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
Chapter 27: A Brother’s Love
Bro ==> Pretend you care about Dave
You don’t have to pretend, because you do care about Dave. The only difference is that you know the kid will be fine, whereas Dirk and all of your other employees don’t know that.
Jane Crocker arrives shortly after receiving Karkat’s call and shudders in horror. “Bro, did you do all of this?” she asks, looking up at you in a way you can only describe as appalled.
“Yes, I did,” you regretfully respond. “I was being mind controlled, but that is no excuse.”
Jane surveys the scene doubtfully. “This—is going to be difficult. I don’t think I’ve ever been called for clean up quite this big before. And with the variety of demons here, I don’t even know if my abilities will work on all of them.”
“That’s fine, I only ask that you try,” you say, a note of desperation in your voice.
Damn. Killing your best friends had a bigger impact on you than you realized.
You look at her imploringly and say, “please help them. They don’t deserve what I did to them. They don’t deserve to die.”
She looks at you sympathetically and nods. “They won’t die today.”
Jane keeps her word. One by one, she brings them all back. She even does what she can to heal the ones who are just injured, pouring all of herself into her work.
Jane looks a little bit winded after breathing life back into so many people, and she sits down heavily on your couch in your office. “Bro, next time you decide to go on a murderous rampage, try to make it somewhere that is slightly less populated, ok?” she asks, fanning herself off with her hands.
“Will do,” you murmur, flipping on the overhead fan. “Anything else I can get you? I have what’s left of the bar if you’re interested.”
“Thank you,” she breathes, leaning back and basking in the breeze. “A glass of water does sound delightful.”
You nod and flashstep away. Eventually, you locate an intact glass, wash it off, and fill it with water. But you set the glass aside when you hear Dirk, John, and Jake talking to Jane.
“Jane?” you hear Jake ask, in a voice that is just a tad too happy for your tastes.
“Oh my god, Jake? Jake English? Is that you?!” you hear Jane’s happiness to see him as she leaps into Jake’s arms.
Yep, jealousy still hurts just as much the second time around as the first.
You bite it back and listen as they banter back and forth a bit until Dirk steps in. “You know each other?” he asks. The envy is ripe in his voice.
“Oh yeah, Jake and I go way back!” Jane exclaims, the happiness in her voice making it clear that she has no idea about the jealousy Dirk is feeling.
“Way way back,” Jake agrees, and his voice sounds just a bit too flirtatious for your liking. You know that they were a thing in the past. And you know that they probably did—
—well you don’t want to think about what they did. You’re glad when Dirk interrupts your thoughts and their conversation asking, “any idea where Bro is? We still have a little bro to save.”
“What happened to Dave?” Jane asks.
That’s your cue to enter. You flashstep beside Dirk and chime in, “yes, what happened to Dave?”
“Derse agents took him back to Derse!” John exclaims, flying frantically in front of your face. The fairy looks beside himself with grief. You can see from his puffy reddened eyes that he has been crying a good portion of the night.
You feel guilty for causing John so much anguish, but you know that this is all necessary. Tonight is an important step in their relationship, and not even you would deny them that.
“Is there a portal around stable enough to take us to Derse and back? We have to save him!” John exclaims, fixing you with those sad blue eyes that are impossible to say no to.
You tense, thinking of what has to happen and what you need to do. Of course there is a portal to Derse. It’s in your closet just a few feet away.
But if you let them go through that portal, they’ll get to Derse too quickly. Dave won’t starve long enough, and he might still have enough control to stop himself from feeding off John and almost killing him.
Dave might stop himself from kissing his boyfriend.
It takes you a moment to weigh all of this out, because truly you would like nothing more than to send them through your closet portal, where Dave will be back safely in your care within the hour.
But you can’t. Like so many frustrating things about time travel, you know you can’t.
“Yes, I think there is one,” you finally murmur.
You feel the spark of hope in Dirk as he asks, “where?”
“It won’t be easy to get to,” you murmur cryptically.
You send them to the portal in a volcano off the coast of the land. It will take Dirk a few hours on his rocketboard to fly them there. Another few days will pass in Derse before they reach it.
Like a phantom, Her Imperious Condescension walks up behind you after they leave.
“You’re sendin’ the kid through the volcano,” the Condesce murmurs beside you. “You got a portal in the closet literally ten feet away. Why you makin’ the kid go through all a that?”
“Because it will take him longer to get there,” you reply. “Enough time has to pass here for Dave to starve a few days in Derse.”
Betty grins at you. “And here I thought I was the sadistic one.”
“You don’t get it. This is the first time John changes from fairy sized to human sized,” you murmur, remembering the scene vividly in your mind. “They have their first kiss. It’s a big moment for my little bro, and it happens because John is so worried about him.”
The Condesce sits on your desk, musing thoughtfully at you. “How cute. Isn’t that fairy boy nearly two centuries old by now? He should know how to change his size. He’s a little bit—behind—don’t you think?”
“Yeah,” you agree, raising your eyebrow at the Condesce in surprise to her attention to detail. “Thought you didn’t care about my employees.”
“Your business is my business, Bro,” she murmurs, eying you predatorily.
“Creepin’ me out a little,” you murmur. You’ve long since started telling her exactly how her bizarre advances make you feel.
Like usual, she laughs it off, heading for your closet portal. “I’ll keep an eye on the kiddies for you. You know where to find me if you need me.”
She vanishes, closing and locking the door behind her. You’ve never been certain how she does that, but you don’t question her abilities.
Not a minute after she leaves, Jane stumbles back into your office and flops unhappily down on your couch. “They left without me,” she complains.
“You’d have burnt to a crisp in that volcano,” you point out flatly.
“Yeah I know,” she says, her exhaustion showing through as she yawns.
“Why don’t you take a nap?” you suggest. “They won’t be back for at least 5 hours.”
“I think—that sounds—swell—” Jane mumbles. Her head bobs a couple times until it rests on the matching small brown pillow that came with the couch. She’s out in ten seconds.
It does take them about five hours to get back. When you feel them approaching, you make your way out to the front, tapping Jane’s shoulder gently on the way to wake her up.
By the time they are in sight, you’re outside waiting. When Dirk lands the rocketboard on the ground, Dave practically flies into your waiting arms.
“I got ya, lil’ man. I got ya,” you murmur to him, holding him tightly and beginning to pour your energy into him.
“I fucked up,” Dave says, his voice quiet, choked and almost inaudible. He quivers in your arms as you hold him, feeding him your energy where your hand is touching his neck and his face is burrowed into yours. “I fucking fucked up and I might have killed John and fuck! You told me to work on my control. I’ve been working on my control, but I was starving and fuck!”
Your little bro shudders in your arms, and you can tell he’s trying hard to hold back sobs. “Dave, shut up,” you tell him gently.
But Dave does not shut up.
Instead, he continues to blubber on, “Bro, I don’t know what to do, John didn’t do anything and I might have killed him and all I wanted to do was kiss him! I shoulda never have gotten involved with him. I shoulda just ignored him and never told him I love him and never put him in danger and—”
“Shut the fuck up for a second and listen to me,” you murmur in the most consoling voice you have. Your words aren’t kind, they never have been to your brothers, but Dave recognizes that this is a marvelous feat of compassion immediately.
Still, he doesn’t shut up. “Bro, I shouldn’t have let him love me! If he never loved me, then this wouldn’t have happened and—”
That all hits a little bit too close to home. It reminds you of the past 1000 years of avoiding loving Jake, whether that worked or not. You absolutely do not want to think about that with the object of your love (namely one Jake English) standing not twenty feet away.
Before Dave can say anything else, you take the back of his head and force his face into the crook of your neck. You sense the bloodlust suddenly flare within him, and a second later, he bites through your skin with sharp teeth. It hurts for a bit, but then the pain recedes as he begins to drink from you.
Dave finally shuts up long enough for you to speak.
“One, you didn’t kill John. He’s sleeping in Dirk’s pocket, right? He’s alive,” you pause for a moment, assessing your brother.
You can tell that Dave wants to say something, but he can’t stop drinking. He’s too weak to deny your blood. Good. You take the opportunity to continue. “Two, this wasn’t your fault. There’s only so much we can do once the demon inside us takes hold. Control has nothing to do with it, but yours will get better with time. Three, John wants this relationship just as much as you. Don’t discredit him or his feelings like that. John knew what he was getting into. If anything let this show you just how much that little fuck loves you.”
Dave is silent for a while, clinging to you tightly. You’re surprised that he’s still feeding. Usually it doesn’t take this long. Then again, you’ve never let the kid starve this long before.
You hear Jake ask Dirk, “is that what Bro did for you?”
This catches your attention and makes you finally glance up at the two of them. You notice that Dirk is wearing those comfortable purple pajamas that Kanaya made him years ago. You miss those PJs. They were so cozy.
Dirk nods and replies, “Bro gives the best hugs.”
You grin at them and give them a thumbs-up.
Finally, Dave pulls away, licking the last couple drops of blood off your skin as your wounds close. His thoughts are a jumbled mess, but you hear a few that give you pause. “Bro’s blood always tastes the best. Why?”
“Because I fed it to you when you were a baby, you dipshit,” you mutter to him. “You drank my blood until you were five. Did you forget that?”
“Nope,” Dave says. Then, he grins at you and notes, “so you do have a heart,”
“Yes I do,” you turn him around and smack him on the back, ushering him toward Dirk. “Now go get the other half of yours back.”
Dave seems to forget all about you as he sheepishly walks over to Dirk. He holds out his hands and asks, “can I have him back now?”
“Show me your eyes,” Dirk says.
He’s growing up to be the demanding older brother that you were. Aww.
Dave listens, and eventually Dirk carefully hands the tiny fairy back to him. “John, I’m so sorry,” he murmurs.
While Dave is lost in worry over his boyfriend, Dirk comes up to you and asks, “anything you need help with? The place looks better, but you look like shit.”
You know a pity offer when you see one. You wave him away and say, “You’ll have plenty to do tomorrow, trust me. Get some sleep. Take Dave with you and keep an eye on him. And both of you—”
You pause, waiting for both of your brothers to look up at you. When you have their attention, you carefully tell them, “take care of each other. That goes without saying.”
Without another word, you hold out your fist to them. They both wordlessly fistbump you back.
It’s an unspoken Strider promise.
A promise that you know Dirk will keep.
Jane leaves with them. Once Dirk’s Jeep disappears down the street, you turn back to your nearly empty bar and sigh.
You’ve got a lot of work ahead of you.
* * *
Bro ==> Work
Long after you send everyone else home, you stay up, working on repairing Haven bit by bit. In all honesty, you have thought of this pace as Haven since you built it, even though you never officially named the place. Something always held you back, as if you’d be giving a part of yourself up if you let others know what this place truly meant to you.
A haven, in every sense of the name. A place where demons can escape the wrath of the angels hunting them and whatever burdens life throws at them. Feferi has kept good on her promise not to attack Haven or any of your employees. You feel a little bit guilty that so many innocent demons are dying by her order, all in their search for the most terrible monster of them all.
The monster that happens to also inhabit the body of the man you love. Conveniently, he is one of your employees, so even if Feferi did figure out that Lord English resides inside Jake, she would have to break her word to attack him.
You don’t know Feferi that well. She could do it, you suppose, but you get the feeling that she is the type to honor her words. Besides, if this all works out the way you have planned, she may not even need to do anything at all.
But you can’t think about that now or let any of that get to you. It would cause you far too much anguish, and the result would be the same either way.
You could never kill Jake. You’ve tried that before, and you have the deaths of your parents as the bitter proof of that fact.
You realize, with a heavy heart, that there is very little you can actually do to change the outcome of things. Fate must progress the way it was written before. But at least there is one small thing you can do. You can finally let others into your inner sanctum. You’ll allow them to see the name of the place you worked so hard to build and exactly what it means to you.
Just like Dirk will let Jake in tonight. You remember what happens tonight. You’ve replayed the scene in your mind a million times or more over the course of the years.
Tonight Jake will become Dirk’s boyfriend.
It could be happening right now. You were so caught up in Jake that night that you didn’t even think about time. AR could probably tell you the exact second it happened, but you don’t think you want to know.
Tonight will be the first of many happy days for Dirk. It will also be the first of many hardships to come.
Loving Jake English, you have found, is no small task.
* * *
Bro ==> Do something about your empty bar
It doesn’t surprise you when nobody but your employees show up the following evening.
And Cronus. But you think that guy would follow Kankri to Hell and back. You know you would for Jake.
Speaking of, you hear the sound of Dirk’s Jeep outside, and you know exactly where you’re going to send them tonight.
You listen as all of your recently revived friends attempt to relieve their boredom by talking to your brothers. Finally, they make it into the back hallway, and you hear Karkat telling them about the recent appearance of their new targets.
“You got a couple tailgaters,” Karkat sighs.
“A couple?” Dirk asks.
You flashstep behind Karkat and pretend it doesn’t give you extreme satisfaction to see the short troll jump. “The Nitrams. Party criminals,” you explain.
“Party dudes? Who cares about them?” Dave asks with ennui that is far too heavy even for him. He’s frightfully thin and clutching John in a far too overprotective way. And—is that your old orange towel he’s using to bundle the fairy up? You think it is.
“Not you,” you inform him firmly. “You’re staying put right here tonight. There’s Loch Ness Monster blood in the fridge with your name on it. When you finish that, you can play pool with Terezi.”
Terezi yells with glee from the other room, but your sight is set on Dave, who is clearly disgusted with the prospect of both being trapped here with you and drinking nasty blood. It only takes one pointed look before he is sighing and shuffling slowly back toward your office, grumbling about oppression and the chains of the world.
You’re about to think about how your youngest brother is always too overdramatic, but the words die in your brain when you look at Dirk.
And you realize that yes, he and Jake really are an item now.
Dirk is dating Jake.
This is a thing that is happening.
You start to think that maybe Dave learned about how to be overdramatic from somewhere.
Maybe he got it from you.
You don’t let any of your thoughts show, and you start talking before Dirk can even suspect that something is up. “Since they’re out of the game, that means it’s your job to bring in the Nitrams.”
“Bring them in?” Dirk questions. “Don’t people literally die from partying with them for weeks without sleeping?”
If only it were weeks. Dirk and Dave might not have slept quite as many years of their lives away in Derse.
“Yeah, but Rufioh and Tavros aren’t actually bad. You know that. They just need to know that maybe that’s kosher in Derse, but that shit ain’t flying around here,” you explain. “Besides, if there’s one thing they do know, it’s how to get a party started. That’s something we could use around here right about now.”
Dirk, Jake, and Jane leave in tandem shortly after that for the Nitram’s rave party. There’s surprisingly little for Jane to do around here now, and you know that Dirk will need her to slap some sense into him soon. Heh.
Tonight Dirk will experience the party high that the Nitrams bring with them everywhere they go. He’ll fall victim to it. He’ll get lost in it.
And then he’ll put Jake under his influence for the first time.
Until Jane bitch-slaps him out of it, that is. Good ol’ Jane. You can always count on her to pull through for you.
You’re waiting in the front of the lounge again by the time Dirk pulls up. The angstful feelings of self-loathing spreads around him like a giant cloud, and you know that things went exactly according to the timeline.
The Nitrams get out and make their way to you. “Brooooo!” Rufioh says happily, fistbumping you.
You bump him back and glance questionably at the Jeep. You were certain that you drove off in a fit of rage at yourself by now.
Right on cue, Dirk peels away down the street. There it is.
“So Dirk tells me you need help getting a party started?” Rufioh asks.
“That’s right,” you agree. “Kind of killed everyone yesterday so they’re afraid of coming back.”
“Ooh,” Rufioh winces, sucking in a sharp breath. “Yeah, that’ll do it.”
“But uhh, I really think we can bring them back!” Tavros says cheerfully.
“Shit yeah,” Rufioh agrees, slinging one arm around his brother’s shoulder and the other around yours. Pulling you both toward the door, he starts his grand plan. “Here’s what we’ll do.”
* * *
Bro ==> Fix up Haven
Fuck. Hanging signs is a lot harder than you thought it would be. So is interior design.
Rufioh and Tavros seem to have quite a knack for it. There’s a gleam in Kanaya’s eye as she watches them set their plans into motion, but you can’t tell if it’s good or bad. It’s like an episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. It never would have crossed your mind to do half the things the Nitrams do, but you don’t question it. You’re sure they know what they’re doing.
By the time they’ve finished, the bar area feels more like a nightclub. And though the lounge retains its cozy atmosphere, there’s a fresh modern feel to it that you could eventually get into. You feel their demonic power laced into everything that they do. Even though Haven does look good, you have a feeling it could have been a total dive and it still would have enticed the droves of people it attracts.
And oh, does it bring in the customers.
Not long after you finally get Haven’s sign installed, people start arriving. Curious people are popping in, and it’s still daytime. Humans and demons alike swarm in. Everyone blends together under the power of the Nitram’s abilities, and none of the humans ever suspect that there are demons in their midst.
It’s a verifiable shitstorm out there, and you don’t have the time to deal with it. So you send Karkat to handle the mess of people.
Karkat is less than thrilled, but he does it. He knows that you need the help.
Meanwhile, you check in on Dave, who is huddled on the couch in your office cradling the still sleeping John. Dave would never admit to crying, and he does a decent job of keeping any signs off his face. But his thoughts don’t lie. You see just what an emotional wreck he is, and you pity him.
Despite literally taking John’s energy until he passed out and also taking your energy and blood yesterday, your little bro is still far too thin and weak. You attempt to give him some sasquatch blood in a giant cup from the gas station. He drinks about half of it before he’s heaving over your trashcan. You’ll admit, sasquatch blood doesn’t taste the best, but he’s never done this before.
When you look at your youngest brother, you realize the grim truth. Dave is so in love with John that this is literally destroying him with worry. When you look into his thoughts, you realize that he hasn’t slept since coming back. He obviously hasn’t eaten.
Dave is too much of a wreck to do anything.
So you give him a comforting hug, transferring him a bit more of your energy despite being a bit wiped yourself from feeding him last night. And that whole being possessed ordeal.
Damn, did that all happen in one night? Yes. Yes it did.
You let Dave sit alone with John in your office. If you remember correctly, John will wake up in a few days. You can’t wait for it. Seeing your brother this way burns you with guilt, because you know that this could have been avoided.
But then the timeline would have been angry. Always the timeline. You’ll be so glad when you catch up to the day you left and can say “fuck the timeline.”
Jane swings by during the day to let you know she’s leaving. Her eyes are no longer tearful and red, but you remember what she discussed with Dirk last night. They talked about Jake. She admitted to Dirk that she wasn’t the right one to fix all of Jake English’s problems.
Knowing what you know now, you completely agree. Before she goes, you pull her into a hug. She seems caught off balance, but she returns it. “It will get better,” you promise her.
“How can you be so sure?” she asks. “How can you always be so sure?”
You shrug. “Because I know.”
Except that you totally don’t know. You aren’t really sure what will happen to Jane, because it didn’t happen before you left 1000 years ago. Somehow, you get the feeling that her life’s events will end up exactly as they were meant to be.
Jane leaves long before Dirk and Jake arrive. Immediately, you can tell that they’ve had a conversation of their own and are far more—comfortable—with each other than they were before.
“Like the new look?” You ask Dirk, eager to get the conversation started when they come find you in the back. “Bet it’d be easy now to find someone to—oohhhh—”
You can’t go there. You can’t. For once, you stop right in the middle of your sentence.
Dirk is holding Jake’s hand.
It’s a small symbol of their affection for each other. Insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Don’t friends hold each other’s hands sometimes? It doesn’t necessarily mean anything has changed between them.
But this is Dirk. This is your younger brother. This is also you. And you know yourself. You know you’d never hold hands with someone if they weren’t very special to you.
It warms and burns your heart.
You can’t speak. Your words are stolen from you as your throat and mouth run dry. But you can’t let Dirk think that something is wrong, so wordlessly, you offer him a fist-bump.
Dirk bumps you back and asks, “how is John?”
With the shift in the conversation, your voice returns to you. “Kid’s still asleep. Dave’s worried sick. Like literally, little shit puked in my trashcan a couple times already. Waste of perfectly good sasquatch blood.”
You smirk when you feel Dirk’s instant repulsion to the drink. You assure him, “don’t worry, you’ll get your turn.” Before he can complain, you ask, “like what the Nitrams have done with the place?”
“It’s an improvement over yesterday. Where are they?” he asks.
“In the crowd somewhere, doing their thing. Everyone’s making sure they don’t let the humans party too hard,” you explain, waving toward the lounge. “Anyway, Dave’s not going anywhere tonight which means you’ve got some work to do.”
Dirk frowns when you hand him his assignments. “This is it?”
“Despite all the new informants out there, there isn’t much news. Derse is lying low. That means they’re planning something,” you inform him. You don’t like this at all. Silence from Derse is never a good sign. You’ll have to ask the Condesce about it later. “Keep your guard up. We have no idea when they might strike.”
Dirk and Jake leave, and you’re left alone with a worried sick brother and a bar full of strangers. Ok, you guess you’re not really alone.
You sigh. You’ve got a shit ton of work to do.
* * *
Bro ==> Make Haven awesome!
Shit yeah. This place was awesome before you even named it Haven. But the Nitrams have really helped business pick up. Haven soon becomes a refuge for not only demons but a large chunk of humans too. You hear about it in the thoughts of several humans as you walk down the street. It brings a smile to your face, but it’s also unsettling.
You’re not really sure what to do with all of this popularity. So you do the only thing you can think to do.
You send Kanaya out to the front to keep people in line with her chainsaw. Yep, that should do it.
The Condesce continues to visit you regularly, but when you ask her about Derse, she frowns. “Can’t say I’ve heard a anythin’,” she murmurs thoughtfully.
“Are you sure the agents aren’t planning something?” you ask doubtfully.
She grins at you widely, proudly showing off all of her ridiculously sharp teeth. “Maybe they just like you.”
“I think ‘like’ isn’t the right word,” you mutter back.
“Could be that boy a yours,” the Condesce muses. “Jake English is a favorite among them.”
Hearing her say Jake’s name makes you apprehensive immediately. He doesn’t usually come up in your conversations. You know that the Condesce loathes Lord English more than any other being, except possibly her sister, and she avoids speaking about both of them. “Why?” you ask.
“Hard to say. I don’t keep track a all my demons,” she murmurs.
“And why not?!” you ask, feeling a strange rage rising in you. You don’t like the way she’s talking about Jake. As if she doesn’t care that the agents are talking about him. That they might be planning to kill him. Then again, why would she care?
The Condesce only laughs as you sigh, putting that anger away. “Getting feisty, are we?” She leans in closer to you and growls lowly, “there are literally billions of demons in Derse. I’d like to see you try to keep track of them all.”
Point of the conversation? The Condesce doesn’t know shit about the agents, and she doesn’t seem to care about it either. The agents, particularly the Midnight Crew, could be scheming something terrible right now, and she would be none the wiser.
You don’t tell anybody, but that is exactly your suspicion. Kidnapping Dave was a warning. You know that the Midnight Crew is taunting you. They’re showing you just how much control they have over the portals from Derse and the demons that appear in the City.
They can steal your baby brother right out from under your nose.
You frown at the thought. You’ll never let them do that again. From now until you end the Midnight Crew, you’ll make sure that nothing happens to Dave.
In the days that follow, you watch Dave very closely.
It breaks your heart to see him so heartbroken. At first, when you entered your office, he would wipe away his tears. Now he doesn’t even bother.
After a few days, you force him to shower, promising that you’ll watch very carefully over John the whole time he does. Despite common belief, you do have a pretty sweet penthouse suite on the top floor of one of the Condesce’s skyscrapers. It’s conveniently close to Haven (the Condesce built it there on purpose.)
“No man, NO! I’m not leaving him!” Dave exclaims as you shove him into the bathroom.
“Calm your shit down. John’s not going anywhere,” you agree, spinning him around to face you. “You’re just getting a shower in. Trust me. You need one.”
“I can’t bring him with me. He might drown. Be a tragedy worse than fucking Ophelia in Hamlet all up in my shit, can’t have John drowning on me or—” Dave rambles.
Swiftly, you pull him into an embrace, wrapping your arms gently but firmly around his quaking body. You didn’t realize just how much of a mess he was, but now you can see that your brother is taking this far worse than you remembered. “Hey, chill for a second and listen to me.”
Miraculously, Dave quiets as you slowly feed him energy and your own feelings of calmness.
“John will be ok. Trust me, I know,” you murmur to him, hearing his racing thoughts begin to slow as the strong steady force of your composed tranquility pours into him. “Here, I’ll hold him while you shower. I’ll make sure nothing happens, and you can have him back as soon as you’re out. What do you say, lil’ man. Deal?”
It takes a few moments after Dave pulls away from you, but eventually he bobs his head down once in agreement. Slowly, hesitantly, he holds up his hands, uncurling his fingers to reveal a small blue blanket Kanaya made him earlier in the week. Sleeping within is his fairy boyfriend John.
You carefully take the fairy into your own hands, resisting the urge to smile as he murmurs something unintelligible in his sleep. Glancing up, you notice that Dave isn’t moving. “You can go shower now. Don’t need my permission.”
“Can you,” he begins, then hesitates. Dave looks away, then glances back into your eyes again and asks, “can you stay in here with me?”
You throw him a lopsided grin. “Like you’re fuckin’ three? Yeah, sure. Whatever it takes to get you to bathe.”
Dave smiles, and you feel the immediate relief that washes over him. Relief washes over you too when the kid finally steps into your shower. About. Fucking. Time.
The water starts, and you lean back against the sink, bowing your head down and sighing. You never thought you’d have to fight Dave this much to shower again.
After a few minutes, Dave’s voice drifts to you from behind the frosted glass of your shower doors. “Bro?”
“Still here,” you reassure him.
“How is John?” he asks.
“Still asleep,” you answer.
A few seconds pass by, with nothing but the sound of the falling water echoing off the tiles in your gigantic bathroom. Then, Dave hesitantly says, “have you—have you ever loved someone so much it hurt?”
You smile sadly. “Yeah. Yeah I have.”
“You have?” Dave asks, sounding genuinely surprised.
“Fuck you,” you mutter.
This gets a small laugh out of your brother. A few more seconds pass. You hear the sound of your shampoo cap being popped open and then the sound of the bottle being placed back into its proper place. “It’s not Betty, is it?” he asks.
“No,” you answer quickly.
“Thank fucking god,” he sighs. The sound of the dripping water changes as he leans back into the water, rinsing his hair. “You still with her? The one you love?”
“It’s—complicated,” you murmur.
Dave tisks at you. “Disappointing status, Bro.”
“It’s a him,” you supply, surprising yourself with the info you’re so readily spilling to Dave.
“It is?” he asks, taking sudden interest. “What happened?”
“Story for another time, lil’ man,” you say softly.
Dave doesn’t seem surprised by your answer. He lets the conversation rest for a while, busying himself with some of your other hair products. Idly, you wonder if he even knows what half of them are.
When he speaks again, his voice is quiet and it cracks a little bit. He’s been crying again. “Have you ever worried—that you might never see him again?”
It hits you like the burning heat of the desert at midday. You feel your throat tighten a bit, and you look down at the fairy in your hands. “John. He’s talking about John. He doesn’t even know about Jake. This is John he’s talking about,” you think to yourself.
“Yeah,” you answer quietly and lamely.
You’re sure that with Dave’s enhanced hearing he caught your answer. And your brother isn’t an idiot either. He probably caught your tone. He has to know you won’t say any more about it.
He does. Dave doesn’t ask you any more questions as he finishes showering. When he’s done, you give him one of your Rainbow Dash shirts to wear and the smallest pair of sweat pants you own. They both hang really loosely off Dave, and you make a mental note to beef the kid up later.
You bring him back to Haven where you can keep an eye on him. Dave proceeds to wallow in misery for the rest of the day.
By the time night falls, your little bro has finally fallen asleep.
You’re actually in your office when it happens. Dirk and Jake walk into your office looking for you, but by opening the door they wake them up. Both of them.
“Go the fuck away,” Dave moans, rolling on your couch to a position that doesn’t look comfortable at all.
“Mmm,” John murmurs, his voice quiet and barely audible. There’s the faint sound of fabric rustling as he struggles to extricate himself from Kanaya’s blue blanket. “—Dave?”
There’s a note of desperation in Dave’s voice as he sits up suddenly, holding John up carefully in front of his face. “John? Holy fucking shit please tell me you’re really awake and this isn’t just some douchery that my mind is pulling on me while I’m asleep. I’ll be so pissed if this is like Inception. Don’t need Joseph Gordon-Levitt all up in my business telling me what to think.”
John laughs, and murmurs hoarsely, “yes Dave. This is all a dream. Soon Nic Cage is going to bust through the wall riding a motorcycle and take us to Neverland.”
“That reference is lame. The lamest of lames. And it makes no sense. No way my brain would have come up with that,” Dave is quick to say, pulling John close to his chest. “I’m so fucking happy you’re back.”
John laughs again, hugging him back tightly. “Miss me?”
“You have no fuckin’ idea.”
Warmth fills your heart as you see the happiness the two of them share. It’s so clear that they’re in love, and you hope that love will last forever, as your mother wished it would.
As your gaze shifts to Dirk and Jake, the happiness, for once, remains in your heart. It won’t be long now. Soon, you will catch up to that point where you left for the past. Soon, Jake will reappear in your time.
Not just any Jake. The Jake that loves you. Your Jake.
You can’t wait for that day to come. The day that you will have your own happy reunion. You’ve waited a thousand years for it. You’ll wait a little bit longer.
* * *
You people are awesome. =)