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What the Actual Fuck

Chapter Text

You breath heavily, panting in the darkness in your fear.

It's happening again. Something's here. Something's in your walls and you don't know what and you're freaking out.

You reach blindly over onto your nightstand, hand flailing until you find your camera. Turning it on, you breath a small sigh of relief as a bit of light floods the room. The scratching continues, however, and you swallow a large gulp of air in an attempt to calm down. You point the camera at your undoubtedly pale face.

“Hey, this is Karkat,” you begin, voice shaky. “It is...” You take a moment to glance over to the clock by your bed. “3:47 in the god damn morning.” You pause for a moment as the scratching seems to come closer. You take a big, calming breath once more, and continue talking to your camera. “I told myself I'd start recording this heap of horseshit if it happens again, and take a fucking look, it is. I'm freaking the fuck out. I am in shambles. I am nothing more than a quivering mass of tortured psyche and possible hallucinations at the moment. I'm just...

“I'm scared.”

You run a hand through your wildly messy black hair, shuddering as the noises continue. You wait a few minutes for it to stop like it usually does, but it just won't quit.

Eyes wet and blurry, palms clammy, you get out of bed. Your foot gently touches the icy floor of your bedroom, sending goosebumps flying up your limbs.

And like a switch had been flipped, the scratching stops.

“Fuck.” You whisper in a voice an octave higher than normal. Your eyes remain fixed on the spot on the wall you think the noises were coming from.

Putting one small, terrified foot in front of the other, camera in hand, you make your way over to the wall of your bedroom. “I'm so fucking stupid. This is so fucking stupid. I should leave. I should leave. I should leave.”

Against your better judgment, you raise one hand and curl it into a fist. You very, very slowly reach that shaking hand to the wall, lean forward, press your ear against the cold paint, and knock.

You wait a moment, sure that your heart has stopped beating, positive that you have stopped breathing, and then close your eyes in relief. Nothing happened.

Just as you make to pull away from the wall, a short knock reaches your ear both in sound and vibration.

You gasp, reeling back, falling on your ass in the process. You somehow manage to keep hold on the camera. “Oh my fucking god. Fuck this. Fuck this so fucking hard, I'm done. I'm done, I'm done, I'm done. I'm leaving. I'm leaving. Oh, fuck. Jesus fucking dickshit please please please...”

Scrambling backward toward your door, hyperventilating, you manage to get back on your feet. You outright sprint down the stairs of your home and through the front door.

You spend the rest of the night in your car.

Chapter Text

You wake up with your face plastered to the steering wheel of your shitty car. You stretch as much as you can in the confined space, groaning as your joints pop.

Well. It's time to get to work.

You stumble out of your car, grumbling a bit as the metal bit of the seat belt catches in the door before you successfully slam the entrance shut. Taking a deep breath, you look up at your home.

It's a relatively nice size. Your father was a famous preacher before he disappeared, and received a wealth of donations that he then left to you. The house is a two story thing, with light blue siding and a short front lawn. It's big and empty and all yours. You suspect as of late, however, that it isn't quite as empty as you would like to think.

The camera you find yourself still clutching beeps at you, letting you know that its battery is low and it is time to get inside. 

You creep up to the front door, goosebumps on your arms as you open it up. You take a quick glance around the foyer before shrugging. Seems clear.

Once you reach your bedroom, you sit yourself down in your smelly swivel chair in front of your stained computer desk. The SD card in the video camera comes out with a pop when you press on it. You shove it into the side of your laptop, which buzzes frantically as it brings up your video editing software. You look through the events of last night.

"Oh my fucking god. Fuck this. Fuck this so fucking hard, I'm done..." Even you cringe at how easily spooked your past self is. But it was dark and scary, you rationalize, and you aren't very good with dark and scary.

You go through the video again, and listen to the answering knock about seven times. Okay, so what if there's apparently a rat or something in your walls? So what if it apparently has humanoid appendages and is out to make you shit your trousers? You can deal with it.

Heaving a sigh, you debate whether or not it would be worth it to upload the video to your YouTube channel. You told a few of your friends about the weird noises in your house and they said they were interested, so you figured you would videotape some paranormal horseshit and feed it to their ganderbulbs and maybe prove that you're not crazy. But you acted so lame in that video.

What the fuck ever, you got the footage, you're uploading it. Fucking John can go shove a gerbil into his anal cavity if he decides to laugh at you.


 

You wake up with a start. Something crashed downstairs.

Anxiety creeping in through your skin, you inch your hand toward your camera and turn it on with a press of your thumb. You point it toward your face, just as you did three nights ago.

"Karkat again." Another crash from downstairs has you flinching hard. "I'm not sure if this is some bullshit possum that came in through the nonexistent doggy door or a spectral douchebag rummaging through my personal shit, but just in case, I'm going to document it. If the situation involves the latter, well. At least someone will get a laugh out of watching the video of my undoubtedly gruesome descent into hell."

Smoothing out your night shirt to disguise your shakiness, you slide out of bed and once again find your feet hugging the icy fucking tundra of hardwood floor in December.

You reach your bedroom door and pull it open. You almost faint on the spot when what sounds like metal pots hit linoleum floor. Fucking shit, you can't deal with this. No, no, no, you have to. You have to figure out what's been terrorizing you.

One stair step at a time, one broken plate or bowl or fallen piece of cutlery per step. Your head is dizzy at this point and your legs and arms are starting to go numb. Damn, you haven't had a panic attack in a long time; it would suck if you had one now.

You have now reached the narrow wall that partially divides the kitchen from the living room, adjacent to the staircase. All you need to do is peer around it and you'll see what's been driving you insane.

A deep breath. You place a hand on the wall to brace yourself, and, as though diving into a pool of cold water, thrust your body around the corner in one go.

A mixing bowl settles on the floor. Otherwise, there is no movement.

You take a few steps into the kitchen and stop right in front of the island in the center. You still feel like you're about to pass out, still under the effects of an adrenaline rush. The camera shakes in your hand.

Then you see the basement door across from you start to open.

A hand, your own, flies to cover you mouth to prevent you from screaming. You duck behind the island, right on the edge, and peek around the corner. Something is moving. You turn back around too fast to see what, but it looked close to the ground and big. The camera's light is on, however, and it is pointed toward your face, angled so that it just might have a view of what came out of the basement.

What came out of the basement. Holy fucking mother of Jesus lord have mercy something came out of the basement.

This is where you die. You're sure of it.

The camera switches off without your doing. You're lucky your hand is still on your mouth, otherwise you definitely would have shrieked.

You sit there for probably an hour, listening for movement. Nothing happens.

You're alive.

Chapter Text

You groan, pushing up on the linoleum floor to get into a sitting position. Your head is pounding.

"What the fuck?" You ask no one in particular. Then you remember what happened last night. "Shit. Shit." You woke up on the kitchen floor, camera in hand, unharmed. But the fact remains that you saw something open your basement door and crawl out of it.

You have a recording.

You shoot up to your feet, intent on getting to your computer as fast as possible. All you succeed in doing is worsening your headache.

After a moment, you start walking toward your bedroom, the need to review the video outweighing the fear of running into that thing. You need to do this. You sprint up the stairs.

Once again at your old computer desk, you go through the motions of popping the SD card out of the camera and slamming it into your laptop. You open the video from the previous night.

You see yourself looking into the camera with fear lining your face. "Karkat again." You roll your eyes at the following little monologue and flinch again at the crashes you can hear in the background. You feel the same anxiety and adrenaline you did the first time around.

A mixing bowl settles on the floor of your kitchen in the video. You're getting really fucking close to what you want to see.

The basement door slowly opens. Shit. The view shakes as though you were in the middle of an earthquake when you duck behind the island. The camera settles, looking toward you. Your hand is clamped tight on your mouth, and you're breathing heavily. Then the camera adjusts, and you see it.

Your heart drops to your stomach. You become light headed and you hear a buzzing in your ears. What the actual fuck is that thing? What the fuck what the fuck what the fuck what the fuck

A flesh-toned humanoid thing drags itself out of the basement. From what you can see, it doesn't have a face. It appears to be fully naked, its body moving jerkily and slowly across the kitchen floor, bent at odd angles and made of sharp edges. You shake in terror.

That thing was right behind you. It's probably still in the house.

You pack a few changes of clothes into a backpack, grab your laptop and the camera, and leave without looking back.


 

You're still shaking when John answers the door.

"Shit, dude, you look like you're about to fall over dead!" John exclaims after looking you up and down. You nod your head in affirmation, sure that you probably will fall over dead, and John drags you inside of the apartment he shares with his father, leading you to a couch.

"What happened, man?" John sits next to you on the couch, one leg tucked up under him in order to face you. You take a shuddering breath.

"There's something in my house." You blink away a few tears, trying not to be the crybaby John always calls you. "I just... It's easier if I just show you."

You pull your laptop out of the backpack you brought in with you and set it on your lap. John looks at you, confusion evident in his eyes when you bring up the video. "Just watch this." Shoving the laptop onto John, you run a hand through your hair, trying to come off as just a little tired rather than completely terrified.

The confusion slowly leaves John's face, replaced by, of all things, amusement.

"What the cockshitting fuck are you grinning at, Egbert?" You snarl. John looks over to you, surprised.

"Didn't you stage that? I bet you stuffed Dave into that morph suit, ha. I was actually a little scared for a minute." You glare daggers at John. "Yeah, uh... I didn't know you were such a good actor! That was super sweet, man." Your glare intensifies.

"That wasn't fake, John. That was real." You can't believe how fucking stupid this asshole is. Why would you show up on his doorstep looking like you're about to shit your pants just to show him a fucking jump scare?

"No way. You're lying, I can see it in your face, you dweeb." John gives a little nervous laugh. His face loses its awkward mirth as you continue glaring at him. "There's no way in hell that thing is real."

"Think again, dipshit." You have to pause to take a breath here; you're almost crying. You're just so fucking scared. "It's a real thing that is living in my house. Which is why I'm moving into yours."

"If this is a prank, Karkat, I'll admit it's a pretty good one." He looks off to the side for a moment, and then looks back at you. "You're lying." Your eyes narrow in fury. "Okay, okay, whatever. I believe you." John heaves a sigh. "You can stay here for a while, but I think we should check your house out. Look for that thing."

You give him an incredulous look. "Are you fucking insane, Egbert?"

"Probably. I just think you need to take your house back. Plus if we catch it, we could like, sell it to someone? Become millionaires or something." John shrugs.

"That is the dumbest shit I have ever heard come out of your mouth in years, John. Possibly ever." You shake your head furiously. "I'm not going back there. No way in fuck."

"Ugh, fine, whatever. We can talk about this more later. Right now, you need to unwind." Your friend wiggles his eyebrows. "If you catch my drift. Hehe."

"You insufferable prick." Still, you get up off the couch and head toward his room, intent on playing some video games. Bro bonding time or something like that. "Come on, John, don't keep me waiting."

John laughs behind you. The two of you play mindless video games for hours, then decide to head to bed when John's dad comes home.

You just hope it's over.

Chapter Text

You wake up in John's bed, your friend asleep on the floor beside you. You slept well for the first time in a long ass time; since even before the thing took up residence in your home. You suppose that's just the effect John has on you; best friends do tend to be a source of comfort for most people.

With a tap of your finger, you wake your phone up long enough to see that it is currently 10:42 in the morning. Not your usual 6:00 AM, but a nice reprieve.

Reaching out with your foot, you bump John in the shoulder with your big toe. "John. John. Wake up, you baby sucking fuckmonger."

John groans at you, rolling over and swatting your foot away. "Lemme sleep, asshat."

You laugh mirthlessly; you are a merciless god, and let you be damned if you would let this douchebag sleep. You reach out further with your leg, curling your foot so that your toes rest right under John's nose, and you jerk your leg up. John shoots backward in an effort to avoid having your (not so) beautifully smelling toes shoved up his nasal cavity.  You snort as John sputters.

"You giant asshole! God, I should just kick you out of my house right now." John looks away pointedly, pouting and rubbing his nose. You don't hesitate to laugh hysterically.

"Your..." You have to pause, laughter bubbling up from your lungs with you doubled over on the bed. "Your face, though!"

John just pouts with more intensity, but after a moment can't help but to burst out laughing as well. "Why do I even put up with you?" He manages to choke out between snorts.

"You love me, you dumb fuck. Admit it!" You shout at John, pursing your lips and blowing a kiss at him. This only results in John laughing harder, falling over onto his back with his legs kicking in the air.

"Yes, Karkat Vantas! My one true love, take me now!" John shrieks, face bright red from the ferocity of his giggles. A knock on John's bedroom door has both of you silent in a fraction of a second.

"Don't wake up the entire complex, boys!" Comes the muffled voice of John's dad from the other side of the door. You and John both blush in embarrassment for a moment before the two of you break into a new fit of snickering, albeit much quieter this time.

You wish this moment would never end.

This is the last time you laugh for the next two years.


 

You and John decide to check your house out a few hours later that same day. John is excited for the "adventure", claiming to be ready for whatever comes at you two; you, on the other hand, are terrified. You really, really don't want to do this. But you have John with you this time, so maybe it'll be okay.

You gently press on the brake of your car, slowing to a stop by the curb right in front of your home. Taking a deep breath, you step out of the car, John hot on your heels.

"Okay. We're here. We are now in the vicinity of the area within which a terrible monster, most likely intent on devouring us all with its jagged teeth and incredibly acidic digestive juices, lies in wait for yours truly to fall into its trap of-"

"Karkat, shut the hell up for a second, I'm trying to open your trunk but I can't do that without your key."

"Right. Sorry." You turn back around to face John and do not hesitate to violate the lock on your trunk with your car key, popping the door open. John pulls out a flashlight and, of all things, a hunting knife.

"Where did you get that? When did you even have time to put that in my car?" You ask incredulously.

"Not important! I'm being prepared." John says with a shit-eating grin, twirling the flashlight in his hand. "Now, onward! Into the depths of hell."

You sigh theatrically, and trudge up to the front door. You left it unlocked, you realize, and suddenly you're a little bit more apprehensive about what you'll find.

The door falls open with a creak when you push on it. You get a strong sense of déjà vu when you peer around the darkened foyer. The shades have been mysteriously drawn, sending the house into an odd shadow. You distantly notice your hand trembling.

A push from behind you sends you stumbling with a yelp. "John! What the fuck, you ass licker?" You whisper-yell.

"You were just standing there!" John whispers back, rolling his eyes. You harrumph and continue into the house, fists clenched. 

"Let's start at the attic and work our way down to the basement." You say. Honestly, basements have always freaked you out, and you want to put off checking it out for as long as possible.

"Works for me." John replies, and the two of you sidle up the stairs, you sticking close to the wall, half expecting something to fly at you from the top. Nothing does.

To get to the room with the entrance to the attic, you pass through the hallway. Every door is open. Every single one. You look briefly into different rooms as you walk, and they're all absolutely trashed. Tables flipped over, drawers emptied onto the floor, everything out of order. You're shaking even harder now.

You're even more sure that something is wrong as soon as you step foot into the back room.

There's this... Whispering. It sounds like multiple people whispering all at once, all with difference pitches and frequencies. But the sounds don't form words, almost like they're being played backward? The sound gets louder as you approach the string that pulls down the staircase to the attic.

John stops dead behind you when he hears it too.

"What the actual fuck is that sound? Is there someone up there?" Your friend whispers fearfully. "This has to be some prank someone is pulling on you, man. There is no way something could make that noise naturally."

"That's the thing, John. I don't think this is natural." You're shaking hard. If John expects you to go up there, he has another thing coming. You will refuse. "Please don't go up there, John."

John breaths in, then out. "We have to find out what's going on, Karkat. We both know you'll never sleep well again until we make sense of this." He walks around you slowly and silently, as though afraid of spooking whatever is making that godforsaken noise, then pulls gently on the string. The staircase comes down and unfolds almost unbearably loudly. You both flinch.

The whispering only gets louder after that. Your head feels light and your feet feel like lead. Fuck you're terrified. There's a creaking sound, as though something is moving around, pushing boxes.

John puts one foot on the staircase, then another. He takes a few steps, and the whispering gets progressively louder. Then, when John's head reaches just barely above the ceiling, it just... Stops. It vanishes like it was never there in the first place. John audibly gulps.

When John gets his eyes past the ceiling, he takes a moment to hesitantly peer around, then he sighs. "Looks like there's nothing up here. I'm, um. I'm gonna look around for a minute." He then pulls himself all the way up into the attic and crawls out of your sight.

That's when you hear him scream.

"John? John! Oh, god, John!" You shriek. Your feet are glued to the floor, however, and you can't move. Then John laughs nervously.

"Uh, I just. Got a little spooked by my shadow. I'm okay!" If you weren't about to faint, you would go up there and smack John yourself. You growl.

"Just hurry up, John!" You yell. You vaguely hear an affirmative grunt.

A few minutes later, you hear him make a little sound in surprise. "I think I found something! There's, um, this big hole in the wall."

"Don't go in, Joh-"

"I'm going to look around inside!" Fuck.

Everything is mostly silent for another couple minutes. You think you hear the whispering on and off behind you, but when you turn around, nothing is ever there. You don't think you can handle looking around the rest of the house at this point.

Just then, John comes out of no where and starts hopping down the steps, scaring the shit out of you.

"Jesus fuck, Egbert!" You flinch away from him, but he just laughs again.

"Hey, Karkat." He greets you. "So, I found this box in the hole up there." You then notice the odd wooden box he's holding. It's light, plain, and rectangular. You get an earth-shakingly bad vibe from it immediately.

"If we open that, and that's a big if, we are not doing it here. We're going back to your house right now. I can't take any more of this haunted house bullshit." You cross your arms over your torso as though you were cold, and take a step toward John. His presence is definitely a comfort here, where there is little comfort anywhere else. John looks like he agrees.

"Yeah, okay. I don't like it in here, either."

You book it out of there.

 

Chapter Text

That box is bad news. You know it, down to your very bones.

You and John have been sitting at John's dinner table, facing each other, the box quietly existing between the two of you for an hour. You have said nothing, just stared at the box, fucking daring it to try something. John has tried multiple times to start a conversation, but so far, you have shot them all down. Finally, he sighs.

"Karkat." You look pointedly anywhere but John's face; namely, the box. "Karkat, listen. We need to discuss this. This could be important shit, you know."

It's your turn to sigh. You know the box is important, you just... Really, really, really don't want anything to do with it.

"We have to look inside, Karkat." John says quietly. He slowly reaches his hand toward the center of the table, but before he can touch anything, you slap his hand away.

"I'm going to open it, douche licker. I don't want you losing a hand or getting cursed or some shit over me." You yell finally. "Just... Stay back, okay?"

John blows air sharply through his nose and leans back into his seat, nodding in agreement.

You mirror John's earlier actions and inch your hands toward the box. You place them on the box. You open the box.

The first thing you notice is the strange buzzing or ringing that reaches the peripherals of your hearing. It starts to give you a headache. The second thing you notice is what the box is filled with.

Letters. Pages from journals or diaries. Scraps of paper with single phrases or names written on them.

"What the shit?" You breathe. You thought for sure there would be a dead animal in there or a head or something. Not harmless paper. You pick up what you believe to be a journal page. After scanning over it, you read it out loud to John.

"'He came to me in my sleep. From the foot of my bed I felt a sensation. He took everything. We must return to England. We shall not return here again at the request of the Rake.'" You pause for a moment, taking in what you just read. "What the fuck is 'the Rake?' This shit is so motherfucking vague I can't even begin to make sense of it."

"I don't know. Keep reading."

You grab another slip of paper. "'As I prepare to take my life, I feel it necessary to assuage any guilt or pain I have introduced through this act. It is not the fault of anyone other than him. For once I awoke and felt his presence. And once I awoke and saw his form. Once again I awoke and heard his voice, and looked into his eyes. I cannot sleep without fear of what I might next awake to experience. I cannot ever wake. Goodbye.'" Your throat closes up suddenly. "Why is there a suicide note here, John? Why the fuck was there a suicide note in my walls?"

"This shit is so morbid. Read another one." John motions with his hands for you to continue. You take a deep breath, and do what he asks.

"'Dearest Linnie; I have prayed for you. He spoke your name.' Again. Why are these people so christ-shittingly vague? How am I supposed to know what this means? I don't know anyone named fucking Linnie. I don't know what any of this is." You start to tear up a bit out of frustration and the long-standing fear you've been feeling for what feels like weeks. You bring up you arms and slap your hands to your cheeks a few times. John watches worriedly. "Keep it together, Vantas," You tell yourself. "We gotta get through this bullshit."

John sits there, still looking worried, and watches you slowly calm down. "Dude, listen. I'm gonna be with you through this, okay? We can figure this out."

You take another deep breath and look back toward the box. There are still many more notes, some in better condition than others. Underneath it all, you catch a glint of metal. Reaching forward, you brush a few pieces of paper out of the way. Lying at the bottom of the box is a long, dark metal dagger. The ringing in your ears intensifies.

"John, look at this." You whisper. Very carefully, you take the knife out of the box, turning it over in your hands. It looks old as all hell, but certainly not dull. Maybe European in origin, with the style of the hilt. You're not a knife expert, though, and you're not entirely sure.

"Christ... So whatever's in your house is armed now, great." John spits bitterly. "This is so fucked up. That's probably some kind of, like, ritual dagger. For sacrifices and stuff."

You cringe. "Thank you for your input, John. Really appreciate it. Now that I know I might be the object of some creepy-ass cult's eye, being properly prepared for optimal murder fun time via extreme scares and playing host to their monster god, I am just so delighted. Fuck you in the eye socket, John."

"Hehe, sorry." John laughs nervously, like he wants desperately to alleviate some of your fright but doesn't quite know how. 

You stand suddenly, chair screeching on the floor behind you, and you throw the dagger back into the box. You are so done right now. "John, prepare the romcoms. I'm so fucking through with this shit, I need a fucking break."

John laughs a little under his breath and stands up as well, albeit much more carefully. "Alright. Me, you, my room. 50 First Dates. Right now."

"Fuck yes."


 

You wake up to John's scream.

"Oh my God. Oh my God. Dude, we need to get you to a hospital, holy shit, oh fuck, oh fuck." John shoots, rapid-fire. His eyes are frantic and he's on his feet in a second, pulling you up.

"What?" You say dumbly, blinking sleep out of your eyes. You attempt to reach up to rub them, but find that you simply can't. You look down, and holy fucking slut munchers, your right arm is covered in blood and even worse, you can't feel it at all. "Holy shit. What- Fuck, John?" You're absolutely freaking out. He grabs your unharmed arm and pulls you out of bed.

"Come on, come on, we need to get to my car." John puts one arm under your armpits and you lean heavily against him. You feel incredibly woozy and holy hell, you think you can hear that whispering from earlier. Black laces the corners of your vision.

You go through the front door and get into the hallway of John's apartment. "Alright, buddy, let's get you down these stairs. One step at a time, we can do this." John all but picks you up to get you safely down the steps. Miraculously, the two of you manage to not tumble down. You shuffle through the entryway of the complex and you shiver against John as cold wind bites at your face. John hugs you closer before he stuffs your admittedly small frame into the passenger seat of his car. You are vaguely aware of John slamming his door.

You stare blankly ahead for the entire trip to the hospital.

Suddenly, you are in the emergency room, nurses flying by you. How did you get here again? You don't remember.

You snap back into complete awareness the second you look down at your arm. It's like the sight of the open wound forces you to focus on reality. Maybe it's just how horrifying the current state of your arm is.

A single cut tears through your forearm in a neat spiral, from your elbow to your wrist. The skin is stretched open wide, fat and muscle clearly visible without the impressive amount of blood covering everything up. You think you're going to throw up. You do.

It is 53 stitches later that another doctor comes into the room to see you. He says he's a psychologist. You say kiss my salty balls.

You spend the next three days in the psych ward.

Chapter Text

It is over two months later that you finally leave John's apartment. You had spent the rest of December, all of January, and most of February curled up in your best friend's bed, only getting up for bathroom breaks. You barely ate. You usually threw up whatever you forced yourself to ingest. Had you decided to go to college back in August, you would have flunked out. 

You didn't even leave to have your stitches taken out; going outside filled you with such a terrible feeling of dread that you simply couldn't bear it. You took them out yourself. 

John and his dad have been taking care of you, but mostly John. He brought you food and soda and pain pills and skipped more than a few days of school to sit with you and do whatever you felt like doing. You had mild depression before all of this happened, but now that you'd been attacked, now that you'd been targeted and preyed upon, you can't help but feel worse than you ever have. 

John's dad had a little talk with you a few weeks ago, trying to get you to go to therapy or something. He said he was pretty sure you had PTSD. You told him he was fucking retarded, then apologized. 

You can't blame him, though. Even you think you're fucking crazy. You keep the blinds shut, the doors locked, and a camera on you at all times. You used to go through the footage recorded on the camera from when you were sleeping every morning, but lately you just haven't had the will to.

Today, though, you have to leave. John has been helping you work up the courage over the past month to go outside again, mostly with the knowledge that nothing strange has happened since you got out of the hospital. 

"John?" You call, opening his bedroom door slowly. You see him speed walk down the short hall toward you. "Where are we even going? If I'm going to do this, it better fucking be worth my while." You huff, trying to come off as annoyed rather than terrified.

"Well... I thought we could go to that comic book shop on Leavenworth and then go get some coffee? Maybe see a movie?" John smiles lightheartedly at you and you feel your terror alleviate some. 

"That is fucking stupi-" Before you can finish that sentence, you remember how much John cared for you while you were out of commission and how dark the bags under his eyes have gotten. He's been losing sleep because of you. "Whatever. Yeah. Let's... Have fun, I guess."

"Excellent!" John punches the air above him violently, startling you a little bit. "Put on a coat and let's leave this stupid house. Even I have cabin fever at this point!" He chuckles, and you do your best to smile, which, surprisingly, isn't as hard as you thought it would be. 

You pull on a black hoodie to cover the still fresh scar spiraling down your arm. It's ugly and dark and stands out atrociously now that your skin is at least ten times paler than it was in December. You look like a fucking creep. A starving, depressed creep who hasn't slept in ten days, give or take. 

"Karkat, hurry up! If you put this off any longer, you're going to be, like, eighty fucking years old!" 

You sigh and turn away from John's bedroom mirror. You pick up your camera. Time to get this show on the road. 


 

You and John are currently sitting in your favorite coffee shop. You love this place. It's small, little known, and has a cozy feeling to it that you just can't find anywhere else. 

John quietly sips his caramel latte, eyes closed with contentment. You take large gulps of your macchiato, the bitter taste of dead espresso keeping you alert. The two of you share a large rectangle of coffee cake. You blink as little as possible and keep your eyes on the door.

The next time you glance over at John, he's staring at you. "The fuck do you want, Egbert?" You mutter, eyes twitching back to the door. 

"Dude, try to keep at least a little calm. We're safe right now, okay?" John says to you gently, patting your hand. You swallow your resentful reply and nod. John deserves to relax for once. 

"Are you done?" You ask shortly. John nods. "Let's go see a movie, maybe." 

"Sweet. Wanna see 50 Shades?" John giggles. You gag theatrically. 

You decide to see whatever is playing when you get to the theater. It is not 50 Shades. You sigh in relief. 


Another explosion sounds on the screen. You roll your eyes, never one for action movies. Glancing over at John, you notice that he is enraptured in the film, eyes following every movement of the main man. The corners of your mouth twitch up just the teeniest bit. 

Then you hear it.

The whispering. It's behind you. 

It's just a mass of jumbled words and sounds right now. You can't make anything out, no sense to it at all. You put your hand over your mouth to keep from screaming. Or maybe crying? You're not sure. 

You put your hand on John's shoulder, shaking him gently. He looks over at you and his eyes widen; you must look fucking terrified. He takes your hand in his and squeezes it, and whispers, "do you want to leave?" 

You take a deep breath and, after a few moments, shake your head 'no'. You have to fight through this. You can't let it get you. It's not. Real. 

Then the whispering stops. You jerk your head up, eyes flying open. Then you hear it. Something you actually understand, right behind you, right in your ear, so close you can fucking feel its breath on your neck.

we

see

you

You run out of the theater crying, John chasing after you, and throw yourself into his car. You collapse into his arms and you never want to open your eyes again.

 

 

Chapter Text

The experience at the movie theater utterly destroyed months of psychological progress for you. Now you need to be with someone at all times. You even make John stand right outside the bathroom door when you shower or use the toilet. You asked him to sleep in the same bed as you every night since several weeks ago; it's the only thing that seems to help with insomnia.

Your quality of life is negative ten. Negative eleven, even. You've lost even more weight and the bags under your eyes are heavier than you at this point; not that that's terribly hard to do with you standing at 5'4" with a slouch and 97.3 pounds. You have considered alternative ways out of this situation, none of them ending with you alive, and that's just the way you like it. 

Tonight, you might act one of the alternative exits out. 

You wait until you can feel John's chest rising and falling steadily against you, the taller boy curled protectively around you. Carefully, you peel his arms off of you and crawl out of bed, tip-toeing over to the dresser. Sitting on top is a bottle of hydrocodone. Your personal savior. 

With shaking hands and ears full of whispers you tell yourself are not really there, you press and turn the cap of the bottle, your weak arms almost too thin to complete the task. You accidentally pour half the bottle into your hand, pills dropping to the floor with dull plunks. You flinch, glancing to see if the soft noises woke John up. They didn't. You smile giddily, tipping your head back and dry swallowing the handful. Who cares if the pills burn a hole in your esophagus? You're going to die anyway.

The rest of the bottle soon follows. Your plan probably would have worked had your stomach not decided to hurl every pill you took back up your throat. 

Your retching wakes John. He groans softly, letting out a quiet "Karkat?" before he jumps out of bed and rushes over to where you sit on your hands and knees on the floor. "Shit! Shit shit shit. Karkat, please don't die on me. Oh my god, Karkat!" He pauses, his arms around your shoulders, and you can feel him shake violently as you wipe bile from your lips. "We need to get you to the hospital!"

This has you lucid enough to argue. "John, listen to me. We're not leaving this apartment. I'm not leaving this apartment. Not unless it's in a body bag." You feel cool wetness on your shoulder and you realize John is crying. You instantly feel a crushing wave of guilt. "John, shhh. Look. I didn't have enough time to begin to digest the pills, I'll be okay. I promise." 

You're a liar. 

John sobs into your shoulder and eventually, you end up sobbing too. The two of you cling to each other like the world is about to end; in reality, it almost did. Somehow you end up nestled underneath John's right arm, backs up against his dresser. You both are still shaking. 

"Please don't ever try that again, Karkat," John mutters, voice quivering. "We need you. need you."

"I know. I need you too," you take a deep breath. "I don't want to do this anymore. It feels like I'm trapped. There's no where I can fucking run; I'm not even safe here." You clench your fists, nails digging into your palms. You don't notice the pain at all. 

"You can run to me. I'm not going to let anything bad happen to you again. I..." John shudders. "I love you! Don't you dare think dying is the way out here, you fucking dick hole."

You sit in shock for a second, then realize you already knew John loved you. You loved him too. 

You lean your head against his chest and force yourself to relax. You do feel safer in his arms, after all. 


 

The next morning, you wake up to an empty apartment and a trail of blood leading to the open window. 

If you weren't fucked before, you certainly are now.

Chapter Text

You slide to the floor, mind blank. Your limbs are numb, you can't feel your fingers, and holy shit you're crying. You start hyperventilating. You can't deal with this. You can't process this. Holy mother of Jesus fucking baby shit with balls tighter than your throat, this can't be happening.

But it is.

John is gone.

You scream, clutching your head, clawing desperately at your hair. You are freaking the fuck out, completely and absolutely losing it; you were fucking catapulted off of the rocker, your marbles are nowhere to be found, you're going fucking insane

Somewhere in your breakdown, you pop a vessel in your nose and it starts gushing. You don't care about that. You don't care about anything. Nothing but John. 

After some time, you pry your hands from your head and lower them to wrap them around your torso. Your nose stops bleeding, your breathing slows, and your shudders become shivers. Your mind begins working again. You sit there, against the wall, for quite some time before you decide it's time to act. 

John is gone, but you aren't. You have to find him.

Very slowly, you stand up. The first thing to think to look for is the box that John found in the hole in your attic; the box full of mysterious notes and lost hope that you haven't touched in months that should be sitting quietly in John's closet. You stumble over to the closet door and pull it open a little too violently. 

The box is gone. You don't know why you aren't surprised. Of fucking course the box is connected to everything that's been happening- what else could it possibly be for? 

You follow the trail of blood away from the window. John must have been up already when the intruders arrived, you think. Walking through the bedroom door, you realize the splashes of blood on the carpet are brown; John is long gone by now. 

Your lost hope is restored, however, when you enter the kitchen. There is the box, sitting on the kitchen table, as innocent as it was the first time you opened it. The only difference being the note resting on top of the box. A ransom note. How original.

"Four one one three five nine nine five five seven one two? What the fuck?" You punch the table in frustration, crumpling the note in your hand. You have no fucking clue what these numbers mean. 

You rifle through the box again, too worried about John to be careful, and find everything to be in place. The notes, the dagger, the creepiness, the ringing. All accounted for. 

It's time to call in some help. 


 

You place your camera securely on its tripod, turn it on, and then sit down at the kitchen table. You take a deep breath, and then begin speaking.

"This morning, John was missing." You have to pause to take another breath, trying your best not to freak out again. "There was a trail of blood leading to the window, and the only clue I have as to where he is..." You hold up the note, doing your best to steady your trembling hands. "This shitty, useless, pathetic sack of unadulterated bullshit. I have no idea what the numbers mean, and I have no where to go from here. So I'm asking for help.

"Please. Anyone out there who is watching this, I'm putting my stupid fucking arrogance aside to beg for someone, anyone, to help me figure this out. John's life is in danger. I need to find him." You stand up and turn the camera off before you have the chance to start sobbing again. Hopefully someone with a decent amount of intelligence will see it. Hopefully someone with a name that starts with 'Sol' and ends with 'lux'. 

After only a few hours of twiddling your thumbs, you get a comment on your video. It isn't Sollux; it's Rose Lalonde, one of John's best friends. At least from what you've seen, the chick is a fucking genius. 

A quick Google search tells me the numbers aren't of the telephone variety. Have you tried deciphering any sort of code? 

You feel the need to bang your head against the wall for your stupidity. How could you have forgotten that Google is a thing? 

You open your laptop and punch the numbers into the search bar. You pray something good happens. Something you can work with.

Nothing. You get absolutely nothing of interest. You slam your fist on the table next to the laptop; why does everything have to be so cryptic? It doesn't make any fucking sense. 

Another hour passes with you going through every singly useless link the search engine gives to you. Finally, Sollux sees the video and responds. 

Try searching for the numbers as coordinates. 

"Holy shit!" You yell, shooting out of your seat. That made a lot of fucking sense. Directing your browser to Google Maps, you add a degree symbol and some apostrophes and start with S and E. You're pretty sure that landed you into the middle of the ocean.

S and W? Google Maps refuses to load these coordinates. Fuck this piece of shit, you think. 

N and W? You wait for the page to load, every so slowly. This reminds you of the dial-up days. 

Then Google finishes loading. Your heart sinks in your chest. You know where that is. Right off the interstate, right next to that salvage place, right in the shittiest part of town. Just to make sure, you do a quick search for it.

There it is. The Scoular Tower. An abandoned, crumbling grain elevator that you've driven past to get to downtown so many times before; the tower that has given you chills every time you see it for some inexplicable reason. You hate that place. Google helpfully supplies that it's an eighteen minute drive from your house. 

You'll head there tonight.

Chapter Text

John's dad never came home.

It is now ten o'clock at night. You are sitting on John's bed (oh god, John), dressed in the tightest black turtleneck you have and the tightest black jeans; both are still remarkably loose on you. You have a backpack full of supplies ready to go; a flashlight, extra batteries, a first-aid kit, your cell phone, and most importantly, the box and the dagger. 

You know John is in danger. You know this down to the marrow of your bones, but that doesn't change the fact that you are still terrified of going outside. Maybe you shouldn't do this. Maybe if you just kill yourself, you and John will meet again in hell. No, that's fucking stupid; John would definitely go to heaven. You're getting off track. You need to stay focused. 

With a heaving breath and a knot in your stomach, you stand up, flinging the backpack onto your shoulders. You need to do this. For John. 

Each step you take is like the deep thrum of a bass drum, loud in your ears and so incredibly hard to make. One step at a time, you make it to the front door and unbolt the lock. You open the door. You step into the stairwell. You walk down the steps.

By the time you make it to your car, both your vision and your resolve are swimming, but you keep going anyway. You dig your keys out from your pocket and jam them into the lock after missing the hole a few times. You couldn't give less of a shit about scratches on your door. 

The radio flares to life once you turn the engine, startling you. You run your fingers through your hair as you turn the radio back off, trying your best to calm down. 

Finally, you start driving.


 

It is twenty minutes later that you are trying to find somewhere to park your car. You thought the tower would be in the middle of an empty field or something, not in the center of a shitty neighborhood. The street is unnervingly narrow, rusting cars parked on the curb to your right. You park a ways down the street, lock your doors, and start walking.

The walk isn't very far; only about five minutes to get to the clearing of trees where you're sure an old road used to be that lead to the tower. Bright yellow tape screaming "CAUTION" stares you down, what must have been a full roll of it crossing trees to block off the entrance. You duck under it.

It's dark out. You can't see the stars or the moon, though; the cloud cover is too thick. You reach over your shoulder and take the flashlight out of your bag, clicking it on and keeping it low to the ground. It wouldn't do you any good to be caught now. 

The grass crunches beneath your booted feet. You may weigh less than 100 pounds, but you still make sound when you walk; a fact you currently abhor. 

You make it to the base of the tower uninterrupted. It's just as creepy as you thought it would be, with it's crumbling concrete walls. When you crane your head back, you can distantly see the dark lettering spelling out "Scoular" near the top. You hate it here.

A quick walk around the building finds you standing in front of a chained door. There's no way in hell you're getting through that. Another slower walk around the building finds you glaring at an air vent that looks just large enough for you to crawl through. 

You have no choice.

You take the scissors out of the first-aid kit and use them to pry the rusty screws out of the corners of the vent; a task that is surprisingly easy. You then wedge the same scissors between the grate and the concrete. Getting the grate off is also surprisingly easy, but the loud crash it makes when it hits the concrete on the ground has you scrambling to get inside.

Hooking the straps of the backpack to your ankles, you haul yourself into the rectangular opening. 

The first thing you notice is that it's dark. The next thing you notice is that it's wet. Cold and wet and dark. You squeeze your arms in front of you and drag yourself through the vent, shaking both from the effort and your terror. 

You feel trapped. You feel like a slab of meat being thrown down a chute into a grinder. Just as you get into the rhythm of squirming through long stagnant water in a tightly confined space, you realize something that almost makes you burst out laughing.

This all started with a monster in your walls.

Now you're the monster in the walls. 

You reach forward with your left hand, determined to keep going, when your fingertips meet cold metal. You panic for a moment, thinking that you are trapped, but then realize that the vent probably just turned around a corner. Sure enough, when you reach to your right, your hands meet open, cold air. 

After maneuvering yourself around the corner, you stop, and your heart drops into your stomach. You see a light to your right. A grate that leads inside the building is right there, and a light is on.

Someone is here. 

You slide forward a little more, trying to see through the vent without being seen yourself. To your utter relief and crushing disappointment, the room seems to be empty. You kick the grate out and fall ungracefully out of the vent system, sprawling out on the freezing concrete floor. 

The room you're in is fairly dark, though it is lit dimly by a few candles set in the corners. Graffiti of names, odd phrases, and even odder symbols coat the walls. Looking up, you realize the entire tower is just one single room with a terribly old ladder running up one wall. And, of course, you're going to need to climb that ladder.

"Fucking shit," you mutter under your breath. You can't do this. You'll fall to your death. You're going to die here. John is going to die because of you. 

You need to do this. 

You walk over the ladder and put one hand on the nearest rung. It's rough from rust and dirt and it wobbles when you put too much pressure on it. You close your eyes for a brief second to take a deep breath, then put another hand on the rung and pull yourself up. 

The climb is terrifying. There is nothing to catch you should you fall, and you know that there is a very high chance that you will fall. Halfway up, you're sweating from exertion and fear. Three quarters of the way up, your vision is going black around the edges and you can barely feel your arms and legs; you can hear that fucking whispering. At the top of the ladder, your head peeks out from a square hole in the roof, the cool rush of wind in your face doing nothing to help the adrenaline rush. 

It's all you can do to drag your body off of the ladder and onto the roof. You're wheezing, sweating, and so very close to crying, but you've made it. 

The top of the building is just as empty as the bottom. There is far less graffiti, but what little there is is even more disturbing than what was at the base. 'HE COMES FOR YOU' is the clearest phrase. Normally, you would scoff at how blunt whoever wrote it was, how little creativity they must posses. But now, it sends a chill down your spine because you know something is coming for you.

In the dead center of the flat concrete is a spot entirely clear of graffiti. Sitting in this spot is a book. You shuffle carefully toward it, fully expecting something to jump out and slit your throat. As you near the book, the whispering grows louder and louder until it is nearly deafening. You feel tears fall down your face and taste salt on your lip. Once you touch the book, however, everything seems to stop.

You waste no time picking the book up and stuffing it into your backpack. You aren't spending any more time here than is absolutely necessary. 

You drop to the ground in front of the ladder on your stomach, and shimmy onto the top rung. Very carefully, you begin your descent back to the bottom. You don't stop crying for the entire thing. 

 

Chapter Text

You made it back to John's apartment covered in mud and rust and with streaks of tears running down your face. But it was worth it. You have the book now, and, you hope, are one step closer to finding John. Except for one problem.

You can't read anything inside the book.

It's all gibberish to you, written in some strange language you've never seen before. There are drawings and things that look like maps, maybe, but mostly it's just pages and pages of indecipherable clusters of symbols. You haven't looked through the entire book yet, though, so there might still be some hope. Unfortunately, looking at it for too long gives you a monster fucking migraine, not helped at all by the strange ringing accompanying opening the thing, and you have to take a break. 

After an hour of laying on the couch with some Advil miraculously comfortable in your stomach, you feel up to looking at the book again. You force your legs to move themselves, stand up, and walk over to the dining room table; the same one you and John went through the box on. Now, the book has taken the place of the box, and you are still just as confused as you were then. 

"Alright, dong muncher, let's open you up," you mutter, eyes narrowed, fucking daring the book to make one wrong move. 

You start where you left off, at a picture of something tall and faceless with a collection of tentacles coming from its back. The picture gives you the willies. Turning the page brings you face to face with another picture, this one of something you recognize; the creature that came out of your basement. Looking at it makes your heart race and your stomach drop. You hate this thing.

You turn the page again. It's full of the same weird language, symbols sprawled on the page with no apparent order. 

It is thirteen pages later that you find something you can actually read, though these words in particular give you a staggering headache. Written in flowing font, small and in the center of the page, are the words "Hummel Park." 

Of. Fucking. Course. 

You think to yourself, where else would this stupid book lead me? Where else but the epicenter of all ritualistic sacrifice, satanism, brutal murder and sexual assault, and general other-worldly activity in the Midwest? Fuck this book. Fuck your life. Fuck everything and everyone, Hummel Park in particular. 

Good god, do you hate that place. You remember going there with some youth group as a child, having to wait for the camp councilors to clear out mutilated animal carcasses and other ritual goods before you could play capture the flag. You remember being ten when the body of a little girl was discovered in the park a few days after your nature seminar there. You remember sitting by yourself while other kids whispered frantically about haunted staircases and cult scandals. 

You remember the cold fear the park brought you, even as a fifth grader. 

Unfortunately, whatever deity out there seems to enjoy shitting on your life. You're going to Hummel Park.


 

The drive to the park is about forty minutes, with you living in the south side of the city and the park being far north. You spend those forty minutes in relative silence, listening to the drum of your heartbeat pounding in your ears. 

By the time you get to the dirt clearing located at the bottom of a secluded basin where you know a multitude of murders and years of human trafficking took place, the sun has long since set behind the trees. You sit in your car for a few minutes, just breathing. Every slight movement outside has you jumping and your heart racing just a few beats faster. You squeeze your eyes shut to the point where it hurts, open them, and leave your car. 

It's chilly for May, even in the evening. You're glad you wore one of John's giant hoodies, not only because of the warmth it provides, but also because the hunting knife John mysteriously produced from the trunk of your car so many months ago fits perfectly in the pocket. You still have your backpack on, box and book nestled comfortably inside. You don't know whether or not you'll be needing them, but it's best to be prepared.

Leaves and sticks crunch beneath your feet as you walk. Luckily, the sky is cloudless tonight, and you can see well enough in front of you to be able to navigate. You haven't been here in years, though; getting around might be a bit difficult, as the park is fucking gigantic. 

Somehow, you find your way to the grand staircase, the so-called 'Morphing Stairs'. Apparently, no one has ever come up with the same number twice when counting the number of steps. When you were little, the kids in your youth group believed that descending the stairs brought you directly to the gates of hell. All you know is that you have a powerful gut feeling that John will be at the bottom. 

You start down the narrow stone staircase. It's long and steep, winding so that you can't see the bottom from where you are. You wrap your arms around yourself, shivering. It's cold, yes, but mostly you just know you're not alone. 

After several minutes of timid descent, the stone shelter you hid in during capture the flag games, the shelter other kids claimed was a gate to hell, comes into sight. It's different now; decrepit, falling apart, and covered in graffiti. Scrawled in spray paint on the top of the structure is the terribly cliche phrase, 'abandon hope all who enter.' More importantly, there are people beneath it.

Most importantly, John is beneath it.

You break out into a dead sprint, clutching the hilt of the hunting knife still in your pocket with a vice grip. "Let him go, fuckers!" You screech, skidding to a stop at the bottom of the stairs. Adrenaline is pumping through your veins by the gallon and all you can think is John is here John is here John is here!

"Karkat, run! Hurry, please!" John screams at you before being punched to the ground by one of the hooded, cloaked figures standing around him, only to be dragged to a crouch once again by another. 

One of the cloaked bastards steps forward, a mouth becoming visible from under the hood. It looks surprisingly human, with human-toned skin and human-shaped teeth. The mouth opens slightly, allowing a light chuckle to escape.

"This is the Listener? This starving, weak brat has been chosen by our Speaker?" He mocks, followed by the chuckles of the five cultists around him. 

"I don't give three god damn quarters of a fuck, okay? Give me John back and I'll give you whatever you want!" You yell, taking a step forward. The hooded figure that has been speaking to you cocks his head.

"Oh?" He outright laughs at you now. "What we want is the glory of our Savior! We want to please him. And to do that, we need you."

You nod. You know what you need to do.

The man beckons you to come closer, and so you walk ever so slowly nearer, mind racing. What if they don't let John go? What if they kill him right in front of you?

A manic grin breaks out on the man's face once you are at an arm's length. Quick as lightning, his hands fly out at you, grabbing around your throat. Your hand flies out of your pocket, knife in your grasp, and you swing blindly at the man's hold on your neck. You hit him somewhere near his wrist and he drops you with a cry of pain.

"John!" You yell, lurching forward just enough to grab his wrist and plunge the knife into the arm holding onto his shoulder. The wounded cultist shrieks, releasing John and allowing you to drag him away at a dead fucking sprint. Just as you reach the stairs, that fucking whispering returns.

"He's here!" One of the hooded men screams in absolute terror. You couldn't give less of a fuck about this stupid fucking monster right now. All that matters is that you and John get back to your car. 

You can hear something following you in the trees and bushes around you, but you're too preoccupied with running to figure out what. The whispering never leaves, just changes volume occasionally. Miraculously, you make it to the basin where you parked your car and skid down the steep slope to get to the bottom. You take your keys out of your pocket and violently shove them into the lock, forcing John into the back seat and jumping into the front seat yourself. You turn the ignition and, just as the hooded figures appear at the edge of the drop off into the basin, you shove your stick into reverse and slam on the gas.

A few seconds later, a spindly hand reaches up from under your car, poking holes in the hood with its sharp claws. Another hand joins it. Before you know it, the fleshy, humanoid, faceless thing is on top of your car, somehow screeching viciously at you. You press on the break with just the right amount of force, that is to say, all the fucking force you could possibly muster, and the thing tumbles off of your car and onto the ground behind you. You accelerate at full speed again, yelling at John to brace himself as you hit your personal monster full force, running it over and earning yourselves another horrific screech. 

As you drive away, still in reverse, you can see it crumpled on the ground, dislocated joints popping themselves back into place. Your heart racing with you hyperventilating, you step on the break again once you reach the road, skidding until you face the right direction, shift the gears into drive, and ollie the fuck outie. You drive until you're sure nothing's following you.

It is two hours later that you finally stop at a crusty motel two towns over. 

You take your wallet out of your backpack (you would never drive without your license, after all) and pay for three nights. The man at the counter looks at you and John funny, probably because you both are covered in mud and scratches, still with looks of terror lingering on your faces. He seems to shrug it off though, and gives you the room key. 

"Twenty-three," he says in a gruff voice, pointing up the stairs. You waste no time climbing them, finally feeling the exhaustion in your bones. John follows at your heels. 

Once in the room, you slam the door behind you, locking the bolt, the chain, and the knob. You then turn on your heel and grab John roughly by the front of his shirt and bring him down to your height to smash your lips into his in the most desperate kiss of your life. He gasps sharply, then leans down into you, grabbing you around the waist. You throw your arms loosely around his neck and suck on his bottom lip, eliciting a low moan from John. Any remnant of 'just friends' you had lying around in your head is thrown out the window when John pulls your (his) hoodie over your head. 

He stops once he sees your naked torso, though, and you realize you're probably hideous right now, not that you weren't to begin with. John reaches down and gingerly brushes his fingertips against your protruding ribs, runs a thumb down the massive scar on your forearm. Suddenly you're too ashamed of your body to get back into whatever mood you were in. You cross your arms over your chest in an attempt to subtly cover yourself up, your face burning. 

John leans down and kisses the top of your head, bringing you into a warm hug. "We're safe, for now. You're perfect the way you are, okay?" 

You burrow deeper into John's chest. He guides you over to the bed and the two of you just lay there, John with his arms around you and you with your head against his chest. 

You fall asleep in each other's arms. 

You think you might be okay.