A/N: This was a challenge from Madison; I put my music on shuffle, had her give me a pairing, and wrote a oneshot for that pairing using a few lines from the song I land on.

Couple: Dirk/Jake

Song: Snuff by Slipknot

"I still press your letters to my lips/And cherish them in parts of me that savor every kiss/I couldn't face a life without your light/But all of that was ripped apart/When you refused to fight."

White envelope sealed with wax, stationary-style paper, his name typed neatly on the envelope's corner. Dirk's name hand-written right in the center.

There was too much care in the way this letter had been crafted—too much intricacy, even for Jake. With all the formalities present in the appearance, Dirk hadn't even thought to read the letter yet, because, if he were to be perfectly honest with himself, he didn't want to. If Jake had stopped long enough in his travels to make this, it was likely a sign he couldn't continue; the Brit never sat down, even when any fool could tell he needed to.

But Dirk would be damned if he let a piece of paper get the best of him, so he did the only thing he could do: He read the letter and hoped for the best, which was quite contrary to the way he was fearing the worst.

He read it three times, but no words seemed to make sense, save the cursive signature at the message's close. Jake was hurt. What did that mean? He couldn't be hurt—Jake English doesn't get injured, doesn't even fall ill.

He didn't want to see Dirk? That made no sense. They were best friends, weren't they? Occasionally more when Jake was restless and Dirk was more in love than usual.

The blonde decidedly tucked the stationary back into the envelope and slid it into his jacket pocket.

He'd never been particularly thoughtful when it came to dealing with Jake, and, consequently, he saw no reason to be now, as he abandoned the room now occupied only by Roxy, who was being much too quiet. Dirk suspected she knew. She knew what was wrong with Jake, where he was; she knew where Dirk was going, and, though he never answered her inquiries, Roxy knew how hopelessly, hopelessly smitten he was.

He found the catalyst for that rather tragic emotion at the address that had been left uncensored on the envelope, and, despite what the message had said, Jake looked decently happy to see him. "Dirk! Goodness, why are you here, chap? I told you not to—"

Though the sentence had started off well enough and the dark-haired male had appeared to be fine, he was suddenly pawing for a nearby bedpan and vomiting into it, leaving Dirk to stand in the doorway while the troll he assumed to be the house's owner began squeezing in and out of the room sporadically to bring the sick boy supplies.

"Jake," the Strider said flatly, hardly budging when the troll bumped past him again on her way out of the room. "What happened to you?"

"Dirk." Jake croaked the name in a less amicable tone than before. "You mustn't upset Aranea. That was quite rude, you know."

"Even when you're puking your guts out you're hounding me on my manners."

They caught each other's gazes, but Dirk was quick to look away.

"Well…" The brunette laughed, but the sound was drained. "I want to leave you with something useful. It'll be something you can hang on to."

The way Jake said it suggested he wasn't going to be leaving this house is a healthy state, and that triggered a jolt of some unrecognizable emotion within the blonde. Without a reliable tone for this foreign feeling, he settled on angry and snapped, "You aren't going to die."

Jake sighed, then sank into the bed he was lying in as if he had no qualms about his apparent fate. "This is why I didn't want to see you." Dirk couldn't formulate a response to that, and therefore remained quiet; in the absence of a reply, Jake continued. "I didn't want you to see me like this and then delude yourself into believing I was fine."

Though bluntly worded, the rebuttal made sense, the Strider supposed.

The room settled into silence. Dirk stared at Jake intently, memorizing every detail and praying the other wouldn't say anything more. Unfortunately, the divine request was ignored, and Jake's words cut through the air. "If you take those glasses off, you would surely be able to see what I actually look like right now."

"I don't want to."

"I thought not."

"So, that's it? No fighting to stay alive? No resisting death?"


"Right. I know."

"But, say, chap…"


"You will miss me, won't you?"

Miss him? The Strider briefly considered saying no, just to see if that would somehow influence Jake's decision to give up, but he ultimately nodded, and the brunette smiled up at him.

As fate would have it, that was the last of Jake that Dirk ever had the pleasure of seeing.

Back at home, Roxy's drunken company did little to assuage his pain. But the boy had shards of his reputation left to cling to, therefore all moments of visible weakness were waited out in a solitary state, where he would hold tightly to that letter of warning Jake had sent and press it to his lips, as if he could convey the one emotion he'd never gotten the chance to express to some hopeful presence.

These moments often came entwined with feelings of remorse, and Dirk would torture himself with the memories of everything he regretted in his life. Though he had soon acquainted himself with the knowledge that he possessed a surplus of regrets, it was another sort of pain he felt when he realized that falling in love with Jake would never be one of them.