The thing with Equius is, he's huge, and he's ripped, and he has a low, carrying voice, and he's bossy as fuck.
Before he started wearing Karkat's collar he let people who were not directly concerned assume whatever they wanted out of his hearing, and he never came back home weary, never went straight to Karkat's desk to kneel there at his feet, silent and drawn in and waiting for a hand to caress his hair like he was a statue on the verge of crumbling into dust and only Karkat's touch might ward off that fate.
Karkat slips his hand in Equius' hair in soothing, gliding caresses, guides his head to his thigh. Equius leans on him all at once, with a deep shuddering sigh; his chair almost skids away. Karkat doesn't say a thing about the forehead pressed hard into his muscles, just keeps petting.
Equius only allows himself five minutes before he takes a bracing breath and leans back. Karkat doesn't correct him, just makes a note to tie him up tonight in bed to pet and cuddle him for a couple of hours. (He won't take tenderness unless forced, even though he craves it; then again Karkat won't take it either unless he can tell himself he's really soothing Equius, so.)
"Yes, sir. My apologies for disturbing you--"
"Bzzt, wrong, I want to be disturbed by that shit, it is fucking disturbing and being disturbed is the exact right emotional response. Didn't you remind the teacher of the anti-discrimination rules?"
Equius gives a short, sober nod, head bowed. Karkat gives in and catches a lock of hair -- not to pull, yet, he looks up all on his own at the touch; just to rub it between his fingers as they talk. It's slightly less intimate than direct pettings, though it's pretty symbolic.
"I did, sir, as you had advised. She advised me to, ah, maybe limit my presence in the class if I felt it was too emotionally taxing, and that the pressure was hardly going to lessen when going into my chosen field..."
"Don't you worry your pretty little head, it isn't like a sub can make for an executive anyway?"
Equius gives the tiniest nod. The line of his shoulders screams weariness.
He's never asked Karkat to order him to back out of his studies, but he has told Karkat that he could foresee coming doubts, and not to let him sink into them, please.
"Yeah," Karkat muses, "one thing your teacher and classmates don't understand is, your Master is me. Which means you are under direct fucking orders to top the hell out of every single last one of them, and that won't stop until you're CEO of Sagittarius Industries on your own goddamn merit. Because that, too, is an order."
Equius gazes at him, sitting on his heels, hands loose on his lap, and his eyes soften. It was said with more reassurance than certainty -- it's not the right mood for that, Equius can't take being taken apart and put back together today; he needs comfort, and they've revisited these orders so often, they are exactly that.
"As you wish."
"... You nerd." Karkat pretends he doesn't want to grin, or flush a little in pleasure.
"If I may remind sir that you were the one who wished to expand my literary and cinematic horizons..."
Karkat plants a foot on his chest and pushes a little; Equius sways back, and he knows that if he wasn't still holding onto his hair that Equius would let himself topple backwards onto the floor, all the meat and bone of him.
He gets up instead, abandons his piles of homework and tugs on the long locks he still holds so Equius will stand up and follow him to the bedroom.
Later as they breathe together in the dark Equius says "I could grow it for you," and Karkat's heart squeezes in his chest because he knows it means "I want to."
It's mostly subs who have long hair, to grab onto and tie down with and because it's beautiful and fragile and hard to care for. Equius's is down to a little under his shoulders and it hangs free, most of the time (when Karkat sees the back of his neck he wants to bite into it) and it's already long enough that it doesn't help his issues with being taken seriously by the women and men who will be his coworkers, his rivals.
"The next time you have it cut, you will be CEO," Karkat promises for him, and buries his hands in it to kiss him as thoroughly as needed.