In only a week does your schedule start to settle down once more. Now that John had gotten what you’d like to call “used to” Karkat, you began hanging out frequently again. Not only did you have a lot to fill John in on, but you also trusted Karkat to stay home alone. John would invite you out to do something and you’d inform Karkat before leaving. Karkat never complained, but sometimes you were hesitant to leave when he stopped asking you where you were going or how he never said anything to you as you put your sneakers on.
This particular time you announced you were off. It had crossed your mind to show John the library a few times now, and today was the day you decided to initiate the plan.
“I’ll see you later, Kitten. Gotta give Egbert the grand tour.” You say, slipping your feet into your pre-tied shoes. You didn’t get a reply; not even a complaint about the nickname. Karkat sat quietly in the kitchen, picking at the meal placed in front of him. You wanted to talk or ask why he seems pissed, but maybe it was all in your head. He did seem lost in thought. You decided it was only one more day and left without another word.
After a stressful hour of coaxing John, you finally manage to get him to follow you toward the abandoned building. You almost forget to snatch a few poinsettias before heading off.
It’s a long, dreary walk there, and John attempts to opt out a few times.
“This still doesn’t seem like a good idea.” He says for the fifteenth time.
“I’ve done this like a million times. Don’t worry, I can protect you.” You respond jokingly, splitting his caution into light-hearted bickering. It seems to work enough, because before both of you know it, you’ve reached the gate. You show Egbert the easiest way to squeeze through the breaks in the gate and he proceeds warily.
The double doors are as heavy as usual but it doesn’t take a huge portion out of your strength to throw them open anymore. You look over and see John, mouth agape as he stares at the scenery in front of him. His eyes shift from every shelf to each stack of books as his feet carry him to the circular desk in the middle of the room. “Is this all…”
“Yep.” You respond almost proudly, leaving John’s side to glide up one of the staircases. He follows suit, not taking his eyes away from the shelves. You check a few dusty corners before giving John an “OK” signal that it’s safe to roam around. The human immediately begins wandering. “There is a shitton of information about a history we didn’t even know existed.”
“This is incredible.” He breathes from a few shelves away. You hear rummaging and figure its John skimming through books. “Holy shit, what kind of language is this?”
“It’s their language, Alternian. Some of their books translate by t—“ You stop once a small, surprised gasp escapes John’s mouth. Well, you guess it’s easier to show than tell.
“Okay, you were right; this is the most impressive thing I’ve ever seen.” Egbert announces and you chuckle.
The jumbled symbols fade off the page without a trace. You stare in disbelief as the blank page looks untouched. But only a few moments after Dave starts talking, the symbols return as words from the language you’re so familiar with. You speak of your amazement and your best friend chuckles quietly a few shelves away. This new discovery intrigues you in moments, and you find yourself shifting through each shelf and observing the binding.
Both Dave and you are quiet, but you can hear the small noises he’s making from his side of the room. Your eyes are still trained on the unfamiliar language that decorates each book. A quick movement from between two hardcover books peels your eyes away. You almost jolt in your skin and stare through the gap from where you removed a book. Something blue flashes by once more and you find yourself taking out a few more books to get a better look.
You blink, and she blinks right back.
Well, you think it’s a she. There’s long, charcoal-colored hair cascading down her head and framing the shape of her face. Her perfectly curled eyelashes bring attention to the bright blue eyes that are drowning in a sea of yellow. For some reason only her left eye contained what looked like seven smaller pupils compared to her average right eye. Unlike Karkat, her horns were much longer, one tapered sharply while the other kind of looked similar to a lego arm.
She begins hissing and clicking through a devious smirk, which grabs your attention. You have no idea what she just said, but you feel a goofy grin tug at your lips. Her eyes watch the grin form and she looks confused. It could be that hanging near Karkat has desensitized your fear of trolls, but you can’t bring yourself to be afraid of this one. She seems too delicate, too intelligent to be intimidating.
A click is heard again, and you turn your head slightly to imply that you can’t understand her. Eyebrows furrowing, she opens her painted blue lips to speak once more, but a squeakier hiss is heard throughout the library. Her eyes shoot up and she glances at her surroundings. It kind of reminds you of when a dog hears something interesting and stops at nothing to find the source. Heavy footsteps approach you, and a human voice is heard.
“Dude, we have to go. Now.” Dave speaks quickly, one hand on the flowers in his pocket and another hand tugging at your shirt sleeve. The blue troll glances at Dave, and her eyes beautiful blue irises shrink into menacing slits as a growl erupts from the back of her throat. In seconds she’s gone, but you’re also racing to leave the building.
Your legs are moving as swiftly as possible as you aim both you and John toward the double doors. It only takes him a second to realize that you’re in a hurry, the dumb shit that he is, and he’s running past you.
The blue troll that John was having a staring contest with is at the door only seconds after you both left it. A tight rope is wrapped around her thin hand and connects to a smaller troll with horns that almost look like cat ears. She hisses at the green troll and lets the rope go. The smaller troll bounds off after you both as fast as she can.
You keep your attention on the gate only a handful of feet away from you before a sharp, excruciating pain shoots up your leg. Ungracefully, your face meets the ground and you scramble to pull away. The feline troll is snarling at you as her metal claws that are attached bruisingly to her hand sink in through your skin and bone. Tears well at the edge of your eyes as the metal blades tear ribbons of your skin. You let out a yelp as John stops running to turn back to you.
With impossible speed, your hand digs deep into your jean’s pocket and pulls out as much of the poinsettias as physically possible. The troll’s earthly eyes meet the poinsettias in a sudden fearful realization, almost like she’s afraid of what may occur if you get away. Nonetheless, your hand thrusts the flowers towards her and she struggles to get away. John doesn’t stall to help you to your feet and assist you through the gate. You ignore the frequent pain from each individual nerve in your leg as you limp to safety. With a momentary glance, you can barely make out the furious blue troll growling and the green troll hesitating with anxiety to return to the blue one.
John doesn’t take any breaks and rushes you back into your apartment. Once the door opens, you spot Karkat curled up in the corner of the couch. His content expression turns south the second he notices your leg. “Dave, are… what happened?” he jumps to his feet and sprints towards the both of you. He stops halfway when John motions for him to get out of the way. With the majority of your body weight being leaned against the other human, he leads you to the couch and helps you settle down. Karkat is at your side even before your ass touches the couch.
“Is he okay?” Karkat mumbled, reaching for the hem of your jeans and tugging gently at them. The edge of his nail uncomfortably jabs your torn flesh and you wince in pain.
“Oh my god. I’m sorry Karkat but back the fuck off. I need to stop the bleeding and your claws are going to get in the way.” Egbert is talking hurriedly as he fumbles around with your first aid kit. Karkat opens his mouth to talk, but closes it wordlessly and obeys. He scrunches his entire body away at the other end of the couch, eyebrows furrowed as he watches John work at your leg.
Ignoring the pain, you turn to Karkat and say reassuringly “It’s just a little scratch.” He looks up at you, his face still caked with worry but nods anyway. You reach out to give him a helpful pat on the head but soon realize he’s sitting too far away. He doesn’t move closer, only shrinking farther into the couch, his claws staying at bay. You lower your hand and try not to frown.