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 26 Chapter 27
Chapter 28: The Last Three Months
Bro ==> Film Dirk and Jake making out
Oh, you will. The cameras are set up and ready to go. But first, Dirk and Jake have to get to that point.
You’ll wait. You’re a patient guy.
In the meantime, you kindly inform Dave that he can’t continue living in your office at Haven. “You’ve gotta pick somewhere to go, lil’ man,” you tell him, watching as he makes faces at the giant cup of sea-demon blood you’ve given him.
“Dude, are you kicking me out? Harsh,” Dave says between tentative sips.
John sighs from his perch in Dave’s hair. “Yeah, I agree with him. We need a place with an actual shower. Do you know how messy your hair is getting?”
“You’re the one who chose to sit up there,” your little bro says, spreading his hands. “Bask. Bask in it. The alluring musk of my unwashed hair.”
“Eww, gross,” John says, wrinkling his nose and flittering down to land on Dave’s knee instead.
“Me or Dirk,” you offer him simply. “Pick one of our places and move your shit there.”
Dave chooses Dirk. Within the night, he’s moved his essentials there and is no longer haunting your office couch.
Dave’s choice stings just a little bit. You know that in the end he’s really choosing you either way. And you really don’t miss him weeping and snotting all over your couch.
With Dave safely in Dirk’s care, you have a little bit of time before anything is really in motion. The day is approaching soon that you’ll have to say goodbye to Dirk.
You start recording videos for Dirk in the future-past-whatever-time-travel-sucks. The first time you do it, you feel really weird. It’s an odd set-up. Your shades (AKA Hal) are sitting on your desk recording you. Directly behind them, you have your computer set up with the video footage Hal recorded a thousand years ago, including Dirk’s (your own) stream-of-conscious thoughts written at the bottom in black like movie subtitles.
The set-up lets you respond to the things Dirk is thinking at the appropriate time in your video recording. It’ll let you “talk” to him as if you’re actually there.
The first time you set everything up, you feel so ridiculous that you are tempted to put it all away. You actually reach for your shades, ready to do just that, but you remember what it was like to receive these messages from Bro. You remember just how much you missed the normalcy of your life. You remember how much you missed Bro.
How much you still miss him.
So with a sigh, you put the shades back on the table and attempt your first recording. Hal assures you that he will edit your footage and make sure that your videos are given to Dirk at the correct times in his life.
The first recording you make for him is actually a lot easier than you thought it would be. Dirk won’t even see you. This message is for Dirk when he is first taken away from you and thrown into that cell with Jake. Dirk’s passed out, and you’ve got to wake him up.
“Hey lil’ man, you can’t go giving up yet,” you tell your shades.
In the computer screen in front of you, Hal displays Dirk’s subconscious thoughts. “I’m not giving up. I’m just pleasantly unconscious.”
“What about Jake? You’ve got to help him right?” you persist.
This time, you see a small flicker on the screen, as if Dirk made a small movement. He thinks, “Jake! Yes, I’ve got to help him. He was hurting. Someone captured him.”
You pester him again. “How are you gonna help him if you can’t help yourself first?”
Dirk actually moans a bit and thinks, “I… don’t know. How am I going to do anything?”
Ok. That’s enough. You’re sick of his wimpy whiney display and want him up NOW.
“Get up, lil’ man,” you say, your voice raising into an uncharacteristic shout. “GET UP!!!”
You hear Dirk gasp and see his vision shake as he startles awake.
And cut. You pick up your shades and place them back on your face. “How was that?” you ask, knowing that Hal can hear you through your link.
“The kid woke up, didn’t he?” Hal responds through text on your shades. “Look, I’ve got a date with danger, but look me up next time you want to do this again.”
You do. Over the course of the next few days, you record a few more videos for Dirk. You select points in his life when he’s feeling particularly down, or when he needs a reality check. You’re feeling pretty good about your progress, and you’ve got a bit of time to spare.
So you decide to make a trip that is long overdue.
* * *
Bro ==> Make a trip that is long overdue
“Bro! To what do I owe the honor of this visit?”
“Just felt like talking again,” you pause awkwardly. “—Dad.”
You’ve met with John’s father a few times over the centuries to shoot the shit and discuss John’s progress. Never once has he told you his actual name. At first, it was a joke because you told him your name was “Bro.” By now, he has seen that everyone actually does call you Bro and that you weren’t just giving him a line like some punk kid with an attitude. But that still hasn’t changed his mind about you calling him “Dad.”
Admittedly, it’s a little awkward for you. Calling someone who isn’t your father and never will be your “Dad” feels weirder than weird, and it always makes you feel a little uneasy to do it. You would swear that’s why the fairy king insists that you call him that. Full of pranks, full of jokes. It’s no surprise where John gets it from.
You’ve agreed to meet the fairy king just outside the fairy forest, but he quickly ushers you inside and to his castle. It tingles a little bit when you pass through the curtain from the woods into the sanctified land of the fairies, but it doesn’t hurt. You aren’t sure whether that’s a remnant of Feferi’s magic on you or whether it’s John’s dad’s.
He shrinks you down to fairy size, which also tingles a bit, and insists that you join him for tea and cakes. The tea you find to be an exotic blend of fragrant fruits and flower petals that you have never tasted before. The cake is far too sweet, but you force it down anyway. After all, the fairy king made it himself. Can’t say no to that.
“So how is John doing? Is he proving himself useful?” Dad asks, taking a neat bite of his cake with a fork.
“John has proven his worth several times already,” you answer easily. “He and Dave are one of my best teams.”
“He and Dave,” the fairy king repeats carefully. You catch his inclination immediately. His body language is also extremely obvious, as he tenses up. John’s dad places his cake on the table after taking an unusually long time to swallow the bite in his mouth. “The way John talks about Dave, it makes me wonder—”
You decide not to interrupt. Nor do you pry into his thoughts. You’ll let the fairy king broach this delicate subject on his own terms.
“Are they—together?” he asks outright.
Well that’s one way.
“They are,” you answer simply, looking carefully into his eyes, watching for any sign of emotion.
There’s a flicker of what appears to be pain across his expression after he hears your words. “John is a good boy,” he says.
“So is Dave,” you interject quickly.
His expression hardens, and his eyebrows furrow into a look of dismay. Neither of you say anything for a while.
You regard him with the same calm composure that you always have. Slowly, you sip your tea.
“He’s—like you, isn’t he?” the king of the fairies looks at you uncertainly, still clearly apprehensive about the topic. “He’s an incubus?”
You know where he’s going with that line of thought. “Yes, but he would never hurt John—” you linger on that a moment, remembering what happened not long ago. “—he would sooner die himself.”
“You say that, but I heard that my boy was hurt badly, recently. I heard that Dave was the reason.” John’s dad pauses for a moment, and his eyes harden on you, focusing on what he can see of your face. “Tell me, Bro. Is that true?”
You regard him for a few moments. Then, calmly, you take off your shades so that he can look into your eyes and see that everything you say is genuine. You sit back a bit and say, “a little over a week ago, Dave was captured and held prisoner for several days in Derse. As you may know, time passes differently there, and by the time we rescued him, he had starved for quite some time. He did hurt John. So badly that he fell into a deep sleep for several days.”
The king of the fairies’ expression shifts quickly to one of anger. “I can’t believe–”
“Dave was devastated when he found out what he’d done,” You cut him off quickly. “He watched over John tirelessly for several days. I had to literally drag him to make him shower. John rarely left his hands.”
John’s father looks like he wants to say more, but you don’t let him. Instead you lean forward and say, “trust me. Dave loves your son. He never meant to hurt him, quite the opposite. Dave would do anything for John.”
More time passes. Another tense minute or two marches on forever as John’s father fully absorbs everything you’ve told him. Finally, he sighs and says, “I’ve heard—you raised him, correct?”
“I did,” you agree.
John’s dad appears to wrestle with the subject a bit more, his hands tensing and fisting into the ends of his flowing fairy garment a couple of times. Eventually, he says, “you’re a good person, Bro. I’ve always said that. I have trusted you with my son these past two centuries. I think—I think I can trust the boy you raised too.”
“You can,” you agree softly. “Dave can be a little shit sometimes, but he has a good heart.”
Finally, John’s dad smiles at you. “I believe you.”
The rest of your visit is uneventful. You spend most of your time talking about the events happening in the world, and you endure a few of the fairy king’s “dad jokes.” Sometime during your conversation, John’s father does tell you about a troublesome banshee that has been haunting their lake. You agree to send your brothers to take care of the Banshee and also so that he can meet Dave. He will see for himself that what you have told him is true.
At least, that is your full intention. But that changes when your brothers show up for work that evening.
One look at Dirk’s thin frame, the way he’s precariously touching the wall for balance, and the small tremors that he’s trying his best to hide is all you need. You’ve seen this before. It happened back when he was dating Caliborn.
Dirk is starving himself.
Wordlessly, you pull him into your office, shutting the door on Dave, Jake, and John. You know that the others can hear you outside, and you don’t care. That’s actually part of the plan.
You turn on him sharply and say, “dude, not cool.”
“What?” he asks, trying to sound all cool and nonchalant about it. But you see the way he hovers by your desk, ready to catch himself if he topples over.
“Cut the shit,” you growl at him. Before he can react, you grasp the back of his hair, pulling his head back, and you tip down his shades.
Dirk’s normally vibrant orange eyes are red.
“Fuck,” you mutter to yourself, letting him go. “How long ago did you last feed?”
“Jake made pancakes this morning,” he responds snottily.
Fucking damn it. You really hate what a cocky asshole you are sometimes. “That is not what I fucking meant, and you know it. Answer the question.”
Dirk doesn’t answer you. You can sense his hesitancy, his fear, and his anger with the situation and at himself.
You move closer into his personal space and lower your voice. You’re pissed at him, and you want him to know. “How long ago?”
Finally, he answers. “Not really sure. Maybe a couple weeks ago?”
“Oh fuck no,” you growl pacing away from him. “I am not dealing with this whiny-ass emo shit.”
You remove your cap long enough to rake not one but both of your hands through your hair. Ugh. Why were you like this? Why didn’t you just talk to Jake about it earlier? It’s so fucking obvious that Jake is absolutely in love with Dirk how can the little shit not see that? How can he not know that Jake would do abso-fucking-loutely anything for him? That he loves him to pieces?
You’re having a tiny mini mental breakdown. It’s all Jake’s fault. You’ll blame him later. But right now, there is a very misguided younger brother standing in front of you that you have to put back on track. Sighing to yourself, you glare at Dirk and point a meaningful finger at him. “I’m only gonna say this once, so you’d better listen to me. You know what happens if you don’t eat. You die. And you might kill other people close to you in the process.”
Dirk doesn’t say anything. He knows that you’re pissed at him. At least, that’s what he thinks you are. He doesn’t know you’re really worked up over Jake. But you know what? That doesn’t matter, because you are pissed at him. And he needs to know that what he’s doing is the opposite of anything good.
You step even closer to him, leaning in until you can feel his unease palpable in the air. “I know you just started dating Jake, and I’m happy for you. I want you and Dave to both have the happiness I never did. But don’t let it mess with your head. Even Dave knows that he needs to eat. He and John have talked about it.”
“They have?” he asks, a little surprised.
“Yes, they have,” you snarl back, exasperated with this game. “And you and Jake had better have that conversation pronto. In fact—”
You let the sentence die on your tongue as you stride purposefully to your office door and throw it open. You aren’t surprised to find Dave, John, and Jake all piled atop each other near the ground, their ears listening under the door. Ignoring their ridiculous position, you grab Jake by his collar and pull him into your office. Digging into your pocket, you pull out the day’s assignments, handing them to Dave. “It’s all you tonight lil’ man. Dirk’s out of commission. Go.”
Dave doesn’t argue. He can probably tell that you’re in no mood for his shit, and he knows better than that. Wordlessly, he raises his eyebrows above his shades, takes the paper, and leaves with John.
You turn your attention back to Dirk and Jake. “I’m leaving now. Gonna take care of some business. You two. Figure your shit out. Now.”
After one last meaningful glance, you close the door on them.
And then, you retreat up the fire escape to the rooftop, where you tune your shades into the video cameras you have tactfully hidden around your office.
Hal’s voice comes up in your mind, “I don’t know if I’m doing you a favor, letting you see this.”
“I don’t know either,” you murmur.
Gracefully, you fall down onto your back on the gravel rooftop, stare up at the sky, and watch the scene unfold.
As your luck would have it, you haven’t missed a thing. Jake and Dirk are standing in your office, staring at each other awkwardly. With just a bit of concentration, you can also pick up their thoughts, letting them pleasantly drift around in your head along with the video feed like a giant gelatinous bowl of tapioca pudding.
Just when Dirk begins to think it couldn’t get more awkward, Jake speaks up. “So umm, I couldn’t hear everything through the door, but Bro wants us to talk?” He pauses. A decidedly awkward pause. “—about sex?”
You grin to yourself. You are so glad you forced Dirk to do this in your office.
Dirk sighs and says, “yeah. Yeah he does. You know what I am. I don’t need to remind you.”
“You’re a—a succubus,” Jake stammers. Oh Jake. Really? After all this time, you still haven’t gotten that right?
Dirk winces and corrects him, “I’d prefer incubus, but yeah. You’ve got the idea.”
Another awkward pause fills the air, and it becomes clear that Jake doesn’t know what Dirk wants from him. Dirk begins to panic. You feel it rising within him, as his thoughts race from Jake’s eyes to hating you to thinking about the horrors of his other failed relationships.
Dirk starts to fully and completely hate you. “Doesn’t he realize I could lose the only real boyfriend I’ve ever had over this?” Dirk thinks miserably.
He could, if it wasn’t 100% clear that Jake is in love with him. Your little bro just needs a little push to see that.
“Jake, you remember what I eat, right? You know, besides your breakfasts?” Dirk attempts to ask.
“I—recall, yes,” Jake murmurs. You can feel his embarrassment all the way up on top of the roof. Jake is so fucking adorable. You love him so much.
“I told you from day one that I’d never make you do something you don’t want to do. Guess I already broke that, but I’m keeping my word from here out. Jake English, I care about you, and I don’t want to lose you. I’ll never make you do something that you don’t want to do,” Dirk pauses, and you feel the agony within him as he chokes out the last few words almost inaudibly. “But I have to eat. I’ll die soon if I don’t.”
“Dirk! Blazes, why did you hide this from me? I never wanted you to be hurt, I—”Jake thinks, the words beginning to form on his tongue.
But before he can say them, Dirk continues, “I’ll wait for you as long as it takes until you’re ready. After that, I’ll never betray you.”
And then Dirk realizes it.
Dirk realizes that he will die for Jake English.
Immediately, his thoughts swirl in confusion, wondering how he could have possibly fallen this hard for him and when it happened. A part of him worries that you would strife the shit out of him if you knew.
Then he starts to wonder if you do know. If you figured it out already. If you forced him to have this painfully awkward conversation because you knew.
In truth, it couldn’t make you more pleased. It’s all going perfectly according to plan. You do feel lingering sadness pitting in the bottom of your chest. You miss Jake so much, and it hurts to have him so close to you. Close, but untouchable.
This Jake can never be yours. This Jake belongs to Dirk.
But the Jake that will return to this time in just a short few weeks will be yours. He might be furious at you for throwing him through a time portal, but it will be as if nothing happened. The past thousand years will have passed by for him in the blink of an eye.
Dirk’s words bring you back to the present. “But until then, I hope you don’t mind if I find sustenance elsewhere. I think you know what that means.”
“Strider, mate, I-I never realized you were,” Jake stammers, then throws his arms around Dirk. He presses their bodies together, nuzzling into his cheek and hugging the shit out of your little brother. Softly, he murmurs, “you never needed to wait for me. I never expected that. You are completely mind boggling, Dirk!”
Dirk begins to doubt himself. But before he can sink too deeply into despair, Jake laughs softly and asks, “why didn’t you say something sooner?”
“Huh?” Dirk asks.
The look Jake gives him is downright mischievous and dirty. He exhales a breathy laugh and says, “Dirk, I’m no stranger to sex.”
You couldn’t pay to have acting this good. You swallow hard, realizing that these aren’t actors in some shitty porno that you’re filming. This is Jake, the man you love more than life itself, and your little brother Dirk, the man who will become you in less than a year.
Slowly, a shy but happy smile spreads across Dirk’s lips. “About fucking time.”
Their lips come together, and the happiness you feel them sharing warms your own heart. Their kiss is beautiful, sweet, and full of the passionate love that will make Dirk wait 1000 years for its return.
“Dirk—” Jake thinks during their kiss, unable to voice that thought.
With his thoughts in your mind, and his face in your shades, it’s like he’s talking to you. You exhale a small shaky breath. “Jake—” you murmur back.
They deepen their kiss, their arms entwining around each other’s bodies in an embrace of love.
“Dirk—ohh—” Jake’s pleasured thoughts again drift into your mind, and you swear he’s speaking directly to your heart.
You are so turned on right now. But you don’t dare touch yourself.
Jake is teasing your soul with every delicious move of his body. You’re in love with the sway of his hips and those feather-light caresses over Dirk’s skin. Jake’s lust-filled thoughts make you want to scream with desire.
All too soon, Dirk breaks their kiss. Jake looks up in confusion and asks, “I thought you wanted to—”
“More than anything, but not here,” Dirk says, glancing around suspiciously. “Bro’s fond of video cameras. Everywhere.”
Fucking kid. He knows way too many of your secrets.
Jake flushes deeply in embarrassment. “O-oh. Is that so? Well then, yes, you’re quite right! We should relocate elsewhere,” he stammers.
Jake wonders, idly, if you were watching their kiss. He kind of hopes that you were.
But before you can probe into his mind any further, Dirk takes him by the hand and pulls him away. Seconds later, you hear the sound of Dirk’s Jeep peeling down the road.
Jake loves you. He loves you. But he loves Dirk. And Dirk is you, so he loves you. But somehow you’re sure that he loves you and not just the Dirk that is you. And you don’t know what that means. What could it possibly mean?
You are so confused, and heartbroken, and in love, and happy, and terrified.
Fucking. Time. Travel.
A single tear rolls down your left cheek, and you’re not sure if it’s one of extreme happiness or sadness.
You have a feeling it’s both.
Once you’re certain that they’re out of hearing range, you scream at the sky.
* * *
Bro ==> Bother the fuck out of Dirk
Oh, you remember exactly what happens the following morning. You remember pulling Jake to you, snuggling in the warmth of his body, suggesting that he be your breakfast—and then hearing Bro’s phonecall.
And now it’s you on the other end of the line. You smirk as Dirk grows at you, “what do you want?”
You can’t keep the grin off your face as you ask, “interrupting something?”
“Not anymore,” Dirk sighs.
“You figure your shit out last night?” you ask, even though you know the answer to that already.
“Yeah,” he agrees.
“Good. Then I need you to come in early today,” you continue without missing a beat.
“Dude, it’s barely noon,” he complains.
“And I give so many shits about that,” you say with mock sympathy. “Get Dave up too. Be here in an hour.”
Without waiting for his response, you hang up.
An hour later, a frustrated looking Dirk, sexy looking Jake, sleepy looking Dave, and sick looking John arrive at your office. You send them off to the fairy forest, knowing precisely what will go down there.
They will defeat the banshee. Dirk will prove that he would die for Jake by jumping in front of the creature in a dramatic act of self-sacrifice and love. Jake will fall for him even harder.
Dave will meet John’s father and be intimidated as fuck by the king of the fairies. It will be poetic justice.
Jake will be adorable eating dogwood pears. Fucking damn it, you love that man so much.
John’s father will come to terms with John’s love for Dave, and he will give both his son and your brother an uplifting speech about love. And then, your youngest bro and his fairy boyfriend will finally have a chance to show each other their love for the first time.
Dave will be sore in the morning.
Dirk will realize that Jake is far older than he seems. He’ll feel Jake’s love for him, and the following morning the two of them will enjoy expressing their love during a rather long bath together. So will a dozen or so voyeur fairies.
When they get back, you know that everything went down just like you remember. You gaze at your brothers and their boyfriends for a moment, quietly assessing them.
Wordlessly, you fistbump both your brothers.
You can hear the confusion in their thoughts, wondering why you spared them the embarrassing and awkward sex talk that you totally could have given them for ultra ironies. Oh, you could have. It would have been glorious.
But you can’t bring yourself to do it. Not when Jake is looking at you like that.
There’s a pity in Jake’s eyes when he looks at you, and you don’t dare read his thoughts. You know what he’s probably thinking anyway. That you’re some sad, miserable, pathetic, lonely guy.
And in a way, he’s right. You won’t be yourself again until he’s yours again.
Time. All in time.
For a week, you send your brothers away on pretty easy missions with simple enough targets. Unknown to them, you continue to take on the hardest monsters. You fight them with the pent up frustration that you have harbored for a thousand years, and you work yourself to exhaustion.
More than once, the Condesce finds you in some deserted wasteland.
On one such occasion, you are lying flat on your back in the middle of an arid desert. You’ve tracked down a band of feral werewolves after they burnt several towns to the ground, and you put them out of their misery.
It wasn’t even that difficult of a fight. But you’re finding that as the day approaches, that particular April 5th, it’s harder for you to take all of this. There is no such thing as living, you’ve decided, there is only existing and waiting for the day.
A shadow falls over your face, and when you look up, you see the Condesce looking down at you. Despite being completely overdressed for the weather (she’s still wearing a business suit) she tisks at you. “This is no way to live.”
“No, it’s not,” you agree.
She gazes down at you and continues, “I’ve never seen an incubus so determined to be miserable.”
“And now you have,” you sigh.
“Derse. Now,” she says, snapping her fingers.
“Wha—?” is all you manage to get out before a giant void-like portal opens below you, sucking you down into its dark depths.
You land on the Condesce’s bed in Derse. She follows closely behind you.
“If you’re gonna run yourself ragged, you need to replenish your energy,” she explains. “Can’t have you dying on me, Bro.”
You don’t fight as she descends.
* * *
Bro ==> Send Dirk into a fight he can’t win
In the following days, you visit the Condesce far more often than usual. Sometimes it’s by your own volition. Sometimes she finds you.
Dirk begins to notice that you’re disheveled, but you’re not about to tell him that you’re using the Condesce to ignore the pain of not being with Jake even though he’s right there like literally right fucking there and fuck.
No. Shit. You can’t do this.
Ok, calm your shit down.
Yes you can.
You’re the cool older brother. You’re in charge around here. Jake and his cute ass are not going to distract you from that.
Without looking up from the papers on your desk, you gesture toward a couple large mega gulp cups full of blood. “Dirk. Dave,” you say in an inviting and commanding way.
Dirk, for once, reaches for the cup a bit more eagerly than usual. To the casual observer, his hands still linger back, his pace is still calm and slow. But you know your brother. You’ve fed him for centuries, and you see the tiny extra spring in his step. You quirk an eyebrow at him and poke into his thoughts.
And you’re suddenly assaulted by his ravenous hunger. Ugh. You frown. You’d forgotten just what it was like to starve yourself like that.
Dave interrupts your thoughts with his usual question, “so do I get to go back to the fairy forest tonight?”
You flick your gaze to him and stifle a snicker. “Can’t get a big enough dose of holy, can you lil’ man?” Double innuendo. Zing.
“That’s not why I want to go back,” Dave pouts.
It’s totally why he wants to go back.
“Trust me, I know. Much as I’d love to give you and John another opportunity to fuck, you’re needed somewhere else tonight,” you inform him, then hold out an assignment paper in his direction.
Instantly, John makes a tiny squeak of embarrassment, and his face reddens in a way that you must admit is pretty cute. You can see why your little bro likes this kid.
Dave tries his best to seem like he isn’t disappointed, but you know he is. You also know he’ll start taking Dirk’s rocketboard and visiting the fairy forest anytime he pleases soon, so you really don’t feel bad for him. Instead of pouting openly, he instead sighs and takes the assignment. After quickly reading it, he turns to Dirk and begins to say, “We’re at—”
You cut him off before he can continue. Lazily, you gesture to the four of them. “You aren’t anywhere. Tonight you and John are on your own. Dirk and Jake have something else they need to do.”
Dirk’s reluctance tugs at you instantly, and you hear him think, “Great, here it comes. Time to get locked in Bro’s office with Jake to sort out my problems.”
“You wish,” you respond, then hand him another paper with a different assignment on it. “Dirk, I’m sending you there because you’re our best. Next to me, naturally. Don’t fuck this up, but also don’t give up. You’ve got this.”
Instantly, Dave and Dirk are both wary of your ominous pep-talk. They know you far too well.
Dirk reads the assignment and notices that it’s just an address. “Ok? What’s the big deal?” he asks.
“The deal is there’s a girl having nightmares of a very real monster every night,” you murmur. As you sink into your thoughts you simultaneously sink back into your office chair. You wish that you didn’t have to send Dirk here. You really do. “But it isn’t just any monster. It’s the worst kind.”
Your brothers fall deeper into their fearfully silent suspicion. They know you. They know that this isn’t good. You hear in their thoughts that the words “worst kind” are to be feared.
“You’re right,” you respond to them. “Dirk, have you heard of the Midnight Crew?”
“No,” he answers unsurprisingly. Of course he hasn’t heard of them. You never told him about them.
“The Midnight Crew?” John pipes up, the redness in his face finally dissipating. “Aren’t they those guys that dress all in black? I think dad mentioned them once.”
“He probably did. They’re the most notorious agents of Derse, so I wouldn’t be surprise if word of them reached the fairy land,” you agree. You wonder just how much “Dad” has had to deal with the Midnight Crew. You hope, for his sake, that it isn’t much.
“Aww man, Dirk gets all the fun assignments,” Dave moans.
“You wouldn’t be saying that if you knew what they can do,” you snap back at him quickly. “Now finish your blood, both of you. That harpy blood wasn’t easy to come by. And Dave, evening church-goers are people too. They deserve our protection as much as the next person. You know demons target them even more sometimes. You’ll need John’s help again.”
“Aww fuck no,” Dave continues to whine.
“Oh fuck yes,” you mimic him in the same petulant tone, waving him out the door. “You’d better go. Mass will be over soon.”
Dave whines some more but eventually leaves.
Finally, you’re able to turn your attention to Dirk. You know what you’ve sent him up against, and you know it isn’t fair.
The kid can’t win this one. You know he can’t. Even if he wasn’t half-starved, he’s just not good enough yet. And for whatever reason, even though Jake can win, he won’t.
This little mystery perplexed you for a little while. You’ve seen Jake take out the Midnight Crew in the past. He’s killed Spades Slick before. For quite some time, you didn’t understand why he didn’t do the same this evening. But looking outside, at the full moon hanging in the sky, you have your answer.
Lord English is stronger tonight. His power, for reasons you suppose you will never know, rises with the full moon. It takes more of Jake’s energy to suppress him on these nights.
A small curious part of you wonders just how powerful Jake would be if he didn’t have to contain Lord English within his soul.
Questions for later. You’ll ask Jake about it after you fix all this shit and set the timeline straight.
“Why’re you lookin’ at me like that?” Dirk murmurs, a bit of the accent he tries so hard to hide bleeding back into his voice. He’s seriously weirded out by your staring.
“Tonight’s not gonna be easy,” you say, your voice sounding much more calm and smooth than you think it has any right to. You take a moment to remove your cap, rake your fingers through your hair, and replace it. “But you’ll do the right thing. I know you will.”
“Freakin’ me out here a little, Bro,” Dirk murmurs carefully. “Did you learn to see the future too or something?”
If Dirk only knew.
You chuckle lightly, unable to resist the horrible ACTUAL irony in that statement. If Dirk knew you were him in the future, what would he think? Would he be laughing along with you too? Or would he just be petrified shitless by what will happen this evening?
“Maybe a little,” you finally murmur. “But the agents of the Midnight Crew are hard to forget. I’ve run across them before and it was less than pleasant.”
Your little story is true enough, and Dirk buys it.
“Be on your guard tonight. Even more than usual,” you tell him seriously. For a second, your gaze flickers over to Jake before coming back to rest on your little bro. “All night.”
Before Dirk or Jake can say any more, you finally rise from your seat and usher them out the door.
You sink down into your couch and pull your cap over your face.
You’re a terrible brother. The worst kind. How could you do that to Dirk? How could you let him go into a fight that he cannot win?
And Jake. Jake could die tonight too, freeing Lord English on the universe again.
But because they will fight to within an inch of their lives, Roxy will come to rescue them. The angel will smack the crap out of Spades Slick and send him back to Derse where he belongs.
Dirk will finally have closure over her death.
But the night won’t end there. You told Dirk to be on his guard all night for a reason.
Dirk is already starving. And after the fight, Dirk will be even weaker. He will beg Jake to have sex with him. He’ll plead for it because he’ll need it.
And even though Jake will know that there could be dire consequences, he will concede. Even though the full moon could bring Lord English to the surface, his love for Dirk will overcome his inhibitions.
Lord English will rise to the surface, and Dirk will have his first experience pushing that evil soul back down. The next morning, he will tell Jake about it, and make the love of his life cry.
Dirk will regret it, as you have regretted it, for the rest of his life.
* * *
Bro ==> Record some shit for Dirk
Yep, you’re getting better at that. With Hal’s help, you record and re-record message after message. You sprinkle in little happy birthdays, pep talks, and stern brotherly lectures. You wish that you could actually be there for Dirk when he’s going through all of this, but you know that you can’t. This is better than nothing.
You’re recording one such video when you murmur to Hal, “I think Dirk’s coming. We’ll have to redo this one.”
“Maybe you shouldn’t leave your fucking door open and this wouldn’t be a problem,” Hal suggests.
As Dirk rounds the corner, you say, “yep, thought so. Gotta go.”
Dirk eyes you suspiciously as you snap your laptop shut. “Bro, what were you—”
“You’ll see later,” you assure him, not letting him finish that question, because you weren’t going to answer it anyway. You take a moment to glance up and down at both Dirk and Jake.
Dirk is thinner than you would like, but he’s far better off than yesterday. Jake is still flushed with embarrassment, and he wears the guilt in his expression as plainly as if he were waving a bright flag in the air. You wish that you could console him somehow, but that’s not your job right now.
Right now, you have to be Bro. “You’re both in one piece. Good. You had a visitor last night?” you ask them.
“Yeah,” Dirk murmurs, his voice trailing off. He goes on to think about Roxy and about how she fought for her own revolutionary ideals. About how, as an angel, she is exactly where she was always meant to be.
You smile at him and ruffle his hair, snickering and jumping back when Dirk slashes his katana at you. “Glad to see you figured it out.”
Dirk doesn’t attack you with his blade again, but he suddenly begins to think about the parallels between you and John’s dad.
“Oh no,” you shake your head and waggle a finger at him. “Don’t you dare lump me in with him.”
Honestly you could think of worse people to be lumped with, but Dirk doesn’t need to know that. You hand him his assignment and shove him out the door.
* * *
Bro ==> Survive another 3 months without Jake
You wait 3 excruciatingly long months, and finally, the dreaded day that you’ve been anticipating for a thousand years arrives. April 5.
You aren’t sure how you do it, but somehow you do.
Ok, you know exactly how you do it. You overwork yourself, throwing everything into the battle against the demons of Derse. It leaves Dave and Dirk with very simple monsters to face. And between the two of them, you give the more challenging ones to Dave. The kid will have to take his brother’s place very soon, and you have to see if he’s capable.
Dave does not disappoint you. He complains more, but he’s just as sharp as he always was. And now that he’s visiting the fairy forest with John regularly, he’s happier than he’s ever been. Having a chance to fuck your boyfriend after two centuries of sexual frustration will do that.
Dirk is also happier than he’s ever been before. His relationship with Jake blooms into the most beautiful thing you have ever seen. Jake becomes his entire world. He loves him absolutely and completely, with his entire heart.
And you know Jake feels the same way. Even if you couldn’t read it in his thoughts, you would know in how much stronger Dirk is becoming. Jake has been feeding him every day, often multiple times, and Dirk’s strength has grown several-fold in just these short three months.
Meanwhile, you have finished your recordings, and with Hal’s help, you’ve located every place that Dirk’s AR saved his backup programs. He’s programmed you a sweet file to knock them all out at the same time for just a few minutes. Just long enough for you to download a copy of your Hal into Dirk’s shades.
Hal assures you that the copy of himself will be happy to be just that, a copy. And that once the thousand years are up, he’ll merge back with the original body he has now. As Hal points out to you, time is no object to a program.
You realize, suddenly, that there will always be a copy of Hal stuck in a time loop somewhere, always doomed to travel back into the past and bail your ass out of trouble. You ask him, “Hal, how many lifetimes have you lived?”
“More than your little non-computerized brain can count,” he responds in text across your shades. “And the copy of myself that you’ll put into Dirk’s shades will live a thousand years more. It’s cool though. I was debating between spending the centuries on the Galapagos Islands or Egypt. This me will get to try Egypt.”
“Wait,” you pause. “So you’re telling me you knew how to kiss and fuck the whole time?”
“You wish you knew how to fuck as good as me,” he responds.
“Then why—” you begin to ask.
“I just wanted an excuse to kiss you,” Hal responds, sending a little winkie face after his comment.
You could kick him. Except that he’s probably halfway across the world right now.
“I am,” he agrees. “Now, I think Bro wants to tell you one more thing before you do this.”
Your shades light up, surprising you.
“Hey, man, this is it. The final transmission. El fin. After this, you won’t have an older brother anymore,” Bro says. After a pause, he murmurs, “and you’ll be down one younger brother too.”
Your later self sighs, rakes his hands through his hair in that characteristic way you find yourself doing all the time now. His voice sounds strained as he continues, “fuck this feels so stupid. I’m basically you, by this point. You in a couple hours anyway. By now, you’re almost me. Congrats. You made it. Big fucking whoop.”
You’re starting to wonder what is wrong with yourself in the future. Are you going to have a mental breakdown in the span of a couple hours?
“No, I’ll be fine. You’ll be fine,” Bro responds to your thought. After a bit more hesitation, he finally spills it. “It’s Dirk. He just left. That’s right. Today’s the last day you’ll get to see him.”
You knew this day was coming. You’ve had it in the back of your mind since the day you took the kid in. Someday, Dirk would leave for the past. Someday, you wouldn’t have him as a little brother anymore.
You’ve actually counted the days for quite some time now. You tried to make every birthday special for him. Especially the last few years. You’ve been busy as fuck, but you’ve given him all the time you possibly can. And little does he know, but you’ve actually been taking care of the harder assignments too.
It’s why you don’t sleep at night. Why you need so much energy that you have to constantly grovel at Her Imperious Condescension’s feet and be her little fucktoy.
“Hey, don’t start thinking down that road,” Bro says, snapping you out of it. “You’ve done the best you can do, and don’t forget, Dirk is leaving tonight, but someone else is coming back.”
Instantly, your heart fills with hope.
After a thousand fucking years, Jake’s coming back tonight.
Your Jake. The Jake that you can actually touch. Hug. Love.
“Don’t get too distracted, though,” Bro says, looking at you with the utmost seriousness. “This is still the last time you’re going to see Dirk. After this—well you know what happens.”
Bro closes his eyes, pressing his fingertips to his eyelids for a couple seconds. “I’m only gonna tell you this once, so listen up.”
“The kid just left, but I already miss him. Do me a favor. One thing for me, and I’ll never ask anything of you again. Heh, I mean it this time,” Bro murmurs. When he looks at you again, you can see the remnants of tears in his eyes. “Hug the shit out of him for me. For you. Cause you know what the kid’s got ahead of him. It’s a long hard road. And you’re never going to see him again.”
You find yourself nodding, even though you know you’re just nodding to the air. To a computerized version of what you will become in just a few hours. “I will. Damn it, Bro, this sucks. I’m gonna miss you. Miss Dirk.”
“Heh, don’t you think I know?” Bro cracks a smirk. You hear a loud sound, and Bro glances behind him. “Looks like my time’s up. Haven’s getting attacked tonight. Better have everyone prepared for that.”
“It’s what?” You murmur in surprise.
“You heard me,” Bro responds. The cracking sound is louder and he winces. “But hey I gotta go.”
Bro salutes you, then picks up his shades. “You did good, kid. You did good.”
And then he’s gone.
Your older brother is gone forever. And soon, your younger brother will be too.
Worst part about time travel.