baker baker, can you explain
if truly his heart was made of icing
and i wonder how mine could taste
maybe we could change his mind
I woke up with someone else's scent in my nostrils, stronger than the blankets' smell, and opened my eyes to find myself in somewhat the same position I'd fallen asleep in; John's arm was still around my shoulders and my head against his chest. The TV screen was running through the title menu of Fifty First Dates. I was mildly surprised; hadn't John said he preferred action flicks? I looked up at his face. That same childish smile was still plastered on it, even in sleep, and he must have fallen asleep watching the movie, because his thick glasses were still perched on the bridge of his nose.
I closed my eyes and shifted a bit closer to him, and felt his heartbeat against my ear. The steady thrumming lulled me back to sleep in a matter of moments.
"Karkat, wake up." John's gentle voice sounded close to my ear as his hand shook me to wakefulness. "I need you to get off me so I can make breakfast, okay?"
I drowsily complied, lifting my head from his chest long enough for him to get up, then plopped back onto the cushions, still unwilling to get up. He chuckled, and I felt the covers being pulled over me, past my shoulders.
A couple of minutes later, I heard sizzling coming from the kitchen, and the smell that wafted into my nose finally grew too tempting to resist. I rolled off the couch, taking a blanket with me to cover my head like a cloak, and trudged into the kitchen.
When John turned and saw me, he laughed. "Oh, Karkat, you are just adorable!" Then he stopped, his eyes widened a little, and he turned red, taking his position back in front of the stove as I sat at the table. I was too tired to have comprehended what he'd said.
At least, for a moment.
"Wait, what?" I said, confused. "'Adorable'? What are you on?"
"Did I say something? I don't think I said anything." He flipped a piece of french toast and turned on the small T.V. on the counter. I smiled thinly, knowing he was dodging the question but not in a mood to care, and rested my chin on the table, closing my eyes.
Only to have them fly open again as I heard what was on television.
"...and we've finally been given permission to disclose the names of two of the victims of the car crash that happened on I-15 more than a week ago. Jake?"
"Thank you, Feferi. Four people died on December 6th after a drunk driver ran them down on the southbound interstate. A couple on a road trip, Sollux Captor and Aradia Megido, were on their way to southern California when the highly intoxicated driver of a large SUV, with three passengers, took the exit and began driving as if he was on the northbound freeway, and "
John switched off the television, having noticed my expression, and turned the dial on the stove to "off", disregarding the food still in the frying pan. He sat at the small table across from me, and smoothed my hair back from my forehead gently.
He didn't say anything, but I could see in his eyes he now knew what was going on.
I said nothing as well. What was there to say? I'd pretty much exploded in on myself last night already. There were still tears to cry even as we sat there, his hand still on my head, I felt my face begin to dampen in thin lines down my cheek. His hand went to those lines, wiping them away with a thumb. He got up, only to walk around to my side of the table and pull me into his arms.
"So that's what it was. Man, do I feel like an idiot. I thought he was just an asshole who kicked you out on the street; and so close to Christmas, too."
"He never kicked me out," I whispered. "Yeah, he did dump me for that Megido girl, but that doesn't mean he forgot about me. He'd left me with four months left on the contract that he'd paid all the rent for, to give me time to find a job so I could pay for it. I did want to leave at first until he explained that to me. But, after I'd heard, I..I just couldn't stay there any longer. Not a single fucking minute. He was still there, somehow. And it hurt to stay."
"I know," John said. "I was almost the same way when Nanna died. I know how it feels, Karkat." His arms tightened around me again. "Was there a funeral?"
"It's on the twentieth. Next Tuesday. But...I don't know if I can go. I don't know if I want to go. I would have asked you, but...I didn't want anyone worrying about me." I closed my eyes and rested my head against his chest, bringing my own arms up to grip the back of his shirt.
"You wouldn't have had to ask me," he replied. "I'll let Terezi know we can't work that day."
"But...won't she be upset? This close to Christmas, it'll probably be busy as hell."
"This is one of those things where she won't have the right to be upset."
"Yeah, but.." I drifted off, unable to come up with an adequate response.
"Shush," he said, patting my head, then let his arms loosen a bit. "Sit back down while I finish breakfast, okay?"
I nodded and did as I was bid, too drained emotionally to do anything else. He hesitated for a moment, and a couple of expressions fought for dominance of his face before he strode over to the stove and turned it back on.
Church music was playing on the piano when John, Jade, and I filed into the room, and I almost turned back. There were a lot of people here, and I didn't know a single one of them, which made me almost more nervous than I was miserable.
"It'll be okay, Karkat," I heard him say over the hum of everyone else in the moderately-sized chapel. I walked closer to him as we made our way to the pews.
We sat in the back right, close to the wall, as the babbling masses began to settle into their own seats. John had a paper with a summary of the proceedings, and on it was a picture of Sollux and Aradia at what looked to be the Thanksgiving party they'd met at. I closed my eyes and leaned back. I felt Jade on my left and John on my right, both angled toward me and each with an arm around my shoulders.
I can handle this, I told myself. I have two friends with me that want to help me through this. I can get through this.
I didn't completely believe that, though. I ended up in tears halfway through the song that preceded the prayer. I felt John's hand on my back, rubbing gently in small circles, and chose to concentrate on that.
Jade drove the small, rarely-used sedan to the cemetery where the interment was; and she seemed like a chauffeur, since John sat with me in the back seat. He had his hand on my shoulder, for which I was grateful; I needed the contact. Because whenever his hand wasn't there, even if I knew he was right beside me, I felt alone.
It was after dark. I'd insisted on staying after everyone else had gone, as I watched the coffins being lowered into the earth. Jade had gone, too; while not within walking distance of the church the funeral was held at, the cemetery was within walking distance of their apartment, so we'd parked there and walked over. But John stayed with me, even after they'd all left and the sun had slipped beyond the slowly dimming horizon.
I sat before the recently shifted lawn sod, and if the tombstones had been put in I would have stared at it, not reading the words but studying how they were engraved. As it was, I examined the blades of grass that hadn't been covered by snow in the few hours since it had been placed carefully back on the ground.
I felt John move; he was standing beside me, and I could tell, despite his valiant efforts to stay with me, that he wanted to go home. I didn't blame him; most people would find a graveyard at night to be creepy under the most normal circumstances.
I didn't. I found it comforting. I didn't even feel the cold.
"You don't have to be here, you know. You can go home. I'll catch up."
"I'm not going to leave you here, Karkat," he replied softly.
I was quiet again, for a long time. He was the next one to break the silence.
"It's getting cold. We should probably go."
I didn't reply at first, and he crouched beside me.
"I loved him."
And his hand was on my shoulder again, rubbing lightly. "I know."
"'Loved'. Past tense." I looked up slightly, meeting his mildly confused gaze. "Well...I guess I still kind of do. But he'd want me to move on. And he did want me to. That's why he was moving, because he didn't want to hurt me; if he'd stayed, I would have had to deal with being a third wheel constantly, and he didn't want that for me."
He was silent. For a moment, nothing happened, and I wondered if he was going to call me out for not believing in my own statement, which I half didn't. But then he embraced me, both arms around my shoulders as I buried my face into his chest, and I felt his warm breath ruffling the top of my hair.
"Come on, let's get home. I'll make some minestrone, and we can watch a movie. Sound good to you?"
Because I couldn't talk through the face full of his shirt, I nodded, and he brought me back to my feet. I stumbled against him, and he supported me. "Are you okay?"
I tried to nod again, but my head swam, and for a moment the world spun around in a kaleidoscope of dark colors and the white of the snow. I felt hot, and clung to the only thing that was keeping me on my feet, which was John. I felt his hand on my forehead.
"Oh, shit, I should have gotten you home way earlier!" I heard him exclaim from what seemed like an ocean away.
And then I heard nothing, and felt nothing but heat and darkness.