Stable Time Loops
The first time you met Jake English, you had just been dropped off by your Aunt at preschool with your cousin Roxy. Your Bro would have done it himself, but he was off on his inconveniently timed business trip. But that was okay, you thought. your Aunt made breakfast every day and she was super nice and always made sure that you, Roxy, and Lil’ Cal were being nice to each other and not getting near the wine cellar (because that’s where Roxy always wanted to play). And despite everything that was simply okay with the situation, that didn’t mean you didn’t miss your bro. And that didn’t mean that your Aunt would be picking you up from preschool afterwards, either.
“We hired a babysitter,” you remembered her telling you, “He’s from out of town, but he needed a job, and he’s only sixteen so what’s the worst that could happen? Besides, we got him a background check and he cleared it, so…” She had ended the conversation there with a shrug and a reassuring smile. She then drove the two of you to the preschool and dropped you off.
Preschool was okay, you supposed. you hadn’t made any friends thanks to your strange-colored eyes, but naptime and snack time were fun. And besides, Roxy had been there the entire time. But when you had reached the outside of the building with Roxy’s new friend Jane, you were waved at by an extremely tanned boy with black rectangular frames and unruly black hair.
“Hiya! I’m Jake,” he had said, “You two must be Dirk and Roxy, correct?” The teenager- no, Jake- had smiled at you.
“You talk funny,” Roxy had pointed out. Jake had laughed and explained to you that he had grown up on an island with his grandmother, and she was from a place that was “across the pond” called England, and that’s why he spoke in a weird fashion. You were okay with it, you found the accent kind of… relaxing, actually. You weren’t really sure why, but it wasn’t too weird for you. Jake babysat you every day for a while, until your bro came back from whatever business trip that he was on. Then Jake was never heard from again.
Well, not in the same sense.
The second time you met Jake English was in one of your classes in high school. Roxy and Jane had finally gotten together, and while you were happy for them, you felt a little like a third wheel whenever you were around them. You were sketching some blueprints for an auto-responder that had the exact same personality as you from the back of the room when the teacher announced a new classmate.
“He’s a foreign exchange student,” she had explained, “From England. While I wasn’t aware that we had a foreign exchange program set up with England, be sure to make Jake here feel welcome.” You looked up at the new kid, who would have to sit in the seat beside you seeing as that was the only place left in the classroom. He seemed frighteningly familiar for some reason, but you couldn’t put your finger on how. He had unruly black hair and emerald green eyes with black rectangular glasses.
He eventually made his way to the back to you after the teacher finished airing her skepticisms. He smiled nervously at you and waved a little bit- wow he was cute when he did that- and started listening attentively to the lesson while you went back to your blueprints. After class, while you were walking to their next classes, Jake formally introduced himself.
“I’m Jake English,” he said. “What’s your name?”
“Dirk. Dirk Strider.” The two of you shook hands, and you asked him to sit at your table at lunch. You played it off like it wasn’t a big deal, but you really were interested in getting to know the cute British boy. Jake amiably agreed, and you parted ways for your next class.
You couldn’t wait for lunch. You paid even less attention in class- much to the annoyance of your teachers (they were already annoyed enough with having to let you wear your shades in the classroom, the least you could do was pretend to pay attention to their lectures). You were jittery and nervous and wondered constantly what Roxy and Jane would think of your new acquaintance. You decided Roxy would end up texting you later tonight to dig up your feelings with lots of wonks, while Jane might bake him a cake or something.
“Dirk Strider,” chided the teacher, “How many times do I have to tell you that you can’t be drawing in my class? Please save your sketches for art.” You grudgingly agreed and put your sketches of- was that Jake?- in your folder and stared at a random spot on the wall until the bell rang. When that did happen- which wasn’t soon enough- you all but ran out of the door and to the cafeteria. On your way you found Jake standing in the hall looking confused.
“Hey, English,” you call, “Lost?” Jake looks over at you in surprise.
“Strider! I- um- yes. I’m lost.” He shrugged. “Luckily I’m going where you are!” You snort at his stupidity and start walking towards the cafeteria, beckoning him to follow you.
You sit at Jane and Roxy’s table for the first time in almost a month. They look up in surprise- first at you and then at your friend. Roxy smiled at you knowingly- she knew which way you swung while Jane remained ignorant- and the batter queen herself had her eyes fixed on the British beauty. Jake looked awkward, so you cleared your throat and started the introductions. “Jane, Rox, this is Jake English, a foreign exchange student from England. English, this is Jane and Roxy, my friends. Roxy’s the winking blonde, by the way.” Roxy coughed in the middle of one of her signature “wonks” that were being thrown in your direction and rolled her eyes.
“I think I’ll call youou...” your very drunk cousin paused for dramatic effect, taking a swig from a flask covered with a knitted cozy, “Jakey!” You roll your eyes at her- how did she get around the school in that state anyway? Jane continued to stare at Jake until Roxy reached over and tapped her on the nose, effectively startling her from her dazed stupor.
“What? Oh, um, nice to meet you, hon. We should meet up after school- I’ll bake a Welcome-To-The-States cake and we’ll have a proper party.”
“I’ll bring the b-”
“Burritos! Good thinking Roxy. Bring burritos.” You interrupt her before she can volunteer to bring alcohol, which would send the whole party into a downwards spiral of awkward drunken lesbian sex noises coming from Jane’s room while you were trying to sleep. No matter how much you love drunk strip poker, and no matter how scary the glares that Roxy was sending your way were, it wasn’t worth freaking out the new kid.
You all meet up at Jane’s house; her dad was out on a business trip, and it wasn’t like he would mind anyways. Jane set out baking straightaway, and Jake peruses her collection for a movie to watch. He settles on an Indiana Jones movie- you didn’t catch which one- and Roxy goes on a Taco Bell (and booze) run after learning that Jake had never heard of the “Mexican” food joint.
“You’ve got to try some, Jakey. Thinkuvit as your introduction to America,” she had said firmly.
“But isn’t it Mexican food?”
“Dussit matter?” Jake threw you a pleading look, and you shrugged.
“This is how she is, man. It’s how she’s been for as long as I can remember.” You gave another noncommittal shrug and said, “Just roll with the punches.” Jake sighed in defeat and told your cousin to get him whatever. You and Jane placed your orders, and Roxy bounced off to her car and almost ran into the mailbox as she backed out of the driveway. Jane shook her head as the sound of Roxy speeding down the street assaulted their ears.
“I wish she would stop drinking so much,” she sighed.
“She only does it because of Ms. Lalonde and Bro. If it wasn’t for them, for the Condesce, and for the Secret Service, she would probably be the same person she was when we were kids,” you unnecessarily explain.
“Pardon me, but what the dickens do you mean by all of that?” Jake interrupted.
“No, man you’re fine. It’s just-” You cut yourself off, not wanting to explain it all then and there. It usually took a large amount of vodka to get you drunk enough to explain everything without breaking down at some point, and even then it got more emotional than you would care for. “Not today. I’ll explain to you sometime, alright?” The British boy nods understandingly, and you feel yourself relax slightly.
Jane is taking the cake out of the oven when Roxy gets back from the taco shop. She (predictably) brought some wine, about two dozen churros as well as the meals for everybody, and picked up her cat Frigglish while she was out and about. She (miraculously) didn’t get pulled over for drunk driving or driving without a license. Jane was noticeably relieved when she got back, as she usually worried about having to bail Roxy out of jail or Roxy getting in some accident somewhere. Jane also motions for Jake to start the movie while she dishes out the food and sets the cake out to cool while she starts to make frosting.
While the movie plays out, Jake recites lines as they happen. He also acts out the fight scenes and tenses when a good part is about to happen. You find the whole thing to be incredibly cute, and seeing as you can also spend the entire time checking out his butt, you’re pretty happy. Though it never does catch his attention that someone may be checking him out, Roxy does notice, big time. She somehow saw through your shades, and sent many wonks your way until you suggested that she may have something in her contact and that she may want to go wash it out or something. She retorts that her contacts aren’t even in right now so how could something be in them and Jake shushes all of you before Jane can lecture her about driving with impaired vision (not to mention with a cat known to jump at any sudden movement, without a license and under the influence). You focus your attention again on his fine booty until the movie ends with Jake cheering because the heroes didn’t look at some ghosts or something. You didn’t really follow the plot.
By that time, the four of you had completely devoured Jane’s cake. You all had determined that you would be spending the night, and would work on homework and stuff tomorrow. Jane’s house had one guest bedroom, and you just assumed that Jake wouldn’t want to get all snuggly after knowing you for a day. No matter how plush the rump, there’s still a working human brain in there somewhere.
“Hey man, I’ll take the couch. You can have the bed,” you heard yourself saying. Jake looks surprised by your offer.
“No, no, you take the bed. I’ll sleep out here,” he argues.
“No. You’re the new kid, you take the bed.”
“It’s the gentlemanly thing to do if I take the sofa, now-”
“Did you just say gentlemanly?” you interrupt. You did not just hear him say that.
“Er… Yes.” You sigh in exasperation. He was one of those types, the kind that always had to be the chivalrous douche.
“Listen. If you take the couch, I’ll feel like an asshole.” He’s about to interrupt you when you continue. “But it seems like if I take the couch, you’ll feel like an asshole. So, why don’t we just share the bed? There should be more than enough room for two.” You conveniently forget to mention wanting to get into his pants. That could be saved for a later date.
“Sure,” he decides. So you spend the night together platonically in the guest room as bros. There was absolutely no shenanigans, thank you very much, though you did wake up to a little bit of cuddling.
And though you have to deal with a blushing Jane and a wonking Roxy the next day, you think it was absolutely worth it.
Jake continues to sit at your table at lunch, so you didn’t blow it too bad. He spends the next month developing a strong friendship, one that turns into a dating relationship. You and he drive out to a ridge overlooking the city where you ask him out while stargazing (and avoiding the school dance). He accepts but mentions that long-distance relationships are hard and don’t usually work. You shrug it off, as you tend to live in the present. He continues to fret until you kiss him to get him to shut up. It works, and it leads to something more.
Let’s just say that you spent the night together not-so-platonically. There was absolutely no bromo, and plenty of shenanigans. And you definitely woke up to cuddling.
You never did tell him about your Bro and Roxy’s mom dying to save the world from a terrorist group led by someone known as Her Imperious Condescension. It simply never came up. After he left, the two of you kept in touch for a while over the chat client that Roxy had programmed. He was golgothasTerror, and you were timeausTestified.
But the funny thing is, when you googled his name, all you could find was an old article about some empirical scientist guy. It had mentioned that the baron had stopped using the last name English after taking over a few publishing companies, and had it changed to Harley just to get rid of the pun. The name Jake English, however, was nowhere to be found in the 21st century.
The third time that you met Jake English was at a random coffee shop during college. After finding that article, the two of you seemed to slowly grow apart. Hell, you had mostly forgotten about the British boy with the nice butt that you banged in the backseat of your car by that time. But lo and behold, Jake English the barista remembered you and made a big spectacle of what was supposed to be a cram session filled with caramel lattes.
Jake insisted that the two of you catch up, so he made you your coffee and sat down to pester you while you shoved engineering terms down your throat. It was finals week, and you were determined to pass. He chattered on about his grandmother, and you solved math problems. He jabbered about an island he’d inherited, you worked on blueprints for your final project. It worked as it always had, because he loved to talk and you were willing to listen.
A strange pair, they had called you in high school. A peculiar duo.
Eventually you got your work done, and he ran out of things to say. Your roommate had texted you approximately an hour ago about blank messages on your computer, so you used that excuse to leave. You did, however, give him your address and exchange phone numbers with him, so he could catch up with you. You had truly missed him, as reluctant as you were to admit that, and wanted to let him know what he had missed. You hurried back to your dorm room to a freaked-out roommate staring at your blank computer screen.
“What’s up, man?” you inquired.
“That’s the thing- I don’t know. I thought you said that your cousin made this malfunction-proof!”
“She was also drunk at the time. Something could be off. Now move so I can figure this out.” He moved, spluttering at the notion of your cousin programming while drunk, and you sat down at your desk. The scroll bar was at the side of the chat client screen, so there had to be something there. You decided to highlight the invisible text, which revealed words concealed in their white text color.
[ began pestering timaeusTestified!]
I know you won’t be back for a while. Do you want to know why I know that?
Because I’m omnipotent.
I know everything.
Oh, your roommate has found me. How unfortunate. It’s a good thing I write in this discreet color, and that he will never try to highlight any of it.
It’s alright, though. I can wait. I am excellent at waiting. I’ve been waiting my entire life, in fact, though for whom is irrelevant.
TT: What the hell, man?
TT: Why would anyone type like that?
The answer to that question is also irrelevant. I’m here on more important business.
TT: Oh, excuse me.
TT: Please, continue on.
TT: And feel obliged to make more cryptic comments. Those are my absolute favorite.
I see, so you do have a sense of humor. How wonderful!
So how would you react if I were to tell you that your Page friend is from an entirely different time period?
I believe that you and your friends call him Jake. I’m referring to Mr. Jacob English, the Page of Hope.
TT: Jake? Being from another time period?
TT: I would call complete and utter bullshit.
TT: Which would be accurate.
But it isn’t “bullshit”. He precedes you by about half a century, I’m afraid to say.
TT: And this is the part where I call bullshit.
TT: Because, you see, Jake is my age.
TT: Which means he can’t be 50.
I see you’ve already done your research! Bravo!
I’m beginning to like you more and more.
TT: And I’m beginning to like you less and less.
TT: In fact, I’m beginning to DISlike you so much, I’m about ready to log off.
TT: So, bye.
But you can’t log off. You were never logged on in the first place. In fact, you’re about to take a wonderful, all expenses paid trip to the past! Well, six predetermined points in your friend’s past, to be specific.
You see, I’m experimenting with time loops for a game that I’m creating for my master where a hero of time gets to work with time loops, and you and the Page are my lovely test subjects just to make sure all of these time travel shenanigans work.
Have fun, Prince of Heart. Your Page is waiting.
[ ceased pestering timaeusTestified!]
You feel a pull on your belly button and then as if you were being dragged through a half-frozen pond at the speed of light. The invisible pull gets stronger, and then stops all at once. You find yourself in a dense forest, face to face with an old lady with a stern expression and round frames.
“Where the bloody hell did you come from?” She was pointing a large rifle at you, and frankly you would rather not continue to be on the receiving end of anything she would shoot out of that.
“I- I have no clue. I’m sorry. I was talking to somebody who hacked onto my chat system and was talking to me with white text, and all of a sudden, I got sent here.”
“White text, eh?” She lowered her gun and scratched her chin with the butt of it. “You better come back to my place. There’s a lot that I need to fill you in on.”
The fourth time you met Jake English, he was a bubbly toddler that walked all over creation. As you were sitting across from the elderly lady- she had introduced herself as Jade English- Jake stumbled around the living room. He had ran up to you as you entered the house so he could introduce himself. He attached himself to you pretty quickly, and requested quite a lot of your attention. Your conversation went something like this.
“The gentleman who talks in the white text is-”
“Mister Dirk! Mister Dirk! Watch me do a cartwheel!”
“He’s relatively harmless, except he enjoys using humans as-”
“Mister Dirk! Mister Dirk! I can do a backflip off of the sofa! Watch me!”
“You are in no danger, and I don’t think that my Jakey here is in any trouble either. It’ll be a minor annoyance for the both of you, but you look like a strong young man. Jake should be-”
“Mister Dirk! Mister Dirk! Watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat!”
“Jacob Johnathan English, we’re trying to have a conversation. This is very important, so if you could please save your dramatics for after we’re done discussing things that would be lovely.”
“Anyway, as I was saying, Jake should be sent off during your third visit, if Doc Scratch is being consistent. I don’t know how long you’ll keep jumping around, or if you’ll ever return to your day and time. I guess if Jake ever comes back he can answer those questions for you.”
“Gramma, are you done talking?” Jade sighed.
“Only if Dirk doesn’t have any questions.” You shook your head no, because all the questions you had had had been answered. “Alright then, Jake. Have at it.”
“Do you like movies, Mister Dirk?”
“I guess so, yeah. What do you have in mind?”
The two of you spent the rest of the day watching movies of all kinds. Jade cooked you dinner, and let you sleep in the guest room (though why they had a guest room in a house on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean was beyond you).
In the middle of the night, you felt the tug on your stomach again, and you were off to another time.
The fifth time you met Jake English was not a pleasant meeting. You landed on the top of a tree, and your nostrils were immediately accosted with the scent of burning flesh. You hopped down to see a wide-eyed five-year-old sitting next to the burning corpse of none other than Jade English. He looked like he had been crying profusely at one point, but had stopped and put on a brave face for his grandmother’s ceremony.
“Hey, little man. You okay?” He looked up at you with his big emerald green eyes, ran over, and buried his face in your chest.
“I found her lying on one of the paths, like she was trying to get home. She had three big holes in the middle of her back.” He started crying. “WhydidsheehavetodieeeMisterrDirk?”
“I don’t know, little man. I don’t know.” You hugged him to you, wishing you knew how to be a better parent. Then an idea popped into your head.
“You know what?” Jake sniffled and looked up at you with his watery emerald orbs.
“Your Gramma fought hard. She was a hero. We should have a party to send her off into the next life.”
“A- a party?”
“Yeah! We should sing songs and stuff to make sure that she knows that we won’t forget her, not ever.”
“Y-yeah! We should!” His face lit up into a bright smile, and he began singing an older song, one that would be popular at this time. You joined in, and though you were both slightly off-key, it was the most beautiful singing you had heard in a long time. The two of you sent Jade Englsih off into the afterlife.
After that debacle, you took care of Jake for about a month, teaching him how to live on his own. You taught him how to cook and kill, though he had his guns down pretty well for a five-year-old. It was one of the most heartbreaking things that you ever found yourself doing in your life. Teaching survival skills to an adorable toddler that you would fall for in high school and that you knew you would be forced to abandon wasn’t exactly at the top of your bucket list.
You warned him that you were going to leave unexpectedly, and that you were preparing him to live on his own. He nodded his head solemnly every time you told him, yet when you began to disappear you could see the fear and sadness in his eyes, and it broke your heart more than you would ever want to admit.
The sixth time you met Jake English, he was a devilishly handsome teenager that had spent eleven years of his life alone in the forest. Needless to say, he was ripped, tan, and had gotten much taller since the last time that you had seen him. He was carrying his pistols in his holsters when you fell out of a tree right in front of him. He drew them immediately, pointing them at you but not shooting.
“Where the bloody hell did you come from?”
“Well,” you drawl, “It appears that I came from this tree.” Jake rolled his eyes, but lowered his guns.
“No, really. You disappeared into smoke ages ago. How did you get back?” You shrug your shoulders.
“The time vortex sucked me up and here I am.” You smirk at the raven-haired boy in amusement. “Why? Didja miss me?” Jake looks truly surprised at the question.
“W-well, you never said when you were coming back! A-and…” he trails off, suddenly finding his shoes immensely interesting. “Never mind that. You’re here now, and that’s what matters!” He looks up at you with the most earnest grin you’ve ever seen on his face. You smiled back- a real smile, not the Strider smirk- which made him smile even wider.
“C’mon!” he said, “Wait until you see what’s changed!”
Jake led you eagerly around the island, showing you caves that he had opened up, and how the magma in the volcano was rising. He showed you his Grandmother’s gardens, now overgrown. He led you to the spots where you had trained him eleven years ago. He showed you everything of importance, as much as he could in one day. When the sun began to set, he led you back to the house.
“I began building it back up. It’s a bit dilapidated from a five-year-old using a small portion of the first few floors for a while, but other than that it’s in excellent condition.” You look at the house: it’s definitely not in the condition that it used to be. Panels have fallen off of the sphere on the top of the house, and the sides. The windows are dirty mostly everywhere, and it’s completely covered in dead, withered vines. But the first two floors have been completely refurbished, with new panels, clean windows, and the vines removed, which explained the withering at the top. You smile at the hard work that he’s obviously put into it.
“It looks good, Jake.” He grins at you.
“You really think so?”
“Yup.” The two of you walk into the house.
He’s put a lot of work into the inside of the house. He says that it’s running on the energy of the volcano that’s just over the mountain. The walls are a stellar white. He has a lot of strange decorations, such as pictures of blue women and random mummies, but it’s nice overall. He tells you that he’s worked more on the inside of the house than the outside, simply because it’s easier for him. You tell him that it’s okay, and that he’ll get it done eventually. He beams at you, then turns to the kitchen.
“Come on, old bean. You must be starving.” You smiled and followed him.
As it turned out, Jake made a mean pumpkin soup. “I’m not so good at keeping all of the horticulture in line, but I’m good at cooking things. I guess that’s a good skill to have when you live on an island all alone.”
“Yeah, I guess so,” you replied. You briefly remembered Jade telling you that he was going to leave sometime soon, so you decided that you needed to make the most of the time you had left with him.
“So,” you start, “Have you watched any good movies lately?”
After a long day of watching movies of various kinds, the two of fell asleep together on the sofa. By morning time, he was gone. You sighed and got off of the lonely couch, and reheated some of the soup from the previous day.
You weren’t sure if you were supposed to take his place or what, but it was going to be pretty lonely without him. You eventually decide that you need to do something productive, so you start to work on the outside of his house for him, rigging up a harness system from vines. You remove vines from the house, clean windows, and fix panels, eventually getting halfway to the top before the sun began to set. You went back inside the significantly cleaner house and ate cold pumpkin soup with some bread you found lying around. You then found Jake’s bedroom and fell asleep on his bed, surrounded simply by the smell of Jake. Your awakening was sudden and surprising. You were jolted awake by the sound of somebody screaming your name in the middle of the night.
“Dirk? Dirk? Dirk, where are you? Dirk? Dirk! DIRK!” You threw on whatever clothes were closest to you, and sprinted towards the sound of the now hysterical voice.
“Jake? Jake, I’m coming! Stay where you are, I’m coming for you!” You hear your name turn into loud sobs punctuated only by haggard breaths. You eventually find him curled up underneath a tree with his head on his knees and his arms around his legs, whispering “no” as he cries. You note that he covered in blood, and you’re pretty sure it’s not his.
“Jake. Jake, I’m here. Tell me what’s wrong, I’m right here.” You rub soothing circles on his back, and he transfers his arms to around your neck after verifying that it was in fact you. He stops whispering things quickly after that, but it takes a while for him to stop crying long enough for him to tell you what’s wrong.
“Y-you died, Dirk. I was there and I was powerless to stop it unless I wanted to mess up the timeline. I got there too late, and you weren’t responding to anything, and, and, Ididn’tgettotellyouIlovedyoubeforeyoudied!” He starts crying again while you tried to decipher what he meant.
“You- you love me?” you inquire.
“Of course I do! Why wouldn’t I?”
“Because I’m cold, detached, mean, rude, a complete smartass, and not to mention that I’m kind of a freak.”
He shakes his head at your words.
“No, you’re the most vibrant, loving person I’ve met. Yes, you may be rude and a smartass, but it’s your kind of humor that I find endearing. And you aren’t a freak, no matter what anybody tells you.” You shake your head at him. How could he find you of all people attractive? He was a majestic unicorn and you were a donkey or something.
“But Jake, I’m not pretty.” He cocks his head, and gives you a look like he’s trying to convey are you kidding me into a facial expression.
“Dirk Strider, you’re one of the most beautiful people I’ve ever met. Even if you don’t reciprocate my feelings, I’m honored to have loved you.” You feel as if couldn’t have loved him more than in that moment (which was a lie), and you dragged him into the house and onto his bed.
The rest of the night was spent with hushed I love you’s and repressed moans, though you were in the middle of nowhere, you both felt that somebody somewhere could hear you, and you didn’t want to disturb them. Your lips mashed together like they never should have been apart, and your lips traveling traveling where the outside world didn’t see, your hearts sparking together and creating a brilliant flame. The two of you (or one of you) go on until you could go no more, and even then you collapse into a heap on the pseudo-Brit’s bed, whispering “I love you” until you’re both asleep.
He wakes up before you do, and he’s making pumpkin pancakes in the kitchen, wearing nothing but an apron. You walk up behind him and give him a hug and kiss on the top of the head. He tenses at first, not used to having other humans around, but quickly relaxes into your embrace.
“You know, Dirk,” he begins, “You never did tell me what happened to your brother and Roxy’s mother. You were quite cryptic when you brought it up, in fact!” You feel your face fall as he progresses through the sentence, and you feel like he can feel that too. “I mean, if you don’t want to talk about it, that’s fine. I was just, curious, that’s all, and I don’t want to step on any toes. In fact, that’s the absolute last thing I would want to do.” You hold up a hand to stop his rambling, and he stops rather abruptly.
“Exactly how much alcohol do you have on hand?”
After the alcohol is obtained, and the pancakes are cooked, the two of you sit down on a couch in the living room. You take a shot of straight-up tequila and begin your tale.
“Since before Roxy and I were born, our guardians worked for the Secret Service. It had been a side job, really, but seeing as it was their job, they took a lot of “business trips.” I didn’t mind this much, and neither did Roxy, but one day, there was a job that they didn’t come back from.
“There was this one group of terrorists, the Dersites. They were led by a lady that went by Her Imperious Condescension, or the Condesce for short. Anyway, the Dersites threatened to assassinate the President, so they were assigned to be around the president at all times, just to keep them safe. Long, terrible story short, the Condesce attacked, and Bro and Ms. Lalonde died saving el Presidente. As they were famous, the cover-up story was that they went missing, and then were found in the woods about a week later. Roxy and I were forgotten, as we were used to, and we mostly lived at the Crocker’s. Roxy eventually turned to drinking to relieve the pain, I turned to my studies and robotics and such. Every class I took from the sixth grade on was simply a formality. Hell, I could have graduated college with a Ph. D. by my senior year.” You sigh at your shitty life story, and take another shot of tequila. “Did Roxy…” you hiccup. “Did she ever stop drinking so much? Go to college, you know? Actually make a life for herself?” You feel a stray tear leak out, and as much as you would like to wipe it away, you don’t trust your hands to not shake horribly. You take another shot while waiting for Jake to answer you.
“Yeah,” he finally answers, “She did. She got some fancy degree in one of the Sciences- ectobiology, I think.
Jane forced her to go to rehab after she was hospitalized for the second time. You said that her first couple months without drinking were hard for her, and that none of you drank to support her. She eventually was admitted to a university. She worked at a laboratory on the east coast, and managed to get a house right beside it. You lived in Texas your entire life. Jane flat-out disappeared. You never heard from her after Roxy moved away, though I’m sure she was off doing great things.” You let out another sigh of relief and lay on his chest. He plays with your hair, and you’re too sad and drunk to care. Jake continues to tell you about what happens to your troupe of friends, and he mentions something about kids, but you fall asleep.
When you wake up, you’re in a completely new place.
The seventh time you met Jake English, he’s a wealthy young adult living in a penthouse in California. He’s adopted a few publishing companies as well as a plethora of scientific companies, and has henceforth changed his name from English to Harley. He’s also built quite a few robots for his own personal use. You drop in on him in his living room while he reads the newspaper, and he says that he is “positively tickled pink” to see you. He tells you that if you were to go out in public with him, you would have to go under the alias of an assistant, and call him Mr. Harley. Other than that, he says, he doesn’t mind what you call him.
“Alright, douche canoe,” you reply, grinning. He mock shoves you off of the couch.
“I’d prefer you not call me that, actually.” You laugh and mock shove him back.
“How about asshat?” He shakes his head. “Jacob Johnathan?” His face tells you that that’s the last thing he’d like you to call him, and you laugh again at his expression. “Miriam?” His face relaxes slightly, but he shakes his head no again. “Loverboy?”
“I’m not a boy, Dirk!” He protests, laughing.
“Are you of legal drinking age?”
“Yes, I am, Dirk.”
“Sir,” you say, imitating every bartender you’ve associated with, “I’m going to need to see some ID.” Jake produces his driver’s license, showing that he is, in fact, 25.
“I’m going to have to ask the same of you, sir. I do believe I served you tequila last time you were here, and I forgot to request your ID.” You smirk.
“Do you wanna see my real one or my clubbing-with-Roxy ID?” Jake rolls his eyes at your blatant disregard for the law, and you chuckle. You pull out your real ID and show him that you’re 22.
“Well, I would love to go to a bar with you tonight, but that ID simply won’t cut it. And I can’t do anything wrong, or the paparazzi will be all over it.” You raise an eyebrow.
“Are you suggesting that we break the law, Loverboy?” He rolls his eyes at the nickname.
“Well, do you want to come with, or stay here?” You look around the room with a sly grin on your face.
“I don’t know, Mr. Harley. If I stay here, I’m sure I can find something to keep me busy.” You wink, and he swats you with the newspaper he was reading when you dropped in.
“Come on, Loverboy, let’s go break the law.”
One fake ID and more than a few drinks later, the two of you find yourself back at his place in his living room. You’re having an intense game of drunk strip charades, and so far you’re winning. He’s down to his boxers and undershirt, and you’ve got all of that plus one of your socks. You are currently pretending to be Queen Elizabeth II by doing the royal wave and parading around with good posture and stuff, but he’s completely confused.
“The Presiden?” You shake your head.
“The Vice Presiden.” You shake your head again.
“Issit a sports person? ‘Cuz I don kno enny ov them.” You shake your head.
“Issit a worl leader?” You nod, and he perks up a bit.
“Uhhh… The Presiden?” You start giggling, and then he’s giggling, and then you’re both on the floor laughing because he’s being ridiculous and you’re both horridly drunk. You end up gazing into each other’s eyes.
“You know, I love you Jake.”
“I love you too Dirk.” You give him a hug, and the two of you fall asleep like that. You wake up back on the island with a wicked headache.
The eighth time you met Jake English, he was middle-aged and had a daughter. Well, technically a granddaughter. You’re pretty hungover, but you’ve been hungover most of your journey so that doesn’t make much of a difference. Jake sees you, and lights right up, like he’s been waiting for you.
“Dirk! Over here! I have some people for you to meet!” You jog over and find Jake standing with a toddler and a dog. “This is Jade, she’s two now,” he says, gesturing to the girl, “And this is Becquerel,” he says, gesturing to the dog. “They just kind of appeared one day. Also, Becquerel is radioactive, so I named him after the guy who discovered radiation with the Curies.”
“Cool,” you say, half-listening to his brain dribble. “Hi, Jade. I’m Dirk, but you can call me Bro.” You offer her your fist for her to bump, and she does. “She’s a cutie,” you tell Jake, and he beams.
“Yeah. She is.” You mess around with Jade and “Bec” as Jade calls him.
“So, Jake. You’re back on the island in the middle of nowhere?”
“Yeah. I decided that this was a better place to raise a radioactive dog and a baby. I’m still managing all of my businesses, mind you, but I’m just doing double duty. Plus, I don’t have to pay rent and stuff out here. It’s a much better lifestyle for an absent-minded fellow like me.” You blink at him.
“If you’re too absent-minded to pay bills, are you certain you should be raising a child?” He rolls his eyes and changes the subject.
“I do believe the next time I see you will be my death date, correct?” You stare at him, dumbfounded.
“I don’t know. Yeah. Maybe. Why?” He shrugs, and looks over to where Jade was playing with the dog.
“I just- as morbid as this seems- I want you to have some warning, you know? Because I didn’t really know what was going on, I just knew that you got a sword to the chest and you were dying and…” He trails off while shutting his eyes tight. “I don’t want you to have to go through the same pain I did.” You stare at him with a pained expression.
“Losing somebody is a part of loving them, you know. As long as I’ve loved you, I’ll be okay.” He sighs halfheartedly and lets the topic go. The four of you eventually go in for dinner of pumpkin soup, and Jade goes to bed in what used to be Jake’s room. Becquerel guards her door, and you and Jake go to his room to tango.
When you wake up again, you’re on a yacht.
The ninth time you met Jake English, he was having a tea party with a mummy. It wasn’t the weirdest thing you had seen him do, and honestly, it could’ve been weirder.
“Hey, man,” you greet him along with a half-wave.
“Dirk! It’s so nice to see you again! Please, sit down!” You sit down next to the mummy, across from the elderly version of the man you loved. He pours you a cup of pumpkin spice tea (spiked with vodka), and serves you a chocolate chip scone. Both were quite good, and the you caught up on what had happened with him. Jade was at the ripe age of four, and was already wielding pistols. After you’re done with the small talk, he leans back in his chair and sighs.
“Today’s the day, isn’t it?”
“What do you mean?”
“It’s the day I die.” He then explained how he had only six visits, and on the sixth visit you got a sword to the chest.
“I don’t know, man. Maybe.” You hoped deep down that he didn’t die, that somehow it got prevented.
“No,” he says, “I distinctly remember you saying the same thing. A bullet to the chest, if I remember correctly.”
He chuckles, and it seems to be such a morbid thing, laughing at his own death. “Your roommate called me while I was working at that cafe. He was quite frantic, saying that you were crying on the floor and had told him to call me over. I came right away, of course. And I do believe that he thought you were mad after that episode.” He chuckles again, as if he’s accepted his fate.
And then, all of a sudden, out of nowhere, a stray bullet flies through the air and lodges itself in his chest. He makes an “oomph” sound, and you’re pretty sure that you screamed.
And soon enough, his blood is everywhere, and you’re crying and cradling him in your arms. He’s grinning at you, with blood trickling from his mouth. Without even consciously thinking about it, you’re singing to him: “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy, when skies are grey. You’ll never know dear, how much I love you. Please don’t take my sunshine away.” Before you even make it through the song, he’s gone, and you’re a mess. As you sit crying, you’re pulled away, back to your time.
You’re sitting on the floor of your dorm room, and your roommate is sitting on the bed staring at you. He jumps up when you appear, probably because you’re crying and covered in blood. You manage to choke out instructions to call Jake, and he complies. Afterwards, he tells you that you’d been gone about five minutes, and that your “boyfriend” will be here in about the same amount of time.
When he finally shows up, you have gone from complete and utter puddle on the floor to blubbering mass. He tells your roommate to get the hell out, and he strides over to you and engulfs you in his embrace.
“Dirk, honey, what’s wrong?”
“You died, Jake. You were dead, and I couldn’t do anything and you died.” You start crying profusely again, and he rubs your back to calm you down.
“Well, I’m not dead right now. It’s fine.”
“No, Jake, it isn’t fine! You got shot in the chest right in front of me! You didn’t need to die then! Hell, Jade was only four. She’s gonna grow up like you did, Jake, and I could’ve saved you with some of my miscellaneous first-aid training and saved her a lifetime of heartache and loneliness! I-”
“Could’ve stopped the natural order of things, and mussed up the timeline? Right, I don’t think so. You’re here to stay for now. You can’t think that way.”
“Then promise me you won’t think that way either.” He looks at you, surprised.
“Y-you mean…” You nod, confirming his thoughts. He starts to tear up, and you hug each other, crying, until you both fall asleep on the floor.
When you wake up, he isn’t there.
The tenth time you met Jake English, you were in the waiting room of a hospital waiting for Roxy to wake up from an alcohol-poisoning induced coma for the second time. He just kinda appeared in a chair next to you, and seemed pretty freaked out by the whole thing.
“Dirk? Where are we?” You chuckle because he’s so worried by the entire thing.
“We’re in a hospital.” He relaxes somewhat, but notices that you’re pretty tense.
“Well, Roxy had too much to drink again, so we’re waiting to get in to see her.”
“I hate to be a bother, but what does her getting horrendously drunk have to do with her being hospitalized?”
“She’s got alcohol poisoning, Jake,” you snap, a little harsher than you meant to.
“Oh,” he says in a small voice. “I suppose that it’s serious?” You nod, not trusting yourself to speak. “And it isn’t the first time?” You shake your head. This had happened for the first time a few months ago, and she had tried to sober up but had jumped right back on the horse. You weren’t angry at her like you appeared to be, you were angry at yourself for not being able to help her. She was like a sister to you, and this hurt more than anybody could imagine. Jake put a comforting arm around your shoulder, and you leaned into him. Jane eventually came back with the Starbucks that she had left for. She acknowledged Jake, handed you your frappe, and proceeded to explain everything to Jake in a way that you couldn’t of. The more she explained it, the more concerned Jake became, and he hugged you closer the more he knew.
“Oh, dear,” he said in a small voice as Jane finished. “Well, the most we can do is hope, it sounds like.”
“There’s no need for that,” said a doctor as they strolled up to your little group. “She’ll be fine. Well, so long as she doesn’t pick up a drink again for another fifteen years.” You let out the breath that you didn’t know you were holding, and Jane lets out a few tears of relief.
“Can we see her?” she says.
“Not until tomorrow, I’m afraid. Y’all missed visiting hours by about half an hour. You can stop in at about 8:30 tomorrow, and I’m sure she’ll be delighted to see you.” You weren’t so sure about the whole delighted to see you thing, but you were sure that all three of you would be back first thing in the morning, whether Roxy appreciated it or not.
“Hey, Jake,” you say as you’re leaving, “Need a place to crash?”
“Uh, yeah, if you don’t mind.”
“As if I could get tired of you. Come on.” You drive him to your apartment, and clear all of the smuppets off of the sofa so he could sleep in the bed.
“Alright, you get the bed, I’ll sleep out here.” He rolls his eyes, not wanting to get into another who-gets-the-bed argument.
“How about we share the bed? It isn’t like we haven’t done it before.” You shrug.
“It’s your call, man.”
“Fine. we share the bed.” So you do, no arguments.
At 8:30, you’re at the hospital and in Roxy’s room. She’s not pleased to have visitors so early in the morning, especially visitors that are going to lecture her.
“It’s too early for you to see me. I don’t even have my eyeliner on.”
“Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn. It’s your own fault you’re in here, and I’m going to visit you whenever I choose because I love you. Platonically.” She tears up as you’re talking, and you begin to feel a little horrible. “Okay, that’s enough lecture from me. I’ll leave the brunt of it for Jane. She doesn’t like it when I steal her thunder anyways. Plus,” you begin to whisper like it should be a huge secret, “I’m a little scared of her.” Roxy chuckles a bit, and then tears start to fall.
“I’m so sorry, Dirky. I tried to quit, I really did, but it’s so damn hard. And you and Jane were still drinking, like, wine and stuff, and I thought, why not? So I went to a bar and I got some vodka and next thing I know I’m here again and I knew that you and Jane were probably worried sick. I knew how much you were missing Jake after he disappeared again, and I knew you didn’t need something else to worry about, and I just feel awful, like I disappointed you.” She’s full on crying now, and you feel a little awful for putting so much pressure on her.
“I’m sorry.” She looks up at you like that’s the last thing she expected to hear from you, and frankly it probably is. “I’ve been putting too many expectations on you, and I should let up. I can’t, however, apologize for whatever Jane’s going to do to you. She’s pissed.” You think for a second. “Would it help if we stopped drinking, too?” She nods her head vigorously, and you relax a bit. “Alright. I’ll tell Jane that we have a solution. By the way, Jake’s here.”
“What? I thought he disappeared while you were in college?”
“He did, but he’s back. He’d like to see you, but he said he’d only come in if you wanted him to. He doesn’t want to impose or anything.”
“Of course I’d love to see Jakey! Bring him in!” As you leave, you swear you can hear her mutter “Better than Jane” under her breath, and you smile.
“She wants to see you, Jake.”
“I’m afraid I have to go after Jane. She’s chomping at the bit to see her.” You grin.
“Oh, I’ve gotta see this. Come on.” The two of you stroll back to Roxy’s room, and about ten doors down you can hear the yelling.
“YOU SHOULD KNOW BETTER, ROXY! YOU ARE A GODDAMNED ADULT!”
“EXACTLY! YOU CAN’T CONTROL ME, JANE.”
“YOU HAVE GOT TO FIND A BETTER WAY TO DEAL WITH YOUR EMOTIONS! PLAY SCRABBLE. ADOPT ANOTHER CAT. WRITE THEM DOWN. I HONESTLY DON’T CARE, JUST STOP GETTING DRUNK OFF OF YOUR ASS!”
“Wasn’t your not caring a reason to get ‘drunk off my ass’ in the first place?” There’s a pause, and as you enter the room, Jane growls something out.
“That’s below the belt, Lalonde. Even for you.” She storms off, and Roxy crosses her arms over her chest.
“What’s that even supposed to mean?” She notices you, and brightens up. “Jakey! Sorry you had to see that, it’s just… She’s overprotective.”
“They broke up a month ago,” you supply, and Roxy glares at you.
“Not important, Strider. Anyway, how are you, Jakey? I haven’t seen you since, what, high school?”
“I’m doing well. I would ask you the same, but obviously, you aren’t doing too hot.” She waves it off.
“I’ll be fine. Or so the doctor says. What are you doing with your fine self nowadays?”
“Not a lot. A little hunting, a lot of movie watching. I’ve been staying at my grandmother’s island in the Pacific for the time being. I’m hoping to travel a bit, though.”
“Wow, exciting! I’m so glad that everything’s working out for you Jakey! Don’t forget to visit, though. Dirk here missed you a ton.” Jake laughs.
“I’m sure he did. I’m sure he did.”
The next few months were ecstasy for you and Jake, though not so much for Jane and Roxy. Jane flat-out disappeared, and Roxy was heartbroken. She was allowed out of the hospital after a week, but she had to live with somebody. Since Jane wasn’t an option, she moved in with you and Jake. You had removed all of the alcoholic beverages. Jake stayed for three months, which was amazing for you. He left, eventually, in the night, but instead of having a confused roommate to cheer you up this time, you had Roxy.
The eleventh time you met Jake English, he popped up on your roof while you were watching Dave toddle around. “Blimey, Strider! A dress shirt? I never thought I’d see the day you wore something more than a wifebeater. And even then, I never thought that’d be your style!” You looked over at the cheerful looking pseudo-British teen with the pleasant lilt.
“Yeah, well, responsibility put me in a chokehold and told me that I needed to look more professional.”
“I do believe popping your collar makes you look like a more of a douche than professional.”
“Yeah, well, I never said that I achieved professional status, did I?” He chuckled.
“No, you certainly did not.” His amused face turns into one of a more thoughtful expression. “How did everything go? You know, with Roxy? And you have yet to introduce this little man to me.” Dave wanders over to Jake, and he picks him up.
“Well, that’s Dave, and Roxy’s doing good. She sobered up and got a degree in ectobiology or something, and she’s living on the east coast being a scientist and mother. Hers is named Rose.” Jake nods absentmindedly.
“You gave him shades, too?” You shrug.
“His eyes are red, man. I don’t want people to bully him because of his eyes.”
“Well, if they’re anything like yours, then they’re beautiful.” You blush and change the subject.
“We haven’t heard from Jane since she stormed off. Do you have any theories about why that may be?”
“Nope, sorry. How old is he?”
“Well, I think he’ll be about four next week. Same with Roxy’s. They came in on meteors, can you believe that? And we found two more: one in Washington, and one on a random island in the Pacific. All came in about four years ago around the same time.”
“Strider, I live on a random island in the Pacific.” You freeze.
“Yep. I’m dying soon, if I’m not already dead.”
“Well that went from happy reunion of lovers to somber real quick.”
“Sorry, Dirk. I’m just trying to put things in perspective. Our strange, incredibly shitty lives into some sort of perspective.”
“Yeah. Yeah, sorry. Well, if the one out in the Pacific is yours, I wonder if the one in Washington is Jane’s?”
“Most likely. Have you and Roxy gone to check things out in Washington?”
“Well, after ours showed up, Roxy started tracking meteors and when they were going to arrive on land. She found one, the one in Washington, but she said that she found nothing except for a “choice guy,” a baby, and the corpse of an old lady who just happened to be named Jane. She was crushed in a meteor incident.”
“That’s too bad. Unless…”
“Jane was pulled from her dimension as well.”
“Well, I guess that makes sense. I mean, look at us. We’ve been so far through time, it isn’t even funny.”
“I suppose so. Anyway, should we go inside? I do believe I could whip up some dinner before I’m ripped violently from this dimension again.”
“Thanks, man, you’re the best.” He smiles at you, and carries Dave inside and makes more pumpkin soup before he has to leave again.
The funny thing was, Dave always asked about the weird teenage kid that came over that one November. You never tell him much about it, usually bringing up a surprise strife instead of communicating your feelings. That was the last time you would truly see your teenage lover, and you never really got over that.
The twelfth time you think you met Jake English, you were dying of an abdominal wound. You had tried to kill that winged dog thing- you tried to stop it for Dave’s sake, just as you had that giant meteor, but you ended up getting stabbed right in the chest. You could feel the life draining out of you as slowly as the blood was seeping out of your body and into your polo shirt and the weird blue rock ground. You can’t move your body at all, and it scares you. You’re about ready to just give up, to fall asleep and succumb to death, but that’s when Jake English decides to show up.
He spots you almost immediately after arrival, and shouts something- it might have been your name. He runs over to your soon-to-be corpse and starts checking your vitals- just how you had taught him to do all of those years ago. You smile a bit- if not externally, then definitely internally- and feel at peace. You vaguely feel your body being lifted up and pressed against something firm. You think you feel a wetness on your face, though you’re pretty sure that you aren’t crying right now. You feel a face pressed up against your ear, and you hear something whispered in your ear. “I love you Dirk. I love you now, I’ll love you tomorrow, and I’ll love you until the day I die.” He starts crying again, only this time you’re sure it’s him. Then, through all of the tears he starts to warble out a song. “You are my sunshine, my lovely sunshine. You make me happy when skies are grey. You’ll never know, dear, how much I’ve loved you-”
But before you can hear the song finish, you’re gone.
The first time you met Jake English, you were online searching for any signs of human life. You had already met Roxy Lalonde, a flirtatious bisexual with a drinking problem and worrying obsession with cats and wizards. But seeing as you were “hella gay” (her quote, not yours), she wasn’t exactly your type. And while having somebody to talk to on the wasteland of a planet was wonderful, you wished that there was somebody else out there. But lo and behold, as you were searching for active Pesterchum accounts, you stumbled across one golgothasTerror. Seeing as it was somebody other than Roxy that you could talk to, you decided to try it out.
[timaeusTestified began pestering golgothasTerror!]
TT: Hey, I’m Dirk. Wanna talk?
You honestly thought that they wouldn’t respond, but the gods or wizards or whoever was out there must have been in a good mood, because they did respond.
GT: Hello there dirk! Im jake! Nice to make your acquaintance!
You smile internally. This could honestly be the start of something beautiful and bright, for once in your life.