Author's Notes: Back in December Caledscratch did a series of sketches of Karkat and Gamzee being in cahoots about the whole Gamzee serving Caliborn thing. Cale loved the idea and presented it so well that I couldn't help but latch on to it. Because I'm prone to latching on to things that Cale draws. What in the world is wrong with me? Anyway, here we go, my favorite 'ex'-palemates being in CAHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOTS!
How had it gotten to this point? How in all of paradox space had it gotten to a point where Karkat could sit there, staring down with cold and pained eyes at a hole riddled, blood stained god tier outfit. He deserved better than this. Better than staring down at the blood that ringed and dripped from the holes, the color of the blood only slightly darker and richer than the inherent purple of the outfit. What kind of universe were they living in where Karkat had to sit there and mourn his moirail even though they were in a limbo of a kind that kept them separated from the war going on around them for a while longer?
What was the point of the question? Gamzee had to shake his head as it came up in his pan. He knew how he'd gotten here, how they'd gotten here, but did that make it better? There was Karkat, staring down at the blood, still in a kind of shock that Gamzee couldn't quite shake him out of. It was silly for him to be so out of it too, it wasn't like Gamzee was really hurt. The damage had been done long ago, and yet still far in the future. It was complex like that. Time was complex like that, all kinds of swirls and loops and lines, a miraculous flow that had to be felt as much as known. In fact, if he thought on it hard enough he could all but put himself in the moment that made this moment possible.
It all started a few sleep cycles after they'd fully realized their rightful place as moirails. Not that Gamzee hadn't up and known that wicked shit since the Land of Tents and Mirth, or maybe before that—he couldn't up and remember for sure—it had just taken Karkat until then to realize it. Still, it had happened just after that, when he was all up and hiding from the wicked vengeance of his jade blooded, shining sister. It was the first sleep cycle that he'd remembered the vents Nepeta had used to ambush him, but it'd taken until the second before he'd gotten up his courage to explore them. Up and to his shock the one he'd chosen to start his exploring in had led him all the way from Tavros's rooms to those of his wicked palebro.
He'd stayed there, curled up in the vent, peering through the grating so he could look upon his wicked motherfucker. Almost an hour he'd up and stayed there, until he finally heard it. A change in the way Karkat was grumbling angrily to himself; a change instead to quiet sobs that shook his brother's little shoulders in a way that Gamzee did not in the slightest bit appreciate. He had quietly unscrewed the little screws from the grate, taking as long as he needed and cutting his fingers all up to the point of bleeding in the process, and then slipped the metal from it's place. Once that was done he'd quickly gone and swept his moirail up in his arms, ignoring the way that his bloody fingers left little splashes of color against Karkat's black shirt.
At first Karkat was rigid like some kind of rock. Shocked maybe, or scared that he'd lost it. Not that Gamzee could blame his brother. He'd lost all kinds of control over himself, and he'd all up and scared his wicked brother in ways he never would have wanted to. Was Karkat being terrified by the feeling of blood through his shirt, worried that Gamzee had killed someone again? Was it the fact that Karkat hadn't known he was there, watching silently over his precious moirail? Or maybe he was still scared, afraid of what Gamzee was capable of, was willing to do. If there was ever going to be anything that made him regret what he'd done, regret the wicked pictures he'd painted, it was the fear it had put into his precious palebro.
"Karkat," he'd whispered, "ain't even no reason to up and get your tears on my motherfucking brother. I have got your back."
Still Karkat had stood there in his arms, quivering for a while. Then, at last, suddenly, like a motherfucking miracle tide coming in, Karkat's arms were around him, his face buried in Gamzee's shirt, his tears pressing through like eager little things seeking Gamzee's pusher. All he could do was slowly guide his moirail to the floor, rubbing his back with bloody fingers, and whispering comforting nothings in his ears. Together they lingered there for hours, Gamzee holding his moirail as if the world was going to steal the little motherfucker away, and Karkat staying buried in Gamzee's shirt as if the only peace to be found was in those limitless black folds that he himself had forced Gamzee into after the whole human arrival thing. They spent the whole sleep cycle locked together that way, embracing each other like pale brothers did, until at last they awoke together the next day, their bodies aching from the metal floor.
It had been then that Karkat had finally seemed to realize where he was, who he was with, and what had all up and happened. Nattering like a worried lusus he'd scolded Gamzee for hurting himself, demanded to know how his moirail had gotten into the room, and insisted on sitting there, bandaging Gamzee's fingers while he explained. So he talked about the vents, leaving Nepeta out of it, as Karkat wound lengths of pure white cloth around the tips of his stinging fingers. Who had even up and given those little guys permission to sting like that? At last, though, he'd explained how he'd up and cut the little guys trying to get to his moirail, and Karkat's attentions softened a bit at that. Quietly Karkat promised that he'd see the other screws loosened over time if Gamzee promised not to tempt Terezi or Kanaya into killing him. When Gamzee had agreed his brother had up and kissed the tip of each finger, telling them to hurry up and get better, and it made Gamzee all kinds of warm inside.
"It's going to be a long time," Karkat said, once the kisses were done.
"Long time until what, my motherfucking brother?"
"The Rose human says that it's going to be three human years until we make it into the new human session. We'll be stuck on this rock for that whole time."
"Ain't even a thing. We got the machines and plenty of grist to make ourselves all kinds of food. And when we sleep we can have the crooning of the horrors to keep us safe."
"Don't EVEN say those things are anything other than abominations," Karkat snapped, glaring at him in a kind of half-pushered way. "If I could find a way to stop it, I'd keep you from dreaming, Gamzee. The last thing we need is you going crazy from another source."
"Won't happen," Gamzee promised. Not that he thought he would never lose his control again, just that he didn't think it would be the dark things that did it. They up and whispered their dark lies to the filthy Dersites, not someone like Gamzee. No, his voices were a different source all together. Like that wicked puppet that Kanaya had brought, that had told him to have Vriska killed, that insisted that the best way to avenge himself on the Dave was to use the chucklevoodoos on him. Now, though, Gamzee was a whole lot less sure that it was a good idea. Not that he even had a choice. Was all up and fate that made him do it. The power of alphaness, so to speak.
"I'm serious, Gamzee. I won't have you going off and fucking things up again. I won't let you do anything to put us at risk."
Problem is that Gamzee ain't even sure he could stop it if Karkat wanted him to. The voice could come back, any of the voices, and who was to say that what they told him wouldn't seem completely reasonable at the time?
"Anything you want, my brother. Anything you want."
A comment meant to comfort his palebro, and it had led them here. Led them to a plan that wasn't so much a plan as a shot into the motherfucking darkness that had surrounded him. Led them to this motherfucking moment here with Karkat staring down to the bloodied garment in his hands, staring with no belief for what was even fucking happening.
"Remind me why this was a good idea again?" Karkat asks, his voice almost a whisper, barely audible over the squeaking of the one-wheeled device Gamzee was balancing on. Karkt was pretty intent on Gamzee keeping his body distracted during these meetings, in case the residual 'hatestorm' or whatever rolled over and got Gamzee to try and fuck things up. "It's not fucking worth it."
That was what Gamzee had thought when this had all started, when Karkat had told him a perigee in that he had a plan. That was what Gamzee had all up and thought when he'd been sent to find the music boxes in Roboaradia's blocks. It was what Gamzee had thought when he'd sent himself through the bubbles, seeking the pieces he needed to make everything Karkat thought they would want for this plan. He'd come around, though. His moirail had brought him back around time after time, through the worst of the voodoos and the true devotion of his dancestor. Shooshed him through the voices in his pan, protected his secret from the glowing sister, had saved him from himself. No, this was worth it, Gamzee knew it from the depths of his rotted through pan. This was going to work, it was the only way it was going to work, and Gamzee wasn't going to let his motherfucking brother down in this, not if it was the only way for them to survive.
"Naw, bro," Gamzee insisted, coming to as close to a stop on his one-wheeled device as he could, which meant he was really more of rocking back and forth. "This shit is legit..."
"I don't like it when he hurts you."
So that was it. Should have motherfucking known it would be something like that. Wasn't that his brother wasn't up and devoted to the plan again, just that he didn't like Gamzee in pain. As if the pain wasn't ages old already. As if the wounds weren't already perigees old scars that he barely even thought of when he donned his fucking disguise and jumped himself all up and back to the green skulled motherfucker he was calling boss. He'd waited to come back, waited to visit his brother and give him the motherfucking miraculous news until he was healed, so Karkat didn't have to see him like that. Problem was he had to bring back the codtier, needed a new one that wasn't so riddled with holes and questions of a future he was still fighting for. If there had been another way, though, he would have said something, would have done something. That was what this was about, after all. Protecting his brother, no matter the risks to himself.
"Aww... But I'm all up and okay best friend."
"No," Karkat snapped, and then seeming like he got his realize on about just how commanding, how Caliborn it sounded, he looked away, clearly ashamed of his words. "Why do we even fucking need him anyway?"
Because Karkat had told him they did, almost two human years ago. Because that was the motherfucking plan. Know your enemy, that was how Karkat had put it. Know him so that you know what to expect, how to fight him, how to weaken him, how to do something other than die. Still, it's a question Gamzee's asked himself so many ties before. So many times that his pan already has an answer up and ready, though it's more of an answer his pan wove for himself than for Karkat.
"Why do even fucking need anybody?" Gamzee's asking, grinning down at his moirail, unable to keep the words back. Because he's thought them to himself too many times before, made too many contingency plans based on this motherfucking shit. "We don't gotta stay here with these wriggler cullbaits waiting to motherfucking die. We could be out, bro!"
And they could be. They could so be out of here. Gamzee's got the music boxes. Ain't much but it gets them where they can be. They can flash out around the place, living their lives one day at a time, avoiding the 'lord' easily.
"You and me. We got my jokers and clubs and your hearts. Sickles for spades and our motherfucking diamonds gone re..."
He's gone too far. Said to motherfucking much. His little fantasy life played out in his pan so many times that once a true opportunity to put it forth is there he takes it, hopes for it, loses it in a single word from Karkat because his motherfucking brother already knew where he was going. Thing is, Gamzee isn't even sure that his brother would say no under other circumstances. His cheeks have gone a beautiful red, a shade of crimson that had Gamzee torn between getting down on his knees and fucking bowing to his lord and master, and dragging Karkat to his feet, maybe even hauling the little motherfucker into his lap and forcing him to accept what they've obviously got going on under the surface. Not that he's going to do either. One would ruin everything they had. The other would find them sprawled on aching sit-meat because Gamzee had never been that good at balancing shit, whether it came to himself or his quadrants. They'd be hurt, they'd be broken, and he wasn't going to let that happen.
"Just sayin', bro," Gamzee said, trying not to let disappointment into his voice.
"Just say whatever you want," Karkat said after a moment, "but if we're going to do this, it's got to change. We can't keep it up like this."
Keep it up like what? Gamzee doesn't ask, it wasn't like he really wanted to know anyway. Because from the sound of Karkat's voice, something is changing. And Gamzee, he's all up and motherfucking tired of change.
"You need to do this yourself," Karkat said, still staring down at the ruined codtier.
"Don't come back again, Gamzee. Next time you go out there, don't come back."
There's no response for that, so Gamzee just stares.
"We can't keep doing this. We can't keep having you come back here. It's got to make him suspicious that you keep disappearing. You've got to go back to him, and not return here. Gamzee, you've got to be what he wants you to be..."
"You don't want me pale anymore," someone said. No, not someone. Gamzee knew the voice. It was his own. Who gave it permission to betray him like that?
"Oh Gog, Gamzee, no! It's not that. It's..."
He doesn't take the time to listen to what Gamzee says. Just lets his hands flare out to either side of him as if he was trying to get his balance. Right on cue the music boxes appeared, hovering by his hands, and with a slight flick of his fingers, Karkat's gone. Instead of the comfortable haven he had built with his moirail he's on the barren wasteland of Caliborn's session.
Alone. More alone than he'd ever been before in his life.
It didn't even help that it was all supposed to be part of the plan.