10/05/2022: AKA i wanted to write them being sappy so i did. whatever
just wrote this one for fun and self indulgence............ there may be slight differenced in formatting from here than the original because this doesn't really preserve any indents or extra spaces between paragraphs. gay people when they're repressed. their actual relationship timeline is a mystery to me, i have no idea when they both became a thing but i guess it just happened without saying or announcing anything
We ascended up the creaky wooden stairs in near silence. I noticed myself humming quietly to soothe myself as we walked down the barren halls to our room.
“7A. Here.” Eva’s left hand gently took my arm, and his other pointed to our door.
“Mm… 7’s a lucky number,” I said, almost a mumble. I slid the keys into the hole and opened it up.
It wasn’t spectacular, but it was our home until further notice. A large white double bed, a small window next to it framing the corporation’s beacon of light in the distance. Cold air blew in from outside, ruffling the thin, flowery curtains. It provided us with a small desk and chairs, a microwave and minifridge, and a small bathroom. A corded telephone and lamp sat on the night table next to the bed.
Eva’s expression was one of disdain. I didn’t blame him. We were already so used to our big captain dorms, and who knows what Eva grew up with back in that Nest. I watched his eyes scan the room and his lips curl back into a frown and I wondered if he was starting to miss his dorm, too. I then switched my gaze to the bed and felt the overwhelming sleep debt collected from the endless time in L Corp begin to kick in.
I headed straight for the bed and hopped straight onto it. It creaked underneath my weight but held up just fine. I felt myself melt into it—sure, it wasn’t plush and luxurious, but it was something. I let out a big sigh and closed my eyes.
“At least take your shoes off…” Eva mumbled, taking the bread loaf out of his coat and placing it… in the fridge. He then approached the bed, pushing my legs away to make room for himself. He sat down on the edge of the bed and began desperately tugging off his coat and tie. He tossed them in the corner of the room and leaned back onto the bed. He exhaled an equally big sigh with me and hid his face behind his hand.
“…You okay?” It was all I could offer him. He didn’t respond. “You…still have your watch?” He jolted and quickly scrambled back to the corner to fish his pocket watch out of his coat. When he returned to the bed he decided to crawl onto it and collapse next to me, on his side facing away from me. He curled into his watch. holding it in his hands.
I didn’t want to overwhelm him. I flipped onto my side towards him and laid my arm out, barely reaching for him.
“…I don’t know what I’m even gonna do anymore,” Eva finally spoke up. His voice wasn’t soft, but I felt a nervous twinge in it that he usually didn’t let show. “My entire life was spent trying to get into this Wing. It’s gone now. What do I even do…?” He curled tighter into himself. I reached up and lay my hand on his shoulder, like he did to me. He didn’t flinch, move, or shrink upon my touch.
“Well…We have time to figure it out now.” Unless it resets. “We can just… try and sleep, and whatever happens tomorrow happens.” Unless tomorrow never comes. “Just…roll with the punches. We don’t have a schedule anymore!” It’ll all kick back in and you’ll do it again tomorrow.
I had to put conscious effort in restraining myself from accidentally tightening my grip around his shoulder. I couldn’t even think in peace now that I’m finally out from under the Corporation’s roof. I felt a surge of emotion brew in my chest.
“I need a schedule, Jules.” Eva’s arms stiffened. “I can’t just…wake up and go with the flow.”
“We can always make a schedule, if you want. We can wake up and have a to-do list.” We won’t wake up together. “Just…leave it to me, I’ll think of something we can do, if you want, but I think we deserve a day off tomorrow, don’t we?” I’ll wake up and be back in my dorm. Alone.
I stopped talking. My hand left Eva’s shoulder. It almost hurt more to keep holding him, knowing he’d probably be gone tomorrow. I was out from the manager’s grip, but part of me could never be convinced a single man held the power to manipulate time. He’d bring me back one way or another. And I’d have to replay this day again, and again, and again.
Eva had rolled over to face me, and his dark eyes peered up at mine as I opened them from being squeezed shut. He was expressionless, but I could tell he was calmer. That’s all I wanted. To leave him comfortable. It feels wrong to end a day with him unhappy. My emotions would carry on into the next loop. His would stay sealed in that abandoned timeline as I left them. I want every timeline I leave behind to hold him happy.
“If I’m taking a day off…I guess it’s only fair you do too.” His eyes averted after a while, down to his watch. “We can…just cool down tomorrow. Rest.” He smiled slightly. “It might be nice being able to finally sleep in.”
“Mm…” I hummed and gave a small smile back. “What time is it on there?”
“Um…it’s roughly 1:30. AM.” Eva glanced up to me, meeting my eyes. “It might be off.”
I blinked in surprise. The day usually reset at 12 if it didn’t reset in my sleep. In my sleep, who knew when it’d reset.
I guess we’ll just have to find out.
“You’ve nervous. Talk to me.” Eva reached his hand over and hesitated before resting it on my forearm. “I complained already. There’s gotta be something up in that head if you aren’t already asleep.”
I shook my head. “It’s nothing. Just normal nerves.”
“Our job of ten years just exploded. You can talk to me.”
Admittedly, ever since telling him of the loops, he has been a source of great comfort. But he was already struggling through enough. If we went to bed, I didn’t want to leave him saddled with my t—
“I won’t make you.” Eva held my hand with his left hand, and I felt the cold metal of his watch between our palms. I felt my cheeks warm up. “Just want you to be able to sleep. You know I can take it.”
I inhaled a deep breath.
“I’m, uh. Just worried about, uh…the whole…day restarting, thing…” I shifted a little, but kept my hand closed around his. He squeezed it. “…I don’t want all of this to be for nothing…”
Eva gave me a steady, serious look of understanding. He nodded gently and placed his other hand on top of our linked ones.
“I can’t say with certainty that it won’t happen,” he began, saying his words slowly as if he were thinking carefully about each one. His eyes flicked back down to our hands. “I don’t know how that works other than it has to do with TT2. But if it doesn’t loop today of all days, we…should be okay, shouldn’t we?”
“I mean, I dunno…”
“I don’t know either. But if it’s left us alone so far, we can hope, right?” He rubbed my hand with his thumb. “…It’s okay to be afraid, Jules. Just know either way, I’ll, um… I’ll be here. For you. By your side.” He gazed back up at me and gave me the smallest smile. I couldn’t help but try to return it.
“Thanks, man. I appreciate it.” There was always something closer between us. I didn’t want to label it in fear of drawing him away. We just ended up wordlessly getting closer, offering small advances and gestures and seeing if we liked it. I didn’t know if this could be considered love. I didn’t know if he would consider it to be that way. There’s been timelines where we were much closer. I lost track of what we were in this one. But his presence was always the strongest combatant against my anxiety, and I was only happy I could help fight his troubles, too. I wanted nothing more but to wake up by his side.
I kicked off my shoes and settled deeper into bed.
“…I hope you don’t mind sleeping together. I, uh, know it’s kind of…a big step…?” I laughed nervously. He quickly released my hands, eyes widening.
“Oh, uh—no, it’s fine,” he said just as fast, “I’m sorry. I should’ve—asked. I can sleep on t—“
“No, no!” I stopped him. “It’s okay! I—I’m fine with it.” I set my hand on his arm. “I’m okay. I just wanted to make sure you were.” He shrugged, nodded.
“Yyeah. It’s fine.”
“Okay. I’ll get ready for bed. You gonna sleep in that?” I sat up and started unbuttoning my vest.
“Yeah. Eva sat up to start worming his way into the covers. “Fallen asleep in EGO armor plenty of times before. I can sleep pretty snug in just this.”
“Okay, okay. Wanted you to know it’s okay if you slept shirtless or something. I wouldn’t want you to sleep in slacks either.” I laughed a little and pulled off my vest at last, tossing it over into the little pile of EGO Eva made. His scythe was over by the other side of the bed, ready for…fighting off bedbugs, or intruders, I guessed.
I reached down, felt the candy in my pocket and gasped. “Wait!” I said, “Eva, you’re gonna love this!”
“Hm…?” Eva was about to crawl under the covers. His watch was still held firmly in his other hand.
I dug out a handful of candy and set it down between us. Purple and red, the little candies we brought for Dreaming Current each day. He stared down at them wordlessly.
Finally he looked away to his side, hand to his face.
“We left him behind, didn’t we?” His hand moved to obscure his face. “Oh, god… He was just a kid, and we left h—“
“Nono! It’s—it’s okay, he’s an abnormality, and they can’t really—die, can they…” I put a hand on his shoulder again. “I’m sorry, that was a bad idea—“
“…No, no, you’re right. I’m—stressing over nothing again, aren't I?” He let out a breath and looked down at the candies. “You…you really went and grabbed all of them?”
“I have priorities. I thought we’d want to hold onto them.”
He sighed and plucked up a candy, held it in his watch hand.
“At least we have dinner.” He looked up at me. “Sorry for flipping out. And, um, thanks for keeping these. It’s…better than having nothing left of the little guy.” He slipped the purple candy onto the nightstand.
“Hey, you’re fine. Flip out all you want. This is, um… a very flip-out situation.”
“The, um, candies…Can I hold onto them?”
“Of course, dude.” I nudged them over to him and started slipping into the covers. After moving the candies to the nightstand, Eva followed and did the same. He looked a bit conflicted at his watch.
“You can put it under your pillow,” I suggested. “Or under mine. I don’t mind listening to tick-tocks in my sleep.” Eva gave me a smile and shook his head.
“It’s fine. Thank you.” He slipped it under his pillow and finally got settled.
We lay there, not asleep yet, just…looking at each other. It was comfortable eye contact, it seemed, and I took in as much of this view as I could until the uncertainty of tomorrow took us with it.
“Goodnight, Eve,” I said quietly. He exhaled in amusement.
“Eve. New one.” He smiled. “Night, Julie.”
“I missed that one.” I reached out my hand as an offer. He looked down at it. It took a moment, but his hand poked out from under the covers and slowly took it. We held our hands again, and this time I rubbed his with my thumb.
“I’ll…use it more, then…” He snuggled his head deeper into his pillow.
“Good.” I drew closer, and he did too. We touched foreheads, our hands between our chests. His heart was pounding—I could feel it as our hands lay together—but I would pretend to not notice. Mine was, too.
I hope he didn’t think this was strange. I enjoyed this. His smile hinted that hopefully he did as well.
“…Love you,” he meekly slipped in, as if to answer my question. He closed his eyes shut, as if to evade the consequences.
There would be none. Of course not. I loved him. It felt right in my head— I loved him so much. It’s why I did almost everything I did through these loops. It’s why I continued to relax with him even with the possibility of an imminent restart.
A big smile crossed my face, and I shut my eyes too. I nuzzled my head closer.
“I love you too.”
We fell asleep that way, hands locked. His other hand was free to find its way to his watch whenever he needed it, but it ended up finding its way to me, instead, holding my other hand. I wouldn’t say anything about it.
The day moved on. The timeline was sealed. Most importantly of all, we were safe.
And… in love, I guess.
That might be the right word for it.