Title: True Love's Kiss Chapter 3 (The Aftermath) and Chapter 4 (The Forest, The Toad and The Dream)
Genre: Fluffy/a little angsty
Rating: PG for these parts
Warnings: None really
Summary: What if Jake had kissed Will in the forest? And what would the consequences have been?
Feedback: Always appreciated :)
Chapter 3 - The Aftermath
It must have been gone midnight when the door to the bedroom opened again. Jake was still curled up underneath the covers but he was wide awake and when the door creaked, his eyes snapped open. Fear crept into his stomach and he immediately tried to keep as still as possible, attempting to feign sleep. If it was Will then he would probably still be angry with him and he didn’t want him to see he’d been crying so much. He didn’t want another smack.
But, much to his surprise, there was nothing. For a while, he thought (or hoped) that it might not be Will yet then the bed squeaked a little and the covers were pulled back. He froze, barely breathing, though it soon became apparent there wasn’t any need. Because, before long, a warm body pressed gently up against him and a hand came to rest on his hip, tracing light circles. Immediately, he gasped as the already forming bruises from the fight earlier were brushed upon but the other just drew him back into a warm embrace, muttering to him.
‘’ Ssh, ssh...’’ came a gentle voice and Jake was half way between surprised and relieved to find it was Will. ‘’ Ssh, it’s okay...’’
‘’ Will...’’ he choked out quietly though he didn’t know what to say after. Will nuzzled his neck, holding him tight.
‘’ I’m sorry,’’ he muttered lightly and Jake tried to relax, though it hurt to be held this close so soon after being beaten so harshly. ‘’ God, I’m so sorry, Jake...’’
Jake sniffed, willing himself not to cry again, and nodded, unable to think if he wanted to forgive Will or not. This wasn’t the first time they had apologised – or rather, Will had apologised – after an argument or fight but it didn’t make it any easier letting his brother off. He was much weaker than him and often just went along with what he wanted because he truly did love him – more than Will loved him, he was sure – and he didn’t desire to spend time all alone. He was sure Will would desert him if he turned too much against him, even if they were brothers.
‘’ It’s alright...’’ he whimpered after a while, staring into the darkness. Will’s embrace was having the opposite to the desired effect on him – making him feel strange instead of comforting. It had an odd sense of hollowness about it and no matter how much he attempted to convince himself everything was alright, he couldn’t. Will hardly ever came up to see him this soon after a fight. But he didn’t want to say anything in case it ended up like it had earlier. He hated to say he was scared of him yet some times, he really was.
Still, that night, he couldn’t move from Will’s arms. They were strong and tight around him and even though it hurt at various points throughout the evening, he let himself be cuddled close, trying to ignore the bruising. Eventually, he got his mind off it though unfortunately, his body didn’t seem to want to be quite as complying. In the end, he spent the rest of the night wide awake, his thoughts still on Will and his arms, sides and head aching beyond belief. He wished Will wouldn’t be so harsh on him.
Sometime into the morning though as the sunlight began to pour through the frosty window, his brother moved behind him and he gasped involuntarily at the sharp shoot of pain bursting up his arm. Will immediately stopped and then momentarily propped his head up onto his shoulder, his hands still laced around his waist. ‘’ Jake...?’’ he murmured and he could tell he was still half asleep, probably not thinking straight. ‘’ Jake...?’’
‘’ Mmmm...’’ Jake was too beginning to feel a little tired now. After a whole night trying to shrug off horrible bruises and cuts, the morning had brought a sense of tranquillity with it.
‘’...what is it, Will?’’
‘’ ...I love you...’’
Jake froze suddenly but then as Will’s arms tightened around him again, a small smile appeared on his lips. He knew his brother was almost definitely too sleepy to know what he was saying and he’d probably forgotten it by the time they had to get up yet at least he’d said it. Those three little words that meant oh so much to Jake, but seemingly didn’t mean as much at all to Will. He’d heard him many a time deliver it to many girls, sometimes even ones he’d just met the previous night, so it didn’t have a direct meaning yet he hadn’t mentioned it to him for a long, long time. It made Jake feel much warmer inside and finally, as the relief spread through him – though he knew it wouldn’t be there for long – so did tiredness and he gradually slipped off to sleep, Will’s arms still around him.
Jake woke up a few hours later and immediately, groaned and winced, the bright sunshine pouring through the window abruptly disagreeing with his aching head. He had no idea what the time was but by the looks of things, it was probably late morning. Strangely, everything seemed completely fine about the world but almost too fine. Will had apologised to him last night after fighting – much faster than usual – and then they’d fallen asleep in the same bed together, wrapped in each other’s arms. Of course, they had done that many a time before yet not that soon after an argument. Jake felt very odd about the whole thing but as he gradually slipped into reality, he tried not to think about it too much, instead deciding to hope that Will had been genuine to him. He worried too excessively sometimes.
Yawning softly, Jake stretched his arms out of the bed and then turned around, expecting to find his brother still lying next to him. However, there was no such sight. The bed was empty and Will’s clothes were gone from the floor, suggesting he was already up and about. This didn’t bother Jake too much at first yet as he pulled back the covers, he began to feel a little lonely and abandoned, sore and left on his own to a new world. Obviously, Will hadn’t thought about that when he left him – to be honest, he hadn’t really expected him too – so, when he slowly crawled out of bed, attempting to stand up against the pain, he ignored his whining thoughts and grabbed some clothes.
When changing, he refused to look in the mirror. He knew there were horrific reminders of the night before still etched on his skin and he didn’t want to see them. It was bad enough having the memories but witnessing the scars that would probably be there for quite a while added to the problem. Will would always be with him now, no matter what he did.
Still, he pulled some clothes on as fast as he could with his injuries and then slipped the bag over his shoulder with his journal in, deciding to go and find his brother. With any luck, he’d be down in the bar, probably getting food or with some girl. Jake tried not to let that bother him – knew it shouldn’t – but sometimes, he got a strange sensation in his stomach, especially when he had to listen to his brother and a women in the same room as him. He didn’t know what that sensation was though and he wasn’t sure he wanted to find out.
Though, trying to put on a brave face from the pain throbbing through his body, he nudged open the bedroom door and walked out, nodding and smiling to anybody who greeted him with a pleasant good morning. Just as he thought, Will was downstairs, sitting with some busty, pretty girls near the bar and they were eating together, laughing and giggling over something. Not wanting to intrude quite yet, Jake hung back near the door but before he could order himself a drink, he caught his name being said by Will and he glanced over, wondering if they’d seen him arrive.
It soon became apparent that they hadn’t as before long, Will started talking about him in not the nicest way. Jake attempted to shrug it off to begin with, realising it wasn’t anything new but then he mentioned the previous night and he became alert once again. Luckily, Will didn’t say anything about the fight – well, at least not how bad it was – yet, he did go on to say about the apology he had made or what Jake now realised wasn’t actually one. Apparently, there hadn’t been any pretty enough women at the bar the night before and although Will had known he’d just had an argument with him, he’d wanted some company, being used to spending the evening in bed with somebody else. To fulfil this need, he had seemingly said sorry to Jake and then cuddled up to him although, as he said to the women, it had meant nothing, nothing at all. He said he’d even added in the words ‘I love you’ to add to this facade.
‘’ It was either him or Cavaldi,’’ Will said at this point and the girls tittered in high pitched voices, pawing all over him.
The next thing Jake remembered was storming out and slamming the door behind him though all he could hear and think of was his brother’s and the women’s giggles at his own expense.
Will entered the bedroom minutes later, though Jake couldn’t care less. Hot, defiant tears had begun to fall already and as he approached him, looking confused, he immediately pushed him away, screaming at him.
‘’ Jake, what the hell is wrong with you?!’’ Will shouted, trying again to reach out but just receiving a violent thump on the arm.
‘’ It’s nothing to do with me, Will!’’ Jake yelled furiously and he finally felt some of the rage bottled up inside of him spill out of his mouth. ‘’ It’s you! Don’t you get that? It’s you!’’
‘’ What do you mean?! I haven’t done anything! I apologised last night, didn’t I?’’
‘’ Well, I thought you did! But, apparently, that’s not the case!’’
‘’ What’s up with you, Jake?!’’
‘’ Stop saying that! It’s not me! I heard you and your little ditzy friends down there talking just now and I understand perfectly well! It was either me or Cavaldi, was it?!’’
‘’ Jake, that’s –‘’
‘’ Don’t try and make excuses, Will! I’m sorry but, not this time, okay?! I’m sick of them! You think just because you’re older, you’re the boss! That makes me goddamn scared of you, Will, you hear?! And I don’t care what you do to me now – I heard what you think of me!’’
‘’ Jake, c’mon –‘’
‘’ Get away from me! I thought you were apologising last night!’’
‘’ Jake, don’t be stupid! I was apologising!’’
‘’ Well, why were you telling those girls it was just because there were no women available last night? I was just some cheap substitute for them?’’
‘’ I said I love you, didn’t I? Isn’t that enough?’’
‘’ No, Will, that bloody well isn’t! Because you say that to everybody, even those dumb girls you’ve just met! It’s not just about saying it!’’
‘’ Jake, don’t do this! Stop being so pathetic and get on with your life!’’
‘’ No, Will, I’m not pathetic! And I’m angry because...’’ Jake paused, grabbing a red cloak from the closet and marching towards the door. Will tried to stop him but he pushed him away.
‘’...when you say I love you, you have to mean it.’’
And with that, Jake threw open the door and ran out of the door, grabbing a basket of food on the way out. Will stared after him.
Chapter 4 - The Forest, The Toad and The Dream
The forest looked beautiful when Jake reached it, the leaves bathed in the orange sunshine but still glistening from the rain a couple of days back. A well trodden path crept in from the village into the trees and as Jake glanced in, he could almost imagine it trailing on forever, away from the cares of the world and into some place magical and enchanting, some place he could lose himself in. It seemed so wonderful beyond that first step but when he stood there, he felt torn almost between two dimensions, the one behind him with Will and violence and fighting and the one in front of him with beauty and dreams and imagination. It should have been an easy decision to make yet something kept holding him back every time he attempted to enter the woods.
He couldn’t stop thinking of Will.
Despite the fact that he had beat him and yelled at him many a time, in the end he was his brother and he did love him very much. They had been together their whole lives and although they were completely different, there was something between them that was the same. Jake didn’t know what that was but it kept him standing there at the forest’s edge, red cape billowing in the wind and eyes darting into the blue sky above him, as if that would give him an answer.
Stepping into this forest felt like it would change his life. He could easily return back to the Inn later that day, even if he did enter, but there was another thing behind it all that he couldn’t understand. Something much, much deeper. He didn’t know what that was and for a while, he wasn’t sure if he wanted to or not. Often, he got involved in situations that he hated and was terrified in and the only person that could get him out of them was Will. And he wasn’t there right now. He probably hated him for good this time. Jake had never yelled at him like that.
So maybe entering this beautiful and so alluring forest was a good thing then. It’d be the life he’d always dreamt of where he could start all over again, lost in fantasies and build a world carved on imagination. Nobody telling him to step back into reality or get his head out of the clouds. This is where he belonged. In the forest, oh so similar to the ones he’d envisaged with the girl in the red cape and the tower with the singing, beautiful maiden. He’d save her this time. He’d be the prince.
But did he really want to be the prince? After all this time writing about such things, now he came face to face with what the woods, there was deep confusion. On the one hand, there was fantasy and dreams and on the other hand there was...Will. Who he loved so dearly but who beat him and lied to him. Could he live without that? Of course he could but Will...He was his brother – he couldn’t live without him. He’d always been there, ever since they were young. Especially since Lotte had died. He’d blamed him for that too. Magic beans. Jake shuddered at the thought and clutched his journal closer to his chest, as if it gave him an answer to his problem. The forest. Or Will.
What was it going to be?
Jake couldn’t help himself as he glanced back over his shoulder and looked back down the path at Marbaden, hidden somewhere between the rolling hills. Everybody was back there – Angelika, Cavaldi, the girls he’d saved...Will...No, he mustn’t think of Will. If he went back, he’d just beat him again like the previous night. Jake didn’t want any more bruises. They already ached what seemed like all over.
Yet there was something else as well. Something more to add to his troubles. This was the same forest Will and him had defeated the evil Mirror Queen in. Only yesterday (was it really that recent? It felt like years had passed), they had stepped out with all the girls they had revived from the spell and now, he was going back to that place out of his own desire. He didn’t have to. But here he was. Could he really bring up those memories again? The memories of the crumbling tower, the twelve crypts, the mirror, Will – and the knife – and the kiss...
Jake whimpered, not sure if he did aloud or in his head, and rubbed a shaking hand across his forehead. Just go back to Marbaden, half of his mind hissed while the other urged him onwards into the forest, find the world he always wanted. Tears were beginning to prick his eyes as he tried to make some sense of anything but he felt as if he was rooted to the ground like the trees that surrounded him, unable to move.
‘’ What should I do...?’’ he muttered desperately to the world around him and kept repeating that until his breathing began to catch in his throat, overcome by small sobs. The forest became hazy in front of him and immediately, he looked down, temples throbbing. Why was he even here? Again?
Yet then, as he frustratedly kicked at a stray branch by his feet, there was a rustling in a nearby bush and a familiar looking toad hopped out. Through his tears, his heart suddenly gave a leap and his eyes widened a little. Grandmother Toad. Angelika had told him and Will all about her. She showed the direction when travellers were lost. And now, he was most definitely lost.
Trembling, he bent down and carefully scooped her up in his hands before standing back up again and looking her in the large, bulging eyes. She didn’t look too pleased about being plucked from a peaceful waddle around the forest yet Jake tried his best to come across as earnest and believing, holding her gently. ‘’ Grandmother Toad...’’ he began, his voice shaking as he lowered his face to the creature. ‘’ Please...show me the way...Will...or the forest...’’
And then he licked slowly down her bumpy back, wincing in disgust.
The seconds that followed felt like an eternity. Jake stayed almost utterly still, watching the toad as she paused for a while and rolled on her back a few times, looking up at her questioner with displeased eyes. But then, as the world seemed to spin around them, she finally made another move and turned ever so slowly onto one side. Jake moaned. The forest.
‘’ The forest...?’’ he mumbled aloud. ‘’ ...sure?’’
Yet Angelika had said the toad never lied. She could be trusted. Jake, lost in the world of enchantment and spells, felt he had to go along with her suggestion, no matter how many doubts he had about it. Though to be fair, he had many doubts about his other option too. The forest it was...It had to be...
Closing his eyes momentarily to force back even more tears, he let the toad go and then faced the forest again, its trees reaching high above him in a horrible dominating way. The sky almost seemed completely blocked out because of them and as Jake adjusted his bag slung over his shoulder with shuddering hands, he felt frightened, abandoned in a cold, harsh world. Just like he had felt when he was younger after his Mother and Lotte had died. The only difference then was that he had had Will...
No. Don’t think about him...
And, anyway, in this forest, it will no longer be cold and harsh...It’s your world now, Jake...
Jake didn’t know who was telling him this but as the words weaved around him, he found himself slowly believing in them. The forest, the forest, the forest...Right in front of him now and just asking to be walked in to. A whole new world...
And then there was no use thinking anymore.
Holding his breath, he drew the red cape further around him and took the first step, right onto the weaving path...
The forest was beautiful. It smelt of rich pine and fresh grass and the air was alive with bounding fireflies and dancing sunshine, even though the world had seemed grey and dull outside. There was hardly any noise apart from the gentle song of the birds and the whispering of the trees and as Jake carried on down the path, he realised he had never felt more peaceful in his life. The world was suddenly still and tranquil and he had no idea why he’d been hesitating beforehand. This felt like where he was meant to be.
Around him, there was so many tales just waiting to be told. The entire woods were brimming over with inspiration and fantasy and by the time Jake had got his journal out, pen in hand, he already had so much creations spinning around his mind. He could barely write fast enough to get them all written down. What a wonderful place!
It was so very different now to how it was the last time he had entered it, even though that was only just yesterday. There was no longer evil in the air, but pure enchantment, dripping from every leaf on every tree and flowing on the breezes. Jake took a long, deep breath and smiled at the sensations, finally feeling free. He didn’t have to be careful around his brother anymore or worry about Angelika or anybody... It was just him.
Of course, he didn’t intend to spend the rest of his life in this forest but as he strolled lazily and contendedly down the path, he wanted to relish and appreciate every moment. Every branch, every tree, every cloud... Right now, at this point, if Will had been there, he would have been telling him how pathetic he was being yet he wasn’t there. He could do what he wanted.
Still though, deep inside, he knew he missed Will. The thoughts and worries he’d had of him on the outskirts of the forest previously were buried in his mind but he was trying not to let them resurface. They would most definitely ruin this beautiful moment and drag him back to the dilemma. For now anyway, he didn’t want that to happen.
So, his book clutched lovingly against his chest, he felt a smile flicker over his face as he advanced down the worn pathway, eyes big and shining like a child’s. Everything seemed as if it was greeting him and drawing him in and he couldn’t help but laugh softly at the wonder of it all. He just wanted to keep on exploring and exploring all day...
Yet then, suddenly, out of the corner of his eyes, he saw something among the trees to his left and paused. For a short while, he wondered what he was staring at but it slowly became clear after staring inquisitively for a bit. It was a little cottage, buried deep in the woods. And it looked so homely and inviting, that Jake could feel his heart beginning to soar. He hadn’t seen a house like that for ages, having slept in cold Inns and on hard floors and sometimes on streets for years. He suddenly felt an overwhelming urge to visit it, no matter who lived there.
And so he strayed off the path, red cloak billowing out behind him and basket over his arm, right to the cottage in the middle of the woods...