A/N: Don't worry, I'm not abandoning my other story. I just had to get this out of my system. I literally could not sleep until I got rid of it because I don't know why. Short and sweet, I hope.

The first day you see him for real, not in a picture or even over a webcam, he introduces himself formally, very much the gentleman. We may know each other personally, but I don't believe we've ever introduced ourselves properly. Then he holds out a hand for you to shake as he finishes. Dirk Strider, at your disposal. You realize then that he is doing this for your benefit and you are being upstaged as the polite gentleman, so you take his hand and grip it firmly and reply in kind, Jake English, gentleman adventurer, at your service. He gives you a small smile and you grin toothily back and softly punch him in the shoulder and he lightly shoves you back and the next thing you know the two of you are engaged in a friendly match of wrestling. He wins, of course, but you are pleased to note he is not anywhere near as immovable as that damn robot. After that the two of you talk and make camp and eat and talk some more until finally the both of you are exhausted and need to sleep.

The second day, you want to show him to your house, so you pack up and head off. You are traveling through the dense underbrush of the jungle when suddenly you find him holding you close, mouth pressed to yours. It isn't all together an unpleasant sensation, but you understand what he is saying and what he is asking. When he separates and his hands find yours, you smile and politely apologize that you don't return the affections. It's only been a day since he's arrived and already you pick up the tiny twitch in his mouth and realize you don't want him to get the wrong idea, so you carefully kiss him back and explain that while you don't want him to dwell on it, he is quite the dashing fellow and your feelings on the matter might change in the near future. This time when you start to lead him back through the woods, you are holding on to his hand.

On the fourth day since his physical entrance to your life you decide to go on an adventure now that he is aware of your base of operations and how you work. Less a modus operandi and more a gut instinct, I see. Why am I not surprised? He follows you in to the base of some ruins you've yet to explore and turns out to be a great catch in the adventuring pool. His technical skills and astute powers of observation prove irreplaceable as he both manages to see often traps before you trigger them and disable them for the both of you. You are starting to see how he both emotes more or less freely and has total control over his reactions. The man is certainly pleased each time he manages to catch and pick apart a nasty surprise, but rather than gloat he allows himself only the tiniest of grins. Likewise, in his dealings with you, you detect the faintest note of tenderness in his teasing and the softest hint of gentleness in his roughhousing. He does not act unaffected but instead lets his emotions filter much more quietly through his actions.

More than a week passes and suddenly it dawns on you one evening that even though he has never expressly said to you I love you that you are constantly aware of the truth of it. He is constantly showing you. Sometimes when you are walking hand in hand through the forest Yes I like holding hands, Strider, I haven't ever even touched another blasted human being before now, his fingers will intertwine with yours in a way that is certainly not the platonic kind of affection that you tend to initiate. And it would be foolish to deny his brilliance, but he doesn't just use it for his robots and strifes and obfuscating language. He uses his memory to record little things that you let slip about what you like or would like to try or tend to avoid. You vaguely remember telling him once via pesterchum (years ago) that you've never had pizza but would very much like to taste it some day. Somehow he remembers and manages to bring with him ingredients. It becomes his pet project for a day to construct a sun oven which upon completion he immediately uses to bake you a pizza. It tastes more delicious than anything else you can remember.

Maybe the third week you discover that you have become infatuated with him and tend to hang on his every word or do even more outrageous things than your usual fare in order to get his attention or impress him. As soon as you grasp what you are doing you reign yourself in. You hardly need to vie for his attention when you already have it. Infatuation is such a splendiferous feeling that you nearly find yourself confessing something rather uncalled for on more than one occasion. Each time, you reign yourself in and remind yourself that your infatuation is nothing like his love and confessing it will not lead to anything good. You do not want to hurt your best friend simply because you are a teenager and foolish.

By the time a month has passed, your short-lived infatuation is gone and you are gladder than ever to have kept your mouth shut about it and saved yourselves both the hurt. You are so busy thinking about this, in fact, that you entirely miss the blatant tripwire strung across the path in front of you. Strider never even thought to warn you, not after you've avoided so many others that were the same without his assistance. A booming thud and a rumble and you see, just like in the movies, a giant boulder rolling toward you with only one way for you to go. The two of you turn tail and run as fast as you can. There is no time to avoid any of the traps that take delicate care and patience, so at this point you are simply hoping if you move quickly enough they either don't activate or can't hit you. Behind you the noise of arrows clacking against the wall or the soft SHING of spears confirms this as a viable strategy. You almost tumble and do stumble when you finally reach the exit of your temple, taking a running leap over the large pit you had skirted carefully to get in, but thankfully the boulder falls into the pit at the entrance.

Before you can react to having barely survived, you are crushed against Strider's body and he is kissing you again, holding you as if he might lose you. You wrap your arms around him and weakly kiss him back, willing him to understand that you are okay, but you lack his passion, his desperation, and his love. You do have his fear. After a while he stops himself and you stand in silence, holding each other for comfort, this time as bros. The whole time, his face hardly shows anything beyond mild concern, but you can feel through your physical contact the extent to which his mask is dropped specifically because of you.

Earlier, long before his visit, the two of you had joked about how perfect you would be for each other if only one of you was a girl. It wasn't until later that you realized that perhaps Strider was not joking and his affections for you were serious regardless. A few months before he told you to prepare yourself for his arrival, you started to wonder if perhaps gender didn't matter as much as you thought it previously had, at least for you. Ever since he checked in to your island your theory has seen more and more proof. Kissing was well enough, and you supposed you rather liked it when he kissed you, despite your lack of romantic attraction. Your infatuation was another thing you hadn't expected but leaned towards attraction. And now, two months in, you are feeling something rather like lust towards him, which you admit does indeed seal it. It is possible for you to be every bit as attracted to a man as a woman.

Unlike your infatuation, which you tried to ignore as much as possible, you let yourself indulge a bit here. It wouldn't surprise you if Dirk has had...fancies involving you, so you feel only a little weirded out having the same kind of thoughts about him. You also – only when you think he can't see you – find your gaze lingering on his body. It's very fit, muscular in all the right places and slender in others. You are not as successful in hiding your glances as you would like Hey English, see something you want? and Strider rarely passed up the chance to tease you. However, he didn't seem to really suspect you of much, and you are surprisingly good at passing it off as nothing each time.

He's been here a few months. He still loves you, of course, and never denies his feelings even when you speak in jest, having even confirmed them out loud for you (Yes, Jake, I unironically love you and your ass, now stop worrying about me and go back to sleep). He knows your patterns every bit as well as you know his. You work in near perfect unison when embarking on a project and can cover for each other in a fight. It turns out that in wrestling and fisticuffs, now that you are used to fighting him, you are actually pretty evenly matched, so you are always competing for who has the most wins. You have been teaching him how to skin and gut and cook an animal from the jungle, and he's been returning the favor by teaching you more "refined" cooking, the kind that civilization as a whole tends to use, much of which can be easily accomplished with what you have on your island, much to your delight. He understands the basics of your guns and you know how to at least hold his sword. On expeditions, neither of you trigger almost anything you don't want to anymore.

Sometimes you like to watch him work on his newest electronic invention. There is a miniature map of the island in his brain and he is using it in an attempt to construct a device that will show where you are when you are underground both in relation to the rest of the underground and what is up above. The light shines faintly on him through the trees, dappling his sweat-soaked shirt with little dots of luminescence and lighting up his hair like gold. His hands, slender and strong, work delicately to tease tiny wires and chips into place. The work is intense enough that for now his shades are discarded for their tendency to darken the colors and blur together the miniscule pieces. You fiddle with them, running your hand along their sharp edges as you watch him, barely breathing for fear you might disturb him. It's in vain, because he glances up as if he's just remembered you're there. Those fiery orange eyes connect with yours for an instant and he flashes you the most brilliant smile before returning to his work.

You sit back and quietly fall in love.