He wasn't sure if he had fucked up.
Sure, there were far worse things that had and could have happened by that point, but those things made it much more obvious as to whether or not they were along the lines of 'YOU MANAGED NOT TO SCREW UP YET. GOOD JOB' or more blatantly 'WOW YOU REALLY FUCKED THIS UP DIDN'T YOU, ASSHOLE'. At least in those situations, it was clear to see if he had taken the next step forward or if he had misjudged his footing and flown right off the path into a big fat pile of failure. There usually wasn't too much internal conflict on those matters. You did good, awesome. You fucked up, not awesome. Now fix it. Plain and simple.
But sitting now as he was, covered head to toe in the writhing bodies of 24 newly-cloned (was cloned even the right word to use here? He didn't know. He didn't even want to fucking think about it) wigglers, Karkat Vantas couldn't tell if he should be screaming at himself or not.
Something close to screaming still escaped him as he pried the little bodies off of himself, ignoring the noises of protest they made when they were met with the cold lab floor. They seemed to recover easily enough, scrambling properly back onto their short limbs and proceeding to crawl around like this was all fine and normal and NOT the most fucked up thing he had ever seen in his life. One of the yellow ones (don't say it's Sollux. Don't say it's Sollux. For fuck's sake don't call it Sollux) scuttled closer to him, but Karkat made a point of pushing himself as far away as he could before his back hit the wall, and the wiggler merely sniffed before finding more interesting company in some ram-horned rust blood.
(Don't call it Aradia, don't call it Aradia)
His chest felt tight, and for some reason his hands had decided now would be an excellent time to start shaking like he was freezing his ass off. And so Karkat Vantas did what Karkat Vantas does when he starts to lose his cool.
"Yeah, you're welcome you little shits!" None of the grubs even bothered to turn their heads at his outburst. "Not like I have anything better to do than sit around making you little assholes so I can send you off to a nice six sweeps of fuckery! You all should be fucking thanking me for spending my valuable time over this! Just maybe a little 'HEY, THANKS KARKAT FOR CREATING US SO WE CAN GO ON TO LIVE AND SUFFER AND DIE. REALLY APPRECIATE THAT."
The sharper rise in his tone must have upset the little bright red grub (and he knew it was him. He was stupid for trying to keep their names away from the faces of these wigglers, as though that made this any less real. He didn't know who the fuck 12 of these little shits were, but he was definitely looking into the eyes of his friends no matter how much he tried to deny it), because it stopped moving and just started crying. And something about watching the little him wail made Karkat's eyes sting with tears of his own, so he decided yelling wasn't a thing he was going to be doing anymore.
It took a long time for him to start to calm down, and he thanked whatever God there was that none of the grubs strayed over to him while he got himself together. The lab was dim and cold, and he managed to find comfort in that and the solid surface against his back while he watched the little things crawl around. Over and over he counted them in his head, wondering if there was somehow a mistake, but 24 was the number that kept adding up. Two of each blood color—even another mutant red like him—and similar horns to boot.
I hope I didn't fucking make two of each of us, he thought, staring while the two eight eyed destined-to-be-huge-bitches crossed paths and regarded each other cautiously. That would be the biggest fuck-up by far.
But watching the two of them so close to the other, he was able to pick out little difference. A sharper twist in a budding horn, a slightly different curve of the face, and when one of those blue-bloods decided to open her mouth and hiss, he was sure her teeth were sharper than the other spiderbitch's.
But if he hadn't messed up and made them all a screw-up ectotwin, then who the hell did he make?
Before he could think about it too much, his attention was drawn to a lump of teal as it came closer to him, and he stared back at the two bright little eyes that watched him in curiosity.
Part of him wanted to tell her to enjoy those eyes while they lasted, but Karkat decided that even if she wouldn't understand him, that was pushing a line of cruelty he didn't want to cross. So he waved her away instead, almost wincing at the all too familiar sneer she gave him before moving to a different part of the room.
Something in his chest started to hurt again, and he'd never been happier that no one was around to see him like this. Hell if he even knew why this was upsetting him so badly, but the last thing he needed was Captor snidely calling him out on flipping his shit over a bunch of stupid grubs.
Stupid grubs who you just made. The thought worked its way into his head, making him feel ill. Who you just made and might as well have just cursed to a fucked up life of suffering and fighting and playing this fucked up game on your fucked up world and fuck fuck fuck fuck FUCK.
There it was. That was what was making want to throw up bright red all over the damn floor of that stupid lab. He was the one who started all of this. He was the reason all of them were playing the game. He was the reason Terezi had been blinded and Tavros had lost his legs and Sollux had gotten slaughtered by the Glub because he was the one who made all of them and sent them to live on that fucking planet.
And seeing little him still crying a few feet away was just way too much.
He felt like yelling again. He wanted to yell at the little him that he was sorry. He was sorry he made him and that he probably fucked up and gave him mutant blood and he was sorry that he was going to have to grow up with all the awful shit that was going to happen and he was sorry that he would end up playing this damn game.
He wanted to yell at all of them that he was just fucking sorry and oh god one of them was touching his fucking leg.
Karkat barely reminded himself at the last second to resist the instinct to smash whatever had curled itself against him while he was distracted. He still wasn't completely sure what it was he had done and should be doing, but turning one of these grubs into a smear of blood on metal was probably a sure-fire way to fuck up absolutely everything. So instead of making some colorful puddle out of a would-be troll, he forced himself to stop the quick movement of his hand as it tried to swing around and crush it, instead taking in a small breath when he found himself face-to-face with a little jade-colored wiggler.
He knew it was Kanaya without even having to check her with her near duplicate, because he had already gotten a glance at it and knew those horns looked too long to be that of his friend's. And at the risk of sounding unbelievably corny in his own head, he admitted he could just sort of tell by looking at those eyes. She had latched herself onto the fabric of his pant leg, staring up at him and blinking once. Warily, Karkat lowered his hand and gave her an experimental poke. The squeak she made in return caused him to jump, scowling now at her from the fright.
"What the hell do you want?" he asked stiffly, leaning away from her in a not-so-subtle attempt to free his leg of her grasp. She did release it, but not without another small chirp of protest when her legs hit the ground. Karkat's mouth twitched. No, god dammit. She wasn't cute. He refused to think of any of these things as anything but the disgusting little wigglers they were. Stupid fucking little things.
But seeing the unhappy frown that covered her face as she cowered slightly at his sudden withdrawal did make him feel pretty shitty, so he sighed and crossed his legs, letting himself relax with a less defensive sitting position.
"Fine, come here if that's what you want," he muttered, reaching out his hand. She only blinked again, and Karkat impatiently tapped his hand against the ground next to him. Seeming to take the hint, Kanaya pushed herself up and crawled over to him, more cautiously than before, probably fearing another outburst. Karkat dulled noted how weird they all looked when they were grubs, their bodies just little useless mounds thin enough to see all their blood swirling around in it. He imagined briefly what it would look like if he should accidentally step on one of them and that thin skin were to pop like a blood-filled balloon.
But that thought made his stomach flip again, so he added it to the list of things he wasn't going to let himself think about now or ever.
Kanaya was staring at him again, but this time while sitting right pressed up against his knee, and Karkat found it more than a little unnerving to just have her stare like that.
"Yeah, what do you want? Why can't you just go crawl around like the other little assholes? Look, Vriska seems to be having lots of fun chewing on those wires over there, how about you go join her? Wait, actually, fuck that's probably not even fucking safe, is it? Okay, how about you go get her to stop, then? I don't want to deal with her lighting this fucking place up and god what the fuck are doing get off of me!"
But he didn't push her off this time. No, Karkat just held his hands up like a captured criminal scared to move even an inch while Kanaya decided to make herself nice and cozy on his lap. It was gross and she was gross and all these fucking grubs were just disgusting and god fucking damn it she just smiled at him and there was no way in hell he was going to shove her back onto the ground after that.
"You're not making this any fucking easier for me, you know that?" he growled halfheartedly, leaning back against the wall and poking at the tiny bump of one of her horns, barely peeking out from her hair. The curve wasn't even there yet, but he knew it would show up before long. Kanaya had had that hook in her horn for as long as he could remember, but she was just so damn tiny right now he could barely believe it.
She didn't object to the poke. If anything, she seemed to lean further into him. Frowning, Karkat picked her up (very carefully, of course. He didn't want to squeeze her too tight. That image of a grub popping was still fresh in his think pan) and held her in front of his face.
"You would be the one to get all goddamn friendly, wouldn't you? Can't just leave me alone and go roll around and gurgle like fucking Ampora is, can you?" She only responded with a light tap on his nose, and resisting the urge to let himself smile at that, he switched his hold so he was instead cradling her, sure that would be more comfortable for both of them.
He felt weird, holding her like this. It wasn't the same kind of awful weird he had been feeling while watching all of the wigglers crawl around, and it wasn't anything he would really consider to be bad. It was...comforting, in some small way. But Kanaya had always been a comfort to him. No matter how worked up he got or how hard he flipped his shit, something about Kanaya always reeled him back in just by being there. Almost as though there was something solely about her presence that made him feel better.
But more than that, there was something disturbingly familiar about it, holding her.
Or maybe it wasn't specifically him holding her that he was remembering. He didn't even know how to sort it out in his own mind, but he felt some sort of warm familiarity in the whole situation that both filled him with a strange nostalgic comfort and freaked him out because he just could not place where the feeling was coming from.
"You're too good for Vriska, anyway" he found himself saying, returning her face poke. But Kanaya seemed to have other ideas, grabbing onto his finger with a happy squeak before starting to chew on it. It didn't hurt enough for him to stop her, since the only sharpness in her mouth were those two little jutting fangs. Now, if Serket had decided to take a bite out of him... "I just wish you'd know that when you grow up and fall all over her. She's such a huge bitch they should come up with a whole new definition for her, and you deserve someone so much better. She's just gonna fucking hurt you."
But the Kanaya he was talking to of course didn't care about this golden relationship advice he was giving. She was only interested in trying to make a snack out of his finger.
Karkat sighed, but he couldn't be irritated. Quite the opposite, he could feel the tension draining out of him as he held her, talking even though she couldn't understand him. She still seemed to be listening, though, the way her eyes stayed on his, and he realized that was part of what he liked so much about her. Kanaya always listened to him, even if she had no idea what he was going on about.
"You should be wearing a fucking bow or something," he said, and she seemed to finally understand that his finger was going to remain firmly attached to his hand and abandoned her nibbling. "It's weird not seeing you flaunting some sort of fashion shit, even if you are just a wiggler. If I had a bow, I would put it on you, and then you could fault the hell out of it. You'd probably even make Eridan cry 'cause you'd just be so much more fucking fabulous than him."
Kanaya smiled and squeaked again, and this time Karkat did let himself smile with her.
"I know I should be saying this to older you so you'd know what I'm running my fucking mouth about, but I'm glad you're around, Kanaya. Not just because you're a beacon of sanity in the insane shitstorm we live in, but I guess just because I really do fucking like you. Not like, 'Hey let's go have some sloppy makeouts and fill some fucking buckets!', but I just like you." She blinked. "Yeah, I'm fucking rambling about emotional shit, you got a problem with it?" She made some weird purring chirp noise. "Course not, because you actually like to listen unlike the rest of these assfucks in here."
There wasn't any of the previous panic left in him now, and even his stomach had settled so he didn't have to worry about blowing chunks all over these little assholes. He knew Kanaya wouldn't remember even a second of this, and that there was no way in hell he would bring up the little exchange to her, but he was glad her grub decided to crawl up to the crazy screaming idiot that made her instead of avoiding him like a sensible creature would. Because only she, with a few blinks and squeaks, could get him to actual be able to breathe deeply like he was right now and save the trauma of this for later.
And even little him was smiling now, because whatever other Jade-blood Karkat had made had ended up curled up next to him, stopping those mutant colored tears.
First fanfiction I've finished in a long time. I know it sucks, but I'm trying to kick a huge writer's block right now, so bear with me.
I guess this was supposed to be cute or something? IDK.