This is the slightly more mature, let-things-go Christopher that we only saw glimpses of throughout the series. Kind of darker, kind of off-kilter. Christopher-all-grown-up. I'm not even sure, really, but I like to think this is where he would have ended up.

Dude. Okay, this started out at A, skipped to T, took a side trip to 12 and a 1/2, and then decided, hey, what the hell, let's drop some acid and see what happens. And by that I mean it started out PWP-y, became really dark, became light and sarcastic, and then became some weird hodge-podge of it all. Well, minus the porn, to be honest. But I'm sure you'll get over that.

Something changes their third year in Everworld. Maybe its just the natural growing up process – Christopher was twenty-one then, or thereabout, as far as he could tell – or maybe it was going to Thorulf's funeral, or seeing Hel and Strife's awkwardly beautiful wedding, or watching Etain hold her tiny greenish half-dwarf, half-elf baby like it was the most beautiful thing in the world instead of the misfit the world was sure to treat it as, but Christopher started to see things differently. Jalil would probably have called it an epiphany, or something like that, but all Christopher knew is that he started being a little more grateful for what he had, and what he could have if he only put in a little effort.

Christopher could tell, too, that people noticed the change in him. They gave him sideways looks sometimes, and little incredulous smiles, like they knew something was different even if they couldn't put their finger on it. Christopher didn't even know, really. He thought it was kind of like puberty – waking up one morning five inches taller, voice an octave deeper – because although it was weird and unsettling and inexplicable it was also unmistakably right. He's All Grown Up, and as scary as that is to him, no one really wants to live with a drunk Peter Pan forever.

It's not like he's suddenly enlightened or anything. He'd still rather push people away than take any help or comfort they'd offer. He still drinks too much. He'd fuck around if he gave himself half the chance. He's knee-jerk racist and – oh, hell – homophobic, and sometimes all the apologizing and trying to make up for it afterwards can't undo the harm he's caused. He's always known his faults, but maybe for the very first time ever he's actively trying to change them. Maybe that's what makes it all right.

He stopped treating April like April-girl-person-with-boobs-he-may-eventually-sleep-with and more like April-the-person – at least most of the time, anyway; he never claimed a full recovery, and boobs are still distracting at the best of times. When Jalil suddenly acted like he was part robot, Christopher tried to remember that it wasn't always Jalil's choice. He stopped thinking of Jalil as something entirely beyond his comprehension, and started thinking of him as more human than not. When David acted like a little bitch, Christopher tried to remember that while it was David's choice of defense mechanism – Jalil's words, not his – his only other choice would have been emoting and breaking down, which was why Christopher mostly forgave him. He started asking David questions, and even sometimes uses the S-word around him – meaning 'Senna,' of course, not 'shit,' because David cursed like the sailor he was – without fearing for his bodily integrity. He was getting closer to David and Jalil in ways he'd never thought they'd allow, taking tiny little steps toward something he didn't know could exist until April hunted him down for the express purpose of giving him a look, and asking him which of them he was actually into. It was only at that moment Christopher even realized he was on the edge of a decision. That there was this cliff and everything was going to change. Had to. 'Boyfriend' is a notch above 'Best Friend' on the relationship-meter, no matter what people say. He had to put someone first. Had to give someone that extra degree of affection, the added quantity of devotion.

Except, maybe, he didn't.

To this day, Christopher's still not quite sure how he finagled the threesome into being. He remembers feeling awkward and clumsy, trying to joke about something that couldn't possibly have meant more to him. If Jalil wasn't so good at figuring things out – if David wasn't so damned good at knowing need when he saw it – who knows how things might have ended up?

Which isn't to say any of this is suddenly easy. Both David and Jalil have a lot of shit in their heads they have to work out. A lot of demons to exorcise. Like, uh, Jalil and his many control issues. How he keeps too much in, gets too stuck in his head. Christopher's got a solution for that too. Finding Jalil wherever he's holed himself up, and ganging up on him with the intention of causing as much nakedness and bodily fluids and orgasming as possible. David helps, of course. It's the only way they know how to make Jalil fall to pieces. Make him lose control. Jalil doesn't always like it but he needs it, and even though Jalil knows way too much about a lot of things, he's never been good at knowing what's good for him.

And David – well, you can't leave David alone in his head too long. He's seen too much shit and done too much shit and even though he doesn't want to admit it, Senna fucked with his head. Really fucked with his head. It's not like he's crazy, or would hurt anyone or would even hurt himself, but there's something that's just not there anymore. Something that makes the darkness inside him that much easier to find. Something that makes Christopher chest hurt when he looks at David. It's not easy to make David smile, or laugh, but with Jalil trying for one and Christopher for the other, they can usually find someplace in the middle to meet.

And even though Christopher feels like the bridge between them and sanity sometimes, he knows he's not the only one holding this relationship together. He's not a saint, but he's not an idiot either. He's got his faults and even thought he knows it, they never seem to improve any. His good qualities are limited. He's not very smart or a good fighter or helpful in any real way, so he spends most of his time trolling the castle like some demented opera reject, and that gives him a complex, okay, although David and Jalil seem to have figured that out because at least most of the time when he bugs them their reply is no longer a snappish "go away, Christopher," but the much more preferable "Christopher, come here."

But it's not always like that. It's not always about Christopher. There are times when it's just Jalil and David. A Christopher-free zone. Christopher finds them together sometimes, and it's like something in a movie. This desperate, heartbreaking scene where he opens a door and just looks for maybe a second or two, just long enough to see that he doesn't belong there. And sometimes they're bleeding, and sometimes they're angry, more like Christopher has caught them in the middle of a fight than anything else. And the only thing that never changes is the intensity. The quiet. The pain. It makes Christopher burn in the moment between opening and closing the door. And it's not that he's jealous. It's not that. But he wants to help and he knows he can't. That's the part that burns. The little voice that tells him he doesn't belong here, that he'd only ruin it. Because – let's face it – the voice is right. David and Jalil are soldiers, and sometimes Christopher is just the guy who loves them.

He can handle it. He can compartmentalize like anyone else. Compared to all the rest of it, uselessness is a small price to pay. Christopher, by and large, has been useless most of his life. Even Everworld can't change that. And never let it be said that Christopher isn't a generous guy. Christopher can give them their time together because he pretty much monopolizes the rest of it. He's kind of an emotional attention-whore – hell, an attention-whore all around – and he likes being in the middle, and he likes to cuddle, okay, so wrapping himself around David like an octopus and having Jalil curled in so close his nose is in Christopher's hair and his hands on Christopher's back is perfectly okay. Is perfect. And if there are nights where David is too restless to lie down, where Jalil feels too boxed in and suffocated, Christopher can leave well enough alone. He knows that they'll both be back by morning anyhow.

And if they're not, well, Christopher is more devious than anyone gives him credit for. He's got spies – or 'helpers,' as he prefers to call them – all over the castle who give him the lowdown on exactly how many meals David's missed, or how long Jalil has holed himself up in the War Room. He always knows what they're doing even when he's not around to see it himself, and he always makes sure to get to them well before they even think about killing anyone or David accidentally starves himself to death or Jalil tries out the new flamethrowers without proper supervision. And Christopher knows that pretty much makes him the biggest mother hen of all time, but he's fairly okay with that. The three of them haven't come this far to be defeated by their own manly emotional pigheadedness.

Because he knows that he has to be the one to go to Jalil, but he has to wait for David to come to him. He learns that David is good to drink with, good to be stupid and ridiculous and embarrassing with, and that while Jalil can't hold his alcohol for shit, he's good to just sit around and Not Think for a while. Jalil folds origami cranes when he's bored or frustrated or needs something to do with his hands; David just beats the shit out of something. Jalil has a soft spot for kittens, and David automatically becomes human when you get him around kids. Jalil kisses with precision, with intent and care and so obviously thinking about it that Christopher's favorite part is when Jalil heats up enough to get flustered, to lose that control. David kisses with so much need that you can't help but get sucked in; you want to give him everything you have and hope to God he comes back for more. Christopher knows that the third or fourth time Jalil washes his hands you don't talk about it, you just find something to distract him. That when David has nightmares you wake him up as quickly as you can – you hit him if you have to, because bruises fade but emotional trauma is forever – before you bring him down again slowly, with soft, muffled words into his neck, hands smoothing over his curled fists.

Christopher doesn't pull any punches. He can't afford to. The three of them are prickly and stubborn and still, for all that, entirely too easy to hurt. He loves David and Jalil. Maybe not in a way that most people get, but they all left normal and typical and usual behind a long time. They're from an alternate fucking dimension, they're constantly surrounded by gods and dragons and elves and dwarves and freakin' leprechauns, and if this is what it takes to keep them sane, to make this work – to make them feel loved, then so be it.

Christopher knows he's kind of bullshitting about that last part – he kind of bullshits about everything, truth be told – because it wouldn't matter where they were or who they were around or who the fuck raised hell about it, because this isn't about sanity or survival, this is about Christopher and David and Jalil and what they are and need and want and Christopher would do whatever he damn well had to in order to keep it that way.

And if you think that's bullshit, then fuck you – because Jalil and David would get it, and that's all Christopher needs.