i know you're late for your next parade
you came to make sure that i'm not running
well, i ran from him in all kinds of ways
guess it was his turn this time
The next day and a half passed in a blur of feverish nightmares and waking delirium. I know I called for Sollux a few times, but after the first few hours the only name on my lips was John's.
"How is he doing?" I heard someone ask nearby.
"Not so well. His fever's gotten so bad, I think we should take him to a hospital."
"It will be fine. We know what we're doing, don't we?"
"Yeah, but - "
"John," I called weakly, not noticing that I'd interrupted. There was a rustling of blankets and I felt cool fingers on my cheek.
"I'm here," the first voice said softly. "I'm here, Karkat." I turned my head toward the voice, toward the hand, and fell back asleep. That was the only time I recollected waking up when I recovered.
When I woke on the second day, I felt warm. The afternoon sunlight was streaming brightly through the blinds and casting shadows on the wall in the shape of the house plants set there. I was wrapped in what felt like fifty blankets, but it was comfortable. I turned on my side and noticed John there, his hand still on my cheek, glasses still on his face. I felt bad; this was the second time he'd stayed up with me. I still felt feverish, but it was slowly dissipating, and I reached up to grip his hand, closing my eyes again.
I didn't fall asleep, though, because a moment later I felt the mattress shift and John's hand slipped from under mine. I cracked my eyes open again to see him smiling anxiously down at me.
"How are you feeling?" he asked gently when he saw my eyes open.
"Better," I answered. He felt my forehead and the worried crease in his forehead smoothed a bit.
"That's good. Your temperature's better than it was, too. Do you think you can get up?"
"I don't particularly want to. You put me in your bed?"
"We figured it would be more comfy than the couch. Plus, I kind of didn't want to leave you," he added, a slight pink tinge coming to his face.
"Thank you," I whispered.
He lowered himself back onto the bed, pulling me close to him, and I relaxed against him. "You're welcome."
We laid there for a bit, me listening to his steady breath and heartbeat, and I think I fell asleep again, but when I woke up he was still there. Holding me. I felt disgusting and sick and still really tired, but he didn't mind at all.
He was just there for me.
And it scared me how much better he was at this than Sollux was. I don't know how, but it scared me.
The next morning, John had to go to work. He'd taken the past two days off to take care of me, plus the day before for the funeral, and since I was feeling well enough to take care of myself he didn't have an excuse to put it off any longer. After all, this was the last full business day before Christmas, considering the next day was Christmas Eve.
I was waiting for him to leave.
I couldn't make him do this anymore. He'd taken me in, fed me, gave me a job, and even took time out of his work schedule at the busiest time of the year just to take care of my fever, as well as given his own bed to me. I couldn't be a burden on him anymore. I wouldn't.
As soon as he left, I had the few things I'd unpacked in the last week and a half back in the suitcase where they belonged, and wheeled it out the front door. I didn't know what I was going to do, but I knew I could figure it out on the way.
"Hey," said a smooth voice as I made my way out the door. I turned around to see a man there, with sunglasses perched on the bridge of his nose and hands casually delved into the pockets of his skinny jeans. It was Dave, Terezi's boyfriend. I'd seen him a few times before at the coffee shop.
"Where do you think you're going? I was under the assumption that you were too sick to go anywhere," he said in an even tone. "John asks me to check up on you, and here I am, expecting a bedridden little boy with one of those really big thermometers in his mouth and a hot water bottle on his head. And all I got's some kid with a freakin' hoodie on like it's late September wheeling a suitcase out behind him. That don't add up."
"Mind your own business," I said, turning to go again, but suddenly he was in front of me, that same deadpan look on his face.
"And if I do, what do I tell poor John? That his cute little boyfriend's dumped him in favor of the parking lot at the grocery store? Nah, man, that ain't cool."
My cheeks were on fire when the word "boyfriend" registered in my mind. "I'm not going to the fucking grocery store!" I said vehemently.
"Then where are you going?"
I faltered. "...I don't know."
"Then come with me," he said. "I'd like a talk with you. But put that suitcase back in the apartment."
I glared suspiciously at him, but it fell flat. Those sunglasses were a little unnerving. "Fine," I answered, and did what he told me.
We ended up going to the park behind the library, where I'd met Sollux, and I didn't exactly want to be there. But I followed the guy without complaint, mainly because I was wearing his jacket.
I didn't want it, and I'd made that perfectly clear. But he insisted, saying, "What kind of friend would I be if I let you walk around with a holey sweater?"
"I didn't know you were my friend."
"By 'what kind of friend', I meant to John."
Luckily, we didn't sit at the bench that Sollux had. Instead, we sat at one of those picnic tables. This one stood at the edge of the lawn ringed with trees. He sat across from me.
"Now that we're alone," he began, "why don't you tell me how you feel."
"...Are you propositioning me?" I said warily.
"About John, man. I'm in a perfectly monogamous relationship."
I glared at him, but there was a small heat rising in my face that didn't have anything to do with a fever. However, I chose to blame it on that instead of admitting the alternative.
"How is that any of your business?" I demanded.
"Just doing a favor for a bro, bro," he answered. "See, John's been a bit... I guess, different, lately, and I'm guessing it's the cute little boy-toy that happened to move into his shitty apartment around the same time. And judging from your face, the feeling's not unrequited."
I said nothing, though my face was still hot. What was with all these guys and being so god-damned perceptive?
A tiny smirk played around the edges of his poker face. "Thought so."
"It's a long story," I muttered, avoiding his shaded gaze.
"Don't worry, man. I got all the time in the world."