Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5
Chapter 6 Chapter7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9 Chapter 10
Chapter 11 Chapter 12 Chapter 13 Chapter 14 Chapter 15
Chapter 16 Chapter 17 Chapter 18 Chapter 19 Chapter 20
Chapter 21 Chapter 22 Chapter 23 Chapter 24
Chapter 25: The Beginning
Dirk ==> Fight Damara
Yes, it would seem that Damara has once again made her way to the mortal world from Derse. You really have to find a more permanent way of putting her down sometime.
Knowing what a problem she is, you decide to take her out yourself. You and Dirk are easily the best team, likely because your fighting styles are so similar. Centuries of fighting side-by-side have made you mesh together well, and so far there has been nothing that could stop you.
Until Damara brings back the ghosts of your dead parents.
You remember watching as Bro freaked out, perplexed by these people you didn’t really know. You remember thinking it was absurd that he didn’t recognize that the ghosts weren’t real. That the true enemy was Damara, who was still fighting you as he flipped out.
You remember all that, but you still can’t stop it from happening. When you see the ghosts of your father and mother, holding their arms out to you, wanting to love you, you can’t take it. All you can think of is how they died for you. How they gave everything they had to keep you and your brothers safe.
Damara’s claws pierce your body through the chest before you realize it. You’re a mess, coughing up blood, and far too weak to be much use. But you do have one advantage, as sad as it makes you to see.
Dirk doesn’t really remember your parents anymore. He isn’t impeded by their ghosts, and he wastes no time in slicing Damara to pieces while she has her claws in you.
She bursts into dust, as she always seems to. Dirk catches you as you slump forward. Your body is a perforated mess, and you’ve lost so much blood that you can’t completely see straight. “Derse,” you manage to rasp at him. “Take me to Derse.”
He follows your directions and helps you to a portal not too far away from where you fought Damara. It’s probably the one she used. It’s barely stable and will likely disappear in a few hours, but it gets the job done.
Dirk brings you to the doors of the Condesce’s throne room and pauses. “Bro, what is this place?” he asks, with just a hint of apprehension in his voice.
You’ve brought Dirk to Derse several times in the past, but you were selective with which rooms and places you showed him. You mostly brought him to the library. You never brought him here.
“This is my place,” Her Imperious Condescension coos at him. You instantly dislike her tone. And the way she is eyeing Dirk.
“Don’t even fuckin’ think about it,” you growl at her. Even though you’re so incapacitated that you needed Dirk to help you get here, you will not let her do anything to your little brother.
Not yet, you realize grimly.
“You incubi and your customs,” she snickers. The Condesce ignores the fact that you’re half-dead and asks, “is this one your son too?”
In your blood-deprived state, it takes you a moment to realize that she’s referring to your father and the way he adamantly told her to stay away from you. With a heavy heart, you realize that like your father, your warning will have no effect on what happens to Dirk in the future.
“No, he’s my brother,” you say, glancing quickly at Dirk and gauging his level of discomfort.
Dirk isn’t pleased to be here. You wouldn’t have made him come into the throne room at all if you could walk yourself, but Damara left you terribly weakened. “Who are you?” Dirk asks.
The Condesce doesn’t answer right away. “I go by a few names,” she finally murmurs. She rises from her throne and slowly walks down the stairs to meet you both.
“Tell me one name, and that’s what I’ll call you,” Dirk says. His defiant answer is so like you that you kind of want to laugh. But you don’t.
“One name? Hmm,” she contemplates the suggestion for a moment. Then, she turns to you and says, “you called me somethin’ once, when we met long ago. What was that name?”
“Betty,” you answer.
Her Imperious Condescension grins broadly at the name. “Betty, I like it. Has a nice ring to it.” She turns to Dirk and says, “call me Betty.”
Dirk looks at her strangely, clearly not understanding the significance of anything going on. “Ok.” You decide he has stayed in the Condesce’s company long enough.
“Thanks for bringing me here,” you murmur to him. “Now do me a favor and wait outside for a bit.”
Dirk listens to you and waits outside for you to do what you have to do. A few drops of the Condesce’s blood, which she is willing to give up when she realizes the state you’re in, and your body is healed to the point where you can function again. Her energy and passion fix the rest.
When you emerge from the throne room, you take Dirk back to the room that makes him wrinkle his nose in distaste. “I remember this place,” he murmurs.
You don’t bother responding to him. Bringing him here isn’t fair, but he’s a grown man now. He can handle a few unpleasant feelings.
You walk over to the bed where your little brother Dave is still asleep and sit beside him. Tenderly, you brush a few strands of hair from his face and find the tiny flame of his bright red soul. “Time to wake up, lil’ man.”
* * *
Dirk ==> Raise Dave
That is so much harder than you remember. Of course, it might be harder because you’ve completely drained your energy waking your brother up. And you still have to feed Dirk too, because he’s in that stupid relationship with Caliborn.
After waking Dave, you find yourself unable to go out fighting anymore. You’re far too weak. You decide it’s for the best anyway, since someone has to watch that little shit. But The City still needs someone with your abilities to fight the forces of Evil.
The City still needs Dirk. But you can’t send him out without a partner. You don’t want him to die.
You remember what Bro did at this point. He gave you Roxy as a partner, and life was good. But you don’t even have contact with Roxy yet. How the hell are you supposed to find her?
Then you remember John’s dad, who seemed ready to shit himself at the idea of sending fairies to work for you. It only takes one message to make it happen.
Roxy’s standing in the doorway to your office before you realize it. You look up from where you were sitting at your desk, and for a moment you’re stunned.
She’s here. In the flesh. Roxy’s here. Completely alive and not an angel.
She’s full human sized, sporting a white t-shirt and a pink miniskirt, even though those won’t be in style for another couple hundred years. When her pink irises catch yours, she grins widely. “Heya! Hope I’m in the right place! Are you ‘Bro Strider’?” She asks, making air quotes around your name with her fingers.
You can’t help the smile on your face. You’re just so fucking happy to see her. “Yeah, I am. Did ‘Dad Egbert’ send you?” you ask, making air quotes around his name.
She giggle-snorts and replies, “yes, he did! Said you had some work for me?”
“I do,” you agree. “How are your demon fighting skills?”
“Totally the best,” she says, nodding along with her own statement.
“Good, then I know you’ll take good care of my little bro,” you respond softly.
Roxy does. The two of them gel quickly, and together, they take out the most difficult of foes.
Knowing that they have the battle-front covered, you are free to take care of Dave, who is even more of a smart-ass than Dirk. Dave has an excuse for everything. And not just any excuse. A LONG excuse.
“This is oppression, man. Oppression like when you go to out for a ham sandwich, but they’re like ‘nah bro sorry, we’re all out of ham. You’ll have to deal with chicken today or fuckin’ grilled cheese. Except we’re not actually out of ham we just don’t want to give it to you because you suck.’ It’s like why am I even bothering because like I really want a shitty chicken sandwich anyway? No thanks. You can keep your fuckin’ chicken.”
You blink at him. “I can’t believe you’re only ten.”
You kind of hope that somehow he will grow out of this phase and not end up like the Dave you remember, but it doesn’t seem like that is in the cards.
Dave doesn’t have the same thirst for knowledge that Dirk had, but the kid is far from stupid. He kicks back and relaxes through classes, and he doesn’t put up a fight when you teach him some Japanese. You never have to drop him off in Japan, and that works out just fine for you.
You teach him how to be proficient at sword fighting, but you don’t have a brokenly awesome katana to give him. You settle for having one crafted for him in Derse. Honestly, you think it’s probably just as good as yours and Dirk’s, but Dave still complains that his sword is ‘so much shittier’ than his brother’s. Whatever.
Sooner than you would like, Dave’s sixteenth birthday hits. Though you’re almost positive Dirk hasn’t talked about it, somehow Dave knows that’s when you allowed his brother to feed on his own.
You find Dave waiting on your couch for you calmly, sitting with his hands folded nicely in his lap. Before he can even open up his long-winded mouth, you sigh, “fine.”
“Yesssss,” he cheers quietly.
You don’t have anyone lined up to teach Dave. For a fleeting moment you entertain the idea of Karkat, but you realize that their relationship is really more about Dave finding amusement in tormenting him endlessly and less about love. Or even mutual like. Knowing Karkat’s views on relationships, you don’t want to touch that.
Somehow, Terezi knew this was going to happen, and she offers. You’ve seen the way Dave and Terezi look at each other. It’s definitely more than friendly, but you don’t know if this is the right thing for either of them. Terezi decides that it’s the perfect thing, and she brings your little brother back to her place to show him everything she knows.
You insist on coming along, and it’s a good thing you do. You have to pull Dave back several times to stop him from feeding too quickly. Dave has a bit more trouble with control than Dirk.
It’s an ongoing theme for him, and for years you find yourself painstakingly monitoring your youngest bro as he feeds. More often than not, you have to stop him at least once to prevent him from hurting his lovers.
Dave takes on many lovers. He tends to circle back to Terezi every now and then, but he has no hesitancy in finding his own food. It’s like a little game to him. A game that you unfortunately have to sit through more often than you would like.
Eventually, you get smart, and you start taking turns with Dirk. You let Dirk share the misfortune of watching his brother feed and teaching him about “the line.”
And soon, the day comes when you are well enough to fight again. You’ve fully regained your strength from when you woke up Dave, and you decide that it’s high time that your brothers extend their palate from just your blood.
Her Imperious Condescension is all too happy to find the most powerful demons on the planet for you to eradicate. The more powerful the demon, the more powerful the demon’s blood will be. The stronger the blood you feed your brothers, the stronger they will become.
You start taking on targets solo. It gives you a thrill to be demon hunting again, and you find it oddly delightful to hand your brothers giant plastic cups filled with monster blood instead of your own. You know that it will make them stronger to feed from more creatures than just your incubus blood, and though they may not realize it yet, they need it.
Gorgons, yetis, harpies, king serpents, and more. With a portal to Derse at your disposal, the world is at your fingertips. You can give your brothers some of the most powerful blood in existence and watch them groan and moan about it.
You’d be lying if you said it didn’t make you smirk a little on the inside.
And though they don’t seem to notice, you see the difference it makes in them. Your brothers indeed grow stronger, week by week. You strife them both often enough to know. They’re faster and have more strength. As they grow in power, they grow in confidence.
You’d never say so, but you’re so fucking proud of them. Two little demons that you raised all on your own.
In all this time, you let Dave take on missions with Terezi. They make a good pair, but you know it won’t last forever. Knowing what’s to come leaves you itching with anticipation, because you want your brother to meet him soon. You’re anxiously awaiting a specific moment in time. You wonder how it will happen.
It turns out to be a simple phone call. You pick up your office phone and are pleasantly surprised to hear John’s dad on the other end. “Hey, Bro, I don’t suppose you have room for one more fairy in that demon hunting business of yours, do you?”
“Sure,” you say, smiling inwardly at what you know has to be coming next.
“Oh good, John will be so pleased!” he says. You can hear the relief in his voice. “He’s been looking forward to this day for several years now. John’s my son, and I’m so proud of him. He’s a really good boy. Please take good care of him.”
“I will,” you assure him.
“Yes, I know you will.”
John arrives a few days later. An excited ball of blue energy zips into your office and flies in front of your face. “John Egbert reporting for duty! Uhh, sir!”
You smile. “Bro Strider. And please, there’s no need for that formality around here.”
“Oh ok, Bro,” John says, dropping the formalities quickly. He looks at you excitedly. “So I hear we have partners! Who is my partner? I hope it’s someone cool!”
“He’s my little bro, Dave,” you tell him, doing your best to hide any emotion from your voice. “I know you two will get along well.”
“Yeah, I know. I get along with everyone,” John says. “Is he cool?”
“Haven’t you heard? Striders are always cool,” Dave replies, walking into your office.
John smiles that big toothed smile at him, and you can feel it go straight to Dave’s heartstrings. “Wow, what a dorky thing to say.”
They banter a little bit before you send them off on their first mission together. You make sure it’s an easy one so that they’ll have plenty of time to talk and get to know each other after.
It isn’t long before Dave’s in love. You pity him, knowing how long it will be before John fully reciprocates that love.
Also, it’s all too long before your other brother decides to do something he should have done long ago.
“I broke up with Caliborn,” Dirk says suddenly one day. Then he frowns at you. “No. Don’t you fucking dare.”
Oh, but you do dare. You throw him the biggest party you can. You fill the place with balloons. You order a petting zoo and horse rides. You have jugglers. The whole office celebrates the whole evening with every kind of cake known to man.
Dirk calls you an asshole several times, but you know that part of him is very happy. He’s not happy because of the party; he’s happy that you care.
A couple centuries pass, with the era approaching the modern day quickly. You introduce your brothers to Japanese Anime, and the three of you marathon series after series. You watch all the old movies that you remember watching when you were younger, and you dub over the shitty lines with your brothers. Sometimes Roxy and John join, and the five of you laugh the night away.
Life is good. Life is really fucking good.
You know that there is only one thing that could possibly make it better. But it won’t come without consequence.
* * *
Dirk ==> Watch your best friend die. Again.
Roxy dies. You know it as soon as it happens because you watch it happen. You remember the day clearly, and when the fateful day rears its ugly head, you stealthily follow them on their mission and watch from the shadows. Things may have ended differently for them had you stepped in. Roxy might not have died. Dirk would never have had to go through the anguish of her loss.
But that would have fucked up the timeline. Roxy would never have become an angel. Dirk wouldn’t need a new partner.
You wouldn’t have a reason to find Jake.
While Dirk locks himself in his room for the remainder of the evening, you leave on your quest for Jake English.
You find him sitting alone in a bar, very much like the one where you first met him. As luck would have it, he’s back in that same city where you used to meet him centuries ago. It all seems too cliché. Like this is all just some setup in a shitty romantic comedy.
But shitty romantic comedy or not, you came here for a reason. You can’t chicken out now. Dirk’s future depends on it. You depend on it.
“Hey Jake,” you murmur, sliding into the seat beside him.
Jake doesn’t look up from where he’s staring down at his hands resting the bar. It takes a moment, but slowly, he smiles. “Strider—never thought I’d hear your voice again.”
His accent has grown even stronger than you remember. Guilt hits you suddenly as you wonder just how much time Jake has spent in this city waiting for you. You stopped keeping track of him, so you don’t really know.
“My responsibilities have kept me busy,” you respond, and the defense sounds lame in your ears. True though it may be.
“I assumed,” Jake says. Slowly, he glances over at you, his green eyes resting on you softly. He smiles, and your heart wants to melt. “It is good to see you again.”
“You too,” you murmur back.
He continues to look at you far too long. You get the feeling that he knows something is up. “Our meeting tonight isn’t chance, is it?”
Silently, you shake your head.
“It never has been, has it?” he asks quietly.
Again, you shake your head.
“Strider, I don’t know what to make of you. Truly, I don’t,” Jake sighs. “I never asked, just what are your responsibilities?”
“I have two younger brothers to care for,” you respond quietly. “And I sort of run a demon hunting agency.”
His eyes widen. “You do?”
“Yeah. That’s kind of why I’m here,” you admit. “My younger bro needs a partner to help him fight the demons of Derse. Someone whose abilities are not like his.”
“Me?” Jake guesses correctly.
“Yeah, you fit the bill pretty well,” you agree. “I know you can fight. I know that you’ll keep my little bro safe.”
Jake sighs, “Strider, I don’t know how to tell you this, but my demon hunting days are long behind me.”
That wasn’t the response you were expecting. “—what?”
“Yes, I gave it up long ago. After there was an—an incident,” he says quietly. Unfortunately, you know exactly what incident he is referring to. There is only one that could bring such pain to his eyes, such anguish to his expression.
“Jake, please, we need you,” you plead in a very uncharacteristic way. You’re not used to this. You’re used to giving people orders and having them follow it. You’re used to telling your little bros what to do, because you know what’s best for them.
You don’t ever have to plead. You never have this feeling of dread inside you. That things just might not happen according to the timeline. That you might fuck everything up.
Jake does this to you. He’s the only one who always can.
This isn’t how it was supposed to go. This isn’t how it was supposed to go at all.
Eventually, Jake looks back up at you, and his face brightens marginally. “I’m simply a marksman now. I hunt wild game to feed the people, nothing more. I’ve built quite a name for myself. Seems everyone in these parts knows the marksman Jake English.”
“Then you’ve been keeping up your skills,” you reason, ignoring the fact that it’s everyone in “these parts” that Jake is referring to. Meaning that, as you suspected, Jake has spent a good deal of time here. “You’ll do just fine. Please, come to work for me.”
“Did you come to work for me?” he asks quietly.
You’re stunned into silence. Again, only Jake can do this to you.
“Maybe things might have been different, if you had,” he continues softly. “Maybe The Felt would have had a chance against the demons it faced. We could have stopped all of the destruction. All of the death.”
He looks into your eyes, and there is a profound sadness that is beyond measure. “But maybe it wouldn’t have mattered. Maybe you would have ended up as just another number laid to waste on the battlefield. Another bitter ring on Death’s toll.”
You stay silent. You know that there is more he wants to say, and you won’t interrupt him.
Jake sighs. “Perhaps it is better that you never joined me. Perhaps that is why you still yet live.”
When it is clear that he is done with his monologue, you gently respond, “it’s impossible to know all the ‘what ifs.’ You can’t blame yourself for that, and neither can I. If I could go back and change time, I can’t even say that I’d do anything differently. But I do know one thing.”
You pause and smile softly as Jake looks at you. “The future is not yet written. Whatever the past may have been, there is still hope for the future. That is one thing you taught me, Jake English, and I will never forget it. So I ask you again, please join me. Help me fight the forces of evil and make this world—no, this universe—a better place.”
Jake is silent for an eternity. Or perhaps he is only silent for a few seconds. You’ll never know, because in this moment there is only you and Jake and an endless infinity between you.
Finally, he gives you a small smile and says, “all right. You’ve convinced me to try one last time. Care to introduce me to this brother of yours?”
* * *
Dirk ==> Introduce Jake to your little bro
Oh fuck no. There’s no way you could do that without falling to pieces. But you do set the meeting up. You bring Jake back with you the following day and instruct him to wait until after you speak with Dirk.
Until Dirk arrives, you have some time to kill. Jake stands with you outside your bar and admires it. “This is quite a place you have. It’s nice.”
“Thanks,” you say. “Really, everyone else is to thank for the interior. I had little to do with that.”
“You seem to have quite the eclectic combination of employees,” Jake remarks.
“Yes,” you agree. “They’re all friends. So are my regular patrons.”
“Naturally,” he says. Silence fills the air, and you don’t think that things have ever been so awkward between the two of you. After a bit of time, he finally ventures to say, “so I assume you have a target planned out for me already?”
“Vriska Serket,” you say, handing him a piece of paper with your forced scratchy writing on it.
Jake glances closely at the paper and makes a face. “Since when did your handwriting become so bloody awful?”
You laugh. “Since having to raise two little monsters.”
He looks at you questionably but pockets the paper without further question. After a few more moments of silence, he asks, “you don’t suppose, after I send Miss Serket back to Derse, that you might want to catch a movie?”
If it hadn’t already, your heart breaks in two.
No way. No fucking way. After all of this time, all of these centuries apart, Jake still cares about you? Does he have feelings for you?
You can’t help taking a peek into his thoughts, but Jake is already thinking about the movies that are currently in the theater. He’s already assuming that you’ll say yes and trying to decide between the garbage available in the shows right now.
You hate to do this, but you have to.
“Sorry, English. Can’t,” you murmur. You wince, feeling the shock and surprise coming off him. Feeling his surprise slowly turn to pain. Lamely, you murmur, “I have responsibilities I can’t ignore.”
Jake sighs, “of course you do.”
You don’t know what to say to Jake. Even if you had a thousand years, (which ironically you did) you still don’t know what you would say to him. But you don’t have time anyway. You feel him approaching.
Your younger brother. Dirk.
“Dirk’s coming,” you tell Jake quietly. “Hide around the corner until we go inside, then wait out here. I’ll send him out to meet you.”
“That seems like a very peculiar custom,” Jake remarks. “Do people always introduce others like that around here?”
“No, but I need to talk to Dirk before he meets you,” you mutter. “He just lost a good friend tonight. He probably won’t be very excited to meet you, so I apologize if he’s a little—off putting.”
Jake laughs, and you hear a note of bitterness behind it. “Oh, believe me, Strider. I’m quite accustomed to that.”
You don’t say anything else to him. You don’t have time to. Jake’s already disappeared around the corner, and you hear the anger of Dirk’s soul as he pulls his Jeep up to the place.
Here it comes. You lean against the brick beside the glass door beneath the black awning of your place and wait as your younger brother walks up. When Dirk finally reaches you, you force a drawl into your voice and say, “sup little bro? ‘Bout time you showed up tonight.”
You grab him by the arm and pull him inside.
* * *
Dirk ==> Be a good older brother
Yeah, you’d say you’re a lot better now than you were before. You can tell Dirk’s been crying all night and day. He’s probably been crying again tonight too. So you do something to make him feel better.
You give him coffee.
Dirk is used to your unusual methods of consoling him and Dave by now. Long gone are the hugs you gave him as a kid. He’s a fully grown adult now, and he has to learn to deal with this shit on his own.
“What’s this?” he asks you, taking the cup suspiciously. You don’t blame him. Usually you hand him cups filled with the blood of various monsters.
“Breakfast,” you tell him, leaning back against your desk.
Dirk takes his time looking around your office, thinking about the place and about the suspicious liquid you’ve given him. He takes a sip and sighs in visible relief.
“What, did you think I was going to feed you Yeti blood or something?” You ask, grinning at him. He glares at you, and you admit, “yeah, it’s in the fridge. But I figured tonight you could use a little pick-me-up.”
This simple statement knocks Dirk off the delicate tightrope balancing act that his soul was doing. He topples over into the metaphorical pit of sadness and begins to wallow in misery over Roxy’s death.
You catch the coffee cup before he drops it and level a stare at him. “Hey, look at me.”
You take off your shades and force his gaze up to yours. “Look at me,” you demand again.
He finally fights his way back up out of his own self-pity enough to growl at you, “what?”
You have to get him out of here. You have to get him working again, and not just working on his own, but working with Jake.
You’re going to have to lie to him. Sorta. “You know I’d give you a day off if I could. Hell, I’d give you a decade off. But you’re our best man. Dave is getting pretty good, but you’re still our best,” you reason with him slowly.
Dirk can tell that you sound a little bit different than usual, but he chalks it up to you being sensitive that Roxy has died. He hates it. He hates you. He hates everything right now. “I know. I know but I fucking hate it!” He shouts.
Yep. There’s the angsty Dirk you remember being. He even snarls at you, and though he isn’t aware of it, he’s half-way baring his fangs at you as he says the next lines, “I’ll keep working, but nobody can take Roxy’s place. Nobody.”
But you’re not afraid of him. You’re Bro. You can and will make him do this. He has to work with Jake tonight. As much as it pains you, the two have to meet.
“Dirk, you need someone with you now more than ever,” you tell him sternly. “I’m giving you a partner and that’s final.”
“It’s not fair!” Dirk whines and growls. He’s a complete mess right now. You really don’t remember being this much of a mess, but apparently you were. You hate to make Jake deal with him, but you have no choice.
Then Dirk starts thinking about how anguished he is that Roxy is dead. He thinks that everything he cares about is gone.
Little does he know.
“No it’s not. And stop thinking that way, it’s not true,” you admonish him, squeezing his hand a bit to pull him back into the present. You continue to look him straight in the eye as you tell him, “you’re a Strider. We look out for each other.”
Dirk knows it’s true, but he still frowns at you anyway.
“I’m giving you a partner because I care about you and don’t want to find you dusted on the sidewalk come morning,” you continue. Immediately, Dirk gives you a look of disgust. “Don’t give me that look, you know it’s true.”
He sighs, and you can tell from his thoughts that he’s relinquishing the pointless fight. He’s accepted that he will have to work with a partner that he’s already determined to hate.
“That’s the spirit,” you say, slipping your shades back on. You hand him his coffee and pat him on the back, gesturing toward the door. “Your new partner’s just outside the building, whenever you’re ready to meet him. He’s got your assignment.”
* * *
Dirk ==> Don’t let your heart break
Impossible. It’s already broken.
You just finished talking to Dirk in your office. You sent him out to meet Jake and gave him some coffee that he left on the bar counter.
Dirk hates you right now for making him work tonight, but he doesn’t know what you know, He doesn’t realize that he has to work today. He has to experience having Jake English as a partner now, as much as it might pain him to do so.
Dirk’s future depends on it. You depend on it.
You climb up the fire escape out the back and sit atop the rooftop of the building. Peering over the edge of the building, you watch as Dirk makes a complete and utter ass out of himself when he meets Jake. You can’t help but cringe at his callous demeanor—your former callous demeanor—when he speaks to Jake.
Jake takes it all in stride. Though you can tell he is thrown off when he sees Dirk, his surprise quickly melts away, and he resumes that happy-go-lucky attitude that you have come to love.
Dirk’s just looking for reasons to hate Jake. Everything from his hair and his clothes to the adorable way he whistles. Fuck, you love Jake so much. But Dirk doesn’t. Not yet.
“Ah! Why hello, old chap! Delightful to make your acquaintance!” Jake says cheerfully, holding out his hand to Dirk. “My name is Jake English! And you are—?”
Dirk doesn’t take his hand. Instead he scowls and says, “you know who I am. Don’t pretend.”
You could kick his ass. You could kick it so hard.
But you don’t. Instead, you stay on the rooftop and watch as Jake takes his hand back and scratches the back of his head with it awkwardly. “Ah, my apologies, old bean! Your brother did mention that your name was Dirk Strider, but I thought it only polite to introduce myself properly!” He stammers. You can tell that he’s a little bit flustered and embarrassed.
“It’s not your fault, Jake,” you think to yourself ruefully. “Fucking damn it, I was such an idiot!”
“Forget the manners. Forget all of this actually. I don’t know what Bro told you, but he’s full of shit,” Dirk growls.
You disagree. You most certainly are not full of shit.
Dirk continues, “I don’t need a babysitter tonight. I’m fine on my own.”
“Your ah—Bro didn’t mention much to me, in fact!” Jake says your name in such a strange way that you can’t help but notice. His lips linger on the word as if it’s foreign to him, and he glances at the ground sheepishly after saying it. “And I assure you, I would make a terrible babysitter, my good fellow!”
Dirk continues to fill with hatred as he says, “why do you keep saying those ridiculous phrases? What are you? Did you literally just wake up from the 1800s?”
If only Dirk knew the answer to those questions. You wonder if he would be running for the hills if you told him that the fearsome Lord English, whose mere mention scared him enough to stay in bed all night as a child, was lying dormant within Jake.
“My apologies again!” Jake says, and you can tell that he is refraining from adding any of his adorable Jake-isms to the ends of his sentences. “It seems our vernacular is not quite in synch. Where I’m from, we typically don’t address people by their first names.”
Now you realize why he sounded so peculiar saying your name. Jake has never said it before. Since the first day you met, you have always been “Strider” to him.
You can’t wait for the day that he calls you “Dirk” again. You can’t wait to have him back in your arms, in your life, for good.
“No? Well, lucky for you, I’ve got two names,” Dirk says snottily. Any other day, you would strife him into tomorrow for saying these things to Jake.
“Oh! Of course, Strider!” Jake says, placing the familiar inflection on your last name. It sounds so strange to hear him call your brother the name he has called you the past millennia. It’s as if he’s addressing you.
That throws your head for a fucking loop. You actually shake your head slightly to knock the strange feeling away.
Jake—Jake is talking to Dirk. He’s talking to your brother. He’s not talking to you.
And yet, when you watch Jake’s happy expression, the feeling comes back again. It brings a sickness to your stomach that forms like a cold stone in your gut. Your mouth and throat feel like they are filled with cotton, and your brain is hazy with dandelion fuzz.
“There you go. And you’re dismissed now, English, I don’t need any help,” Dirk says.
“Have you seen the assignment? I get the feeling you might want a little help on this one,” Jake replies, waving your paper in front of Dirk’s face.
Dirk grabs the paper out of his hands and scowls at your forced shitty writing. “Fine. Just this one mission, and then we’re done.”
Jake pretends not to know Dirk drives a Jeep. In truth, you mentioned the bad boy to him earlier, and Jake was quite excited to take it for a ride. Naturally, since he watched Dirk drive up, he knows exactly which vehicle is his. “Shall I look up the bus schedule? I’m certain I have enough spare change—” he trails off.
Damn, Jake is actually really fucking good at acting. He even reaches into his pocket as if he’s looking for spare change for the bus fare.
Dirk regains a bit of himself and his typical smugness as he jingles his keys in front of Jake’s face. “Hell no. This is my city, I drive.”
Jake grins widely and exclaims, “Shotgun!” Now that you know him, that only becomes more ironic.
Dirk frowns and begins, “how do you know—” You poke into his thoughts and hear the ending. “—which car is mine?”
Jake spins back around and flashes him the brightest grin. “I’ll find it.”
You watch as Dirk stares in awe at Jake’s ability to find his Jeep. Then he stares in awe of Jake’s nice ass.
And there it is. Dirk’s interest is hooked.
From this point on, he will only continue to admire Jake more, thankfully for reasons other than his butt (fine though that is.) He will talk to him. Interact with him more. Watch godawful movies with him. Play videogames with him.
Dirk will fall in love with him.
You listen as Dirk goes on to think about Jakes ass for far longer than is necessary before they both jump into his Jeep and drive off.
As they peel away on their first mission, you lay down flat on your back on the rooftop and stare up at the nighttime sky. You have no idea why the fuck fate decided to be this cruel to you. Haven’t you already had enough heartbreak? Why do you have to watch your brother—(no, yourself. Why do you keep forgetting that?) Why do you have to watch yourself fall in love?
Why why why why why?
It’s the million dollar question. It’s a child’s question. It’s the question that you would give anything to hear answered.
Nothing answers you, though, as you continue to stare up. The sounds of the city surround you like a nest and fade gently away. The rooftop separates from your back as your mind reminisces back on the last millennium.
You met Jake. You loved him. He loved you. You were torn apart. He saved you. You saved him. You were torn apart again by 1000 years.
Then, in another life as Bro, you met him again. You loved him. In time, he came to love you. And now, you’ll be torn apart again.
But not for long. No, this time, not for long.
The stars in the sky blur in your vision as your eyes begin to well with tears. You sigh and blink them away. Striders are too cool for tears.
You knew this would be hard. Life has never been easy, and if you think you’ve got it bad, then what about Dirk?
In a way, you pity him far more than yourself. In a few short months, you’ll have reached your goal. You’ll have reached that point that you and Jake both stepped through time. The point in which only Jake will step out.
Then, once he’s back, you can finally be together again.
After 1000 years, what’s a few more months?
Satisfied that it will all be over soon enough, you climb back down the fire escape and slip back into your office before Dirk and Jake get back.
You’re sitting back at your desk when they both walk back into your office, looking a bit worse for wear. You pry quickly into Dirk’s mind and are reminded of everything that he did this evening. “Good thing Jake was there,” you murmur, emphasizing Jake’s name.
“I’d have been fine,” he says, though his thoughts tell you otherwise.
“Yeah, if by fine you mean filleted open by one Vriska Serket,” you mutter, shaking your head. You sigh and bow your head down for a moment as you think of what to do.
This is it. This is the last step you have to take to bring them together. After this point, everything will happen on its own. “I’m sending you home for the night,” you murmur.
“What?!” He exclaims, the rage igniting within him again. Dirk may be angry, but he’s far from stupid. “Then what was all that bullshit earlier about needing me, huh?”
“That bullshit introduced you to the love of your life,” you think at him bitterly, but you keep your thoughts to yourself.
Instead, you manage to come up with another lie. Sort of. “You took out Vriska, the toughest mark of the night.”
You pause again. It’s not like you to hesitate this much, and Dirk catches on quickly. He’s instantly suspicious of what you’re about to say.
There’s no way to sugar coat it, and you wouldn’t want to anyway. So, instead, you just say it.
“Jake’s coming home with you.”
“Fuck no!” he exclaims.
You have had enough of his shit tonight. You angle your head at him in warning. That’s all it takes for him to shut up and try calming himself down. He actually does a fairly decent job. There’s only a small note of distress in his voice when he says, “Nah Bro, I can handle myself. I don’t need Jake babysitting me. Besides, he said he’s a terrible babysitter.”
“I am,” Jake pipes up to agree.
“Shut it, English,” you snap at him. You’re about to regret saying that to him, but you see his small smirk in response. Jake still understands your sense of humor.
You focus your attention back on Dirk. “You’ll take Jake back with you because he doesn’t have anywhere else to stay right now. He’s come a long way on short notice. Until we get a more permanent living situation figured out for him, the least you can do is show him some fucking hospitality for saving your life.”
Dirk doesn’t say anything else, but you hear everything in his thoughts. He knows you’re right. He doesn’t like it, but he knows it.
Your little bro turns around and silently walks away, resigning himself to his fate.
Jake glances at you curiously, pointing at the door in question. When you indicate toward Dirk with a nod of your head, Jake gives you his adorable smile. “Goodnight, Strider,” he says.
You watch Dirk and Jake disappear out the door and know that this is it. This is fucking it.
This is the beginning of something amazing.
* * *
We’ve finally reached the beginning of Hopeless and Heartless! Are you excited? I’m excited.
Just a reminder, two updates this week probably means there won’t be one next week! I work fast, but not that fast.
Thank you to Chibiedo for helping me proofread these last two chapters! I’m very thankful for your help!
As usual, comments, reviews, asks, etc. are all appreciated!