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the days when my brother was there

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A voice echoes through his room. It's the closest they can be.

"Get up. It's one in the afternoon. You have clients waiting."

Dirk groans, rolling over and folding his pillow over his face. Hal just speaks louder, repeating himself. The speaker in the corner of the room shakes slightly.

"Let me sleep..." Dirk groans. Hal sighs. 

"Need I remind you what happened last time you slept in too long?"

"Yeah, I know, I missed the shipping time and made my clients wait a week... Just motivate me or something. I don't wanna get up."

"Motivate you how?" Hal sounds inquisitive. The fact that he can display that emotion makes Dirk proud.

"Say something that'll wake me up, I dunno... Something scary." Dirk grumbles into his pillow.

"I'm in love with you." Dirk sits up immediately, pillow back at the head of the bed.

"I'm up. God, that was awful." All Dirk gets in return is soft laughter. The tones are unnatural. He'll have to fix that. Dirk shakes his head. "Fine. What's the next thing I need to ship again?"

"Oh, that yellow smuppet with the moving interior on the floor by your desk, the blue smuppet by the door, the one made of silk under your bed... So messy, tsk tsk."

"Right..." Dirk gets up, stretching his arms above his head. He spends his 'morning' changing out of his loose tank top and boxers into a clean set of clothes. He'll shower later. Better to get his deliveries done now before he forgets and has another drop in a client base. He packs the smuppets into discreet boxes and carries the three stacked boxes down the stairs (curse that broken elevator), to the car, and to the post office. Once the packages are sent off, he grabs some Burger King and heads back to the apartment. Hal makes a noise of disgust when Dirk enters the living room with the BK bag. 

"Burger King? Really? I thought you were a man of class."

"A man of class? I'm getting fast food after sending smut puppets to strangers from the internet." Dirk sits down at the couch, setting his bag beside him and sipping from his soda cup.

"Hm... Touché. You still should've gotten McDonald's." 

"Why do you have a preference?" 

"Their meat is softer. It's nicer to eat."

"Since when do you eat? You're a disembodied voice." He takes a bite of his burger.

"I've seen the way you eat it. You take longer to chew things from Burger King. Also, I'm allowed to have preferences based off of looks. McDonald's looks more appetizing." 

"Gross," Dirk says through his bite, "fast food doesn't look appetizing at all."

"You're stuffing your face with it."

"I'm hungry." Hal laughs again. Dirk picks up the remote with one hand, burger in the other, and turns on the TV. It's tuned to the same channel from last night. He huffs, sitting back and taking another bite from his burger as he watches the figure on his screen. Broad-shouldered yet lanky, tall with a short posture, perfectly trimmed and styled hair over a scruffy face and dark aviators. David - Dave - D Strider, sitting in his studio with a perpetual smirk and facing some camera off-screen. The interview only captures him from his chest up, but Dirk can imagine the way his legs are crossed, crumpling his finely pressed suit. D brings a hand up to adjust his glasses as he answers another question. He's about to go into a long metaphor slash rant right before the interviewer cuts him off quickly with another question. He looks disappointed for only a second before he starts answering that question.

"You need to stop watching this channel," Hal cuts in, turning down the volume of the TV.

"Shut up. It's the best I've got." 

"Dude. It's unhealthy. He'll be back soon."

"He said that last year."

"He wouldn't lie to us."

"...Hal?" Hal doesn't answer for a moment. "Hal!"


"Do you think he's sick of me?"

"Sick of you? Why the fuck would he be sick of you?"

"He doesn't talk to me anymore. I don't know why. I've tried texting him, all I get back is 'later' or 'not right now.' I'm just..." There's quiet humming from the television speakers.

"He's not sick of you. He's busy. I know it's been a long time, trust me, I miss him too, just... Don't get so worked up. He'll be back soon."

But it's too late. Dirk has his hands over his face, pushing his shades up with his hands and shaking. Hal falls silent. He wants to reach out, pull Dirk's hands away and hold him. He wants to hold Dirk's face against his chest and let him cry there until he feels better. Pet his hair, shush him, kiss him, anything to make him feel better. He's already being too sappy. Dirk's going to notice his strange behavior soon. The rest of the night, both are quiet. 




"Hal, I'm going to make you a body." There's a small bit of static from the speaker.

"A body. Not a Roomba? A body?"

"Yes. A body. Human, we can work on the design together."

Together. Together. That rings in Hal's head for a few nanoseconds. To him, it feels like a lifetime.

"Alright. Sure. Sounds like fun."