Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter7 Chapter 8
Chapter 9: In the Forest, There is an Heir
Dirk ==> Enjoy the afterglow
You wake up the next day to Jake slowly pulling out of your arms. When he realizes he’s woken you, he gives you an apologetic look and says, “rats! Sorry, didn’t mean to wake you.”
“S’ok,” you mumble half into his pillow. Lazily, you reach out for him, pulling him back into the bed with you.
He yelps, not expecting the surprise grab. “Strider! What are you doing?!”
“I wanna cuddle,” you murmur into the back of his hair, looping your arm around him and pulling his back up against your body. Mmm. Jake Jake Jake. No other influences. Just your Jake.
He curls easily against your body, lightly protesting, “but I have to make breakfast.”
“Breakfast can wait,” you say, nuzzling into the crook at the base of his neck. You manage to keep the grin off your face as you suggest, “Or you can be breakfast.”
You feel him tense and gasp. “Dirk, are you saying you need—”
Finally, you allow yourself a chuckle, a small cue since he can’t see you right now. “I don’t need anything, Jake. You did just fine yesterday. I’ll be good at least another week. But what I want might be a different story.”
Jake sighs, melting further into your body. You’ve been around the block long enough to know when someone’s ready to give it to you. Jake is all yours, and you’re so ready to—
Suddenly, a loud obnoxious sound fills the air.
Instantly, Jake pulls himself from your grasp, looking around. “What’s that?”
You sigh at the over-the-top dubstep song. You chose this ringtone for only one person. One person whose call you really shouldn’t ignore. Grudgingly, you pull yourself away from Jake and sigh, “It’s just Bro.”
You find your pants lying in a pile in the middle of the floor and fish your phone out of a pocket. Jake’s already somehow magically fully clothed and ready for the day. Fuck.
Answering the call, you growl at your brother, “what do you want?”
“Interrupting something?” he asks.
“Not anymore,” you sigh, as Jake escapes the room, shutting the door behind him. A second or two later, you hear the banging of cupboards and pans in the kitchen.
“You figure your shit out last night?” he asks, not missing a beat.
“Yeah,” you agree.
“Good. Then I need you to come in early today,” Bro, slave-driver extraordinaire, says.
You flick your gaze at the clock in Jake’s room. “Dude, it’s barely noon.”
“And I give so many shits about that,” he answers with mock sympathy. “Get Dave up too. Be here in an hour.”
He doesn’t wait for you to reply before hanging up.
Sometimes you really hate Bro.
Dave whines something terrible when you try to get him out of bed. You have to yank all the covers off him and literally throw him fully clothed into the running shower before he finally wakes up. “Fuck!!! It’s cold!!!” He yelps.
You shut the door behind you and make your way to the kitchen, where Jake is stirring a pot of what you assume to be oatmeal. With a heavy sigh, you flop into a kitchen chair, watching him work. “Bro wants us there in an hour,” you mumble.
Jake is at your side, cupping your cheek, and kissing you before you realize it. Yes, you could get used to this. “Then we’ll be there in an hour,” he says, with one last chaste kiss.
Forlornly, you watch Jake’s ass, that could have been yours this morning, sway away from you and return to the kitchen.
A quiet moan to your left makes you glance over to find a miserable looking John. He’s sitting on the table with his head between his knees, his wings drooping behind him. You’d swear that his naturally bright blue aura looks a little green today. Hesitantly, you lightly touch a finger to his shoulder. “You ok?”
“Nooooo,” John moans. It takes him at least a minute, but eventually he elaborates, “Dave wanted to party with the Nitrams last night. Wanted to give you space.”
Suddenly it all makes perfect sense. You kind of feel a little guilty now. “How much did you drink?”
John groans again. “I don’t ever want to see alcohol again.”
You chuckle a little at his expense. “Sorry to break it to ya, but you work at Haven. It’s kind of a bar.”
He sighs very loudly and flops over onto the table, curling up into his ultra comfy looking blue pajamas. “I like the name,” he mumbles to you. “But I hate alcohol.”
When Dave stumbles out of the shower, you sense that John might not be the only one feeling a little under the weather. He’s put the same dripping wet clothes back on. “Dude, different clothes.”
He grumbles something that vaguely resembles a swear to you and disappears into his (your) room.
Your shower is less than legendary or infinite this afternoon, leaving you less than pleased. You didn’t even have time to properly style your hair, and it’s doing this weird fanning thing in the front. You hate it and constantly try to flatten it out as you drive down the road, but Jake seems to love it. He seems highly amused with your grumbles when he insistently fans it back out with his fingers.
Since it’s so early, you actually can get a good parking spot and can walk into Haven through the front door. When the bottles of liquor behind the bar come into view, you swear you hear John retch a little bit. Dave quietly grumbles, “aww, nasty! Not on my shirt!” But the slight furrowing of his brows gives away his concern. He cradles John carefully in his hands as you keep walking.
You find Bro sitting behind his desk with two ultra sized mega gulp cups from the gas station down the street. You’re 100% positive that it isn’t Coke in those cups.
“You’re right,” Bro agrees with your thoughts. “It’s Kraken blood. One for each of you. Drink up.”
Grudgingly, you and Dave accept the cups and sit on Bro’s couch to finish them.
Kraken blood has to be some of the worst blood you’ve ever tasted. It’s salty and fishy and reminds you of the stuff John spewed on Dave’s shirt.
“John’s sick?” Bro asks, raising an eyebrow in concern.
“Drank too much,” Dave answers for his boyfriend, who is already fast asleep on his thigh.
“Great,” Bro says in a decidedly sarcastic way and frowns. “I can’t do much to help the living, but maybe Latula can work up a hangover remedy. You’re going to need John today, so much as I want to, I can’t let the little dude rest.”
Bro hands you the paper with your assignment on it. You read it and quirk an eyebrow back up at him. “Are we even allowed to go there?”
“If John’s with you, you can,” Bro says, looking at you through his shades pensively. “Won’t be comfortable for you or Dave, but you’ll manage. He’ll have to put you both under a protective spell.”
“No offense, but the lad doesn’t appear to be in any condition to be conscious and awake, much less casting spells on anybody,” Jake says, eyeing the peacefully sleeping fairy doubtfully.
“Wish I could give him time, but you have to leave now, during the daytime, otherwise you won’t be able to enter the land,” Bro explains. “Better go now. And take your rocketboard. You won’t have time to drive.”
As usual, Bro’s right.
You have to take your rocketboard just to make sure you get there before sunset. John is none too happy. Latula did mix up some hangover remedy involving a raw egg, coffee, and what looked like more liquor, but it doesn’t seem to be doing much for your little fairy friend.
“Fuuuuuck, Dirk, can’t you slow down?” you think John moans. Dave is cradling him carefully but tightly in his right hand, holding onto Jake with the other. Jake is holding onto you, and you’re flying the rocketboard.
“Sorry, no can-do little man,” you say back to him. “We have to get there before nightfall. Didn’t cut my shower short for nothing.”
“Not little—” John grumbles back.
Jake tilts his head to the side, and you can tell he’s giving you a bemused look. “I like your hair,” he says playfully.
Fifteen minutes later, you see your destination in the distance. A large copse of trees that looks like it came straight out of Fern Gully springs out of the surrounding forest. They’re mystical and nothing like the trees anywhere nearby. A translucent shimmering light surrounds the forest. You know from previous experience that the forest is invisible to normal people.
Luckily for you, you’re not normal.
Unluckily for you, the forest hates you. Like, seriously hate hates you.
You set the rocketboard down next to the entrance to the forest, handing it to Jake who stores it who knows where. Experimentally, you reach your hand out and barely graze the edge of the shimmering curtain of light with your fingertips.
Instantly, you yank you hand back in pain. “We’re in the right spot.”
The Curtain, as Bro likes to call it, is a strange protective field that envelops the entirety of the mystic forest. From what you’ve gathered, it’s only passable during the daylight hours. At night, nothing can come in or out. The Curtain keeps the forest invisible to normal beings and impenetrable to undead or demonic beings such as yourself. This is where John comes into play.
“Time to work your magic,” Dave says, bringing John to the edge of the forest.
“Time to work my wha—?” John asks, sitting up in Dave’s hands and glaring blearily around, frowning at the bright sunlight overhead. It takes him a second to realize where you’ve taken him. When he does, he makes a noise that sounds a little like a dying gazelle. “What the FUCK are we doing here?!”
Dave winces at the volume, and even John clutches his head in pain from his own outburst. “Not a fan of your own stomping grounds?” your bro asks.
“Not when I’m—” John lowers his voice to a barely audible level and continues, “hung-over as hell, I’m not! My DAD lives here. What if he sees me like this? He’ll be so disappointed!!!”
“Nothing can make your old man anything but proud of you,” Dave reassures him. “If knowing that you’re dating me didn’t bother him, nothing will.”
“Yeah, that,” John mutters uneasily. You and Dave both catch his hesitation immediately.
Jake does not. “How fantastic it must be to have a father so approving of your interspecies relationship! Why, if my father were alive, I’m sure he would be positively displeased!” he exclaims with a wide happy grin.
You shoot Jake a “wtf?” glance because really. What the fuck?
“That’s totally not what you were going to say,” Dave says, eyeing his boyfriend sharply.
“Uhh no, it wasn’t,” John murmurs, casting his gaze away from Dave.
“You didn’t tell him, did you?” Your little bro asks.
“No, I didn’t,” John replies quietly. Slowly, almost shamefully, he looks up at him. “You’re not mad at me, are you?”
“Ugh, I’m too fucking hung-over for this shit, but I’m gonna woo your dad off his feet like nobody’s business. Have all your little fairy relatives so impressed with this Strider they’ll want to eat my shit like schoolgirls in a Japanese porno,” Dave says, with just a tiny note of bitterness in his voice. John probably didn’t catch it, but you did.
Your little bro’s scared.
“Eww Dave, gross!” John groans.
“Whatever, let’s just go in. You gonna be able to do that?” Dave asks.
John gulps, wobbling to his feet. “I can try.” He shakes out his wings experimentally a couple times, then leaps off Dave’s hand into the air. He’s a little unsteady, but he seems to be ok.
John flits around you three, sprinkling you with something sparkly that makes Jake sneeze. You hear him lightly murmuring some words, but you can’t understand any of it. And you shouldn’t. Because he’s speaking the language of the people who live in this forest.
The fey. John’s people. The language is soft, and full of rounded hollow sounds. It slips off John’s tongue like water, lilting lightly with each inflection.
When he’s finished, John practically collapses onto Dave’s shoulder. “Ok, that should do it. Try going in now.”
Again, you tentatively reach out your hand to the curtain. This time, you’re able to pass through. The holiness of the fey grounds leaves a ringing in your ears and a dull ache in the back of your head. Everything is so damned bright here. The trees are bright. The stupid little waterfalls are bright. The sun is bright.
You hate the fey land with every fiber of your incubus being. And in turn, the forest hates you.
But you’re inside now, granted temporary permission by John. And so are Dave and Jake. Dave seems even less enthused to be here than you are. John looks petrified.
Jake is perfectly fine. “Are you ready to get going?! We have a monster to hunt!” With that, he spins around and actually fucking skips away.
Just what the fuck are you dating?
* * *
Dirk ==> Explore the Fairy Land with Jake
You explore all right. Jake leaves no nook or cranny unearthed. Jake’s been holding your hand, dragging you this way and that like a ragdoll, but you can’t say you mind. You’re happy just to feel the warmth of his hand and the way his fingers lightly squeeze yours when he finds something exciting. You’ve decided that you love it when Jake is excited.
Despite what a “rip-snorting-fabulous-time” he’s been claiming to have, Jake seems a little disappointed.
“What’s wrong, English?” you ask.
Jake frowns. “It’s just—no matter where I look, I haven’t seen hide nor hair of any fey!”
John giggles softly. When you all glance at him in question, he explains, “that’s because they can’t be seen by outsiders if they don’t want to! Most of us are very private beings. Would you want a giant to peek into your home and see you taking a shower?”
Jake debates it for longer than is really necessary before admitting, “I’d suppose not.”
“So you planning on filling us in soon?” Dave asks. “What’d we have to do today?”
“We have to take down a banshee,” you explain.
Dave throws you a questioning glance. “Don’t those only come out at night?”
“Yup,” you agree.
“Then what are we supposed to do all day?” Dave groans.
“I don’t know. Maybe work on getting all John’s relatives to eat your shit?” you suggest. “They’ve probably been watching us all day.”
Dave tenses and quickly glances to his shoulder where John is care-freely swinging his feet to and fro. “That true?”
John shrugs. “None my relatives have been around. Dad’s the only one you have to worry about anyway.”
“Better question, why is Jake leading us around?” Dave asks.
“Because your boyfriend’s so hung over he can’t get off your shoulder,” you respond. “And besides, Jake has more enthusiasm than all of us combined.”
“Do I!” Jake beams happily.
“And if we just keep walking straight forward, we’ll get there,” John murmurs, flopping back down on Dave’s shoulder.
“Point taken,” your bro sighs.
A couple hours later, the sun is beginning to wane on the horizon. You can only tell because the light filtering through the thick canopy of tree leaves above is beginning to grow dimmer. It’s around this time that you finally break through the trees to the large lake in the center of the pixie land.
You can’t see them, but you can sense that the air is rife with the fey. The blue water of the lake is crystal clear, and you can easily see beautiful rainbow colored fish swimming below its surface. The lake itself seems to give off a mystic glow.
You stop in your tracks. Here. Somehow you know, your target will appear here.
John looks up and immediately makes a small squeaking gasp. Quickly, he flies off Dave’s shoulder and hovers in the air a few feet away. “Hey guys! Oh, no reason. Yeah they’re cool!”
You glance at your bro’s fairy boyfriend. He’s talking to the empty air in front of him.
“They are, but they wouldn’t do that!” John cries. “Well, maybe. Is it—” John lowers his voice. “Is it really that obvious?”
Dave looks at John. He looks at you. You shrug back at him.
“Noooo! You can’t do that! Don’t tell!” John whines. “Seriously, I’ll never talk to you again if you do!”
Jake leans in closer to you and murmurs, “has the lad lost his marbles?”
You shake your head. “No. Remember all those fairies you were looking for earlier?” you ask.
Jake nods, still transfixed by John talking to nothing.
“They’re all over. I can sense them,” you murmur. “John’s probably talking to some friends.”
It’s true. For a moment, you close your eyes and allow yourself to observe the lakeside clearing with your incubus senses, and you can feel their presence all around you. You can feel their carefree nature, their joy to see John again.
But you can also feel their fear. They’re apprehensive around you, and with good reason. But there’s something else that’s making them afraid.
“Inside? Why?” John asks, concern in his voice now. “Oh, no, we’re here to get rid of the banshee!”
The atmosphere suddenly grows tense. Even though you can’t see them, you can feel that all the fairies are panicking, just from hearing the name. As the sun continues to disappear, John seems to grow even more determined than before. “Don’t worry guys! We’ll get rid of her!” he says with conviction.
John flies back to you, still clearly hung-over, but happiness in his eyes. “Those were my friends! Sorry, they’re a little scared around strangers. They don’t like showing themselves to just anybody.”
“It’s ok, they’d probably just fall all over this sexy Strider anyway if I got to talk to them. It’d be like candy canes at Christmas time and I’d be the sexiest Santa handing out all the presents and—” Dave’s ramble is cut short as John presses both of his hands firmly to his lips.
“Shoosh you!” John says, though you can hear the laughter in his voice. “My dad’s probably around here somewhere.”
The sun finally disappears below the horizon, and like flipping a switch, the lake changes. An eerie fog rises from the once clear waters, and the fey land is filled with the apprehension of its inhabitants.
It isn’t long before a terrible wailing permeates the air, echoing off the lake and trees. It reminds you of the sirens of an emergency vehicle, only the wailing never seems to stop. A cold wind begins to swirl around you. Jake actually shivers from the frigid breeze.
“I’d wager our banshee is nearby,” Jake murmurs, frowning at the fog.
No sooner does he say that then the screeching crescendos to a terrible volume. An abysmal apparition materializes from the fog, one of tattered robes, long white hair, deformed limbs ending in terrifying claws, and calculating white eyes. The banshee whisks your way with her mouth wide open, a sharp screech growing even louder.
You all manage to dodge out of the way as she swoops right between you, her claws catching the ends of Jake’s shirt and ripping the fabric with sharp precision. Jake frowns. “I say, that was entirely uncalled for!”
As the Banshee turns around, narrowing her eyes vindictively, Jake stands firmly in place. The spindly ends of her robes billow out behind her, and her wail is louder than ever. The mist pours violently from all around her as she comes straight for Jake again.
What the fuck is Jake doing?
He’s certainly not moving. If anything, he’s just glaring even harder at her, an odd determination in his eyes that somehow frightens and draws you to him at the same time. In an odd movement, he opens his arms to the Banshee, inviting her to him.
“JAKE!” you shout. “Get the fuck out of there!”
“It’s all right, Dirk,” he responds, but doesn’t offer any more explanation. He doesn’t even glance your way.
Oh fuck, is Jake trying to get himself killed? But Jake doesn’t seem suicidal to you. So why is he doing this? What could possibly be his reasoning? What are you supposed to do?
He must have something in mind. He seems to know what he’s doing, but let’s face it, this is Jake you’re talking about. You love the man, but even you have to admit that he’s not the sharpest crayon in the box. What if he doesn’t realize what he’s doing? What if he dies?
You don’t know if you could live with yourself if you let him die.
You’re finding yourself left with more questions than answers and very little time to ponder the answer to any of them. You don’t have time to think about it. All you have time to do is react.
Your feet are moving before you realize it, flash-stepping you over to Jake. As usual when you flash-step, the world slows around you, and you watch as Jake sluggishly blinks. He flicks his gaze at you, his expression ever so gradually becoming more surprised.
And then your hands come into your view. What are you doing? Oh. You’re pushing him out of the way.
Oh fuck. You’ve seen these movies. You know what happens next.
It never ends well for the person pushing the other one out of the way.
But it’s a little too late to be thinking about that now, isn’t it? You can’t stop momentum. And really, you’re not sure if you would want to. You love Jake too much to lose him. Your feet are already in motion, your hands clasping the coarse fabric of his green jacket.
With a final burst of speed, you shove him out of the way.
An instant later, the banshee is on you. Literally, on you. You feel her icy noncorporeal body pass through your own. When she shrieks inside you, your body feels like it’s going to burst apart from the resonating pain. You feel her torment. You feel her agony.
You feel her sadness.
And suddenly, you realize what Jake was trying to do.
The banshee passes through you, her wail bursting from the walls of your body in a feat of physics that you would love to explore were you not in this exact situation. As the creature wails, drifting to the far side of the lake, you turn to Jake.
You’re completely unharmed, and so is he. In fact, Jake is blinking at you, a slow look of realization dawning on his face. He must have just registered what you did. “Dirk, you didn’t have to—” he murmurs.
“I know that now,” you agree, keeping an eye on the banshee as she begins circling the lake. “When she passed through me, I could feel her. She wasn’t vindictive, spiteful, or even a bit angry. She was lonely.”
“Of course she is lonely!” Jake says, tossing his hands in the air in exasperation. “Had you informed me of our opponent, I could have filled you in! Banshees are not violent creatures. Rarely do they show themselves, and when they do, it’s often to mourn the passing of the dead.”
“That’s nice, but how do we kill her?” John asks, flying up to you from wherever he was hiding.
Jake shakes his head. “We can’t kill her. She’s already dead. All we can do is try to show her that she’s loved and help her move onto the next realm.”
“And we do that how?” you ask.
Jake flashes you a bright smile, one that makes your heart melt a little. You somehow know that you can trust him on this. Whatever he’s going to do, you know he’s right. “Like this.”
As the banshee finishes her circle and comes your way again, Jake turns to face her. Once again, his face is set with determination, and he spreads his arms out in invitation.
You watch as the ephemeral creature drifts instinctively to Jake, her tattered rags flitting behind her, translucent and peppered with holes, like a moth-eaten mourning shroud. The mist scatters from around her, and her wailing reaches an almost unbearable pitch as she crashes into Jake.
It happens in the matter of mere moments. You feel so helpless as all you can do is watch your boyfriend tenderly wrap his arms around the specter. He whispers something to her that you can’t hear over her cries.
Seconds later, she’s vanishes into the mist.
Like the last mournful notes of a dirge, her wails fade away. And ever so slowly, the mist recedes back into the lake. Jake is left standing alone, a soft sad smile on his face as he stares at his hands. It takes him a couple moments, but finally he turns to you and says, “It’s done. She won’t bother anyone ever again.”
One by one, lights begin to appear around the lake. It takes you a moment to realize that behind each light is a beating heart. A fairy.
They’re showing themselves to you, and holy hell, there are thousands of them. As the lights appear, they provide a soft glow to the area, allowing you to clearly see everything around you. The grass, the lake, the trees, and all the moss covered homes of the pixies.
Despite the massive number of pixies, only one dares to approach you. With a light “bampf” sound, he is suddenly standing at about your height beside you. His wings are a regal blue hue, matching his eyes. He’s dressed in formal flowing blue pixie garments. Atop his head of dark hair, a crown is placed meticulously and carefully. He pulls a pipe from his mouth and eyes you all fondly. In a rich tenor voice he says, “thank you.”
Even Jake seems to realize that this is their king. He bows courteously to him and replies, “it was our pleasure to aide you and your people. Thank you for graciously allowing us into your land.”
“Oh, I had nothing to do with that. I think you have someone else to thank,” he looks past Jake to where John is fluttering awkwardly in the air between the king and Dave. The fairy king smiles warmly and holds his hands out invitingly. “I am so proud of you, son.”
Son? You glance critically between the two of them and realize that, yes, there does seem to be a strong family resemblance. You flick your gaze over to Dave, who seems to be trying harder than ever not to show any emotion. Clearly, Dave had no idea either.
John throws an apologetic look in Dave’s direction, then sighs and lands in his father’s hands. He rolls his eyes and murmurs, “daaaaad, you’re going to embarrass me!”
“Why shouldn’t I be proud? You’ve managed to cast a very complex spell to grant passage into our homeland, and you helped rid our people of the terrible banshee,” he gives John a silly lop-sided smile. “Some day, you’ll be the most powerful fairy in the land. Your mother would be proud too.”
“Aww dad thanks,” John finally smiles back, a look of exasperation on his face. “But please don’t say any more embarrassing things! My friends are here.”
“Why so they are. And I insist that they all stay the night,” the fairy king says. “It is impossible to pass the barrier until the morning, in any event.”
You find that it’s a little hard to say no to the king of the fairies. And so you find yourselves being accosted with pixie dust and shrunken down to pixie size so that you can stay in the king’s palace.
Being pixie sized isn’t too different from being normal sized, you think. The trees are taller, and the smell of the earth is a bit stronger, since you’re closer to the ground. The biggest difference is John. You’re not used to seeing him almost eye to eye. Kid’s still a little shorter than you.
You realize just how impossible John’s hair truly is. You’ve heard your little bro ramble on about it before, but you never bothered to look that closely at his gravity-defying locks. Clearly, combs are his enemy. John’s face is soft and damn, Dave wasn’t kidding, his eyes are the bluest blue.
But you still have no interest in screwing him. Whew. Your radar is safe.
You know that your little bro is fucking ecstatic. You’re 100% positive that it’s taking every bit of his willpower not to tackle John to the floor right now and make out with him.
You’ll give him shit for it later. For now, you have a magical fairy castle to explore. Rose would be so envious.
The king’s palace is a sight to behold. Wrought from stone and wood, it feels reminiscent of the ancient castles of lore. The air is temperate and pleasant, and a light breeze drifts in through the open windows. The stone halls are long, lined with rich blue runners, and intricate metallic chandeliers hang from the ceilings high overhead. You find it somewhat amusing that despite its enormity, standing at your usual height, you are normally taller than the castle.
The king insists that you join him for dinner. The feast is nothing short of spectacular. You only recognize the mallow fruit cheeses, dogwood fruit pears, and saffron cakes from stories and books. The table is filled with several other foods, and you honestly have no idea what you’re eating. You send a silent prayer to whatever deity exists that none of the food is holy. All the food is sweet and filled with an exotic flavor you’ve never tasted before. You bet Jane would kill to try this cooking.
In the corner of the room, a small group of fairy minstrels play unfamiliar songs on the violin, flute, and small wooden drums. Occasionally one of the group sings a beautiful enchanting melody in the fairy tongue. You have no idea what they’re saying, but the harmonies are wrought in patterns of mathematics that you never would have imagined placing together. You find yourself spending longer than you should just trying to figure their harmonic formulas out.
The dining room is large, with elaborate decorative tapestries hanging from the walls. The tapestries are ethereal, shimmering and shifting. It makes no logical sense and quite honestly, it unsettles you a little bit. But you decide to ignore the bizarre fairy food, music, and creations and focus instead on John’s father, who is currently asking you a question.
“So how long have you known my son?” he asks in a very pleasant yet somehow authoritative voice.
“Since he joined us, about two centuries ago,” you reply.
“Has he been a good boy?” the king asks.
“Daaad!” John moans, rolling his eyes. “Remember what I said about embarrassing questions?”
“I remember,” John’s father says, a small smirk playing at his lips. He turns back to you. “So has he been a good boy?”
“DAAAAAD!!!” John groans, falling back in his seat.
“John’s been a very valuable asset. He saved all our lives a few months ago when we fought the demon Damara,” you respond.
“Did he?” the fairy king beams at John happily. “I’m so proud of you, son.”
“Thanks dad,” John’s response is small and muffled behind his clothing. He’s currently slouched down in the seat, hiding in embarrassment.
“My, it’s been quite some time since I’ve had a good dogwood pear. Your cooking is simply smashing!” Jake exclaims, cutting into his third pear of the evening.
That was random. You glance at Jake, ready to tell him off, but he looks so content and happy with his pear that you can’t find it in yourself to make even the smallest cutting remark. So instead, you’re happy just to watch him.
It isn’t until you hear a snort from Dave’s direction that you realize you’re staring. Like he has any room to talk. Dave’s been staring at John all evening.
The rest of dinner goes by passably well. John’s father makes idle conversation with all of you, and you finish up the meal without event. Dave looks increasingly uncomfortable as time passes, but you doubt anyone else can tell.
If there’s one thing Bro taught you both well, it was how to maintain the best poker face in the worst situations. Like meeting your boyfriend’s father for the first time who happens to be the king of the fairies.
After dinner, you’re shown to your rooms for the evening. The guest room that you’re sharing with Jake is cozy. The handmade wooden dresser, wash basin, and desk are quaint yet elegant. A large fluffy plush bed sits in the middle just pleading you to use it. Jake just fed your inner incubus yesterday, and you’re still doing all right. But you are still looking forward to sharing that bed with him.
Soon, bed. Soon.
First, you want to make sure everything is ok with your bro. As Jake is washing up for the evening, you slip out of your room and stealthily make your way down the hall.
It doesn’t take long for you to find John and his father talking in the library. You only get a glimpse of them sitting across from each other in chairs before you duck back into the hallway. Dave suddenly flash-steps beside you. You glance at him inquiringly, to which he merely shrugs.
“You seem to be getting along well with those other hunters,” John’s father remarks.
“Yeah, they’re pretty cool,” John admits.
“And the one in red. Dave, was that his name? He’s your partner, correct?” the king asks.
John hesitates for a moment before stammering, “yeah, yeah he is.”
A few moments pass by in uncomfortable silence. You cast your gaze again at Dave, and this time, he looks positively frightened. His face is tense, and the muscles of his neck are taut with tension.
Eventually, John’s father says, “you know, son, no matter what you say, nothing can change how proud I am of you. You will always be my son, and I’ll always love you.”
In a quiet voice, John murmurs, “you know already, don’t you? About me and Dave?”
“He may wear those sunglasses all day and night, but I see how he looks at you,” the king responds. “I see how much he loves you. And how much you love him.”
You hear John squirm in his seat. “You’re not disappointed are you?”
“Disappointed? I could never be disappointed in you. Son, I can’t pretend to know what it feels like to love someone like him. You know what I mean. I know that it must not be easy, but you’ve never been one to take the easy way out. You’ve always fought and given it your all,” the king says. There’s a rustling, and you think he’s probably risen from his chair. Another rustling is probably John getting up too. “The only sadness I have is that this will be difficult for you. I love you, son. And I’m proud of you. I’m proud that you’re not afraid to love who you love.”
“Dad—” John murmurs. His voice is wavering, and you know he’s probably crying. You hear the rustling of fabric and know that the two are probably embracing.
You chance a glance over at Dave and murmur, “and you were worried.”
“Better fucking believe I was,” he mutters back. “You’re lucky Jake doesn’t have any parents.”
You’re actually not so sure how true that statement is. Jake said himself that his father was no longer around. Does he have a mother? You suppose like everything else, he will tell you in time.
You hear footsteps moving towards the door, and in an invisible flash of speed, both you and Dave are gone back to your respective rooms. John squeals in a quiet but excited voice as he passes by your room, “Dave! Dave!! Guess what?!” He throws Dave’s door open and shuts it behind him.
You’re pretty sure you know where things are going from here. You won’t be visiting your little bro’s room tonight.
Jake is waiting for you when you get back. He’s—oh fucking hell. He’s practically naked on the bed, wearing nothing but his boxers. Today it’s green aliens. He’s reading a book and waiting for you. When he hears you enter, he glances up with a bright smile. “You know, these fairy books don’t make a lick of sense!”
“That’s because they’re written in the ancient fairy language,” you explain.
Jake shakes his head. “No, no it’s not that. I can read it. It just doesn’t make any sense! Why haven’t any of these children’s stories been made into movies? They have such fantastic plots! I’m certain they would be smashing hits in the box office!”
You sift through Jake’s ridiculous thought process to the important nugget of what he just said. “Wait. You can read this?”
He blinks at your in earnest. “Certainly! Can’t you?”
“No, I can’t,” you respond slowly.
Holy fucking hell. Jake English can do something you can’t do. But how is that even possible? This language is easily over a millennia old. You think maybe Bro knows how to read it? But Jake? Why would Jake know how?
So you ask him. “Jake, how do you know the fairy language?”
“Well, it was the common tongue at one point,” Jake explains, as if it were the most obvious thing in the whole world. He chews his lower lip in thought for a moment before continuing, “It wasn’t until the fey were threatened by the war between mortals and supernatural beings that they chose to seclude themselves into obscurity.”
It takes you all of .5 seconds to process what that really means.
Jake is old. Way older than you.
You never would have imagined it. Jake, your dorky bumbling boyfriend, who has no sense of up from down half of the time—how could he possibly be so much older than you? That war took place over a thousand years ago. And while you were technically alive at that point, Bro put you and Dave to sleep for centuries after that. But that story is long and complicated, and you aren’t going to let it distract you right now.
You take quite some time mentally debating asking the question. In the end, your curiosity gets the better of you, and you finally ask, “Jake, how old are you?”
Jake laughs lightly, and the smile lingers on his face as he says, “Oh, I’ve been around forever, Dirk.”
That wasn’t exactly an answer. You’re really not sure how to take that.
Your silence speaks for you, and Jake’s laughter transforms quickly into sympathy. He casts you a pitying glance and says, “don’t feel bad, old chap. I can teach you the fairy language if you’d like!”
Good old Jake. Always assuming the wrong meaning.
You don’t say anything, and he continues, “It’s not too bad once you work past the horrendous vernacular. Here, I can show you a thing or two.”
And so you sit next to your mostly naked boyfriend as he teaches you more than a thing or two about the fairy language. You lean comfortably into him, watching in earnest as he excitedly points out familiar pixie symbols. Jake’s right, the language is wordy but not too difficult to pick up.
When Jake has had his fill of teaching you the ancient language, he tosses the book aside onto the floor. You both scoot underneath the covers, and you don’t hesitate to collect him into your arms. Jake laughs a bit at the gesture but leans fondly into your embrace.
“Dirk, that thing you did back there earlier,” Jake says softly, unexpectedly.
“Hmm?” You hum back lightly, trying to think of what “thing” Jake is talking about.
“When you pushed me out of the way of the banshee,” he clarifies. Lightly, he runs his fingertips along your chest, tracing circles and other soft shapes in your skin. “You did that to save me, didn’t you?”
“I can’t lose you, Jake,” you murmur back, drawing him to you closer, embracing him tighter.
He returns the hug and rests his head on your chest, sighing softly. You can feel how content he is right now. His happiness. His love.
You check again, and sure enough, there is a warmth blooming in his heart that you never noticed before. It’s small, barely a candle in the vast sea of Jake, but it’s there.
Safe in the darkness of the room, you smile and silently vow never to let that flame go out.
Happy Holidays one and all! I’ve broken my Update Thursday rule to bring you this a couple days fashionably late. Hope you enjoyed! This is *gasp* the last chapter of the year! The next chapter will be here in the new year!