For the first two weeks, the Time Agent Later Known As Jack had no idea they were in a time loop. They filled their days with fucking and fighting and drinking, coming back to their seedy motel every morning to sleep until the sun set the next day. It was pretty much the ideal life, Jack mused, and wondered when the Time Agency would decide their (unauthorized, impromptu) vacation was over and bring them back.
When he woke up on Wednesday the 17th for the second time, he was momentarily confused. The display on his wrist strap read fifteen days since last communication with Base, but hadn't they just finished their assignment yesterday? He distinctly remembered telling his Partner Later Known As John to keep the motel room, they needed a break and twenty-second-century Earth was as good a vacation spot as any, and heading off to the bar...
"Fuck," he said, and punched John's snoring form in the shoulder. "Wake up."
"What?" John groaned, pulling a pillow over his head.
"We're in a time loop."
"Noticed, have you?" John rolled onto his back and smirked up at Jack. "I figured it out after the third day."
"And you didn't tell me?"
"You're a big boy, you don't need daddy to show you how to tie your shoes," John said. "Besides, now I know just how much better I am. Always wondered."
"Right," Jack said incredulously. "Any ideas on when those bastards will realize we're here?"
"Few months, maybe?" John predicted. "They'll miss me first, of course. You'll just be an afterthought. Oh, right, that wanker who fucked up the Enceladus job, better pull him back before he becomes his own grandfather by mistake."
"Grandma and I never got past second base," Jack retorted, standing slowly. "You know that, you were there." He crossed to the window and tugged the blinds open. John winced as the late afternoon sun hit his eyes.
"Anyway, we were hoping for a break," John said. "What better way to take two weeks off?"
Jack laughed. "As many two-weeks as we want."
"You've got that right, baby," John said. "Let's go have some fun."
Once you knew you were in a time loop, it was easy enough to manipulate. True, you'd wake up right back where you started at the end of the loop, but in between transition points you could do just about anything you wanted. Jack met a leggy blonde at the bar on one Wednesday the 17th and spent two weeks enjoying her flexibility and impressive collection of vibrators; the next time around, he hooked up with her sister instead, and didn't even get slapped once. John memorized the first week's winning lottery numbers, netting them an easy ten million credits every time.
When they had exhausted everything exciting in the immediate vicinity, they started branching out: two weeks on an interplanetary cruise ship; two weeks at an underwater resort in the Caribbean; two weeks climbing the Alps. They worked at a high-end S&M brothel in Las Vegas, wrangled their way into understudy roles on Broadway (and then drugged the leads), and racked up an impressive number of frequent flier miles searching for the very best creme brulée. John spent a whole two weeks making (and memorizing) a list of gruesome crimes, and became the world's most notorious serial killer three different times. The fourth time, he got caught by Miami's surprisingly efficient police department, and spent five days in a maximum-security prison before the next cycle started.
Eventually their madcap lifestyle got too tiring for Jack, and he suggested to John that they try something a bit quieter for a while. John heard that as "let's go terrorize suburbia" and instantly agreed.
They took their lottery winnings and bought a mansion in an upscale neighborhood outside London. The empty, open spaces made Jack restless, though, so the next time they tried a penthouse apartment in New York, and then a two-bedroom place in a quiet town near San Francisco. Their two weeks were smack in the middle of May, so spring flowers were in full bloom, and the wind didn’t have as much bite to it. The house was small in a cozy way, and they filled the living room with antique furniture and fine art and the spare bedroom with the best sex toys money could buy. That was a more relaxing two weeks, with nothing to do but drink and fuck in the privacy of their own (temporary) home.
The next time they woke up in the motel, John looked at Jack and said, “Let’s do that one again.”
This time they bought sleek, modern furnishings and black-and-white photographs to hang in the hallways. On a whim, Jack went to the local nursery and bought a flat of snapdragons, planting them along the picket fence. The pinks and reds and yellows stood out sharply against the white wood, a fiery barrier between their house and the rest of the world. John was unimpressed, preferring to spend all day watching old soap operas. He flew into a screaming fit when the Days of our Lives episode on their last day ended in a cliffhanger, and Jack privately vowed to shell out for cable next time.
In the morning, he didn’t even wait for John to wake up before throwing off the scratchy motel bedspread and going to call their real estate agent.
Jack was surprised every time at how well the quiet life suited him. They changed little details here and there, and never really got to know their neighbors (not much point, when you’d just have to introduce yourself all over again), and had lots of inventive and satisfying sex. Jack got very good at gardening, though not at keeping plants alive for very long; John put together a flawless five-course meal by watching the same shows on the cooking channel until he knew them by heart.
When Jack eventually woke up in his quiet suburban bedroom on the 31st of May, he couldn’t believe where he was for a second.
John sat up with a start, looked over at him, and grinned. “Well. It was good while it lasted.”
Jack looked around at their home, the house with the garden behind the wooden fence, and had to agree.