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Oh look, actual JohnKat this time. <3
Need another Homestuck fan-project to pass the time with during the hiatus? GO PLAY AND SUPPORT FEATHERBENT. It’s the best AU.
The. Absolute. BEST. AU.
I cheated again and wasn’t inspired by a randomly-selected song. But I HAVE been listening to the Featherbent menu screen music on loop for hours at a time pretty much every day this week. So that half-counts, I think.
Now then, are you ready for a rare and dangerous 2X JOHNKAT COMBO???
Yes? Good. Have a (very cheesy, much-longer-than-anticipated) fanfic under the cut.
“Don’t Look Down”
“If you’re not a part of one of the Hunter classes, then just be a Perch. I know plenty of redwings.”
Karkat stared at the man in disbelief. “How is it even possible to function on such ludicrous levels of stupidity?”
“What?” John’s smile didn’t fade. He was growing used to Karkat’s insults.
“I can’t just ‘be a Perch,’” he quoted mockingly. Then added irately, “Even if I wanted to, which I don’t.”
“But weren’t you just saying—”
“Yes. I hate the fucking medieval caste system and the self-righteous royal asshats that force me to live down here alone in this pathetic excuse for a nest,” he paused to take a savage bite of muffin before continuing, “but that doesn’t mean I’m not a Hunter. I don’t hate that I was born a certain species. Even if I am a mutant freak.”
Thoroughly scolded, John nibbled quietly on a muffin. This conversation wasn’t going at all like he had imagined. He’d just been joking around, but obviously he’d hit a sensitive spot.
Surprisingly, it was Karkat that broke the silence: “Besides, not all Hunters are bad.”
John looked at him expectantly, urging him to continue. Karkat grunted. “My… dad. He was cool. At least, I think he was. I don’t remember him very well. But he never treated me differently.”
Noting the use of past tense, the Perch tentatively spoke up, “I thought Hunters didn’t live with their parents.”
“Not for very long, usually. Not that it matters, since he wasn’t my actual dad. I don’t know who my real parents were… or maybe still are, I guess. I was probably abandoned when my primaries grew in and everyone realized something was off.” John’s jaw dropped open in horror, but Karkat continued unfazed, “Anyway, the old limewing found me and took care of me in secret until I learned how to fend for myself. I couldn’t go out much without being seen, so I guess he took pity on me and let me stay with him well past when most parents would’ve kicked me out.”
John had a feeling like a lead weight had dropped into his stomach. “What happened to him?”
Karkat shrugged noncommittally, his face darkening a little, before returning to greedily devouring the sweets his guest had brought.
The bluewing assumed that meant he was dead, and that Karkat just didn’t want to talk about it. John could respect that. He knew firsthand what it was like to lose—No, he’s coming back. Someday.
He shook the dark thoughts from his head and watched the Hunter finish the muffins in silence, having lost his own appetite. Not that he’d planned to eat many anyway; they were for Karkat. The poor guy really did look like he was close to starvation.
After a while, John glanced at the wan light filtering through the leaves high above. It was getting close to the time when he knew the guards would be switching patrols. If he was going to take his preferred route home, he would have to leave soon.
“Mmh,” came the response from the mess of gray and red feathers sprawled on the grass.
“It’s getting late, so I need to get going. I don’t have any more muffins, but I could bring something else tomorrow. What’cha want?”
The Hunter gave him a strange look. It was somewhere between perplexed and exasperated.
“Why do you care?”
“Um, because you’re good company? Even if you are kind of an ass. Also, you were kind of starving when we first met, and it wouldn’t be neighborly of me to just leave you to die like that.”
Karkat sat up. “First of all, we’re not neighbors, idiot. Second, in my experience, most people wouldn’t give a flying fuck about some dying loser they found on the forest floor, let alone share resources with them. But I guess your unfathomable incompetence also obscures your sense of self-preservation, so I’ll let that one go.” John chuckled. “And lastly, if you just want someone to talk to, why don’t you spend time with your friends up there?” He gestured vaguely above them.
John sighed. “I don’t know.”
Karkat quirked an eyebrow at him.
“I haven’t really talked to any of my friends in a long time, besides Vriska. Everyone’s always busy. And now with the Sweep coming up…” he trailed off. “And anyway, you sell yourself short, dude. You’re fun to talk to.”
“That’s a first.” The redwing glanced upward. “But whatever, come back if you really think it’s worth risking your life.” He shifted his wings, which were now unbundled but still looking a bit ragged. “It’s not like I’m going anywhere.”
John thought for a moment. “Do you think you could keep up with me for a few hours if I flew slowly?”
Karkat blinked at him.
“I’m inviting you to my nest,” he explained. “You know, in the Understory. It must be dangerous down here at night, right? I can show you my way past the guards and you can get a proper meal.”
The Hunter was dumbfounded. “You. Barely. Fucking. Know. Me,” he enunciated slowly.
John shrugged, laughing. “It’s like I said, dude; you’re fun to talk to. And I get bored sitting around all day with nothing to do.”
Karkat shook his head firmly, glaring at the grass. “If anyone found out, you’d be banished down here, too. Or worse. Besides, I don’t need your charity.”
John rolled his eyes. “Now you’re just being stubborn and making up excuses. C’mon, Karkat. Can’t a guy invite his friend over to hang out for a while?”
“So we’re friends now?”
He seemed to consider this for a second, then shook his head again.
John threw his arms in the air. “Ugh! Do you want to come or don’t you?”
He’d expected Karkat to immediately refuse again, but he seemed to be hesitating.
Allowing himself a small smile, John walked over and put a hand on his new friend’s shoulder. “We have a saying up there: ‘Don’t look down.’ It means don’t worry about what might go wrong, or how the past could’ve been different, or any of that. Just take things as they come. So, come on, Karkat.” He touched his other hand to the Hunter’s face, “Look up for once.”
Karkat had wanted to point out that he’d heard the stupid phrase a thousand times before, dumbass, but something about the Perch’s words made the old saying take on new significance. When John’s hand brushed his cheek, he finally lifted his eyes.
John’s gaze was directed upward, toward the distant specks of evening sky. But Karkat wasn’t looking at the far-away canopy leaves, the flickers of sunlight that occasionally peeked between them. He was transfixed instead by the overwhelming blueness of John’s eyes. Maybe it was the glasses, or maybe he’d just never looked the Perch directly in the face before, but he hadn’t noticed until just then how bright their color was.
“I’ll come with you, moron.”
“Awesome! Like I said, I’ll try to keep it slow so you can keep up—no offense—and if we leave now we should get back by dark. We’ll start by going that way and keep low for a while, but then we’ll have to…”
He was already fluttering around, jabbering at a mile a minute. Karkat stood slowly and dusted himself off.
What was it about this goofy bluewing that made him seem so damn trustworthy? His generosity? His gentleness? His unwavering sincerity?
It didn’t matter.
For the first time in a long time, Karkat had looked up and seen the sky. But he was surprised to discover that the sky wasn’t found up beyond the Canopy, where the ignorant elite gathered in their oversized dwellings.
No, Karkat had found the sky reflected in the eyes of this silly blue-feathered boy.
And he didn’t want to ever lose sight of that sky again. Not for the rest of his life.