thought i'd made friends with time
thought we'd be flying
maybe not this time
I stared at my hands, which were clasped on the table in front of me, as I spoke. I didn't know why the hell I was telling all this, revealing my true feelings, to him, but a listening ear was better than the air.
I told him everything.
I told him what I had felt for Sollux, how I felt when I got the news that he died, everything that had transpired since I'd first walked into Buns and Brews on December 6th. He took it all in, his expression never changing. When I'd finished, he tilted his head to peer at me over his aviators.
"Nice try, dude," he told me. "But through your whole fuckin' life story there, you hedged the entire question."
I stared for a moment, mildly distracted by the crimson hue of his irises. "What question?" I asked, feigning ignorance.
He adjusted his sunglasses to cover his eyes again and leaned toward me. "How. Do you feel. About John." He prodded my chest when I lowered my eyes. "And make eye contact. I don't want any lies, bro."
"Well, he's..." I thought for a moment. "He's always there. From the time I met him up to now, he's always been there."
"He ain't here now," he stated matter-of-factually.
"You are; because of him," I replied. "When I broke down, he was there. At the cemetery. When I caught a fever because I was too busy feeling sorry for myself to take care of myself. John was always there, and he was there for me. And while I feel so fucking guilty that he's been putting up with my shit, and part of me is afraid he'll leave like Sollux, I know he's doing what he is because he wants me to be happier. He's done so much for me, when any normal person would have given up on me by now..." I drifted off. I didn't think there was much more to say.
We were both silent for a moment. Then Dave got up and stepped back from the table.
"Well, then," he said, "maybe John isn't normal. Up to you to decide if that's a good thing, bro." He strode away, throwing one last comment over his shoulder. "And don't worry 'bout the jacket."
I frowned. What was the point of all that? To have some albino jackass know about my feelings for his best friend, so he could use it against me or something? Subconsciously, I shoved my hands into my pockets, and one hand crunched against something paper inside. I pulled it out, about to holler at Dave when I noticed the envelope had my name on it written in green-blue.
TO K4K4T V4NT4S
FROM T3R3Z1 PYROP3
I rolled my eyes. So, my cherry-obsessed manager wrote in leet-speak. Why was I not surprised? I opened the envelope. There was a small stack of bills inside, enclosed with a note written in the same color and handwriting.
1 G4V3 TH1S TO D4V3 TO G1V3 TO YOU. 1T'S YOUR P4Y FOR TH3 P4ST COUPL3 W33KS. G3T B3TT3R SOON SO YOU C4N H3LP YOUR BOYFR13ND SL4V3 4W4Y FOR M3! >:] H3H3H3 JUST K1DD1NG. BUT S3R1OUSLY, G3T B3TT3R SOON.
I folded the note back up and put the envelope back in my pocket.
Think, Karkat. It's two days before Christmas, and you're no longer broke as fuck. It's time to go get something to let your love interest know how you feel.
I was starting to feel hot again as the bus dropped me off a couple of blocks from what I now considered home. And when I got in the door, I was both disappointed and relieved to see that John hadn't returned from work yet. Jade was back, though; Netflix was on the screen of the T.V., and I heard her moving things in the kitchen.
"Who's home?" I heard her call.
"It's me," I answered. "Can I get your help with something?"
"Sure, just a second," she replied, and I sat my shopping bag down next to the couch and plopped down on it, taking a blanket and wrapping myself in it. "How are you feeling?" she asked as she sat on the couch next to me, passing me a bowl of beef stew.
"Thanks. I think I'm doing okay, but I might have just given myself a relapse." I took a spoonful of the steaming liquid and blew on it before I shoved it into my mouth. "This is good."
"Where'd you go?"
"I took a bus to the mall. Got my paycheck today, so I figured I'd go blow it on something."
"Well, that's nice, but it's about two days until the day you're supposed to give other people things." Her voice was stern.
"I know. That was the point."
"Oh." She swallowed her own spoonful of stew, then picked up the Wii-mote and pointed it at the screen. "Any preferences on movies?"
"Just no documentaries, or kids cartoons. Anyway. I need your help with something, remember?"
"Oh, yeah. What is it?"
I picked up the shopping bag from the floor and held it up for her to see. "I need to wrap this."
"Karkat! Wake up, wake up, it's Christmas!"
I groaned as the mattress threatened to throw me into the air, rendered into motion by John's excited "cannonball" onto the bed. Then he plopped down next to me, shaking me into awareness. He'd let me - more like made me - continue to sleep in his bed when my temperature had gone up again, but I'd mostly recovered by now, and my relapse had lasted only for a couple of hours.
"C'mon, Karkat, you gotta at least look in your stocking!"
I threw a pillow over my head. "There is no way a grown man like you is actually genuine about this kind of performance," I growled. "Christmas is for kids to get excited over."
He giggled, and I smiled - mainly because my face was hidden - at how happy he sounded. "Well, then I guess I am a kid at heart!"
I sighed and shoved the covers off myself. "You know, I am still recovering," I said, acting as if I could care less what day it was. The truth was, I was excited; but I thought myself too mature to act as bouncy as John was.
"I know, I know," he said, grabbing my hand and pulling. "But you have the whole day to sleep and stuff. Right now it's time for presents! So come on!"
Within minutes of our entering the living room, the hardwood floor was practically covered by a carpet of wrapping paper and ribbons. Somehow, John had gotten word to everyone he knew that he "had another roommate", as he put it, so I had about as many presents as they did.
I wasn't excited about the gifts, though; well, I was, but not mine. Well, yes, about mine, but the one from me, not to me.
Jade brought out the present we'd wrapped for John, as well as two she'd probably gotten for us. My suspicions were confirmed as she handed one of them to me and two to John.
"You first, John," she said, winking at me. "Open mine first!"
"Okay, okay! Yeesh," he said, and tore open the package to reveal a chunky-knitted blue sweater. Looking down at the package she'd given me, I guessed that she'd probably gotten me something similar.
"Thanks, Jade!" he exclaimed, pulling it over his head. He'd forgotten to take his glasses off first, though, and they got stuck in the sweater; and his head came out without eyewear attached to it. I chuckled.
"Now open Karkat's!" she said, and she threw her arm around my shoulders and squeezed a little.
"You know you didn't have to get me anything," he told me, but I could tell he wanted to open it.
"Just rip the damn thing open already, John," I said. "I kinda want to get to the food already. Do you know how hungry being sick makes you?"
He laughed. "Yeah, I guess. I suppose I will open it now, then." He took slightly greater care in opening my present, but only slightly. Before long he was holding a blu-ray copy of Scott Pilgrim in his hands. "Awesome! I've wanted to see this for a while!"
"I figured it'd be good, you know, for us to watch, since it has the action you like and the romantic comedy I like, so..."
"I love it!" he said, and threw his arms around me. I was about to hug him back pseudo-reluctantly, when his lips crashed against mine and I lost my train of thought.
Then I found it again and squeezed him, bringing one hand to his face and the other to the back of his neck.
"...I'll just...go work on dinner now," I heard Jade say from a mile away. But I didn't care about food, or presents, or Christmas, or anything at the moment, because John was in my arms, and I in his, and this was the best thing that ever happened to me.
John was the best thing that had ever happened to me.
It seemed an eternity before we finally broke apart, and I could tell neither of us wanted to. John looked up and smiled at me as we separated.
"And we didn't even need mistletoe," he giggled.
"...Wait," I said. "You kissed me because I gave you a movie?"
He blushed. "I guess I was kind of just looking for an excuse," he said.
I smiled, but suddenly my eyes were filled with tears and I couldn't stop shaking. John was surprised at this reaction.
"What's wrong?" he asked. "Should I not have done that?"
"No...I don't know...I just..." I stuttered. "I don't...I can't...John..." I was unable to form a coherent sentence, and then I was unable to form a coherent word. I was pulled forward, back into John's arms, and he silently rocked me back and forth, stroking my hair.
"I love you," he whispered in my ear.
And, despite the fact that I was breaking in his brand-new sweater with my tears, they were tears of happiness.
I'd never felt happier in my whole life.