The lights blinded him.

He fought the urge to raise his hand and shield his eyes, but he kept his arms at his sides. He hated everything that was going on around him. There were too many people pointing cameras at him and shoving microphones into his face. It was too much to take in after the weeks of darkness and virtual silence.

"Try to ignore them, darling," his aunt whispered in his ear. He didn't think she realized just how frustrated he was with the constant barrages of questions. She gently ushered him out away from the crowd and to their car. He numbly opened the passenger door, ignoring the people that followed him until he tried to close the door and one reporter held it open.

He glared up at the reporter, who insisted that he answer the question. Suddenly his aunt appeared and forcefully shut the door before angrily yelling at the reporters. Then she stormed to her side of the car and got in, quickly driving away before they could swarm the car. Once they got a fair distance away, she turned to him again.

"You know, it scares me when you don't talk. You're such a vocal person."

He said nothing.

She sighed. "Karkata…"

"Fine, I'll talk, Jesus…" he snapped. "God forbid I don't talk for long periods of time. And for the love of God, don't call me that."

She frowned. "Don't get snippy with me. You know better." When he looked away, she shook her head. "Your brother is waiting for you at home, along with some dinner."

"Ah, shit…"

"Language…" she warned.

He sighed and leaned his head on the window. "You and I both know he's not going to stop talking for the whole night if not the rest of the week…"

"Yes, I know." With that, she pulled into the driveway of her large home. When she got out, the door flew open and a young man stepped out. He had tan skin and dark brown hair, his brown eyes staring intently at the car. Karkat got out and sighed at the sight of his brother running out to them. When he gripped his shoulders, he winced.

"Karkat! You're home!"

"Yeah, Kankri..."

"Oh my gosh, I've been so worried! I was afraid you were dead! Oh Karkat, what did they do to you? Are you hurt? The authorities said that you were kidnapped by some sort of cartel-"


"-and you could've been killed! Oh, you must be so triggered, I can't believe this happened, I-"


He stopped and looked at him, as if he had not expected the outburst. Karkat looked at him tiredly. "My head is killing me and I just want to go to bed… could you please not suddenly bombard me like this?"

His aunt started at him, surprised he had asked nicely. But Kankri conceded with a nod and let him go inside. She followed. "You want to eat something? I made chicken parmesan today."

Karkat was starving, but he ignored it. "I don't feel like eating, Aunt Dolores."

"Still trying to get out of eating, Karkat?"

He turned to see a pale, slender girl with short hair dyed green. He smiled weakly. "Kanaya…" She smiled and walked over to him before wrapping her arms around him. After a few seconds, she held him at arm's length. "You've lost weight… you really should eat."


"No, you are eating. I spent forever on that food."

He sighed weakly, knowing that the last bit was a joke. "Alright…" He allowed himself to be ushered into the kitchen.