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I would give it all up for you to be
With me

■ ■ ■

The sun is setting.

The horizon gleams magenta, sunbeams bleeding out of the heavy clouds, the moon hanging behind, heavy and blue. Karkat's eyes flicker down over the grass to the towers that line the street at the bottom of the hill, then back to where his hands are folded in his lap. His legs hang over the edge of the roof, heels kicking against the stone.

He rubs his hands on the sides of his pants. This planet has revolved around its star thousands of times since he got here and his palms still sweat.

Children run down the city sidewalk, laughing, pulling each other along by hands and sleeves, waving at each other from doorsteps. Lights are starting to gleam in the windows of the towers now that the sun has slipped entirely below the horizon, and the sky above him is purple, now, clusters of stars prickling through the gaps in the clouds. It's beautiful here.

Maybe he should leave.

The thought is well worn, perfectly smooth, like a river rock. He's held it in his mind so long it no longer has any real meaning.

He knows they'd do alright without him. He's probably screwing with their long-term development as a species, anyway, by staying so long. He meant to leave a long, long time ago, but was just so goddamn easy to get involved, over and over. Even after he promised himself that he wouldn't.

"Karkat!" Karkat's attention snaps below, to the voice calling him from one of the lower windows of his tower and...what. The hell.

It's fucking Dave.

"What the fuck are you doing here?" Karkat yells down the wall.

Dave disappears back inside the window he'd been waving from, and a moment later Karkat sees one black sneaker appear on the windowsill. Dave launches himself upwards, spinning through the air until he's hovering in front of Karkat. Their eyes lock, and Karkat is suddenly mortified about what Dave might read on his face.

It’s fucking worry that he reads on Dave’s, and Karkat is suddenly overwhelmingly, desperately glad to see him. He reaches out, Dave reaches in, and Karkat sighs as Dave’s arms go around his waist. In a motion that's more than half muscle memory his fingers twist themselves into Dave's hair.

Dave smells the same as he always has, and Karkat is shocked at the sudden, half-remembered lightness in his chest. "You couldn't use the stairs?"

"Nah." Dave’s arms tighten around him.

"What are you doing here?"

"I heard that you...lost someone." Karkat drops his forehead against Dave's shoulder.

"Yeah."

"I'm sorry. I am so sorry." Dave squeezes him tighter, and Karkat feels grief well up in him again, sudden and raw. His throat is burning, but when tears swim in his eyes it feels like it could actually be the last time. “How long has it been?”

“Since she died? Or since we saw each other?”

Dave’s mouth twists. “I dunno. Either. Both.”

“Fourteen months. And, I don't know.”

“I think it's been like four hundred years, dude.” Their planet, though technically Earth, rotates around its sun faster than Alternia, but slower than it did in its original home. The people here call that span of time a circle, and Dave still, even after all this time, calls it a year.

"Maybe." Karkat tightens his arms around Dave’s neck. "I don't know. I've been busy."

Dave shrugs. He holds Karkat tightly for a few, blissfully long minutes, and Karkat feels the horrible knot he'd stopped even remembering was inside him start to loosen. “Dirk and I explored the whole solar system,” he says, finally, into Karkat’s shoulder.

Karkat pulls back a little, looking into Dave’s eyes. “Seriously? The whole thing?”

“Yeah. We didn't find any signs of life or anything, though. We found a lot of awesome shit, but yeah.”

“I've just been here,” Karkat says, eyebrows drawn, eyes down.

"I know." Dave presses a long kiss to his forehead, and, yeah, Karkat knows he knows. Karkat can't even accurately picture himself leaving this place.

"It's...been hard."

"Yeah." Watching your own children die of old age is difficult, more difficult than they could have possibly imagined. It had been too much for Dave. But for Karkat, walking away was harder. At the high points it had been a journey through time the slow way, the mundane details of lives ebbing and flowing and coalescing into the unbroken thread of his memory. At the low points it was pure devastation. Loss. Grief.

"She was the last, you know." Karkat drops his head back against Dave's shoulder. "Of ours."

"Fuck," Dave whispers, his hands clenching in the back of Karkat's cape.

"She never wanted kids. Her life wasn't...easy."

"It's not your fault," Dave says for what has to be the millionth, billionth time.

"Fuck yeah it was. I never should have stayed here. I don't know what made me think that helicopter parenting my great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandkids was ever going to turn out any fucking different."

Dave sighs into Karkat's neck. "We could always try again."

"Jesus. Why."

"Because I still love you, dude."

Karkat rolls his eyes, but there's an irresistible smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. "Maybe someday. Not for another five hundred circles, at least, though, fuck."

"That's fair." Dave squeezes him one last time and floats back, taking Karkat's hands. "You're...still wearing it," he realizes, turning Karkat's left hand over, running his thumb over the simple iron band on his fourth finger.

Karkat looks down at their hands. "So are you."

The two of them share an almost guilty look, and when they start laughing, it's half from relief. Dave pulls at Karkat's hands. "When was the last time you flew? I bet it's been fucking centuries."

"Probably." Karkat shrugs, giving Dave a mistrustful look from under his eyebrows.

"You're not all weird about your wings or something again?" Dave is almost in shadow, outlined against the lingering light of the sky, but his eyes still seem bright.

"No." Karkat spreads his wings, frowning, and they buzz, once, twice, red and translucent. Dave grins and floats backwards, still holding tightly to one of Karkat's hands. Karkat pushes himself off the roof and follows, wings humming in the air, sneakers dangling over the city below, and fuck, it has been a long time since he's flown.

Dave pulls him along, floating backwards, smiling. His god tier robes look unfamiliar, somehow. Cut differently. More subtly ornate. The fact that their clothes look different now makes something close to jealousy well up in Karkat's chest.

"Why did you come back?" Karkat calls, but Dave doesn't answer, tugging at his hand, pulling him upward, faster and faster, farther and farther, until they're above the clouds. The moonlight here is nearly as bright as the sun, and it sparkles over the ice crystals in the clouds like a thrown fistful of glitter.

Karkat speeds in front of Dave, stopping him with two flat palms to his chest. Dave looks up at him, his tentative smile a little guilty at the corners.

"Seriously. Why."

"I missed you."

Karkat snorts and rolls his eyes. "I missed you too."

Dave catches Karkat around the waist, bowling them over in the air until they're upside down, the world hanging over their heads, visible between the clouds like an inverse Prospit. "I had a lot of time to think when we were in space. And I spent a lot of time thinking that maybe I shouldn't have left at all."

Karkat spins them back upright. "Don't be stupid. You weren't happy."

"Yeah, but..."

Karkat pushes his mouth against Dave's, cutting him off mid-sentence. He can't stand to hear what Dave is going to say, so instead he buries his fingers in Dave's hair, letting his own desperation pour out into that kiss, sloppy and chaotic. Dave hums, questioningly, returning the kiss, and the motion of it is so familiar that Karkat is a mess by the end of it, flustered and out of breath. "You weren't happy either," Dave is finally able to murmur in Karkat's ear, and there it is.

Karkat can feel his lower lip trembling, and he buries his face in Dave's neck, praying that he won't notice.

"You've always been more OK with staying in one place than I have," Dave is saying. "I spent so much time as a kid in...my apartment, on the meteor, and then..." He swallows, still unwilling to complete the thought. "Basically. Places I couldn't leave."

"Yeah, yeah," Karkat says, voice thick. "I haven't fucking forgotten."

"But I should never've taken what you said at face value, you know? I know better than that. I just...wanted it to be true."

"And it took you three hundred and sixty-seven circles to figure that out?"

Dave snorts. "I knew you knew exactly how long it's been, you fucking liar."

Karkat laughs, and the two of them cling together, tighter, Karkat wrapping his legs around Dave's waist, his wings buzzing in short bursts as Dave drops kiss after kiss to his cheeks, his jaw, his throat, until his concentration slips and they both begin to fall. Dave laughs loudly over the roar of the air around them as Karkat tries to cling to him, laughing too, kicking at the backs of his thighs.

"Come with me!" Dave shouts, grinning ear to ear, and Karkat wants to, wants to so badly.

"We still don't know why the portal opened here, in this particular location," Dave says, later, blowing over the surface of his coffee. "We don't know if cherubs are going to evolve near here someday or not."

Karkat takes a sip, and swallows quickly. Still too hot.

"Dirk and I planted sensors all over the damn place. If anything shows up, we'll know about it."

Steam unfurls over the surface of Karkat's coffee, and his eyebrows furrow. "That's...good."

"Jade and Sollux are working on designs for deep space probes. We think this general location is the best place to start, I mean, there had to be a reason the game dropped us here..."

"When did you get so obsessed with the god damned game?" Karkat interrupts.

"Hey," Dave says, after a stunned silence, and, fuck. He actually sounds kind of upset.

Karkat guiltily drops his eyes. "I thought you just wanted to move the fuck on."

"Yeah, maybe I did," Dave says, his mug meeting the table with a sharp tap. "But how exactly am I supposed to do that? Finding the naturally-occurring life in this universe is the best chance we have of figuring out what happened to us. I want to know how it's possible, I want to know why..."

"I don't! You know why? It doesn't fucking matter! It's over! It was the worst thing that ever happened to me, and even though now in comparison to the rest of my life it's this tiny miniscule droplet in the motherfucking ocean I still have nightmares about it, and so do you."

Dave frowns sharply. "That doesn't mean that we can all just hide from the fact that it happened!"

They stare at each other, eyes widening, and Karkat feels absolutely humiliated at just how quickly they'd fallen back into arguing. He pushes his mug onto the table, biting his lip. Dave looks a little sick, and Karkat can't stand to see that look on him. He climbs into Dave's lap, legs hanging over either side of the chair, and Dave pulls him into a kiss.

"I'm sorry," Karkat says against Dave's lips, and says again into Dave's ear as Dave sucks sloppy kisses along his neck. "I'm sorry."

"I'm sorry too," Dave mumbles, hands almost reverently traveling down Karkat's back, over his waist, over his ass. "Fuck. Karkat...I missed you so much."

"You can't even fucking fathom how much I missed you, asshole." Karkat starts tugging at the hem of Dave's shirt. Dave laughs and squirms out of it, and Karkat hates that he ever decided life would be better without Dave around. He strips off his own shirt, and fuck it feels good to be skin against skin. It's been so long, so fucking long.

"Uh, yeah I fucking can, you at least had people to talk to, I was the one..." he pulls Karkat's hips against his, and they both gasp, "in fucking space for like, three hundred years, with my fucking...brother..." He squeezes Karkat's ass, grinding up against him, and Karkat pants against his neck. "Do you even...understand...how boring it is in space?"

Karkat laughs at him, grinding right back down. "I like imagining it."

Dave bites down on his shoulder with dull human teeth. "Asshole."

"Fucker," Karkat hisses, and shoves himself out of the chair, hands fumbling with the fly of his pants. Dave starts tugging at his own shoelaces, curses, and roughly tries to toe off his shoes. Karkat leaves him struggling with his own clothing, dropping shoes, pants, socks, all in a line all the way up the stairs into the block that, so what, still has a bed. He's pulling off his underwear when Dave finally gets there, and they both fall onto the mattress, Karkat straddling Dave's lap, grinding down, his nook slick against the hot underside of his cock.

"Oh, fuck, Karkat, Karkat," Dave is saying, gasping, as Karkat takes his dick in hand, lines him up, rocks down, bulge sliding out around it in a slow spiral all the way down to the base. Karkat forgets to breathe completely in that gradual, spectacular slide, and when his hips lay flush against Dave's he pulls in a deep breath, shaky, hands braced on Dave's chest. Dave is staring up at him like he's the most beautiful thing on the entire planet, and Karkat flushes hot all over.

"What the fuck, Dave," Karkat gasps out, rolling his hips downward, slow at first, then faster, and faster, until he's slamming him into the mattress. "Stop fucking...looking at me like that!"

"Like what?" Dave laughs, trying to hang onto Karkat's hips but looking delighted that he's finding it difficult. "Like I'm...butt crazy in love with you?"

"You fuck," Karkat snarls, his bulge squeezing tight in a cascading ripple, and Dave gasps and bucks his hips. "I can't...believe...that you would quote that shit right...now!" Dave laughs, breathlessly, arching, hands grabbing desperately at Karkat's thighs.

"How...is everyone?" Karkat asks, later, sprawled out on the bed. Dave's head is pillowed on his chest, and Karkat runs his fingertips over the nape of his neck, over the freckled skin of his shoulders.

"Everyone's good. Actually..." Dave blows a quick puff of air out of his nose. "Everyone's...leaving."

Karkat sits up, dislodging Dave completely. "Leaving?"

"Yeah," Dave answers, sitting up, slowly, the sheet falling down around his hips. "Leaving the planet. They're building this...castle, thing, sort of. On the fourth planet. Jade and Kanaya are terraforming it. Please come with us. With...me. Right now I don't give a shit about the others, actually."

Karkat takes Dave's hand, draws it into his own lap, squeezes it with both of his own. It's too real. It's too fast. "I can't go," Karkat says, and grief wells up in him, immediate and incontrovertible, leaving his voice hoarse and his eyes burning.

"It's OK, it's OK," Dave murmurs, cupping his face with one hand. Karkat leans into his palm, desperate for the touch.

"Did the others send you?" Karkat asks after a minute, his voice not bitter, only tired.

"No."

"Yeah right."

"I would've come anyway. I'm not going to leave without you, for chrissakes."

"What if I don't want to leave? What the fuck are you going to do then?" Karkat snaps, and Dave's mouth twists. Karkat feels shame tug downward at his insides. What a piece of shit thing to say. "Forget I said that. Just..."

"Then I would stay with you," Dave answers, quietly, earnestly, and Karkat feels sick. "I'm tired of missing you. I...sort of wanted to see how long it would last. Missing you, I mean."

Karkat sighs and meets Dave's eyes, raising one eyebrow. "And?" Dave leans closer.

"I never stopped, obviously," he breathes into Karkat's ear, and Karkat is almost embarrassed at the immediacy of the shiver that ripples up his spine.

"Get that shit out of here," Karkat threatens, and pushes their mouths together.

The first beams of sunlight creep in through the window, soft against the texture of the wall, angling sharply up over the ceiling. Karkat is awake, head on Dave's chest, listening to his heartbeat over the sound of the wind between the towers.

What if he did go?

Could he leave?

The thought spirals in his head, or maybe swings, back and forth, back and forth, weighted, on a pin. He imagines a lonely fortress on an empty planet, secluded, isolated. What would he do without all their kids? Is staying here actually worth anything? What does his life even mean?

When he wakes up again Dave is gone, and he panics for a moment, floundering in the sheets. Then sounds from the kitchen float up from the floor below, and he falls back against the pillows with a long breath. He'd been afraid for a second that the day before hadn't even been real.

"What the fuck am I supposed to do while you're searching the universe?" he yells downstairs from the bed.

"Good morning," Dave yells back, and Karkat can hear him dump what's probably an entire bowl full of meat into a pan of hot oil. "You could help me! Or...did you ever write your book?"

"No!" Karkat answers. "Fuck my book!"

"Dude, just get it out of your system already!"

"You brought it up!" Karkat pushes himself out of bed, feet bare on the wooden floor. He crosses the tower, grabbing a silken robe off a chair, and descends the stairs. He's tying the robe around his waist when Dave comes into sight, prodding at a pan with a large wooden spoon.

"Hey," Dave says, smiling over one shoulder, and Karkat smiles back, moving behind him, sliding his arms around his waist, resting his cheek on his upper back. "I'm making us breakfast." Karkat melts a little inside at the way the vibration of Dave's voice rumbles against his cheek.

"Yeah. I can see that."

"I kind of want to do this every morning." Karkat tightens his arms, scrunching his eyes shut. There's an edge to Dave's voice that all at once brings the painfully shy, lonely kid he fell so desperately in love with so long ago sharply back into his memory, and. How the fuck is he even supposed to deal with this?

They eat breakfast in front of the open window, listening to the wind, to people's voices from the street at the bottom of the hill, to birdsong in the air. Their legs tangle under the table.

"How long until everyone leaves?" Karkat asks into his mug, eyes on his food.

Dave is silent for a moment, then sets his spoon carefully down into his bowl. "Everyone's already gone."

Karkat's mug connects with the table. He feels like the breath has been knocked out of him. "What?"

Dave slumps back into his chair. "Everyone knows how much you love it here. But...they...we...need you. Really...badly."

"I don't 'love' it here," Karkat mutters, eyes still on the table. "And why the fuck do those assholes need me so bad?" He takes an angry bite of meat, chewing quickly.

"Because you hold everyone together. Don't you know that by now?"

"Maybe I'm sick of being the only thing keeping a bunch of spoiled, antisocial fucks from ripping each other apart."

Dave doesn't have anything to say to that.

They fuck again in the bath, slick, wet, hot. Karkat rakes his claws down Dave's sides as Dave pushes back against him, knuckles white from gripping the edge of the tub, gasping blindly as Karkat's bulge twists inside him. "Karkat, Karkat," he moans, like it means something incredible, and Karkat still can't even understand, can't even fathom how it's possible that Dave can still love him like this, urgent and desperate and undivided. How he can look at Karkat and still see someone worthy of that kind of love.

He wraps his arms tightly around Dave's waist, and loves him back so much that he wants to cry.

"Maybe I should stay here for a while," Dave murmurs into Karkat's ear, later. They're lying around on the couch. Karkat is reading, Dave is daydreaming. "Maybe I do wanna have kids."

"Maybe my ass. You either do, or you don't." Karkat snaps his book shut. "And I don't. Not now."

"That's fair." Dave drapes an arm over Karkat's waist. "But. If...you do, I might be ready again."

"Why are you being like this?" Karkat asks, mouth twisting.

"I told you. I had a lot of time to think. I did whatever I wanted for a long ass time. So I'm good? For now."

Karkat sighs, dropping his cheek against Dave's hair. "Uh huh."

"We'd been...together, for so long, I didn't even know who I was anymore, without you, you know?"

Karkat knows. He's known every single day since Dave left, because he didn't either, and still doesn't know if he does. He knows they've always been codependent as fuck, and he feels something fierce rise inside him again in defense of it. "Yeah. I do."

"What did you find out while I was gone?" Dave asks, sneaking a couple of fingers up under the hem of his shirt, brushing over his skin. Karkat slaps his hand away and straddles his lap, pinning his wrists to the back of the couch.

"That I can't stay out of other people's business," Karkat grumbles, nipping at Dave's throat. "That I'm overbearing and jealous and that I'm plagued by an absolutely staggering variety of permanent personality flaws..."

Dave lets his head fall back, baring his throat entirely to Karkat's lips and teeth. "Shit, Karkat..."

Karkat growls, his claws digging a little into Dave's wrists, and when he shifts his hips, he can feel how hard Dave is getting already. "You're the only one who ever thinks I have any good qualities."

"That is not...fucking...true," Dave groans.

For the trillionth time, Karkat kisses him so that he doesn't have to hear any more good things about himself.

"Didn't the people used to be more up in your business?" Dave asks, later, running a sponge over Karkat's arms, over his shoulders. Steam rises from the water in the tub. "Nobody's knocked on your door the whole time I've been here."

"Most of them are kind of afraid of me, now," Karkat admits out loud for the first time.

Dave is silent for a long moment. The sponge bobs up and down in the water. "I don't think..."

"I mean, they're all used to me being here. Obviously. But, wouldn't you be?"

"I don't know..."

"Exactly what the fuck kind of relationship is someone supposed to have with beings like us?"

Dave shrugs, absently running his fingertips back and forth over the curve of Karkat's shoulder, just like he always used to. Karkat leans against him, sighing, as Dave's arms go around his chest, and they both settle back against the tub. "Dude, it's a brand new type of relationship. They should have to come up with the word for it, though, we can't do fucking everything."

Karkat snorts and nuzzles against Dave's neck, unable to keep from smiling.

"Do you think the ancestors of the Beforan trolls had to deal with this shit? Hanging out with the creators of their universe, I mean?" He's absently trailing his fingers up and down Karkat's sternum, under the water. "Hey, did you ever learn anything about your alternate universe self, you know, before the Scratch?"

"No, I didn't, because I don't actually give a shit about him."

Dave's head clunks against the back of the tub. "Oh my god. That is such a missed opportunity."

Karkat gives an exaggerated sigh. "No it isn't."

"Are you fucking kidding?" Dave's hand is traveling over his stomach, now, and down, along his inner thigh. Karkat growls, letting his legs drop open, but Dave seems more intent on just feeling his skin than anything else. "I want to know about alternate universe you, like, so badly."

"What the fuck."

"I am so fucking attracted to alternate universe you, Karkat, you have no idea."

Karkat snorts and cranes his neck to try to glare at Dave. "Oh, hell no. Somehow I just know that he was a complete waste of space. And I don't like alternate universe you. It actually really bothers me that he exists."

"Dude! What?"

"I dunno. I just hate thinking about you having this whole fucking life without me."

Dave lets out a surprised laugh and hugs Karkat tightly around the shoulders, kissing at his neck. Karkat laughs and squirms a little in his arms. "I love you so fucking much."

"I love you, too," Karkat says without question, smiling from ear to ear.

"You should come with me out there sometime," Dave says, later, gesturing up at the sky. They're lying on the roof in the middle of the cloudless night, and there are so many stars it's almost dizzying. Karkat flops over onto his side, tucking his head into that absolutely perfect spot on Dave's shoulder, and closes his eyes. "It's so beautiful. I can't even describe it."

"I thought you said space was boring."

"Yeah! But not all of it. We should take like, a space vacation. I'll show you all the good shit."

Karkat smiles. "Maybe."

"Karkat..." Dave pauses, bringing a hand up to card through Karkat's hair, to trail idly over the surface of one horn. "I seriously think you need to leave."

The statement drops into Karkat's stomach like a stone. His eyebrows furrow.

"I'm gonna be honest here. I haven't seen you this depressed since..."

Karkat sits up, abruptly, staring down at Dave, eyebrows drawn, teeth clenched. "You haven't seen shit. Because you weren't fucking here."

Dave lets out a long breath, looking miserable. "I know! I know. I'm sorry." Karkat flops down on top of him again, as if he could hold him there, forever, with the weight of his body. "But that doesn't change the fact that you have got to get out of here."

"And tend to the emotional needs of a bunch of assholes? I don't think so."

"It doesn't matter where you go. Fuck the others, if you don't want anything to do with them, so what. We don't all have to stick together just because we're gods."

"What if I don't want to 'stick together' with you, either?" As soon as the words are out Dave falls into an awful, shocked silence, and Karkat hates himself even more. He bites down on his lip, wishing he could snatch the words back right out of the air.

"If that's...what you really want. It would be...fair." There's something horrible and hollow in his voice, and Karkat can't stand it.

He pushes himself up, kissing Dave all over, on the lips, on the jaw, on the eyelids. "I don't want that!" Karkat chokes out. "Why would I even say something like that..." Dave's arms go tightly around him, secure and wonderful.

"I'm the one that's...assuming shit, here." Dave moves to sit up after a moment, and Karkat lets him, dragging himself up to sit crosslegged at his side. He watches numbly as Dave takes his hand and pulls off his ring, then pulls off his own, pressing it into Karkat's palm. "We should start over. Try not to. You know. Take shit for granted."

"Yeah." Karkat closes his hand tightly over Dave's ring. "Yeah. OK."

"It's so fucking easy to lose track of time, here," Dave says, drowsy, his head in Karkat's lap. The twilight air is perfectly still, and the raucous evening sounds of the summer birds drift in through the open window.

Karkat squeezes his shoulder, and Dave squirms his head farther underneath Karkat's arm. It's almost too dark to read, anyway, without the light, and lethargy has already settled too comfortably in Karkat's limbs for him to do anything about that. He tosses his book into the armchair beside the couch. "Yeah," he answers, maybe a beat or two too late.

Dave keeps squirming until he's draped on his back over Karkat's lap, smiling, head on the armrest, fingers skating up Karkat's neck and across his cheek. "This OK?"

"Hell yeah it is." Dave's eyes are so warm, and it's making heat thrum deep within him. He lays his palm flat on Dave's chest.

"Wanna tell me? About it?"

Karkat freezes, and Dave's heartbeat quickens under his hand. "I..." The backs of Dave's knuckles ghost along the line of his jaw, and Karkat lets out a long breath. "They don't need me. They never fucking have. All I do is get in the way. Make everyone uncomfortable with the fact that I fucking exist."

Dave stares up at him, quietly accepting, and his hand comes to rest at the crook of Karkat's shoulder, fingertips against the skin just inside his collar.

"I haven't really left this tower in a long time. Not since..." The corners of his mouth twitch downwards. "I wasn't really all that involved in our family, for a long time, anyway. I don't even know what I was doing. Nothing, nothing really. But somehow I ended up raising this one kid that was descended from us, after her parents didn't want to claim her from the mother grub, and."

Dave's fingers stroke soothingly along his skin, and he takes a deep breath.

"She was so much like me, and I loved her, Dave, I loved her so much. We were so close. Closer than I've ever been with any of our kids." He's getting lost in Dave's eyes again. "I wish you could have met her."

"Me too," Dave says, sounding so sad, suddenly. His expression is terrible. "I'm sorry, Karkat. I'm so sorry."

"It isn't fair," Karkat bites out, hands clenching in the fabric of Dave's shirt. "Why am I still alive, when she's dead? I don't deserve fucking immortality. What have I ever done in my fucking life that's deserving of immortality? It's so stupid, it's fucking absurd..." Karkat lets out a quick, angry breath. "I'm in hell, Dave, every single fucking, god forsaken day."

Dave stares up at him, eyebrows drawn. "Thanks for telling me," he says, finally, his voice serious, his hand trailing up the side of Karkat's neck, the inside of his palm slotting against his cheek.

Karkat snorts. "Jesus. It still fucks me up when you say that."

"Really?" Dave's eyes narrow, just slightly. He drops his hand to Karkat's chest. "Why? Because it implies that you're actually worth something?"

Fuck. Fuck. "...Yes, that's exactly what it implies."

Dave's eyebrows come together again, sharply. "How long has that been back?"

"I don't fucking know. It's not like I marked down the very first reappearance of my own self-loathing on my fucking calendar."

Dave stares up at him, looking devastated in that subtle way that he does, something distant and exhausted and horrified around his eyes. Karkat's stomach sinks.

"I dunno. Two hundred? Three hundred circles?"

Dave's eyes widen. "I shouldn't have left. What the fuck was I thinking..."

"Don't even start," Karkat says, flatly, staring unseeing at his hand against Dave's chest. "I don't exactly want it to be true that you're the only thing that makes me feel like I'm, yeah, 'actually worth something'. It's really fucking depressing that it's true."

Dave sits up, facing Karkat on the couch, long legs folded under him. He takes Karkat's face between his hands, frowning. "That's not going to make me stop trying, Karkat, come on."

Karkat wishes he could just bury himself in the fucking ground and never come out again. "I don't deserve any of this. I don't deserve you. I've never deserved you."

"Yes, you fucking do, and yes, you always have, jesus." Dave's eyes are half-lidded, pinning Karkat with the stare that always makes him feel so vulnerable and transparent and desperate.

"Maybe."

"Can I show you?" Dave asks, thumbs brushing over Karkat's cheeks.

Karkat can already feel the pulse throbbing between his legs. "Yes. Please."

"I'm just gonna say this shit over and over and over until you believe it again." Dave presses a long kiss to the corner of his mouth. "I've never loved anyone the way I love you."

Karkat flushes, hands tightening in the back of Dave's shirt, shame and pride twisting and knotting up inside him. None of this is exactly good, he's sure it isn't, but what the fuck else are they supposed to do?

"I should've come back sooner." Dave is saying, voice rough, lips soft against Karkat's throat, against his jaw, along the shell of his ear. "I was so afraid that you'd, I dunno." He leans his forehead against Karkat's. He's already out of breath. "Moved on. Gotten over me. I dunno."

"Yeah, I couldn't."

Dave laughs, quiet, self-deprecating. "Me either." Karkat kisses him, hard, on the lips, his arms going tightly around Dave's shoulders. "It feels so fucking good to be with you. It feels so...right," Dave says against his mouth. "There's never been anyone else but you."

That knot of shame and pride writhes. "You don't have to keep saying shit like that."

"Yeah, I think I do."

Karkat feels hot all over. "Asshole."

"Nope."

By the time they make it upstairs to the bedroom Karkat is a complete mess. He lets Dave undress him, and Dave's hands on his body are good, so fucking good, that Karkat can barely think.

"Look at you," Dave breathes into his ear, sounding absolutely, totally overcome, and Karkat is instantly humiliated at the sound that he hears himself make.

"Why are you so good to me," Karkat groans as Dave twists three long fingers inside him. Dave laughs, and his breath is hot against the underside of Karkat's bulge, which ripples in eager waves around the fingers of his other hand.

Dave presses a sucking kiss to the base of his bulge, and his fingers twist inside Karkat in a way that makes him sob out loud. "I'm gonna need, like, the next thousand years to list off every reason."

"Oh, no," Karkat gasps. He's been on the edge for so long, now, and he grinds down on Dave's fingers, desperate for more, faster, harder, anything.

"One, do you even understand how hot you are?" Dave is grinning this totally smitten grin, and Karkat groans, heat flooding over him. "Two, we could fuck for the next hundred years and I'd still...never...get enough of you."

Karkat wants it to be true, so badly. "Harder!" he gasps out, and groans in distress when Dave does no such thing.

"Three, how do I even explain this shit? Just. The way you are. The way you talk. The way you move. I can't keep my eyes off you. I've never been able to."

What the fuck. Why. "Dave..." Karkat sobs out, too far gone to even care anymore about the desperation in his voice.

"When we were kids I'd seriously just stare at you all the time. Just...all the damn time. I was always really, really hoping you never noticed, 'cause of the sunglasses and all, y'know. You never did notice, did you?"

"Fucking...Dave, come on, we have to fuck, right now..."

"Maybe it would have been better if you had noticed." Dave is pretending he doesn't know how much of a wreck Karkat is becoming, but he has this little knowing smirk that's making Karkat want to throw him on the floor and fuck his brains out. "I was always so worried about what you'd think of me. About how much of a smitten fucking mess I was. So I always tried to hide it, or at least, tone it down, you know?"

"No. I never...fucking noticed. So...fucking...what." Karkat covers his face with both hands, trying to quiet the cries Dave's hands are wringing out of him.

"Man, I should never've tried to hide that shit. You kind of deserve to know?"

Karkat is suddenly close to tears. He stares up at Dave through the gaps between his fingers. "Please, please, Dave, we need...we need to fuck, please, please..."

Dave's eyes widen. He inhales sharply, and pulls his fingers free. "Yeah. Yeah, OK," he says, voice hushed, and fumbles with the fly of his pants. Karkat sobs into his hands as Dave pushes into him, and he throws his legs around Dave's hips, thrusting back, faster and faster, desperate for more. "Please, Karkat, look at me," Dave groans, and Karkat doesn't even know if he can, but he tries anyway, lowering his hands, trying to discreetly brush away the tear tracks leading down his temples and into his hair.

This is too fucking much. Dave is staring at him, so obviously, completely in love, and Karkat is close, so fucking close, that it only takes a couple more thrusts before Karkat is spiralling higher and higher until it's just too...too good, and pleasure drops over him like a bomb.

"Four," Dave gasps, pulling out, still hard as hell, and Karkat reaches down, wrapping an eager hand tightly around him. "Oh, fuck, fuck, you are so, so hot..."

"That was number one," Karkat says, smiling, ducking his head.

"It's numbers...one through, like, five million," Dave groans. "I'll get to the...non...physical stuff, later. This is just...kind of...on my mind, right now."

Karkat laughs, and Dave lunges forward, kissing him, desperate and sloppy, on the lips.

It's time.

"You know we could come back. In like a thousand years. Live anonymously."

"Maybe."

"You don't actually have to do this, you know."

Karkat's eyes flick up to Dave, exasperated. "Uh, yeah I do."

"Alright." Dave squeezes his upper arm, and their eyes catch.

They kick off the stones of the roof and burst into the sky, streaks of red and brown. When they finally break through the atmosphere, they pause, looking down at the planet, eyes raking over the curved expanse of green and blue, their fingers laced tightly together. The sun breaks over the horizon, and Dave kisses Karkat quickly on the lips.

They look for one moment more, and they're off.