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Chapter 21: Heart’s Vacation
Dirk ==> Jake
About goddamned time.
How long have you waited for this moment? To finally be reunited with him? A millennia? Two? Three? A million? It feels like forever.
Jake smiles at you when you throw your arms around him. He laughs when you lift him into the air and spin him around like a cheesy Hollywood film.
“Fucking hell, Jake,” you murmur, finally bringing him down so that you can embrace him tightly. “You have no idea how long I’ve waited for this.”
He’s so warm. And he smells so damned good.
Jake Jake Jake. Your Jake. Finally, all yours.
Jake sighs softly, murmuring your name as he grips the back of your hair tightly in that possessive way of his. You hiss, but you feel the passion of his kiss as he captures your lips with his.
And suddenly, Dirk is climbing into your arms.
“Bro, I had that dream again,” he murmurs, his voice shaken as he curls up in the pile of blankets with you.
You finally come to, realizing that you’re in the corner of the bedroom you share with your brothers in Porrim’s house. Jake is nowhere to be seen.
As always, he was just a dream.
“Yeah,” you murmur, holding him tightly. “Yeah, me too.”
Dirk ==> Sleep
As a kid, you remember having the nightmares. Horrible frightening things with ghostly figures chased you. Wicked sharp teeth, and a horrible dark pulsing evil that had no face and no body, only a name. The most frightening name of all.
Now, you have to watch Dirk have the same nightmares. He’s had them since shortly after you started caring for him, but for some reason, they seem worse now than before. Now, an entire two years later, Dirk wakes you with his nightmares more than ever before. You can always expect them a couple times a week, but on bad weeks, he wakes you every night.
There are a couple reasons you don’t mind that Dirk comes to you, curls up in the pile of blankets that you’ve claimed as yours on the floor, and sleeps the nightmares away by your side. First, you’re glad that you can give him some comfort. The other reason is slightly less than altruistic.
When he comes to you, he wakes you from your nightmares too. But your nightmares are an entirely different sort.
Logically, you know it isn’t possible, but your heart tells you otherwise every time you see him. Something within you always swells like a big balloon, and you’re just so fucking pathetically happy to see him that you don’t care how he’s there. After a while, you stop recognizing and caring that they’re dreams.
Jake’s here. He’s smiling at you in that adorable way of his, holding his hand out to you from afar, beckoning you closer. Without hesitation, you walk toward him, but you don’t seem to be getting any closer.
Oh—is he naked? Win. You’ve been waiting so long for him, just getting by with the bare minimum from the Condesce. You’ve missed Jake. You’ve missed him.
“Dirk,” he says, suddenly beside you. His warm arms come around you, pull you closer, pull you into him.
He’s so warm, and alive, and he’s here and nothing is ever going to bring you apart again.
When Dirk wakes you from these nightmares you feel deep sorrow and sadness but also a gnawing guilt for even having them in the first place. You care about Jake more than just as a piece of meat, and you’re repulsed that you only seem to think about him in your dreams with your incubus instincts. It’s better that Dirk wakes you up. It’s better that you don’t continue to sully your memories of Jake.
Feeding from the Condesce is almost second nature to you by now. Despite the marks she leaves, the Condesce doesn’t really hurt you. But you don’t feel any pleasure from it. Feeding from her pleasure is like forcing bland sludge-like slop down your throat.
But the energy that she gives you is immense. Dirk and Dave both require more of your energy as the days pass by, but you still only need to visit her about once every other week. The arrangement, the lack of pleasure, the apathy—it couldn’t be more perfect.
Because you’ve decided that you won’t allow yourself that pleasure anymore. Not until you get Jake back.
And you will. In 1000 more years, you will.
* * *
Dirk ==> JAKE
Fuck do you want to. Every night you have the nightmares now. Gorgeous nightmares of the most beautiful man you know and love with your entire heart. Your entire being. Your everything.
It starts to affect you. You’re distracted, which has become an issue with your brothers, namely Dave. Taking care of Dirk and Dave has become harder, with Dave now creating more mischief than ever before. The little shit is running away now, and sometimes it takes you hours to find him, even with Porrim’s help. At the tender age of five, he has figured out how to get to Derse through the portal in the woods, and that scares you.
And then the nightmares. Jake.
Every. Fucking. Night.
Jake bleeds from your heart into your mind and infects your thoughts like a rampant virus.
You start to get a little unhinged.
Porrim, good friend that she now is, notices. She tells you that there’s something she wants to show you in the woods. But once you’re finally far enough away from the village, she turns to you with eyes that tell you she means business. It doesn’t look like she’s angry with you, which is good, because you honestly cannot think of anything you’ve done wrong.
“Bro, you know that I think of you as a brother by now, right?” She prefaces whatever she has to say with these words, and you know that it can’t be good. “I wouldn’t say any of this if I didn’t really care about you.”
“Spit it out Porrim,” you sigh.
“Very well,” she says, folding her arms and fixing you with a look that is both critical and yet sympathetic. “I can tell that you are not well. Why are you so troubled?”
“Jake,” you say simply, a little surprised at yourself for saying it so easily. But you guess you’re finally at the point where you don’t care anymore. What does it matter if Porrim knows the depth of your love for him?
Porrim knows the whole story by now. You’ve told it to her in bits and pieces over time. Her expression softens to one of concern as she says, “if you’d like, I can watch over Dirk and Dave for a bit. You can take a few days to yourself.”
“A few days?” You laugh. “It’ll be another thousand years before I get to see him again. How am I supposed to live with that?”
To really fix your mind, put it back in place, you’ll have to see him again. But it would take weeks, maybe months or years just to find him, and you can’t do that without fucking up this timeline. Not unless—
Then the idea hits you. A bright shining beacon of hope in the dreary mess that your world has slowly become.
Gently, you take Porrim’s hand and say, “Porrim, thank you so much for your hospitality these past five years. I cannot thank you enough for everything you have done for me and my brothers.”
“Bro, you sound like you’re leaving,” she says, her expression dipping into a frown.
“I am. I know what I have to do,” you tell her. “I will not forget you or Kanaya though, and someday I will find you again.”
Porrim laughs and says, “what a weird way to say ‘keep in touch.’ Bro, you’re really such a character. I’m going to miss you, but I know you have to do this.” She pauses, her lips twisting in to a small wry smile. “Whatever this is.”
You feel a grin find its way to your face. You can’t fucking wait.
Like, literally, you can’t. You head straight back to Porrim’s house, bid farewell to Kanaya, collect your brothers, and leave.
“Where are we going?” Dirk questions as you start walking into the woods. Dirk is eight now, and you trust him to walk beside you. Dave, however, you hold securely by the legs, giving him a “piggy-back” ride as you walk.
Dave’s face lights with a shit-eating grin as he says, “Bro’s going to Derse!”
“We are?” Dirk asks.
“Yes,” you agree. “It’s time you saw something.”
It’s kind of true. You bring your brothers back to the room in Derse that the Condesce gave you five years ago. The room that used to be your father’s.
It’s remained untouched since you left. A fine layer of dust covers everything. You put Dave down on the bed, and he immediately begins jumping on it, screaming with elation.
Dirk frowns and says, “I remember this place. We were here before.”
“Yeah, we were,” you agree.
“Why did you bring us here?” Dirk asks, looking at you suspiciously. “This is weird. What are you planning?”
The kid is too precocious for his own good.
“The world isn’t safe,” you tell him, thinking up a tiny white lie quickly. “I have some work to do. I want it to be a safe place for you and Dave to live in. So I’m going to put you to sleep until I make that happen.”
Dave immediately pouts and exclaims, “but I’m not even tired!”
Dirk also frowns at you and picks out the most important question. “How long will you be gone?”
“I don’t know,” you answer truthfully. “But I’ll come back as soon as I can.”
Your brothers both look upset by this news, but by now they know not to argue to your face. That never ends well. For them.
“Get under the covers, both of you,” you tell them gently. They grumble a bit but listen to you. You go to Dave’s side first. Gently, you smooth his platinum blonde hair back and tip his shades down so that you can look into his bright red eyes. Softly you murmur, “sweet dreams lil’ man.”
Mine. Dave you’re mine. Sleep.
Slowly, his eyes flutter shut and his breathing evens out. You concentrate on him a little harder, focusing on his bright fiery red soul.
Slowly, the brightness of his soul dims until it’s only a faint glow, like a dying ember in a fire. His breathing slows until you can’t even see it anymore. If you didn’t know better, you would think he wasn’t alive.
That’s exactly what Dirk thinks. “What the fuck?!!” he screams.
Immediately, he is clamoring out of the bed. He forgets Lil’ Cal next to Dave, and you see the terror in his eyes as he contemplates going back for him. But his fear of what you’re going to do to him wins out, and he scrambles across the room. He pulls out his katana and screams, “have you gone fucking crazy?! I don’t know why you killed Dave, but you’re not getting me too!”
You sigh. You weren’t planning on having a strife with Dirk, but it seems like he wants one. You don’t even bother pulling out your katana. You don’t want this to last long. It only takes a couple seconds for you to flashstep across the room and check him into the wall with your shoulder. Dirk’s back crashes against the wall with enough force to knock the air out of his lungs. He falls to his hands and knees on the ground, his hand still defiantly gripping his katana.
Aww. You’re so proud of him.
“Relax, lil’ bro. I didn’t kill him,” you murmur, standing and waiting for Dirk to pick himself up off the floor. Eventually, he does. He stands and straightens his back, looking at you with clear mistrust. “I put him to sleep. A deep sleep.”
Dirk shakes his head. “Why are you doing this? Haven’t the last five years with Porrim and Kanaya been good? Am I not learning fast enough? Is Dave too much of a shit?”
Oh no. You start to feel the depths of Dirk’s lonely feelings of angst pour from his soul, and suddenly you know why Bro always hated when you were “being emo.”
Even though his eyes are hidden behind his shades, you can sense his pain when he says, “I thought you promised not to leave us, Bro? Why are you leaving?”
Slowly, you walk over to him and wrap your arms around his small frame. You fill him with all the positive feelings you can manage right now. Your care. Your love.
“There are a few things I need to sort out, lil’ man. You’ll be safe here, and I’ll come back for you as soon as I can. Once the world is a better place,” you explain to him.
Dirk is silent for a very long time. Finally, he asks, “promise you won’t be gone too long?”
“Yeah, I promise,” you say, tipping his head back and lowering his shades. “Now show me your eyes.”
Dirk’s eyebrows are furrowed, and the look in his tangerine eyes is sad as he lifts his gaze to you. You pull your own shades down and lock your gaze with his.
“Please come back soon,” Dirk whispers.
Don’t abandon me too.
It’s killing your heart to hear his thoughts. Quickly, you put him under your influence and to sleep.
Mine. Dirk you’re mine. Sleep. Deeply.
Dirk slumps forward in your arms. You catch him easily and watch the orange flame of his soul dim like his brother’s until it’s nothing but a faint glow. Like a single matchstick in a forest.
Carefully, you carry him over to the bed and lay him beside Lil’ Cal and his brother beneath the covers. You ruffle his hair, sweeping a few of the strands away from his face. “Sleep well.”
You’re about to leave when you remember that there was something you actually wanted to take from the room this time. Heading over to the dresser beside the bed, you open the top drawer and remove the locket. You click it open and smile sadly at your parents’ faces. Pocketing the locket, you head for the door.
With one final glance back at your sleeping brothers, you close the door. You don’t have a key to the room, but it doesn’t take you much effort to figure out how to pick the lock from the outside so that it locks.
Now there’s only one thing left for you to do.
* * *
Dirk ==> Make your final preparations
Her Imperious Condescension looks at you curiously as you enter her throne room. “Bro, what a pleasant surprise. You’re early this week. To what do I owe the honor?”
“I’m leaving,” you tell her as you walk up to where she is sitting on the throne. When you finally get close enough to see her face to face, you pause. “Don’t know how long. Can you make sure nobody disturbs my brothers in the room you gave me?”
The Condesce chuckles, “oh. I see what’s happened.”
You frown, losing your patience with her. You don’t know how much longer you can put off your goal. Your true mission. For your brothers, you manage to somewhat keep your cool and growl out, “can you do that?”’
“Yes, I can. And I will,” she says, her eyes and voice amused. “And before you ask, no. I haven’t a clue where he is.”
“It’s ok. I don’t need your help,” you say, feeling empowered and defiant. “Thank you for watching my brothers.”
She chuckles. “I’m no babysitter. That room is yours, for whatever you wish. If that desire is a final resting place for your brothers, then that is not my concern.”
“It’s not final. I’m coming back for them,” you declare, resolve thick in your voice. Losing your patience for conversation, you turn and begin walking away.
“When you’ve nothing else to run after, you know where to come,” the Condesce calls after you.
The doors close heavily behind you.
* * *
Dirk ==> JAKE!
Yes. That’s been your plan all along. You have to see Jake.
You have no idea how long it will take to find him. You have no idea where he is. He could be anywhere in the world. Literally anywhere.
But you start your journey. The fire of conviction only burns stronger in your heart as you walk through scorching deserts, freezing tundras, overgrown jungles, and arid plains. You stop by villages along the way, scouring them for any sign of Jake, taking only what you need, and leaving no trace of your passing.
You’re on a mission, and no matter what your mind and body tell you, you are going to find him.
* * *
Dirk ==> JAKE!!!
It takes you the better part of two years to find him. Without your hoverboard or even your Jeep, you have to get everywhere by foot. Even flashstepping can only allow you to cover a certain amount of distance in a day.
And then there’s the searching. Once you reach a village, you have to diligently search the minds of everyone, scanning for any sign of him.
It is hard work. It is tedious work. But you would do it all fifty times over for the euphoric feeling that bursts in your chest when you find him.
Ironically enough, you find him in the city that will someday be known for the very accent you associate with Jake. As soon as you walk into the antiquated pub, you sense him. The tempting scent of his bright viridian energy is impossible to miss. You wonder why you wasted so much of your time looking so hard in the past when it is so very clear that he is right here in front of you.
It isn’t as if you haven’t looked for Jake in this city before. This is probably the third time you’ve been here, but as you’re well aware, Jake does not like to stay put in one place for too long.
As luck would have it, you find him sitting at a stool by the bar. His dark hair is perfectly mussed. The glasses that you now know he doesn’t really need rest precisely on his nose. He’s wearing clothing befitting the times, and you must say that they do look quite handsome on him. His long knee-length tunic is a rich forest green color, and he has a matching dark cloak slung over one shoulder. His dark cloth leggings seem tailor-fitted to his legs. You could easily see him going pant-less in this getup, a much more attractive choice in your opinion.
Jake is laughing that delightful rich laughter and smiling in that adorable way that you remember. He’s sipping a mug-full of dark ale and making some conversation with a moderately attractive female sitting beside him.
Well then. Jake did say you were his first boyfriend. And that he was no stranger to sex.
It doesn’t take a genius like you to figure out what Jake is planning.
Your feet are moving before your brain can catch up, and suddenly you’re sitting in the stool beside him. Jake, shockingly, doesn’t seem to notice. “Jake,” you say, loud enough to get his attention but not loud enough to cause a scene.
He turns to you, and when his bright green eyes fix onto yours, you think you feel your heart threaten to flutter. Jake’s expression is warm but confused as he smiles politely at you and asks, “pardon me, good sir, but did you happen to say my name?”
“I—” you pause. “I did.”
The confusion in Jake’s expression deepens as he asks, “have we met before? I’m terribly sorry, but I can’t seem to recall your name.”
And it hits you. Of course he doesn’t know your name. He doesn’t know you yet. You knew that this was going to happen, but with him sitting here in front of you in the flesh, it’s so difficult not to see the man that you love. That loves you back.
“It’s ok, no reason to be sorry. We haven’t met,” you answer easily and stick out your hand. By now, you’ve had practice giving people your new name, but for some reason, it feels different with Jake. It feels like you’re deceiving him somehow. You dislike it, but you have no choice. Regretfully, your new name rolls off your tongue. “Bro Strider.”
Immediately, Jake’s expression brightens, and he takes your hand, shaking it enthusiastically. “Jake English!” he says jovially.
The woman sitting beside Jake appears to grow bored from the lack of attention. Collecting her dress to herself, she walks away. Victory.
Now that Jake’s attention is yours alone, you can finally talk to him. About—about what? This Jake doesn’t know you and movies don’t even exist yet, and fuck. You really didn’t think this through. After two years of wandering the world, you should have at least thought of something to say to him. Quickly, you say the first thing that comes to your mind.
“That shade of green looks good on you. It matches your eyes,” you say, slightly appalled at quite possibly the gayest (in every sense of the word) line that you have ever said.
Jake, naturally, doesn’t notice. Instead of picking up that you are quite obviously hitting on him, he smiles cheerfully and says, “why thank you! I was delighted when they began crafting this shade! It is superbly marvelous!”
Jake is then happy to go on explaining how he came into possession of this particular article of green clothing, which was gifted to him by a queen after saving her prized jeweled necklace from thieves. You drink in every word that he says, content to just sit and listen to him and he talks. You watch the way his mouth moves, the excited expression in his eyes when he talks about one daring quest and moves on seamlessly to another.
Time passes, and you both move to a more comfortable seat at a table in the corner. You’ve ordered a mug of ale for pretenses, and partially because the bartender was giving you a dirty look for loitering around his place without paying, but you are content to let it sit untouched on the table beside you. Jake doesn’t even seem thirsty for his as he gesticulates wildly and regales you with his fantastic tales.
Eventually, Jake realizes that you haven’t said a word in the last few hours. He smiles guiltily in that fucking adorable way of his and says, “oh dear, Strider, it seems I’ve done nothing but run my mouth and leave you all ears! Terribly sorry, my dear fellow!”
“Don’t be sorry, I’ve—” you murmur, then pause for a moment.
You’ve what? Been fucking pathetically ecstatic just to hear his voice again? You can’t say that.
Jake doesn’t love you yet. And you can’t let him.
You’ve been so blindly happy just to be near Jake again that you didn’t even think about that little detail. Jake can’t love you. Not yet. As much as you hate it, you’ll have to do everything in your power to make sure he doesn’t.
“—really enjoyed hearing your stories,” you finish lamely.
Fortunately, Jake doesn’t think your words are lame. He smiles at you, and it’s warmth and sunshine. “Thank goodness! I would hate to think that I had bored you!”
“Impossible,” you answer truthfully.
Jake chuckles and quirks an eyebrow at you. Wryly, he says, “nothing is impossible, old bean. Nothing.”
You want to laugh, but you don’t. If only he knew.
“So what brings you to this fair city?” he asks.
“Traveling,” you respond smoothly. “Felt like seeing the world.”
Jake’s bright green eyes light with enthusiasm and he says, “as do I! You know—”
He leans in, a look of excitement in his eyes as he continues, “—wouldn’t it be grand—”
You silently plea that he won’t say what you think he’s going to say.
“—if we traveled the world together?” Jake finishes, and all you can see is his gigantic bright smile. His energy. His hope.
You want more than anything to tell him yes. You would gladly follow Jake to the ends of the earth and back time and time again.
But you can’t. For the sake of the timeline, for yourself in the future, Jake can’t fall for you now. You can’t spend too much time with him otherwise you really don’t trust what you might say. Or do.
“It is a grand idea,” you agree. “But I can’t. Got some responsibilities waiting for me.”
“Oh, I see,” Jake murmurs. His expression is crestfallen, but he quickly perks back up. “How soon do you need to return to these responsibilities? Perhaps you have a day to spare?”
“Perhaps,” you concede. You know that look on his face. You’re instantly suspicious. “What do you have in mind?”
It turns out that plays 1000 years ago suck about as much as they do in the future. There’s less singing, but the romantic comedy that Jake drags you to is just as awful as you’ve come to expect from one of his selections.
You agreed to meet him the following afternoon at the outcropping by the riverside where the local theater troupe has taken residence. It isn’t anything spectacular yet, just a grassy hill overlooking a flat area of land by the water.
Jake waves to you when you approach the hill. You can’t help the small smile that touches your face as you make your way over to him. Together, you both sit among a few others who have decided to spend the precious few free hours of their day ensconced in a terrible comedy.
The plot is slightly better than the modern movies that Jake will eventually drag you to see. You suppose that without the aid of special effects, it took a bit more thought and consideration to make a work of entertainment truly entertaining.
Of course, Jake could have invited you to watch paint dry on the wall and you would have accepted.
It’s difficult, but you don’t touch him the entire time. You don’t taste him. But your incubus senses do pick up his happiness and elation, and you feel the warmth of his energy radiating out to you like a brilliant green sun.
You poke into his thoughts once or twice, curious to see what he is thinking, but he is completely engrossed in the play.
Good heavens! Whatever will he do now that she is engaged to his brother? What terrible luck!
Jake’s thoughts aren’t surprising at all, but somehow you still love them. You love the way he truly cares about the fake characters, and the concern that he feels for them and their wellbeing.
And as you sit there with him, watching a cheesy romantic play, you begin to draw the similarities together. Jake is always on his adventures, saving the day. Everything from saving the lives of royalty to rescuing a crop from a dreaded beast is equally significant to him. Just as every shallow-plotted movie or truly beautiful work of art is important to him.
It all begins to make sense, in a weirdly obvious way. You’ve always chided Jake for having no taste in movies, but now you are beginning to think that in the light of his pure-hearted character, it does make a peculiar sort of sense. He doesn’t see the difference in value of the plots of plays and movies, just as he doesn’t see a difference in value of any life on the planet.
You suppose it all boils down to the same thing in the end. Jake is full of care and hope for everything. The prosperity and vitality of the universe and all its beings has always been his responsibility.
After all, Jake is a first guardian.
You know that he bears the greatest burden of all. But even if you focus you senses as hard as you can, you do not sense Lord English within Jake. The monster is locked that deeply within his soul, and Jake doesn’t seem to be concerned about him at all.
You watch the remainder of the play by his side. You’re unable to see the weak plot in the same positive light as Jake, but you fully enjoy the time that you spend together.
After the play, you and Jake find yourselves back in the same alehouse that you were in the previous night. You spend the remainder of the day over a few ales, listening to Jake chatter away about the brilliant plot of the play you just watched as well as several others he has had the good fortune of seeing in the past few years.
When evening comes again, you find yourselves wandering the cobblestone streets of the city. As you walk down the streets, you aren’t even concerned about where you’re strolling. All you care about is Jake. Jake is beside you. He’s talking. He’s happy. You’re happy.
Jake suddenly turns to you, with that embarrassed and guilty smile on his face again. “Goodness, Strider, I’ve talked the entire day away again! Certainly you must have things to do. I’ve kept you from your responsibilities.”
“It’s all right, that play was so worth it,” you respond easily. “The part where she gets together with the lead guy? Totally didn’t see that coming.”
“Neither did I!” Jake exclaims. Then, his voice softens and lowers a bit. It’s almost as if he’s testing you when he says, “yes, but I’m sure I’ve kept you from other things you need to do. You are a demon, correct? Don’t you need to feed?”
Oh shit. That’s right. Jake doesn’t know about you yet. Well, you guess he sort of does, but you aren’t sure where he stands on the matter of demons. Did Jake in the past prefer just to send demons back to Derse? He hasn’t attacked you yet, but now that you are thinking about it—
The cobblestone street that you were walking on has changed to gravel and dirt. Jake has led you away from the town, out into a more deserted area where nobody will notice if you disappear.
Suddenly, you feel very afraid. Not that Jake could kill you, because you could never put up a real fight against him. You’d easily let him kill you and send you back to Derse. And of course, by now physical pain is nothing to you.
You’re afraid because you don’t want to lose Jake. If you get sent back to Derse, you’ll lose him again. You won’t know where he is.
You don’t know if you can stand that.
Jake must sense your inner conflict. Either that or he’s actually noticed that you’re hesitating to respond. “Strider, it’s all right. I have seen that you have a good soul. You would never truly hurt an innocent, and therefore, I have no reason to harm you.”
“I’m far from innocent,” you murmur, trying to piece together his meaning.
Jake smiles warmly at you, and he reaches out for you. Before you can stop him, he rests his hand on your chest lightly, and you can feel the heat of his energy stronger than before. “You have a good heart, Strider. Some demons do. As you know from my stories, I protect this realm from the forces of chaos, but you are not one of them. I was uncertain of your intent last night, but after today, I know you stand on the side of goodness, morality, and justice. I will not harm you.”
You could die on the spot from relief.
“There is only one thing I don’t understand,” Jake acquiesces, looking closely at you, gauging your reaction. “Why did you seek me out last night? You knew my name, and I’m certain we have not met. And why did you meet me again today?”
“Same reason you aren’t killing me right now,” you reply, obfuscating your intent just a tiny bit. “You have a good soul, English. I can sense it. That’s very rare these days. I was drawn to it.”
Jake looks at you a bit closer, and suddenly you wonder if what you said sounded a little bit too flirtatious. “Just what sort of demon are you, Strider?”
You want him so badly and— oh fuck. What if he wants you too? Instinctively, you dive into his thoughts and swallow hard with what you find.
Jake is interested. You don’t know if that includes sexually or not, but he’s definitely interested and intrigued by you. It tears your heart to pieces to admit it, but you can’t let this happen.
Slowly, you take a step away from him, letting Jake’s hand fall from your chest. You feel the pain of his literal distance in your soul, as if the space between you is pulling your heart from your body. It hurts so much not to have him close to you.
“Maybe I’ll tell you next time, English,” you respond to him quietly.
“Next time?” Jake asks, his lips quirking into a grin. “So we will be meeting again?”
“You better fucking believe it,” you say, giving him your trademark grin before you turn and walk away. “Till next time, English.”
Jake doesn’t follow.
* * *
Dirk ==> JAKE JAKE JAKE!!!
Yeah, you wish that the little vacation you spent with Jake had truly fixed your broken soul, but it didn’t. After that night, you don’t dare engage Jake again, but you do watch him from a distance. You spend the following days traveling with him from city to city, always keeping your distance so that he won’t notice you. But you don’t let him out of your radar. You can’t lose him again.
Days turn into weeks. Weeks turn into months.
You think that by now you’ve probably won some award for stalking. You know that this can’t be healthy, but by the same token why the fuck do you care?
You’ve gotten good at keeping tabs on Jake by now. You’ve honed your skills so that you can read his energy signature from a distance. Now, even when he enters a large town, you can tell where he is anywhere within its borders. You stop watching him all the time, and instead, you take comfort in just knowing that he is nearby.
As you get better at feeling his presence, you start to be able to truly sense him from afar too. You can feel his happiness, his anger, and very rarely, his melancholy with the state of the world. When Jake’s happy, you’re happy. When Jake’s sad, you’re sad.
No, this truly isn’t a healthy relationship, you think. But you can’t stop it. And you just don’t give enough of a fuck to care.
But that doesn’t mean that you stop thinking or caring about the things that are the most important to you. Whenever you pass close enough to one of Derse’s stable portals, you travel quickly back to check on your brothers. Every time, you find the door locked and the room just as you left it. Your brothers are still deeply asleep, safe in the walls of Derse’s castle. Safe in the Condesce’s protection.
Speaking of Her Imperious Condescension, it has been ages since you last spoke to her. Now that you only have yourself to feed, the occasional energy from a mortal or two is plenty for you. You have no need of the Condesce’s super charged energy.
She doesn’t appear to be too distraught either. She hasn’t bothered to come to you, even though she easily could. It must not bother her too much. She would let you know one way or another if it did.
After a time, you start reading Jake’s thoughts from afar. You don’t need to be near him anymore to feel what he is feeling and to hear what he is thinking. You learn about every little thing that elates him throughout the day, and you hear the depth of his resolve to make this universe a better place.
It hurts the first couple times you see him sleep with another. You wish that you could be the one giving him that comfort, that pleasure. You know for a fact that you could please him a hundred times better than the women he picks up at the bars. Especially the grateful “virgin” princesses he saves. But you also know that you would doom your future self, your little brother Dirk, if you ever did.
You had thought originally that Jake just enjoyed hanging around bars to converse with people and pick up women. However, you later come to realize that it’s where he collects most of his information. After finding news of demons plaguing the countryside, or of a royal kidnapping, or anything in-between, Jake does not hesitate to rush to the rescue.
You watch him fight through countless trials and tribulations. And as tempting as it is to jump in and help him, you restrain yourself. You won’t interfere with him or his life any more than you already have.
You won’t interfere. You won’t interfere.
And you don’t. But it isn’t easy.
And finally, after a full year has passed since you last spoke to Jake, you can’t take it anymore. You have to talk to him. You have to truly see him.
You find him sitting in a tavern very much like the one where you first met him. Evening has just fallen, and a bit of a chilly breeze wafts into the tavern as you walk in. You find an empty seat beside him at the bar and murmur, “hey Jake.”
Jake turns away from the woman he was speaking to. When his beautiful emerald eyes find you, his expression is at first surprised, but it melts quickly away into a warm smile. “Strider, old chap! I was wondering when we would have the good fortune of meeting again!”
You spend the night chatting with Jake over two untouched ales. The arrangement isn’t perfect at all, and you know you’re a lovesick fool. But you can’t imagine doing things any other way.
Once a year, you decide, you’ll allow your heart a vacation.
* * *
Yeah, I’m not sure what happened to taking a break and studying for finals. This song may have had something to do with it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bkanuz5PfNE
But THIS week, studying for finals must happen. Please send love to help me power through all of it!
Anyway. On another note, I’ve started writing the DaveJohn fic, and omg is Dave a pain in the ass to write. I completely 100% agree with Dirk now. Dave is such a little shit.