I was meant to be yours,
We were meant to be one,
I can’t make this alone,
Finish what we’ve begun,
You were meant to be mine,
I am all that you need,
You carved open my heart,
Can’t just leave me to bleed!
Your name is Roxanne Lalonde and high school is boring as all hell. You adjust the scrunchie in your hair as you zone out in AP math, you know that you’re already far above the skills of anyone in your class and your teacher as well. You just have to ace the tests like you always do. You slide your pink sweater back a little to look over your soulmark again. People get a little funny about yours so you hide it to make things easier.
Around your wrist is a band of figures walking along with blank face and in the centre one figure who is just an outline. Further up your arm are a pair of crossed Japanese swords, a disassembled doll with empty eyes and a brain made up of ones and zeroes. When you were younger and you showed people these things they thought your soulmate must be creepy but you never agreed. You look around at the idiots in your class chewing over the most basic problems and relate to the boy on your arm who sees everyone else around him as interchangeable blank people. Other people suck.
The bell rings and you hand your test in, no doubt a straight hundred as always and walk through the hall filled with your peers to get to the bus to go home.
“Did you see the new boy, he’s so weird!” Lisa giggles to Mary as you pass them.
“You know that he’s going to get shoved in a locker before the week is over.” Mary agrees.
You roll your eyes and walk to the bus. High school politics are beneath you, people mostly leave you alone and so you leave everyone else alone. You’re a social void. When you were younger you used to hope that any new student would be him but you’ve given up on that. No one who could be your soulmate could end up in a place like this . You get onto the bus and go home.
You drop your shoes by the door and note that your foster father is home. You’ve been with them for three years now so you may well be with them until you hit eighteen and age out of the system.
“I’m home!” you call out.
“Hi Roxanne.” William calls out from the other room.
You walk into the dining room to find him pouring over the books for his company, you’ve offered to do them for him before but he refuses saying that it’s not for girls to do. And, fine, what do you care if he screws up his company’s finances? If he can’t stay afloat you’ll just get bounced to a new house and a new school, so what?
“How was school?” He asks without looking up.
“Fine.” you answer with a shrug.
“That’s nice.” he mumbles. You tell him you’re going to do your homework and he barely notices you leave. You drop onto your bed and slide your headphones over your ears and hit play on your stereo and Queen fills your ears. You work through your homework without a trace of interest or difficulty.
When you grow up, when you meet your soulmate and when you have a home of your own it won’t be like this. You’ll be your kid’s best friend, you’ll tell them everything and they’ll tell you all they feel. They won’t want for anything at all, they won’t feel out of place like you do. You’ll be directing rockets in space, helping to find out how the universe works and people will respect you. No one will look at you and see a pretty dumb blonde girl who couldn’t possibly know what she’s talking about.
You run your fingers over your arm, you won’t be alone either.
For now you have the math and science books that you stole from the nearby college library, they’re the only things you have to work to understand.
The next day at lunch you’re standing there with your tray in hand waiting for the line to move. Out of the corner of your eye you see the jocks circling.
“What did you say to me?!” one of them shouts. The boy he’s intimidating replies something quiet that you can’t hear but you turn to look out of curiosity.
“You little PUNK!” the biggest boy snarls and whips back a fist but the boy ducks out of the way as easy as breathing. You catch a glimpse of him between the letterman jackets. Pointed sunglasses and blonde hair spiked with too much gel, his face speaks of boredom and something in your chest stutters. The lunch line moves ahead without you and you watch as the boy, as the new kid ducks another punch and strikes back. As his fist connects to one of the football players faces you see his arm, it looks like one of your stolen college books.
“Roxanne?” the girl behind you prompts but you don’t move forward with the line. You duck out of it, empty lunch tray still in hand as you walk through the cafeteria as if in a daze. The boy gets out another two punches but they’re backing him against the wall, there’s six of them and one of him. You can see his arm again, it is science and math the whole way around, there’s constellations dotted through there too. It has to be…
You break into a sprint, jumping from the floor to chair to table and then you’re flying through the air towards the boy and the football players. The boy gets his legs kicked out from under him and you see them preparing to kick him. You bring your lunch tray down on the head of the biggest guy, knocking him aside. You land on your feet, in a rain of shattered plastic, next to the new kid whose mouth is hanging open in shock.
You hold your hand out to him, the hand on your soulmarked arm. He takes it with his own and the moment his skin touches yours you feel the burn of a ring inking itself around your finger. It is him, it really is. He stares at you for a moment and then grins, his hands clenching into fists as he turns to face the football players with his guard up and you copy him.
“Wh- hah, you need to girl to fight with you?” one of them laughs, Jim you think his name is.
“That supposed to be an insult because it looks like she wrecked your friend there all by herself.” your soulmate replies, his voice a delicious rumble that makes you shiver.
One of the football players is trying to shake awake the guy you hit but he’s not waking up.
“Let’s go, they’re both fucking crazy.” another sneers and they start to back off.
You look at your soulmate and grab his arm.
“This way!” you whisper and tug him along with you, out of the cafeteria and through a maze of halls until you’re out back behind the science labs. Now that you’re alone you let him go and he turns his hand this way and that to see your pastel pink colour twined with his amber.
“Some entrance.” he says neutrally.
“I- ah, I couldn’t help myself.” you admit and your hands are shaking now.
You can’t really see but you think he might be looking at the matching ring around your finger, or just sizing you up in general.
“What’s your name?” you ask.
“It’s… Broderick Strider but don’t call me that. Bro or Derick, just not the whole thing.” he requests and you nod.
“I don’t know where to start. Who are you, where are from, when did you get here and where have you been? Why were they attacking you? Just- tell me everything about you!” you plead excitedly.
Derick laughs, it’s a quiet kind of thing with a small, sharp smile but it makes you melt a little to experience it.
“I already told you my name so there’s that. I’m from all over, I was born in Texas but my dad is in movies so we move all over the place and we just moved here last week. And those idiots picked a fight with me because they don’t appreciate cool sunglasses and they’re probably trying to prove how manly they are despite spending all their time blowing each other.” he says flatly and you fail to suppress a laugh.
“You’re full of questions though, huh? I should have guessed, I mean look at my arm, it’d get me kicked out for cheating if I went to college for math.” he says, holding his arm out. You can’t help but you run your fingers over his skin, that’s you right there.
You pull back from him a little and tug your pink sweater off, you hold out your marked arm for him but he doesn’t seem too interested in it. Instead he just catches your hand and runs his thumb over the ring around your finger. He’s… god, he’s so pretty. That fair hair and his refined features, to you he looks more like a too perfect sculpture than a real man.
You lean in and kiss him, for a moment he seems surprised but then he has you pinned against the brick wall probably messing up your white shirt but you don’t care because he’s kissing you like the world is about to end. Your heart is trying to beat out of your chest and break your ribs, you feel alive. You’re not alone in a void anymore, he’s here.
The both of you are breathing like you just sprinted a mile when you finally break apart, but he doesn’t let you go.
“You’re real .” you whisper in awe.
“Did you think I wasn’t?” he asks.
“No, it’s just… no one else is. No one listens to me and most people are so shallow I could walk through them and not get my feet wet. But you- you feel real.” you tell him shakily.
“I hate other people.” he agrees and kisses you again.
He leans back a little and runs his fingers through your hair in a kind of wonder, like you’re the first person he’s ever met. You can’t say that you blame him, you’re finally whole and it feels amazing. His hand freezes against your skin and a pained expression comes over his face.
“I… just realised you never told me your name.” he says awkwardly and you laugh.
“I’m Roxanne, Roxanne Lalonde. Pleased to meet you Mr. Strider.” you giggle and he grins at you.
After that you two are inseparable. It’s not like either of you had friends outside each other before and even the people you talked to are boring compared to him so you drop everyone. You meet his parents, his father David makes movies, real thinky documentaries. He’s nice enough but doesn’t pay you much mind and he’s never surprised to find you in his house.
Your foster parents do not care for Derick at all, especially not after he got suspended from school. In fairness he did deliberately blow up a chemistry lab but that was only after the pervert teacher kept staring down your shirt and tried to corner you alone in there.
You probably should disapprove of the way he likes to mess with people’s heads but you can’t really, and he doesn’t mean any real harm by it. And how can you be mad at him when he’s the other part of you? He helps you steal more books from the college to study and when he runs out of computer parts to make his custom built thing with you help him swipe more from wherever.
He codes and makes something that will infect other computers like a virus, just to see if he can. It works, boy does it ever work. You’re certain that he is every bit as smart as you are.
You’re at the gun range practicing your shooting, it’s a good way of blowing off steam about how frustrating school is. Derick is watching you and eating m&ms. You pick up your gun and fire off all of shots you have at the target down the range. You hit the button to bring the target back to you and the shots are all in three perfect areas, between the man’s eyes, the middle of his chest and lastly his crotch.
“That’s hot.” Derick says with a grin.
“You have the weirdest kinks.” you sigh and try not to smile as well.
“Honestly, I ask you to pistol whip me one time and suddenly I have ‘weird kinks’ and a ‘poor respect for gun safety’, honestly it’s unfair.” he teases you.
“I stand by that.” you tell him, acting far more seriously than you feel.
“And I stand by my assertion that guns are for losers and swords are where it’s at.” he says firmly as you unpin the target.
“Hmm, what was that thing that people say about bringing a knife to a gun fight again?” you ask sarcastically and roll up the target in your hands.
“Definitely do it?” he guesses jokingly. You snort in amusement, all of your school stress is gone just like that. You hand the rolled up target to him with a sly smile.
“I’m sure you’ll find some use for this.” you tell him and he raises one eyebrow at you very slowly.
You try to skip ahead through high school so that you can go to college already but your guidance counselor laughs at you and says that no science department would ever let you in anyway. Derick keys his car and pours salt in the engine when you come crying to him about it.
So you figure that there’s no way you’re getting out early and the things that Derick can do they don’t even teach yet so he’s never going to college. So what’s the point when you can just walk back in when you have tests and pass and Derick doesn’t even care if he graduates?
You two start ditching school. You pretend to be older than you are and go around the city together, you go to museums and parks, you hang out in cafes and bars.
You’re walking through central park together, talking about the movie that his dad is making when suddenly light streaks from the sky and over the edge of a hill dirt suddenly flies in the air. You’re standing there clinging to Derick’s arm in shock.
“What the fuck was that?” he breathes.
“It must have been a meteor! Derick, I NEED that meteorite!” you insist, grabbing a fistful of his shirt.
“Hey, I’m not gonna argue with ya!” he says brightly and grabs your hand. The two of your sprint in the direction of the smoke, leaping felled tree branches and such until you come to a smoking crater in the ground. In the centre of it is your prize, a still slightly glowing rock that came all the way to you from outer space. These things usually end up in museums and labs but this one is going right onto your shelf at home!
You scramble down the side of the crater and into the centre, you fan at the rock that is clearly too hot to pick up right now. This was a small one but boy did it ever made a crater! You fan it with your jacket until you’re able to wrap it up and pick the thing up and stow it away in your sylladex, you’re lucky that the new modus that Derick coded can handle stuff this size. Most of the ones around now can’t hold anything that’d be too big to fit in a pocket.
Speaking of your soulmate you turn around trying to find him. He’s sat on the sloped side of the crater holding something in his hands and staring at it, his face blank. His pointed sunglasses are up in his hair which is really unusual for him what with the two of you being outside at midday. You know his eyes are sensitive.
“What’ve you got there, babe?” you ask, walking over to him. He doesn’t react to you until you’re right up on him. He’s holding some big puppet thing, it’s about the size of your chest and though it’s slightly burned you can see its grinning face and glassy blue eyes.
“Hey, Derick. Anyone home?” you say, kicking at his boot. He jolts back to life and looks up at you, blinking a few times before he smiles.
“Yeah! Sorry, I zoned out, but look at this cool puppet I found.” he says enthusiastically, turning the thing up to look at you. You wince, something about that smile is really creepy.
“That’s… nice. You know I’m not the biggest puppet fan, unlike those weirdos you convince to buy your zines and weird sex puppets.” you say with a grimace.
“Aw, babe, but money made from weirdos is so much sweeter than regular cash. Those guys are seriously into it.” Derick chuckles and waggles one of the puppets limbs at you.
“You goofball, come on, I have my prize and I don’t wanna stand around in a crater where people might want it back. So come on, buy me a milkshake already.” you say.
“Yes ma’am!” Derick says and makes the puppet snap a sharp salute at you. You roll your eyes and leave.
After that he takes the puppet almost everywhere, if it’s not on his shoulders or in his hands then its in his sylladex ready to pop out at a moment’s notice. He tells you its name is Lil’ Cal.
Your foster parents continue to complain about ‘that boy’ and no amount of pointing out that he is your soulmate dissuades them. They say he’s a bad influence on you, like they don’t care that he is the only person who’s ever made you happy. Who cares if you keep missing school when he takes you to the planetarium and lets you lecture him like you’re a respected scientist, how he’d call you Doctor Lalonde and tell you that you’re going to be great. Who cares? You spend more time at his house as time goes on.
“Apply for everywhere that’s worth it, you can do this.” Derick tells you, dropping a huge stack of forms on the table. He’s been running up his parents phone bill by calling for applications for you and his mailbox has been stuffed with college applications, brochures and the like. Not for him, but for you.
“Ugh, my hand is cramping.” you whine as you fill out your details on yet another form.
“Suck it up, buttercup.” he tells you stiffly and sits back into his chair.
“I don’t know if I can even afford half of these. I know some of them have scholarships for orphans and high achievers and my grades are perfect despite the absences. But even so this is so much money and some of them are so far away.” you complain.
“I’ll move with you wherever. I can be awesome wherever we go, and don’t worry about money. You’re my soulmate and dad has money and if he won’t help I’ll get a job.” he says with a shrug.
“I couldn’t ask him for that kind of money, and you getting a job?” you scoff.
“Well you say job I say puppet porn empire on the web, it’s details. Or if that doesn’t take off fast enough I could just rob a bank.” he says easily.
“I’m not totally sure if you’re joking or not.” you say suspiciously and he grins and leans in close.
“You could be Bonnie and I’d be Clyde.” he says deviously.
“Oh so now I have to do my own robbery, do I? See, you promise these things and let me down. For shame. Also you remember how that ended, right?” you laugh.
Upstairs you hear a sudden rush of footsteps, a banging door and the sound of someone loudly throwing up.
“What the…?” you say, looking up at the ceiling.
“Yeah, mom’s got some stomach bug. It’s nothing, now quit putting it off and keep filling those forms in.” Derick says and kicks you lightly in the knee. You sigh in a long suffering way and do as he says.
That ‘stomach bug’ turns out to be something after all, specifically it turns out to be a baby. Derick is… not super pleased about that.
The day of your eighteenth birthday your foster parents change the lock and leave what few possessions you have in boxes outside your house. You pick them up and feel glad that you had put Derick’s address as your own for all of your college applications.
You angrily hammer on the door until your foster father opens it.
“Hey, what the hell?!” you demand, gesturing to your stuff around you on the grass.
“I won’t be part of your relationship with that… that psychopath.” William says angrily.
“He’s not a psychopath!” you argue.
“He attacks people, he carries a sword around!” your foster father snaps.
“Yeah he gets in some fights, most of which other people start and you carry a gun so what’s the big difference? If anything a sword is less lethal.” you point out, glad that Derick can’t hear you because he would absolutely argue that point.
“He ruined one of your teacher’s cars and because of him you barely go to school anymore. You’re so smart and you’re ruining your future.” William insists.
“That guy had it coming and it’s not like school is hard, my test scores are still perfect. Derick is the only one who really believes in me, you don’t even think I’m smart enough to balance your fucking books for you!” you yell angrily.
“Watch your language, young lady. Now you are welcome back under my roof as long as you stay away from that boy.” your foster father says sternly.
You grab up two boxes and lean in real close to the man who was probably only ever watching you for the paycheck.
“Fuck you and your roof.” you hiss at him and storm off.
When you get to your soulmate’s house he basically explodes with anger and punches the wall so hard he puts a hole in it. His dad shakes his head and tells you that of course you can stay with them and drives off to pick up your things.
Despite all of the mockery of your guidance counselors you are accepted as one of the first women into the astrophysics program at CalTech. It’s all going great until you wake up with a ‘stomach bug’ too. You sprint to the bathroom and throw up, you figure it is a bug because your stomach hurts like hell and at some point in the night you think you must have scratched yourself because there’s the smallest bit of blood on your skin. You have to throw up again before you can contemplate what it is.
After several days of throwing up Derick’s mom drives you to the drugstore and buys you a test. You pee on it when you get home with her leaning against the shut door. When it comes up saying ‘pregnant’ you start sobbing, you’re never going to go to CalTech if you’re pregnant. Your soulmate’s mom opens the door and looks at you, she’s only got a few months left herself before she pops out your little niece or nephew.
“You can always defer for a year. They don’t need to know why.” she tells you sympathetically.
Derick stares at you when you tell him and for a few terrible moments you think that he’s furious at you but he just slowly nods.
“Bank robbing it is. Astrophysics isn’t going anywhere, go kick their asses the year after. I’ll look after it.” he says with a nod.
You’re four months pregnant when Dirk is born and maybe it’s all of the hormones but he is the best looking baby you’ve ever seen. Most babies just look like little pink gremlins to you but he is adorable. Derick’s parents are pretty big on getting you two to look after him so that you’ll be ready for when your own little boy or girl shows up. His eyes are just like Derick’s and for some reason he insists on giving the baby shades and doesn’t let him play with Cal at all, which frankly you’re in favour of.
You don’t know what it is but you suspect that living with two pregnant women at once and then one pregnant woman and a newborn has taken a toll on Derick’s moods. Where before he would spend every second with you he now vanishes for stretches of time and when you find him he’s just staring at his stupid puppet.
The month you’re due the two of you are babysitting Dirk when you hear on the radio that there’s been another meteor crash in town, you’re wondering if you can convince Derick to drive you out there so that you can waddle out there and steal it for your collection. All that thought drops from your mind when you hear that two people were killed in the impact. An hour later the police knock on your door and they inform you both that the two people who were crushed by the meteor were his parents.
He clings to you that night and howls in pain and anger, his brother clings to your other side and cries just as hard even though he’s too young to know. You haven’t even given birth yet and you’re suddenly a mother to a baby that’s not even yours.
The next morning you wake up, stress thick in your veins and sharp contractions force Derick to drive you to the hospital. Everyone in your small New York suburb knows about the meteor and the family they left behind and they shoot the three of you pitying looks even as you’re in labour. It makes him shake with rage but when your daughter is born it all vanishes. He holds Dirk to his chest as he looks down at the little girl in your arms.
“What should we even name her? I don’t have family to name her after and naming her after you mom seems… it’s too soon. Someone famous or great maybe?” you wonder, trying to think of great female minds. Marie for Marie Curie perhaps?
“Roxy. Name her Roxy, after the smartest person I know.” he says gently.
For a while everything is great, tiring as all hell but great. You both get through the stress of juggling two newborns but the older they get the better things get. Derick sells his parents home and the pair of you move across the country to your school and you start studying. It’s hard work and it’s hard being taken seriously and then to come home to two babies and a tired out soulmate is even harder. But they get older, they both learn to talk really fast and you get about nine million photos of the two of them napping together.
It’s great, it really is.
It’s just… you miss Derick. You miss your soulmate. Which is stupid as he’s right there, sacrificing everything to help you. But sometimes it feels like he’s not there, even when he’s in the same room as you. At first you thought he was just tired but it’s not that, it’s like pieces of him are missing.
When you try to bring it up with him he turns things around on you and everything becomes a huge argument. You have no other friends to turn to and no family, he is all you have in terms of adult company. Sometimes you go to a bar after class to put off going home to him, you drink gin and tonic and feel guilt clogging your veins.
He’s making more money now so that’s not a problem and so you hire a babysitter for the kids and the two of you go out causing trouble like you used to but it’s different. He doesn’t seem like he’s fooling around any more. When some guys at a bar harass you when you’re out together he attacks them, no surprises there but now he drags it out. He makes them suffer, makes them cry and beg him to stop hurting them. It’s not a threat, a clever insult and a quick punch to knock them out if it comes to that. It’s… cruel.
You vow never to go out like that again if he’s going to be like that and that night you notice part of your soulmark going dark. Fear catches in your throat, he’s all you have. You swear to fix it.
You get into a screaming row with Derick one night when you catch him teaching Dirk to fight with a sword and not a blunted one like the replicas he used to keep on the walls. No, he has his infant brother waving around a real katana.
You storm out of the house and get blackout drunk. When you wake up you’re back home again and you don’t know whether to be reassured or worried that he apparently followed you and you didn’t notice.
You still have your studies and you’re trying to hold tight to your relationship but it seems like Derick is angry all of the time now. You catch him muttering to no one sometimes and he’s completely glued to his puppet. Your arm is going darker and darker with each passing month and now his is too.
Your studies are extended and you finally have respect, not that they notice how you’re never totally sober anymore. One day you wake up with that familiar stomach ache and the same marks on your skin that you’ve had before. The week after you can’t stop throwing up. For someone who drinks as much as you it’s funny that you don’t throw up that much, you’re good at keeping your alcohol down.
Derick is behind you as you spit into the toilet, you didn’t hear him come up to you but he strokes your hair and you shiver. You’re sure you’re pregnant but you can’t remember the last time he touched you at all before this, let alone the kind of contact that could put you in this kind of predicament.
“You need to stop drinking now.” he tells you and then he’s gone.
You’re leaning against the towel rack crying when more footsteps come into the room, you look up and see Dirk standing there with a can in his tiny hands.
“You’re sick, right?” he asks and hands it to you. It’s ginger ale. You sob and grab him and hold him close to you. He might not be yours really but he’s your baby too. He just wants you to not be sad.
“Oh, Dirk. I’m so sorry.” you sniffle.
“It’s ok to get sick.” he says innocently.
“Yeah, I know.” you nod.
“Is this because you’re sick?” Dirk asks, patting your blackening arm.
“No, that’s… I’ll tell you when you’re older.” you say hesitantly.
“I’m older!” Dirk protests, his cheeks puffing out indignantly. Dirk hates nothing more than being treated like a baby.
“Yeah, you are. Come on, let’s go get Roxy and watch My Little Pony.” you say and Dirk lights up gleefully and sprints off on his chubby little kid legs. That always gets him moving.
You put in for a sabbatical year with your studies, not that you start it right away, you can work when you’re pregnant. Or at least you can for a while, it turns out that you’re pregnant with twins and there’s only so big you can get before you feel like you can’t do anything but roll around and feel sorry for yourself.
Everything is markedly different than how it was the last time you were pregnant. It’s only been five years but Derick no longer rushes to get you anything, the most interest he takes is in angrily telling you not to drink. You’re really trying not to do that but you might have a problem, besides it’s the only fucking thing you can do that makes him talk to you.
By contrast Dirk and Roxy are fascinated with your pregnancy.
“So there’s two?” Dirk asks for the hundredth time, his little hand pressed against your belly.
“Will it be boys or girls?” Roxy asks curiously.
“The ultrasound said it was one of each, isn’t that exciting?” you say and the two kids nod excitedly.
“What are you going to call them?” Roxy asks.
“I have a few ideas, but I don’t know yet.” you say and wince as one of them kicks you and the other shifts and jabs a hand or a foot into one of your lungs.
“I felt that!” Dirk gasps excitedly.
“Oof, me too.” you groan.
“What about… Godzilla?” Roxy suggests.
“I am not naming either of my babies Godzilla.” you sigh despairingly.
“Is Godzilla be the girl or boy?” Dirk asks.
“Girl.” Roxy nods.
“What about Skeletor for the boy?” Dirk suggests and Roxy nods her approval. You shut your eyes, children are so goddamn weird.
In the last month of your pregnancy your soulmate barely talks to you and when he does it’s just arguing with you about drinking or telling you to leave him alone. He spends more time with Cal than he does with you. Eventually the day comes when your contractions start and Derick drives you to the hospital again, this time with Dirk and Roxy in the back.
It’s agony. If you thought one baby was bad, having to deliver a second one right after is even worse. But soon enough you have two newborns in your arms and your soulmate is sat on the edge of your bed looking at them. Roxy and Dirk are in the hospital daycare, you didn’t need them seeing all of that or stressing you out but maybe soon you can ask Derick to get them and introduce them all to each other.
“Rose and Dave.” Derick says out of nowhere. You startle at his words but then look down at your babies again.
“Rose and Dave, I like that.” you say quietly and the girl, Rose (a far better name than Godzilla or Skeletor, no matter what Roxy and Dirk say) snuffles in her sleep.
Your soulmate reaches out gently with his blackened arm and plucks the boy from your arms and holds him, for once he’s not holding that damned puppet as well so it’s easier for him to hold the boy. He rocks him a little and the baby opens his tiny eyes, they’re red and his sister’s are purple.
“He’s going to be a hero.” Derick says after a moment and you frown, too tired to follow his logic.
“What do you mean?” you ask, completely confused.
“A hero. I know he will be and I have a job to do to make that happen.” Derick says, his voice flat and serious.
You’re not sure what he means. He said that Roxy was going to be brilliant like you and that’s a nice thing to wish of a child, but a hero is a really specific and unusual thing to say.
“I can’t stay with you.” he says after a few moments of silence and your heart screeches to a halt in your chest.
“It’s not going to work. I’ll take Dave and Dirk with me.” he says and moves to stand up but you jerk forward and catch his arm. The movement makes Rose start crying and the sound of that makes Dave start fussing in Derick’s arms.
“No, please, don’t go. I- I love you, you’re my soulmate and I know we’ve grown apart but we can fix it. We can get couple’s therapy, I can extend my leave if I need to. You’re mine and no one else is like you, these are our children. Please…” you beg.
He looks at you and you see something in him waver, his brow furrows slightly. He reaches out and pushes your hair away from your sweaty forehead and for a second he’s the boy you met in school that you leapt into a fight for.
“Roxanne… it’s not that. I wish I didn’t have to-” he starts to say and then drops that cursed puppet onto the bed next to you, only he looks as startled to see it as you do. Dave starts to wail and Derick’s face locks back down to total blankness.
“Bye Roxanne, look after the girls.” he says, wrapping Cal around his shoulders and standing up. He holds your baby to his chest as he walks out of the room, Dave’s cries echo down the hallway.
You shout and beg for him to come back but no one comes to your aid and he doesn’t return. You cling to Rose as the last of your arm goes black, erasing the man you loved from you entirely. You hold Rose tight and sob, later a nurse brings you a confused Roxy who doesn’t understand where Dirk and her daddy have gone and doesn’t understand why you’re crying so hard.
When you’re released from the hospital your car, or rather Derick’s car is gone. You go home and his things are missing, his clothes are gone. The only thing you have of his are the two girls with you. When Roxy understands that they’re not coming back she cries and cries. When you check your bank account you find one million dollars in there. He always did say that he’d rob a bank for you.
You try to convince yourself to hate him, you look over all that he did and said. He neglected you, he was cold and distant and he could be manipulative. You tell yourself that you would have left anyway or that you wanted him to leave. It doesn’t work, but you repeat it to yourself regardless.
You finish out your degree as soon as you’re able and the heart in your chest that Derick once brought to life goes cold. You drink more and work harder. You hire nannies to look after the girls and when you’re finished you take a position in New York and start publishing scientific work that nets you a generous sum of money on top of your probably stolen savings. You buy a house on a waterfall where it’s dark at night and you can see so many stars. You get your first doctorate and then your second because you’re still smarter than everyone else you meet and once again everybody else is just blank to you. Empty people that you care nothing for.
The only people you do care about are your girls but by the time that you’ve decided that three doctorates is somewhat rubbing the point of your superiority in a little much they’re older. You do love them, of course, they’re well taken care of and they want for nothing. Just like you always wanted.
But it’s like you’ve forgotten how to be a person, or you only knew how to with Derick around. It’s like the realness has be stolen from you and the alcohol surely doesn’t help but what else can you do? You try to connect with your girls. Rose gets you a vacuum cleaner for your birthday with a cup holder of all things and you don’t think that simply using it as a good enough acknowledgement of your appreciation for her gift so you bronze it and put it on a literal pedestal. Rose doesn’t seem to approve. She takes up an interest in wizards and you desperately fill the house with wizard art and even get a twenty foot statue put in the house to show her that you care. Sure, it feels hollow to you but there’s no reason she should feel unappreciated. You try to engage Roxy in fashion because she’s such a stylish girl but when you reflect on your attempts they all seem backhanded and accidentally callous.
You’re a terrible parent.
Then one day you come home to find others in your house and for a second you think it’s him again, you drop your drink in shock and call out his name.
“Derick?” you say in shock.
You see how his mouth goes thin with anger and when he speaks it’s with a sneer, just like how he used to in the months before he left.
“No, Dirk.” he says coldly.
And of course it’s Dirk, Derick is far older than him now but Dirk looks every bit like the boy you first met. But oh, he hates you. The boy whose birth you were present for, who you cuddled as a newborn and who you even fed with Roxy hates you. He hates you like he didn’t used to crawl under your blankets between you and Derick when he was sick and snuggle you both, like he didn’t follow you around everywhere asking a million and one questions as he cuddled his plush seagull that Derick made for him.
But at his side is a little boy, a boy who looks just like Rose. And Dirk explains that he’s yours, he’s Dave, your baby that Derick took from you. And hey, he hates you too.
You had assumed that the bruises on Dirk’s face were from fighting, just like how Derick used to always have bruises from that sort of thing but apparently you’re very wrong. They tell you that your soulmate hurts them, that he fights them and beats them. You can’t believe it, you can’t see how he could graduate from yelling at you and sometimes ignoring his kids to actually hurting them. You’d buy him not being a good parent, but you can hardly see him as a bad one, much less that bad.
They eventually leave and the part of you that doesn’t want to believe them files that away as evidence that it can’t be that bad. Because if it was that bad then they wouldn’t go back. More troublingly if it IS that bad then you left them to that and they have every right to hate you.
You’re no hacker like he was. Like he is. But you still are able to look up your bank statements and find where in Texas they came from. Of course he went back to Texas, you’re not even surprised. It’s not hard to look up leases and find what apartment they live in. You don’t know what to do with that information. Before he left Dirk had made it clear that you were not to contact Derick or to let him know that they had come to you because apparently they’d be in worse danger. You think that’s nonsense but you still don’t do it.
In a wave of nostalgia you look up your foster parents and the first thing you find is a newspaper article about them. Their house burnt down just after Derick’s parents died and just before you all left town so that you could get your degree. Their house burnt down with them inside. And someone had nailed the doors and windows shut beforehand, the police never found who was responsible.
You stop looking into your past real quick.
“It wasn’t him.” you say to yourself.
“He wouldn’t do that.” you add.
You go up to the kitchen and pour all of your alcohol down the drain, even the really fancy expensive stuff. You’re never going to get drunk enough to get that thought out of your head so you may as well be sober. You should be a better parent to your girls, you should be better.
You know that Rose and Roxy talk to the boys every day but some part of you hopes that they’ll move up here and live with you, that you can have all of your children back and they’ll grow to love you. Some even dumber part of you aches for Derick to move here with you, to come to you and tell you he was wrong. You want him to apologise and say that he never really hurt your kids or your foster parents for that matter, you want the blacked out parts of your mark to recede and for the man you fell in love with to come back.
You know that won’t happen but the day that he dies still stabs you like a knife through the heart. You’re working when suddenly a lash of pain whips over your mark like a hot tongue of fire and you know with certainty that he is gone. Apparently you never gave up hope that things would return to normal because losing that feels like the destruction of everything.
You drink and you watch videos of him and you sob until you throw up and then you drink more.
The world keeps turning even without him drawing breath on it, that seems wrong but there it is. You give up alcohol again and try to repair yourself. Your children have come home to you and sometimes you see them before they see you and you catch them all on the sofa together laughing and giggling together. You watch Roxy teasing Dave and hear Dirk’s wry jokes with Rose. You try to stop seeing Derick on his face but it’s so hard.
Of the the injustices the worst is that you don’t even have a body to bury because someone stole it, you can only let it go because part of you know that Derick would think that was hilarious.
So you try to be better, you move home for them to get back to Texas and part of you likes being near where he once was. You argue with Dirk something fierce because he’ll never forgive you and doesn’t think you’re good enough and you can’t stop seeing your soulmate on him.
Rose and Roxy start warming to you a little more but it’s Dave that you make the most progress with. He starts to smile for you, to help you out in conversations and give you a chance when the others don’t. Slowly the others start to as well, ever so slightly.
You have time and things can get better, even when Dirk shows you undeniable proof of just how bad things were for him and Dave before you assure yourself that it’s in the past and the future is yours.
But your work and your intelligence is finally your downfall, you suddenly find thousands of meteors heading right for Earth and no matter how much you check your work you can’t see that they’ll do anything but destroy you all. You don’t have time, you have an expiry date.
You cut yourself off, desperately trying to prove you’re wrong. You sustain yourself on a mix of coffee and alcohol to try to get through it. The thought occurs that Derick used to like irish coffee and it stings like a thousand paper cuts. So when Dirk bursts in yelling at you you’re already a raw nerve and he’s walking around wearing Derick’s face and accusing you of not loving your children and you-
You hit him. You hit him and knock those stupid sunglasses almost clean off of his face and you feel the shock and shame like a bucket of cold water to the face. He stares at you with alarm and fear on his face and you regret it immediately. His parents are dead, the parents who took you in. His brother is dead, the man who was your soulmate. You’re all he has, you raised him, he was your baby as far as you cared and look what you’ve done.
You don’t deserve him or the rest of your children. And it almost doesn’t matter because the Earth is going to be destroyed. You can’t keep looking at him and so you tell him to get out. He runs.
You cry and then pull yourself together, you start considering ways to get off of the planet. Where else could you go? Can you terraform Mars? Can you at least construct shelters there? Perhaps a big enough spaceship might sustain your family. Can you steal one?
Dave bursts in the room and frustration flares hot inside you. You can’t save their goddamn lives if they’re going to keep interrupting you like this.
You look at your baby as he shouts at you, he’s the one who liked you the best and now you’ve clearly burnt every bridge you have with him.
“You don’t understand, just leave.” you tell him and he’s pointing that sword in your face, saying you’re every bit as bad as his father. Well, yeah, maybe you are. He did terrible things and maybe you could have been better but there’s no way to fix that now and all you’re trying to do is to fix the future so that your children don’t die when everyone else on this planet does.
You’re trying to save his damned life and he’s pointing that weapon at you like you didn’t fight at your soulmate’s side, like you never fought with him for fun, like you don’t know what you’re doing around a sword. He already hates you. You slap the blade aside, breaking it as you do. You order him to leave and you return to your work.
The four of them are the best thing you ever did and all you have left of your soulmate. They can hate you but you’re going to save them, you’re going to do at least one thing right.