NOTE: For reference, I wrote this sometime around when trolls started dropping and the story shifted to John and WV getting up to wacky antics for a bit.
Karkat froze, if only for an instant, when he heard the soft "shoosh" of someone stepping through the transportalizer. He couldn't show fear, not now, even if he'd never been so fearful in his life. Not to that damned clown. Gamzee would be certain to pick up on it, and it would be all he needed to end Karkat's life.
He gripped the sickle tighter in his right hand, blocked from the intruder's view by his body, facing away from the transportalizer, toward the horn pile which Feferi's body lay atop. Karkat had lost two friends to a madman today; he would not allow any more. He would wait for the perfect moment to strike, then end it with one slash to the subjugglator's throat. It was the perfect plan.
But then, Karkat had never been capable of sticking to the plan when shit hit the fan. For every brave front he tried to show with his typical raging fuckass demeanor, he was quick to panic, and this would be no different. When he heard the quiet "pap" of footsteps approaching him, his hands shook, grasping his weapon tighter still, and when he heard the barely-perceptible honk, terror struck the boy. But this time was different.
Alternians are no different from us Earthlings in that they possess the "fight or flight" instinct. Indeed, any species must have it in order to survive. Standing his ground was not Karkat's typical first choice; he backed away slowly when Eridan blinded his friend Sollux, stared wide-eyed as he slew Feferi, and froze in his tracks when he detonated the matriorb and slaughtered Kanaya. Perhaps these events were the catalyst for what Karkat would do next.
Upon hearing the horn, Karkat screamed, terrified. Enough of his comrades had fallen today, and he would do his best to prevent any more from being killed, even if it meant putting himself in harm's way. In a fraction of a second, it was over; he swung wildly, nicking the intruder's neck. Not an immediately fatal wound, but blood loss would kill the attacker soon enough.
Almost immediately, however, Karkat sensed something was wrong. The intruder cried out upon being struck; was that voice really Gamzee's? Something clattered against the wall... a horn? Perhaps it was stepped on, making that awful noise? And even though the lab was dimly lit and the body was face-down, Karkat could tell the troll sprawled out on the floor couldn't possibly be that damned clown. The horns were the wrong shape, that wasn't Gamzee's hairstyle, those were... oh God, no. No. Not her.
His eyes darted from the red shades on the ground to his blade. He held it to the only light source in the room, and... no, no, no, no no no no. That's not... that's...
Teal. The liquid dripping from the tip of the sickle was teal. Stunned, he fell to his knees in disbelief, tears welling in his eyes.
No, this is not the time to sit and cry, a voice inside told him. It's not too late. You can still make this right. Karkat wasn't sure if he could believe it, and he didn't know much about treating a wound of this nature, but he had to try, for her sake.
Terezi rolled face-up and met Karkat's stare, and at first she feared the worst. Someone (Vriska, obviously, but it was more fun to pretend the guilty party could be someone else) had sent Tavros hurtling to his death at the bottom of a pit with his own lance through his chest. Terezi found Karkat in the lab surrounded by bodies; had Karkat snapped too? Had his anger finally taken over? The face she saw, however, was not one of rage, but one of remorse, reminding her that she knew, perhaps better than anyone, that Karkat's rage was just a cover.
He had work to do. Proper bandages were not something that could be located in a timely manner, and time was not on his side. Using his scythe, Karkat made a circular cut and removed half of the right sleeve of his shirt. In doing so, he accidentally cut himself, revealing his bright red blood to anyone who might have happened upon the scene.
He didn't care.
Karkat applied his makeshift bandage, tight enough to combat the bleeding but loose enough so as not to choke her. He worked quickly; he had to, if she was to survive this accident. Sollux was Karkat's best friend; Kanaya, his moirail. But Terezi... Terezi was something more to him, and the thought of losing her was simply not an option. Long ago, he had waxed red for her, but it was never something he could bring himself to admit, even after their "incident." How silly it seemed to him now, now that they were surrounded by dead comrades and threatened by at least two madmen, that knowledge of their incident spreading was one of his worst fears. Maybe he would never have heard the end of it, maybe his friends would have given him such a ribbing for it, but he could take it, if he knew Terezi would not pay the ultimate price for his foolish mistake.
His work complete, Karkat held Terezi in his arms and prayed to whatever god would listen that the improvised dressing would be enough to keep her from bleeding out. Terezi tried to speak, but Karkat urged her to remain quiet, that she needed to save her strength. Karkat had much on his mind, however, and some things needed to be said, even if the conversation were to be one-sided due to a grievous injury.
A profuse apology, made, and accepted.
An acknowledgment of one's self being a raging fuckass, spoken aloud. A smile, elicited. An oath to become a better man, promised. An acknowledgment, nodded.
A silence, followed. A moment of existing, uncaring of the dangers that plagued the both of them, enjoyed.
A bond, strengthened.
A longer silence. A statement, considered. A confession, made.
A reply, silent. A girl, comatose. A boy, shaken.
Karkat's fingers slid from Terezi's hand to her wrist. As he feared, her pulse was very weak. The all-too-familiar feeling of failure was too much for him to handle again, and he swore aloud at himself for allowing it to happen again, to the girl he loved, of all people. He had done all he could do, and it still wasn't enough. Terezi was going to die, and all Karkat could think of was that it was entirely his fault. He screamed, begged, pleaded for her to return to life, just long enough to tell her his true feelings. He bargained with no one in particular to let him take her place instead, because really, he deserved it more than her. He wept when his pleas fell on deaf ears.
But... was there really nothing that could be done? A thought occurred to him.
The Knight of Blood. SGRUB had given him and every member of his session a title. Some were meaningful; Aradia was the Maid of Time, and thus she could freely travel through it. Gamzee was the Bard of Rage, and he had delivered the most ferocious attack of the entire group to the Black King. Others seemed almost arbitrary; how the hell was Equius an Heir of Void? What even IS a Sylph of Space?
Karkat's title had been the Knight of Blood, and his planet, the Land of Pulse and Haze. During his session, he believed both the title, as well as the planet covered in his own blood, to be the game's way of mocking him, until he met Noir and discovered his bright red blood was not so unique. While most of his party gained powers in line with their titles, Karkat never seemed to progress in any way beyond being able to hit things harder with his sickles.
But perhaps there was something he missed.
Karkat concentrated on the task at hand. Terezi's teal blood was still leaking from the gash in her neck, and something had to be done about this. He would not lose another this day.
Desperately trying to accomplish something, anything, that would save her life, when Karkat's hands passed over Terezi's wound, he felt something. Nothing physical, more like a warmth or a jolt, almost imperceptible at first, but when his hands returned to the position it became stronger. His fingers combed the air above the cut, searching for the exact spot, and was rewarded with an unmistakable tingling in his fingertips. He had no idea what would happen next, but inaction would kill her. He wondered if he could just sort of reach over, and...
The sensation was quite painful at first. A feeling of something sharp penetrating each of his fingertips, as crimson arcs leapt from them to no point in particular in the air, where they dispersed. Such a feeling was startling to begin with, but Karkat slowly realized what was happening, and began to focus. The title of Knight of Blood, as fate would have it, DID come with special powers, and now that he knew of their existence, Karkat put them to work. The red streams that disappeared into nothing at first gradually came under the Knight's control, and made contact with the Seer's wound. Now that he knew the extent of his abilities, Karkat's newfound confidence grew. Today... today, he would save a life, and for the first time in as long as he could remember... Karkat smiled.
Hours later, Terezi awoke. She sniffed at her surroundings. Karkat slumped against the far wall, sound asleep, against his own orders. Otherwise, they were alone in the room. Her throat was still sore, but it seemed Karkat had managed to stop the bleeding. Her terminal beeped in the corner of the room. Terezi made her way to it, and discovered a message.
- carcinoGeneticist [CG] began trolling gallowsCalibrator [GC] -
CG: I DON'T KNOW WHEN YOU'LL GET THIS MESSAGE.
CG: HELL, I MIGHT WALK OVER TO YOUR COMPUTER AND JUST CLOSE THIS FUCKING THING BEFORE YOU CAN EVEN SEE IT.
CG: KIND OF PLANNING ON SPILLING MY PROTEIN CHUTE HERE.
CG: OH HELL, IF I CAN'T SAY THIS NOW, I'LL NEVER BE ABLE TO.
CG: I WANTED YOU TO KNOW THAT
CG: I FINALLY DID IT
CG: I FIGURED OUT WHAT A KNIGHT OF BLOOD CAN DO.
CG: IT'S KIND OF HOW I SAVED YOU, ACTUALLY.
CG: LONG STORY SHORT, THERE'S A LOT OF MY MUTANT CANDY RED SLOSHING AROUND INSIDE YOU WITH YOUR TEAL BLOOD.
CG: I'M PRETTY SURE YOU'RE SQUEALING WITH FUCKING DELIGHT AT THE THOUGHT OF IT, BUT PLEASE TRY TO KEEP IT DOWN.
CG: GIVING YOU SO MUCH OF MY BLOOD HAS MADE ME SO FUCKING TIRED.
CG: AND I WAS TIRED BEFORE, SO GODDAMN IT, I'M TAKING A NAP
CG: AND ANYONE WHO GIVES ME SHIT ABOUT IT CAN HELP THEMSELVES TO A NUTRITIONAL PLATEAU SHOVELED HIGH WITH A STEAMING HELPING OF "GET THE FUCK OFF MY BACK"
CG: BUT ANYWAY.
CG: I DON'T KNOW IF YOU HEARD WHAT I SAID
CG: WHEN I THOUGHT I'D LOST YOU.
CG: BUT IF YOU DID
CG: I WANT YOU TO KNOW SOMETHING.
CG: I MEANT EVERY GODDAMN WORD OF IT.
CG: YOU MEAN THE ENTIRE FUCKING UNIVERSE TO ME.
CG: AND I'M SORRY THINGS HAD TO GET SO BAD BEFORE I COULD ADMIT IT.
CG: I LOVE YOU, TEREZI PYROPE.
- carcinoGeneticist [CG] ceased trolling gallowsCalibrator [GC] -
At this, Terezi simply smiled, made her way over to Karkat sleeping, kissed him gently on the forehead, and laid in his arms. It woke him up, of course, but it was okay. He gripped Terezi's hands and she responded in kind. There may be a couple of psychopaths on this asteroid, but it didn't matter. If destiny said Karkat had to die now, he had no regrets. For the first time in his life, Karkat was at peace.
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-BONUS EPILOGUE UNLOCKED-