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 Chapter 29 Chapter 30
Chapter 31: Hope and Heart
Bro ==> Where the fuck is Jake?
Where the fuck is he???
You spin around again in the moonlit park, feeling your nerves, your mind, and your everything exploding in a terrible sensation of panic and dread.
Hal reaches a hand out and firmly grasps your shoulder, stopping you from your spinning. “Hey, calm down, Bro. Making yourself sick with worry isn’t going to bring him back faster,” he says.
“Of course I’m right. I’m the version of you that’s actually thinking straight right now,” Hal remarks wryly. “Don’t forget, I love Jake too.”
You glare at him sharply.
Sensing your stab of anger, he holds his hands up quickly. “Geez, dude, settle down a little! Jake’s all yours, ok? I love a lot of other people too. That happens when you’ve lived as long as I have.”
You don’t completely buy it.
“I can tell you don’t completely buy it,” Hal reiterates carefully. “How about this. I’ll help you look for him.”
Your brain must be in pandemonium again, because Hal takes you by the shoulders again and pulls you into a tender hug. You feel his arms come around you, lending you strength and support. Before you can even register what you’re doing, your arms are around him, holding him tightly as you try to process everything and try to make your brain work.
“It’s ok, you’ve been the head honcho for centuries now. It’s ok for your brain to take a break. I’ll do the thinking for you,” he reassures you, rubbing soft circles into your back in what you have to say is a very soothing way.
He waits. You finally settle down.
Once you’re calmer than before, he gently explains, “Jake isn’t here, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t back. Lord English’s portal didn’t have a fucking neon sign pointing ‘this way to 21 Jump Street’ or anything. He could literally have opened that rift to anywhere on the planet. If he knew that you would be here in The City, it actually makes sense that he wouldn’t open the rift back here.”
Slowly, you process it. Slowly, you realize that, once again, Hal’s right.
“Of course I’m right, why is this always a shock to you?” Hal sighs. Gently, he pulls back and says, “I’ll help you find him. And I know all your friends will too. Hell, even Her Fucking Imperious Condescension will probably help you.”
“She hates Jake,” you murmur.
“Whatever, you don’t need her anyway,” Hal quickly switches gears. He looks into your eyes, and you know that he’s looking beyond your shades. It’s creepy, but it’s like he’s staring straight into your soul. You suppose that Hal is the closest thing to yourself that exists now. If anyone could be capable of actually staring into your soul, it would be him.
“Can I just say that most people don’t have an actual version of themselves to mind-grind on? You’re one of a kind, Dirk,” Hal says. “Now then, remember that game you used to play centuries ago? The ‘Find Jake’ game?”
Slowly, a smile comes to your lips. You chuckle, “heh, yeah.”
Hal grins back at you. Without a single drop of irony, he says, “time to get your game on.”
* * *
Bro ==> Play the Find Jake Game
You get your game on. You start the Find Jake Game by finding the nearest portal to Derse. Conveniently, though Dave’s building is destroyed, the portal to Derse is still intact high up in the air. Hal gives you a lift with his bitchin’ rocket shoes. He’s right, they’re way cooler than Tavros’, but you don’t have time to ponder their design just yet.
You have a Jake to find.
You arrive in the grand hallway outside the Condesce’s throne room and start working your way from portal to portal. Each time, you step out and spin slowly around, surveying the land, sensing for Jake in every direction.
Each time you come back empty handed.
By the time you’ve worked your way down to the last few portals, you’re starting to get worried. What if you can’t find Jake? What then?
“Worry about that if it happens,” Hal suggests.
After stepping through the last portal, you hoped beyond all hope that you would sense that familiar emerald energy that you have come to love.
You fucking flip your shit in the middle of Australia. You fall to your knees in the grass and rage at the world.
Why can’t you find him???
“Because you’re too busy with your face in the dirt,” Hal grumbles at you. “Fucking hell, Dirk, get up!”
“It’s no use. I’ve always been able to sense him. Anywhere he traveled, I found him,” you murmur.
“Yeah, maybe in the past, when people couldn’t reach half the places they can now,” Hal points out. “There’s still more ground to cover. We’ll do it faster if you get off your ass and actually ask your friends for some help.”
You have to admit, he’s right.
Hal sighs, “of course I am.”
* * *
Bro ==> Ask your friends for help!
You do. Shockingly, you find them all gathered around the burnt remains of Haven. It didn’t take you long to search Derse’s portals, and you would guess that they’ve only been there for about an hour.
The smell of Haven’s burnt remains still hangs in the air, though the fire is long gone. Unsurprisingly, half of the city block burnt down with Haven before someone graced the burning buildings with a very localized downpour. If you had to guess, Feferi had something to do with the salvation of a giant chunk of the city.
Yeah, now that you think about it, burning down Haven just might not have been your most shining idea. Whatever. It’s in the past.
Terezi and Latula have returned to their human forms. They are watching over Kanaya, Porrim, and Karkat, who are sitting against the brick building across the street and slowly recovering. Tavros and Rufioh are sitting on the pavement nearby, looking slightly uncomfortable at the dour and somber mood everyone is in.
You imagine that this must be the equivalent of sitting around a bunch of abstinent asexuals for an incubus like you.
You and Hal take a seat on the concrete pavement beside them. One by one, they seem to realize that you’re there, and they look to you imploringly. They all seem a bit worse for wear, and you have to say that you’re not quite the most chipper guy either.
“The Midnight Crew is gone,” you update them somberly. “But it was not without cost. Kankri and Cronus have returned to Derse. Jane is gone too.”
You hear gasps from a few of them at the news.
“She passed on to Prospit, where she and Roxy are now both angels,” you continue.
For a few moments, everyone sits in silence, fully absorbing this information.
Then, slowly, almost hesitantly, Porrim sits up from the wall. She’s holding her chest with one hand, and you can see where her jade blood is still pouring through her fingertips. Your first instinct is to offer her the blood in your fridge that you’d been saving for Dave, but you mentally laugh bitterly when you realize that you don’t have a fridge anymore. Or an office.
Dave, you hope, has kept his ass put in the fairy forest. You don’t think you can deal with him right now anyway.
“Bro, I have known you a very long time now,” she begins slowly. “I helped you care for your brothers when they were very young. You, Dirk, and Dave. It was always three Strider brothers.”
You think you know where she is going with this, but you resolutely refrain from reading her thoughts. You will wait for her to say it herself.
“I watched as Dirk and Dave grew. When we met again, several centuries later, I began to suspect some things, but I kept these thoughts to myself. However, after tonight, after something you told Spades Slick, I cannot stay silent any longer,” she continues. Slowly, she reaches forward toward your face with a slightly bloodied hand.
You know what she wants. You lean forward and let her take off your shades.
“Bro,” she asks softly, her eyes filled with concern but also warmth and care as she looks into your tangerine eyes. “Are you Dirk?”
You feel the eyes of all your remaining friends on you now. Some of them have their eyebrows raised in shock. Others wear looks of concern. You feel the surprised and confused feelings from all of them. Except Hal. Smug fucker has always known.
One by one, you regard each of them. You were never one for flowery speeches. You never sugar coated anything for your brothers or your friends.
Why start now?
“Yeah, I am,” you respond simply.
You wait for them to start raging at you. You’re ready to take their anger, their hatred, their outrage. You deserve it.
But it never comes.
Instead, all you sense from them are questions. Surprise. Sadness.
With a deep sigh, you decide to explain it to them. “When the Midnight Crew sent Jake and Dirk—Jake and me— through that portal tonight, they ended up in a doomed dimension. To escape, Jake had to release Lord English—”
This makes several of them gasp again in shock. Karkat interrupts you quickly and asks what everyone else is thinking. “Don’t tell me Jake is that galactic asshole Lord English.”
“Jake has trapped him inside his soul,” you explain. “To escape the doomed dimension, he let Lord English free. Lord English took Jake and I to the past. About 1,000 years ago. Lord English killed my parents, but I managed to stop him. I sent Jake back to this time, but I stayed behind to raise Dirk and Dave.”
“You raised yourself?” Latula asks, her head tilting up in question. “That is so rad!”
“You have lived all these years without ever telling your younger brothers who you are?” Kanaya asks. You see sympathy in her eyes but also hurt. She and Dirk grew up together for a few years. She probably understands better than most how difficult it would be for Dirk to accept that you and he are the same person. You have no doubt that the hurt you feel from her will only be multiplied a hundred times when you tell Dave.
“Yes,” you concede. “And now, I cannot find Jake.”
You pause for a moment, and you’re ashamed to say that your own emotions are out of check right now. Just thinking about Jake and the possibility of never having him back makes you wrought with sadness and worry.
“I know that several of you are gravely injured. You didn’t abandon me when Kurloz Makara mind-controlled me months ago. Some of you died, but you were not deterred. And tonight, you fought so hard against the Midnight Crew. I never expected any of this from you,” you murmur. “Though I know several of you are severely wounded, I hope I can ask one last favor of you. One more thing, and I’ll never ask anything of you again.”
You glance up, slowly looking each of them in the eyes. Imploringly, you say, “please, when you are able, help me find Jake.”
Porrim is the first to come forward. Though she is exhausted and injured, she slides her arms around you and hugs you tightly. “Of course we will help.”
Kanaya is next. Then Terezi and Latula. Rufioh, Tavros, and Hal have no reservations about throwing their arms around you too. Karkat sighs and mumbles something about this being “super gay” but eventually joins your group hug.
Surrounded by the love of your friends, your spirits are lifted by the warmth of their positivity. With them by your side, you know that you can do this.
You can find Jake.
* * *
Bro ==> Get more help!
You want to. But you really don’t want your friends dying either, and since you thought ahead so well, you can’t even bring them inside Haven to rest up. Instead, you help them back to your penthouse condo not too far away, where you have more than enough space for them all. Most of them are demons, and you know that eventually they will heal up just fine.
Tavros, Rufioh, Terezi, and Latula all came out of the battle relatively unscathed, and they will set out to help you with the search in the morning. Kanaya and Karkat are doing mostly ok, though Karkat is crushed when he hears the news of his cousin’s death. Though Karkat puts on a brave front, you know that he must have time to grieve properly before anything. Porrim is in the worst shape. When you see her wounds, you realize just how cruel Diamonds was to her. It’s tough, but you have to remind yourself that she is a vampire, and that after she feeds she will be all right.
Hal is A-ok. He leaves with you for Derse when you decide to enlist the help of someone you know all too well.
“Why you comin’ to me for help?” the Condesce asks when you show up in her throne room. “You know I want nothin’ to do with English. Lord or Jake.”
“Because I can’t live without him,” you answer, feeling like you’ve never spoken more truthful words.
“He’s not lying,” Hal backs you up.
The Condesce glares at Hal, then regards you with a silent stormy look. She leans over, resting the side of her chin on the knuckles of her closed fist as she sits in silent deliberation for several minutes. You and Hal both stand there awkwardly as she does. After quite some time, she finally sighs, “I’m afraid I can’t help you much.”
She’s decided to help. A part of you is immediately relieved, but another part of you recognizes just what she said.
“In the past, you always knew where Lord English was,” you counter quickly. “Why can’t you find him now?”
“Lord English is a towering evil demon. Kind of hard to miss the mothafucka. But Jake?” the Condesce sighs. “Do you know how many people in Shanghai alone look like him?”
Probably a lot.
Jake is unique to you. You can sense his energy from miles away. You cultivated that skill for centuries. But to everyone else, he’s just another person. You suddenly realize how difficult this search is going to be, even with the help of Derse’s queen.
“But I will help you,” she finally concedes quietly. “If my demons see him, I will know.”
“Thank you,” you murmur softly. “I appreciate this.”
The Condesce remarks wryly, “a taken Strider is better than no Strider.”
You realize a moment later what she means by that statement. She doesn’t want you to die. She cares about you. You start to wonder if maybe Her Imperious Condescension isn’t a complete sociopath.
“Now get outta my sight before I kill you both,” she says, waving her hand at you dismissively.
Then again, maybe she is.
Your chat with her sister Feferi goes much smoother. You discovered several portals to Prospit long ago, though you avoided using them for obvious reasons. Now that you are immune to holy, the land is no longer off-limits.
You don’t see any sign of Roxy or Jane, but you suppose that Prospit is a large place. Feferi smiles brightly when you ask for her help, and informs you that she’s already been looking for Jake. She might also give the task to a couple of angels who are more familiar with Jake. You grin, knowing that Roxy and Jane will definitely have your back.
Feferi advises you to ask one last person for help. Someone you had actually worked with before.
After everything, you arrive at the edge of the fairy forest. You sigh, knowing exactly who is inside. Yes, the king of the fairies is who you really came to see. With his ability to sense souls, he can probably give you the best direction. But you know who is also in this forest.
Dave. Your little bro. The only one you’ve got now.
And sooner or later, Dave will have to know the truth.
“You can bring it up later,” Hal suggests. “Dave’s probably a little distracted right now anyway, if you catch my drift.”
“Dave needs to know,” you decide, sighing with regret. “Now is probably a better time than any. I taught Dave not to show his emotions and feelings to anybody, and he won’t with most. With John, he will. It’s better to tell him now, while he and his boyfriend are the same size. John will comfort him.”
John’s dad greets you when you reach the lake in the center of the forest and brings you and Hal both down to his size. He insists that you stay for tea and a bite of cake while you talk.
“So I hear you’ve been up all night, Bro,” the king of the fairies comments as the three of you sit down in his study for a bite of cake. Hal is even eating the cake and drinking the tea, making you think he must have done something to enhance himself while you weren’t looking again.
“I have a small fusion reactor in my stomach now. I can actually eat the food for energy. Might be a little bit radioactive though,” Hal informs you through your shades.
Holy fuck you hope he’s kidding.
Hal doesn’t answer. Fucking damn it.
“It’s been a long night,” you agree, finally responding to Dad’s comment.
“You know, I stayed up all night too,” he says.
Oh no. It’s a Dad-Joke. You can sense it.
“I stayed up wondering where the sun went,” the king of the fairies continues. “Then it dawned on me!”
You smirk at him. You’re actually starting to be amused with his cliché sense of humor. Something about Dad and his stupid jokes is actually a little bit comforting. You feel as if the situation last night isn’t an insurmountable obstacle anymore. You feel like everything will be ok.
But you’re still a sarcastic asshole, and you respond to him, “sorry to break it to you, but the sun’s not up yet.”
“My son is,” he says, changing the meaning of the words so quickly that you’re actually a little impressed. “So is your younger brother.”
You catch the slight unease that comes off the fairy king, and you watch him carefully, waiting for him to elaborate on that. When he finally does, it’s not quite in the way you expected.
“When my wife knew she was with child, she told me ‘honey, I’m pregnant.’” John’s dad says, fond reminiscence in his expression. He looks up at you, and there are tears of joy welling in the corners of his eyes. “Do you know what I said?”
You know it’s set-up, but for the life (or death) of you, you can’t figure out what it could be. “No, what did you say?”
“I put a hand over her belly and said ‘hello pregnant, I’m Dad.’”
It’s so cheesy. It’s so corny. It’s so Dad.
Something about that Dad-Joke makes you suddenly realize something.
“I’m not the only one who calls you Dad, am I?” you ask slowly. “John aside.”
The king of the fairies smiles knowingly and shakes his head.
“Does anyone actually know your real name?”
“A few of the older fairies,” the king admits. “But even they call me Dad.”
How did you never notice this?
“The point is,” he says, gently setting his empty cake plate to the side. “I see all my people as my children. I feel a strong need to protect them, and when they accomplish something, I am so very proud of them.”
Somehow, this doesn’t surprise you in the least.
“At first, I was distrustful of Dave,” the fairy king admits. “We spoke about this. But over time, I have seen how much my son loves that boy, and how much he loves him back. I have never minded shrinking Dave down to John’s size so they can enjoy each other’s company. What they choose to do behind closed doors is their own business.”
You’re actually a little surprised to hear that from the king of the fairies. It’s incredibly progressive for a culture that walls itself off from society.
“But now I see Dave as my son too. I see how hard he works and how much of himself he puts into loving John. And I am so very proud of him,” Dad says, a small happy smile on his face. “And you, I see you as my son as well.”
“Woah now,” you begin.
“Hear me out on this one,” the fairy king says, raising his hand disarmingly and chuckling lightly. “I see you as my son. I’ve seen all the work you put into protecting this realm, and it is so very admirable. I am more than just proud of you. I look up to you, you know. I wish that I could have the courage and strength to do what you do. What John does every day working for you.”
Dad reaches out and lightly places a hand on your shoulder in a very fatherly way. “Bro, on behalf of the fairies of this forest and everyone in this mortal realm, I would like to thank you for everything you have done.”
You really aren’t used to praise like this. Bro was never one to shower you with compliments. The Condesce would sooner bite your head off than praise you. You wish you were kidding. “Thanks?” you murmur weakly.
“You are welcome,” he says calmly, looking past your shades and into your eyes. “Now, Bro, I can sense when someone’s soul is not at rest. You know that. I have known for quite some time that yours is torn, and today it feels more torn than ever. I trust that is why you have come to see me. I gladly offer my services to repay you for your sacrifices. What can I do for you?”
For some reason, you’re finding it increasingly difficult to ask Dad for help. There is a small clinking sound as Hal places his plate on the coffee table beside you. You glance over at him, but he fixes you with a look that tells you this is your problem.
“Dad,” you murmur quietly. “Please help me find Jake.”
“Jake English?” Dad questions softly. “I wondered why you never told that boy the truth sooner.”
You feel the stillness of the room acutely. Your lack of a heartbeat and breath. The machinery of Hal’s body and (fucking damn it he does have a fusion reactor inside him now that you’re listening for it). The slow, steady beat of Dad’s heart.
Dad knows. He’s always known.
“How—how did you—,” you trip over your words with disbelief.
“Souls are what I do, remember?” The fairy king says gently. “I could tell as soon as I met Dirk that his soul was the same as yours. It’s all right. As a father and a king, I understand why you made the decisions you did. I can’t say that I completely understand how you came to raise yourself, but—”
“Lord English,” you offer quietly. “Time loop.”
“Ah, that explains it,” he nods, as if it makes perfect sense to him now. It probably does. “In any event, I know how hard your life must have been. I understand, and I will help you find Jake.”
You are so happy you could hug him and cry. But you don’t, you’re too cool for that. Instead, you smile at him lightly and say, “thank you.”
“We’ll get started in the morning,” Dad suggests patting your shoulder once more and letting you go. He’s already walking out the room as he says, “why don’t you spend the night here and maybe have a little chat with Dave. I’ll distract John for you.”
After the fairy king leaves the room, you turn to Hal. “Think I’ve gotta do this one on my own.”
Hal gestures to the doorway. “All yours. Trust me, I’ve had more than enough experience entertaining myself.”
You don’t want to think about what Hal means by that.
“Exactly what you think I mean,” Hal smirks at you. Then, he indicates towards the bookshelves in the study. “But I’m also not missing out on this chance to catch up on fairy literature.”
You leave Hal to it.
You sense for Dave’s presence and follow it through the castle to a hallway in a secluded tower. You’re certain that this isn’t where they spent their first night together. That was in the guest hallway. This wing has rooms that are far larger. You’re certain that this is John’s room.
You find the king of the fairies outside a door, a shit-eating grin on his face. “What could be so important that you don’t have a few moments to spare with your dear old Dad?”
“DAD!” John shouts through the door. “That is—can’t you just—come back later?”
“Son, it’s been too long since we’ve had a heart-to-heart,” the fairy king croons. “I need to talk to you.”
“UGH!!!” John groans loudly through the door. “FINE.”
You hear the telltale sound of shuffling in the room. Clothing being hastily jostled around and thrown on. The sheets of the bed quickly being thrown back into place.
A minute later, John emerges from the room, looking flustered and annoyed. His hair is always a mess, but you would swear that it’s a bit untidier than usual. “Ok Dad, I’m here. What do you have to—” John looks up and suddenly notices that you’re standing there. For some reason, that makes him blush even more furiously. Probably because he knows that you are 100% aware of what was happening in that room. “B-Bro?”
“That’s me,” you agree.
“Bro’s here?” Dave says, suddenly appearing at the doorway. He looks at you and frowns. “Why are you here?”
“Aww, I love you too, lil’ man!” you grin, pulling him into a hug. You’re playing it up for Dave, but you’re also so fucking happy to see him. You haven’t lost all of your brothers. You’ve still got Dave, whether he likes it or not.
“Mmmph!!!” Dave protests into your armpit, where you’ve smushed his face.
Meanwhile, Dad is already guiding John down the hallway. “Son, we have so much to talk about.”
You’re left standing alone with Dave in the hallway. Silently, you usher him inside the room and shut the door.
Yep. It smells like sex in here. You choose not to point out that little detail.
John’s room is nothing short of huge. The ceilings are vaulted and come to the fairy equivalent of three stories up off the floor. His bed is larger than any you have ever seen and is actually draped with gossamer lining that hangs from the ceiling high above and billows out by some unseen magical force. Leave it to fairies to use fucking magic on their beds.
In his room, John has a desk, a few armoires, several mysterious chests, a fine oaken table with plush chairs, and sinfully soft rugs that cover the finely polished wooden floor. He even has his own personal in-ground bathtub/Jacuzzi, separated from the rest of the room by the same gossamer fabric as the bed. Aside from the smell of sex, there is a faint sweet scent that you have come to associate with fairies lingering in the room.
You wonder what Dave thinks of it. But you don’t wonder enough to ask. Or even read his mind about it.
Dave looks at you with a disgruntled expression and sighs, “so what was so important that you interrupted the one shot I’ll have all week at boning my boyfriend? Or are you just that much of an asshole? ‘Cause I’d believe that.”
“Chill Dave, you can have all the time you want to fuck John. I don’t really care anymore,” you tell him. The tone of your voice must be different than usual, because Dave raises his eyebrows curiously at you. For once, he doesn’t say anything. He must be that interested in what you have to say. “I burnt Haven to the ground, so what you choose to do is your own deal now.”
“You what?” Dave asks, the shock and surprise clear in his voice.
“Anyway that’s not important. Dave, there’s something very serious I have to tell you,” you say.
“More important than burning down the place you’ve spent your whole life building,” Dave asks slowly. “Dish it out to me, Bro, ‘cause I’m all fucking ears.”
“I wouldn’t recommend fucking ears. It’s uncomfortable and messy,” you caution him offhandedly. Saying shit like this to Dave is second nature to you now, and you’re really not even thinking about what you’re saying. You’re busy trying to think of how to drop the big news to your little bro.
You never really thought about how you should phrase this, and here, standing in front of your younger brother now, you still don’t know. So you go with the usual method. Tried and true.
You don’t sugar coat. You don’t euphemize. You dish it out to Dave like it is.
“Dirk is gone,” you inform him simply. “He went back into the past with Jake last night. He’s never coming back, because I’m Dirk. I have been all these years.”
Dave doesn’t miss a beat.
“Wow congrats, Bro, your irony levels are off the charts,” Dave says. “They’re tangible like a giant blob of play dough. I could take it and make a fucking trophy, have it bronzed and engraved in gold, and give it to you, because you are the ironic champion. It is you.”
“Dave, I’m not being ironic this time,” you try to tell him.
“Party streamers and little hats with the tassels. I’m getting them for everyone tonight because we’re celebrating your new rise in the levels of irony.”
“Dave,” you attempt again.
“Dancing bears, a party must,” he continues. “This shit’s gonna be so epic you’ll go up another level. Fuck, we’ll all go up a level.”
“Dave, shut up!” you growl, pulling him closer to you by his shoulder. Seeing that he just isn’t understanding, you rip off your shades and his, revealing your respective orange eyes and red eyes to each other. You don’t put him under your influence, but when you look into his eyes, you find that tiny bit of suggestion you placed in his mind as a baby. That small bit that always told him you were Bro.
You remove it.
Dave blinks at you, and you watch the pupils in his eyes suddenly widen and then constrict. “F-fuck—what the hell, Bro? What’d you just—agh! Fuck!” He tears away from your grasp and turns around, pressing his palms to his eyes.
Outside, Dave is standing still. He isn’t moving. He isn’t crying. He isn’t shaking or making any sound or anything. Dave is still as the grave.
But inside, you hear the chaos within your baby brother’s mind. You hear his confusion, his anger, and his sadness at the loss of Dirk. It all whirls through him at astronomical speed. Just when you think he might be coming out of it, it starts again.
“Fucking damn it, Bro!” Dave finally growls. “Both of you with the Strifes. That stupid obsession with ‘plush rumps.’ Those goddamn Smuppets—!”
You wait, letting Dave’s mind settle down. It takes him a surprisingly long time.
Finally, he growls again and groans, “Can’t—unsee!”
As he finally begins to calm his shit, you slowly come up behind him and hug him. It’s nothing like the hug you gave him a few minutes ago. Wrapping your arms tightly around him, you feed him your warm loving energy. You send him calming, reassuring, positive feelings. “Hey, I know it sucks right now, but it’s gonna be all right. Trust me.”
“How can I trust you?” Dave demands. “You’ve lied to me my whole life!”
“Yeah, I did,” you agree. “But I couldn’t tell Dirk either. Don’t you think I wanted to?”
Dave is, miraculously, silent. He eventually sighs, leaning into your embrace and taking on calmness as he absorbs your energy into himself. Finally, he speaks again, in a quiet and defeated tone. “I miss Dirk. I fuckin’ miss him, Bro. This fuckin’ sucks.”
“I miss him too,” you remark quietly. “But that doesn’t mean you have to.”
“What do you even fuckin’ mean?” Dave asks.
“I mean, I have all of Dirk’s memories. I’m Dirk,” you respond meaningfully and far more gently than you ever do with Dave. “And I’m still here for you, Dave. I’ll always be here for you.”
You can’t see his face, but you think Dave is crying.
You hold your baby brother for a long time, gently sending him your love and assurance that everything will be ok.
Sometime later, the door cracks open, and a weary looking John walks back in. He takes one look at Dave and shakes the sleepiness off, flying swiftly into his arms. You’re quick to let go of Dave as he reaches out for his boyfriend, pulling the fairy close.
Without another word, you exit the room, leaving the two alone.
The fairy king is waiting for you. He regards you calmly and says, “I’m proud of you.” Then he takes you to a guestroom.
You fall onto the bed and into an exhausted sleep.
* * *
Bro ==> Find Jake!
You wake up the next morning ready to DO this. You’re on a mission. A Jake finding mission.
Surprisingly, Dave seems all right the next morning. You can sense that he’s still not completely over losing Dirk, but he’s functional again. “We’re helping you find Jake,” he informs you as you leave the forest. “John’s dad filled him in.”
The king of the fairies himself leaves with you, ready to begin the search. As you exit the forest, the Condesce walks up beside you, as if she was always there. “Neither me or my sis found anythin’ last night. Seems Jake’s somewhere demons don’t go. And if Fef didn’t find anthin’, he’s not by people either. Happy huntin’.” With that, she opens a temporary Derse portal in front of her and vanishes.
Dave blinks at you. “Seriously, how were you dating that for a thousand years?”
“You and Dirk had to eat, didn’t you?” you throw back at him.
Dave stiffens when he hears Dirk’s name, but he doesn’t say anything.
When you arrive back at your condo, everyone is in much better shape than before. Rufioh and Tavros have started up no less than five different games on different gaming systems on different TVs through your place. Karkat’s arm looks fully healed. He’s currently playing a round of Tetris with Tavros and swearing about the game cheating. Porrim and Kanaya are still sleeping and healing. They have chosen to sleep in your shoe closet, where the least amount of light will reach them. Porrim is sleeping peacefully on top of your loafers, and it looks like her wounds have closed up.
You know they will be fine by the evening and ready to join the search.
Without further delay, you divvy out parts of the world to your teams and begin the search.
By the end of the first week, you have collectively covered a large area but come up empty handed.
You weren’t ready for this. You had thought that with the most powerful beings on this dimension and others helping you, you would find him. You thought that you would be able to easily locate one guy that you had always been able to find before without any trouble.
You were wrong.
You’re laying beneath the stars in the desert with Hal by your side when Roxy and Jane come to you.
“Sorry, Di-Stri, wish I had good news for you,” Roxy sighs, sitting beside you.
Jane threads her fingers between Roxy’s and regards you with the same sad expression, “we’re trying so hard.”
“I know, I believe you,” you respond quietly. “Jane, glad to see you’re ok. I’m happy for you two.”
“Thank you. Though once you find Jake, we’ll truly be happy,” Jane replies gently.
“You’re starving yourself,” Roxy says sadly, laying down beside you and pulling you into a hug. “We won’t let you die.”
Jane lays on your other side, and as both girls curl beside you, sharing their loving energy with you through their hugs, you couldn’t find the situation more ironic.
“I know. An incubus surrounded lovingly in the most platonic way by lesbian angels,” Hal thinks to you.
You don’t bother thinking a response back to him.
“Don’t give up, Dirky. You can’t stop now,” Roxy murmurs. “You can’t.”
You won’t. But for a little while, you do close your eyes and relax, surrounded by their love.
* * *
Bro ==> Don’t give up
A full month goes by. You search everywhere you can, and so does everyone else. You won’t give up, but you are beginning to lose hope.
You’re certain that Jake would have sought out civilization by now. He’s not the type to lone around for long. In the centuries that you followed Jake, he never spent more than a day or two alone before finding a village or a town. Jake is drawn to people like that. You think it may be part of the First Guardian in him.
And yet, Feferi and Betty both assure you that he has not been seen around any village or town, human or demon. He isn’t in Prospit or Derse either.
Your friends have searched the arid planes, the mountains, and the deserts for you. They’ve given this search their all, and you’re not really sure when it is appropriate to call it quits.
You think that even if they gave up the search, you would go on forever. You would continue until you die.
Roxy and Jane swing by once a week to platonically hug their energy to you the same way as the first time. You’re not sure how they know to share their energy like that, but you’re grateful to them. You’re grateful to everyone who is supporting you.
But you know that this is taxing on your friends. It’s a burden, and you don’t think you can bring yourself to ask this search of them much longer.
It turns out you don’t have to. When you gather everyone together again in The City, ready to tell them they can go their own way, they stop you before you can even talk.
“We’re not giving up,” Karkat informs you bluntly. “We’ve been on this fucking man-hunt for a month and we aren’t stopping until we find him.”
The others are quick to agree. Dad tells you that he’s proud you haven’t given up yet. After sharing dinner together at a local burger place, you separate to continue the search.
Seeing Karkat again makes you think of his cousin Kankri. You feel a twinge of guilt as you realize that you had completely forgotten about Kankri and Cronus. They literally died for you. You have been so wrapped up in Jake that you didn’t even think about how the two of them are recovering in Derse.
You decide to make a quick stop by Derse before you continue your search.
The Condesce points you to a housing district by the sea, where you find Cronus dipping his finned feet into the dark waters. He grins and waves as you approach. “Heya, boss! Wvhat’s the vword?”
“Just wanted to see how you and Kankri are doing,” you reply. “And technically I’m not the boss anymore, remember? Burnt Haven to the ground.”
“Right, you did do that,” Cronus nods. Slowly, he removes his feet from the water and shakes them dry. He starts leading you up to a small house on a nearby hill. “Don’t think I can stop callin’ ya boss, though. Ya mind if I keep at it?”
You smile, glad to see that Cronus is doing just fine. “Suit yourself. How is Kankri?”
Cronus’s smile falters a little. “He’s—never died before. He’s not takin’ it wvell, but every day he’s a little better.”
When you walk into the bedroom, Kankri smiles weakly at you and attempts to sit up in bed. Cronus dashes quickly to his side to help prop him up with some pillows. “Hey, easy there, chief! Let’s not reopen any of those vwounds nowv, ya hear?”
“I shall be fine, Cronus, thank you,” Kankri smiles at him, then returns his gaze to you. “Bro Strider, it is good to see you again. I trust that all is well in the mortal realm?”
“I actually don’t know,” you admit. “We’ve all been searching for Jake this past month.”
“Jake,” Kankri says, a light frown touching his lips. “Why are you—”
Before Kankri can talk any more, you explain everything to him. The ending of the fight. The fate of everyone at Haven. That you’re Bro and Dirk. That you’re madly in love with Jake and can’t live without him.
Kankri smiles sadly as you finish. “I am sorry I cannot help you search, but Cronus—”
“I can’t leave you!” Cronus instantly exclaims from where he has cuddled beside Kankri on the bed.
Kankri pets his hair gently and says, “yes, you can. I will be fine here. Aranea has been so kind to us this past year, and I am certain she can handle anything I may need.”
That’s right. Time passes differently in Derse. One month in the mortal realm, one year in Derse.
And Kankri still isn’t completely better. You feel terrible.
But Kankri doesn’t seem bothered at all. He kisses Cronus lovingly and says, “you and I both know they need you. Nobody but you can explore the oceans as well.”
With a heavy heart, Cronus leaves Kankri’s side and joins your search. You really weren’t expecting this of him, but he insists. It’s what Kankri wants, so it’s what he wants.
Your heart bears another two weeks filled with your mournful desiderium. Every passing day makes the chance that Jake hasn’t appeared in your time all the more likely. For once, Hal mercifully decides not to update you with the percentages.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t figure them out for yourself.
You come to wonder if you will ever be able to live alone. If being without Jake is something you can do.
What do you have to live for really?
Jake is gone.
Dirk is gone.
Dave is more than capable of taking care of himself now, and he has a boyfriend who loves him unconditionally.
Haven doesn’t exist anymore, so even that is no longer your responsibility.
You’re free. No strings attached. No ties to anything.
Growing weary of it all, you make your way to where the land meets with the Pacific Ocean. Hal doesn’t try to convince you otherwise, but he does follow you. He says he won’t let you do anything stupid.
You’re sitting on an old wooden pier, staring into the dark waters of the ocean, thinking these thoughts one night when you notice the telltale sign of someone approaching in the sea. The waves increase in size, and Cronus surfaces from the water. Dripping wet, he sits beside you, completely out of breath.
You wait for him to catch it before asking, “did you find anything?”
“Yes, I think. You’ll wvant to hear this,” Cronus begins to speak, but suddenly you hear the classic sound of your hoverboard zipping to you at full speed.
Dave crashes to the ground in his rush to get to you, with John clinging to his shirt for dear life. He looks at you with wild excitement in his eyes, “dude you’re not gonna believe this.”
“I think we found him!!!” John exclaims. “Dad said he thought he felt his soul somewhere in the Pacific Ocean, but holy fuck Bro that ocean is BIG, like—”
“Bigger than my cock?” Dave asks, not even flinching as John whaps his ear from where he’s standing on his shoulder.
But you stop hearing anything they say.
Time stops. The world stops. Everything stops.
For that solitary moment, you cease to exist. And then, you’re flooded with the brightest hope that you’ve ever felt.
“Bro, did you hear anything we just said?” Dave asks, folding his hands across his chest.
“Nope,” you admit. “Say that again.”
“John’s Dad sent the three of us to search the Pacific. Cronus and I both found the same island. For some reason it’s not charted on any maps. If he’s not there, I’m outta ideas,” Dave recaps. “Then you went and fucking disappeared like Dorothy in Oz, so John’s Dad pointed us here.”
You’re already reaching for your old hoverboard, which Dave grudgingly lets you have.
He frowns, “how are we supposed to get back? You’re sitting on a pier in the middle of butt-fuck nowhere.”
“Hal will take you,” you tell him calmly. You glance at your robot counterpart. “Right?”
“Got your back, Bro,” he says. “Go get ‘em.”
You jump onto your hoverboard, getting the feel for it beneath your feet again. It’s been ages since you flew it, but it’s like riding a bicycle. You don’t think you’ll ever forget the feel.
“Dude, no, I’m not missing this,” Dave insists, climbing onto the hoverboard behind you. Knowing that Dave flies fast but you fly faster, John buries himself deeply in Dave’s shirt, bracing himself.
You’re too elated to give a fuck if they come or not. You look at Cronus and say, “lead the way.”
He nods and takes off. A few minutes into your travel, you realize why he was out of breath. Cronus swims fast. In the water, he easily keeps up with your hoverboard, leading you through the darkened waters.
Quickly, you leave the lights of the city behind.
You travel for hours through the night, with only the stars and moon providing you with light. The warmth of the summertime air makes the cool rush of the wind feel pleasant on your face. You feel like you’re soaring through destiny itself, the lead character in your own cheesy romantic comedy. You’re certain that Jake would drag you to see the story of your life, if it were a movie.
And finally, as the sun crests over the horizon, you see it in the distance.
As you near the island, Cronus stops, a gentle wave rippling out from the force of his halting. You pause for a moment, making sure that he’s ok. When you drop lower to the water, you see that he’s clearly fine. In fact, he’s smiling and waving you ahead.
“You’ve always supported me ‘n Kankri. Glad I could finally return the favor,” he says, grinning at you widely. His gills flip behind his ears as he waves a webbed hand toward the island. “Go find your own love, boss! I’ll be vwaiting back in Derse!”
“Thank you,” you murmur, lifting a few fingers in the air as a silent farewell. Cronus dives back under the water and you turn to face Dave. “I think this is where we part ways.”
“Yeah I figured,” Dave agrees surprisingly easily. The kid seems shockingly aware that you’ve been through Hell. Now that he’s had time to process that you and Dirk are the same person, he seems surprisingly calm. “I won’t be cheesy like Cronus, but you were cool with John and me. You’re all right, Bro.”
Dave holds his fist up to you. Smirking, you bump him back. Immediately, Hal adds his fist to the bump, and John puts his tiny fist in the middle.
It is quite possibly one of the cheesiest and coolest things you’ve ever done. Strider fist-bumps for the win.
Sensing that the moment’s over, Hal grabs Dave and picks him up bridal style. You feel the protest from your little bro instantly, but he reluctantly concedes, knowing that there is no other way back.
John peeks his tiny head up from the ruffles of Dave’s shirt and waves at you. “You can do it, Bro!!!” he shouts as the three fly away.
Finally alone, you continue on to the island.
The light of the morning sun has crested fully over the horizon by the time you reach the sandy shores. It casts a vivid pink and orange glow to the water and the sand, bathing the tropical island in its gentle light.
You drop down to the sandy shore and begin walking.
Your heart is filled with the brightest hope imaginable, because finally, after all this time, you can sense him.
You can sense Jake’s brilliant emerald energy.
You know that you’re getting closer, as you walk down the shoreline. You barely register anything on this island. The peculiar frog shaped statue. The interesting trees. The plethora of pumpkins growing everywhere.
It’s all background noise, because really only one sense is working right now. Your Jake sense. And it’s getting stronger.
You sense him getting closer and closer.
And finally, finally, you see him.
Deep down, you know that he’s just the same Jake English, but right now, he’s like a fucking angel surrounded by a halo of gorgeous beauty. His dark windswept hair blows in the breeze, at times only slightly obscuring those vivid emerald eyes. His expression is full of happiness and joy, which you feel bursting out of your own chest too. If your heart were to fly out of your body and into his hands you wouldn’t be surprised.
It’s his. It’s always been his.
And now you’re making no fucking sense. You logically know that your brain isn’t functioning, and you really don’t care. It feels like there should be an epic orchestral number complete with a choir booming around Jake, and there just might be. You honestly wouldn’t even notice it at this point. You drop your hoverboard in the sand and run.
“Strider,” Jake murmurs. Your enhanced incubus hearing is the only reason you hear it from afar. You see the small smile on his face grow broader as he comes to you.
Like a fucking French film, he runs across the beach to you, his hair blowing in the breeze and the waves crashing picturesquely beside him. You don’t even realize it as your feet carry you to him, every step across that sandy beach bringing you one step closer to him.
A thousand years of separation seems to grow more and more distant with every pace, and as the distance between you shrinks, you feel Jake’s excitement and his elation grow stronger, mirroring your own.
A particularly strong wind strikes you, and the orange hat Jake gave you centuries ago blows off your head as you run in the stiff breeze, and you don’t even care, because Jake’s here. Jake’s fucking here, and he’s yours. He’s finally yours.
And he’s finally within arm’s reach. Your hands are reaching for him, reaching, reaching—
You grab him by the waist and pull him up into your arms. Jake laughs and throws his arms around your neck, curling his legs up and the two of you go spinning, spinning, spinning.
There’s nothing but the warmth of his body and the comforting blanket of happiness surrounding the two of you. Your mind fills with an airy feeling of delight as you hold him to you. Finally, you stop spinning and allow his feet to again touch the ground.
“I thought you were gone. Oh fucking Christmas on a cracker, I thought you were gone!” Jake hugs you, pulling you so close that you think your body and his might actually merge together. You could think of worse ways to go than becoming one with Jake English. He burrows his face into your neck and murmurs, “I’ve missed you so much, Dirk.”
You freeze, still holding him to you as tightly as you can. Softly, you murmur back, “what did you say?”
Jake finally pulls back a bit, looking at you through your shades. His emerald eyes sparkle a bit with thoughts that you don’t dare to read as he slowly pushes your shades up on top of your head. Looking directly into your orange eyes, he repeats again, more meaningfully this time, “I’ve missed you so much, Dirk.”
Oh fuck. Oh fuck fuck fuck.
“You knew?” you whisper in disbelief.
“Yes, of course, you idiot,” he says, smiling at you and laughing lightly. You’re kind of glad that at least one of you finds this funny because fuck. “I’ve known for a very long time.”
Mind blown. Mind fucking blown.
Your brain is already struggling to catch up with the fact that Jake is here and that he’s yours. Now this? How are you supposed to handle this?
You can’t believe it. After all these years of trying so hard to keep yourself and Dirk separate, he knew?
“How long,” you attempt to speak, but you find that you’re too choked up. Your voice falters on you, and you cough it away before continuing. “—how long have you known?”
“A few hundred years,” Jake responds quietly.
“What?!” you exclaim. “How?”
“I followed you,” he says simply.
“You followed me?” You ask incredulously.
“Yes,” Jake admits. “I made certain you didn’t see or sense me, but I had to know where you disappeared to. If you were dead, I don’t know if I—” He pauses, and you swear that you hear a small, almost inaudible, sad whine in the back of his throat. Quietly, he finishes, “—I would have been devastated.”
You can’t believe it. You could laugh.
After all those years of stalking Jake English, he finally got back at you. Jake English stalked you.
And he knew your secret all along. This whole time that he allowed himself to fall for Dirk, he knew that he was really falling for you. Again.
Your head hurts thinking about the absurdity of the situation. Fucking time loops. Fucking time travel.
“Why did you do it?” you finally ask him.
“I literally travel the world, Dirk,” Jake says, exasperated. “Did you really think I wouldn’t try to find you after you disappeared on me for so long?”
“That’s—not what I meant,” you persist. Gently, you cup his cheek with the palm of your hand and lightly brush your thumb and fingers against his warm skin. “Why did you hide it from me, when you knew?”
“Because I have loved you for a very long time, Dirk,” Jake says, a small happy smile on his lips. “And when I found out he was you, I wanted to fall in love with him too. I wanted to love all of you.”
Something about that strikes you so deeply that you’re overcome with feeling. You can’t think of anything other than kissing him, and so you do.
Your lips come together, and he tastes sweeter than the fucking nectar of the gods. You’ve missed him. Holy fuck have you missed him.
And when he kisses you back, it’s with a passion that you’ve missed. You can tell from his feelings that he really did think you were dead. That you were gone and never coming back. His heart was broken, but now it’s brimming full with the most beautiful love you have ever felt.
You don’t know how much time passes, but eventually you pull away. You look into his emerald eyes, rub your thumb across his cheek, and laugh lightly.
Jake twirls his fingers through your hair and giggles. Then he pulls you together again.
Somewhere in the middle of the kiss, he pushes you down to the sand. You’re all too happy to lay beneath him, feeling his warmth on top of you as he settles between your legs and kisses your lips, face, forehead, and everywhere showering you with his love.
You want to continue this so badly. You can feel his want against your thigh, and you are so fucking ready for this.
But you can’t just yet. You have to know more first.
“How did you hide it from me?” you murmur, leaning in and pressing your forehead to his. You can feel the warmth of his breath, and the taste of his energy is so thick around him it drives you a little wild with excitement. “I’m a fuckin’ mind reader, but I never once saw it in your thoughts.”
“That’s because I didn’t think about it,” Jake says simply. His bright emerald gaze fixes on yours, and from this insanely close vantage, it makes you a little dizzy. You feel completely surrounded with Jake, absorbed in his being. “I thought of him as Dirk and you as Bro. But I always knew you were both the same.”
“You can do that?” you ask incredulously.
“Dirk, when you’ve lived as long as I have, you run across a wide multitude of beings,” Jake chuckles quietly. “You learn quite a few tricks over the years.”
“I was so certain that you only loved Dirk,” you shake your head in amazement. “It wasn’t until the night the Midnight Crew attacked that I knew you had feelings for me too.”
“Dirk, I want you to think about something,” Jake says, touching the tip of his nose to yours.
You can’t help it, you lean in and kiss him before he can finish.
Jake kisses you back, but he laughs and pulls back again, “Come now, I’m being serious! I want you to think about something.”
“Ok,” you concede, settling yourself a bit more comfortably in the sand. “What do you want me to think about?”
“I knew the younger you less than a year. Yes, I loved him dearly, and I would have given just about anything to save him,” Jake says, regarding you with fondness. “I would have given almost anything, but I nearly died for him because I knew he was also you.”
A lump catches in your throat. You try to speak, but the only thing that comes out is an embarrassing high pitched sound.
“I have lived since the beginning of this universe. Longer than you could fathom. But in the past 1000 years, I realized something,” Jake says, undeterred. He pauses for a moment to gaze at you deeply, meaningfully. “Dirk, I have never loved someone more than you.”
You want to break. You want to scream. You want to cry.
Because Jake is finally saying this to you.
Jake loves you.
“I waited a thousand years for you,” you say passionately, pulling him into a tight hug. “I never stopped loving you.”
“I know,” Jake replies softly. “I never stopped either.”
You’re kissing again, and this time you have no more pressing questions to ask him. You let your fingers roam over his body, beneath his shirt and his shorts, and you sigh, feeling his hands mirroring your affections on your skin. You don’t hesitate to help as he slowly tugs at your shirt.
It starts lazily and slowly. As you kiss, he slowly unbuttons your shirt and helps you out of it. You let him play with your belt and your pants as you work to remove his shirt.
But quickly things escalate, and soon it becomes a frantic rush to remove your shoes, pants, and everything else. Very quickly, you’re both laying nude in the sand, and you sigh, loving the feel of Jake’s warmth atop you. Of his skin on your skin.
“Dirk, I think we should have sex,” Jake suggests rather blatantly.
You chuckle. Leave it to Jake to ask in the most unromantic way possible. Not that it matters to you one way or another. You would find anything he says absolutely endearing at this point. Softly, you smile back at him and say, “I think that’s a good idea.”
You are so eager to do this that you nearly forget, some preparation might be in order. Especially due to one little fact. “Jake,” you murmur, but the words are stolen from your mouth as he cants his hips down, pressing your arousals together. Your breath catches in your throat, and you instead touch your nose to his cheek and kiss his upper lip.
Jake meets your kiss with increasing passion, and when he looks at you, there’s a want behind his emerald eyes. A want that makes you excited and even more lustful. “Hmm?” he hums in question, moving on to kiss your cheek, your jaw-line, your neck.
“I wanted to wait for you. I would have waited those thousand years for this too, but you know what I am. I couldn’t. I’m sor—” you murmur.
Jake quickly kisses you and shuts you up. “None of that now. You could have slept with millions of people and I wouldn’t care a whit.”
But you’re not done talking. Your cheeks flush with heat as you force yourself to continue. “I had to do what I did to survive. So that my brothers would survive. But Jake, I did save something for you.”
Gently, you take his hand and guide it down between you. Taking his index finger, you circle it around the puckered ring of your entrance and whisper heatedly into his ear, “I never let anyone enter me here.”
You see Jake’s eyes widen and feel his hand clench your butt a bit in surprise. “Truly?”
“Only for you, Jake,” you assure him with a soft exposed smile. “This is only for you.”
You feel the surge of fondness, pride, and love in Jake and it fills you with elation. You know that you made the right choice. Jake is quick to capture your lips again while he gently dips his finger in and out of you.
You add a little spit to his finger for his future comfort, and it doesn’t take you long to be ready for him. You are a sex starved incubus after all. Roxy and Jane may have kept you alive, but it was only through platonic hugs.
You need more. Your body craves more.
You need Jake.
Jake seems to sense this too, and he is quick to withdraw his finger and position himself properly. He looks up at you one last time, asking, “may I?”
“You damn well better,” you growl.
It’s all the incentive Jake needs. After being a backdoor virgin for a thousand years, you gasp when you feel him slide quickly inside you like he always did.
It’s been so long. So very very long. You clench around him instinctively, gripping at the taut muscles of his back.
Jake seems to sense that you’ll need a moment to adjust, and he doesn’t move. Instead, he gently threads his fingers through your hair in what you can only say is a very pleasing and comforting way.
You will yourself to relax for him. Soon, you’re eased enough that he can continue.
The two of you make beautiful love on the sandy island shores. You soak in the titillating waves of his pleasure as they burst out toward you, filling you with love and also an increasing lust.
You’re inside Jake’s head. You feel everything that Jake feels. You sense everything that he senses.
As he gets closer and closer to completion, you do too. You have missed Jake’s energy. You have missed his love.
It fills you with the sweetest happiness when he comes. When he does, you are quick to follow him, spilling yourself between your bodies as you gently rock your hips up to meet him a few last times.
When he is completely finished, Jake sighs and slumps forward on top of you, heedless of the sticky mess you left behind. “I fear this is an all-new record for me.”
“Hmm?” you hum at him inquiringly.
“I don’t think I even lasted a minute!” Jake wails into your shoulder, the sound of his voice muffled by your skin.
“24.53 seconds,” Hal supplies through your shades.
Fuck. You forgot he was listening. And probably recording.
“Hell yeah I’m recording. I’m you, remember?” he says.
You don’t bother responding to him. Instead, you smirk up at Jake, “It’s all right. I have a feeling we’ll have plenty of opportunities to make it up soon.”
Jake pulls back a bit, and your soul fills with happiness again as he grins. “I’d say we shall!”
About ten minutes later, to be precise. And then again an hour later. And again in the afternoon. And before dinner. And twice before bed.
You spend several days blissfully with Jake on the island.
The two of you enjoy the pleasant tropical weather, hike to the top of a volcano, catch up on life, and have more sex than you’d care to admit to anyone.
It’s like a fucking honeymoon. You couldn’t be happier.
* * *
Dirk ==> Be in love
Life is beautiful. Life is absolutely perfect.
You didn’t think it was possible, but you’re even more in love with Jake than you have ever been. You’ve spent nearly an entire month with him on this island, and it’s a beautiful reprieve from the constant toils of your former life as a demon hunter.
There is only one thing that reminds you that you still have work to do.
The night of the full moon comes, and you sense the unease in Jake immediately. The two of you are cuddling beneath the stars, nestled together in the grass beneath a large tree. He hasn’t said anything about it yet, but you can sense his guilt immediately.
Gently you lean in and kiss him on the cheek. He looks over at you, and you remind him, “you know, I won’t die if we don’t have sex for a few days. I could probably go a month without really needing it.”
“Dirk, I-I know,” Jake stammers, flustered about the whole situation. He knows that you’ve guessed what is really bothering him, and he sighs with frustration. “I wish that this wasn’t an issue. That this whole conundrum didn’t have to exist.”
“What if I told you it doesn’t?” you ask.
Jake looks at you with shock in his wide green eyes. “Goodness, don’t say such things! To even hint that there could be a glimmer of hope—”
“Jake, if there is one thing you’ve taught me, it’s that there is always hope,” you tell him seriously.
A full minute passes by. You see the change in his expression range from surprise, to elation, to sadness, to hope. “Are you saying— you’ve found a way to defeat him?”
“I have a few ideas,” you admit. You take his hand in your own, squeezing it tightly and in a way you hope is reassuring. “We’ll have to work together on this one. Can I count you in?”
Jake laughs, and it’s music to your ears. “Of course, Dirk. Of course.”
* * *
Dirk ==> Show Jake your work
Over the past thousand years, you worked tirelessly in Derse on your robotics. On your creations.
On a weapon you could use to kill Lord English.
You take your rocketboard to Derse and show Jake all of the designs you had in mind. You even have the repaired version of the gun he gave you long ago. The gun you were supposed to use on him that your mother fixed for you after Lord English broke it.
Jake walks through your robotics laboratory in awe of all that you created in your time. Your laboratory is not the small room in Derse you initially started in. It’s huge, easily the size of a warehouse, and it’s filled to the brim with your creations. “A thousand years, and this is what you created. You are simply astounding!”
“Technically, it was a lot longer than a thousand years on Derse,” you remind him. “But when I get into my work, time loses its meaning.”
Jake finds the gleaming silver gun he gave you and runs his fingers along it sadly. “You didn’t use this on me. Not really.”
“Hey, I shot your leg off,” you counter.
“Yes, but you didn’t kill me,” Jake says, shaking his head. He looks at you, and there is a sadness and thankfulness in his expression. “It took a lot of bravery to do what you did. And I fear this will be a test of mangrit too. Lord English is not a force to trifle with, and if we make one mistake, it could spell misfortune for not only this planet but the entire universe.”
“I’m aware of the risks. As you can see, I’ve thought a lot about this,” you say, waving a hand at your workshop. “But you know Lord English better than anyone. I’ll show you everything I made, and you can tell me what you think will work.”
It takes you a very long time to show Jake your work. Days go by as you explain the intricacies of each device and weapon you created. Jake listens with rapt attention, his expression completely serious as he carefully inspects each one.
And finally, you finish showing him the last one.
Jake takes a seat at your workbench and sighs. “Dirk, you put so much work into each of these. You’re a genius truly. But—I don’t think any of these will quite do the trick.”
You take a seat beside him, a frown touching your lips. This wasn’t what you expected. You thought for certain that at least one of these would be somewhat suitable. “Not a single one?”
“I mean,” Jake says, his eyes gazing off to the side in thought. “There are several of your designs that have potential, but none of them are charged with the energy needed to kill Lord English.”
You stay silent, letting him continue.
Jake pauses, continuing to mull things over. “I suppose I could charge them myself in time, as I did with the gun I gave you, but I worked on that for several centuries.”
“You worked on that for centuries?” you echo.
Jake regards you with fondness, his teeth peeking over his lips as he smiles at you. “I’ve loved you for a very long time, Dirk. I would have trusted you with my life long ago.”
You’re starting to feel guilty now. But Jake speaks again before you can continue feeling that way.
“I’m not so certain my energy alone could take him down either. It didn’t the first time I fought him,” he frowns at the memory. “But I think, it might be possible—”
You wait for him to continue thinking things through. Part of you is so very happy to see him like this. You love the look of concentration on his face. The adorable way that he is rubbing his chin with his index finger and staring at the ground in rapt concentration.
“I could probably tweak a few of your weapons so that they had the potential to destroy Lord English, but there are a few requirements,” he says slowly, then looks up at you. “We would need someone who has an immense amount of holy energy at their disposal, and then another to balance it with dark. And finally, someone who can calibrate your weapon exactly to Lord English’s soul, since that is what you will be pulling out of me.”
It takes you less than half a second to put everything together. You can’t help it. You’re grinning at him.
“What?” He asks, a little taken back. “Is something about this humorous to you?”
“Yeah, it is,” you agree. “Because I know exactly who we need to ask.”
* * *
Dirk ==> Ask Feferi for help
“You’re Lord English?!” Feferi exclaims, rising quickly from her gleaming golden throne when you explain the situation. She marches right up to Jake, a passionate burning behind her eyes. The force of her emotion is so strong that a gale of wind emanates from her, blowing over all of the potted plants that she had lining her throne room. “YOU?!!! All of my angels have been searching forever for YOU?!!”
You’ve never seen Feferi so angry before, but you can’t say you’re really surprised. She’s spent centuries hunting Lord English, possibly longer. You’re really not sure how long she’s been at it.
Her eyes gleam in a dangerous way, and Jake actually takes a step back in worry.
Quickly, you step between the two of them. “He’s not Lord English. Jake is our universe’s First Guardian, and it would be very foolish to do anything to him, since that would only release Lord English out on the universe again. But we have a plan to get rid of Lord English forever.”
Grudgingly, Feferi backs down and folds her arms across her chest. “I’m listening.”
* * *
Dirk ==> Ask Betty for help
This goes a lot smoother than it has any right to. Although, perhaps it’s a perceived smoothness based off knowing the Condesce.
She sits on her dark throne in Derse and narrows her eyes at Jake when you bring him into the room. When you explain the situation to her, she taps her fingers on the armrest of the throne and sighs with disgust. “Lord English, ma only weakness. You better appreciate this, ‘cause it’s the last favor you’re gettin’ from me.”
“I appreciate everything you’ve done, Betty,” you tell her, the words actually holding more truth than you had intended.
The Condesce actually looks a little touched by this. It looks like she was about to say something, but she falters. Finally, she waves her hand at you, “you’re gonna make me a softie. Get outta ma face until you’re ready for ma help.”
* * *
Dirk ==> Ask Dad for help
“I’d be honored,” the king of the fairies says, smiling from ear to ear as he pats you and Jake both on the shoulder.
The force of his happy blows nearly knocks the plate of cake he gave you from your hands. You’re sitting in the king’s study again, where Jake is happily eating a dogwood pear cake that the king himself prepared.
“I’m so proud of you both,” Dad says, with a bright twinkle in his blue eyes. “I know that you can beat Lord English. I truly believe that.”
You nod at him. “I’ll call you later, after this is all over.”
“Don’t call me later,” the fairy king says, a mischievous grin on his face. “Call me Dad.”
* * *
Dirk ==> Kill Lord English
The whole ordeal takes some preparation. A few months go by before Jake is satisfied with the exact calibration of the weapons he has chosen from your arsenal in Derse. You literally created hundreds of weapons in your time, but Jake selects two that seem quite appropriate for you both.
The weapon he chooses for himself is similar to a pistol. It wasn’t anything fancy when you created it, but after Jake adds his own carvings and unique emerald energy to the weapon, it glows with a radiance you have to admire.
The weapon he chooses for you is a sword. You call it that, but really, it’s nothing like a sword at all. More like a very sharp energy rod. Wielding this weapon against Lord English will be dangerous, because you’ll need to be in close proximity to use it. But you both decide that guns really aren’t your thing and that you are far better off with this type of weapon.
Jake takes his time carving out ancient symbols you don’t recognize into your selected blade. When you compare Jake’s pistol and your sword, you notice that the carvings are nearly matching. You haven’t a clue what they mean. When you ask Jake, he simply smiles and says he would be happy to teach you his language sometime later.
Jake has his own language? That man will never cease to surprise you. You’re definitely going to learn it forward and backward after this whole Lord English mess is over.
Jake imbues both your weapons with his energy. He curses that he can’t do it faster, but he needs to reserve a large majority of his energy for keeping Lord English trapped. To speed up the process, Jake transfers the remainder of the energy he placed in the gun he gave you long ago into these two weapons. He remarks that it helped a great deal, but it still isn’t quite enough.
Finally, after enough time has passed, he says, “I think that should do it.”
Your first stop is Prospit, where Feferi concentrates and imbues both weapons with the concentrated holy power within her and the planet.
“By the way, I thought you’d like to know that the Midnight Crew are all locked away in the tightest security prisons we have,” Feferi tells you cheerily. “They are in no condition to escape, and they never will.”
“That is relieving to hear,” you agree. Truly it is.
“I thought so too. And Strider, good luck,” she says. “I know you two can do it. And if you don’t, then there will be one hell of a holy war soon!”
Just the thought of Feferi and her angels wreaking havoc makes a shiver run down your spine, but you don’t let it show. Instead, you simply thank her and move on your way.
Your second stop is Derse, where the Condesce places the dark energy from the core of the planet and her own into your weapons.
“By the way,” she says, catching you before you leave. “I tracked down those three mothafuckas that were working for Lord English.”
You pause, waiting to hear that the queen of Derse is finally taking responsibility for her subjects.
“Damara, Kurloz, and Meulin are sitting in the castle cells now and forever,” she says, a large toothy grin spread across her face. “Reinforced the walls maself. They ain’t never leavin’ again.”
Poetic justice, you think.
No. It’s just plain justice. Terezi will be thrilled to hear about it.
You grin, making a deep and overly ironic bow. “Your rule as queen has never been wiser.”
She laughs and dramatically bows back as much as she can from her seated position. “You ever doubt me?”
Yes. You did. A lot of times. You wish she would have done something about those three a long time ago.
But you aren’t about to tell her that.
Instead you move on to the fairy forest, where Dad already has tea and cakes ready. You sip your tea and watch as the king of the fairies examines the weapons, then examines Jake. If you didn’t know he was 100% not interested in Jake at all, you would be a little jealous with the way he’s touching your boyfriend. Jake is almost completely nude, stripped down to his boxers, and the fairy king is placing his hands directly atop his skin, making light circular motions.
Dad seems to realize that it’s an awkward situation, and he apologizes, “I’m sorry that I have to do this, but it’s difficult to read Lord English’s energy signature through your body and soul.”
You’re impressed that the fairy king can sense it at all. Except on the rare occasions that Jake lost control on the nights of the full moon, you have never sensed Lord English within him.
The fairy king studies Jake for hours. He explains, “souls are very complicated and unique. Identifying a soul is one thing, but recreating it is much more difficult. For your weapons to work, this will need to be exact.”
You let him take his time.
While you wait, you notice Dave and John not-so-stealthily sneak by in the hallway. Figuring that you’ve got some time to kill, you follow them. You find them sitting closely together outside by the lake, watching the fairies play and skim across the surface of the water. John looks like he wants to drag Dave out there too, but you know your little bro. You know Dave will have nothing to do with that.
You flashstep over and sit beside Dave so quickly that you sense him tense a little bit with surprise. “What’dya want, Bro?” he asks.
“Can’t I just say hello to my baby bro?” you ask, grabbing him by the shoulders and hugging him closely and awkwardly.
Dave squirms in your arms. “Broooo you’re embarrassing me in front of my booooyfriend! Not cool. Not even ironically cool.”
“Aww, that’s ok. I have enough love for both of you,” you say, simply widening your hug, pulling John in too.
John giggles and hugs back, happy to squish Dave into what he calls an “awkward ice-cream sandwich.”
Dave pretends to be upset for a while. But eventually he sighs and relaxes. Finally, he asks, “so what did you really come for?”
“Jake and I are fighting Lord English soon,” you tell him quietly, your voice suddenly serious. “This could be it. If we don’t make it back, it’s up to you to take care of everything from here on out, lil’ man.”
You feel the shift in Dave immediately. His arms circle around you and pull you close like his life depends on it. “Fuck—” he murmurs.
“Hey, what happened to it not being even ironically cool to hug your bro in public?” you chide him half-heartedly.
Even John senses the change in the atmosphere too, and he lets go of your big group hug. He folds his wings down and opts instead to soothingly rub Dave’s back.
“Fuck, Bro—or Dirk, whatever you’re callin’ yourself now,” Dave murmurs into your shirt. “You can’t do this. You can’t.”
“I can, and I have to,” you respond seriously, pulling him tighter. You move your fingers to his neck and wind your other hand through the back of his hair, pulling him closer until your cheeks are touching. It’s enough contact for you to feed him your energy. Your love. Your feelings of calm.
You feel Dave tremble beside you uncharacteristically. His voice is broken as he says, “don’t do this. Don’t leave too.”
“I’ll try not to die,” you agree, running your fingers through his hair gently and doubling the calming energy you’re feeding him.
Finally, you think you’ve given him enough sedating energy. He stops trembling and sighs. John continues to rub soft circles on his back, his bright blue eyes filled with sadness as he murmurs, “Dave…”
“I know you’ve gotta do it,” Dave murmurs. “I know it’s gotta be you and Jake. You two are like the fucking Romeo and Juliet of this shitty world. And you’ve gotta be the ones to take down Lord English ‘cause nobody else is gonna be able to do that, but fuck I don’t wanna lose you. Dirk’s already gone, and if you’re gone too I don’t know it’ll be like the anti-Christmas all up in here. Complete with shitty presents. It’s shitty. This is all so fuckin’ shitty.”
“Dave, you’re rambling,” you remind him gently, holding your baby brother close. Quietly, you ask, “hey, what have I always told you?”
“Don’t be a snot-nosed wimp?” Dave mumbles back into your shirt.
You pause. That wasn’t quite the one you were looking for. Snorting lightly, you answer for him, “no, you dork. You’re a Strider. And Striders stick together. Even if I die, I’m not leavin’ you. I’m gonna haunt your ass until the day you die.”
Dave laughs. “You better, Bro. You fuckin’ better.”
You sit with them a little bit longer on the shores of the lake. Eventually, you feed Dave enough calming energy that he feels all right about you leaving to fight Lord English. He even lets John convince him to get out onto the water.
You wonder why the hell you never did this to Dave sooner.
Content with everything, you sit on the bank of the lake and watch your baby bro and his boyfriend skim along the surface of the lake. Dave’s actually smiling as John holds him aloft, his wings fluttering around them both to keep them up in the air. John doesn’t even seem like holding up an extra person is hard work at all. Then you remember that this is the fairy that fights with a gigantic Zillyhoo hammer a hundred times his size. Remembering the strength of Dad’s playful slap on your shoulder, you are not surprised at all with the origin of John’s power.
You are so happy that your brother found happiness. That you were able to fulfill one of your dying mother’s last wishes and bring Dave and John together.
And now, you have to complete your parents’ legacy. You and Jake will finish the work they started as demon hunters. The work you continued at Haven.
You and Jake will protect not only the planet but the universe as well.
You and Jake will kill Lord English.
Night has fallen by the time Dad emerges from the study with Jake. Not wanting to interrupt, you were sitting on the ground, leaning against the wall just outside the door with a fairy book in hand. You’ve become far better at reading the fairy language over the centuries, but it never hurts to add a few extra words to your vocabulary.
You look up at the two of them. “Is it done?”
“It’s done,” Dad agrees, a weariness behind his blue eyes. “But you boys had better spend the evening and get a good night’s rest before you take him on. I sensed the power within his soul. It will take all of your strength to defeat him.”
You allow Jake to help you up, and then you turn to Dad. “Thank you for all of your help. Truly, I would never have made it this far without you.”
“Anytime,” he says. A bit of uncertainty comes over his voice as he asks, “are you certain you don’t need my assistance in the fight?”
“Your people need you,” you insist. “In the event that we do not succeed, Lord English knows about this place now. He will come after you for helping us. You must escape with the rest of the fairies and find a new place to live.”
“I thought you might say something like that,” the fairy king sighs. Then he offers his hand. “Well then, let me offer you good luck one last time.”
You take his hand and allow your fingers to be squished in his crushing handshake. “Thank you.”
As you leave the fairy forest, Hal pings in your shades, a courtesy so that you know he’s about to insert his thoughts into your head. So kind of him.
“Hey,” he says into your brain. “It’s been a while since you’ve been in The City. Come find me before you go off to beat the final boss.”
You sigh and redirect the better cooler rocketboard that you built recently toward The City. You let Dave have that old one, which he was very grateful for.
It doesn’t take you long to track down Hal when you get to the city. He wants you to find him, so he makes ironically gigantic arrows appear on your shades across your vision, pointing the direction you need to go to find him.
You find that he’s leading you back to someplace very familiar.
“No fucking way,” you murmur when you step off your rockeboard.
In front of you, are your friends. Karkat, Kanaya, Porrim, Terezi, Latula, Rufioh, Tavros, and Hal are all standing there grinning like fucking idiots. Even Cronus is sitting on a nearby bench, holding a very weak looking Kankri.
Behind them is Haven. Completely rebuilt.
“You rebuilt it,” you murmur, shaking your head and actually laughing once outloud. “You fucking rebuilt it.”
“Bigger, better, and more badass than ever before!” Rufioh assures you, pointing at you and winking.
“The inside’s just as retarded as before,” Karkat assures you.
“This is—” you murmur, then actually pause. Maybe it’s because Jake’s back that you’re getting soft like this. But maybe it’s because you never thought you would have friends like this.
Friends that would risk their lives for you, die for you, die again for you, search the world for months for you, and rebuild your dream for you. Friends you can count on. Friends you can trust.
“—I can’t believe you did this,” you continue. “This is great but—”
“We have heard what you intend to do,” Porrim assures you. “Hal has filled us in. Come inside and we will discuss things.”
You cast a glance at Jake. He looks at you and shrugs his shoulders. You only have two weapons you can use against Lord English. You’ll have to find some way to break it to them that they can’t come. Looking back at them, you begin again, “I truly appreciate this, but—”
“No! No butts!” Terezi interrupts, pointing at Jake. “Unless it is his lime green butt.”
You glare at her, and because she’s blind, she can actually sense that through her weird taste-smell-vision. Terezi cackles.
Rufioh loops an arm over your neck and shoulder, then loops the other one over Jake’s, and pulls you both inside. “Come on, Bro, you’ve gotta see what we did!”
You find that you can’t argue anymore.
When you get inside, you can’t help but smile.
The place is filled with phallic shaped balloons. And streamers. And jugglers.
And even fucking dancing bears.
“Told you it was just as retarded on the inside,” Karkat grumbles.
“Like it?” Rufioh asks, letting you go so that you can marvel at everything.
“Love it,” you chuckle.
Rufioh and Tavros show you around the new place, and you have to admit that their handiwork is very impressive. They completely remodeled the place, giving it a new face-lift but retaining some of your ideas. There’s still a bar, a lounge area, and a row of offices in the back. Your office is intact, although now there are selfies of Dave hung up everywhere. Even your closet portal to Derse is still there.
Satisfied that you’ve seen everything important, they bring you back out to the bar area.
“God damn it, Dave,” You chuckle, knowing that only your younger brother could have done this. Only he would remember that these were the exact things you always threatened getting to celebrate something monumentous, like Dirk breaking up with Caliborn. Or Dave going a fucking hour without whining like a little bitch.
Dave steps out from behind where your bar is completely rebuilt, this time in metal, with slick finishing. “Like it? It’s like fucking word-for-word what you always said. I even got the weird penis balloons.”
“No smuppets?” you ask, grinning at him.
Dave pales. “Dude, don’t bring up the devil in the house of god. Not cool.”
You chuckle. “All right, all right. But seriously, how did you get back here so fast? My old rocketboard takes twice as long.”
“Rude,” Dave scoffs. “You’re not the only one who can use Derse portals, Bro.”
“You know where they lead?” you ask, seriously surprised.
“Please. I’ve been using Derse portals since I was 5,” Dave grins. “Now hey, stop being a douche and turn around. You’ve got a party waiting for you.”
You turn around and find that your friends have thrown you a nice sized party. The place must still be closed to the public, but all of your friends are here. And you mean all of them.
Even Jane and Roxy. The angels both smile and hug you when you approach them in the new lounge area. This time, they are hugs of happiness and not the sad ones they gave you last time you saw them. “Way to go, Di-Stri! I knew you would find him,” Roxy exclaims, squealing a little with glee.
“I had a little help,” you murmur. “Thanks. I’d never have made it without you two.”
“We know how stubborn you can be,” Jane chides with a knowing smile. “And we know you and Jake can do this too.”
You really aren’t sure if she’s right, but you don’t let that show. Instead, you simply grin at her and agree, “we’ll be back before you know it.”
“Atta boy!” Roxy cheers and smiles. “Now no more heavy talk. You’ve got friends waiting for you!”
You take a moment to speak with everyone. You sit with Cronus and Kankri and find out that Kankri is healing slowly but surely. He’ll have to return back to Derse after this party to continue gathering his strength, but he wanted to see you off.
“I truly believe in you, Bro,” Kankri says, smiling at you from where he is sitting on a comfortable lounge chair.
“He’s still a little crazy, but even my cousin Eridan vwishes you luck!” Cronus says with a small sad smile.
You find Kanaya and Porrim sitting at a table in the bar, sipping mysterious red liquid and conversing quietly. They both wish you luck, of course.
“Dirk was like a brother to me,” Kanaya says quietly. “And so are you. Please do not die. I will miss you.”
Porrim notices when Kanaya begins to tear up, and she pulls her into a side-hug. “If Lord English eats your soul, it’s all over. But I’m sure you know that already.”
“Don’t let him do that, ok?” Terezi says, sniffing you as she walks by.
“That’d be SO NOT rad!” Latula agrees, patting your shoulder.
“You are strong, Bro,” Porrim continues. “If anyone can defeat him, it is you and Jake.”
Porrim’s words stick with you.
When you head to the back of the place, Tavros fist bumps you. “You’ve uhh, always been a pretty cool guy. I think you will succeed.”
You smile and bump Tavros back. “Thanks, Tavros.”
Rufioh high fives you. “You got this, Bro!”
“So do you, this place is better than before,” you admit.
Rufioh winks back at you. “What’d I tell you?”
In the back hallway, you find Karkat, who was never much for the crowded party scene. Or any kind of scene. “Don’t die ok?” he says with a scowl. “You die and I have to put up with Dave’s shit alone for the rest of my life.”
“Hey now, is that any way to speak to your new boss?” Dave asks, his voice carrying down the hall from his office. It prompts you to visit your old office.
When you step back inside the old familiar room, you smirk. “Couldn’t help it with the selfies, could you?”
“Dude, these are the shit,” Dave says instinctively, sitting in the seat behind a large wooden desk that looks almost exactly like the one you used to have. “Step into my office, Bro.”
“You little shit, you knew I was going to pass this on to you, didn’t you?” you murmur.
“Kinda made it obvious, Bro,” he agrees. “Plus I’ve known you my whole life. You’d never miss the chance to pass the baton on a sack of steaming shit like this.”
“Yeah, sometimes being the alpha dick is a steaming sack of shit,” you agree. “It’s hard leading all these people. It’s hard saving the world every day. But it does come with its rewards. You know, like living. And the planet not being destroyed.”
“Minor details,” Dave says, waving it off.
“I know it’s a daunting task, but you can handle it. You’re a Strider. One bit of advice though,” you tell him.
You start to get flashbacks of your dad saying this to you. Of you saying this to Dirk. Of every time anyone gave this advice and it was ignored. You fear for your little brother a little, but you say the words anyway. “The Condesce will help you, but don’t ever let her—”
“Bro, you think John would ever let me do that?” Dave interrupts to ask you rhetorically.
“No fucking way!” John’s voice comes from the hallway.
You would swear that it’s louder than usual. Not quite as high pitched. Almost as if—
John walks into the room, and you can’t help the smile that spreads on your face.
He’s full human sized. John’s grinning like an idiot, and he half runs and half flies into Dave’s awaiting arms. His lips are on Dave’s, keeping him from saying much of anything.
Dave tries to talk anyway.
“But how?!” Kiss.
Finally, John giggles and backs off. “Roxy might have shown me a thing or two,” he says. “She said she always thought it was silly to keep it from me. That Dad probably just didn’t want me to grow up.”
“Roxy’s crazy sometimes, but you know what? I think she’s right,” Dave agrees.
You wave. “I’ll let you to get to it. Best of luck to you both.”
“You too!” John calls happily after you.
“Bro,” Dave says sharply, drawing your attention back to him.
When you turn around to look at him, you smirk.
Your little brother’s holding out his fist.
You bump him back.
“Don’t let me be the only Strider,” Dave says seriously. “The world ain’t ready for that yet.”
“Hey, remember what I said? Striders stick together,” you tell him. “I’m comin’ back for you, lil’ man.”
* * *
Dirk ==> For Fuck’s sake, BEAT LORD ENGLISH!!!
Your friends look sad to see you go, but you can feel the hope in their spirits as you leave. You know that they believe in you. They’re counting on you to save the universe.
It’s a pretty tall order, when you think about it. You’ve been saving the planet for centuries, but the universe? That’s a new concept.
After dodging through the streamers and dancing bears, you collect Jake from the party and leave for what could be your final mission.
You stand by your rocketboard and suddenly pause.
“Did you have some place in mind where we could do this?” you ask Jake. “Killing Lord English might be a little rough on the ecosystem.”
“It could be,” he agrees. “Hmm, do you remember that island where you found me? How about there? It seemed fairly isolated. I doubt we will be wreaking havoc on any ecosystems over there!”
“You got it,” you murmur, jumping onto the rocketboard. You smile when you feel Jake climb up behind you, sliding his hands snugly around your waist and holding on.
Your friends all run outside to see you off. You hear them all screaming and hollering, wishing you both good luck and demanding that you come back safely.
You wave at them once and take off.
With your newly improved rocketboard, it doesn’t take you too long to reach the island. There really aren’t any Derse portals near it, so you’re better off traveling this way.
When you reach the island, it’s slightly past noon. Jake points and directs you to a long stretch of beach that is uninhabited by anything. The entire island is mostly deserted, but this will give you plenty of room to work.
As soon as you land, Jake removes something from his sylladex that looks suspiciously like a wand. He points it at the ground, shooting a bright white ray at the sand and heating it until it turns into glass. Then, carefully, he begins walking around, creating intricate patterns of glass in the sand.
You stand back and watch him work, admiring the careful precision he uses and the caution he takes not to step on any of the glass pattern he has already created. The “wand” you realize must be a tool that produces immense heat, if it is able to turn sand into glass. You wonder what else Jake has in his little bag of tricks.
You don’t recognize the pattern that Jake creates, but you do notice that some of the swirls and some of the sharp edges look similar to the patterns he placed on your sword and his gun. It must be the writing of his native tongue.
When he finishes, the sun is still high in the sky. Jake puts the wand away and carefully makes his way over to you, making sure not to step on the glass he made.
“Not that I don’t love watching you work,” you murmur. “But you care explaining the point of that?”
“It is a temporary prison,” Jake explains. “It will hold Lord English in place until we are finished.”
“No offense, but it’s made of glass,” you point out. “That isn’t going to hold him very long.”
“We won’t need it to,” he assures you, a dangerous gleam in his eyes as he materializes both your blade and his gun from his sylladex. He hands you the sword, carved with his symbols and filled with more energy than you can possibly fathom being contained in one small object. “Are you ready for this?”
You take the blade, testing the feel again between your hands. When you deem it satisfactory, you look back up at Jake and nod.
He steps in close to you, passionately and possessively kissing you. You don’t hesitate to kiss him back, wrapping your arms carefully around his body and drawing him in closer to you. Jake’s kiss is filled with the sweetness of his soul and all of the love that he has for you. You can feel him sharing it with you, filling you with his bright emerald energy, and imbuing in you strength that you didn’t have before.
And you can hear his thoughts loudly and clearly while he does it.
“I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you—” he thinks over and over again, grasping you tighter, and pouring as much of his love and energy into you as he can.
When he finally pulls back, he regards you with a sad smile.
“I love you, Dirk,” he says, this time out loud. “Whatever happens, I want you to know that.”
“Jake, you mean everything to me. I love you more than anything,” you admit to him softly. “I’ll gladly face whatever lies ahead, because I’m not giving you up. Never again.”
Jake’s smile widens and he pulls you into a tight hug. “Dirk, I don’t know why you ever took such an interest in me, but I’m so glad that you did. These past thousand years were some of the hardest and also the best.”
“Yeah, they were for me too,” you admit, chuckling softly. “But that’s kind of egocentric for me, since they were my only thousand years.”
Jake laughs and continues holding you for several minutes. You can sense that he doesn’t want to let you go. That he’s scared of what’s going to happen.
That you’ll die and he will never see you again.
You don’t want to, but eventually, you pull back from him. The sun has moved a little lower in the sky, but it is still hanging brightly overhead. You’d rather do this before it sets, bringing out the moon and another source of Lord English’s power. “Are you ready, Jake?”
“Yeah,” he agrees, stepping back from you. “When you pull his soul free, make sure to place it within the circle at the center of the glyph I drew. It will give us the best chance of beating him. He won’t be weak this time, as he was in the past. Lord English is at full strength.”
“I will,” you promise him. “Anything else I should know?”
“He has two main sources of life. His brain and his heart. To defeat him, we must take out both simultaneously,” Jake says. He grins and makes a small gunshot motion with his right hand. “I’ll go for the headshot.”
“And I’ll go for the heart,” you agree.
Jake nods, and steps back from you a little more. He takes a deep breath, and slowly unbuttons the green button-down shirt he wore today specifically for this purpose, exposing his skin and toned muscles to you. Jake regards you with green eyes that are somehow calm, fearful, sad, and determined all at once. Then, he holds his arms out to the side, inviting you to rip the monster out of him.
As you look at him, standing there with his arms spread to you, the light of the sun behind him and the wind sweeping his hair and clothing in the breeze, you can’t help but wonder how you ended up with such a perfect being. Such a tragic and perfect being. You think about the past thousand years, about the torment that you went through just to get to this moment, and you think you would do it all over again, a thousand more times, because you love him that much.
“I love you, Jake,” you tell him seriously. Then, you place your hand to the skin of his chest, feeling for the exact resonance of Lord English’s soul, and pull.
Jake cries out as the evil dark essence is ripped out of him.
You watch Lord English materialize in the air in front of you, the burden of his dark essence growing in your hands and taking the form of a large hideous black monster.
At first, you are shocked to see Lord English form so quickly, to feel the depth of his hatred for you, Jake, and the universe in front of your face. And then, you remember that Jake was anticipating this. That he drew that special glyph in the sand for this very reason.
Quickly, you redirect the dark soul, extending your hand out toward the circle in the center of the sand symbol. You grit your teeth together as you force the demonic soul away from you and Jake. It takes more effort than you thought it would, but you channel the dark energy into the circle, watching Lord English form at the center of the glyph.
As the last of the evil soul leaves Jake, you hear your boyfriend wince and fall to a knee in the sand. You look at him with concern, but instantly, he thinks to you, “there’s no time!!! I’ll do my part from here. Go kill him now!!!”
He looks up at you, a burning, dread, and conviction in his expression. Weakly, but determinedly, he says, “GO!!!”
Instantly, you’re in motion. As Lord English forms, you feel the gravity on the beach shift, and the world becomes so much heavier than it was before, pulling you toward the earth with force that you have to fight with every fiber of your being.
Lord English is fully formed now, a dark monstrous green and black being. He opens his mouth, detaching his jaw from his skull and roars a terrible honking sound that vibrates through the land. The force pushes you and Jake back a bit and knocks over several trees in the distance. The surrounding air fills with darkness that threatens to block out the sun.
You have to get to him now. Now.
With a burst of speed, you run toward him. When you reach the edge of Jake’s glass glyph, you leap.
Time seems to slow, as it always does, when you come face to face with Lord English. As you fly through the air toward him, you hear that horrible voice in your head.
“That’s me,” you think back at him. You’re not even sure if he can hear you, but you don’t really care.
YOU ARE JUST. A SIMPLE INCUBUS.
Mental conversations happen at a disgusting speed, because you find that you’re still only partway through the air. You narrow your eyes, concentrating on the demon ahead.
YOU CANNOT POSSIBLY. DEFEAT ME.
“You sure about that? Because I really think I can,” you think back. Even if he can’t hear you, it doesn’t matter. You’re grinning as you fly through the air, because you realize that you actually believe that.
You really believe that you can win.
You can’t see Jake behind you, and you don’t dare take your eyes off Lord English to look back at him. But you know that Jake will do his part. You know he’s got your back.
Jake’s your best friend. Your partner. Your lover.
You trust him with your life.
You think about it as you fly in what you would swear is slow motion to Lord English.
I trust you with my life, Jake.
The foul miasma of Lord English’s presence is palpable in the air. You feel it clinging to you, trying to pull you back.
I trust you, Jake. I love you.
You’re almost there. Lord English is close enough that you can see the darkness of his eyes and the detailed cracks in his leathery skin. His malicious energy is so thick that you are certain you would choke on it if you actually had to breathe. You’re not sure if you will make it through this toxic cloud of his essence. You feel it slowing you, pushing you back.
Suddenly, from behind you, there is a burst of brilliant green energy. You feel it like the warmth of Jake’s hands on your back, supporting you, and pushing you forward. And you hear his thoughts in your head and in your heart.
I believe in you. I love you, Dirk.
It’s all you need.
Your gaze hardens as you focus on Lord English. With the extra push of Jake’s energy, you accelerate forward that last bit of the way.
In one swift motion, you plunge your sword through the thick shell of his skin. You feel it crunch through the cartilage of his ribs and squish through the fleshy tissue beneath it.
Your entire blade glows when you finally pierce Lord English’s heart.
You gasp, feeling the heat of the energy burning your hands, but you don’t dare let go. Holy energy. Dark energy. Whatever the fuck Jake’s energy is. It all swirls through the blade, coursing straight from the weapon into the demonic monstrosity right next to you.
Lord English roars that awful sound again, and he swipes at you in what you’d swear is slow motion again, trying to rip your body in half and knock you away.
You think about how long it took you to get to this moment. About all of the sacrifice you and everyone else made along the way. All the villages that were destroyed by Lord English. The 1000 years of your life that you lost.
The ultimate sacrifice that both of your parents made for you and Dave.
You can’t let it all go to waste. You can’t.
“That is right. Do not let this cycle continue. Do not let the billions of lives that have been lost continue to grow in number.”
You recognize that voice. You want to laugh and cry at the same time, but you do neither. You’re not even sure if he will hear you, but you think back, “I don’t plan to give up. I haven’t this far, have I?”
“Of course you have not. You are a STRIDER.”
He can hear you. He can fucking hear you, and you think that you might be crying. But hell if you know, because the poisonous essence surrounding Lord English is thick as paste now. It’s sticking to your body, to your skin. It’s in your hair and in your eyes. You can’t really see anymore, but you continue to cling to the burning handle of your blade, pushing it deeper into Lord English’s heart.
You feel it as Lord English’s claws tear into your back, but you don’t let go. Instead, you grunt and think back, “I’ve missed you, Dad. You and mom.”
“I am so proud of you, Dirk. Of everything you have done. I read in your mind that you would accomplish these things long ago, but I am so happy to have seen them come to fruition.”
“Is Mom there too?” you think, trying to ignore the sharp pain of Lord English’s claws as they tear into your body. You’re aware that all of this is probably happening within the course of a second or two, but it feels like so much longer.
“Your mother’s soul was human and has been free since she passed away,” your father informs you. “Lord English can only consume demonic souls. Finish him, Dirk. Set all of our souls free.”
You grimace at the pain exploding through your body, but you dutifully continue to hold on, shoving the blade as deeply as you can into Lord English’s body. Finally, you reach the hilt, and you know you can go no further.
“I love you, son.”
Suddenly, you feel a deep shock run through Lord English’s body, through his claws, and into your back. He spasms. He stops.
Half a second later, you hear the sound of the gunshot that was fired, catching up to the bullet that you know must be lodged in Lord English’s brain.
You hear shots fired again. And again. And again.
With each shot, you feel a deep pulsation from the monster next to you. He roars a loud, terrible honking roar.
You hear the glass from the glyph Jake drew in the sand shattering all around you, exploding up in to the air and every direction. Some of the pieces just barely graze by your face. Some shards embed themselves in your skin. You wince and bear it, like everything else.
And slowly, far too slowly, you feel his evil essence begin to recede.
Lord English falls to his knees, dragging you down with him. You fall into the sand and glass, still clinging onto the sword, and the monster falls on top of you.
You don’t know how long you’re lying in the sand with Lord English slowly dying on top of you. All you’re aware of is the thick evil surrounding you.
There is no light.
There is no Jake.
Slowly, you feel the burden begin to lessen. The souls of all those demons that were trapped inside Lord English begin to detach from his body, flying away to freedom. Passing on to the next realm.
The weight on top of you begins to lighten.
The world begins to feel less like a dour weight.
And then you feel it.
You feel him beside you, pulling you up through the darkness.
You feel his arms around you, feeding you strength, light, hope, and love.
And slowly, the world comes back into view.
The first thing you see when you open your eyes is Jake. He looks so worried, but when you moan lightly, he smiles a radiant smile that is more beautiful than the dawning rays of the sun.
He laughs and pulls you into a tight hug. You can feel him trembling around you as he whispers, “we did it Dirk.”
Then he throws his head up to the sky and laughs. The look of happiness on his face fills your soul with joy as he screams to the open air, “WE DID IT!!!!”
You smile. You want to laugh with him and shout and throw him in the air with happiness, but you’re way too weak for any of that right now. The most you can muster is gently wrapping one arm around his torso, pulling him into a loose hug. Quietly, you murmur back, “yeah we did. Never fucking doubted.”
Jake finally seems to realize how badly you’re hurt. You see that concerned expression on his face again. You don’t ever want him to look like that. Especially not because of you.
“Chill,” you try to tell him softly. “I’ll heal.”
You feel his lips press gently to yours, giving you life, love, and the energy that you so desperately need. You can tell that Jake doesn’t have too much of his own to spare after that battle, but it’s enough to make you not feel like total shit anymore.
The sword you used to kill Lord English falls out of your hands as he picks you up and carries you away.
* * *
Dirk ==> Live Happily Ever After
You spend the next few days on the island with Jake. Now that he doesn’t have to contain Lord English anymore, you feel the energy within him quickly rising.
The day after your fight with Lord English, Jake’s strong enough to feed you all you need to get back on your feet again. He gives you all the life and love you could possibly hope for. You make love on the beach, surrounded by the ocean, in the warmth of the tropical sun, and beneath the gentle light of the stars.
For the first time ever, Jake shows you just how much he loves you beneath the light of the full moon. It fills your heart with the greatest joy when you feel that there is no trace of restraint or sorrow in his soul.
Every day, you wake up the happiest person in the universe, because you know Jake loves you.
He loves you he loves you he loves you.
And you’ve never been more in love with him.
As the days pass by, you sense the energy and power within Jake rising to astronomical levels. You’re sure he could fill the solar system with the radiant light of his bright emerald energy.
Then finally, one day, he leads you out to the beach. His soul is still filled with happiness and love, but you can feel a small seed of sorrow beginning to build within him. He pulls you into a tight hug, then kisses you like his life depends on it.
You gently return the kiss, then rest your forehead on his. Softly, you ask, “Jake, what’s wrong?”
Jake sighs, and you can tell that he really doesn’t want to answer you.
Gently, you rub circles into his back and pull him closely to you. “Whatever you have to say, go ahead and say it. I’ll never stop loving you.”
“I know,” Jake says quietly. “I won’t ever stop loving you either. But this—”
You sigh softly, holding him close. “If we can beat Lord English together, we can overcome anything.”
“I suppose. Very well,” he says, though he doesn’t look like he completely believes it.
You wait for him. It takes your boyfriend several moments to work up to whatever he has to say. You don’t read his thoughts. You want him to tell you on his own.
And finally, he does.
“I have to leave now,” Jake says, his voice full of regret.
“Where are you going?” you ask, not so eager to lose him after all this time. “I’ll come along.”
“I really don’t think you’ll want to. You never did before,” Jake chuckles quietly and sighs deeply. A moment or two passes by before he finally explains, “Dirk, I am a First Guardian, charged with protecting the entire universe.”
You knew that. You knew that, but you’d kind of put that out of your mind for a while. You had so many other things to think about. So many other far more important things.
His green eyes flick over to you when he asks, “have you ever wondered why I stayed on this one little planet?”
Your brow furrows, and you wonder if maybe it wasn’t what you had suspected after all. Maybe Jake didn’t stay here because of you. Maybe you were just that self-absorbed and conceited to think so.
“I stayed because it took nearly all my power to trap Lord English within my body,” Jake explains. “I couldn’t go anywhere else.”
What an idiot you were, to think that you mattered that much to Jake. To think that he would care enough about you to stay.
Even though you don’t voice those thoughts, Jake seems to catch on. As he’s proven lately, he’s far more clever than he usually lets on. He raises an eyebrow at you and says, “of course, I had a bit of an incentive to stay.” To make his point, he punctuates that remark with a quick peck on your cheek.
Jake’s expression turns to one of sympathy and sadness. Softly, he says, “I know in the past, you haven’t wanted to come on my adventures with me. And, well, this is one bully of an adventure, so to speak. I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t want to go on this one either.”
How could he think that? How could he think you wouldn’t want to come along? To be with him forever?
But suddenly you realize that you haven’t exactly given him a reason to think you would. How many times have you broken Jake’s heart by telling him you wouldn’t adventure with him? You count the number of times, and your soul is filled with grief.
You even did it to him the day you first met him.
Jake sighs, the breath lingering on his lips before he says, “Dirk, I love you. You know that I will always come back for you.”
“Don’t bother,” you say quickly, and you feel the trepidation and dread that instantly spikes in your boyfriend. But that disappears when you pull down your shades, letting him see into your soul and allowing yourself to smile. With conviction, you say, “you’ll never have to come back for me, because I’m never leaving you again. Wherever you go in this universe, I’ll go too.”
Jake laughs, and there are tears in his eyes as he asks, “truly?”
You nod at him and add, “I even got a fucking free pass to Prospit.”
“Prospit is the least of your concerns,” he murmurs. “There are worlds with more danger than you have ever dreamed of. Places that—”
Quickly, you lean in and silence him with a kiss. Jake melts into your arms, and you hold him in a rapt embrace. When you pull back, you look implicitly into his eyes and say, “I mean it, Jake. Anywhere you go, I’ll follow you. We’ll travel the universe together and have the grandest adventures.”
You think you actually feel your skin burning up from the happiness that radiates off your boyfriend. His arms wrap around you with a crushing hug and he lifts you into the air, twirling you around because he’s just that fucking happy.
Eventually, Jake puts you back down. His voice is gentle and it quivers a bit as he says, “I’ve waited a thousand years to hear you say that, Dirk.”
“And I’ve waited a thousand years to say it,” you respond, pulling back so that you can look into his beautiful emerald eyes. “Jake English, you’ve given my heart the hope that I never thought it would have again. Would you like to go on an adventure together?”
Jake smiles that adorable bucktooth smile with which you have fallen so deeply in love and says, “I’d like nothing better.”
Both of you have the same idea, and your lips meet with a kiss that is both sweet and filled the passion of a thousand year’s separation. Jake’s love pours into your very soul, and yours into him. You know that whatever may happen in the future that nothing will ever tear you apart again.
You both pull away, but the happiness lingers in your eyes as you gaze fondly at each other. Jake is the first to speak up, as he casually says, “so, I hear that the horsehead nebula is lovely this time of the year. Care for a visit?”
“Let’s do it,” you agree, letting his happiness flood you and fill your soul with the most delicious warmth you have ever felt. “First can we make a pit stop by Haven? I should probably do the responsible thing and let Dave know I’ll be gone for a while. Little shit won’t know what to do without me there.”
Jake laughs, “of course. I’d travel anywhere for you.”
It brings a smile to your lips and happiness that you know will stay in your soul for a long time to come. As you leave together, off to explore the mysteries of the universe with Jake by your side, you know that you’ll never be hopeless and heartless again.
* * *
YOU MADE IT!!! I MADE IT!!! WE ALL MADE IT!!! =D
Congrats on finishing quite possibly one of the longest stories you will ever read. This baby took me about a year to write (Microsoft Word says I spent 12.5 WEEKS writing and editing it!!! Granted, I’m sure that’s an overestimation, BUT STILL.)
I really hope that you’ve enjoyed reading Hopeless and Heartless as much as I’ve loved writing it!
After the last chapter, I received a fucking OCEAN of love, and it came at the best time. Those of you who took the time to write me an essay, and even those of you who jotted down a quick note, please know that I am so thankful for your words of encouragement and love.
Everyone who has ever taken the time to talk to me, send comments, draw artwork, do character ask-blogs, and read this gigantically long story, please know how very much I appreciate you. I can’t possibly list all of the names here, because we’d be here all day. But, I’d like to thank Chibiedo, Sachi, and Acyl for ALL of the time you have given me. Seriously, days? Weeks? You’ve given me so much of your time, and I can’t thank you enough!
For those of you saddened and crying that this is the end, know that this is not the end for Dirk and Jake! I have a few bonus epilogue chapters planned, though I can’t promise anything about my updating schedule from this point on. I’ll be one busy chica, but I will try to squeeze some writing in when I can.
Check my tumblr for updates on life and stories! Or if you just want to talk to me. I’m a pretty friendly person, if I do say so myself.
Speaking of writing, I aim to make my next full length story original work. Fanfiction is a beautiful thing, but I finally have the courage to take the next step into the unknown. I’ve gained that strength thanks to all of you.
Through the course of writing this story, I’ve heard several times that my writing is good enough to be published. I’ve heard that from so many of you, more people than I’ve ever heard it from before. It’s truly inspiring and uplifting, and it’s filled me with the courage and strength to forge ahead with my writing. Thank you all so much. I can’t possibly thank you enough!
Never before did I dream that I’d have such devoted fans. I didn’t think I could finish a story with this much depth and gravity. I didn’t believe I had the strength to continue this story, despite all the challenges life threw my way.
But I did.
Life isn’t easy. We all have our obstacles to overcome, but they are not insurmountable. As I said last chapter, please don’t ever let fear hold you back from anything you truly desire to accomplish.
I know I’m not going to let it hold me back anymore. And now it’s your turn. Let’s both make our dreams a reality.
Have hope. Have heart.
You’ve got this.