Karkat twisted his hands together. The sun was just setting through the narrowed slits of Sollux's blinds. Karkat hadn't been able to sleep, and had hauled himself out of the recooperacoon that he'd been given - under protest, but it was somewhere to rest. He'd been hopping between his friends' hives for a bit, since there was no way he could rebuild his own. He'd been damn lucky his lusus was still alive, hiding out at Gamzee's, otherwise he would've been culled a sweep before. As it stood, he was relatively safe.
Feferi was in power, which was good in one sense. He wasn't going to be culled for his blood. But that didn't mean anyone else liked him much. So it was still darting between trees to travel, hiding his eyes. It was fucking shit, but it was better than being dead.
He stared down at his hands, trying to keep himself from fidgeting. He was acting like a fucking wiggler, some kind of nervous ass shithead who couldn't calm down cause he was getting his favourite meal. But this was a bit bigger than food or holidays or that shit. It was all about what Sollux was finally going to launch. What his stupid coding had finally made.
If all went well, they were going to get to contact the kids again.
Karkat's hopes were low. Considering how everything else had gone wrong, he wasn't sure it was going to work. Hell, they'd thought it impossible except when Karkat happened to get a single message from John. And it had to have been his John. The words blazed in the back of his mind, over and over. The stupid blue font.
"We didn't win, did we?" Karkat muttered. Five fucking words. That's all it took to get Sollux coding. To give Karkat sleepless nights and fucking awful ideas. What if they never made contact? What if they did all this and it wasn't even his John? His hands clenched into fists and he glanced back at the window. It was getting dark. Sollux would have to wake up soon and run the program.
It was painfully slow, watching the sky ebb to black, the moons rising slowly, as Sollux finally got his ass up. He stretched, giving a look around, and putting on his glasses before speaking.
"You're up early."
"Go fucking wash up and get your ass in gear," Karkat growled. Sollux gave a laugh, but did climb out of his recooperacoon To Karkat, he moved like a snail. A fucking salted snail. A dead snail. He drummed his fingers against the wall, paced the room, and scowled deeply.
The program wasn't just for him - there's no way Sollux liked him that much. But it did seem the others missed those bratty kids as well. Karkat didn't remember them well aside from John - only as spectres needing to be killed and whatever leftover nuggets he had gleaned from John's rambles. Jade had been pretty okay to talk to, he thought, but fuck if he didn't want to speak to John. Only god damn person in two universes who understood him.
He had tried to explain what happened to the others. None of them really got how hard it had been. How stressful. How many fucking times he'd killed them and how relieving it was that they were all safe. How shit it was that they weren't the friends he knew. but after a sweep he had gotten used to some of their new quirks. Dealing with Terezi had been awkward, but he'd had to get over it. She hadn't committed, but she hadn't said no.
Karkat shook his head. That was the last thing he needed to think about. He was like, minutes away from getting to contact John. Maybe. Low hopes meant he wouldn't be disappointed. Low hopes meant he was expecting whatever the world threw at him next. The game had caught him off guard with this timeline bullcrap, but he wasn't gonna have it happen now that he was free.
Sollux finally walked back into the room. He sat down at his husktop, in front of the honeycomb harddrives Karkat had been trying to avoid. He picked his way over, careful to avoid stepping on anything.
"So, excited?" Sollux asked.
"Not really. It's probably going to go awfully wrong anyway," Karkat replied.
"You know I think you're more optimistic than the old Karkat."
"If you can't get the program to run, quit stalling and admit it."
Sollux cracked his knuckles, punching some keys down. Karkat watched carefully, but he didn't get the code. It had been a while. A small chat window opened on the screen. Sollux clicked a few things, and Karkat's handle appeared on the top bar.
"All yours," Sollux said, sliding out of the chair. Karkat sat down quickly. running a hand over the keyboard before beginning to type.
- Proxy Server -
carcinoGeneticist began trolling ectoBiologist
CG: YOU BETTER ANSWER AFTER ALL THIS. WE WENT THROUGH FUCKING EARTH HELL AGAIN TO GET IN CONTACT.
CG: HEY. IT'S YOUR GOD SPEAKING, DOUCHE NUTS.
Karkat glanced over his shoulder, but Sollux was already making his way out the door. Probably for privacy. How was Karkat supposed to know if this was working?
CG: I'LL JUST SEND YOU MESSAGES UNTIL YOU REPLY.
CG: YOU KNOW THAT I CAN'T SEE YOU THIS TIME, MEANING THE TIMING OF MY MESSAGES CAN'T CORESPOND TO A TIME I AM CERTAIN YOUR BONY ASS IS SAT SNUG BEFORE YOUR MONITOR.
CG: YOU'RE GONNA HAVE TO WORK WITH ME. BY REPLYING.
CG: AND BY BEING THE RIGHT JOHN. I DON'T WANTSOME OTHER WORLD'S JOHN. I WANT THE IDIOT WHO FELL OF A STAIRCASE AND DIED AND COULDN'T DRAW. ALSO WHO PLACED LIKE EIGHT BILLION PIECES DOWN.
CG: ANY OTHER JOHN IS PROBABLY A BIGGER INTOLERANCE THAN YOU.
Shit. Of course it wasn't going to go through. John couldn't see a message from another universe. It would be ridiculous to think there was some great Internet connection out there, that they had landed in a universe where cross space chatting was possible beyond the reaches of the troll Empire. The game had fucked them over. It had-
EB: oh my god. karkat?
EB: i've been sending messages forever and you never replied. holy fuck.
CG: YEAH WELL, MAYBE LEARN TO CODE. YOU STUPID FUCK.
A flicker of hope formed in the troll's chest.
CG: IT IS YOU, RIGHT?
EB: yeah. it's me.
EB: i missed you.
Karkat cracked a small smile. Maybe the game had made a mistake after all.
CG: SO, DOUCHE. TELL ME WHAT YOU'VE BEEN UP TO WITHOUT ME.