Karkat has been looking dangerously depressed the last couple of days. Not even manta rays and baby penguins bitchslapping each other into holes cheer him up anymore. He just stares into nothingness and sighs when John tries to prod him awake.
He won't put on the telepathic headset, either. Not even angrily, just a tired, don't bother wave of his hand.
The situation is pretty dire! (the situation is terrifying; what if he falls into a depression from being cut off from his friends and country with no hope of ever going back, what if he goes back to catatonia land. Those what ifs are too much. John is pretending very hard he can fix this.) (John has to fix this.)
Plan B is to sit on Karkat until he agrees to talk it out. Plan A is a little subtler.
(Not a LOT subtler, but.)
Karkat is on the couch again, not-watching a lion pride duke it out with a pack of hyenas. He didn't even make grossed out faces when they showed footage of the head mom hyena giving birth, or cross his legs and go oh dear lord ow ow ow like John did. (Poor hyena ladies. He feels their plight keenly. That was just plain wrong okay.)
John dumps a first batch of pillows on his lap and goes back up the stairs to get to the connecting door that opens onto his father's apartment to raid it in turn. On the way back he raids the girls' room, too.
When he comes back Karkat is staring in faint worry at the pillows on his lap, spilled over the floor. That's already a success if he's paying attention! John has awesome ideas, okay.
He dumps Karkat on the blanketed floor; he needs the couch pillows he's sitting on for walls.
A pillow here, a pillow there; this time it's not a tent made of chairs and books and who knows what else; this time it is an entirely pillowy experience, only the softest foam and most comfortable plush for Mister Karkat's sadface treatment.
The roof requires some igloo-building experience before it will hold on. John props it on Karkat's head for a little bit, and goes "Shh! Don't move!" when Karkat twitches and -- finally! -- sputters at him.
"Zhann. Zhann, what."
John rebuilds the pillow roof. Success! He goes on his hands and knees and peers into the opening he left. It's all dim and comfy in there, soft surfaces all around, safely enclosed. He wriggles in, trying his hardest not to butt-bump one of the walls and send everything crumbling down.
"Zhann, say what. Say now. I -- rrrrgh! This -- no can't!"
John sticks out his tongue and tries to find a way to sit that won't have him end up half on his alien guestpal's lap. It's Not Easy. (Though it gives him an excuse not to acknowledge Karkat's spluttery, reddening face, so bring on the lack of space and awkward surfaces, really.) "Yes I can, I just did."
"You -- no!"
For a second Karkat starts in on one of his hand-waving rants, and then he almost knocks down a wall and John grabs his wrist. "Whoa there!"
Karkat stares at him, silent and gone still, like he's trying to read the back of his brain. He should have taken the headsets when John offered, okay. John avoids his eyes. Just goofing off! Nothing to take too seriously and throw back in his face because it looks like flirting, because everything looks like alien flirting! Alien hooking up must be the easiest thing ever.
Not that John ever really flirted with any human the human way either. What does he know, right. Haha. Ha.
Karkat is still staring holes into his head, and looking somewhere between uncomfortable and wincing.
How does he help him stop being sad? Is it even possible, he bets it's not, he bets he's an ass just for trying. But he just. he wishes he could help.
He lets go of Karkat's hand.
He makes himself look up.
He gets a pillow in the face.
Karkat jumps him, hitting him over the head again and again, catching him across the face; John flails, falls over trying to get away, and then Karkat is sitting across his stomach and trying to smother him, not very efficiently. He's yelling something exasperated in alienese and in between he barks out idiot bad stop no.
He's so alive like this. John doesn't mean to start laughing, but once he does he can't stop. He giggles himself even more breathless, weakly trying to push the pillow away from his face; his glasses have been dislodged and fell off somewhere he can't see and his hair is all over the place, and Karkat is so heavy and solid on him and he's ow, ow, giving him a noogie now, there are limits to John's relief! (no there aren't.) He manages to grab the corner of a pillow in turn and swings it on his head from the back; it flops back onto his face, making him shake his head like a bull.
The angle is bad, John's hits are weak, and Karkat is refusing to be moved from his position of strength. Still smiling, a laugh running its course in his throat, he relaxes on the pillows, lifts his hands in surrender.
Karkat is still giving him that suspicious, confused look, and it's always hilarious. John risks patting one thigh, still straddling him; "Good job, you won!"
Karkat is a bundle of heavy muscle, and so, so warm, and for a second John wants to sit up and hug him tight tight tight and tell him to stop freaking him out, tell him he's sorry for taking him prisoner (tell him he's not sorry at all) (tell him he would miss him so badly if Karkat got so sad John had to let him escape.)
He wants (he wants) he wants...
John is not hugging Karkat even though he really wants to, so at first he doesn't even get why Karkat's face goes from confused to some kind of, of wondering surprise, of -- oh. Hey. John's hand is still on his thigh.
Also maybe sort of petting little circles onto it. Um. He can totally explain that. It's because Karkat's warm! Yes! That's totally it!
He can't make a word. He can just stare at Karkat and stay there frozen in panic.
Karkat is moving, shifting forward, and he's going to get off him and yell or worse, he's going to stare at him in disgust or fear (John never wants Karkat to be afraid of him like that), he's going to--
In the crumbled walls of the pillow fortress John's alien boy kisses him full on the mouth.
John's brain enters full panic mode. John's throat makes funny little gasping, startled noises. John's hands grab onto Karkat's biceps; good plan, John's hands, best way to push him off, only they don't.
Karkat is so warm.
His black lips are warm and he smells weird and not-mammalian and Karkaty in a familiar, so-nice way and when he worries at John's lower lip like a mildly annoyed puppy dog John chokes.
When Karkat breaks the kiss John would almost be confused enough to let him go, only his hands still aren't letting go of Karkat's arms and so he goes no farther than ten inches away.
But, but, but, what the hell, what how why...
Karkat cups his cheek in a claw-tipped hand and John doesn't even worry one second for his eye, so close to a golden claw-tip he can see it at the edge of his vision. He looks... John's never seen him make that face, that tiny, fondly (he hopes??) exasperated smile. The way red eyes go soft, looking at him. Oh.
His own hand might be shaking a little when he goes up Karkat's shoulder to card his fingers through wiry hair.
It is so intolerable he just has to grab a pillow and stuff it in the alien's face. He bursts out laughing at Karkat's sputter, flips them around; more pillows tumble onto them, and then he's on top and whoa did he not consider this properly.
Did he ever. Um.
He catches barely a glimpse of hurt eyes before he is kissing Karkat, no thought and no freakout and no nothing. Can't make Karkat sad, not allowed. He's clumsy and too hurried and they knock teeth, and then he doesn't know if he should try to put in any tongue or what his lips should even do, and oh hell this is totally his first kiss.
His first kiss that wasn't given to a member of his non-incestuous super-family, he means. (goddamn Roxy, stealing his virgin lips. No okay that was nice, if weird as hell.)
(Kissing Karkat is nicer somehow, even though objectively it's worse. The way his heart thumps alone.)
He lets Karkat cup his face with both hands, slip them around his neck to settle on his nape; it would be perfect time for revenge, but even if it is, he owes Karkat that much anyway.
It isn't. Karkat draws him down for another kiss, a slower one, nicer. John makes little noises that he doesn't mean to make; they all say the same thing. Oh. This is nice. I didn't expect that.
Karkat croons low in his chest; it sounds like a dying crow's attempt at a purr.
The crow might have swallowed an ancient mechanical watch. John melts anyway.
"You are the weirdest," he whispers against Karkat's lips, "awesomest dude ever."
Karkat says something John is pretty sure is the alien for John You Are An Idiot Of Such Idiotitc Proportions Words Alone Shall Never Convey It, but he says it fondly, so John is still happy.
They cuddle until Dave comes home and has a nervous breakdown witnessing them desecrating the couch cushions with their snugglecooties.