It is quiet. For the first time in what seems like days, it is quiet. Somehow all of the evening's arguments have been settled, no one is in the horn pile, and it appears that no one is playing that motherfucking god damned game that Egbert decided would be fun. What is it called, Twister? Ugh.

Instead, there is just a peaceful silence. It is an anomaly, to be sure, but a welcomed one.

The sheets rustle soothingly as he shifts to a more comfortable position, careful not to disturb his companion. She is snuggled against his side, her knees tucked up and her forehead against his shoulder. One of her slim hands grasps at his shirt loosely, the other pillowing her face. As he notices that she sleeps with her lips slightly parted, he muses on how vulnerable she looks now. Even when she is her normal, cheerful self, he sees the walls that she maintains, heavily armed to the turrets and eager to gun down any person stupid enough to try to fuck with the locks and bricks and mortar. When a dumbfuck decides that messing with the walls to the fortress is a good idea, she launches a trigger-happy attack, smiling all the while and the asshat she caught wants to shit themselves because, god damn, she is one scary bitch.

Jade Harley is neither weak nor simple. She is a fighter, always has been, and though she may be nice, she is not at all forgiving when it comes to what she cares about. There is no mercy when she is vengeful for injuries, physical or otherwise. However, she is always willing to admit and make up for her wrongs. Hypocrisy is one of her least favorite things; it does not matter from whom it comes.

He moves again, and she whimpers softly, clutching at the black fabric of his shirt. She tucks her body closer to his, and she quiets when he brushes her hair away from her face.

There are many things that he didn't know before that he's learned over the time they have travelled together. How she likes, and fully understands, nuclear physics. The way she believes that there is no animal that she can't befriend. Her obsession with the bass guitar. How she has a fully memorized rant about the uselessness of oboes. How she likes to cuddle during movies, particularly Lalonde, specifically because Rose likes her personal space.

How she can't sleep without a nightlight.

He isn't sure how many nights they've been doing this. All he knows is how it started. He'd been on his way back to his respiteblock, exhausted from babysitting the idiotic assbags that are his insufferable companions on this god-forsaken hunk of rock. Honestly, they all behave like wrigglers.

As he approached the transportalizer room, he had heard sniffling coming from an ajoining hallway. Curiosity winning against doubt, he followed the sound, not really expecting to find her curled up on one of the window seats, curtains partially hiding her frame. Her breath came in sharp hiccups as she fought desperately against sobs.


The transformation from anguish to a sunny smile and a bright voice was instantaneous. "Hi, Karkat!"

He narrowed his eyes, frowning. He could give quadrant advice to his friends, without fail, but he wasn't sure how to deal with an upset human. He had a sense of the delicacy of the situation, an understanding of the eggshells he was about to walk on. "... Are you... alright?"

A grin. "Of course I am!"

He folded his arms. "Harley, you are a terrible liar." Actually, she was doing a pretty damn good job at acting normal.

He thought he saw her eyes narrow. "I don't know what you're talking about." She stood up and stretched, turning her back on him.

"This is uncomfortable as fuck for me, too, you know. You could just tell me."

She turned around, giving him a pursed lip glare. "Maybe I don't want to talk about it."

Shit. So much for preserving eggshells. "Maybe it would help you to talk it out." He knew that that was almost always the best remedy for quadrant problems, perhaps it would work now?

"Fuck no. I don't want to talk about it." Her sudden vehemence caught him off guard. "You have no business prying, and I would appreciate it if you left it alone!" She whirled away, ready to storm off. He caught her wrist.

"Shit, Harley, Jade, I'm sorry. I'm not good at this. I'm not good at comforting people."

"Oh, I couldn't tell," she bit scathingly.

He scowled, not letting go when she tugged at the grip on her wrist. "I just apologized and you're still mad? Jegus, Harley!" He took a breath, willing his temper to calm. He wasn't sure why he even cared. It was just Jade. She took things in stride, would get over it. But something about the absolutely broken expression he had glimpsed kept him from just leaving. "You don't have to tell me. Just... is there anything I can do to help?"

She seemed to fight against another bitter return, maybe due to his own efforts at civility. "...No. Not really." All of her energy seemed to drain all at once, making her shoulders droop. "I'm sorry, too. I didn't mean to get mad, I just..." She closed her eyes, rubbing at her temple with her free hand. "I'm really on edge and I haven't slept. It's too dark."

The last remark was muttered, and he knew that she hadn't meant to share it with him. The silence lengthed as he pondered what she gave as the problem. "Come on."

"And just where are we going?" The harshness of her tone was lost when she limply followed his lead. He moved his hold on her wrist to her hand, not answering.

She raised her eyebrows, but refrained from asking sarcastic questions, when he led her to his respiteblock. He left the lights off, but turned on his computer monitor, illuminating the room with soft blue light. He tugged her over to the nest of soft things-blankets, clothes, and sheets, the replacement for his empty recuperacoon-and pulled her down with him.

In silence, he maneuvered the pile to fit his comfort, letting her follow his lead.

And so it began. The nights began to blur together, and he has come to expect her as a sleeping companion. He wonders sometimes, if she stopped, would he be able to sleep? He hadn't slept well before, but there is something comforting about her rhythmic breathing beside him, something about her warmth.

She has never told him what she was crying about that night. That is fine with him: he has decided that she is too complex for him to even try to understand. He does, although, have a hunch that the tears had to do with Strider and his flushed-pale-god-knows-the-fuck-what relationship with Terezi.

If he is correct, he completely understands Jade's grief.

She sighs softly, blinking sleepily awake. She looks up, and he meets her gaze.

"You're not sleeping, Karkat?" It is really more of a statement than a question.

"Great observation skills you have, dipshit."

"Well, excuse me. No need to be an ass about it."

He makes a noise of annoyance.

"Stubborn fuck," she mutters, and he feels her smile into his shoulder before she drifts to sleep again.

None of their usual nightly banter is malicious. On the contrary, it tends to be gentle, often with laughter and grins. He feels safe with her, and he assumes that she feels the same, as she continues to join him night after night.

He's not sure what they are, really. It doesn't feel flushed. Hell, it doesn't even feel pale. It's sure as fuck not black. But maybe, he muses, they don't need to put a label on it. It is what it is, whether he has a name for it or not.

And he doesn't think that that's a problem.

Author's Note:

Oh, god. What am I doing? This ship isn't even in the harbor! What the motherfuck is this? I don't ship them! ::flails about madly::

Anyone notice that I, once again, wrote about sleep? ::ceases flailing, choosing instead to whack head against nearest wall::

Please review! Constructive criticism is greatly appreciated!