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Unnecessary Bloodshed

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Your name is Dirk Strider, and it's six thirty in the morning.

At forty-one years old, your life has pretty much fallen into the typical family routine. Well, at least it did after you married the man of your dreams and had a family. You didn't mind really, you never thought any of this would have been possible for you back when you were in high school. Fate usually had a funny way of playing around with the Strider family. You wake up alone in your bed, green and white sheets tangled around bare hips while you collect your surroundings as you pull yourself out of bed. The smell of coffee alerts you of other presences in the house you bought eleven years ago, a hand reaching over to the nightstand to retrieve your typical shades you never will grow out of. Striders always have to be on top of the game.

You pull yourself out of bed, snagging the discarded orange boxers off the bedroom floor and slide them on before turning towards the bathroom. Cold tile meets the ball of your heels as you wander inside, a scowl present as you glance over at the opposite door that led out into the hallway. Theres a white button up and your favorite orange tie settled on the door hook, black slacks hung underneath it for you as if you couldn't dress yourself every morning. The morning scowl turns into a smirk as you start to brush your teeth, eying yourself in the mirror through your shades. Hmm, nah, no need to shave today. You can deal with the slight goatee thats growing. Not like anyone in the lab would care either; without you, there would be no lab anyway.

You've been doing robotics work since you graduated college, having been hired straight out the door without much need for searching. Your internship had gone over very well and they offered you a permanent full-time position once you graduated. Being fluent in Japanese helped much, so your usually handed business deals that head over seas. Today is no such difference; you've got a meeting scheduled at nine with your office in Tokyo and you have some paper work to sort through in the lab before hand. Your typical hot shower is therefore cut short by your need to head to work, promptly out and dressed by 7:15.

You head out of the bathroom, draping your tie over your shoulders as you head out towards the kitchen with a hand finishing spiking your hair. The first sight you see as you cross the kitchen is the thirteen year-old girl sitting at the table, finishing what appeared to be last minute homework. "Didn't I tell you to finish your homework before spending the whole night talking to your friends?" You say sternly, but still bend down to give your daughter a peck on her cheek. She nervously laughs from behind her circle lenses, looking up at you with those green eyes that only a daughter can give her father as she reaches up to tie her dirty blond hair back into a ponytail.

"Oh daddy, you know these algebra problems are quite the cake walk for a gal such as myself. Oh! Papa, can I have orange juice today?" She makes your heart swell when she talks and it amazes you everyday how much she's grown. At twenty-eight, you had no idea what the two of you were getting into when you first talked to Jane about being your surrogate mother. You'd only been married three years and it all started with one 'what if' conversation. She, naturally, was so honored by the proposal and after some time she agreed to carry your child. Thus, little Claire English-Strider was born. You can still remember the first time you held her and how head over heels you were the moment she looked at you with those green eyes.

"Did you have practice tonight or will you be taking the bus home? My afternoon class is taking an exam and I don't want you waiting outside the school until your father gets out of work." Your crossing over to the coffee pot as the other male in the kitchen handing Claire her juice. You turn to face them as you lean back against the counter, stirring in your sugar and cream as you run your eyes up and down the other as he's questioning. Jake English did indeed age gracefully; at forty he still takes your breath away and the shimmer of silver growing into his side burns is ridiculously attractive. He's not as short as he used to be, though your still taller, and he's gotten more broader in his chest and shoulders. Fatherhood was his idea, and when Jake was confident in something he always did go balls to the wall. Though, it took him a few years more than you did to get used to being a parent. You did have Dave to raise after all, so you had a few more years of experience than he did.

At 7:30, the bus comes to take Claire to school and you walk her down the front walk to the bus. You always do; you never know what could happen from the front door the the sidewalk. You've taught her how to Flashstep, as every Strider child should know, but she still has a long way to go to get on your level. She will though someday. She reminds you of Jake in everything she does; from how she huffs to get her point across, her boisterous laugh, you even catch her using some of his old-fashioned terms every now and then. You were happy when she was born with his eyes and your hair color, she's gonna break hearts in high school. Well, more like you'll break anyone if they break hers. No one messes with Dirk Strider's kid. You toss her a nod when she waves from the back of the bus, turning back to head towards the house as Jake comes walking out. He smiles at you with his glasses up on his head, handing you another cup of coffee and your morning kiss.

"Whats on your mind, Strider?" Jake says to you, setting his briefcase down on the walk as he reaches up to tie your tie. You shrug and sip idly at the energizing liquid, watching the school bus fade from view. You look down at the darker haired hair finishing with your tie and smirk. "Just how hot you look with that gray growing in." You smirk out at the now flustered Professor, chuckling as he panics that its growing in too much and you shush him by kissing him again. He tastes like strawberry jam and it mixes nicely with your coffee. Jake's been teaching Archeology at a local college for five years now after finishing getting his degree, using your previous vacations as "teaching material" minus the sweaty romps in tents hidden in the jungle. You proposed to him on one such adventure; you took him mountain climbing in Arizona and when he crawled up the cliff, you were waiting on bent knee with the ring. He nearly fell off the mountain.

At 7:45, you part ways with Jake as the two of you head out towards work. You spend your morning discussing robotics and price negotiations with three Japanese businessmen, eat lunch with Roxy whose in the the building next door doing "super crazy sciencey things that will blow your ever-living mind strider boyy!", text Jake in-between telling your workers they are missing the rapping components in the cyborgs mainframe for the third fucking time, and recieve a text from Claire saying she aced her science project. You do your best to not out-right smile in front of your workers, but you couldn't be any more proud as this was her first science project she didn't ask you to help her with. You'll probably buy her that My Little Pony beanbag chair she's been eying at the store.

4:45 strolls around faster than you expect it to and your submitting your results on the new mainframe for the cyborgs receptive protocols before leaving for the weekend. You text Jake and ask if pizza for the night sounds good, and when you get a wink and two pistol emotes in return you know he is down for the pizza. You order the pizza while stuck in traffic, swinging by the joint to pick it up on your way home. You almost regret it, your car will smell like pizza for days, but the look on Claire's face when she walks in the door from Track practice makes it worth it. Jake and Claire sit at the table as you serve out the pizza, your daughter going on about some girl who was trying to out-run her for her place on the team. You join them as the conversation heats up, watching silently as your husband and daughter bounce phrases like "what devilish malarkey this whole thing is" and "she's going to have to best me in a bit of fisticuffs before she uproots me from my deserved throne!" and you smile because this is your family. Your dorky family and you love them more than words can fathom.

With Claire off in her room doing homework, you retire to the living room with Jake to hear about how one of his students nearly broke his prized skull during the afternoon lecture. You nod as the two of you lounge on the couch, the news on the TV and turned down so you can focus of him and giving his feet a good rub down. You start to talk about how one of the Japanese business men from your meeting had rice stuck in his mustache when you hear the rumbling of feet from upstairs, soon followed by a door slamming. Jake hasn't heard it, too busy chuckling at the 'ricestache' pun you made, but your trained ear of Flashsteps easily could pick it up. You hesitate bringing it up, simply continue on with your foot rub, as the door opens and you hear slow footsteps coming down the stairs.

"U-umm...Papa, tou-san..." Claire's voice, audibly shaky and nervous, arrives in the living room before she does. When she eventually appears, she's standing in the door-arch clutching at the hem of her Rainbow Dash t-shirt. Her hairs up in a messy bun, glasses fallen a bit down the bridge of her nose, and she looks like her world just fell out from under her. Naturally your stomach bottoms out because when your daughter refers to you in the Japanese honorifics you taught her when she was five you know shits about to go down.

Jake's the first one up though, sitting up to get a better view of his daughter. "Claire hun, what's wrong? You look like the dickens was scared out of you." He says, trying to put face but you can tell he's getting nervous. After all, you've been together for nearly 28 years. You can read him like a book, as can he to you. Your glad he's not looking at you. Claire shifts nervously from side to side and you notice she's wearing sweatpants. Your daughter has never worn sweatpants to bed, ever. She's like you in that sense. You start putting the pieces together and. Oh god. Please no. "I...think I started my period..." she says softly, her hands reaching up to clutch at her skull like she can't solve her math homework. Jake physically jumps a little and raises a hand to his mouth trying to catch the gasp that slipped from his lips. You just stare at Claire.

Your name is Dirk Strider, your forty-one years old, and your little girl is becoming a woman. /Fuuuck/!

In the next moment, you Flashstep the distance from the couch and suddenly your cradling your daughter in your arms and your trying not to cry because your little girl is growing up and you can't stop it and you just want her to be small forever but she's currently going through a monumental change. Claire is squeaking in your arms and has her hands covering her face and your panicking and you know Jake can tell. "Baby it's okay! We're gonna get you pads and Tampons and chocolate! Do not fret, my baby!" Your hugging her to you at this point and oh god this level of feels jam hasn't occurred in so long that your mental receptors aren't dulling down the panic. "Sh-should I get my guns?" Jake says, obviously lacking his own verbal filter as his defenses kick in like some outside force was making his child bleed. Claire nearly loses her mind as she shakes her head from side to side, lazily kicking her legs yet putting no resistance to you holding her in your arms.

"No Jake, we don't need anymore bloodshed." You say, as you start heading towards the front door with your husband scrambling behind you making a phone call. Claire shrieks at the un-filtered joke and her face is turning red from embarrassment. You'd had this kind of talk a long time ago with Roxy and her sister Rose; Rose offered to be the one to explain some of the more "feminine" sides of raising a daughter and you knew thats who Jake was texting as you lead your family out of the house and to your car. "Tou-san, Im telling Uncle Dave you made just a horrible joke at your own daughters expense!" She pouts when you put her down so she can sit in the backseat, Jake sliding into the passenger seat with you in the driver's side. You start the car as Claire begins to dish on how all the boys are going to be able to tell like it's some kind of marking that she's game for going all the way, how she fears she'll lose interest in all her activities, and inwardly your panicking too because raising Dave was nothing like raising your daughter.

Theres a hand suddenly gripping yours on the shifter, and you glance over to see Jake nervously smiling at you.
That look in his eyes is telling you "We'll get through this, we're Striders. We got this."
You shift your fingers and let his get more comfortable between yours as you shift gears.
You've got a long road of mood swings, cramps, and boys trying to date your daughter ahead of you.

Your name is Dirk Strider, and you so got this.