nurse. Makara looked at him, and failed to restrain a sigh. Karkat could practically hear the thought “Oh, great, another motherfucking problem.”
“That’s your fucking kid and you look like you’d rather be filing a tax report!” Karkat yelled. The nurse, who in a different situation would probably tell Karkat to leave, seemed to agree with him.
“Damn pain in my ass is what he is” Makara snarled, also loud. Gamzee’s relation to his father was exhibited primarily through their voices. If Gamzee was a little older, a bit broader chested, the two of them would sound identical.
“A pain in your ass? A pain in your fucking ass? That’s your kid who got hit by a car!”
“Because he was a dumbass and walked out in front of one!”
Gamzee’s first words to Karkat came back to him with a bout of gut twisting horror.
“Are you fucking telling me that you’re the damn reason he thinks that was his fault? Are you kidding me right now your kid gets hospitalized and you make him feel like shit for it? You insipid, unfeeling, lowlife fucking douchebag what gave you any right to talk to Gamzee like-”
“He’s my motherfucking kid-”
“He’s a damn treasure-”
“Why do you even motherfucking care-”
“You have no scruples not showing up like the worthless piece of shit you are but somehow I’m still fucking amazed what a writhing, festering maggot you actually fucking are you-”
The sound of the door opening cut Karkat off. There was Gamzee. Bandaged Gamzee. Broken Gamzee. Leaning on the wall and his one good leg, his eyes were sad and begged Karkat to stop.
“Brother, da, hey, please don’t-”
“NOPE!” the nurse, who had been temporarily forgotten, boomed. She was louder than Karkat. “No, no no no. You!” She gripped Karkat by the shoulder of his sweater and all but hurled him across the hallway, “Out of the hospital. Out now. You may return tomorrow, but you are officially kicked out! You” she rounded on Makara, who for the first time had the sense to look genuinely frightened for his life. She pointed at an empty chair “Sit. And stay there! I am not done with you! You” she turned to Gamzee, “back to bed with you, how are you up, I swear if you walked on your bad leg…”
Karkat had the sense to make his way to the elevator as the nurse ushered Gamzee back into the room, muttering with concerned anger. Gamzee, seemingly incapable of picking up on the “concerned” portion of her anger, was protesting weakly and trying to make some sort of excuse. Karkat thought he caught the word “hopped” but the nurse shut the door behind her.
In the elevator, Karkat tried to piece everything together. Rage? Check. His ever present irritation with life was drowning in the loathing he felt towards Makara. Confusion? Also check. Sheer terror for his wellbeing in the face of Gamzee’s nurse? Yes. That was it. That was the part that wasn’t quite adding up.
Honestly, he usually managed to dig himself into quite the fucking grave when he was seeing red. To be cut off…
Karkat supposed it was probably better than getting his ass handed to him by Gamzee’s… “da.”
Fuck. Fuck fuck fuck. Karkat’s insides were scrambling. That. That… asshole. That fucking piece of trash. That blithering, feculent shithole. Karkat felt like he was going to hurl. Gamzee… Gamzee was. He didn’t deserve. Gamzee.
Gamzee was the best fucking thing to ever happen to Karkat.
There, he thought it. Gamzee was literally the best part of his angry, shitty life. And that goofy, silly clown’s own family didn’t even think he was worth the time of day to visit him in the fucking hospital after almost dying in a fucking car accident. Karkat had to stop in the first floor’s bathroom and convince himself not to cry. Not to hurl. Not yet, he was in public and a hospital. Tears would not be appreciated by him; vomit, the hospital staff.
When he got home, however, it was a different story. He cried into his favorite pillow, and his blunted fingernails left little crescents in the fabric. He screamed. He raged inwardly, continuing his earlier conversation with Gamzee’s da, telling him how terrible he was, making him understand that Gamzee was the most precious, most wonderful, most motherfucking miraculous person in the world, screaming and winning.
He had more than half a mind to call in sick to work that day, but now that Gamzee’s father had met him, he might not be so generous with his child’s hospital bills. He pulled his phone out anyway. He traced his fingers over the nine and the one. He’d cleaned the blood off a long while ago, but he remembered. He remembered the fucking blood on his hands, how slick and hot it had been.
He wanted to call Gamzee- or at least text him.
He realized he didn’t have Gamzee’s number. Or any method of contacting him in general really, aside from walking into the hospital, which was now impossible.
Karkat started crying again, frustrated and angry and sad and missing his friend.
Gamzee was still there Thursday. Instead of staring at the clouds, however, he was staring at his hands. Thin fingers laced together loosely and Gamzee was the picture of misery.
“Hey asshole” Karkat said, far softer than he’d meant to.
Gamzee’s head snapped up, surprised, then happy. His smile was the fucking sun and it was time for dawn.
“Best friend, you back. I thought- after you and my da- I was so scared brother I thought you wouldn’t come back”
“Don’t be a dumbass” Karkat felt the fear that Gamzee would be mad at him float away, “There’s not a force on earth that could keep me away.”
Karkat sat on the side of the bed, and Gamzee hugged him. For such a fucking twig he was stronger than Karkat thought. But Karkat was hugging back, not nearly as tightly as he wanted, because there were broken bones in Gamzee’s body that Karkat had put in there, but they were hugging and it felt good- it felt fucking right. It was romantic in a way that would never lead to sex, and Karkat realized that he was absolutely, positively, head over heels in love with this wild-haired, skinny assed douchebag.
But then Gamzee was shaking, and Karkat felt hot tears.
“Hey, hey, I’m sorry, fuck, am I holding too tight, fuck, fuck” Karkat tried to back away, but Gamzee only clung tighter and shook his head, burying his face in the nook of Karkat’s neck.
“Thought you were gonna motherfuckin’ abandon me” Gamzee choked out. “Thought you left me!”
“Never” Karkat wrapped his arms around Gamzee again. “Never, never in a million years. Shhh, shh you big idiot I’m never going to abandon you. I’m right here, shhhh, I’m right here, I’m right here, it’s okay, it’s okay, it’s gonna be alright, you’re fine, we’re fine, shhhhh, shhhh love, shhhh, it’s okay, it’s okay, I’m right here, hush, I’m here, I’m here for you, I’ve got you, it’s okay, shhh, shh, it’s okay.”
Gamzee hiccupped and sobbed harder. Karkat knew. Gamzee hadn’t cried in a while, Karkat knew. Gamzee desperately needed to, Karkat knew. Gamzee was sad and lonely and neglected and finally, finally safe and he fucking needed this, Karkat knew.
“It’s okay” Karkat whispered, gently petting Gamzee’s hair, which had managed to get itself worked into knots and snarls again. Though, this was certainly not nearly as bad as it had been. “It’s okay, it’s okay love, it’s okay.”
Karkat eventually thought that Gamzee had fallen asleep on him, and was going to try and lay him down without waking him up, but when Karkat started the attempt Gamzee’s arms tightened, viselike, and he looked at Karkat with wet, puffy, confused eyes.
“Hey, you’re awake.”
Gamzee smiled, and nodded, and kissed Karkat on the cheek. Then he giggled and buried his face in Karkat’s shoulder again.
“Love” Gamzee said, “Love, love, love, love” he repeated, giddy.
“Yeah, love you too”
“You said it first”
Gamzee propped himself up and met Karkat’s eyes again, “Like, boyfriend-boyfriend love? Or, like, motherfuckin’…”
Gamzee waved one hand in the air and made an unintelligible noise.
“It’s the love friends have for each other, you uneducated wart. Non-sexy friends.”
“Platonic motherfuckin’ loving going on in here brother. I have all this motherfuckin’ platonic love for you, shit’s absolutely crazy. Shit’s gone way insane, I love you so motherfuckin’ much.”
“Love you too, you pathetic asshole.”
“Love” Gamzee repeated, singsong and heartbreakingly happy, “Love, love, love.”
The two of them spent the rest of Thursday together, and Karkat was sure to exchange numbers before visiting hours were closed. Gamzee probably needed sleep, but the two stayed up until well past one in the morning talking.
Gamzee’s da was negligent, at best. He was always out on business, and so Gamzee had mostly had to raise himself. He’d gotten into drugs at a young age, and had the finances to indulge. Karkat, in turn, told Gamzee about his own dad. He was a crabby asshole who worried a lot and showed his love through nagging and insults. Gamzee told him that he was a chip off the old block, and Karkat told him to go fuck himself with his own plaster cast.
They told each other all the personal shit. The shit about being friendless. About loneliness. About the past and the present and Karkat was eventually the one to fall asleep first.
Gamzee was discharged from the hospital.
Karkat was fired from his job for yelling at the customers.
They attended each other’s graduation ceremonies, Gamzee just barely making the mark, but making it none-the-less, thanks to the persistent help of an angry, raging, short and short-fused asshole.
Neither wanted to go to college, despite Gamzee having the funding. Instead, they both decided to go straight for employment.
They rented their first apartment together.
Karkat tried not to think about what Gamzee and Tavros were doing after he’d excused himself to go run errands after dinner. Still, he wouldn’t be sitting on the couch for a while.
“Hey best friend.”