A/N: For Q. You're Jude, sugar. Just...less entertaining.
The ending was a simple four-word line of dialogue.
I don't love you.
That didn't really seem right to Jess. It wasn't anywhere near creative enough for him, not even creative enough for Jude. Jess wanted to rewrite that ending—but in order to do that, he'd have to change the past, and the only way to change the past would be to remember it.
All of it.
So he started from the beginning.
He started trying to find his mom's old camera, it was probably buried under clothes and journals and paper, so much fucking paper—that always drove Jude crazy, that Jess couldn't keep his 'writing shit' contained.
Maybe that was why Jude ended it the way he did. Because Jess couldn't clean up after himself. He could fix that, he could definitely fix that, it would take a while, but anything for Jude. So he quit looking for the camera for a while and—fuck, his phone fell out of his pocket.
That kind of made his stressful day ten times more stressful, and oddly enough, pushed Jess over the edge, made him cry for the second time that day.
He found his phone after crying for a bit, and called Jude.
(Jude was first on Jess's speed dial, which was good, because Jess couldn't remember anyone's number)
Jude didn't pick up, it just went to his voicemail, which was him saying 'leave a message, fuckface'. Jess could hear himself in the background, yelling at Jude's cat. They both fucking hated that cat, but it was Jude's mom's. So they had to keep it.
"Hey baby, it's uh, it's me? Jess? And, I just, if…if what you said had to do with my not cleaning the apartment, I can fix it, so, uh…call me? Just, just so I know to clean it or not? Bye, I guess…see you soon?"
He hung up and cringed at himself. He had literally no social skills, mainly because the only person he ever talked to was Jude.
He put his phone back in his jacket pocket—and zipped it, this time—and went back to looking for his mom's camera.
It took a good hour to find it, and his floor looked even more covered in shit than it did before, if that was possible.
It also took him a while to figure out how to start watching video from the beginning. Jude was the tech guy. It was the earliest dated tape that Jess could find.
From when he was eight, so Jude woulda been six.
He started playing the video. It was Jess, Jude, and Jess's little brother Lucas in the backyard of Jess's old house. He hadn't seen it in years. It made his heart hurt a little bit, and he decided he was going to write a poem about it when he was done rewriting Jude's last line.
Jess's mom was narrating, watching the kids from a distance.
"So, Lucas's birthday is today, and to celebrate he's invited his new friend Jude over. Jude's a year older than him, but they seem to get along well—"
Jess was sure she was going to go on for a long time about what had happened to Jess and Lucas that week, rambling on and on, but then Jude dragged Jess over to the camera.
"Hello Mrs. Baker!" little Jude said to Jess's mom, smiling. He was missing one of his front teeth.
Jess almost started crying again, overwhelmed by how cute that was.
"Hello, Jude!" Jess's mom said.
Jude was clamped around Jess's arm, and eight-year-old Jess looked horrified. "I'm going to marry Jesse," Jude said. "But only if it's okay with you, Mrs. Baker!"
Jess's mom laughed uncomfortably. "Of course."
"Who said I was going to marry you?" Jess asked, pulling out of Jude's grip.
Jess felt like yelling at his eight-year-old self for that, so he did (after pausing the video of course, he wanted to see everything).
He resumed watching after a bit. His emotions were really fucked up.
"I did," Jude said, very matter-of-fact, crossing his arms and staring at Jess.
"You actually have to ask," Jess said.
"Yeah, that's how they do it on TV, the guy gets down on one knee and says fancy stuff to the girl and then the girl starts crying. Oh, and the guy has a ring. It's really sweet. I'm gonna do that someday, and it's gonna be really nice, I'm gonna say something really nice to her. And the ring's gonna be real expensive, too," Jess said.
"But I don't have a ring," Jude said, looking like he was going to cry. Jess shrugged.
Lucas came over and whispered something in Jude's ear. Jude smiled.
"What?" Jess asked.
Jude dropped on one knee. "Aquarium. Mississippi. Flour…flour scent?"
Jess paused the video again to laugh. He didn't remember what Jude was trying to do, but it was one of the most adorable things he'd ever seen, seconded only by the way Jude yawned, it was like a cat, and you could see all the flaws in his teeth, and it was horribly endearing.
Jess already missed him horribly and considered calling again, but decided to wait another few hours. Or at least half an hour.
"What the hell are you doing?" Jess asked.
"Jesse Baker, watch your language," his mom said, hitting him on the head.
"I was saying fancy words, like you said…" Jude said.
"Well I'm not going to marry you because you're a boy and boys can't marry boys. And you're a stupid little kid anyway."
"Jesse!" his mom said.
"I'M GONNA SAY WHAT I WANT. IT'S MY LIFE. IT'S MY LIFE AND—"
Jess recognized what was happening. Jude called Jess the Incredible Sulk when he did that. He did it a lot. They always told him he had anger issues, 'least until he was a teenager and he killed three dogs. Then they just said he was disturbed and institutionalized him for a bit.
That was the end of the video, though, Jess's mom turned the camera off. Which was understandable, because Jess hated people seeing him like that.
The camera said that the next video was two years after the first one.
Jess and Jude were poking each other with sticks. To them it was probably an epic battle, but it looked kind of retarded.
"Die, Demon!" Jess yelled.
"The Angels cannot continue destroying the city!" Jude yelled back, aiming a jab at Jess's shoulder.
"Oh, we're destroying the city? Then why are your men prepared to blow up the Empire State Building right this second?" Jess asked, trying to retaliate by poking Jude's leg.
"Wait, T. O., I thought we were in San Francisco," Jude said, looking confused.
"I thought we agreed on New York. The Demons got Brooklyn and part of New Jersey, and the Angels got Manhattan."
"That's not fair!"
"You have more space," Jess said, trying to be reasonable.
"But you have Manhattan!"
"So then why'd you let the Empire State Building get taken over, huh? Your Angels are pathetic, Lucifer!" Jude said, jabbing Jess again.
"No fair, you didn't say time in! And you're Lucifer," Jess said, trying to cover his body with his arms.
"Then who are you?"
"No you're not! This is too confusing. I quit," Jude said, walking off.
Jess's mom laughed behind the camera.
Jess was laughing too. He remembered when Jude liked imagining things. That left him pretty quick. But Jess kept it, he had to keep it to keep him sane.
God, they used to have fun with each other. Jess really missed those days.
He paused the video again to try and squelch the wave of nostalgia that was hitting him, he really didn't want to cry again. He'd been doing way too much of that.
There were a few more videos on the tape, not much consequence. Mainly just Jess's mom asking him and Lucas and occasionally Jude questions. They stopped when Jess was fourteen.
The year before he was institutionalized.
He had a journal then, and it only took forty-five minutes to find.
It was kind of a disturbing thing to read, mainly because of how violent Jess was at that time. There were a lot of graphic descriptions of what he wanted to do to the doctors. He thought he might be able to use some of those for the novel he was writing.
There were a few cool things, things he couldn't remember writing.
'Everyone else in the world is trapped in fall. They don't know pain, they don't know happiness. They're just fucking there, just taking up space. But me—winter's coming for me. And I'll get through it, because eventually there'll be a summer. Somewhere.'
That was interesting to Jess, mainly because he realized that Jude was his summer.
There were a few entries about Jude. Jude didn't visit too much when Jess was in St. James. It was once every few months, but Jess looked forward to it so much.
Jude always acted weird though. That was something Jess remembered. Jude was probably scared of him. Which was understandable.
Jess spent a year and a half in that place. It was just so goddamn white everywhere, and he was a teenager, he should have been going to high school and having a girlfriend and being normal. But he was stuck in fuckin' St. James cause he accidentally lost his head and killed three innocent dogs.
He thought that was unfair.
Jess found another tape, from after he was let out.
He knew it wasn't going to be happy from the minute it started. Mainly because he vaguely remembered it. He could project his thoughts into it and make it feel like he was really there, which was probably gonna make the rewrite easier.
His mom's voice was too quiet when she asked Jess how he was doing.
Jess took a moment before answering. He'd just gotten home, and the family'd been kicked out of their place, so he was in their new home. It was kind of a confusing adjustment for him.
"I'm alright," Jess said finally. His voice was quiet and a bit raspy, he never talked much in St. James.
"That's…that's good, honey," his mom said, reaching across the dining table to grab his hand. She obviously didn't know how to treat him, which was okay. Jess didn't know how he wanted to be treated.
"I like the new place," Jess said, trying to find something to say to her, because he just didn't know anymore.
"Yeah, it's nice."
"And you look good, too. I missed you."
That's when his mom dropped the camera and started to cry. Jess just sat watching, completely unsure of what to do. "You sound like a stranger, Jesse," his mom said eventually.
"That's what I am now, though."
His mom just kept crying.
The camera stayed on, and in a few minutes, Lucas walked through the door with none other than Jude behind him.
Lucas saw his mom crying and Jess just sitting there, and obviously thought the worst. He was taller than Jess remembered. Lucas never visited him.
Lucas pulled Jess out of his chair, and Jess realized that his little brother was officially taller than him.
"What did you do to her?" Lucas said, shoving Jess against a wall.
"I didn't do anything!"
"We were just talking, and she—" Jess motioned at his mom.
"Hey, Luke, leave him alone!" Jude said, trying to pull Lucas off of Jess. "He didn't do anything."
Lucas backed off, glaring at Jude.
Jess just stayed against the wall. Lucas went somewhere else in the house, and Jude approached Jess.
"Hi," he said, looking cautious.
"Hey," Jess said, kind of smiling. "I missed you a lot when I was in there."
"I missed you too," Jude said. "Honestly."
His mom apparently recovered enough, and she turned the camera off.
That scene depressed Jess quite a bit. Lucas never acted the same way around Jess. Actually, no one did. But Jude tried, and Jess really appreciated that.
Jude still hadn't called Jess back. That was uncharacteristic of him. Jess decided to try again.
Leave a message, fuckface.
"Hey, hon, it's me again. Jesse. Um, I really miss you. And I'd like if you could call me back. Oh, also, you were like the most adorable six-year-old ever. Remember when you wanted to marry me? Anyway…bye again."
Jess didn't really want to go back to the video. He knew what happened. There were a lot of uncomfortable moments with his mom trying to make he and Lucas reconnect, which never really worked.
And because Jess had been in St. James he'd missed a lot of school. He just decided not to make it up. He still spent time with Jude, even when Jess got to being an adult and Jude was still a kid.
He decided to try and find Jude's camera. That was more happy things. More of Jess and Jude. Just a few years ago.
It took a solid hour to find the camera.
There was only one tape for this one.
"So, Jesse, where are you?" Jude asked from behind the camera.
The camera was pointed at Jess. "I'm at your apartment."
"Yes you are. Why are you living with me?"
"You know the answer. C'mon, no one's ever gonna watch this. I was in the middle of something. Can you turn it off?" Jess asked.
"You're always in the middle of something. Can't you take a minute to talk to your boyfriend?"
"Is that official, then?"
"Yeah. I mean, why not?" Jude asked. The camera went all over the place when he walked over to kiss Jess on the forehead.
Jess just smiled. "Let's compromise. If you turn the camera off, I'll stop being in the middle of something, and we both can be in the middle of something else."
"That was like, the worst euphemism…was that a euphemism? Cause it was bad."
"I don't know!"
"Whatever. Sounds good to me."
The camera was abruptly off. That was a year ago. Jess misses when their relationship was like that. That was the new love stage. They were always there for each other, and there was something in Jude's eyes when he looked at Jess.
How they got together was a sweet story. It made Jess hurt to think about it though.
Jess was about to lose his shit one day, was about to just kill another few animals or maybe a human, and Jude realized that. And he just put his hand on Jess's face—gentle, real gentle—said he'd wanted to do this a long time, and kissed Jess.
It calmed him down, and long story short Jess said he'd always loved Jude, which wasn't true, but Jess was a virgin and a fucking writer, there was no way he was going to get anyone else.
He fell in love with Jude eventually, then moved in with him.
After a few months, though, they started fighting a lot. It was over a lot of different things. Jess didn't like it when Jude was even with other people for a few minutes, he had the tendency to forget to eat, and he couldn't sleep without Jude.
So basically he was massively obsessive.
That bothered Jude, and Jude kept suggesting that maybe they should 'take a break' and Jess hated those three words, he heard them so much, and it never happened, because Jess occasionally threatened to kill himself if they broke up.
But Jess was kind of nasty—he realized that, looking back. He was pointlessly mean to Jude, and he could blame that on whatever mental condition he had, but it was really often.
And the final conversation went something like this:
"So, Jesse…baby…" Jude said, the baby sounded really forced. Too forced.
"Mmm?" Jess asked, smiling at Jude.
"…this is…God. Okay. Jess, I think…I think maybe…maybe we're not good for each other." Jess opened his mouth to protest, but Jude put his hand up. "No. Just let me talk, okay? I just…I still want to be friends. We've known each other too long to just throw it away. But…but this time…I don't know. I've just had it with you, I guess. It used to be fun, but you…you're suffocating me."
"I don't want to be friends. I wanna be your boyfriend," Jess said.
"Yeah, I know. It's…I'm sorry. I'm really sorry. But I just don't think it's working. I'm just not happy. I mean—are…are you happy, Jess? Are you really happy?"
"Of course I am. I love you," Jess said, standing up.
Jude stood up too, looking kind of scared. "It's not my intention to hurt you, Jess. Really. But it's over. It just isn't going to work, it just isn't. You asked a few days ago why I have defenses. How could I not when almost everything I said made you mad at me? Do you know what it's like to not be able to talk to anyone else without somebody getting mad at you?"
Jess kind of backed up. Jude's words were gaining more aggression than Jess'd ever heard.
"And I gave you so many chances. So many. But I just can't take it anymore. You wanted to know when I would break, did you not? I got the feeling you kept pushing me towards the edge, trying to see when I would snap. And I have. And there's no going back. It's over. I've never regretted being your boyfriend, but we need to move on. You need to find yourself someone else. Somebody who doesn't make you angry with every other thing they say. You can do better than me, I know you can."
Jess was close to tears right then. Every word Jude said made his heart break a little bit more. "But I love you!" Jess yelled, slamming his fists into Jude's chest.
"I don't love you."
And Jude walked out of the apartment, slamming the door on his way out.
And thinking back—brain working really hard—Jess realized that it had to end like that. It was his own fault. He was a fucking wrecking ball, he broke people, he fucking broke them inside until they couldn't do anything anymore but end it.
Jess prepared to tell the biggest lie he'd ever told.
He called Jude.
Leave a message, fuckface.
"You know what, Jude? You wanna know something?
"I don't love you, either."
A/N: I would really appreciate if you left me a review. I'll even return non-RG reviews. Thanks for reading.