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Chapter 19: The Next 1000 Years
Dirk ==> Do something, damn it!
As Jake falls backward through the pulsating rift, all you see is the look in his widening eyes. They’re filled with surprise. Concern. Fear. Betrayal.
He reaches a hand out to you, his fingers stretching and desperately trying to grasp any part of you to hold on. But you’ve already taken a step back, just out of reach.
Jake doesn’t have time to say a word before he’s gone.
You want to do something. Specifically, you want nothing more than to jump through the portal to the future that you just pushed your boyfriend through.
But you can’t. You can’t abandon your brothers, one of them technically being the younger version of you, to die in the past. You’re pretty sure there would be some sort of space-time paradox if you did that, and you don’t want to fuck with that shit.
You really didn’t want to push Jake in at all. You would have rather kept him here with you in the past and lived together for the next thousand years. But you knew that Lord English couldn’t be allowed to remain in the past. As Her Imperious Condescension warned you, two Lord Englishes are more than your universe can handle. The mere presence of two of that demonic monster would have eventually ripped your universe to shreds.
What other choice did you have but to send Jake into the future? To the time when the second Jake will leave for the past? One Lord English. Problem Solved.
Except that it isn’t solved at all. Lord English isn’t really gone. He’s still trapped in your boyfriend. And now a thousand years separate the two of you.
A thousand. Fucking. Years.
You can’t tear your eyes away from the spectacle before you. The swirling portal grows smaller and smaller. You clench your fists tightly, your nails digging into your palms hard enough to draw blood. It takes every fiber of your being to not dive in after him.
But you manage to do it. You stand stoically and watch as the swirling portal to the future, to Jake, slowly closes and disappears. You stare blankly at the place where the time-rift to the future was just moments ago.
Alone on the ruins of the battlefield, you inhale deeply and let out a scream of rage.
You do it again. And again. And again.
Your lungs hurt and your throat is raw by time you’re done. You fall to your knees and don’t even bother holding back the tears.
Fuck Strider coolness. You just lost your boyfriend for the next thousand years. Give or take a few decades. You’re really not exactly certain when in time you are.
“Damn it Jake! Fuck! Why did it have to be this way? WHY??? FUCK!!!” You scream at the empty air around you, pouring your anger with everything into your words.
Eventually, you run out of steam. Your soul feels numb. You can’t imagine what the next millennium is going to be like without Jake, and you don’t really want to.
But you do have responsibilities. Their names are Dirk and Dave. And they’re waiting for you, asleep in Her Imperious Condescension’s throne room. Paradoxically, one of the safest and most dangerous places they could possibly be.
You have to get to them.
So you pick yourself up and try to make yourself halfway presentable. You dust your pants off, readjust your shirt, and run your hand through your hair a few times to straighten out the disheveled strands.
You’re about to leave when you hear a soft moan from off to your left, not too far away. You glance over and realize that in all of the turmoil you completely forgot about Rufioh.
Concerned for your friend, you quickly make your way over to where Lord English threw him earlier. He’s managed to pick himself up into a sitting position, but he’s holding a hand to the side of his head woozily. His usually proud colorful spikes of hair are muddied by the dirt and hang limply. His clothes, if you can call them that, are ratty and torn. You don’t think you’ve ever seen Rufioh in such bad shape before.
“Hey man, are you ok?” you ask, kneeling down beside him. You remember hearing an unusual cracking sound when Lord English was gripping him between his claws. You hope he wasn’t hurt too badly.
“Yeah, man, it’s cool,” Rufioh groans, twisting his body sharply back. You hear another loud popping sound, and suddenly he’s moving his legs again. He fixes you with his soft brown eyes and holds a gray skinned hand out to you. “I owe you, man. The way you distracted Lord English—it’s the only reason I’m still alive. And that whole soul-ripping thing—so dope! Name’s Rufioh. Rufioh Nitram.”
You smile and shake his hand. So this is when you officially met Rufioh. You’re about to give him your usual name when you recall one important detail.
Rufioh never called your older brother Dirk. Ever.
“Bro Strider,” you say, the name sounding a bit foreign on your tongue. You’d better get used to it now, because it will be your name for a very long time.
“Nice to meet you, Bro,” Rufioh says. Somehow, when he says your new name, it doesn’t sound strange. It rolls off his tongue like the rest of his vocabulary (you remember hearing the word “doll” a lot.)
Hearing Rufioh say it makes you a little bit more comfortable with who you’re trying to be. Somehow, you feel more confident in your ability to truly be Bro. It brings a soft smile to your lips. “Yeah, good to meet you too,” you agree.
Rufioh stands up and stretches a bit, cracking a few more bones back into place. “It’d be cool to stay and chat, but I’ve got a little bro to find. Tavros is probably scared shitless by now.”
“Yeah, I know the feeling. I’ve got a couple little bros too,” you reply. “Left them behind to fight Lord English.”
“I feel ya, Bro. I feel ya,” Rufioh winks and waves at you before turning back to the burning village. “Catch you on the flipside.”
You nod back to him and watch him go. By now, the fighting has ceased. With Lord English’s disappearance, it’s almost as if the essence of the war has vanished. The demons seem to have dispersed, but you know that the war is far from over.
The glint of metal on the ground catches your attention. You walk over to the source, finding Jake’s gun discarded in the dirt. Sorrowfully, you pick up the weapon and pocket it. Remembering that you dropped something else nearby, you search until you find your shades.
You slip your shades back over your eyes. Much better.
Your eyes sweep one last time over the empty field. The spot where you cradled Jake. Where you threw Lord English’s soul back into him. Where you kissed your boyfriend one last time before pushing him through the time rift 1000 years into the future.
With a heavy heart, you turn and head back to Derse.
* * *
Dirk ==> Be a responsible guardian
You’re not really sure what the fuck that looks like. Bro certainly wasn’t a responsible guardian, so you really doubt that you will be. But you do care about your brothers, and you aren’t going to leave them alone with Her Imperious Condescension any longer than you have to.
When you enter the throne room, she’s already waiting for you. The sound of a single person clapping slowly echoes across the hall to your ears. You’d better deal with her before your brothers.
She rises from her throne when you walk up to her and grins at you with her mouthful of sharp teeth. “Well done, Bro. You kept up your end of the bargain this time, and I kept mine,” she says, waving her hand grandly toward where your brothers are both still sleeping peacefully on the floor.
“I’d certainly hope that two sleeping children wouldn’t give you much trouble,” you mutter, your voice coming out more angered and bitter than you intended. You can’t help it. You’re still massively upset over Jake, and you really don’t know what you’re going to do.
The Condesce doesn’t seem to take offense to it, though. If anything, her smile only broadens as she says, “work for me, Bro Strider. With your help, this war will be over in a matter a days.”
“No thank you,” you say as politely as you can manage. “I have other responsibilities now, and I don’t have time to be doing your dirty work.”
Again, the Condesce doesn’t seem offended. She only continues to look at you eerily, her fuchsia eyes trained on you like a hawk eyeing its prey. “Very well, do as you will. When you change your mind, my offer will still stand.”
That was shockingly easy. Too easy. You are instantly suspicious.
As you feared, the Condesce begins to talk again. It’s never simple with her. As if she thought of it offhandedly, she murmurs, “but you do need a place to stay, don’t you? Last time I checked, Lord English destroyed your home.”
You grimace. Like many other things, you hadn’t thought of that yet.
“Three hallways down, up the stairs to the fifth floor, the second room on the right,” the Condesce says, stringing the words out languidly. Her bright pink gaze flicks from one of your tangerine eyes to the other, as if she might miss your reaction in one of them. “It was your father’s room, but now—it’s yours. For your service in defeatin’ Lord English, it will always be yours. Wherever you go. Whatever you choose to do. Use it if you want to.”
You don’t say anything else to her. Instead, you turn stiffly and make your way to where you left your brothers. First, you gently pick up Dirk, cradling him in your arms as you murmur, “hey. Wake up, lil’ man.”
He opens his soft orange eyes to you, hazy from your influence. You remember what you were going to do, before you let him come to himself. You’re going to take his memory of this encounter with the Condesce.
You smile sadly at him, brushing your fingers lightly across his forehead. Your fingertips fill with a soft glow, and you gently tug the memory from his mind. You know he will never like the Condesce, but he doesn’t need to be petrified of her like he is right now.
Yours. Be you, Dirk.
He blinks a few times at you before looking around the hall. “Where are we?” he asks quietly. Instinctively, he gathers Lil’ Cal closer to him.
“We’re in Derse,” you tell him. Carefully, you hoist him up into one arm and then pick up Dave in the other. For a moment, you think about removing your influence from Dave, but your father is right. It is so much easier to let him sleep.
You can just feel your mother’s frown at you for your choice, but you silently promise her soul that you’ll remove the influence as soon as you’re somewhere safe. With your brothers in your arms, you walk to the massive throne room doors.
“Bro,” the Condesce says, her voice drifting to you from across the long hall.
You pause for a moment, turning around to eye her.
“When you’re ready, I’d try the seventh portal on the right. Head south for ten minutes. It’s a bit more hospitable for your—” the Condesce pauses, her lips curling into a bit of a frown as she finishes, “children.”
“Thank you,” you respond respectfully, then turn and leave.
* * *
Dirk ==> Wake up Dave
You’ll get to that. Soon. Really you will.
Once again, the Condesce is good on her word. You decided to check out the room in Derse instead of the portal. After today’s events, you’re completely exhausted, and you have no idea where the Condesce’s portal will lead you.
You find the room easily enough. Like the rest of Derse, it is lit by the soft purplish glow emanating from the very stones that make up the room. Surprisingly, it’s a decent size. You think this single room is probably larger than your parent’s entire house. It’s certainly an upgrade from your apartment in the future. Where you sent Jake. Through the time-rift. And nope! You’re not thinking about that.
Instead, you scope out the room briefly, looking for any hidden traps or cameras. You don’t find any, but you do find something that makes your heart wrench.
In the top drawer of a dresser near the bed is a small locket. Curiosity has always been your greatest nemesis, and you cannot resist flicking the tiny switch and pulling it open.
Inside is a picture of your parents.
Quickly, you snap the locket shut and throw it back in the top drawer. You can’t look at that right now. You can’t be distracted.
Gently, you settle down on the plush purple bed, sitting tiredly at the head of the bed. You lean back, resting your tired body against the dark metal head-board. It’s large, king-sized if you had to guess. Despite the size of the bed, Dirk stays right beside you, curling his tiny body next to your leg.
And despite the fact that he just slept for a couple hours while you were gone, Dirk again drifts into an uneasy slumber. Were you really only gone a couple hours? Why the fuck does it feel like so much longer?
Finally, you address your attention to the slumbering baby in your arms. Tenderly, you brush your fingers against his cheek and murmur, “hey, wake up lil’ bro.”
As soon as Dave opens his tiny red eyes to you, you give him back to himself.
Yours. Be you, Dave.
The baby doesn’t seem much different. He does squirm a bit more, attempting to kick his feet against the swaddling. Before he can even fuss about it, you make a small cut in your skin and offer him your thumb.
Dave accepts it happily.
You sigh, wondering just how long this is going to go on. How long will they be helpless children? How long before they can take care of themselves? And even when they can, will you trust that they will be ok? That agents won’t come for them in the night?
You can’t help but think that it all doesn’t add up. If the Agents are from Derse, and the Condesce is the ruler of Derse, then why the fuck were they ever after you and your bros? Did the Midnight Crew always target you, or was that a more recent development, after you fell in love with Jake?
Or, more importantly, after Jake fell in love with you?
Questions, questions. It seems like every time you turn around there are more questions and so few answers. You sigh with the futility of it all.
You wish that someone could just give you the answers.
You wish you had someone you could trust to talk to.
TimaeusTestified [TT] began pestering TimaeusTestified [TT] at 11:35
“Oh my fucking god, AR, I’ve never been so happy to see your fucking robot text,” you murmur to your shades, your voice more shaken than you expected.
TT: Yeah, I know. Sorry I had to wait this long to contact you. That’s what he said to do.
“He?” You ask.
TT: The other me. The me living in Bro’s shades.
“The fuck?” you mutter.
TT: When Bro ran that file, he merged the version of me in his shades with… well, me. Now we’re both me.
Why would Bro do that? For a good couple minutes, you think it over. Dave spits out your thumb, falling quickly back to sleep. Gently, you rock the infant in his sleep.
Still, you can’t fathom the answer. Why would Bro want to merge your AR and his?
TT: Oh wait. He said when you think that to play this file:
And then, a video begins to play in front of your eyes. On the lenses of the shades you’ve worn forever is Bro. He’s sitting in his office chair without his shades on. You can see mirrored in his orange eyes your own expression, and you wonder why you never figured it out sooner.
“Hey lil’ man,” he says. Woah. He said that? Can everyone hear him?
Somehow, across time and space, he picks the thought out of your head. “No, I added a 2-way neural link with you and AR in that download. Now, not only can he hear your thoughts, but you can hear his too, if you want.”
Oh. That makes sense, you guess. You wonder why you never thought to do that before? Instinctively, you clutch Dave to you tighter as the infant makes a small whine, bouncing him a bit until he falls back asleep.
“By now, you know the truth,” Bro says. When he looks into the camera of his lenses, it’s like he’s looking at you. “You’re me. I’m you. You just threw Jake into the fucking future. And congratulations, because now you’re thinking life is about to start royally sucking.”
You swallow a thick lump out of your throat. How does he always know?
“I know because I’m you, dipshit,” Bro smirks. “And I might have all your memories recorded through AR, but I’ll get to that later.”
You’re about to question that, but suddenly Bro’s talking again.
“You know I’ve never been one for coddling. I never believed in that bullshit, and I’m not about to start now. Life is going to be hard for you. Really hard. You and Dave were such bitches to raise, you know that?” Bro chuckles. “But I promise you’re worth it in the end.”
“How? I’m raising myself,” you say pointedly, finally realizing that Bro can probably respond to you. If this entire conversation is written in AR’s databanks, you know that Bro can find a way to hack in and get it.
Bro doesn’t disappoint you. “Yeah, it’s kind of weird at first, but you’ll get over it. Remember, you told Dirk you’re his Bro, and that’s who you are now. You aren’t Dirk anymore. He’s Dirk. He’s your little bro now, and you’d better take care of that little shit and love him to pieces or I swear I’m gonna find a way back there and kick your ass.”
He actually gets a chuckle out of you. You don’t doubt he would.
“Damn straight,” Bro cracks a grin himself. “Oh yeah, speaking of. Prepare to get your straight on. Cause you’re gonna be fucking her soon.”
You’re instantly taken back. It’s too soon to be thinking those thoughts. You just lost Jake. And besides, even if you were attracted to women, which you aren’t, you hate her.
“Remember what I said? She’ll help you,” Bro promises, his eyes growing grim. “It won’t be easy. You don’t swing that way, I know. Trust me, I know. But you have two extra mouths to feed now, and believe me, they eat a lot.”
Something about what he said brings the whole situation back to the forefront of your mind. It tears at you and rips your soul to pieces. You actually wince, causing Dave to gurgle in his sleep just a bit and turn. You know that Bro can hear what you think, but you can’t stop yourself from whispering, “what do I do, Bro? I can’t be a parent. I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing.”
“Yeah, you’re gonna be a pretty shitty parent for a little while, but you’ll get the hang of it,” Bro agrees. Then he actually smiles. “It’s all in the hugs. Try it right now with Dave. Remember, it’s gotta be skin to skin.”
You gaze down at the sleeping infant in your arms. How are you supposed to feed him your energy? You’ve never done anything like this before. Slowly, you bring him to your chest, caressing his cheek with your thumb. “Like this?”
“You’ll get better at it,” he reassures you. “Now focus on his energy, and focus on yours. And kind of imagine— pushing yours into him. Like you’re pouring water into a glass. The water is your energy and the glass is Dave’s soul.”
“Sounding a little creepy, Bro,” you murmur, but you decide to try it. If you focus on it, you can feel Dave’s energy. It’s bright and fiery red, swirling around the tiny soul inside him. And you can feel the warmth of your own energy, the last bit that Jake gave you. You want to cry, realizing that you’ll be giving away the last piece of him that you have left, but one, Striders don’t fucking cry, and two, no one deserves this energy more than Dave.
You imagine the pitcher filled with Jake’s energy, and the glass that is Dave’s soul. Slowly, carefully, you pour it full.
Dave smiles and coos a little in his sleep, curling into the warmth of your chest and nuzzling his chubby baby cheek into your hand.
“See? Knew you had it in you,” Bro says, a soft smile on his face. “All right, lil’ man. I’ve taught you about all I can. Now it’s time for you to teach them. Don’t worry, I’ve got the lessons all planned out for you.”
Before you can even ask, he gestures, and AR’s databanks come up into your view. It’s filled with files of every day, starting with today. It goes until… holy hell. It goes until the day you left.
“That’s right. Be impressed,” he says and grins. “It’s all there. Everything from your first Strife to the time you and Jake first made out in my office.”
You knew he recorded that!
“Fuck yeah I did,” Bro agrees. “Now it’s all up to you, lil’ man. Take care of those two, and remember, when things get hard, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. And who knows? Maybe I’ve got a video or two recorded for you through time. Guess you’ll have to wait and see.”
You smile sadly. There’s nothing manly or Strider-like about it, but you don’t care. It’s not like anyone can see you anyway. “Bye Bro. Thanks for everything. Sorry I never got to tell you that in person.”
“You didn’t have to. Telepath, remember?” Bro shakes his head and says, “I’m gonna miss you lil’ man. Take care of ‘em. Peace.”
And with that, he’s gone.
Exhausted, you slowly sink down into the bed and fall into a troubled sleep.
* * *
Dirk ==> Wake up
You wake up to the sound of crying. You’re not certain how long it’s been, but it doesn’t feel like it’s been very long. According to your shades, it’s only been 3 hours and 23 minutes.
Quickly, you come to and realize that you’re still holding Dave, who is wailing in your arms. You focus on him, using your incubus senses to feel what he’s feeling, and you sigh.
He’s hungry again. Already.
You feed him your thumb again and decide that it’s a good thing you don’t need much sleep to function. Carefully, you extract yourself from the bed, letting Dirk continue to sleep peacefully. You walk to the window as Dave feeds and glance outside.
Derse is about the same as you remember it. Everything is lit by a soft purplish glow. Dark figures of normal Dersite residents move about in the streets below. Some are smaller and barely maintain their shadowy form. Others are larger more formidable demons. As you scan the streets below, you swear that one demon is looking at you. You focus closer on the demon and gasp.
It’s Damara. Her lips are curved into a malevolent smile as she looks straight up at you. She can’t possibly know who you are yet. Why the fuck is she looking at you?
Damara blows you a kiss and walks away.
You shiver and step away from the window.
You spend a day in that room, sleeping on and off between caring for your brothers. Dirk eats the remainder of the dried fruit that he shoved into his pocket, and you continue to feed Dave your blood every now and then. For the most part, Dirk keeps to himself, playing quietly with Lil’ Cal and conversing with him.
Your thoughts are wrapped in Jake. You sit in a very cozy cushioned chair in the corner of the room next to the bed and continue to mull over the decisions you made and actions you took yesterday. Was there any other option? Could things have ended differently? Could you have somehow kept Jake with you for these next thousand years?
But no matter how you look at things, no matter what angle you take, the result is always the same. You can’t think of any other way it could have happened.
Eventually, you’re pulled from your own thoughts by Dirk, who comes over to sit in your lap. There’s something a little bit off about him. He’s moving slower, his thoughts are a bit hazier. He’s still defiantly holding onto Lil’ Cal’s hand, but he’s dragging the puppet along the floor behind him, as if he doesn’t have the strength to pick it up.
“Bro,” he murmurs softly, clinging to your shirt. “I feel funny.”
Oh shit. What’s wrong with Dirk? Is he sick somehow? You don’t really remember being a sickly kid, but you guess it’s possible.
Hastily, you focus on Dirk, holding him closer to you as you feel him with your incubus senses. What you find doesn’t surprise you at all. In fact, you must be the most neglectful parent in the world to have missed it.
Dirk’s hungry. You’d assumed that he would be fine since he ate the remainder of the fruit. It would have been more than enough to keep you satisfied.
But Dirk isn’t you. Not yet. He’s barely three, and the incubus within him is famished.
“It’s ok, Dirk. I’ll make you better,” you murmur to him gently. Carefully, you place Dave on the bed beside you and adjust Dirk in your lap. You cradle him to you, hugging him tightly, pressing the bare skin of your arms to his and nuzzling your cheek against his forehead.
You feel for his energy, which you can now tell is extremely low. Slowly, carefully, you pour yours into him. You feel the warmth of it leaving you through your skin. The first time you tried this, with Dave, you were so focused on not messing anything up that you didn’t notice that.
It takes you a few minutes to slowly syphon your energy into him, but when you finish, you decide that it’s completely worth it.
Dirk looks back up at you, the brightness renewed in his orange eyes. He smiles at you and says, “all better! Thanks, Bro!”
You pat him on the back and let him down, leaving him to play again with Lil’ Cal.
You’re glad that at least one of you feels better, because you certainly don’t. You’re still having a hard time digesting the decision you made. These kids are going to be your responsibility for the next thousand years. It will be that long before you get to see Jake again.
Jake. Jake Jake Jake Jake Jake…
You spend the remainder of the day wallowing in misery over your lost boyfriend.
It doesn’t take too much longer before everything about this room, everything about Derse feels extremely confining. You know that you can’t stay here forever. You’ve got to get out of Derse.
You collect both of your brothers in your arms and make your way to the door. For a second, you hesitate and look back at the top drawer. The one with the locket.
With resignation, you turn around and leave.
* * *
Dirk ==> Use the portal!
The Derse portal leads to a cozy forest glen.
The sun begins to set as you head south. By the time you reach the small village buried deep in the woods, the light is waning over the horizon. Wherever this place is, it has yet to be touched by the war. For that you are extremely thankful. But you’re also a little leery. Surely these people know that there is a war going on.
Will they actually accept three incubi into their village? Somehow, you don’t think the chances of that happening are very high. Maybe you can put a couple people under your influence for a day or two, but you’ll have to figure out something else in the long-run.
The sun fully sets, and you’re still standing outside in the cold with your two brothers. By some stroke of luck, Dave has slept the whole way. Dirk is surprisingly calm, though he clings tightly to Lil’ Cal.
“Bro, what are you doing?” Dirk asks, looking up at you curiously. “You have been standing here for five minutes.”
“Yeah, I’ll get on that,” you murmur, kicking up your courage a notch and walking up to the first cottage. Huh. No windows. You find it a little odd, but you aren’t about to knock the craftsmanship of someone who you hope will take you in for the night.
You shift a bit from one leg to the other, debating whether you should put Dirk down or not. If the people are hostile, you may need to flash-step away. Better not.
Instead, you ask him, “hey, lil’ man. Think you can knock on this door for me?”
Dirk eyes you in a decidedly incredulous manner and responds, “of course.” Lightly, he pounds on the door a few times with his full fist.
You’re not sure if the people heard him or not. It was so quiet, that maybe—
The door swings open, and relief immediately floods you.
Standing sleepily at the front of the door yawning is Porrim. She holds a hand to her mouth and murmurs between a yawn, “who are you? What do you want at this hour? It’s so early, damn.”
You grin. You have missed Porrim. You’re about to answer her as usual when, again, you remember that Porrim never called Bro anything but Bro. Also, Porrim doesn’t technically know you yet.
This is starting to get really tiring. Fortunately, you know Porrim, and you know what will make her take you three in for the night. Possibly longer.
“The name’s Bro Strider,” you answer, nodding your head to her. “As you can see, I have two small defenseless children. We are war-orphans, and we don’t have anywhere to stay for the night. Might we stay the night with you?”
You can feel her motherly heart begin to melt. She opens the door to you. “I’m Porrim Maryam, but just call me Porrim. Please, come inside. Those poor children must be freezing cold!”
“Yes, they are,” you agree. “And they could really benefit from some strong womanly input in their lives. Don’t you agree Dirk?”
Dirk doesn’t know the game you’re playing at, but he pouts and murmurs quietly, “I miss mom.”
Fuck, now you feel bad for using him. You hold him a little tighter and promise him, “Bro’s never going to leave you, ok? Never.”
Dirk still looks sadly at you, but he nods and clings to you closer.
“You poor dear,” Porrim simpers, opening her door even wider. “Do come in.”
The interior of Porrim’s home is decorated quite fashionably. There are interesting colorful rugs splashed about the floors and walls. Glass pieces that look to be blown and twisted into intricate shapes adorn the walls. The house is lit by candle and torchlight. As you observed from outside, there are no windows.
But, of course, you wouldn’t expect any less from a vampire.
“So I’m a vampire,” Porrim says, as if she plucked the thought from your head. You don’t think she has that ability, but you aren’t going to put it past her. She turns to you and grins toothily. “But I think you figured that one out.”
“Yes,” you agree. “If you require sustenance for providing us shelter, I can—”
“Pffft, no,” she waves you off, moving about and starting a wood fire in the hearth. “Why would I take your blood when there’s a whole village full of perfectly good mortals nearby? Bro, I’m afraid you will just have to accept my hospitality.”
You smirk back at her. You’re remembering now why you always got along with Porrim. “Thanks.”
“Don’t mention it. Now, you know what I am. The kid’s eyes are orange, so obviously you aren’t human either,” Porrim notes. “What are you?”
“I’m an incubus,” you respond, settling down on top of a couple rugs by the fireplace. “So are the kids.”
“You’re an incubus?” She asks, an odd expression on her face. “Well, Mr. Incubus, you better not be here for a meal, because you’ve definitely come to the wrong house.”
You chuckle softly. You remember Porrim’s preference for women. “I would never ask that of you. I just fed yesterday,” you murmur, thinking of Jake. Your heart wrenches, and you have to stop thinking about him right now. “Besides, I happen to like men.”
“Oh do you? Well that’s convenient. I don’t have to worry about you laying a finger on Kanaya,” Porrim says, sitting down in front of the hearth, across from you. She glances behind her and calls out, “Kanaya! Come out and say hi to our guests!”
Kanaya somehow seems to materialize out of the wall. Her unique style of clothing blends in perfectly with the interesting decorative cloths hanging on the walls. The girl looks exactly the same as you remember her. She’s quieter than you recall though, and timid. Slowly she takes a few steps forward. She pauses a few paces away from the wall, and you can see the hesitancy and uncertainty in her eyes. Then, she quickly dashes forward, landing next to Porrim on the rug and partially hiding behind her.
Porrim laughs and pats the girl’s arm. “Kanaya, it’s ok. No need to worry about these guys. They’re demons like us.”
“They drink blood?” Kanaya asks softly, in a voice so quiet that it’s almost a whisper.
“No, they drink sex,” Porrim corrects her. Sort of. She flicks her jade green gaze over at you and says, “well, Bro, I’d consider myself a good judge of character. I can tell that you’re a good guy and that you and these children of yours truly have nowhere else to go. You’re welcome to stay as long as you like. I only have one request.”
“What is it?” you ask, silently hoping that she won’t change her mind and ask for your blood too. You aren’t sure how much you can give with Dave feeding from you every few hours.
Porrim’s gaze focuses on the blades strapped to your back. “Teach Kanaya how to fight. Can you do that?”
A small grin slowly spreads on your face. “Of course.”
* * *
Dirk ==> Skip ahead
Before you realize it, a week has gone by. Porrim helps you take care of both Dirk and Dave. In return, you start teaching both Kanaya and Dirk how to fight. Letting two small children fight with your swords probably isn’t the safest idea you’ve ever had, but you roll with it.
Thanks to their demonic strength, the heaviness of the blades never poses a problem to either child. Both seem to break out of their quiet shells rather quickly, and before you know it, they’re stabbing each other. Aww.
Porrim tisks the first time they come back with their clothes all bloodied. “Didn’t I tell you to wear black, Kanaya? That’s never going to come out.”
To heal Dirk, you have to give him your blood. Knowing how much you despise it, you try to think up stealthy ways to sneak it to him at first, but you quickly give up and settle for the tried-and-true Bro method. Dirk pouts every time you hand him a glass filled with your blood, but a stern look or two is all it takes to make him comply.
He drinks it. He stays healthy and alive. That’s all that matters.
But it doesn’t come without consequences. Losing your blood to both Dirk and Dave quickly makes you feel the effects of blood-loss. Porrim notices immediately.
“Looks like you need to feed,” she remarks one evening. You’re too weak to refuse her.
Porrim leads the way to a village not too far away. You both watch as Kanaya snacks on a few mortals, gently removing their memories of the encounter and healing their wounds so that she doesn’t leave a trace.
“I’m so proud of her,” Porrim sighs, grinning at you. “Well, go on. I’ll watch the kids while you’re busy.”
A strangely apprehensive feeling knots up in your chest. With it comes embarrassment and shame. “I’ve never done this before,” you murmur quietly.
Porrim’s eyes widen as she looks at you. “Seriously? How have you been feeding all these years? Were you served in a gilded chalice?”
“Just a plain cup, actually,” you admit.
It takes her a moment, but eventually she softly mutters, “you’re not kidding are you. Shit.” She covers her face in her hands and groans for a couple seconds. Finally she looks up at you and says, “all right, guess I’d better show you the ropes.”
Since you already have experience charming people, finding and luring your mortal victims is simple. It’s the actual blood drinking part that you find kind of gross. Porrim practically shouts at you the first couple times to do it. It takes a while, but eventually you get better at finding the veins beneath the skin. At forcing your sharp incisor teeth to lengthen in your mouth and using them to lightly puncture the skin, drawing blood.
The first time, you balk as the warm thick liquid touches your tongue, and you allow copious amounts of it to pool out of the mortal’s body and pour down his neck. Porrim sweeps in quickly and makes sure that none of the blood touches his clothing or is wasted. “Don’t hesitate! You can’t change your mind. You have to commit and do it!” she growls at you.
It takes you several tries, but eventually, you start to get the hang of it. By the end of the night, she seems about as raggedly tired as you are, but you’re all fed and good to go.
As you stand by your final victim, a fit male that appears to be in his late twenties, you feel something within you inexplicably drawn to him. And then you realize it. You’ve been feeding Dave and Dirk your energy all week without replacing it. And you’re hungry.
Your incubus side wants to feed too.
You hesitate. A year ago you would have had no qualms about bedding this man. But now—
You can’t. You can’t betray Jake’s memory like this.
“Something the matter?” Porrim asks, eyeing you with concern.
“No, nothing,” you murmur. You finish wiping the man’s memories and walk away.
* * *
Life is starting to get hard for Dirk/Bro! I’m just curious, how many of you would like to see all (or most) of the shit that Dirk goes through at this point in his life? There are a few key scenes that I will absolutely be writing, but there is a lot more that I’m honestly not certain I’ll put in the story. Sometimes less is more, after all.
So I’ll put it to you, dear readers! On a scale of 1-10, 1 being as little as possible and 10 being a fucking novel, how much of Bro’s agony at this point in his life do you want to see? Review, comment, ask, PM, email, Skype, whatever your answer please!