Your name is Jake. And what you are is lethal. You are combat-booted and Saiga-12-armed terror in shorts and spectacles. Normally Russian shotguns aren't your cuppa—you're much more deft with your double Glocks—but you pulled out your big gun today. And that's because on this evening, you're going to put a bullet through someone's head.
You mean it. Maybe all those other times before, you weren't actually going to do it. But today is the day. And it's not like your moral code has suddenly shattered and you've gone completely bonkers. This is a deed of retribution, an act of justifiable vengeance. You're going to kill the sack-rotted wanker who raped Dave, boyfriend to one of your best chums.
You've never been so thrilled before in your life. The ache of a hunter's blood really burns through you like it never has. But that's not the only thing that's making your adrenaline shimmer this evening. You're squatting on a fire escape in a dark and dripping alleyway with your gun against your shoulder. Next to you, perched on the nearby staircase is a man.
You just met him this evening. His name is Dirk Strider and he's Dave's older brother. You're Dave's age, so that puts this bloke at about….thirty-eight at the very minimum, is your guess. But, good gracious, is he fit. Doesn't look a day over twenty-five, if you do say so yourself.
He's sitting there on the staircase with a cigarette between his lips. It gives his shaded face this ethereal glow and you can tell that inside, he's keeping back a monster. You heard it roaring in his subdued inflection but a few hours or so ago when you first met him.
After you and your friends collectively bandaged Dave up, you kept him at your house until his Bro here came to get him. But apparently, the elder Strider felt comfortable enough about his brother's condition that he left him and decided to go man-hunting instead. When he informed you and your friends of this course of action, you immediately volunteered your services.
You couldn't see because of the dark, pointed shades that he wore—seemed a constant, much like the way the younger Strider wore his own pair—but when he turned his face towards you, you could've sworn you knew his eyes narrowed. His head moved slightly, just enough of an indicator to know he was looking you up and down.
"This isn't a joke, kid," he said to you. The sound of his voice burst through you like the first peal of thunder in a summer storm, igniting your thirst for blood even further.
"I should say!" you agreed. "I have choice words to offer anyone who thinks they can hurt my friends. I haven't known Dave for long, but this blatant degradation of his person is intolerable: twofold since it has cause disturbance among those I care about! So I challenge you to keep me from this, Sir! I assure you're your efforts will indubitably be wasted!"
His eyebrow flicked up at you and you steadily lowered the fists you unconsciously raised out of habit. It was like your enthusiasm was linked to your hands. Your cheeks were flushed from embarrassment, but your gaze didn't waver. You hoped to god you were looking him right in the eyes so he could know your sincerity.
With no sigh of resignation or relaxed shoulders or anything to dignify that he had an unspoken change of heart, Dirk Strider nodded at you.
"You got something to defend yourself with?" he asked.
"I do!" And then you ran off to your room and snagged the biggest gun you owned. You burst into John's room to tell him and Dave the happy news and then promptly departed.
Strider drove back to his club Marionette and made a few phone calls while you tried not to look at yourself in the reflective panes of the windows in his office. Couldn't quite help it, though. You looked smashing with that shotgun at your side: a true action movie heartthrob. You even had that eyebrow-flick down perfectly.
"Hey, we're going," he said after he was done with his phone conversations. He left the office and you followed close behind, unable to help the little bounce in your step. You're pretty sure he didn't catch you in the split second you spent posing for yourself, but it was difficult to know.
So that found you sitting on this fire escape in the dusk, waiting for your target to show because Strider assured you he would. You smirk to yourself as you think of some perfectly cheesy one-liner to say when the poor sod shows his face. You won't say it out loud, but you're definitely going to think it before you squeeze the trigger.
"Tell me your name again," Strider says, jerking you out of your daydreaming.
"Oh!" You let the gun slide away as you lean forward, offering your hand. "I'm terribly sorry, I seem to have forgotten my manners completely! It's Jake English, Sir. Entirely my pleasure!" He shakes your hand and you smile at him through the thin haze of cigarette smoke that drifts from his lips.
"Dirk Strider," he says. His grip is firm and though he's wearing gloves, you get the sneaking feeling that his hands are actually slender-fingered. You keep up the grin even after he lets go.
"Oh, I know. Kanaya told me your name."
"She was the one who I talked to on the phone, right?"
"That's right!" You smile at him. He lets out one soft chuckle after taking another drag from his cigarette.
"You're a bit different," he says.
"Definitely," you say, laughing along. "I've been informed that my forthrightness can be a bit off-putting at times but I like to think I make up for it in good-natured chivalry." You do your double-pistols-and-a-wink move and then wonder why the hell you just did that.
Then you tell yourself it's okay because he's trying to hold back a laugh. Yeah, sure, he may be laughing at you but he's got this dimple in his cheek that you didn't expect to exist. So you chortle along—haha, yes, it was exactly your intention to look like a buffoon for your conjoined amusement, jolly good—and then return to the silence.
"So," you say, breaking it almost as soon as it settles, "what's the plan for this slimeball bastard?"
"I'm going to take him to see some friends of mine," Strider says. You frown. That doesn't sound like what you thought you signed up for. Pardon you for being so macabre, but you wanted some viscera.
"That being the case," you begin, an obvious disappointment in your tone, "might I ask what my part in this may be?"
"You were the one who said you wanted to come along," he says.
"And you were the one who told me to bring a weapon," you retort. "So where does that leave us?"
He smiles. If you weren't already sitting, it would've knocked you on your ass because his smirk is just…wicked. And your pulse has jumped right into your throat.
"I'm guessing you're a pretty good marksman," he says gently, flicking the stub of his cigarette away.
"Yessir," you say, swallowing afterwards to try and wet your throat.
"Well then," he whispers, getting off his perch to crouch low next to you, "I want you to turn around and put a bullet through his kneecap."
You take a deep breath and slowly shift yourself, trying not to make any noise. Sure enough, there's a man down there in the alley, leaning against a dumpster and looking around, all shifty and guilty. Anger flares in you and immediately quells the nervousness that had spawned from Strider invading your space.
"That him?" you ask quietly, getting into a more conducive firing position.
"That's the one," he says. He turns his face towards you as you line up the butt of your gun with your shoulder and sharpen your gaze. "You sure you can go through with this? It's criminal, you know."
You flick off the safety.
"Disgracing another gentleman's pride is criminal," you mutter darkly. "This is justice."
The shot is loud and furious. It rattles your brains in your head and even pushes you back a few centimeters. The reverberation distresses a nearby water pipe but the more apparent music is that of your target who is on the ground, positively screaming in pain.
"Yes," you hiss quietly to yourself.
It's the only words you get before Strider vaults over the grate of the metal platform and lands on the concrete below like some ninja. You're impressed. You put the safety back on your gun and take your time descending.
Strider has clocked the guy in the face, so he's not bawling anymore. You join him, taking care not to step in the pool of blood that's spreading at your feet.
"What now?" you ask.
"Now I have a delivery to make," he says, jerking the man up by his shirt. "You should go home."
"But I'm not going to," you say.
"I figured. Come on. Keep your gun close."
He walks down the alley, dragging the bloodied sod behind him. You grin and bounce right along. What an adventure this is turning out to be!
Jake: Be the corpse carrier.
You are now hauling a man to his doom. Your name is Dirk Strider and you are not fucking around. Your murderous rage has been thankfully dampened by the unexpected company of this English kid but only to the point where you're no longer going to get your hands dirty with the blood of this fucker.
And you mean that literally, not figuratively.
You are his Grim Reaper, but only to the extent that you're making sure that this guy's death is sealed by your will. Your original plan was to find him and mangle him until the only beats in is heart were the beatings of your fists in his chest.
But after the addition of this guy who's practically skipping and humming beside you as you lug a bleeding man around, you decided to do things a bit more delicately.
Because putting a .410 through a guy's leg is about as delicate as you're gonna get in this situation.
This fucker messed with your little bro. Translation: he's dead.
You chuck the guy in your trunk and lock it up before getting into your car. Jake English pops into the passenger seat and doesn't bother buckling his seatbelt as you take off.
"It's gonna be a long drive," you tell him.
"'S fine!" he says. "I fancy a good road trip. Mind if I put down the window?"
You leave the city and drive far out into the stretching countryside. Jake's got his head hanging out of the window, perched on his folded arms with his glasses clutched in his fingers. Weird kid…. You've been around a lot of guys in your life, what with your line of work and such. But this kid is one of a kind.
You've never met anyone quite like him. His mood flip-flops at the drop of a hat. You watched him go from eager to angry to nervous to focused within the span of ten seconds while you were up on that fire escape. The only thing you can think about him is that he's cute.
Cute with his strange combination of seriousness and silliness and those slightly bucked teeth that remind you of John a little. You think back to when you watched him fire that gun. He looked like he had been shooting people all his life with the way he balanced himself and took only a minute to get the perfect shot. One shot….
There was something glowing in his eyes when he pulled on that trigger.
Usually, you don't like to drag people into your personal business but this kid didn't seem like he was going to give up. You're not too sure what you're going to do with him now. Where you're going…you've only been there a couple times. They owe you a favor so you're sure you and Jake can get in and out without any problems.
Would probably be a good idea to fill him in on what he's getting into, though.
"Hey," you say, reaching over to nudge Jake on the shoulder. He pulls himself from the window and rolls it back up, putting his glasses back on before he looks at you. Before he does, though, you can see just how narrow his eyes actually are. Thin and sly like he's got something evil lurking inside him somewhere. Those coke-bottle lenses make his eyes look huge and innocent.
Nice disguise there….
"Yes?" he asks, smiling pleasantly at you.
"We're heading into gang territory," you tell him. "This is their turf and we gotta be cordial to their rules, okay?"
"Certainly," Jake says without missing a beat. Like you're his dad saying, 'We're going to the store now, but you're not allowed to touch anything, okay?' What planet is this guy from?
"You seem completely unnerved," you observe aloud, turning back to watch the road.
"Where else would we be going with an incapacitated man in the trunk?"
The sky is blue, Dirk, didn't you know?
You feel like laughing. But you just smile and shake your head a bit. This kid…. Cute little weirdo.
When you finally pull up to the warehouse, he's just jittery with excitement.
"Keep your cool," you remind him lowly as you go around to the trunk. "These guys don't need any reason to start a fight."
"Of course, Sir," Jake says, calming himself but still gripping the gun slung around his shoulders like he'll fire it at the first person who looks they'll cause trouble. He keeps calling you 'Sir.' Normally, you'd tell him to stop but it's another one of those unique things about Jake that you're steadily finding endearing.
You walk with Jake to the warehouse entrance, dragging the dead meat along. It's a bit of a walk because Miss Serket likes the dramatic feng shui of being a mob boss. Not that you can blame her, but you're sick of touching this guy.
When you finally get to the darkest, coldest corner, hazed in orange lamplight where she's got her goons all crowded around her, Serket looks you over.
"Good to see you again, Mister Strider," she says. Hisses, really. You're sure she's part spider or something. No woman can be that wicked and still be human.
"Likewise," you say. "I brought you a gift." You put your foot on the guys back and shove him towards her.
Her ice-blue eyes scope the body, a twinge of disgust curling at the corner of her mouth when he groans.
"Tell me again how you wanted this?" she says, getting off her chair and circling the man with a perusing observance.
"I thought torture was your forte," you say, folding your arms across your chest. "Just work your magic."
"No special requests?" She turns her grin to you and smirks. "I know there's some creative things rolling around in that skull of yours. I've seen them in action."
"Thought you wanted to keep my indulgence of your sadomasochistic fetishes under wraps, Vriska," you sneer back. "But by all means, feel free to jam a spiked dildo up his ass if you think that's what'll do it for you."
The flurry of motion happens in a split second and ends with Vriska's clawed hand aiming for your throat, your knife drawn and Jake standing between the both of you with his gun in her face.
Every goon in the shed's got their weapon pointed at him.
You can't see his eyes but when he speaks, you hear that evil you suspected earlier.
"This is all good fun," comes the dark murmur, "but for everyone's sake, I humbly suggest we return to our original business."
There's an unsteady silence and everyone's watching Vriska to see if she'll strike. But her snarl melts into a pleased grin and she relaxes. Every weapon lowers. Jake brings his down last.
"You've got yourself a cute little puppy here, Strider," she drawls, turning her back to him and retreating. "Go take him home where he won't make a mess on my carpets. I'll take care of your friend here."
She kicks the man on the floor as she passes him.
"Want pictures?" she asks.
"Just a list," you say. "Keep me posted."
"Done. Now get the fuck out of here, I have flesh to peel."
You put your hand on Jake's shoulder and walk with him out of the warehouse.
There aren't any words between you as you make the long drive back. You're only thinking about how you're going to get the blood stains out of your trunk.
That bubbly mood Jake had is gone. You were honestly expecting him to snap right back as soon as you got him out of there. But he's still looking cruel and lethal.
You furrow your brow a bit as you glance at him sidelong.
"If I offer you a drink will you smile?"
He turns his face to you and it takes a second but he grins.
"Only if you're offering more than one."
You can't help it; you laugh again.
Coming up=== Jake: You've never been very good with alcohol…makes you do things you shouldn't do in decent company….