Chapter 1: Chapter 1
Dave had been able to do it. How, exactly, many weren’t sure. But Dave was able to go back far enough to stop us all from playing the game. None of this has ever made sense to me, but this is what I’ve heard. So that means we never met each other. It also means that I have no clue who this Dave is, but some silly troll on Pesterchum insists that I was once destined to marry him. How was I supposed to marry someone I had never met?
But this was all in the past, eight years ago to be exact. I long since blocked this troll and I moved off of my island. I knew my grandpa would have wanted me to branch out and go to a real city. The closest I could get to a real city was San Antonio, Texas. I guess San Antonio wasn’t a bad city, or even a fake one. Being in such a big city made me a bit anxious, considering I basically grew up in isolation on an island in the Pacific.
I had a job waitressing. You would think being down South, they would tone down the whole cowboy and country act, but these Southerners embraced this part of their culture. I worked at this cheesy Western place called The Spurs and Chaps. I wasn’t even sure what it was, but I didn’t understand even more was why it was so popular. I thought this sort of restaurant would be offensive, but nothing seems to offend these Texans.
Today was a normal day for me. I was that strange girl that wasn’t from around there. If it wasn’t for my not sun kissed skin, it was definitely for my accent, or rather, lack of. My boss, Mr Henry Banjo, had just got done trying to disguise my accent since he thought it would “get me targeted out in this big bad world.” Basically, I was just going to say ya’ll a lot and probably offended a shit ton of Texans. As I was freshening up before my shift, I got a good look at myself. I couldn’t remember the last time I was able to get a good look like this.
My eyes were shining a bright green behind my old, round glasses. By black bangs swept across my forehead and it hung in slight curls to a little past my shoulders. I had what I called a cowboy hat covering most of my hair and head. The hat was tan, as were my cowboy shoes with spurs. Talk about cliché. I had a skirt that reached my knees that was covered in cow print. It hugged my bottom half just right and I sometimes would find men being scolded by their wives for looking at me as I walked away. As for the top, it was just a white top with a vest that matched the skirt. I was forced to wear a pink apron that rested right on my tiny waist.
I thought I looked like a girl from out of state that was just trying to fit in, but Mr. Banjo insisted that it fit in with his whole theme, and I wasn’t about to argue with him. As I looked into the mirror at my thick eyelashes, I realized that it wasn’t that I didn’t want to fight him this issue, it was that I couldn’t afford to lose this job. He fed me twice a day and paid me enough so that I could rent an apartment. I smiled at my reflection and fixed the name tag reading Jade Harley before I set off to work.
It was only 11:30 in the morning, and not many people were there yet. There was a blond young man who sat in my section. He wore dark, pointy sunglasses, even though he was indoors. Just the way he sat at the dimly lit booth made my heart beat a little faster, as if something inside me recognized him. But after a second glance, I realized I had never seen this man before in my life. I took my notepad out of my apron pocket and sauntered up to him, as I was taught. “Howdy, partner, and welcome to The Spurs and Chaps. My name’s Jade and I’ll be your waitress on this wonderful afternoon. Can I start you out with something to drink?” As an afterthought, I added hastily, “Ya’ll.”
The blond looked up, the corners of his mouth twitching up in some sort of smirk. I felt my face flush as he studied me from behind the shades. “You aren’t from around here, huh.” This was more of a statement than a question, but I nodded stupidly. His voice was deep and something about it was familiar. I stared at him for a minute before he chuckled again. “My name’s Dave, Dave Strider. And, judging by your nametag, you’re Jade Harley. Well, Miss Harley, I should first inform you that it is impolite to stare. If you want a kiss, all you have to do is ask.”
His cockiness made my face flush deeper, but not in awe. “Now listen here, Mr. Strider, I am not here to deal with your sexual harassment. I am here to take your order, and if you don’t have one, I will have to kindly ask that you leave.” I scolded him, putting my hands on my hip. “Now, what the heck can I get you to eat?”
He seemed surprised, and I was too. I knew I was supposed to treat these customers with respect, and if they wanted to be cocky and rude, I was supposed to deal with it. I wasn’t sure what came over me. Damn it, just being around this stranger was confusing me. In the back of my mind, a strange memory came forth. It seemed to be happening for this Dave fellow too.
“Dave, stop being a fucking idiot and help me!” The black haired girl shouted, who I recognized as myself.
“Look Harley, I’ll help you if you just give me a kiss.” It was Dave, but his glasses weren’t pointy, but instead round. There were gashes across his cheek as well as mine. We were both dirty and I was in an unfamiliar green and black dress. It sort of reminded me of space. I was holding a bunch of strange colored frogs.
“Dave, are you kidding me right now? Just take a God damned frog!”
“Nu uh uh, you have to be nice to me.”
“Fine, close your eyes.” He did as I told him.
With a silent giggle, I held up one of the frogs to his lips and he had a grand old time kissing it, until it croaked. Startled, he fell backwards into a small pond. “How was that kiss, cool kid?”
“Shut up, Harley, and give me some damned frogs.”
I let out a gasp and I had to steady myself. I was no longer on a strange planet filled with snow, but back at work. I felt sweat on my forehead and as I reached up to wipe it off, I realized Dave’s glasses had fallen to the tip of his nose. His eyes, a beautiful reddish brown, were staring up at me. He was also sweaty and pale, and his mouth fell open. As we stared for a minute, he finally broke the tension. “I bet you’re a better kisser than that frog.”
Chapter 2: Chapter 2
We both knew something was up. After getting him his order, he agreed he’d stay until I went on break so we could figure out what had happened. Time seemed to pass slowly as I took orders and listen to people talk about their lives. I only did these things half heartedly. I was trying to sort out what I saw. It wouldn’t have been so bad if Dave hadn’t seen the same thing. Two o’clock just couldn’t come fast enough, but when it did, I quickly clocked out for my lunch break, and found Dave sitting at the same table he was earlier.
I slid into the booth facing him and put my elbows on the table. I rested my chin in my neatly folded hands before I spoke to him. “So, Mr. Strider, did you come up with any sort of answer about that weird flashback?”
Dave looked up in that same, casual way he had earlier, but only this time, he wasn’t smirking. His face betrayed no hint of emotion as I felt our eyes meet through his glasses. I could only wish to be as cool, calm, and collected as he was one day. "No. Nothing is adding up. It's like nothing tried to multiply itself by zero and then this situation was born. By the way, stop calling me Mr. Strider. Call me Dave. You calling me Mr. Strider makes me feel really fucking weird."
With a sigh, I leaned back in the booth, tangling my fingers into my now free hair. “So, Dave, are we just going to pretend none of that ever happened then and go our separate ways?”
"You're only half right." he corrected me. "I would like to pretend nothing like that happened, unless it happens again. But I don't want to leave you. Bro would kick my ass if he found out that I let someone like you go."
I felt myself flush again. “Look, I don’t know who bro is, but if you’re trying to get me to go on a date or something, a more direct approach would work.”
"Fine. I'll pick you up at 8." he said grinning from behind his mysterious black sunglasses.
"But my shift ends at 9! And who said I was going to accept?" I protested, trying to cover up the fact that I was blushing.
"I'll be here at 8. Tell your "boss" that you have to leave early. Make something up and then go home to change. You can’t be seen in public in that get up." Dave replied as he stood up slowly. "Don't keep me waiting." he winked and then he left.
It wasn’t hard to convince my boss to let me off early. I had worked overtime a few weeks ago during the lunch rush, and he was happy to comply to let me off early. As I clocked out, I took note that I had an hour and a half to run home, shower, change, and get back. Luckily I wasn’t one to waste time. It only took ten minutes to get to my small, run down, studio apartment. I quickly ran up the stairs and unlocked the door.
After a quick, warm shower, I realized my lack of date night clothes in my closet. The closest thing I owned was the outfit I wore to my interview three years ago. While my waist hadn’t changed, my height surely had. The tight, black skirt used to reach past my knees, leaving some to the imagination. After growing a bit more and a few washes, the skirt was still just as tight, but about half as long. It would have to suffice.
I didn’t have many nice shirts to pick from that weren’t work shirts and Dave made it clear not to wear anything from work. So after a couple seconds of searching, I found and old shirt that I had bought a while ago, a few sizes too big. Now the shirt fit well, maybe even a bit too well since it cradled and pushed up my chest. The shirt was a pinkish red with white polka dots. It was sort of low cut, and it had two buttons to draw attention to my boobs. It accented my tiny waist and worked well with the skirt.
Accessories weren’t hard to decide on, either. I ended up with some old black heels and some old jewelry. The worst part about this make shift date outfit was the purse. I only had one, since I usually just carried around a green backpack. It was a small clutch in the shape of a watermelon slice. It was embarrassing, but I didn’t have any choice.
Most girls in Texas would spend a lot of time on their hair, trying to get it to be as big as possible, but big hair wasn’t my style. I simply put it in a side ponytail with a black butterfly clip with green jewels and I curled my hair slightly. As I put on a few touches of makeup, I glanced at the clock. It was 7:50. If I didn’t hurry, I was going to be late!
I grabbed my shoes, shoved on my glasses, and I ran down the two flights of stairs barefoot. Traffic was light, and I was only a couple minutes late. I hoped Dave was also running late.
As luck would have it, Dave was on time, and was leaning against the entrance of the building. He was wearing some black skinny jeans and a red button up shirt, which was covered with a black hoodie with white fur on the inside. I wanted to say something like, “Typical Dave!” but I hadn’t known him long enough. But it felt like I had known him before. “I’m sorry I’m late! I lost track of time and-“
"In MY world you're right on time. But YOU wouldn't understand what I mean by that. Not yet anyway..." Dave mumbled to himself.
I tilted her head slightly. "Um... I don't know what you mean by that, but I guess it means you're not mad." I said with a smile.
"Yeah. Guys like me rarely get mad. We just get even. You'll find out what that means later."
“Or you can just tell me now.” I offered, but he just chuckled slightly.
“I could do that, or we could go get something to eat. I don’t know about you, but I’m starving.”
“Are we going to eat here?”
“Are you shitting me? What kind of Southern gentleman would I be if I brought a lady to eat at her place of employment? A pretty shitty one, I’d say. Nah, there’s a place down the street I got reservations for. Come on.” He took my elbow and led me towards a small, beat up, red car. I had no clue what kind it was, but I’m sure if I asked, Dave would be able to tell me a lot about it. He seemed like one of those guys.
He was even polite enough to open the passenger side door and he closed it after me. As he walked around, I saw him mumbling to himself again, and I might have even caught a glimpse of anxiety on his face, but I would never question him on it. He got in and he drove off without another word.
The drive took about fifteen minutes and we talked as if we were old friends. He teased me about my childish purse, and I poked fun at his insisting to wear his glasses, even in the dark. For the first time since I moved away from my island, I felt relaxed. Although I couldn’t speak for Dave, he seemed to be comfortable too. After the fifteen minutes, he pulled up to an overcrowded Olive Garden.
“Well, aren’t you a gentleman. Olive Garden’s the place of choice tonight, huh?” I teased him lightly.
Dave simply shrugged. "Isn't it ironic that this is like your job, but better?"
I folded my arms across my chest. "What's that supposed to mean?"
Dave smiled. "Don't worry. Your job suits you. You look adorable in your uniform." He winked and I blushed again. I opened my own door this time and looked up at the restaurant. There were a lot of stairs leading up to the door. I wasn’t very good at walking up stairs in heels. I bit my lip slightly as I walked beside Dave, wobbling a few times. “Having some trouble? How the fuck do you girls walk in those?”
Instead of a verbal answer, I missed the step and started to fall. Quick as a cat, Dave grabbed my arm and pulled me upright. When our bare skin touched, I felt some sort of shock through our skin and I was no longer at Olive Garden.
“Harley, hold on!” Dave exclaimed. For once, his glasses were off and I noted how handsome he looked in order to keep myself calm. I was dangling over a cliff with frogs in one hand and my other gripping Dave’s.
“I had no intention of letting go!” I told him, gripping him tighter as he pulled me up. As my feet touched the ground, I fell forward into his arms, discarding the frogs onto the ground. I would catch them later. I buried my face into his chest and breathed him in. “Thank you, so much.” I murmured.
“I couldn’t let someone like you go. Bro would kick my ass.”
As I returned back to Olive Garden, I found myself leaning against Dave’s chest, breathing heavily. Dave was leaned against the railing, beads of sweat trailing from his forehead down. I was staring up at him and I felt our eyes meet through his pointed glasses. “You can’t say that was nothing.” I whispered. The weakness following these little visions increased from the last time and I couldn’t get my voice louder than that.
"I COULD say it was nothing. But we both know that we should acknowledge it. Just not right now. All I want to focus on right now is how beautiful you are. Let's have a nice date... Jade." The words appeared to leave him dumbstruck. I don't blame him though. I couldn’t believe he just said that either!
Without any argument on the fact, we walked up to the entrance. It turns out; Dave hadn’t thought to make a reservation. But, lucky us, there was only a fifteen minute wait. We had wanted to wait inside like normal people, but there was barely enough standing room in that place, so we went back outside. We stood by a fence, side by side. We were back to talking like before.
“So where do you work?” I asked him. “It’s only fair for me to know since you know my career of choice.”
“"I'm surprised you don't know who the fuck I am. So, I guess this means you don't go to very many clubs." Dave hinted with a shrug. I totally got the wrong message.
“You’re a stripper?” My voice was louder than I intended and several people turned and glanced our way.
Dave let out a full-hearted, strong laugh. It lasted for a minute, causing him to clutch his stomach. “Shit, Harley, you don’t have a filter do you? No, I’m not a fucking stripper. I’m the DJ for most clubs. My latest gig has been at this new place called Studio 21.”
I couldn’t help but turn red in embarrassment. When someone says something about clubs, I usually tend to assume strip clubs since that’s what it means in the movies. I had never been to one before. “Sorry, it’s just that… I’ve never been to any sort of club, strip club or regular club. When someone says the word club, I often assume it’s the naughty kind.”
“Well, that’s just damned depressing. You’ve never been to a dance club? What, were you raised on an island or something?”
“Actually, I was. I only moved to Texas three years ago, since I could legally live alone.”
“"Well shit." Dave smirked. "That means that we have plans for after we eat. Don't worry. I won't disappoint." He winked.
“So I’m going clubbing?” I asked him. A strong breeze suddenly blew through, making the air colder. I shivered and wrapped my arms around myself. Dave noticed my sudden chill, and silently took off his hoodie and he draped it around my shoulders. I looked up at him, about to speak, but they called our name.
As he turned away, I swear I could have saw him blushing and mumbling, “Don’t think too much of it.”
The dinner was terrible, just as we expected. We sent back our food a few times, and had a good laugh about everything. Mostly the laughter was due to my first taste of wine. I liked the initial taste, but the after taste was disgusting. I drank a couple glasses until I felt a buzzing in my skull. I really didn’t enjoy this feeling and it made me giggle way too much. Dave didn’t drink anything because he got free drinks at work, but he encouraged me to try the different wines. I think he just enjoyed the faces I made.
We split the bill equally and went on our way. Studio 21 was about a half an hour away but the ride seemed to go by quickly. This ride was different, though. My hand rested on top of his as we drove, casually singing along to the music on the radio. It felt perfect, like this had been going on for years.
When we pulled up to the club, it was already busy. Dave was late, like always. You would think they would fire him, but he’s not too shabby of a DJ. We snuck into the back, Dave gripping my hand tightly as we walked in between boxes of alcohol. I kept knocking into some of them and giggled. “You’re a lightweight, aren’t you?”
“I’m only 115 pounds, so I guess I am light weight!”
“Not what I meant, but I’ll take it.”
He led me upstairs to his DJ booth. I looked around at the dimly lit room and all the flashing lights on the sound board. In the middle of all the switches was an old fashioned turntable with records. “So you’re an old fashioned DJ?” I asked, letting go of his hand to look at all this equipment.
Dave simply nodded. He walked up to the turntables and half put on some headphones. He turned off the prerecorded techno that was playing and quickly started his job. I leaned up against the wall, watching him play. After a few song selections, I tried to talk to him. “You’re really good at that! You must be the master or something!”
He smirked and glanced over at me. "Come here and let the master teach you.” I smiled and walked over to him.
“Are you sure you want to try? I’ve never even done anything remotely close to this.”
“"Of course I'm sure. Now stand in front of me and just put your hands here..." Dave reached around me and grabbed my hands gently so he could guide them to the disks "Now you just kind of move them like this..." He rested his hands gently on top of mine and they moved their hands in perfect sync. I knew he was doing most of the work, but I still couldn’t help but giggle as we made music. We stood close like this for a while.
After a little bit, he rested his chin on my shoulder. “See, you’re not as bad as you thought.” He whispered into my ear.
I blushed a little and grinned. “That’s because you’re doing it for me.” I told him, gently nudging his cheek with my head.
“And for that, I believe I deserve some sort of compensation.”
I rolled my eyes and turned to look at him. “And what would that be?”
“A kiss,” he said simply.
I giggled and shook my head. “I don’t give those out so easily, you know.” This was mostly because I had never been kissed before nor had I ever kissed anyone myself.
As I turned back to the turntables, I felt his hands lifting from mine to press the prerecorded selection button. When the records stopped spinning, I turned to face him. His hands seemed to go to my face and I was looking at him. “But see, this is what I meant earlier by you’ll find out. This is your punishment.” He leaned in and our lips touched. Unexpectedly, I was hurtled into another unexpected memory.
“Dave! Dave! Oh my God, Dave, get up!” I shouted frantically, shaking him by the shoulders. I was crying. But I never cried! No, this wasn’t happening. “Dave, please, get up!” His round shades were laying beside him and he opened his eyes slightly.
“Don’t cry, Harley.” He whispered, blood dripping from his thin lips. “There’s no reason to cry for me. You’ll win this game, without me. I just wish I could live long enough to finally get that kiss from you.” His hand reached up and touched my face and it slowly fell as his body went limp.
“Dave!” I shouted, grabbing his face in my hands. “Here, you can have it!” I leaned down and kissed him. “Damn it, you can have them all if you just come back!”
I was back with Dave just as our lips parted. Through his pointed shades, I could see his eyes wide and filled slightly with tears. We were shaking together and for once, he didn’t have a snarky comment about what we saw.
But I did. “Well, I did say you can have them all.” I whispered to him, kissing him again.
After that night, it seemed Dave started to open up more. He would tell me about his brother, who raised him and died about five years back. It was hard, watching Dave’s cool kid exterior start to crumble, but it was also comforting for me to realize that he was a real person. It had been a month since we first kissed. We had become inseparable by then and maybe even dating. I wasn’t sure of our relationship. It was either we were dating or friends with benefits. Dave was too hard to read, but I liked to think we were dating.
It was Sunday, and Dave and I both had Monday off, so he invited me over to his apartment to watch some movies. I was going to question his true motives for the night, but one does not simply question Dave Strider. I dressed casually, in one of Dave’s hoodies and a knee length black skirt with ruffles and red leggings that Dave had given me as a present.
I brought a bottle of Pepsi with, as was tradition whenever we went over to the other’s apartment. Usually we left a majority of it untouched, but we always insisted on bringing a new bottle over every time. It was sort of our tradition. I walked up to his door, bottle in hand, and pulled out the key. I had the key in case Dave didn’t hear the door. I decided I would surprise him and quietly let myself in.
His apartment was messy, and I didn’t expect much more from a young, single, cool kid like Dave. I heard him shuffling around the kitchen to the beat of a familiar song. As I silently took off my shoes, I realized that the song was Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen. It was at that insanely high part that no man should be able to reach. But there was Dave, waist wrapped in a little blue apron, singing along.
“Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me, for me, for me!” Dave sang along. At the final me, he tilted his head back, almost like a wolf howling at the moon. At least the wolf would have had sounded a bit better. I wasn’t saying Dave couldn’t sing, because he could. What I’m trying to say is that Dave should stick to being a man and never become a singing drag queen.
He opened his eyes when he needed air and jumped when he noticed me giggling at him. “Shit, Harley!” he swore. “Why the fuck would you sneak up on me like that?” He set down the pan of whatever he was cooking back on the stove and turned to me, quickly pulling off the apron. “No one has ever seen me cook before,” he added.
I smiled and leaned on the counter towards him. “Well, I hope your cooking is better than that high note.” I teased him. I then gestured to the apron. “That was also a nice touch to everything. Who got that for you, because I know you aren’t a fan of blue.”
“Where did you get that idea?”
“Well because the last time I tried to wear blue, you awkwardly asked if I had any other color.” I pointed out with a smile. “But if you aren’t ready to tell me which one of your ex-lovers gave it to you, don’t worry. I don’t plan on leaving you anytime soon.”
“I really don’t deserve you.”
I stood up straight and grinned. “You’re right, you don’t deserve me. Especially if you plan on letting my dinner over there burn.” I nodded my head towards the smoking pan. With a jump, he picked up the pan again, swearing under his breath. I couldn’t help but laugh again. “Maybe it would be better if we ordered out… again.”
“I’ll get the phone book.”
After some takeout Chinese food and several glasses of Pepsi, we decided to watch a movie and it was my turn to choose. I searched through his small collection, not recognizing a majority of his movies or the actors in them. After a lot of searching, I found an older one with an actor I recognized. “How about this one, Dave?” I asked, holding up a case titled Con Air.
Dave paused from his popcorn making to glance at the case. He seemed caught off guard. “"That movie is shit. Why the hell do you want to watch this?"
I simply shrugged. “It’s the only one with an actor that I recognize that isn’t a porn film.”
“Jade, those aren’t porn films, they’re just rated-“
“Can we please watch this one?” I begged and he sighed, giving in. With a squeal of delight, I popped the disc into the DVD player and set the TV to the right channel. As I finished this, Dave walked over to the couch and plopped down onto it, gesturing for me to sit next to him. I scurried over to him and cuddled into his shoulder.
The movie wasn’t as bad as Dave made me think it was, although it was extremely cheesy. About halfway through, Dave distracted me from what was happening and it was probably a good thing since I had no idea what was going on. Something about a bunny being put back into its box. He moved his face closer to mine slowly, letting our lips touch gently. His lips were warm and soft. The next thing I know, his hands were in my hair and running down my back causing me to move closer to his. It sent a wonderful feeling through my body. I didn't want this feeling to go away so I reached up and put one hand on his face and the other on his arm. Then his tongue brushed against my lips and I parted them slightly. It felt like the time was standing still at this moment. It was a strange, but wonderful feeling and I felt completely at ease. Sadly it didn't last very long. When our tongues met, we were thrown into another flashback.
“Dave, just because you’re bisexual doesn’t give you the right to date us both!” I shouted at him, hands going to my hips. We were all together. But who exactly was we?
A dark-haired boy with glasses and an overbite was beside me, his arms crossed angrily. “I can’t believe you’d play us like that. You were supposed to be my best bro!”
“John, Jade, look, I can’t just choose one of you.” Dave told us.
“It’s either one or none, Dave. We aren’t some sort of toy for you. We’re human beings.” I snapped.
“Jade, you just don’t understand. I can’t lose either of you.”
“But you’d rather lose both of us?”
“Jade, don’t say that. I love you but-“
“You also love him.”
“He’s just a phase.”
“Oh yeah, and what am I? Just another phase until you get the hots for Rose or something?!” Rose, who the hell was Rose?
“Jade, it really isn’t like that. You’re my one and only.”
“How many times have you used that one?”
“I fucked up big time, didn’t I?” He looked wounded, like a puppy.
“Yes, you have, but I can’t stay mad at you. That’s what pisses me off. Why’d you go to John, though?”
“He’s vulnerable and needed someone.”
“Just like you did?”
“Just like I do.” He corrected.
It felt like we were brought back too suddenly. I looked up at him, since he had me pushed to the couch, his body on top of mine. Dave was sweating more than we usually did when we got these visions. It was like he saw something unnerving, and he probably did. “Dave, what’s wrong? What happened?”
He took a few breaths before he replied weakly, “"That kid with the overbite, John... I know him. Not just like I feel like I know him, but I actually know him. Jade, the reason I didn't want to watch Con Air is because it was his favorite movie and he gave me that apron. Jade... I don't know how to say this... but he's my ex-boyfriend."
I didn’t know how to feel about this new information. On the one hand, maybe this John boy knew something that we didn’t. On the other hand, Dave had never mentioned that he was bisexual. I had never asked, but in my defense that isn’t usually a question you ask out of the blue. So, instead of reacting in any sort of way, I just stared at Dave, my mouth slightly open. It was awkwardly silent for a minute before Dave spoke again.
“You know, I don’t really like that you’re being quiet, its fucking nerve wracking. Can you tell me what you’re thinking?” Dave seemed slightly uncomfortable, and when I caught a glimpse of his eyes over his shades, I couldn’t stay whatever I was at him.
“Well, I guess I’m just a little shocked and a bit hurt. Why wouldn’t you tell me something like that? I mean, we’ve told each other everything.” I admitted, lifting his arm to go around my shoulders. “I mean, how would you feel if you suddenly found out that I had kissed another girl before or something?” I glanced over at him and he had on his traditional smirk and I smacked him playfully. “You would like that, wouldn’t you? You pervert!”
Dave chuckled and kissed my temple. “You’re the one who brought it up,” he said with a shrug.
“Look, I just… Give me some time to think about how I feel. I promise I’m not mad, though.” I told him, leaning my head on his shoulder.
"Alright, whatever, what do you want to do then?"
“I just want to enjoy being here right now. Tomorrow we can worry about this ex-boyfriend crap.”
- “Not tomorrow,” He told me suddenly. “Tomorrow’s our one month, Jade. I got some shit planned to go down tomorrow. Taking you out to a very classy and unironic restaurant for dinner.”
“Then after that, we’ll get started.” But I was panicked. I hadn’t even realized that tomorrow was any sort of anniversary. I had never dated before, and I wasn’t aware that you actually celebrated something like that. I hadn’t gotten Dave a gift or anything. Oops.
I ended up just picking him up an old record in reminder of our first date when he first kissed me and a new pair of sunglasses. His pointy shades weren’t really his style and the round ones complimented his face more.
After wrapping them in a plain red bag, I began to get ready, taking care to look my best. I had no idea what exactly he had planned for dinner. For all I knew, we were taking another trip to Olive Garden. I wore a simple black dress and actually put my contacts to good use. It was strange having my eyes so vulnerable like this, but I figured it would be a great touch.
Dave was on time, as usual. When I climbed in the car, Dave leaned over me and I expected a kiss. What I didn’t expect was for him to tie something around my eyes, preventing me from seeing. “Oh ha ha, Dave, so very funny. I’m going to take this off now…”
- "Nah keep it on." Dave said calmly as he took my hands in his and placed them in my lap. "It's part of the surprise."
“I swear, Dave, if you take me to Olive Garden again…”
But all I heard was a deep chuckle as he shut the door.
Dave ended up being true to his word. He took off my blindfold inside and I instantly realized where we were. “Capri,” I whispered, spotting all the waiters in tuxedos running from table to table. It was one of those places that you just instantly knew, even if you had never been there.
Dave chuckled as he put his napkin on his lap. “Yeah, I knew you'd like it. Order whatever your little heart desires. Money is no object to a Strider. Just don't get the lobster. That shit's out of season."
- I couldn’t help but giggle as I looked at the menu. There wasn’t even lobster on the menu. I ended up just getting a glass of wine and some pasta. There was no going wrong with pasta. As Dave ordered, he seemed a bit off. I didn’t realize even notice him or even our waiter for that matter. I was too absorbed in what was going on around us.
After our waiter left, Dave stared at me across the table, his mouth open slightly. “What?” I asked curiously.
“What?” He repeated. “Did you not just recognize who the hell our waiter was?”
I shrugged sheepishly. “I wasn’t actually paying attention. I’ve never actually been inside this place, so I was paying more attention to the scenery than to our waiter. Why, was it one of your past girlfriends or something?” I teased gently.
“John,” Was all he said, which caused my eyes to widen.
“John? Are you sure that was John?” I didn’t want to ambush a poor look alike and get kicked out of this place before I even got to try the food.
Dave nodded solemnly. “When he was taking the menu, our fingertips touched, and we had a flashback. Scared the shit out of him, really, which is why he rushed away so fast. It was when he and I were a thing, you know?”
My face heated up and I nodded. I couldn’t figure it out, but thinking about them made me uneasy, but I wasn’t jealous.
“Anyways, buck-toothed wonder there was freaked out, took the menus, and ran like hell.”
I couldn’t help but giggle as I spotted the man of the hour shakily carrying our drinks back to us on a round tray. “There he is,” I whispered to Dave, watching him dodge a rush of other waiters.
“And here are your drinks,” John mumbled nervously, shakily setting down the drinks. As he set down Dave’s, though, it started to tip over. The three of us reached over to stop it from falling, and our hands touched. I was starting to get used to this thing.
I could feel the cold, even though I wasn’t actually there. I watch as Dave and John tussle around in the snow. Dave was trying to shove snow into John’s face, while John was just trying to throw snow in any which direction. Against the house, there leans a blond girl, but I can’t seem to remember her name. I turn back to see that John has managed to send a snowball past Dave and towards me.
Before I could even process it, I was hit, straight in the face. The two of them stopped and stared. They knew they were in trouble. Chuckling, I picked up an armful of snow. “You have ten seconds head start,” I warned them. It didn’t even take them a second to process what I had said before they started running, both trying to pushing the other down in some sort of sacrifice.
I chase after them, laughing as I pelt them with snow. It’s fun and carefree, and even the blond by the house is laughing, despite the serious aura she gives off. Despite the carefree attitudes, I can sense something tense in the air, as if we’re waiting for something. As we start on the snow angels, we get it.
I don’t know what it is exactly, but I came to just as it stabbed me in the chest.
I panted heavily, sweating dripping from my face. I touched my chest, which was tight from where I had just been stabbed. Everything was still in place. Dave was pale as he reached his hand towards me, to make sure I was okay. “It was just a flashback,” I assured him quietly.
John just stared for a moment, his eyes wide. “Jade? Dave?” He whispered. So he knew us, too. “We’ve finally found you! Oh, she’ll be so excited, to know we can get this all sorted out!” He’s excited now, and I can’t help but giggle.
“Who’s she?” I asked curiously.
“My girlfriend, Rose, she was the one by the house in that flashback. If you two don’t mind staying until the end of my shift, I can take you back to meet her and we can explain what we know so far.”
“Woah, trying to get us to second base already, huh?” Dave asked smoothly. He was already back to normal, it seemed. “You’ll have to treat the two of us to dinner before you get us back to your place.”
John laughed. “Not even I get a decent discount here, Dave.”
John didn’t have much time left with his shift, so Dave and I ate our meal and waited for it to end. I could tell Dave was nervous because he kept readjusting his glasses. Usually this little habit would bother me, but if he was half as nervous as I was, he was fairly nervous. The two of us didn’t talk much, instead finding things to stare at and hold our attention. Countless times I found myself watching John scurry around, carrying overfilled trays from table to table. After a while, the crowd began to thin out, and in almost no time John was at our table, his previously tidy hair now in a mess over his bright eyes.
“Ready?” he asked with a goofy grin. With that, we were headed out, John getting into Dave’s car along with us. Apparently, John commuted to work since him and Rose had no money to spare for a car.
John directed us along small side roads and through rather shady neighborhoods. I watched out of the back window as we quickly grove past kids playing basketball in their driveway and hooded figures spray-painting darkened buildings. It didn’t take long to get to wherever John was taking us. Not long after our departure from the restaurant, we were parked in the driveway of a rundown home. To the left was a small parking lot and a building that seemed to connect to the home in front of us. John quickly got out of the car and headed towards the door, key in hand.
“Now, just a warning, the house is a bit messy. Rose likes to keep it that way as some sort of passive-aggressive rebellion towards her mother. I don’t really understand it, but then again, I really didn’t ask,” John explained as he pushed open the front door with ease. Dave and I walked close together, our hands lightly brushing, but neither of us made a move to grab the other like we usually did, most likely due to nerves.
The inside was dark even with the lights on. There were neatly stacked piles of books and knickknacks everywhere. Papers were scattered on the floor, but that mess stayed contained to a restricted area. There was a couch in my line of sight and sitting on it was a small blond woman, who I assume to be Rose. In her hands she held a thick black book. I couldn’t see the title, due to the poor lighting, but it must’ve been good since our entrance had not disturbed her.
“Rose, dear, you really shouldn’t get so engrossed! You didn’t even notice the extra pairs of feet with me!” John pointed out with a laugh. Rose gave a small smile but did not stop reading. We stood in silence for a few minutes, watching Rose’s strangely purple eyes skim over the words on the page. Finally, she closed the book.
“You know I don’t like being interrupted in the middle of a chapter,” she said quietly. “It’s lucky for you that I was just about finished. Now, who might these two be?”
John’s face brightened when he was acknowledged and he started towards her, speaking in a rapid, childlike way. “Well the blond is Dave, but I bet you already knew that from all those pictures I showed you. Well, the girl is Dave’s girlfriend, Jade. They’re having the same problem as us, just like you thought. I just had to bring them by right away so you could explain all of this.” By the time he was finished explaining, he was sitting beside Rose, an arm thrown tightly and possessively around her shoulders. Rose had nodded as he spoke with a look on her face that seemed to suggest that she was absorbing and processing every that word that escaped his lips.
“Well, you always have such perfect timing. It’s almost that time of year again.”
“What time of year?” Dave asked rather loudly, finally breaking the wall between us and them.
“Every year, on April 13th, a star up in space explodes. It’s usually unnoticed, but John and I have always seen it, ever since we were kids.”
“What does an exploding star have to do with our weird vision things?” I found myself asking without a second thought.
“They aren’t really stars,” John explained. “They’re planets being destroyed.”
“Destroyed by what exactly?” It was Dave’s turn to ask.
“We aren’t sure,” answered Rose. “But whatever it is, it’s getting closer. And by closer I mean that the Earth is it’s next target.” My eyes widened in surprise. The Earth was next?
“But what can we do about it?”
“That’s where our visions have come from. When I was younger, I had this old IM account called Pesterchum. Well, I stopped using it after this strange girl began chatting me. After this thing with John and I, I had a strange feeling that I should log on once more. Well, as it turns out, this wasn’t a girl at all but an alien. Once we got to talking, she told me about her planet, Alternia. I’ll skip over those details, mostly because they don’t matter.
“A long time ago, when we were about thirteen or so, this game called Sburb came into circulations. Well, her and her friends decided to play it, which released the thing that’s after the Earth. It ended up destroying her entire planet.
“But how could this be possible, you may wonder. It turns out that the four of us have previously participated in this game. We were all dead, except for Dave. He had the power to control time, so it wasn’t the first time he had witnessed our deaths. He went back in time, but something must’ve snapped in that Dave. He went far enough back to stop us from ever playing, but that couldn’t stop those aliens.
“Without our help, they were slowly killed off. Even when they worked together, they were no match for the dangers that challenged them. But since Dave made it so we didn’t play Sburb, there was no one to stop the monster from advancing and attacking other planets that harbored Sburb players. Like it or not, we’re still involved, and we’re next on the list.”
Dave and I were silent. How could we react to such information? To learn that you were involved in something that had been happening for years, it wasn’t something taken lightly.
“So it’s after us,” Dave finally whispered hoarsely.
“More or less, yes,” Rose responded calmly. I covered my open mouth, unable to close ir or make any words. Dave was still beside me, as if in a trance. He began to sweat and I knew that he was having a flashback. I watched as his body tensed and sweat dripped down his face. John and Rose watched calmly, most likely used to things like this.
Dave gasped as he snapped back to us. “It’s my fault,” he practically mouthed. “This whole thing is my fault. That thing is going to make its way down here and kill us.” Dave clenched his fists and in a sudden angry outburst, he knocked over a pile of books, causing Rose to gasp. “We’re going to die because I was too fucking selfish. I wanted us all to live normal lives and I never thought that maybe this would all still happen. Now I can’t even think about saving us or even the world!” There were tears rolling down his flushed face, the first time I had ever seen him cry. “We’re all going to die because of me.”
“Now wait just a minute, Dave,” I interrupted harshly. “No one said anything about dying. Dave, I may not have many memories of you and I haven’t exactly known you for that long in this timeline, but I know you aren’t a quitter. None of us are quitters.” I stood up and put my hand gently on his shoulder. “We aren’t going to die. Maybe there’s a reason we’re still in this game, and maybe it’s to stop whatever that thing is. I don’t know about you three, but I’m going to fight for my life. There’s no point in standing around and dying when I can just die trying.”