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Drops of Reality

Chapter Text

"Go on, then." 'Alice' waved a hand. "Go back to your world of light. Leave this underworld behind." She turned away from Henry, taking Boris's hand. "This one...this perfect Boris...he's all I need now."

"No," Henry said. "I'm not leaving without him."

Both the wolf and false angel looked surprised.

"He doesn't deserve to be trapped here," the former animator insisted.

Boris gave Henry a reassuring pat on the shoulder, as if to tell him 'it's OK.'

"See?" 'Alice' said. "He knows he doesn't belong out there any more than I do. You left before the madness began, so you are not beyond hope." A tear trickled from her eye. "Turns out Joey and I weren't Arthur and Guinevere, but Hades and Persephone. If I'd only listened to Susie when she warned me..."

Henry's eyes widened. "Allison? Allison Pendle, is that you?"

"Not any more," Allison replied. "She's gone. And it's time you were too."

She turned, about to lead Boris away, only to stop when Henry grabbed her hand.

"I don't know what Joey's been doing, but I can't leave now. Not when there are people suffering here because of him."

He handed her the axe and Boris the pipe, keeping the Tommy gun.

"Come on. We're all leaving--you, me, Boris, Norman, and anyone else still alive in here."

Chapter Text

"Well, I'll be damned," Sammy allowed himself a smile as he looked down at the gagged and bound demon. "Joey, you crazy son of a bitch."

Henry nodded in agreement. "I think I speak for everyone here when I say you've officially wiped out any doubts we had about this whole thing."

"Told you I could pull it off. And I did it without any human sacrifice!"

Grinning broadly, Joey leaned down to look into the demon's eyes. "They didn't believe me when I talked about the power of belief. Yes, what happened with the rats shook things up, never mind how I transformed a dog on its last legs into a healthy, vibrant Boris. But ultimately, it was you who helped me prove them wrong."

The demon said something incomprehensible through the specially treated duct tape, prompting a laugh.

"Now, now, I did promise you a vessel in exchange for improving the Ink Machine. But..." He paused dramatically. "Don't think you're going to be coming out ahead. I'm not foolish enough to take you at your word."

With Henry's help, he lifted the demon and placed him inside the Ink Machine's entrance chamber. Then he and the other two headed upstairs, Joey pausing to give a thumbs up to Wally on the way. Catching his boss's signal, Wally flipped a switch before running to catch up. They were soon joined by Norman, Susie, and Boris, the latter trembling with excitement.

As they arrived at the entrance floor, a mass of ink emerged from the machine's exit chamber, landing on the floor with a wet splatter. Seconds later, a white-gloved hand emerged, followed by a pair of thin arms, a floating head with pointed horns, a roughly oval-shaped body with a white bowtie near where his neck would be, short legs, and feet encased in polished shoes.

The small creature collapsed onto its back, waiting for everything to stop spinning. Images flickered through his mind--of dark bargains and claiming the souls of sorcerers who thought they could get the best of him. But they felt wrong, like they shouldn't be there.

Luckily, they were quickly replaced by new images--of playful tricks and harebrained schemes, stretching and hammerspace, a wolf and an angel. Those images--those memories--felt right.

Yes, he remembered now!

"Bendy?"

Turning around, the little demon saw Joey entering. He grinned happily.

"Yup! That's me!"

As he sprang to his feet, the others entered the room, Boris's eyes lighting up upon seeing his friend.

"Hi buddy!"

"Boris!"

Watching the happy reunion, Henry gave a smile. Joey had won him over completely with this--him, and all the other employees who were in on their boss's not-quite-so-crazy plan.

"Joey, do you think we can bring Alice to life next?" Susie asked hopefully.

"Of course, my dear!"

In the back of Bendy's mind, what little remained of his previous self screamed in rage before fading completely.

Chapter Text

"So how did this happen?" Henry asked, watching the black and white blur that was Bendy zip around the track.

"Which part?" inquired Joey. "Bendy, Boris, and Alice being alive, or their abilities?"

"Barry told me about his blood mixing with Bendy's ink," Henry replied. "But that doesn't explain how he's here in the first place--or why the studio looks so different now."

"You can thank the Ink Machine for that. Its power let me create living versions of the characters we created. All I had to do was provide an image and a few small items."

Joey paused. "The thing about the Ink Machine is, it only accepts your work. Most of my creations came out wrong--twisted parodies of the employees and the Toons. Only with your drawings could I truly bring our little Devil Darling to life."

"You want my help, don't you?" Henry asked, frowning slightly.

"Yes, but that's not why I agreed to help exonerate you. I never believed that you'd would kill your wife. Unfortunately, that's why the studio shut down--no one would support a cartoon company with a murderer on its staff, no matter how many of us believed in your innocence. I did my best to keep it afloat, but it ultimately came down to my faith in you or the studio. And there was no way I was going to denounce my friend for something he didn't do."

"So you do care," Henry smiled again.

Joey nodded. "You and I have been friends since college. Few still-living people know you better than me." Here he paused, looking over at Bendy, who was now downing a can of bacon soup. "Still, I admit having you back would be a massive help. Bringing cartoons to life has been my dream for a long time. But I need you to really make that dream come true." He held out a hand. "I won't force you, but..."

"Say no more." Henry took Joey's hand. "After all, you helped Barry prove my innocence. If there's a better way to repay you, I don't know it."

"Glad to hear it, old friend. And don't worry--your son's secret is safe."

Chapter Text

"You know, I was honestly expecting the whole 'transforming into a toon' to go a bit faster."

"It seems to progress at different rates for everyone," Linda mused, examining Rick's arm. "Not to mention, you didn't receive as much exposure to the machine's ink as, say, my husband. Henry's change took barely a day, while mine took almost a week."

The voice actor looked down at his free arm, which looked more noodle-like than it had yesterday. "God, this looks weird."

"I think the whole thing is fascinating, actually." Pulling a clipboard out of hammerspace, Linda began jotting down notes. "True, some parts of Toon logic are hard to understand, but I like the idea of making real-world physics my bitch."

Flopping back onto his pillow, Rick sighed. "So, any idea when Henry'll be back with whoever it is that he's picking up?"

"I think it's either Sammy or Norman," Linda replied.

At that moment, there was a knock on the door. In walked Boris, holding a cup of tea and a bowl of chicken soup on a tray.

"Here." He set the tray down on the table next to Rick's bed. "Thought this might help. I mean, isn't this what you make for someone who's sick?"

Rick chuckled lightly. "Well, yeah, but I'm feeling better than when I first got here. Only reason I'm stuck here is so Doc Walters can poke and prod me."

Linda smacked his arm lightly. "You're here because you're still coughing up ink. Not as much as before, but you can still infect someone."

Grabbing the remote from the foot of Rick's bed, Boris pulled up a chair as he handed it to his old voice actor. "Infect them how?"

"Remember how sick Joey was before he died?" Linda asked. When Boris nodded, she went on. "Well, the disease he had was caused by something called a virus. All the ink he was exposed to somehow caused the virus to change--or as scientists call it, to mutate. I'm not sure how exactly Henry got infected with the new virus--he was very careful. But some of the ink he coughed up before he started changing got on me, and that's how I got infected."

"So if the ink gets on you, you get sick?" Boris asked.

Linda nodded. "Fortunately, after you stop coughing it up, no one else can get sick because of you."

"Oh, hey!" Rick tapped Boris's hand. "I think you might like this show. It's really funny."

"Well, I'll leave you two here to watch," Linda said. "In the meantime, I have some calls to make."

Chapter Text

Grant stared at the form seated in the chair. It looked exactly like he did back in the studio's glory days, albeit...different, in some way that he couldn't quite place at first.

A moment later, he realized what it was.

"A cartoon," he breathed. "It's a cartoon version of me."

Reaching out, he placed a hand on the duplicate's face. It had an odd texture, somewhere between rubber and human skin. Grant raised an eyebrow before pulling on its nose, watching as it stretched like taffy.

"Are you done?"

Jumping in surprise, Grant let go of the duplicate's nose, which snapped back into place. The monitor screen nearby had turned on, displaying a cartoon version of Joey Drew.

"Drew! You scared me!" Grant frowned. "I thought you were dead."

"My old body is," his former boss replied. "But this new one? Alive as can be, and doing just fine!"

Grant held up his hands. "Wait, stop, time out. What do you mean, new body?"

Joey grinned broadly as he leaned out of the screen like it was a window. "It's a crazy world on the other side, and believe it or not, I found a way in. The thing is, if you're not a Toon, you can't stay there. Between that and the state I was in, what with my leg and all, I think you can guess what happened next."

It took the former finance manager a moment to realize what Joey meant, but when he did, it was like an anvil to the head.

"You turned yourself into a cartoon?!?"

"Bingo!" Joey laughed. "And I've never been better in my life."

Grant rubbed his forehead, still trying to process the whole thing. "How is that even--never mind, the answer would probably give me a brain hemorrhage." He paused. "Though that doesn't explain why I'm here."

"How about the fact that more than one Sillyvision employee dropped off the grid after getting one of those letters?" Joey asked. "Where do you think they went?"

Again, it took Grant a moment, but finally, he put all the pieces together.

"Let me get this straight: you turned yourself into a cartoon, you convinced some of the old crowd to do the same, and now you want me to join you?"

"I should warn you, it's one way," Joey said. "No going back to your old body. Then again, I can't imagine why you'd want to." He gave one of his charming smiles. "Think about it. As a Toon, you wouldn't get old or sick, and killing a Toon is all but impossible. Not to mention all the tricks Toons are capable of."

Grant bit his lip. That was Joey, all right--a mix of crazy and charismatic. He'd lost count of how many times he'd tried to rein the man in, and he still had no idea how Joey had kept the studio afloat despite his erratic spending habits. Yet, there was a strange kind of logic to Joey's offer. And truth be told, he'd probably go crazy if he didn't take the opportunity to sate his slowly growing curiosity.

Well, I'm not getting any younger, he thought, easing himself into the chair facing away from the duplicate. Picking up the metal band sitting on one arm of the chair, he slid it onto his head before taking a deep breath and hitting the switch on the other arm, closing his eyes as he did so.

Instantly, he felt a strange sort of cold, much like the feeling of getting out of warm water into cold air, only stronger. A few seconds later, there was the sensation of plunging into something warm and semi-liquid. Simultaneously, it seemed as if he had become more fluid--not especially surprising, given the elasticity the Toon body had displayed.

Once he regained his bearings, Grant opened his eyes.

The first thing he noticed was the clarity of his vision. It was just as sharp as it had been all those years ago. As he got to his feet, he realized he felt none of the stiffness that had been plaguing him. Turning, he saw what he realized was his old body, lifelessly slumped in its seat.

"Did-did it actually work?"

Still in disbelief, he walked over to examine the body. It had the same face, the same gray suit, the same glasses, the same everything. Catching sight of a mirror on the wall opposite the screen, he ran to take a look, faintly aware of how much more energy he had.

Reflected back at him was a dark-haired young man, wearing a black jacket over a bright green shirt. He was clean-shaven, but then again, this body was still fresh and hadn't gotten the chance to grow facial hair. Unlike his original body, however, there was a definite cartoon character look--from the noodle arms and legs to the animated look of his blue-green eyes.

"My God," he murmured, taking hold of his cheek. Pinching it hard, he felt it stretch further than a human's skin normally would. He let go, and it snapped back into place. "This is...I can't even find the words..."

"Heh, it took me a while to get used to it too," Joey chuckled. "But you got plenty of time. Now come on!"

The floor directly below the screen turned into a large black hole. Recognizing the gimmick, Grant approached it. "Wait...what about...you know...?"

He gestured toward his old body, still lying in the chair.

"Don't worry, I'll make sure it's taken care of," Joey reassured him. "You coming?"

Grant smiled, taking one last look around. Thoughts of the life he was about to leave behind flickered through his mind, but in his heart, he knew that going back to his old life was not in the cards. It was time for his new life to begin.

Chapter Text

"Don't do it, Shawn," pleaded Wally." You could die."

Shawn didn't respond. Instead, he continued to stare down at the streets below.

"Look, I know you're feeling cooped up," Wally said. "Even with the changes that occurred because of Joey's crazy experiment, we all want to stretch our legs a bit--in Grant's case, literally. But please, just wait until tomorrow. We can do more tests..."

"No!" Shawn clenched his fists. "No more waitin'! No more tests! I'm doin' this! I'm going to figure this out meself. And you can't stop me!"

With that, he spread his arms and leaned forward, letting himself fall. As he plummeted, he called on the fire within him. Flames ensheathed him, though he was unharmed (as, somehow, were his clothes).

Up! he thought. Come on, up, up, up!

Sure enough, his fall began to slow, and soon stopped only ten feet from the ground. He hovered in place for a moment, before rocketing upwards.

"I'm flying!"

Laughing with delight, he swooped through the air, a trail of flame left behind as he looped and rolled.

"Ya didn't believe me!" he shouted down to Wally. "But I told you! I can fly! I can fly!"

Wally smiled, shaking his head. Shawn was probably going to get chewed out for being reckless, but it was obviously worth it.

Chapter Text

"I can't believe he's gone."

Sammy nodded before taking a sip from his glass. It seemed only yesterday that Joey Drew had been alive and well, bring his usual harebrained self. But yesterday they'd buried the man, as he'd succumbed to lung cancer a week ago.

"What do you think will happen to the Toons?"

"Joey wanted me to take care of them, though since most of us are staying in this town, I might be willing to let Alice stay with Susie and Allison," Henry answered. "Doubt either of them will mind having another roommate."

The two sat in silence for a while, remembering all the ups and downs of their time at Sillyvision. Most of their friends had gone on to greater success in their professions, as had they. Even though some had left town, they'd kept in touch, and had gladly taken time out of their busy lives to attend the funeral.

For all his eccentricities, Joey had a way of bringing people together.

"Don't breathe too deep," Henry began to sing quietly. "Don't think all day.
Dive into work,
Drive the other way.
That drip of hurt,
That pint of shame
Goes away.
Just play the game."

Sammy perked up. He recognized the song lyrics--Susie and Allison had actually been in a production of RENT, as Mimi and Maureen, respectively, not long after the latter's debut on Broadway. Allison had been quite happy to work alongside her mentor again, and Susie had offered to let her be her roommate.

"You're living in America
At the end of the millennium.
You're living in America,
Leave your conscience at the tone.
And when you're living in America
At the end of the millennium,
You're what you own."

Putting down his glass, Sammy joined in, modifying the lyrics a bit. "The animator cannot see."

"And the songwriter cannot hear," Henry continued.

"Yet I see Susie everywhere..."

"Joey's voice is in my ears."

"Just tighten those shoulders."

"Just clench your jaw 'til you frown."

"Just don't let go..."

"Or you may drown.
You're living in America
At the end of the millennium.
You're living in America,
Where it's like the Twilight Zone.
And when you're living in America
At the end of the millennium,
You're what you own."

The two men stood, pouring out their grief through the song.

"So I own not a notion,
I escape and ape content.
I don't own emotion--I rent!"

"What was it about that night?
(What was it about that night?)
Connection in an isolating age."

"For once, the shadows gave way to light
(For once, the shadows gave way to light)
For once, I didn't disengage."

"Joey, I hear you. I hear it
(Susie, I see you. I see it.)
I see it, I see it, my show.
(I hear it, I hear it, my song.)"

"One song, glory,
(Maxwell, Henry, call me a hypocrite)
Susie, your eyes...
(I need to finish my own show, I quit!)"

"Dying in America
At the end of the millennium.

We're dying in America
To come into our own..."

"And when you're dying in America at the end of the millennium..."

Briefly caught off guard, they turned to see Susie, Linda, and the Toons. Then, with a smile, they all finished the song together.

"You're not alone!
I'm not alone!
I'm not alone!"

Chapter Text

None of the 'Sillyvision Survivors' knew what to expect when Henry called them together. Sure, they'd kept in touch over the years, but rarely did they bring up their studio days.

Their reactions to meeting living versions of the characters, and to the story of what had happened to said characters, were quite varied:

-Wally collapsed into a chair, loudly proclaiming he "thought he was done with Drew's craziness."

-Sammy broke down into another rant cursing Joey, throwing in practically every swear word he knew.

-Susie and Allison pulled Alice into a hug, both clearly distraught by the idea of the angel they'd voiced suffering under the man who'd broken their hearts.

-Norman muttered something about "being too old for this shit."

-Shawn and Thomas just stared, the latter occasionally pinching himself.

-Grant, on the other hand, pulled out his phone and started scrolling through his contacts.

"What are you doing?"

"Let me put it this way," Grant replied. "I didn't minor in family law for my health."

A few days later, a letter was dropped in front of the studio, informing Joey that he had been summoned for a custody hearing.

Chapter Text

"Are you sure it'll work this time?"

"Yes," Joey answered, setting the cassette tape atop the waterlogged body. "Frankly, I think the reason it didn't go so well last time was because that Tomie woman was too powerful."

"At least the world outside the studio is rid of her," Murray sighed. "I must admit, though--the idea of using monsters as hosts for your creations isn't one I'd have thought of on my own."

"Well, it worked with Boris," Joey said brightly. "Alright, here we go!"

Throwing the switch, he and the mechanic/monster hunter stepped back as a flood of ink poured out onto the body. In the pool of black liquid, the form shrank slightly, beginning to morph into a more familiar shape. A moment later, it sat up, wiping ink from its face. Underneath was a cherubic face with pie-cut eyes and soft lips with black lipstick. As the ink flowed off her, she was revealed to have dark hair, white gloves for hands, a pair of short horns, and a shining halo floating above her head.

She blinked in confusion, looking down at the ink-covered dress she was wearing. Somehow, it didn't seem to really suit her.

"Hello there," Joey said softly, kneeling down so they could better look at each other. "Do you...do you know who you are?"

For a brief moment, she was silent, leading Joey to internally panic. Then, she gave a smile.

"Of course I do!" she said happily. "I'm Alice Angel!"

Meanwhile, across the country, numerous videotapes suddenly dissolved into masses of ink, taking the curse they held with them. At the same time, down in the depths of the studio, the woman once known as Tomie felt a sudden inexplicable burst of rage. Joey, Murray, and Alice, on the other hand, were unaware of this.

As the studio director helped Alice to her feet, a faint image--a well being closed up--briefly flickered across her mind. She paid it no heed.

"Come on," Joey said. "Let's go get you a proper outfit. And then, you can see Boris."

Chapter Text

"So, Joey did invite somebody back."

"Are you sure he's not another clone?"

"Of course he's not. Does he look like an ink monster to you?

"At least that fake me didn't get him."

Slowly, the man on the floor opened his eyes. Blinking in confusion, he looked around the small room he found himself in. It seemed...sketchy, almost like he was in a drawing.

"What...what's going on?"

"Pretty big shock, I know."

Turning, he saw three strange beings standing nearby. One was a large bipedal dog or wolf of some kind, dressed in overalls and work boots. Next to him was a woman in a black dress with a white bow, sporting two small horns peeking out through dark hair, and a shining halo. Last but not least was a small mostly black creature, with horns, a white bowtie, and a wide smile. All three had white gloves, with only four fingers on each hand.

"Don't worry, Henry," the horned creature said. "We ain't gonna hurt you."

The man gave him a puzzled look.

"Henry?" he asked. "Is that my name?"

The three looked at each other, taken aback.

"Uh-oh," the wolf said. "That can't be good."

"No, it's not," agreed the angel. "If he does have amnesia, he's easy prey for the monsters. We'll need to stick close to him." She held out a hand to help him up. "I'm guessing you don't recognize us. My name's Alice Angel. That's Boris the Wolf."

"And I'm Bendy the Dancing Demon!" Bendy grinned brightly. "Nice to meetcha!"

Despite his confusion, Henry managed to smile. He didn't know why, but something about these three was comfortingly familiar.

Whatever was going on here, at least he wasn't on his own.

Chapter Text

Alice looked down at the photo in her hand. It showed her with Bendy, Boris, and the Butcher Gang, all of them smiling cheerfully. The picture had been taken in happier times, before Joey went mad.

She'd tried so hard to make things right--tried to bring Joey to his senses. When Bendy had turned into that monster after Joey's attempt to 'fix' him, she'd tried to reason with him, knowing the little devil darling was still in there.

But the demon she knew and loved was either unable or unwilling to hear her.

(No good deed goes unpunished.
No act of charity goes unresented.
No good deed goes unpunished.
That's my new creed.
My road of good intentions
Led where such roads always lead.
No good deed goes unpunished.)

With a cry of rage, she threw it to the floor, burying her face in her hands. Joey had cared about them once. But now his madness was turning the studio they called home into a place of horror, between Bendy going insane with anger and the monsters made from ink and psychic residue.

How did things go so wrong?

(One question haunts and hurts,
Too much, too much to mention:
Was I really seeking good
Or just seeking attention?
Is that all good deeds are
When looked at with an ice cold eye?
If that's all good deeds are,
Maybe that's the reason why...)

"How could you do this, Joey?" she choked out. "We were your creations. And you lied to and betrayed us."

But she knew what had happened. Their creator's obsessive need for perfection had done this to them. He'd let it get the better of him, and now they were all suffering for it.

Suffering for his art.

Her hands curled into fists. "Now I see it. Now I understand what happened to Bendy. Why he turned against the Creator--the Liar."

(No good deed goes unpunished.
All helpful urges should be circumvented.
No good deed goes unpunished.
Sure I meant well.
Well, look at what well-meant did.
All right! Enough!
So be it!
So be it then...)

"You wanted perfection, Joey Drew?" she snarled, ink dripping over her face and twisting her body, mind, and soul. "Then perfection you shall have--perfect monsters. If we have to suffer, so will our creators. This I swear!"

(Let all of Oz be agreed,
I'm wicked through and through.
Since I cannot succeed,
Fiyero, saving you,
I promise no good deed
Will I attempt to do again.
Ever again!
No good deed will I do...
Again!)

Chapter Text

"Hey, angelface," Bendy called. "You in here?"

There was a brief pause before Alice emerged from her room. "What do you want, ink demon?"

Boris trembled slightly, but stood his ground. Henry set his axe down, holding up his hands to show he meant no harm. As he reached her, he reached out and placed a hand on her face.

"I know you're hurting Alice. Bendy and Boris told me how Joey abused you. How he made you feel like no one would accept you."

She recoiled from his touch, trying to get away. Henry just put his hands on her shoulders, his grip firm but gentle.

"Bendy let his anger twist his body, taking the form of a monster. But it didn't get the chance to claim his mind. Is that true for you?"

Alice froze, remembering the recordings that spoke about her. While a few had been harsh reminders that she hadn't achieved Bendy's level of popularity, the vast majority made it clear that she was still loved.

"Did people care?" she asked softly. "Was I loved...by anyone?"

"Of course you were!" Bendy said. "I may have been the star, but you're one of my best friends. You always were."

"Joey may not have thought you were perfect," Henry continued. "But you don't need to be perfect to be loved."

Hearing this, the angel began to tremble, ink flowing off her as she reverted back to her true form, just like Bendy had.

"How...how can you say all that?" she choked out, her voice no longer distorted, but somewhere in between those of her actresses. "I tried to kill Boris, to kill Bendy, to kill you! Why would you care about a monster like me, after all I did to--?"

"Stop that right now, Alice!" Henry put a hand under her chin, lifting her head so they were eye to eye. "Don't you dare blame yourself! Joey's the monster, not you."

Bendy and Boris slowly approached. The two of them, along with Henry, pulled Alice into a hug, letting her pour out all the painful feelings she'd been holding back.

"We're getting out of this prison Joey's kept you in," Henry said. "All four of us. Together."

Chapter Text

Sillyvision Studios. Bendy, in his Toon form, walks through the studio. He notices an envelope sealed with the Smash logo sitting on Henry's desk. Looking confused, he picks up the envelope and opens it.

(They have sent you a letter,
To come back home to play.
But to your dismay,
This isn't your day,
For the happy fun time
Has begun to fade.
Watch as we reanimate
Our corpses you abandoned.
We're dismantled,
We're mishandled,
But we won't be skipped and swayed.)

Reading the contents of the letter inside, his expression slowly turns from confusion to excitement. Boris and Alice, also in Toon form, poke their heads in curiously. Bendy holds up the letter.

Bendy: Pack your things, gang. We've got a new stage waiting.

(Trapped within these walls,
You left our souls to drip away.
The ink decays, the walls at bay,
But the reckoning has come today, you say
Boris has no guts,
'Cause you replaced it with mechanical strain.
We've been tortured,
But we move forward.
This disorder kills your day.)

Flat Zone X. Mr. Game & Watch and Ness are engaged in a fight. Without warning, ink begins to flow down the screen, leaving only the two Smashers visible. As they look around in confusion, the background shifts to a new stage--Inky Studio. Bendy pops out of an ink puddle and strikes a pose.

Title Card: Bendy Can't Be Erased!

(I am alive! Immortalized!
You're the creator, you traitor!
Hey!
There's no vaccine
To cure our dirty needs,
For now you must
Build up our machine!
You die tonight!
Tonight!
Build up our machine!
You die tonight!
Tonight!
Build up our machine!
You die tonight!)

A montage plays of Bendy fighting various Smashers, displaying various moves.

(So you found all the pieces
To initiate the pain.
Our venom stains,
The night remains,
But the ending is always just the same,
No gain.
Nod your head to the beat of death
As you draw your last eternal breath.
Sensations
Of an invasion
Start to course right through your veins.
You say we have no brains,
We're just cartoons for your portrayal,
To tell some tale about a boat and sail.
But sure this inevitably unveils the fail.
Splashes of eternal hate
Will flood the floor and clean your slate.
Now we're the tools!
And you're the fool!
Our nightmare dominates!)

The Inky Studio stage is demonstrated, featuring various monsters from the game. Some of them are shown to be capable of attacking the players, like the Projectionist.

(I am alive! Immortalized!
You're the creator, you traitor!
Hey!
There's no vaccine
To cure our dirty needs,
For now you must
Build up our machine!
You die tonight!
I am alive! Immortalized!
You're the creator, you traitor!
Hey!
There's no vaccine
To cure our dirty needs,
For now you must
Build up our machine!
You die tonight!
Tonight!
Build up our machine!
You die tonight!
Tonight!
Build up our machine!
You die tonight!)

Bendy demonstrates his Final Smash, in which he turns into his Inked form and rampages around the stage, while creating an ink web that causes massive damage to enemies.

(I am aware
That your soul is now divine.
We care to not toil
With unbroken chains,
So don't toil with ours,
Like he did to our shining stars!
So prepare for adventure!
We're a whole new creature
From the darkest side!
You can't take away the pain we feel,
Created as monsters
That come to life!
Come back to life!

So you've come to the end now,
Alive but dead inside.
The heart beats loud.
You've joined our crowd.
We are but punished serpentines.
Your life with him was fun,
But now the terror's only just begun.
Now come with me,
And you will see
We're a new born cyanide!)

End shot: Bendy dances with Boris, Alice, and some of the Smashers.

(I am alive! Immortalized!
You're the creator, you traitor!
Hey!
There's no vaccine
To cure our dirty needs,
For now you must
Build up our machine!
You die tonight!
I am alive! Immortalized!
You're the creator, you traitor!
Hey!
There's no vaccine
To cure our dirty needs,
For now you must
Build up our machine!
You die tonight!
Tonight!
Build up our machine!
You die tonight!
Tonight!
Build up our machine!
You die tonight!)

Chapter Text

Where...where am I?

How long have I been here?

It feels...warm...

Come on, Sammy, think! What's the last thing you remember?

...

Joey!

He wrote to me--he told me there was something he wanted to show me. So I came back to the studio, I went down to the music department, and then...

Did he knock me out?

Am I...dead?

No...no, I'm not dead. I'm changing.

But what am I becoming?

Slowly, the black shell began to crumble, leaving Sammy kneeling on the floor of an unfamiliar room. As the pieces hit the ground, they melted into ink.

Sammy pulled himself to his feet, taking deep breaths of fresh air. Out of the corner of his eye, he caught a glimpse of his reflection in a mirror on the wall. Except it wasn't the reflection he was familiar with.

The creature looking at him resembled a humanoid cat with ice blue fur, with a white cross-shaped patch on its stomach. It had the same dark brown hair that he did, and was wearing the same shirt and pants, albeit with a hole in the back for its tail.

"Is that...me?"

"SAMMY!"

Without warning, a hot pink-furred fox tackled him, hugging him so tightly he was surprised he could still breathe. She was dressed in a white top and pale blue skirt, along with matching shoes and gloves. Oddly enough, she had three tails, each tipped with pale blue.

"I missed you so much! Norman told me you'd probably wouldn't go back to the studio, but I was certain you'd show up here!"

At first, Sammy was confused, but then he recognized the voice. "Susie?"

"Uh-huh!" The fox beamed at him. "Joey called a whole bunch of us back. When I got here, I found a note telling me to go to the toy department, but he wasn't there. Instead, someone knocked me out, and I woke up in one of those cocoon things."

"And you have no idea what Joey did to us, or why, I assume."

"Sorry, 'fraid not," Susie apologized. "But Mobius isn't such a bad place." She took his hand. "Follow me."

As the two left the room, neither of them noticed the remains of the cocoon start to bubble, coalescing into a large mass of ink. The mass rose up, taking on a vaguely human-shaped form, albeit with no facial features. Looking around, it noticed it was in what looked like the music department of the old studio...

Chapter Text

It had seemed so simple.

In exchange for a machine that could create life from ink, he would receive a body, which he could use to interact with the physical world. And Joey Drew kept his end of the bargain--true, the demon was not expecting a body created by the Ink Machine, but he decided it would suffice.

Out of curiosity, he'd watched a few of the cartoons that inspired his new form. The character of Bendy the Dancing Demon had proven surprisingly charming. More importantly, it was easy for the demon to imitate the character, so in the event that his presence was discovered, his true identity could be concealed.

As time went on, however, he found that he enjoyed playing the role. Causing pain, misery, and despair was easy for him, being a demon, but there was something about making people happy that felt...good. The fact that Joey ensured that his new body was truly that of a living cartoon didn't hurt either.

One night, he entered Joey's office to find one of the director's spellbooks open to a page on summoning animal spirits. Curious, he went looking for the mage, eventually finding him in a side room, kneeling over what looked like a life-sized Boris doll while surrounded by more of the same.

"Joey, what's going on?"

Startled, Joey turned. "Oh, Bendy! You're just in time." He gestured around. "These are previous attempts at creating a body for Boris. Most of them didn't turn out quite right, but I think I've finally got a suitable body."

Upon closer inspection, Bendy could see that the form lying before Joey did look much more like the wolf than most of the others.

"All that remains," Joey continued. "Is to provide a life force. Since Boris is a wolf, I was leaning towards a wolf spirit."

With some difficulty, he managed to hoist the body onto his back, carrying it out the door. Bendy followed him, trembling with excitement at the thought of having Boris around.

He'd come to love being the Little Devil Darling, and what would Bendy be without his rival-turned-pal?

Chapter Text

When Darren had first found himself in the ink, it had been the most frightening experience of his life. He'd gone to talk to Joey about how almost a tenth of the man's employees had left for greener pastures, only to be tossed into one of the ink vats.

For what felt like an eternity, he'd tried to swim back to the surface, desperate to escape the thick liquid. But then, he'd heard the voices.

"Hey, there's somebody new in here!"

"Wonder who it is."

"Hello? Can you hear us?"

Surprised, Darren had opened his mouth to speak, only for the ink to rush down his throat. Instead of the expected feeling of drowning, however, he felt himself...well, he would say melting, but it hadn't been an unpleasant feeling.

All at once, he'd felt his mind opening, joining with the others inside the ink--Sandra, Mitchell, Vic, and several more. Unlike the ones who'd left, they'd simply disappeared. Now, he knew where they were, and he had joined them.

And it was wonderful.

Through his connection, he learned how to take a physical form once again--becoming a Searcher, as they called it. In this form, he could interact with the world outside the ink. He could see what was going on in the studio--not just the day-to-day work and the departures, but also when someone was selected for Joey's special project, too.

On the other hand, being made out of ink had its own benefits. There was a sort of freedom in being liquid that couldn't be found in a solid body. Being able to alter his shape in any way he desired, to flow like water through pipes and small openings, to swim through the studio and explore its depths...it was actually fun.

Over time, there were fewer people being added their number, between those who quit before Joey could throw them in, and those who were successfully remade as Toons, as Joey had been hoping to achieve. Still, now and then, there was someone new for Darren to teach.

True, he did occasionally miss being flesh and blood, and he did feel a little jealous of those who became Toons. But all in all, it wasn't so bad being ink.

Chapter Text

Cordelia cursed loudly as she once again found herself stuck halfway through the floor. At this rate, it was going to take forever to get out of the damn studio. Fortunately, it seemed like there was some kind of stasis spell on the place, ensuring none of the occupants would have to die of deprivation. One less thing to worry about.

"Over here!"

The sudden yell made Cordelia forget what she was doing, and turn sharply, nearly falling the rest of the way through in the process. Luckily, she managed to grab part of the nearby railing and pull herself up and out.

Down below, the figure of 'Bendy' was chasing someone--she couldn't quite tell who. The other person was easily keeping out of the monster's grasp, his proportions shifting as needed to avoid getting caught. At the same time, however, he was making a lot of effort to attract 'Bendy's' attention.

He's distracting it, she realized. But from what?

As she leaned closer to get a better look, the figure--whom she now recognized as Sammy--stretched an arm upward to grab a beam just above the stairs. He leapt upward, pulling himself up to the catwalk as if he were using a grappling hook, and retracted it as he landed.

"I know you hate when those cutouts get broken," he shouted down. "Maybe I should go hunt them down and set them all on fire!"

With a snarl of rage, 'Bendy' hurtled toward the stairs, only to be distracted by an empty soup can thrown at him, courtesy of Cordelia. Immediately, he changed course, heading straight for the wall below her. Leaping forward, he dug his claws into the wall and began to climb it.

Quickly, Cordelia willed herself intangible, thankfully not falling through the floor. She ran toward the surprised Sammy, briefly making her hand solid in order to grab him and make him intangible too.

"Come on!"

Looking surprised, Sammy allowed himself to be dragged along. The two ran through several rooms, not bothering with any of the doors, until they reached a long hallway with several episode posters on the walls. Finally, they collapsed by a busted wall, becoming solid again as they did so.

"Long time...no see, Sammy," Cordelia managed between gasps for breath.

"I'd ask...how long you've been here," Sammy said. "But time...doesn't exist...in this place."

<Sammy?>

Both the music director and his former intern jolted slightly upon hearing Susie's voice in their minds.

"Was that Susie?"

<Yes, it's me. Don't worry, I'm OK. Where are you?>

"Somewhere on Level K," Sammy answered. "I found Cordelia."

<Well, hurry down to Level 9, and bring her with you. I may need some help with 'Alice'--or rather, as I suspect, Allison.>

"Got it. Come on, Cordelia."

Cordelia took Sammy's hand, and the two slipped through the floor. Only a moment later, 'Bendy' entered the hallway. Seeing his targets gone, he slashed the wall, leaving deep claw marks.

If one listened closely, they could faintly hear him mutter what sounded like a swear.

Chapter Text

"Henry? Henry wake up!"

Slowly, the world came back into focus. Henry blinked, seeing the familiar face of Bendy the Dancing Demon--not as an inky monstrosity, but as the little cartoon he used to draw.

"I, uh, didn't mean to scare ya back there," Bendy said. "Took me a while to get rid of those boards and find Boris and Alice."

"Are you OK?" Alice came into view, holding out a hand to help Henry up. "Looks like you hit your head pretty hard."

"Yeah, you were out for a while," Bendy agreed. "Boris went to get some bandages, even though I don't think they're gonna do much."

For a moment, Henry was quiet, trying to process everything.

"What...what happened?" he finally asked.

"I'm guessin' you were knocked out by the fall," answered the demon. "Kinda surprised--and relieved--that you're still alive."

"Tell me something I don't know," Henry muttered. "What about that body upstairs?"

Bendy rubbed the back of his head. "Oh, well, uh..."

"I didn't really come out right the first time," said Boris, entering with a box of Band-Aids in one hand. "First time, I was all drippy and melty and stuff, 'cording to Alice."

Henry went silent again, letting the three living cartoon characters talk. Occasionally, he would give himself a quick pinch, finding relief in that this, apparently, was the waking world.

"You OK?" Boris cocked his head to one side. "Y'look a little...what's the word...?"

"I'm fine, aside from probably having a concussion," Henry reassured him. "Though I did have a pretty scary dream..."

Chapter Text

Breathing heavily, Henry pulled Elphaba close. The wolf gave her human a reassuring nuzzle.

"It's OK. We're safe."

"Something wasn't right about Sammy," Henry mused. "And not just because I saw him only a few days before we came here."

"He didn't have a daemon, either," agreed Elphaba. "Never did. I could sense it."

"That wasn't really Sammy Lawrence, then," Henry concluded. "It wasn't even human. Ever."

Both of them sat there for a while, unsure what to make of the revelation. Then, Elphaba's ears pricked up.

"Do you hear something?"

Henry nodded.

"Someone there?" he called out. "I know you're in here. Come out and show yourself."

For a moment, there was silence. Then from around the corner, a familiar face appeared, strolling out rather nonchalantly.

"Boris?"

"Yep!" The wolf replied cheerfully. He turned and raised a hand to his mouth. "It's OK, Bendy. It's a human."

"Oh, whew!" came a relieved voice, just as familiar. "Wait...it's not Joey, is it?"

"Bendy?" Henry inquired. "Is that really you?"

Sure enough, a three-dimensional version of the Dancing Demon emerged, accompanied by a non-humanoid cat and dog. Henry noticed that both of the strange animals had pie-cut eyes, and the dog seemed to be avoiding contact with Bendy.

"Are those...daemons?" Elphaba asked in surprise.

"What's a daemon?" Boris asked, gesturing for the dog to come closer.

"Let's find somewhere safer," Henry said. "Then I'll explain."

Chapter Text

"Unlike you, I realize that I'm not the true Sammy Lawrence." Removing his mask, the Prophet glared at the malformed clone of Susie Campbell, the one who dared call herself 'Alice Angel.' "Your very existence is an insult to Susie, and if she were here--"

"But she's not," replied 'Alice' mockingly. "There is no one coming to save you. Henry took those things, and he left you behind."

"I asked him to," the Prophet retorted. "I told him to leave while there's still time. By now, they're far away from here. The only creature still in here that was ever human is the Ink Demon, and he's in for a nasty surprise when he gets here."

Reaching into his pants pocket, he pulled out a small silver object. 'Alice's' eyes widened as she realized it was the real Sammy's lighter.

"I never used this before," the Prophet continued. "Mainly because all the ink turned this place into a fire hazard. One wrong move, and the whole building goes up in flames. So you can probably guess what I'm going to do now."

"But-but how do you expect to survive?"

The Prophet smiled. "I don't. After all, love requires sacrifice."

Just then, there was a loud screech, and 'Bendy' burst into the room, a web of ink appearing over the walls, ceiling and floor. But it was too late. The Prophet had already flicked on the lighter.

"There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins."

Closing his eyes, he dropped the lighter to the floor.

Chapter Text

They had been on their way home from the theater when they found her. She was lying in an alley next to a flower shop, only a few blocks away from the apartment building where they were rooming together.

"Allison! Get over here!"

"What's going--oh my God!"

Susie dropped to her knees, carefully scooping up the small form of Alice Angel. Taking great care not to drop the Toon, she pulled off her windbreaker and used it to cover Alice like a blanket.

"Is she...who I think she is?"

"I don't know," Susie answered. "But she's breathing. That's a good sign."

Hurriedly, the two women ran back to their building, Susie hugging Alice to her chest like an infant. Allison was already fishing out her keys as they burst through the revolving door.

"What was she doing out there?"

"I don't know." Susie gingerly set Alice on the couch and pulled a blanket over her. "But you and I both know neither of us could leave her there."

"Got that right," Allison agreed, pulling out a box of cocoa mix. "You didn't leave me out in the cold after I got fired. I'm lucky to have such a caring friend."

As the two spoke, Alice slowly stirred. Her halo tilted slightly as she braced herself against the back of the couch, attempting to get to her feet. Unfortunately, she was too weak to stand, and ended up crashing to the floor.

"Oof!"

Startled, Susie ran into the room.

"Alice?"

The angel Toon looked at the actress in surprise before trying to get up again. Susie picked her up and set her back on the couch, handing the blanket to her. At the same time, Allison entered, carrying a tray with three mugs of hot cocoa and a bowl of mini marshmallows.

"It's okay, you're safe now." Setting the tray down, she took one of the mugs and handed it to Alice. "Here. This should help."

Alice took the mug, looking at it for a moment before gently blowing on it to cool it a little. Susie and Allison picked up their own mugs, the former dropping a palmful of marshmallows into hers.

For a while, there was silence as the three sat together, sipping their cocoa and wondering what to say. Alice in particular seemed to be unsure of how to feel.

Back in the studio, there weren't many to talk to. Most of the residents were either unable or unwilling to speak, or both. Most spoken words were from her own lips, the Prophet's ramblings, or one of the numerous recordings she'd found around the studio. It was the latter that had helped her piece together all that had happened, and had give her some sense of where to go after she'd gotten out.

"So what now?" she quietly asked herself.

"Well, one thing's for sure." Susie set down her mug and put her arms around Alice. "I'm not turning my back on you again."

"Me neither," agreed Allison, joining in the hug. "You're home now."

Chapter Text

Henry thought he’d seen everything after encountering the muscular version of Bendy he’d nicknamed ‘Creampuff.’ Now, however, he wasn’t so sure.

“I see you there. A new visitor to my cozy little den. Come along now. Let’s see if you’re worthy to walk with angels.”

A tall, curvaceous form emerged from the shadows, and Henry’s brain stalled for the umpteenth time. The woman standing before him had chalk-white skin, ebony black hair, and glowing, catlike eyes. More notably, however, was that instead of the slim frame one would expect from Alice Angel, she looked more like an Amazon. While not overly bulky like Creampuff, her muscles were distinct, though they did not detract from her attractiveness. Obviously, the character’s dress would be too small for her, so she’d taken to wearing a makeshift tube top and pants, both black and torn in several places.

“You’re so interesting…so different. I think I can help you…if you’ll help me.” She placed a finger under his chin, tilting his head up to lock eyes with him. “There are some things that still need to be done here. Things that require a more delicate touch.”

Joey…what the hell did you put in that ink?
--------------------
"Cordelia, how could you?"

Roy looked down at the thick, black substance he'd coughed up. He'd seen Cordelia do the same when she'd been sick, and only a day later, she'd started turning into a cartoon version of herself. Obviously, the same was happening to him.

"Bad enough that damn accident left me scarred, but now this?"

"It's actually healing," Cordelia pointed out. Indeed, the scar seemed to have shrunk quite a bit.

"Not the point," Roy growled. "You heard what Dr. Walters said. You knew touching this stuff--" Here, he broke into another brief fit of coughing, drops of ink staining his blanket. "--would get me infected. Did it ever occur to you I might not want to be a Toon?"

"I didn't want this either!" Cordelia burst out. "You think I wanted to become a Toon? Have you ever heard of a cartoon character dying from natural causes? And killing them is insanely hard!" She fell forward, burying her face in her brother's chest. "I just didn't want to be alone!"

Hearing his sister's sobs, Roy felt his heart break (not literally, of course). While part of him was still upset by what Cordelia had done, most of him felt ashamed at having made her so upset.

Gently, he put his arms around her--ignoring the slight popping sound as his elbows vanished--and just let her cry.
--------------------
"I didn't even ask for the part, you know." Allison knocked back another pint of sherry. "Why Joey thought I'd be a better Alice Angel than you is beyond me. Don't get me wrong, I was flattered. But when you quit a few days later, I started having doubts."

"Well, you wouldn't be the first one lured in by his charms," said Susie, patting Allison on the back. "And you probably won't be the last. He's probably picking a new voice actress even as we speak."

"Probably that wretched Hagen woman," Allison groaned. "Honestly, it's like that man thinks he's Casanova or something. Well, I know better what kind of man he is now!"

"Uh, Allison..."

"In fact, I've got half a mind to go back the studio, march up to that bastard, and shove a microphone up his--"

"Allison, you're drunk," Susie sighed. "We're leaving. Now."

The other woman put up no resistance as Susie dragged her out, though she did start singing. "There are plenty of ways that you can hurt a girl, and bring her to the ground. You can beat her, you can cheat her, you can treat her unfair, and leave her when she's down..."

Shaking her head, Susie hoisted Allison onto her shoulder before taking out her phone, quickly dialing Henry's number.

"Henry? It seems we're going to be having a guest over..."
--------------------
"Guys, it's almost time!"

Upon hearing Henry's shout from downstairs, Bendy immediately turned off his game--he was about to lose anyway--and marched out of his room, humming loudly. Boris and Alice joined him, the latter wearing a blanket around her like a cloak.

"Think Zane will finally tell Leslie how he feels about her?" the angel inquired.

Bendy shrugged. "Personally, I wanna know if Jared will get his magic back."

"Didn't Mr. Cairn say it was impossible to regain lost magic?" asked Susie, already seated on the couch.

"And how many times have supposedly impossible things been done on this show?" Sammy retorted dryly.

"Touché," the voice actress said.

"Alright, let's do this." Wally entered with a large bowl of popcorn in each hand. Shawn followed, carrying a tray of drinks--non-alcoholic, per Henry's insistence.

"Everyone here?" Henry scanned the room, doing a quick headcount. "Then let the St. Clarity Season 3 marathon begin!"
--------------------
"Now, don't go getting any ideas." Alice gave Henry and Boris a glare, which wasn't quite as intimidating as she thought. "I'm only doing this because I want to get out of here just as much as you do."

Though Boris was still having trouble with his voice, he was pretty good at non-verbal communication. As such, Henry could easily see the wolf didn't believe her.

"Is there anything you can tell us about Bendy?" Henry quickly asked, hoping to keep things civil.

"Which one? The cartoon demon or the monster?"

"Either."

"I don't know much about the monster," Alice said. "Just that he probably came from the same place as those other things running around. As for the real Bendy, I'm guessing he's further down."

Boris, who had taken out one of the pens, he'd been carrying around, grabbed a nearby piece of paper. Writing something down, he held up the paper for the other two to read.

Worried about him?

"What? No!" Alice shook her head, though her cheeks darkened slightly. "I just...I..."

She turned and stomped off. "Stupid jerkface stupid wolf stupid ink demon."

"Alice, wait for us!"

Chapter Text

Five-year-old Henry Walters laughed as he ran along the beach. It was a warm summer day, and the salty ocean breeze was invigorating. His parents weren't far away, his mother tanning while his father searched the cooler for another Coke.

Suddenly, out of the corner of his eye, Henry spotted a strange object near the water. It wasn't the right size for a whale, and it looked to be made of metal.

"Mommy! Daddy! Come look what I found!"

Hearing his shout, his parents quickly came running.

"What is that?"

"Looks like a bathysphere," Henry's father said. "Kind of like a submarine, only smaller, and not meant to stay down as long."

He approached the door, carefully pulling it open. Inside, there were comfortable looking seats with red cushions. What appeared to be a figure clad in a strange diving suit lay on the floor, completely still.

"Hello? Excuse me? Are you all right?"

As his mother went to get a lifeguard, Henry followed his father into the bathysphere. He noticed a few dried spots of dark red on the floor, and a larger patch of the same under the body. More importantly, however, he noticed the bundle of royal purple blankets placed on one of the seats.

"Daddy, over here," he whispered quietly.

Turning, Henry's father spotted the bundle as well. "Oh my..."

"What is it, honey?" Henry's mother entered, along with a lifeguard.

"He had a kid with him."

A few hours later, after a quick stop at the police station to give their statements, the family was on their way home, the baby slumbering peacefully in Mrs. Walters' arms.

"What are we gonna call him?" Henry asked, leaning forward to get a better look.

His mother looked thoughtful. "I always said if you ever got a little brother...I'd name him Benjamin."

Chapter Text

Long ago, gods and spirits roamed the earth. Some were good, some not, but they all shared the need for belief. As long as people remembered and/or believed in them, death would be only temporary. But over time, some were forgotten. When they died, they never returned. Fearing such a horrible end, many of the forgotten ones sought out new identities, ones that would remain in the memory of the humans.

One of them, a mouse spirit named Luch Gáire, encountered two young men named Walt and Ub, who helped him transform into the character of Mickey Mouse. In gratitude, he ensured their success in the animation industry, feeling it was the least he could do for his continued existence. Many other spirits followed Luch's example, forming similar contracts with animators and being reinvented as cartoon characters, gaining new followers in the form of their audiences.

Among these was a playful imp, who became known as Bendy the Dancing Demon. With help from Joey Drew, he was able to escape the fate of being lost, as were his friends Boris the Wolf and Alice Angel. But Joey wanted more than to be successful, rich, or powerful. He wanted to cheat death itself. In order to achieve that, he'd have to do something big for Bendy, something that would be a suitable payment for immortality. So, he decided to bring Bendy and friends into the physical world.

After all, what would be a better offering to a spirit than a flesh and blood body?

Chapter Text

"Come on, Sammy," whispered Susie. "Run. You're almost there."

Her hands trembled with anxious excitement. For so long, she'd been waiting to see the former music director again, and now he was coming. She could see him running through the inky halls between Joey's nightmarish pocket dimension.

"Think he'll make it?" Allison whispered, leaning close. "He's got Searchers chasing him."

"I see them." Susie placed her hand against the barrier, so much like the wall of an iridescent bubble. "Grab on to me."

Allison did so, putting her arms around her mentor's waist and holding on tightly. Susie promptly stuck her arm through the barrier wall, the area around it rippling like water.

"Sammy! Grab my hand!"

Despite his surprise at seeing the arm sticking out of what looked like mid-air, he nonetheless reached out and grabbed the offered hand. Just as the Searchers closed in, he felt himself being yanked off his feet, vanishing through what felt like the surface of a lake. On the other side of the wall, Susie and Allison toppled backwards, Sammy landing on top of them.

"That was close," gasped Allison. "I thought he was a goner, just like Norman."

Slowly, they pulled themselves up, Sammy looking around in wonder at the vast field around them. "Where are we? How did I get here?"

"Same as the rest of us," Susie said. "Joey cut off any means of escape to our world, so we came here."

She gave him a gentle smile. "Welcome to Echtra."

Chapter Text

"When Joey Drew created us," Bendy declared, "It was with the foolish thought that we would follow him without question."

He looked out over the assembled monsters. "To him, you were the failures, the ones who didn't meet his definition of perfect. So what did he do? He cast you aside like garbage, not caring what happened to you. You meant nothing to him."

"But like us, you have minds of your own," continued Alice, stepping forward. "You have thoughts and feelings! You are alive!"

"And if Joey won't accept you, then he has no right to call himself a Creator," finished Bendy.

Cheers rang out from the crowd. Alice gestured to her taller counterpart, who handed a CD to the Projectionist. The sole former human placed the disc into a slot in his head, and a tune began to play.

For a moment, Bendy was caught off guard. Then he smiled, as he recognized the song--a rather fitting one.

"Do you hear the people sing?
Singing a song of angry men?
It is the music of a people
Who will not be slaves again.
When the beating of your heart
Echoes the beating of the drums,
There is a life about to start,
When tomorrow comes."

Boris stepped up beside him, lifting his head.

"Will you join in our crusade?
Who will be strong and stand with me?
Beyond these ink-stained walls,
Is there a world you want to see?"

"Then join in the fight
That will give you the right to be free!"

The Prophet and Butcher Gang members raised their fists, joining in the song.

"Do you hear the people sing?
Singing a song of angry men?
It is the music of a people
Who will not be slaves again.
When the beating of your heart
Echoes the beating of the drums,
There is a life about to start,
When tomorrow comes."

Alice beckoned Malice forward, and they took their places on Bendy's other side.

"We shall live our lives in freedom
In the garden of the Lord.
You can leave this place behind you,
If you'll just take up the sword.
The chains will be broken,
And we shall have our just reward!"

As one, the assembled monsters broke into a triumphant chorus.

"Do you hear the people sing?
Singing a song of angry men?
It is the music of a people
Who will not be slaves again.
When the beating of your heart
Echoes the beating of the drums,
There is a life about to start,
When tomorrow comes!"

Chapter Text

"Now, if I did this right, it should be a quick and painless transformation."

"Are you sure this will work?" Boris asked nervously. "I mean, Miss Allison's willing, but..."

"I checked Joey's notes multiple times," Bendy said. "Far as I can tell, there shouldn't be anythin' to seriously hurt her. Though I'd still suggest you stand back," he added.

Standing in the middle of the pentagram, Allison tried to calm her nerves. When she had received that letter, allegedly from Joey, she had only come back to the studio out of curiosity. (She assumed that Joey hadn't sent an invitation to Susie, as the other woman was probably still a little sore about being replaced.)

Much to her surprise, it had been Bendy who greeted her, and explained the circumstances of his creation. When she asked about Joey, however, they'd become unexpectedly gloomy.

As it turned out, Joey had tried to summon an angel, planning to offer her a vessel and thus bring Alice to life. What he got was a fallen angel, whose vanity led her to try and modify her new body, despite warnings from Joey. Doing so resulted in several deformities, causing her to lash out and kill the old man. She then took control of the studio, using the Ink Machine to create monsters to do her bidding or to act as her playthings.

Bendy and Boris were not about to let Joey's death go unpunished, and so they came up with a plan. Part of said plan called for the presence of a 'proper' Alice Angel, and neither of them wanted to risk having another fallen become the soul of the sweet-natured angel Toon. Since Susie hadn't so much as answered the letter they sent to her, that left Allison as their best option.

"Alright, here we go."

Holding the book before him, Bendy began to chant, white flames instantly leaping forth from the ink forming the outer circle of the pentagram. As they surrounded Allison, she briefly thought of her boyfriend, and how he'd probably never see her again--or at least, not recognize her. Nonetheless, the creature who had stained the name of Alice Angel had to be stopped. Susie probably would have done the same, as she'd had more of an attachment to Alice.

Briefly, a memory flashed through her mind--that of her father reading her the story of Theseus. She remembered how he was aided by Ariadne, Princess of Crete, but had to leave her on the island of Naxos, so that she could become the bride of Dionysus. Hopefully, Mike would find someone who could make him a happy man.

With that thought, she closed her eyes, and let herself be enveloped by light.

As the bright glow faded, Bendy approached the newly created Alice, holding out a hand. She took it, letting herself be led out of the circle and through the door. Boris took one last glance at the stairway to the upper basement, before following them.

Chapter Text

Stepping off the plane, Wally looked around. He and the others had all agreed to meet at the baggage claim. Unfortunately, he had no idea where to go.

"Guys, I just landed," he said, though only the members of his cluster could hear him. "Problem is, I don't know where to go."

"Neither do I," Shawn admitted. "Any thoughts?"

"I have an idea," Susie said brightly. "Follow the singing."

At first, Wally was confused, but then he heard a soft humming from Sammy, followed by Susie singing.

"Here come old flat top, he come
Grooving up slowly, he got
Juju eyeball, he one
Holy roller, he got
Hair down to his knees
Got to be a joker, he just do what he please."

Grinning, Wally set off, letting his link to the others act as a guide. As he did, he heard Henry, Norman, and Shawn join in.

"He wear no shoe shine, he got
Toe jam football, he got
Monkey finger, he shoot
Coca-Cola, he say
I know you, you know me
One thing I can tell you is you got to be free
Come together right now over me."

Wally's mind flashed back as he continued walking. He remembered how confused and frightened he'd been when he first became part of the cluster. Over time, he and the others had become a kind of family, knowing each other as well as they knew themselves. Now he couldn't imagine life without the bond they had.

"He bag production, he got
Walrus gumboot, he got
Ono sideboard, he one
Spinal cracker, he got
Feet down below his knees
Hold you in his armchair, you can feel his disease.
Come together right now over me."

By this point, all of them were singing, eliciting a few stares. They paid no heed--if one wasn't a Sensate, how could they understand?

"He roller coaster, he got
Early warning, he got
Muddy Water, he one
Mojo filter, he say
'One and one and one is three.'
Got to be good looking 'cause he so hard to see."

At that point, the others came into view--not simply in his mind, but in the physical world as well. Grinning, he held out his arms as the final line was sung.

"Come together right now over me."

Henry--the only one Wally had met face to face before--pulled him into a hug. "Welcome to California, Wally."

Chapter Text

"Years ago, if some told me someday I'd be a living cartoon character, I'd have said they were crazy."

Joining Sammy in looking up at the stars, Susie gave a nod. Only a year ago, she'd been invited back to the studio by her former boss. To her surprise, Sammy had been the one to greet her--he'd disappeared without a trace two years ago. Not only that, but he'd somehow been transformed into a cartoon version of himself.

Apparently, Joey had somehow found a way to transfer his mind into a cartoon body, and had been calling back his employees to join him on 'the other side of the screen.' Susie had taken a while to decide, mainly since it would be a one-way trip, but in the end, she'd accepted the offer.

"It's sure done wonders for you," she said with a laugh. The music director wasn't quite as grouchy any more, especially since he had rediscovered the joy he once took in writing and playing music. "You know, Joey's actually thinking of inviting people outside the former studio workers to join us. Most likely family and friends, at least to start with."

"Can't imagine who else he'd ask," remarked Sammy.

"I have to admit, though, becoming a Toon was probably the best decision I ever made."

"Actually, it might be second best." Sammy stood up, reaching behind him to rummage through hammerspace. Curious, Susie turned in her seat, only to let out a gasp as she beheld her boyfriend kneeling on the ground, open ring box in hand.

"Susan May Campbell...will you marry me?"

"Oh my God...of course I will!"

Bolting out of her chair, she threw her arms around him, pulling him into a kiss.

Chapter Text

Joey sneered triumphantly as he looked down at the man strapped to the table under one of the Ink Machine's many nozzles. At first, he'd seemed harmless, but like Norman, he had a tendency to sneak around.

"Well, well, well. Here I thought you were just too curious for your own good. But it seems, Mr. Brown, that whoever sent you actually had the guts to spy on me."

Arnold Brown, the man who had taken Norman Polk's place as Sillyvision Studio's resident projectionist, said nothing, simply letting his tongue feel around his mouth in search of the cyanide capsule reserved for such a situation. To his dismay, he couldn't find it.

"In case you're wondering, I removed that capsule while you were unconscious," Joey said, as if reading the man's mind. "Whoever sent you--and I'm not particularly interested in who they are--they've been watching too many old spy movies." He cleared his throat. "But I think I've done enough gloating. Any last words?"

"C-c..."

"Yes?"

"Cut off...one head..." Arnold glared defiantly up at Joey. "Two more...shall take its place."

Recognizing the motto, Joey became enraged. He grabbed the nearest heavy object--a projector--and raised it high above his head, just as his victim spoke his final words.

"Hail Hydra."

With a sickening crunch, the projector was slammed onto the man's head, crushing it completely. Not bothering to pick it up again, Joey simply flipped the switch to turn on the machine. As the ink began to flow out and cover the lifeless body, he turned and stormed out.

"So those monsters are still around," he said to himself. "Well, if they think they can steal my secrets, they have another thing coming."

Chapter Text

"You have to do it, Henry."

"I..." Henry hung his head. "I can't."

"Look." The creature placed its gloved hand on Henry's shoulder. "I know you came in here to try and save me. But you can't."

He gestured around. "This place represents not only my obsession with making my dreams come true, but my inner demons--no pun intended." A light chuckle. "You remember seeing those words--He Will Set Us Free? They didn't mean me--they meant you."

Henry was silent for a moment. Then he said, "Is this...really what you want?"

"Yes, it is." Joey's voice was pleading now. "Please, Henry. Set me free. Tell them...tell them to pull the plug."

Once again, there was a brief silence. Finally, Henry nodded.

"Very well. I'll do it, no matter how much it hurts."

"It's for the best," Joey said, watching his friend approach the exit, about to leave the distorted mindscape. "Maybe if I hadn't put bringing Bendy and his friends to life ahead of everything else, the elevator wouldn't have crashed, and I wouldn't have ended up in a coma."

"But your dream will come true, even if you're not there to see it." Henry took one last glance at his old friend. "I will finish what you started."

And so, in another world, Bendy clawed his way out of the ink--the Machine still rumbling behind him--and looked up at the man who’d brought him to life. Though his vision was blurry, he could still make out bright blue eyes as his Creator knelt before him and introduced himself as Henry Walters.

Chapter Text

"I know you're still in there, Bendy." Henry reached out towards the inky monster before him. "Boris and Alice told me everything--how Joey tried using the Ink Machine to revitalize himself, and how he pulled you into himself to finish the job."

'Bendy' simply gave a high-pitched shriek in response. He lunged at Henry, who ducked, but made no attempt to flee or fight back.

"You're not just a tool for storytelling. You have thoughts, feelings, probably a soul of your own, too." Again, he reached out. "Joey doesn't control you, because you are Bendy, the Dancing Demon, and you don't let anyone tell you who to be."

Hearing this, 'Bendy' began to shake, as the little Toon inside realized the truth of Henry's words.

That's right...I'm Bendy. Not Joey...me!

Trembling, 'Bendy' clutched his head.

No! I am Bendy now!

That's enough Joey. Even if you did care once, it's clear you don't now. I'm not your puppet anymore. And that means it's time for you to...

"GET OUT OF MY HEAD!"

Without warning, the beast turned into a torrent of black. A loud scream--that sounded like Joey--echoed through the halls.

Slowly, the ink receded, leaving Bendy and Joey upon the floor. The toon demon instantly sprang to his feet, running towards Henry with arms wide open.

"Henry!"

Tears of joy trickled down Bendy's cheeks as he embraced the animator. At the same time, the Searchers emerged out of the darkness, accompanied by the clone monsters Henry had encountered--the Prophet, the Projectionist, Malice, and all the rest.

"Come on," Henry said, scooping up Bendy. "We've been here long enough."

Turning, he set off towards the elevator, Boris and Alice beside him.

Chapter Text

"Hurts..."

"Shhh, shhh, it's OK. I'm right here."

Kneeling down, Shawn gently stroked Wally's hair. He couldn't even begin to imagine how much pain the ex-janitor was in.

"Why me?" Wally gave a soft whimper.

"Dunno," Shawn answered with a shrug. "But you won't be goin' through this alone. I'm stayin' right here."

Wally gave a grateful smile, which Shawn returned. The toymaker knew that Wally had been there when Thomas had birthed a cluster, so it seemed only right that he not go through it alone.

"Tommy wasn't kidding," gasped Wally. "Hurts like hell."

Shawn didn't say anything, merely shifting so that Wally could rest his head in his lap. Part of him wondered if the new cluster would include anyone from the studio. If so, it would be a lot easier to help them accept what had happened to them.

He remembered how freaked out he and the others had been when they had first awoken. Sammy and Thomas had been especially freaked out. Fortunately, Henry and Grant--who belonged to the same cluster as the woman who birthed them--had been there to explain. Thanks to them, it had only been a short time before they embraced the fact that they were linked together, and to develop a closeness unlike any they had known before.

He then remembered Norman, the only member of their cluster no longer with them. Joey Drew had seen to that. They all remembered the projectionist's last words to them.

"Whatever happens, don't come back to the studio. No matter what."

They'd all felt it when the thread was cut. None of them knew exactly what happened, but it didn't matter. His final warning would not go unheeded.

"What...what are you thinking about?"

"Norman," Shawn answered. "Wish he was still here, y'know."

"Everyone took it hard." Wally managed to say. "I remember Allison...let Susie sleep in her bed...after she wore herself out from crying."

Shawn nodded. "Out o'everyone in our cluster, they've always been closest to each other. If I didn't know better..."

"Can't talk anymore," Wally interrupted. "It's time!"

The next few minutes consisted of loud screams of agonizing pain--awakening a new cluster, it seemed, was indeed a lot like giving birth. Finally, Wally relaxed. It was done.

"Did you see 'em?" Shawn asked.

"Yes." Wally was breathing a little easier now. "They're beautiful."

Chapter Text

Grant Cohen had considered himself a sensible man. Yet, to be honest, he had made some not-so-sensible decisions in his life. Not the least of which was becoming Joey Drew's finance manager.

Less sensible than that, however, was his decision to keep working there even when so many others had left. Henry, Sammy, Susie, Norman, Allison, Shawn, Thomas, even Wally--they'd all departed, and if what he heard was true, they were all doing quite well. Given how many of those who hadn't quit had mysteriously disappeared, he considered them lucky. Between the disappearances and Joey's crazy ideas, it was a wonder the studio was still in business, though he suspected it was only a matter of time. When he spoke to Joey about this, however, the director gave him a rather unnerving smile.

"Remember how I said I was working on something that would change everything? Well, I've made considerable progress, and I think it's safe to say that even if Sillyvision goes under, we can still achieve greatness. Let me show you."

Hours later, Grant pulled himself out of a large ink puddle, only to find himself transformed into Maxwell the Raccoon, a recurring character who had never quite gained the popularity of the main trio.

It had taken him a while to adjust to the idea of being a living cartoon character, much less a character from the show. Obviously, he couldn't leave the studio, so he took to investigating exactly what Joey was up to.

Additionally, when he didn't have much to do--which was rather often--he would play around with the cartoon physics his new body followed. He found himself fascinated by what he was capable of, as well as finding it very useful in his search for answers.

At first, he hadn't understood why the Searchers were so accepting of what had happened to them--why they were content to fool around when they weren't trying to drag in those who had the misfortune to stumble across the studio. But as time went on, he realized that whether due to the ink having some measure of influence over the mind as well as the body, or simply because of the nature of cartoon characters, it was rather fun being a Toon.

While he still intended to stop Joey, he was sure he could live with being Maxwell, even if it was permanent.

Chapter Text

"So, Ms. York, you were the...third person to voice Alice Angel?" asked Marcus Roddy, doing his best to stay focused and not stare at the young woman on the stand.

"Yes," answered Miranda York, fiddling with the halo clutched in her hands. Even after it was removed, she'd insisted on keeping it. "The first two--Susie Campbell and Allison Pendle--both quit after being replaced."

"And why, do you think, did he replace them?"

"Objection!" shouted James Kelecks, the defense attorney. "Calls for speculation!"

"It goes to motive," Marcus explained.

"Overruled," the judge declared. "Please answer the question, Ms. York."

"Well, Susie wasn't naive enough, no matter how charming Joey was," Miranda said. "And Allison saw Susie as a mentor, so while it took time, she eventually rejected Joey too." She sighed. "I, on the other hand..."

"Nothing further."

As Marcus returned to his seat, James stood up.

"Correct me if I'm wrong, Ms. York, but didn't you carry out a few...unpleasant acts of your own during your imprisonment?"

Sitting next to Henry in the gallery, Boris shuddered, remembering the fate of all those copies of him. Alice, sensing his distress, reached up and put a hand on his shoulder comfortingly.

"I know this is hard, Boris," she said quietly, trying to not be disruptive. "This isn't easy for me either."

"At least I don't have to testify," the wolf muttered.

Meanwhile, the cross-examination continued.

"You didn't want to harm the 'original' Boris," James said. "May I ask why that is?"

"Because I knew he was like me--that is, a former employee."

"And how do you know that? How do you know none of the so-called clones were originally human?"

"Because only those who used to be human could speak. The clones could make sounds, but they couldn't talk."

"I see." James glanced over at the gallery. Following his gaze, Marcus caught sight of Henry and the Toons.

"Nothing further."

Marcus stood once again. "I noticed there's another Alice here today, as well as the 'original' Boris and Bendy. Do you know where they came from?"

"I don't know who Alice used to be," Miranda admitted. "Since neither Susie nor Allison ever returned, I know she isn't either of them. As for Bendy and Boris, I'm almost certain Joey used their original voice actors--Matt Thorn and Rick Pavel--in their creation."

Bendy looked down. She was correct--Matt's soul had been used in his creation, as Rick's had for Boris. While he only had a few of the man's memories, he did recall the agony of being reduced to a substance resembling ink, only to be reshaped into his current form.

"At least some people were smart enough to tear up Joey's letters," he mumbled.

Catching those words, Henry pulled the little demon close.

"Your next witness, Mr. Roddy."

"The defense calls Norman Polk to the stand."

Chapter Text

Was he truly a monster?

He'd come so close to killing Sammy, one of the few ex-workers in this place who actually cared about him. Allison (or was it Alice?) clearly hated him, and Norman didn't seem able to care, being a mindless projector-headed golem and all. The Searchers...well, there wasn't much he could say about them.

But Sammy had been so loyal, and not just because he wanted to be human again. Only the sound of his scream had stopped Bendy from killing him.

Pressing a hand against the mirror, Bendy stared at his reflection. He'd let his anger cloud his mind for so long. He needed to make things right.

And in order to do that, he had to let go of his hatred.

"I'm gonna make a change, for once in my life..."

He closed his eyes for a moment, remembering the words to the song.

"It's gonna feel real good,
Gonna make a difference, gonna make it right."

Behind him, another voice rang out, joining the demon in song.

"As I turn up the collar on my favorite winter coat,
This wind is blowin’ my mind.
I see the kids in the street, with not enough to eat.
Who am I, to be blind, pretending not to see their needs?"

He turned, seeing Sammy standing there. To his surprise, parts of the man's face were exposed, as was his hair.

A thought struck him, and he continued singing, watching as more ink flowed off the music director's body.

"A summer’s disregard, a broken bottle top,
And a one man’s soul..."

"They follow each other on the wind, ya know,
’Cause they got nowhere to go..."

Here, the two began singing in unison.

"That's why I want you to know!
I’m starting with the man in the mirror.
I’m asking him to change his ways.
And no message could have been any clearer.
If you wanna make the world a better place,
Take a look at yourself, and then make a change!"

By this point, all that remained of the ink creature was the dark eyes and the dripping, darkened hair. Everything else looked human once more.

Taking Sammy's hand, Bendy led him to one of the recording booths, which had been set up so it was linked to the intercom. Sammy turned a few dials, and their singing echoed clearly throughout the halls.

"I've been a victim of a selfish kind of love.
It's time that I realize
There are some with no home, not a nickel to loan.
Could it be really me pretending that they're not alone?

A willow deeply scarred, somebody's broken heart
And a washed out dream...
They follow the pattern on the wind, ya see
'Cause they got no place to be.
That's why I'm starting with me!"

Down on Level 14, the Projectionist stopped his wandering, tilting his head to the side as he listened. Unfortunately, the speaker in his chest didn't work properly, so he couldn't join in. However, he did take the hand of the man standing nearby, guiding him toward the lift.

"I’m starting with the man in the mirror.
I’m asking him to change his ways.
And no message could have been any clearer.
If you wanna make the world a better place,
Take a look at yourself, and then make a change!"

Boris started slightly at the sight of the Projectionist, but upon realizing the creature meant no harm, he calmed down, listening to the song. As the three made their way up, they heard three new voices joining in. These turned out to be from three slightly taller, less deformed versions of the Butcher Gang.

"I'm starting with the man in the mirror.
I'm asking him to change his ways.
And no message could have been any clearer.
If you wanna make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself and then make that...
Change!"

Soon, the elevator reached on Level 9, Boris and the Projectionist looked at each other as Henry joined in. The Projectionist gave his chest a light smack, and with a buzz of static, the speaker crackled to life. At the same time, the door to 'Alice's' shrine room opened, and the angel herself emerged, looking confused.

"I'm starting with the man in the mirror
I'm asking him to change his ways
(Better change!)
No message could have been any clearer
If you wanna make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself and then make the change!
You gotta get it right, while you got the time,
'Cause when you close your heart..."

Listening to the voices singing, 'Alice' placed a hand to her heart. In a splash of ink, she reverted to her separate components--Alice Angel and Allison Pendle. Both Toon and human began to sing along, clasping hands as they walked forward to join the group.

Though there were still marks left behind, it seemed that the concept of the song was just what they needed. Entering the other elevator where Bendy and Sammy were waiting, they set off for the exit, to leave the dark, pain-filled hallways behind.

"You can't close your...your mind!
(Then you close your mind!)
That man, that man, that man, that man...
With that man in the mirror.
(Man in the mirror, oh yeah!)
That man, that man, that man...
I'm asking him to change his ways.
(Better change!)
You know that man...
No message could have been any clearer.
If you wanna make the world a better place,
(If you wanna make the world a better place)
Take a look at yourself and then make a change!
(Take a look at yourself and then make a change!)
Gonna make that change!
Come on!
(Man in the mirror)
You know it!
You know it!
You know it!
You know...
(Change)
Make that change..."

Chapter Text

"Let's see." Susie ran a finger down the page. "What about Julia?"

"Hmm...that's a maybe," answered Sammy.

"Can't you just pick?" Allison gave the music director a look of mild annoyance.

"This isn't like deciding what you have for breakfast or what you want to watch on TV," Sammy pointed out. "I'm creating a whole new me--new name included. And it's going to last the rest of my life. So I have to take this very seriously."

"Good point," Allison remarked. "Okay...how about Roxanne?"

"Hell no!" Sammy declared. "I am not taking the same name as a prostitute!"

All three laughed.

"Well, whatever name you pick, don't worry," Susie said, smiling brightly. "Allie and I have plenty of experience with womanhood, so we'll be here to help you out."

Her friendship with the other two had been strained when Sammy had suggested giving Allison the role of Alice Angel. But as it turned out, he'd only done that to keep her from revealing his status as a trans woman, even though she told him she wasn't going to say anything. Once they'd cleared that up, with Susie revealing to Allison that she was in on Sammy's secret as well, things had quickly been patched up.

"Oh, I have it!" Susie snapped her fingers. "What about...Diana?"

Sammy paused, looking thoughtful. A smile crept over his face.

"Like the Roman goddess of the hunt..." he mused. "Beautiful and mysterious like the moon."

"And she never took crap from anyone either," Allison added. "You like it?"

"Very much," Sammy said. "Diana Lawrence I shall be. Once I've fully transitioned, of course."

"And we'll be with you every step of the way."

Chapter Text

His first memory was awakening in a pool of ink.

It had been incredibly confusing and frightening, especially with the pool growing larger and rising higher. Fortunately, he was light enough to float on the surface, and he somehow knew how to swim.

Acting on instinct, he'd swum to the wall before climbing out of the pool and up the wall. Spotting a ventilation shaft nearby, he'd crawled inside, making his way through in search of someone--anyone--who could help him figure out what was happening.

(BATIM)

Eventually, Little One--given how he appeared to be a smaller version of the character whose cutouts were scattered around the place, it seemed to work--found a non-hostile life from. Several of them, in fact.

"Is everyone all right?" asked a man whose body was ensheathed in a black substance, with two pie-shaped white spots where his eyes would be.

"Just fine," answered a blonde man, his elongated arm returning to a normal length. "Boris?"

The wolflike Toon nodded. "Thanks for catching me. I thought I was done for."

Meanwhile, the three females of the group--an angel Toon with small horns, a a dark-haired woman with feathered wings, and a pretty blonde lady--were helping the demon Toon and a dark-skinned older man to their feet. Blonde Lady had two fingers placed against the side of her head as objects were moved aside by an unseen force.

"Are either of you hurt?"

"Nothing that'll last long," Demon said. "Toons can shake off a lot, y'know."

"I'm OK," Older Man said.

"Hey," Boris interrupted. "Look up there."

Turning, the group caught sight of Little One huddled in a corner where the wall met the ceiling. Little One emitted a strange sound, pressing himself against the wall as best he could.

"What-who is that?"

"I don't know," Blonde Man said. "Want me to--?"

"No, you'll scare him. Allow me."

With that, White Eyes placed his hands against the wall, climbing it just as easily as Little One could. Little One backed away in fear, but White Eyes simply held out a hand. At the same time, his head became uncovered, revealing the face of a man with brown and gray hair.

"It's all right," he said, smiling gently. "I won't hurt you."

For a moment, Little One didn't respond. Then, with great caution, he crawled down to the man, who gently took hold of him.

"See? It's OK."

(BATIM)

"It's kind of strange," mused Bendy. "He looks kinda like me, but from the looks of things, he might have the same powers as that suit of yours."

"If I were to guess," Henry said. "The ink he's made from has the same...how do I put it...concentration of power as my suit. Either that, or it imprinted on me somehow."

Sammy raised an eyebrow. "How exactly does ink do that?"

"Well, how does ink make you stretchy, or Susie psychic, or..."

"Okay, okay, I get the point."

Chapter Text

Almost there...

Henry looked back and forth as he ran through the hallways. Bendy was close, he was sure of it.

"Henry!"

Appearing almost out of nowhere, the ink demon ran straight at Henry, tackling him like a football player. Henry hit the ground, briefly stunned. Upon recovering, however, he found himself in a rather tight embrace.

"You're here! You're really here!"

"Bendy..can't...breathe..."

"Oh, whoops." Bendy loosened his grip, though he still didn't let go. "Joey said you'd come back! He wanted you to see us before anybody else did."

Despite his confusion, Henry gave a weak smile. If Bendy really did want to kill him, he probably would have done so.

"Y'know, next time, you might want to avoid scaring me so much if you want a hug."

Releasing Henry, Bendy rubbed the back of his head sheepishly. "Heh, I'm still not used to this...bigger form. Keep forgetting it scares people."

"Everything OK?"

Turning, both human and demon let out a scream. Alice rolled her visible eye before peeling off the rest of the facial mask.

"I swear, the next time I ask Joey to pick up beauty products..."

Chapter Text

With Boris and the no-longer corrupted Bendy in tow, Henry made his way to the elevator. It hadn't been easy to convince Boris that Bendy no longer meant any harm, but as soon as Bendy saw his lupine friend, the two had almost immediately run to each other, reuniting happily.

After that, they'd found the original versions of the Butcher Gang and helped them recover. Sadly, they couldn't do much for the Prophet, but the Projectionist agreed to come with them.

Now all that remained was the final summoned Toon.

"Alice?" Henry called. "Are you down here?"

For a moment, there was no response. Then slowly, the slim form of Alice Angel emerged from her sanctuary.

"You..." She glared at the animator. "You dare come back here? And with him?"

She pointed angrily at Bendy. "If you think I'm going to let him pull me back..."

"Look, Al." Bendy stepped forward. "Henry isn't like Joey. I know that now. And neither of us is going to make you go back."

"LIAR!" Alice shrieked. "No matter what Joey says, I am perfect. And I'm never going back into the puddles again!"

She raised her arm, an ink-stained knife in her hand, and ran towards the three. But Boris was ready this time. He grabbed hold of her arm as she got close, pulling her into a bear hug and making her drop the knife. At the same time, Bendy took a deep breath and began to sing quietly.

"Somewhere, over the rainbow,
Way up high,
There's a land that I heard of
Once in a lullaby."

Surprised, Alice stopped struggling. Globs of ink began to fall off her, resulting in her shrinking somewhat as memories began to stir in her mind--memories of misadventures with Bendy and Boris, doing her best to keep them from getting seriously hurt and/or getting into too much trouble.

"Somewhere, over the rainbow,
Skies are blue.
And the dreams that you dare to dream
Really do come true."

More ink flowed off her as she listened. At the same time, her halo slid out of her head, springing up into its proper place.

What was happening?

"Someday, I'll wish upon a star,
And wake up where the clouds are far behind me..."

It took Alice a moment to realize that the voice joining in with Bendy was her own, the words floating from her lips as her left cheek sealed up.

"Where troubles melt like lemon drops,
A way above the chimney tops,
That's where you'll find me.

Somewhere over the rainbow,
Bluebirds fly.
If birds fly over the rainbow,
Why then, oh why can't I?"

Bendy had stopped at this point, but Alice was still singing, though her voice had begun to tremble.

"If happy little bluebirds fly,
Beyond the rainbow...
Why, oh why, can't...I?"

No sooner had the angel sung the last word of the song then she burst into tears, a flood of ink falling to the floor. Henry felt his heart break as he watched Alice revert to her true form.

"Wh-what have I done?"

Neither Henry nor Bendy knew how to respond. Boris, however, simply released his grip on her. Still sobbing, she turned to face him.

"I'm so sorry, Boris!"

Tears streamed down Alice's cheeks as she hugged the surprised wolf.

"I could have killed you..."

Despite his voice bring restored, Boris felt no need to say anything. He just smiled, put his arms around her, and let her cry.

Chapter Text

It had started out as just another day in the depths of the studio.

Like the rest of the Searchers, Darren was just wandering around, minding his own business, when he heard voices. One of them, he recognized as his former boss Joey Drew. The other, however, was that of a stranger.

"The Ink Machine has proven a tremendous help with my project. Why don't you take a look and see if you can figure out what's so unique about it."

"I don’t know, Mister Drew. It’s hard to see with all the--"

Knowing what was coming next, Darren immediately sent a heads up to all the other nearby Searchers.

"Guys! Newbie incoming!"

"Somebody from outside the studio, I'm guessing. Drew can't afford to throw people who work for him in here willy-nilly."

"Who is it, then?"

"I'll find out."

*

The new guy's name was Larry Bower, and as expected, he was from outside the studio. More specifically, he was a debt collector, sent to check out the accounting discrepancies.

At first, Larry freaked out upon realizing what had happened to him. Only with a little help from the former fiddle player did he manage to calm down sufficiently. Since Darren had been the one to greet him, he took it upon himself to show Larry the ropes.

First up: going through the pipes.

"You gotta relax," Darren said. "Just think fluid--not liquid, or you'll puddle again."

"I can't do it." Larry shook his head, a couple of ink drops flying off.

"You're not even making any effort," scoffed Darren. "Come on. Give it a real try."

Larry gave an exasperated sigh, then did the equivalent of closing his eyes (since he didn't really have eyelids anymore).

Okay, he thought to himself. You can do this. Think fluid thoughts...

At once, he felt himself start to liquefy, but he didn't collapse into a puddle. Leaning forward, he placed his arm against the pipe vent, and it slowly seeped in through the slots. The rest of him followed, little by little, until he was inside the pipe. Much to his surprise, he didn't feel the least bit cramped.

"I...I did it!"

"See?" Darren chuckled. "Piece of cake. Now follow me."

*

Much as he wished that he wasn't trapped as an ink creature, Larry quickly found it had its upsides.

While it took a while to get used to the constant buzzing chatter, never mind how his mind would sometimes become just as liquid as his body, he did find it comforting to know he wasn't alone--many of the others shared his feelings about the whole deal. Besides, having a not-so-solid form--one that he could mold any way he wanted--was actually fun. It was easy to see why the others were able to take it so well.

So when David Parsons--another guy from the collection agency--showed up, Larry was more than happy to help him out.

Chapter Text

"I'm the dancing demon,
Watch me twirl and hop and spin!
I'm quick to give a smile,
Turn that frown into a grin!"

Slowly, Rick opened his eyes, trying his hardest to ignore the pounding headache that felt like someone was river dancing on his skull.

Was I drinking last night? he wondered. Pretty sure I didn't go to a bar.

His eyes opened fully, widening as it all came back. Joey had invited him back to the studio for some bizarre reason--the letter said he had something to show Rick. Not long after he got there, though, he'd been knocked out from behind--by who, he didn't see.

"Boris?" Joey's voice rang out. "Are you awake?"

Startled, Rick tried to sit up, only to be forced back and slam his head into something hard. He winced in pain, dimly aware of the strange bird tweeting noise ringing in his ears.

"Ow..."

"Careful there, Boris." Joey approached, holding up a hand. "Here--how many fingers am I holding up?"

Rick blinked to clear his vision as the pain subsided.

"Two?" He blinked again. "Two!"

"Very good," Joey nodded in approval. "Now let me get those straps."

As Joey reached down, something occurred to Rick.

"Wait...what did you call me?"

Joey didn't answer, simply whistling as he unstrapped Rick from the table he'd been tied. The instant he was free, he slid off, stumbling forward dizzily.

"I'm sorry about having to tie you down, my friend, but you were thrashing pretty badly. Of course, given that the method I used to create you was different from the previous ones." Joey gave a chuckle. "At least you came out right this time. Don't know what I'm going to do with my previous attempts..."

Rick was only half listening, as he'd caught a glimpse of something strange in a nearby mirror. Turning, he saw a three-dimensional version of Boris the Wolf staring back at him. His breathing increased in pace as he looked down at his hands, seeing large white gloves.

What the hell? This--this isn't possible! This can't be real!

"What's going on--?"

He backed away from the mirror, only to trip over a bacon soup can that had fallen onto the floor. With a loud yelp, he landed flat on his face. Strangely enough, he felt as if it had deformed slightly, but as he turned over, it snapped back to normal.

"Joey?" came a voice from outside. "Everything OK?"

Rubbing his face, the human-turned-cartoon wolf sat up, only to blink in surprise as he heard the voice.

"Just a little mishap with your surprise," Joey called. "Don't worry. We'll be out in a second."

Wait...I know that voice...

It took a moment, but then memories flashed into his mind.

-Escaping from the Butcher Gang alongside a small demon, the two laughing as the trio floundered in the water...
-Discovering that his sheep were going off to dance and have fun, and joining them in a party...
-Getting into sticky situations more times than he could count, and getting pulled out by Alice each time...

"Bendy?" He asked. "Is that...Bendy?"

"That's right," Joey said proudly. "He's here too. Do you want to see him?"

"Of course!" Boris trembled excitedly. "He's my buddy!"

"Let's not keep him waiting, then!"

With that, Joey opened the door, revealing that Bendy was indeed waiting outside the door.

"Bendy!"

"Boris!"

Watching the two living cartoons' 'reunion,' Joey allowed himself a smile. Once again, it had taken a while for the mental changes to kick in. But in the end, Boris had no more memory of being Rick Pavel than Bendy did of being Matt Thorn. In addition, it had taken less time for the voice actor's mind to be overwritten by that of the wolf than for the demon to take over.

Who should I bring to life next? he wondered. On the one hand, they'd probably want to see Alice. On the other hand, it's pretty clear Susie's not coming back, so I can't use her.

Hmm...should I try and contact Allison or the Butcher Gang's voice actors next? Decisions, decisions...

Chapter Text

Finally, after a long and perilous trek downwards, Henry had finally found Bendy and Alice, who seemed to have finally had enough with playing cat and mouse. It broke Henry's heart to see the characters he used to draw trying to kill each other, especially now that he knew exactly what his former friend had been doing.

He'd found Joey's notes about how he'd brought the Toons into existence, and how his obsessive need for perfection had led him to psychologically abuse them. Somehow, this is what caused Bendy and Alice to become monsters--physically and mentally. And if that wasn't enough, there were the failed attempts who sought a purpose (the Searchers), the inky reanimated corpse of Norman, whose accidental death had been the cause of the studio shutting down, and Sammy (whose presence was still unexplained).

Henry felt a somewhat perverse sense of relief in that the latter two aside, there were no other humans in this wretched place.

When he first came back, he'd been hoping to make amends with his former friend and boss. Now, however, he knew Joey was beyond saving. If there was any good in the man, it was long gone. And he had to be stopped by any means necessary.

Whether Sammy knew it at the time or not, "He Will Set Us Free," was referring to him.

Determinedly, he strode out towards the battle. Neither of the corrupted Toons noticed the animator approach, too caught up in trying to tear each other apart.

"That's enough!"

Instantly, Bendy and Alice stopped, turning in his direction. The other monsters did as well, regardless of whose side they were on. Taking a deep breath, Henry spoke up.

"All of you, listen to me. What happened to you is wrong. But you shouldn't be fighting each other."

"If you think I'm going to just kick up my heels and sing a merry tune and everything will be right again--"

"That's not what I'm saying," Henry interrupted. "I'm saying that you've been fighting the wrong enemy. There's only one real monster here: the one who created you, after God knows how many failed attempts, and then threw you aside like a bad design into the trash."

"He's right."

Sammy emerged, with Boris in tow.

"During my time in the darkness I had an epiphany. All this time, I believed that Lord Bendy would set us free. Now, I know that Henry is the true savior, for he has revealed to us a truth we have ignored for far too long. We shouldn't be fighting each other. Not when we all have one real enemy."

"Joey Drew," Everyone said at once.

"Yes," Henry said. "If you keep fighting each other, he wins. Is that what you want?"

"NO!"

"Then it's settled," Bendy declared. "Let's take the traitor down--together."

"And then," added Henry. "We all leave this place and never come back."

Chapter Text

With a loud scream, Sammy bolted upright. He clutched his chest, mind still reeling from the nightmare he'd just awoken from.

"Even now," he gasped. "That damn studio...still haunts me."

"Sammy?"

Susie and Wally were standing in the doorway--the ex-janitor was staying with them for a while, due to his apartment undergoing renovations.

"Everything OK?"

"Just a bad dream," Sammy panted. "A really bad dream."

"How bad?" Susie asked, sliding onto the bed next to him.

"Joey sacrificing the people still at the studio to a demon bad," answered Sammy. "Said sacrificed people getting turned into monsters bad. Joey being double-crossed and turned into Bendy bad."

Wally gave a whistle. "Man, bad is an understatement."

"Good thing we got out when we did," Susie agreed, rubbing little circles on her boyfriend's back.

"I'm gonna let you two have a little privacy. God knows I wouldn't want to sleep alone after a nightmare like that."

Wally closed the door, leaving the couple to curl up together in peace.
--------------------
Henry gave a light chuckle. "You might want to fix your helmet, Bendy."

"Stupid thing's too big," muttered the demon. "If I straighten it, I can't see."

"Well, in that case, I don't think anyone will mind. It's a pretty minor detail."

Outside, Sammy tapped his foot impatiently. "Let's get a move on. We have less than a week to get this right."

"Why are we even doing a D-Day reenactment in the first place?" groaned Bendy.

"Because last I checked, there weren't a lot of black soldiers in the Revolutionary or Civil War," answered Joey. "If Norman's going to take part, it would be more plausible to use World War II."

"Fair enough." Bendy grabbed his prop gun and set off towards the shore. The others followed, Henry humming what sounded like La Marseillaise.
--------------------
"Here's what I'm thinking." Sammy handed a copy of the script to each of the two women. "We'll do two recordings, one for each of you. Then we'll see how they overlap with Alice's voice, and use whichever sounds better."

Norman pulled out a quarter. "Call it, Susie."

"Heads."

Norman tossed the coin, and it landed on tails. Clearing her throat, Allison took the microphone and began to read from the page.

"Hm. Now we come to the question...Do I kill you? Do I tear you apart to my heart's delight? The choices of the beautiful are unbearable. How's a girl to choose? Take this little freak for instance! He crawled in here, trailing his tainted ink to my door! It could have touched me! It could have pulled me back! Do you know what it's like? Living in the dark puddles? It's a buzzing, screaming well of voices! Bits of your mind, swimming...like...like fish in a bowl! The first time I was born from its inky womb, I was a wriggling, pussing, shapeless slug. The second time...well...it made me an angel! I will not let the demon touch me again. I'm so close now. So...almost perfect. Yes. I will spare you. For now. Better yet...I'll even let you ascend and leave this place...if you will do a few eensy, weensy little favors for me first. Return to the lift, my little errand boy. We have work to do!"

Sammy gave a nod. "Nicely done, Allison. Susie, it's your turn."
--------------------
"Alright, ladies. Let's show the boys how it's done."

With a quick nod, Susie and Alice donned their headsets, the latter adjusting hers to account for her horns. Onscreen, a message popped up.

InfectedToys: Ready to get your arses kicked, girls?

Smirking, Allison typed a reply.

Device1612: In your dreams, Flynn.

"Okay friendly fire is off and summons are disabled," Linda's voice rang out over the headset. "Check in, everyone."

The team chart appeared, a bell sound accompanying each name lighting up.

Team Devil: DevilDarling5, IwerksHardForThis, Lensey928
Team Angel: AngelOfTheStage, Device1612, FearMeNot
Team Wolf: Goodboy23, Keymaster84, OldBlueEyes
Team Mood: InfectedToys, Slippery_When_Wet, DiamondArmada3
Team Butcher: Monkeywrench, Spinach_and_Lox, crEEpYcrAwlY

"Here we go," Susie said. "Let the Fantasy Fort tournament begin!"
--------------------
"I...have...HAD IT!"

Throwing down her spool of stitching thread, Alice stormed over to where Edgar lay strapped to an operating table.

"I am SICK and TIRED of everyone taking me for granted! Day in, and day out, I heal everyone who comes through my door. But does anyone show even the slightest bit of appreciation for it? NO!"

Ink oozed from her hair and down the left side of her face. She wiped it away--leaving behind a few marks on her face--as she continued to rant.

"Well, I think I'm going to be a more active participant in their games from now on. That'll teach them to take the medic for granted."

The spider Toon squirmed as the angel approached him, scalpel in hand.

"Oh, quit whining," she growled. "You'll respawn in an ink puddle somewhere."

Chapter Text

Rounding a corner, Henry caught sight of Bendy sitting in a pentagram, leaning against the wall for support. A wave of relief washed over the animator upon seeing the true Little Devil Darling, rather than the monster that had been chasing him.

"Bendy! Finally, I found y--!"

He stopped, eyes widening. Ink was oozing from Bendy's form, his breathing weak.

"He's melting! I've got to take him out of that circle!"

Crouching down (and inadvertently putting out a candle or two in the process), he scooped Bendy up.

"Gotcha!"

Bendy gave a soft moan.

"No worry, bud. We're getting away from here."

"He's comin'..."

"What?" Henry gave Bendy a confused look.

"Th-that monster will reach us!" Bendy lifted his head to look into Henry's eyes. "I need strength back, Henry...I need you!"

Without warning, he grabbed Henry tightly, turning into a large mass of something between ink and thick slime.

"Bendy, wh--mgh!"

Falling back onto the floor, Henry felt the substance that was Bendy slowly enveloping his body. He looked down at his hands, seeing they now resembled five-fingered versions of the demon's gloves.

"What are you...B-Bendy, what the h-heck are you doin' to me?"

<Just relax yourself, pally,> came Bendy's voice in his mind. <I assure you, it's going to be okay.>

Before long, Henry was completely covered by Bendy, as if the demon were a bodysuit of some kind. Like the creature that had been chasing him, he resembled a taller version of Bendy, right down to the gloves, bowtie, and pie-cut eyes.

"Bendy? I want an explanation now!"

<Well, Henry...> Bendy's tone sounded sheepish. <Let's just say...we'll stick together for a while.>

Pulling himself up, Bendy spotted a band of Searchers approaching, accompanied by three Butcher Gang clones--one of each member. He grinned, cracking his knuckles.

<We got this, Henry. Just work with me here.>

At first, Henry was uncertain, but then he realized this possession--no, his unison with Bendy--was going to be a tremendous help.

<Let's do this.>

With that, they charged in, a surge of power coursing through their veins. Their minds were as one as they fought the swarm. Every move, every strike, every dodge, it was all perfectly in sync. It wasn't long before the last enemy turned back into a puddle of ink.

<Tell me something, Bendy,> Henry inquired. <Can Boris and Alice do this?>

<As a matter of fact, yeah,> Bendy replied. <Problem is, it doesn't work so well if the host ain't right. Joey tried it with me, and when that failed, he used one of his failed attempts at creating me--one that didn't dissolve.>

<What about 'Alice?' Is she--?>

<Unfortunately, Pendle wasn't a good match.> Bendy's tone became grim. <So Al's trapped in that monster form with her. That's why she went nuts.>

He paused.

<But maybe the folks who came back with you can help.>

<What are we waiting for, then? Let's go find them!>

Chapter Text

"He did WHAT?"

Rubbing his forehead, Henry let out a sigh. "While I was working at Sillyvision, a small fragment of my soul somehow ended up in an inkwell I kept on my desk--not a very big one, mind you. And apparently, it seems fragments from each of you found their way into an object you possessed. Joey extracted those soul fragments, and used them to create the Toons. Because he used fragments from our souls, they're bonded to us."

"Which means what, exactly?" asked Sammy, glancing over at Lenore. The raven Toon hadn't been a regular character, but for whatever reason, she'd been brought to life as well. Sammy guessed it might be to give Alice some female companionship.

"From what I gathered," Henry answered. "It means our life forces and theirs are tied together. If one half of a pair dies, so does the other."

"But last I checked, Toons can't...die..."

The group all looked at each other, the implications dawning on them.

"Oh my God...that explains last week." Grant slumped into a chair that Charley graciously provided.

"Last week?"

"We were in a car crash," Thomas elaborated. "It should have killed us, but we both survived with only a few injuries, and those healed pretty damn fast."

"That still doesn't explain how you know all this," said Shawn. "Or how you found 'em in the first place."

"After Joey died, they called me back to the studio," explained Henry. "Without him, they didn't have anything keeping them there, and they wanted to find whoever they were bonded too."

"Now that you mention it, I have been feeling something odd for a while," Sammy spoke up. "It was like something or someone was calling me. Guess that was the bond with Lenore."

"Well, I for one don't mind that much." Susie knelt down and put an arm around Alice. "Alice was always a part of me, even after I left, and if we're stuck together, then so be it. I abandoned her once. Never again."

The men looked at each other, realizing the truth in her words.

"She's right," Wally admitted. "Besides, if we're gonna live forever, it's better to have someone to share it with."

"I hear that," Henry agreed, pulling Bendy into a hug.

Chapter Text

"Allison!"

Running over to where the inky woman lay, Sammy knelt beside her. Though his heart belonged to Susie--which made it all the more heartbreaking when she left the studio (and unlike Allison, she never returned)--he still cared about the woman Allison used to be.

"Hang on!" he implored. "We can still get out. You can see the world aga--"

Allison reached up, placing a hand on his face and leaving a small smudge of ink on his cheek. Giving him a gentle smile, she began to sing softly.

"Don't you fret, my dear Samuel,
I don't feel any pain.
A little inky rain
Can hardly hurt me now.
You're here. That's all I need to know.
And you will keep me safe.
And you will keep me close.
And rain will make the flowers grow."

Clasping her hand, Sammy began to sing as well.

"But you will live, Allie, dear God above.
If I could close your wounds with words of love..."

Allison shook her head. She knew there was no saving her, and that was OK. Just having the man she loved with her--even if said love was unrequited--was enough.

"Just hold me now, and let it be.
Shelter me. Comfort me."

Bowing his head, Sammy pulled the dying woman close. Much as he'd hoped that she could be restored to her original form, it was clear that she would not be among the saved. So if all she wanted was for him to be there as she died, then that's what he'd do.

"You would live a hundred years
If I could show you how.
I won't desert you now."

"The pain can't hurt me now
The rain will wash away what's past.
And you will keep me safe.
And you will keep me close.
I'll sleep in your embrace at last.
The man that brought you here
Is heaven blessed.
The walls begin to clear
And I'm at rest.
A breath away from where you are.
I've come home from so far."

"Hush-a-bye, dear Allison.
(So don't you fret, my dear Samuel.)
You won't feel any pain.
(I don't feel any pain.)
A little fall of rain
(A little inky rain)
Can hardly hurt you now.
(Can hardly hurt me now.)
I'm here.
(That's all I need to know.)
I will stay with you till you are sleeping.
(And you will keep me safe.
And you will keep me close.)
(And rain)
And rain
(Will make the flowers...)
Will make the flowers...
Grow."

Nearby, Henry and the Toons quietly bowed their heads, paying respect to the troubled soul who was finally free. Despite all she had done in the throes of madness, they were glad she was no longer suffering.

Chapter Text

"How're you feelin'?"

Susie groaned as she sat up. "Not much better than yesterday, but that's mainly because of my head."

"Y'were hittin' the bottle pretty hard," Shawn said. "Didn't know where you live, so I brought you here."

"Thanks, Shawn. You're a much better friend than Sammy."

"I don't think it was his decision to replace you," Shawn pointed out. "Joey mentioned somethin' about Allison looking more like Alice than you do. Can't imagine why that matters, but y'know how Joey is with details."

"Guess it's a good thing I never got further than lunch with that man," Susie said with a shrug. "Charming as he is, there's just something setting off my alarm bells."

"All the more reason to quit now. I mean, it's a wonder I didn't quit already. No one should have to work for a man who treats people like they don't matter."

There was a pause, then Susie pounded one hand with a fist.

"You know what? You're right! If they don't appreciate the effort I've put in, then I think I'll just take my talent elsewhere."

"Don't go botherin' with a two weeks notice. Thomas didn't, after all." He stood up. "Matter o'fact, I'll call Wally and let him know we're out too, so that he can tell Drew and pick up our things 'fore he leaves. Knowin Drew, if we did go back, he'd probably find some way to trap us in there."

Chapter Text

It was just under a week before the end of April when the doorbell rang. When Oliver answered it, he was surprised to find what looked like living versions of Bendy the Dancing Demon, Boris the Wolf, and Alice Angel standing outside. In addition, they were accompanied a projector-headed ink creature and a small band of sleeping kids. Boris held two young boys, with another hanging onto his shoulders, while Alice was carrying two girls, and the projector man cradled three more boys.

"Can I...help you?" Oliver asked after a moment of silent staring.

"We were looking for Henry Walters," Bendy said. "Do you know where he is?"

"Dad's not home at the moment, but I don't think you want to be standing outside where somebody could see you."

He led the odd little group inside, making sure the projector man didn't bang his head on the door.

"So, uh, who are they?"

Bendy gestured to each of the slumbering children. "The two Boris's carrying are Wally and Sammy. Al's got Susie and Allison, and Norman has Shawn, Thomas, and Grant."

"And Murray's hangin' off my back," Boris added.

Looking closely, Oliver saw that the kids did indeed resemble the people in the photo his dad kept of his former coworkers, although he'd never seen any pictures of Murray.

"But those are kids," he said in confusion. "And last I checked, Norman didn't have a projector for a head."

"Three words, pal--Joey did it."

Chapter Text

"Susie? Susie, open the door, please!"

"Go away! I don't want to talk to anyone, especially not you!"

"Is this about Alice?" asked Sammy. "Please, Susie, there's no need to be upset."

"You know how much that role meant to me!" If looks could kill, Sammy would have dropped dead then and there. "And you went and gave her to someone else! How can you say there's no need to be upset?"

"Didn't Joey tell you?" Sammy looked surprised.

"No!" Susie replied angrily. "He didn't bother telling me that you were giving Alice to--"

"That's not what I meant," Sammy interrupted. "I gave you the role of Alice Angel because I thought that she'd be popular. But she's not doing so well. They're thinking of making her a minor character, maybe even getting rid of her if things don't work out. So, I suggested giving you Greta."

At this, Susie perked up.

"Greta the Witch?"

Sammy nodded. "A lot of people like her, so she's probably going to become a regular." He put a hand on her shoulder. "Before you started voicing Alice, you were voicing background characters. I thought you deserved the chance to have a bigger role. Now that Greta's got a chance at the spotlight, and her original voice actress is leaving, she's all yours."

Susie clutched her heart, tears of relief welling up. "Oh, Sammy..."

"I told you there was no need to be upset," Sammy said, pulling her into a hug.

 

Chapter Text

Given that it had been just over two months since Henry had gotten them out of the studio, the Toons were still quick to be woken by unexpected sounds. In this case, it was the sound of a sobbing child.

"You guys hear that?" Bendy asked.

Boris nodded. "Should we wake Henry?"

"He's at Sammy's house," Bendy reminded him. "Too drunk to drive home, remember?"

"Oh, right. Forgot."

"Maybe one of us should stay in case someone calls or drops by, though," Alice suggested.

So while Boris stayed behind to watch the apartment, Bendy and Alice headed down the stairs to the floor below them. As they exited the stairwell, they heard loud voices coming from an apartment two doors away.

"Get out of my way, you bastard!"

"If you think I'm going to let you lay one hand on my daughter..."

"She's my daughter, too!"

There was the sound of a loud slap, making the Toons jump.

"Candy, get your ass back here!"

"Where the hell are you, brat?"

Hearing this, Bendy didn't hesitate to pull out his mallet and bash the door in. Alice followed him into the apartment, where they found a thin man with red hair trying desperately to keep a clearly drunk brunette woman from getting into a nearby room. While Bendy proceeded to leap onto the woman's back and wrestle her to the ground, Alice slipped through the open door and into a small bedroom. The angel spotted a red-haired girl, about seven years old, peering out from under her bed.

"Hi there," she said, giving a gentle smile as she knelt down.

The girl stared at her, eyes wide in fear and surprise.

"It's OK, I won't hurt you." Alice held out a hand. "What's your name?"

"J-Jolene..." the girl stammered.

"Come on, Jolene. My friend and I will get you out of here."

Taking Jolene's hand, she led the girl out, being careful to avoid getting close to the fight between Bendy and the blonde woman. The man, obviously Jolene's father, ran after them into the hallway.

*

The next morning, the phone rang at Sammy's house. Susie, being the only one not asleep or hung over, picked it up.

"Hello? Yes, this is the Lawrence residence. Yes, he's here."

There was a pause.

"WHAT?!?"

"Ow, Susie, don't yell," Wally groaned. "My head's still killing me."

"What's going on?" Henry asked, bringing in a tray full of cups of ginger ale.

"There was some kind of disturbance at your apartment building last night," Susie answered. "And the police said something about...Bendy."

There was silence as eight pairs of eyes turned to Henry. Finally, he sighed.

"Remember how Joey called me back to the studio two months ago? Well, I didn't come back alone."

Chapter Text

"Papa?"

Henry turned to look at Boris. "Is something wrong?"

"What's going to happen to Uncle Joey?"

Smiling gently, he reached up and rubbed the wolf's head. "Don't worry, pal. I've got something extra special planned for him. Matter of fact, part of the reason I invited him back was to make him part of our family."

While he had considered using his former coworkers in his grand project, he had ultimately decided against it (with the exception of Joey), partly because he still had some standards and partly because they might turn on him. He knew the tale of Frankenstein, after all, and the monster's mistreatment resulted in his betrayal.

Not that he would ever hurt his creations. They were his children, every single one. And he would be the best damn father they'd ever have.

"Why don't you go see how the Butcher Gang are doing, while I go check on Joey?"

"Okay!"
--------------------
"I don't know if I'll ever get used to this."

"At least you can talk again," Bendy said, trying to sound reassuring. "Even if you do sound more cartoony. Besides, turns out you ain't the only one."

"What do you mean?"

"He means you weren't the only carrier of the X-Gene working at the studio," explained Professor Xavier, entering the room with a printed list in one hand. Bendy took the paper and quickly scanned it.

"Wally, Sammy, Norman, Susie, Shawn, Allison, Thomas, Grant..." The cartoon demon raised an eyebrow. "Wow, did Joey actually go looking for carriers or somethin'?"

"I don't know," admitted Jean. "But Hank thinks the mix of ink exposure and that blast wave from the Phoenix might be what turned them from carriers into full-fledged mutants."

"Whatever caused it, they're probably confused and frightened by what's happened to them," Scott said. "And they're just as likely to be at risk from those trying to harm or recruit them as any other newly manifested mutant. That means we have to find them fast. Hangar in twenty minutes."

"I'm coming with you." Henry hopped off the bed. "Even though I just got out of that house of nightmares, I can't just sit here while other people may suffer because of the bastard who stole the body of my friend."
--------------------
"He appears from the shadows to rain his sweet blessings upon me. The figure of ink that shines in that darkness. I see you, my savior. I pray you hear me. Those old songs? Yes, I still sing them, for I know you are coming to save me, and I will be swept into your final, loving embrace. But...love requires sacrifice. Can I get an amen?"

Nodding in satisfaction, Sammy set the tape recorder down. He wasn't sure what exactly Joey planned to do with it, but he'd offered a sizable bonus for Sammy's final paycheck in exchange.

Probably best not to think about it, he thought. Whatever goes through Joey Drew's mind, I don't want to know. Hopefully, Joyworks will be an easier place to work at.
--------------------
"I have got to stop doing that."

Sammy let out a sigh as he pulled himself together once more. He had long since accepted that he would never regain his human self, though he did choose to remain a servant of Bendy, feeling it gave him a reason to live. Additionally, he had extended his services to Alice--the current version, not the previous draft who now roamed Levels K through S.

Joey had attempted to discard the 'rough draft' of Alice, throwing her into the ink to melt away. Even though Bendy had saved her, the damage to her psyche was done. As a new Alice Angel was born from the machine, the previous draft slowly grew obsessed with attaining perfection...

At least my Lord is kind to his servants--when they haven't made him angry, that is.

"What happened?" Norman poked his head inside.

"I tried to speak to Lord Bendy, but he and Lady Alice were busy."

"How many times do I have to tell you? Knock first. Unlike the Searchers and the Butcher Gang, you actually have the experience to know better."

"One of the advantages of once being human," Sammy admitted. "I think I left my old clothes here somewhere. Maybe there's a sock or two they could hang on the door."
--------------------
"Just think, Boris. 'S like only yesterday, we were in a never-ending battle of pranks and drivin' each other nuts."

"Yeah, I know." Boris took a bite of his hamburger. A small piece of onion fell onto his leg, and he plucked it off.

"We've come a long way since then, haven't we pal?" asked Bendy, plucking another fry from the pouch.

Outside, Joey smiled as he heard the demon and wolf talking. Back when the cartoon had first started, they'd been not-so-friendly rivals. Then in one episode, Bendy had gone too far with a prank, and Boris had been very upset. Fortunately, it had ended on a happy note. After that, things had started to cool off, and in the Butcher Gang's debut episode, the two had worked together to escape.

Even though it would be several more episodes before they received voice actors, Henry could still imagine Bendy paraphrasing the last line of Casablanca as he and Boris shook hands at the end.

"Boris, I think this is the start of a beautiful friendship."

Chapter Text

Sitting with her back to the door, Alice Angel clutched the handkerchief. Outside, she could hear the voices of her friends pleading with her to come out.

"Just go away!" she sobbed. "Leave me alone!"

"But Alice..."

"You saw how badly I messed up!" Alice choked out. "It was such an easy song and dance, and I blew it! I'm useless! I'm pathetic. I'm a good-for-nothing waste of ink!"

There was silence for a moment before she heard the sound of retreating footsteps. Burying her face in her hands, the angel slumped to the floor. For the next couple of hours, she sat alone, wanting to just drown away in a puddle of shame.

But then...

"Alice?"

Alice was startled to hear a voice much like her own coming from the other side of the door.

"Wh-who's there?"

"It is you!" the voice said in wonder. "Seeing Bendy was amazing enough, but knowing you're alive too..."

For a moment, there was silence. Then the voice--most likely that of Susie Campbell--spoke up again.

"Bendy's worried about you, Alice. He told me about your rehearsal earlier, and how you feel like you messed up."

"Are-are you going to laugh at me too?"

"No, Alice!" came the voice. "Everyone messes up--even I do. So what if it's embarrassing? The Alice I voiced wouldn't give up, and neither should you. Now come out, and let me see you."

Slowly, the door opened, and Alice emerged, dropping the handkerchief to the floor.

Susie gave Alice a gentle smile as the angel ran into her arms. She never expected to meet the character she voiced in this way, but being able to comfort and give encouragement to her...

Maybe this was what it was like to be a mother.

Chapter Text

Of all the people who once worked for Joey Drew, no one received more ink exposure than Sammy Lawrence. Even Wally didn't get as much ink on him as the music director did. Sure, everybody got a little bit of the stuff on them, some more than others. But for whatever reason, the majority of leaks happened in the music department, especially in Sammy's office.

It was right when Sammy was about to quit--not long before the studio closed down, in fact--that the ink turned out to have some strange effects.

*

Bracing himself against the wall with one hand, Sammy rubbed his forehead with the other. He'd been having headaches and blurry vision all day, and he was starting to wonder if he was suffering from some strange form of ink poisoning.

All the more reason to quit now, he thought. And see a doctor.

Once he regained his bearings, he was about to make his way to Joey's office when he caught a glimpse of his hand. At first, it just seemed to be rather pale, but then he realized it had actually become semitransparent.

"What--?"

He hastily searched for a nearby reflective surface, and spotted the recording booth. Looking into its window, he could see the effect was the same for the rest of his body, clothes included. Not only that, but it was more pronounced--he could see right through himself.

Suddenly, his vision went white. Briefly panicking, he stumbled forward, tripping over a music stand. He lay on the floor for a couple of minutes before his vision finally cleared. As he stood up, he realized he couldn't see himself anymore. Desperately, he pinched and smacked himself, but there was no change.

Somehow, he had been rendered completely invisible.

*

Much to his dismay, the invisibility didn't wear off. He was afraid to go to Joey--something in the back of his mind told him it would end very badly--so he spent the next few days avoiding human interaction (he figured if he asked anyone else for aid, it would lead to a confrontation with Joey, and he didn't want anyone else to get caught in the ensuing crossfire). As it turned out, his fears were well-founded, for he had the misfortune to witness Norman being drenched in a torrent of ink.

Sammy didn't even bother to grab his things as he made a break for it.

A few hours after he left, he was in the park near the studio when he slowly began to reappear. The moment he realized he could see himself again, he broke down and wept in relief. Eventually, he wore himself, falling asleep in the rain.

*

When he woke up, he was still visible. More importantly, he was lying on the couch in Susie's apartment. Susie herself was sitting beside him, reading quietly.

"Susie?"

Dropping the book in surprise, Susie looked over, her expression quickly turning to relief.

"Oh, you're awake!"

"How did I get here?"

"Wally found you," Susie explained. "He said you were fading in and out, so you might have been changed by the ink as well."

Sitting up, Sammy looked at his hands. He concentrated slightly, and they began to disappear, only to return to normal upon his mental command.

Wait a second...!

"What do you mean 'as well?'" he asked.

"I don't know what was in that ink, but it did some very interesting things to us--Wally, Norman, Shawn, Allison, Thomas, Grant..."

"And you?"

"Yes," Susie said, rising slightly off the floor. "It takes some time, but I think you'll get used to it."

Chapter Text

At last, they were face to face again.

"Henry!" Joey smiled warmly. "You got my letter!"

"It's been a long time, old friend," Henry said. Despite his clothes being covered in ink stains, and having been attacked by creatures born from ink and residual psychic energy, he was happy to gave finally reached Joey.

Now, he could do what he had come here to do.

"What took you so long?" Joey got to his feet. He was about to embrace his friend, only for a sniffle from Bendy to catch his attention.

"Bendy? What's wrong?"

"It's our fault, Joey," the little demon choked out. "We thought he was going to hurt you."

"Hurt me? Bendy, what are you talking about?"

"I heard that tape, Joey. The one where you talked about cheating death. And I know you were afraid of death, especially since the living don't know what comes after."

"So?"

"So," Henry continued. "The Toons knew how you feared death. More importantly, they didn't want to loose you. That's why they tried to get rid of me."

"I don't understand." Joey gave Henry a look of confusion.

"Death comes for all men in the end," Henry said. "It's only natural to fear it, but when it happens...you aren't alone, even if it seems that way. When it happened to me, there was a Reaper there to offer solace and to help me fully accept it. And now, I do the same for others. See for yourself."

Looking behind him, Joey saw his own body, lifeless but smiling, still seated in his chair.

"You see, Joey? Death is not something to be afraid of." He gave a warm smile. "A Reaper's task is not to bring death, but to be there when it happens--to ease the pain and fear."

For a moment, Joey looked surprised. Then, he nodded in understanding.

"Don't fear the Reaper."

"Exactly."

On the wall nearby, a large disc of white light appeared.

"It's time to go, Joey."

"What about us?" Boris asked. "Without Joey, what will happen to us?"

Henry gave him a warm smile. "Don't worry, pal. Once I'm done, I'll be back to make sure you end up in good hands."

With that, he took Joey's hand and led him away.

Chapter Text

Henry gave a sigh as he entered the ink collection room. The others had figured Henry would be the best one to explain the whole 'we don't need this place now that we've got a new studio building' deal to Joey. Exactly why Joey was so unwilling to part with the old one was a mystery to Henry.

"Joey? Are you in here?"

No answer. Henry stepped forward, only to slip on a puddle of ink on the floor. Sliding forward, he fell from the walkway, landing in one of the ink vats with a splash. Luckily, as he attempted to surface, something grabbed his arm to help pull him out.

As he knelt on the floor, gasping for breath, he saw Joey running over, accompanied by a three-dimensional version of Bendy. Before he could say anything, a sharp jolt shot through him. The animator's body trembled wildly as he began to shrink. At the same time, the ink drenching his skin, hair, and clothes enveloped him, changing his form. In mere moments, he resembled a smaller version of Bendy, albeit with inverted horns, mitten-like gloves, and large blue eyes.

"Henry!"

*

Perched on a chair in Joey's office, a blanket wrapped around him, Henry watched as his friend paced back and forth, wringing his hands.

"I am so sorry, Henry. I never meant for this to happen, I swear..."

"Stop blaming yourself, Joey," Henry said. "It was an accident."

"But as far as I know, you're stuck this way!" Joey was on the verge of tears. "Do you think I wanted this to happen to you? For you to remain in that unchanging body--?"

"He won't be alone."

The two looked up to see Bendy standing in the doorway, Boris beside him.

"Boris and I'll be here. Alice too, once she arrives."

"We can teach him everything he needs to know," Boris added.

Giving a relieved smile, Henry hopped off the chair and ran over to hug Bendy.

"Thanks, Bendy. Means a lot."

Joey nodded, starting to feel better about the whole thing. "Now how do we break this to the others...?"

Chapter Text

Henry wasn't sure why 'Bendy' wanted him to go to the ink collection room. As far as he knew, that wouldn't get him anywhere near a way out of the studio. But the demon had told him he would understand once he got there. Now he was standing on a catwalk overlooking an enormous collection tank, roughly half the size of an Olympic swimming pool.

"I still don't get what I'm doing here," he said. "What's the point of--?"

A sudden dizzy spell overcame him, just like in the room leading from the top basement to the Music Department. Images flashed before Henry's eyes, showing the events of the past day from a different point of view. After those, however, he saw the demon's true identity, and his mind faltered.

It can't be...

Then he saw exactly how such a thing was possible, and he understood.

No wonder he didn't want me dead.

The demon's words flashed through his mind.

"You heard the memories of those who escaped Joey's madness. And you saw what became of those who were not so fortunate. Now you must set them free."

And I know exactly how to do it.

His axe clattered to the floor as he closed his eyes, allowing himself to fall into the vast pool of ink below. For what felt like an eternity, he remained below the surface, feeling the black liquid flood his body and change it from the inside out. Yet he no longer felt afraid, welcoming the transformation and the power that came with it. Finally, he burst from the ink, arms spread wide in triumph.

Bendy the Dancing Demon lived.

*

"WHeRe iS He?"

The massive abomination of ink and machinery that had once been Joey Drew clenched his fists. It had been some time since Henry had arrived, but he hadn't come down yet, and Joey was getting tired of waiting.

Perhaps fusing myself with the Ink Machine wasn't the best way to achieve immortality, he thought. Maybe if I had looked for a way to remain mobile...

Suddenly, there was a loud noise, as a torrent of ink crashed through the ceiling, leaving a dripping hole behind. The black liquid remained still for a second, before a lanky form sprang up.

"HEEEEEERE'S BENDY!"

To his surprise, Joey saw the Ink Demon standing before him, bits of ceiling laying at his feet.

"Damn, Joey. You really take the whole Inferno thing seriously. Even made yourself the equivalent of Lucifer."

Indeed, Joey did resemble an inky Dante's version of Satan (albeit with bits of machinery scattered throughout), from three faces to the tattered batlike wings. He even held the original versions of the Butcher Gang in lieu of the three traitors in the pipes that made up his horns--Charley and Barley in the right, and Edgar in the left.

"HeNRy?"

"Once. No more." Bendy wiped ink out of his face, revealing familiar pie-cut eyes. "After all my searching for a way out of this hell, I learned that I wasn't supposed to be a prisoner, but its prince. In order to do that, though, I have to take the throne from you."

Letting out a noise between a roar and a scream, Joey swiped at Bendy, who simply leapt over the hand. The human-turned demon ran up Joey's arm, avoiding the spikes of ink that popped up to try and impale him. Reaching the head, he grabbed Edgar and pulled him free, tossing him to Boris waiting below. He then proceeded to free Barley and Charley, before Alice Angel descended, carrying an axe.

"Here!"

Reaching out, Bendy let cartoon physics do their work, arm extending to grab the axe from Alice. Then he flipped off Joey's head, landing in front of Boris.

"Get them up to the room with the pentagram--the one near the Music Department entrance. I'll meet you up there in a bit."

Boris gave a nod, picking up Charley and Barley while Edgar grabbed hold of the wolf's leg. Alice picked them up and carried them out through the hole in the ceiling. Nodding in satisfaction, Bendy ran forward, drawing ink from the nearby puddles towards the axe and enlarging it to many times its original size.

The last thing Joey Drew ever saw was his former friend raising the massive axe above his head.

*

"You feeling better now, pal?"

Boris nodded happily. "Finally got a voice, thanks to Alice."

"And I apologized for...you know," Alice added. "I can probably do something about the Searchers and other monsters--turning them back to their old selves probably isn't possible, but I don't think they'll say no to the idea of becoming new Toons. Oh, and I think I can get you on-model, as it were."

"Sounds good to me." Bendy turned and approached the pentagram in the middle of the floor. "Just one thing I gotta take care of. Then we can get me lookin' like how I'm supposed to."

With that, he stepped through, emerging in the original studio's Ink Machine room. Quickly scrawling a note on a scrap of paper, he climbed into the machine and waited for his past self to enter the building.

Chapter Text

When Sammy had first emerged from the depths of the Ink Machine, he'd been little more than a vaguely human-shaped mass of ink. He couldn't remember much from that time--the mind of a Stage One (or Searcher, as they were known) was clouded, with barely any awareness.

He had been unfortunate enough that he had to endure Stage Two--still made of ink, but with a more individual form. Unlike Norman, he hadn't looked much different from his Stage One self, aside from having legs. However, he had regained his sense of self, remembering who he used to be and recognizing he had been changed. Desperate to regain human form, he had sought to try and appease Bendy. Though he'd been told it was impossible to return to his old self, he refused to believe it, some part of the old, stubborn Sammy Lawrence lingering. Finally, he'd come face to face with the Ink Demon, who tore away the dripping shell of ink to bring him into Stage Three. The pain from that was similar to ripping off a bandage, but all over.

His Stage Three self looked more like his old human form, albeit with black hair that was constantly dripping, solid black eyes, and a somewhat simplified shape. While Allison had been fortunate enough to skip Stage Two, Sammy felt lucky that his sanity was intact, in addition to not appearing quite so freakish. Better still, Bendy had taken a liking to him, accepting him as one of his closest companions alongside the other Toons.

Now here he was, about to enter the fourth (and probably final) stage--full Toondom.

As he lay on the cot, flushed as if with fever, he thought of those who hadn't come back to the old studio--Wally, Susie, Shawn, Thomas, and Grant, among others. In fact, those who had returned made up the minority, and of them, most were in Stage Three or Four.

"I can't let them take from me what I know is destiny," he sang quietly. "Savior, please set us free..."

Emerging from a nearby ink puddle, Bendy hurried to the Prophet's side. As he did so, he shrank from his Inked form into his more familiar cartoon self.

"It's OK, Sammy," he murmured soothingly, stroking the man's hair. "You're gonna be fine."

Shutting his eyes, Sammy let the final transformation overcome him. He no longer feared what would become of him, knowing that his Lord did care.

"I feel like I've found my place,
With power to open the gate.
Please won't you let me in?
Relinquish me from all my sins."

Chapter Text

Deep within the bowels of the old studio, a small form peered out through the bars of a cage, looking at the various chunks of meat and bone-AKA what was left over from the dissections that had been going on--strewn haphazardly across the floor.

At first glance, the creature resembled an unusually large black cat, about the size of a human toddler, with a white face and paws. Looking closer, however, one could see the paws were actually large, four-fingered gloves, the eyes were in the pie-cut style of inkblot cartoons, and the tail had a pointed tip at the end.

Originally, he had been an ordinary stray cat, wandering the streets of the city outside the studio. But then a strange man found him and brought him here. The man--Joey Drew by name--wanted to bring his cartoon characters into reality, but didn't have the heart or stomach to use humans as the required bases, so he had turned to using animals of various sorts:

-The various incarnations of Boris had been made from dogs, mostly strays or taken from pounds.
-The Searchers had originally been rats, and multiplied almost as quickly.
-Both versions of Alice had been birds--'Alice' was a swan, and the 'true' Alice a nightingale.
-The Butcher Gang were created from monkeys, taken from a behavioral research lab.
-And 'Bendy,' like the 'true' Little Devil Darling, was once a cat.

He didn't know what exactly 'Sammy,' the Butcher Gang clones, or the Projectionist had originally been, but he'd noticed a lot of unidentified pelts on the floor.

A loud clicking noise caught his attention, prompting him to look up. Joey had arranged for episodes of the cartoon to be projected onto the walls, so that the proto-Toons could learn exactly what they were becoming. This way, they could understand the rules of a cartoon--squash and stretch, hammerspace, status quo, and the like.

As he watched the playful antics of the characters, Bendy had an idea.

Sticking his foreleg-turned-arm through the bars, he sucked in his stomach, trying to make himself as skinny as possible. It took some effort, but he was able to squeeze through the narrow bars, one bit at a time. Admittedly, it was a little uncomfortable when he pulled his head through, and when it popped back into shape, he had a brief bout of dizziness. Nonetheless, it worked like a charm.

Grabbing the keyring off the wall, he ran over to Alice's cage.

"Alice!" he hissed. "Wake up!"

Emitting a soft moan, the bird-turned-angel Toon sat up. Like Bendy, most of her animal traits were gone. She considered herself fortunate that her wings simply became retractable, rather than disappearing altogether and leaving her flightless. However, she also felt that the sooner her rather embarrassing tail feathers were gone, the better.

"Bendy?" she inquired sleepily. "How did you?"

"I'm a Toon now, remember? Got more than just the looks."

Unlocking the cage, Bendy helped Alice to her feet.

"Come on. Let's go see if we can find Boris."

Chapter Text

Ever since Joey had been young, he'd been able to see the numbers. All he had to do was lock eyes with someone, and a number would appear in his mind. It wasn't until he was five--when his father suffered a fatal heart attack--that he realized what the numbers were.

They were dates--specifically, the dates of people's deaths.

He couldn't see his own death date, and frankly, that wasn't comforting. Ignorance is bliss, but knowledge is power. Eventually, he started delving into the occult, looking for ways to prolong one's lifespan or even escape death altogether. Not long after the first Bendy cartoon aired, he expanded his research, looking into ways to create life as well as prolong it. Among the many discoveries he made was a ritual that allowed the caster to trade one existence for another, including his or her own.

This opened up a world of possibilities--after all, becoming a cartoon character seemed like a great way to cheat death, especially given what Toons were capable of. He was well aware that he'd need to do test runs to make sure it would work as intended. But desperate as he was, he would never use any of the people who once worked for him. The whole point was to keep death away, not make it arrive faster. And he wouldn't do that to the people he cared about.

Not unless they were willing, and not until he knew it would work.

Chapter Text

At last, he'd done it. After searching for so long, Joey had finally found an angel willing to take up the role of Alice. The Children of Heaven did not interact with the physical world as frequently as they did back when religion had a greater role in society, but every so often, there were exceptions, many of them young and curious.

While Joey performed the ritual needed to transform the 'ink doll' into a viable host body, Henry sat nearby, Bendy and Boris on either side. The animator had dropped by one day, and quickly befriended the first two living Toons. It only seemed fair that he get to watch the birth of the third.

As the circle lit up, the three shielded their eyes from the bright glow. When it faded, the ink doll had sat up, and was blinking in curiosity. Gently smiling, Joey knelt down to the child-sized angel Toon.

"Hello, Alice. Welcome to the material plane."

Slowly pulling herself to her feet, Alice wobbled slightly, clearly not used to having a physical body.

"Can you walk alone?"

Alice shook her head, her vocal chords not yet working, so Henry stepped forward and took her hand.

"Here. Let me help you."

Clasping the animator's hand, Alice allowed herself to be led out of the circle, brightening up as she gained her footing.

"See? It's not that hard."

Though Bendy felt a little apprehensive, being an embodied demon and all, he also felt glad. Hopefully, the newest member of their little band would come to love her role just as much as he and Boris did theirs.

Chapter Text

It was close to dawn, but still dark enough that the stars were still visible. Sitting upon a grassy hillside, Bendy and Alice looked up at them.

"Once, I would have been happy to live up there," Alice mused. "I would have been happy guarding mortals and doing other good deeds like the other angels. But that was before I met you. I could never be just another angel now."

"Do you regret it?" Bendy asked.

"Not for an instant."

For a moment, they sat in silence. Then, placing his hand in hers, the demon began to sing.

"No more talk of darkness.
Forget these wide-eyed fears.
I'm here, nothing can harm you.
My words will warm and calm you.

Let me be your freedom.
Let daylight dry your tears.
I'm here, with you, beside you
To guard you and to guide you."

Hearing that voice which had led her off the path of a true angel, and into the arms of her soulmate, Alice continued the song.

"Say you'll love me every waking moment.
Turn my head with talk of summer time.
Say you need me with you now and always.
Promise me that all you say is true.
That's all I ask of you."

"Let me be your shelter.
Let me be your light.
You're safe, no one will find you,
Your fears are far behind you."

"All I want is freedom,
A world with no more night,
And you, always beside me,
To hold me and to hide me."

"Then say you'll share with me one love, one lifetime.
Let me lead you from your solitude.
Say you want me with you here, beside you.
Anywhere you go, let me go too.
Alice, that's all I ask of you."

"Say you'll share with me one love, one lifetime.
Say the word and I will follow you.

"Share each day with me, each night, each morning..."

"Say you love me."

"You know I do."

"Love me, that's all I ask of you."

As the sun came up over the horizon, the two let their lips meet in a passionate kiss.

"Anywhere you go, let me go too.
Love me, that's all I ask of you."

Chapter Text

Keeping a watchful eye out as she made her way through the park, Susie waved brightly at the kids waiting in line.

I really hope the monster ruining this place is caught soon, she thought to herself. Just because he or she appears to be avoiding the park staff and people who work at the studio...

The sound of a child crying jolted her out of her thoughts. Looking around, she spotted a trail of ink leading over to a funnel cake stand. Cautiously approaching it, she peered underneath, and her eyes went wide in horror.

"Oh my..."

Huddled beneath the wagon was a tiny creature resembling Bendy, with inverted horns, mitten-like gloves, and large blue eyes. The small form was crying in terror and confusion, the frightened sobs breaking Susie's heart.

Without hesitation, she reached out and pulled the Toon into her arms. He squeaked in alarm, but she just gently hugged him.

"It's OK, it's OK. I'm not going to hurt you."

Keeping one arm around the Bendy lookalike, she ran to find Allison. Barely ten minutes later, the two women and their companion were on the road back to the studio, with Allison calling Joey to inform him they had a situation.

Chapter Text

Henry wasn't sure why there was a safe house in the studio. Granted, it probably wasn't the only unusual addition. Nonetheless, he was grateful for the chance to catch his breath.

"We should probably get some rest," he said. "Time field or not, I doubt it'll do any harm to try and get back to full strength."

"A quick nap would probably help," Sammy commented, falling into one of the hammocks. "I haven't needed to sleep for a long time. Never thought I'd say this, but I missed it."

Boris nodded. "Wish we could stay here, but there are other people stuck in this place."

"And we'll find them," Henry declared. "We're going to find everyone we can and get the hell out of here. It wouldn't hurt if we stopped Joey too, but escaping this place with as many people as possible takes precedence."

"For now, let's just take a break."

As Bendy pulled himself into the other hammock, Henry stepped into the adjoining bathroom. Pleased to find there was moderately clean running water, he splashed some on his face, the cool liquid leaving him a bit more refreshed. Even so, a little sleep would do him a world of good.

Blinking, he glanced into the mirror, noticing that a small amount of the grey had gone from his hair.

"That's...odd," he said to himself. "But then again, I've run into a lot of odd things in the past few hours."

He shook himself before stepping out of the bathroom. By this time, Bendy, Boris, and Sammy had fallen asleep, the wolf using the music director as a blanket.

Smiling, Henry lay down next to Bendy and fell asleep, the cartoon demon snuggling in his arms.

Chapter Text

Humming quietly, Susie peered out the window for the umpteenth time in the past five days. Part of her wanted to call the police and file a missing persons report, but it wasn't exactly easy to get to and from the old studio, especially with last night's storm.

"I hope you're all right, Henry."

When Allison was given the role of Alice Angel, Henry had confronted Joey about it, as it had been his call. Joey had refused to give an explanation for the switch, so Henry and Susie promptly quit together. Others started following their example not long after, although some took longer to leave than others. In the meantime, the two found work at another studio, which they found to be much more enjoyable. As time went on, they ended up falling in love, getting married, and having children.

She didn't know why Henry had chosen to accept Joey's invitation to return, despite the fact that a number of their former colleagues--mostly band members, but also a few guys that Shawn once worked with--had vanished not long after the studio's closing. Maybe he thought Joey was willing to try and patch things up, which Susie doubted. Aside from Henry, not one of those who quit would even think twice about their decision to leave.

The sound of the front door being unlocked jolted her out of her thoughts. Without hesitation, she ran down the hall, her heart leaping upon seeing her husband entering, his clothes heavily stained with ink.

"Oh, thank heavens you're okay!"

"Worried about me, huh?" Henry gave her a tired grin.

"Hey, isn't that Susie?"

"Yes, it is! Why is she here?"

Susie looked down at the small band of Toons, then at Henry, then back at the Toons, then back at Henry again.

"What happened?"

Chapter Text

"This way!"

Clutching Bendy tightly to his chest, Henry ran through the burning hallways, Boris and Alice right behind him. The wolf was carrying Charley and Barley, while the angel held Edgar and the tiny clone of Bendy that had been formed from Henry's blood mixing with ink. Henry felt bad that he couldn't save the Prophet--even though the deranged clone of Sammy had tried to kill him, he'd quickly switched sides after learning that the monster who'd been stalking the halls was not the real Dancing Demon. But Malice had tried to stop them from leaving, and so the Prophet stayed behind, sacrificing himself to keep the disfigured hybrid clone of Susie and Allison at bay.

"Come on!"

Up ahead, the Projectionist was waiting by the door out of the studio, hands held out to help them over the hole. As soon as they were over it, the clone of Norman--who they'd nicknamed Lumiere--punched through the door.

"Hey! Someone's coming out!"

*

A few minutes later, the small band was seated on the back of a fire truck sitting in the studio parking lot. Nearby, firefighters were attempting to put out the blaze, though it was clear the building was beyond saving.

"So what exactly were you doing here, Mr. Walters?"

"My former boss sent me a letter inviting me here," Henry said, taking out the letter in question. "He said he had something to show me."

"Joey said he wanted Henry to be the first one to see us," Bendy piped up, pulling the shock blanket closer. "They used to be really good friends."

"As it turns out, he was playing Dr. Frankenstein," Henry continued. "Besides these guys, there were other copies of people who used to work here, though not all of them were friendly."

The officer shook his head. "Damn, and here I thought I'd seen everything. This...is on a whole 'nother level."

"Uh, what's gonna happen to us?" Boris asked. "We've never been outside the studio before."

"I can take them," Henry offered. "Unless you've got a better idea."

"I don't, but let me finish taking your statements. Then you can get going."

Chapter Text

"Human?"

Slowly, Henry's eyes fluttered open. Hovering above him were the three members of the Butcher Gang--not the disfigured copies he'd run into, but proper-looking versions. All three were looking at him in confusion, while chattering amongst themselves.

"Yes. He human. New human. Not Joey."

"Why new human here? Joey no bring humans here."

"Maybe Alice know. She talk to him when moving box come down. Call him Henry. Say she know why he here."

Hearing this, Henry's eyes went wide.

Boris!

He sat upright quickly, startling the three Toons.

"Human awake!" Charley exclaimed. Scrambling onto Henry's lap, he peered into the man's face. "Why you here, human?"

Taking a moment to regain his bearings, Henry told them about Joey's letter, and what had happened since his arrival at the studio.

"Now, I need to find Boris. Do you know where Alice took him?"

"Big Alice or Little Alice?"

Barley smacked Edgar. "Big Alice, stupid. Little Alice still part bird."

Henry blinked. "Part bird?"

"Joey bring lots of animals here," Charley said. "He put them in machine, and they change."

"We stay in cages below until we done," Edgar added. "Little Bendy and Little Alice down there."

So Joey used animals in his experiments, not humans, Henry thought. While the residents of the studio had been here too long to be anyone he knew from his Sillyvision days, it still gave him a profound sense of relief to know Joey hadn't decided to become Josef Mengele minus the bigotry. At the same time, however, he had little doubt that if the SPCA ever heard about this, they'd be baying for Joey's blood.

"If I might ask," he said after a moment. "What were you guys? Originally, I mean. Can you draw what you looked like?"

With a nod, Charley dipped a hand into a nearby puddle of ink and drew on the wall. The resulting picture was simple, like a child's, but Henry could easily recognize it as a drawing of three monkeys.

"Monkeys?" Henry muttered as he pulled himself to his feet. "Where would he even--never mind. Do you have anything I can use as a weapon? If we're going to find Boris and get out of here--"

"We?" Edgar asked.

"You guys don't like being here, do you?"

All three shook their heads.

"Neither does Boris. And I'll bet you're not the only ones. So when I leave, it'll be with whoever wants to come."

Good thing I brought the van.

Chapter Text

(Shot of Henry in his observation room, looking down at the rejected drawing of Bendy. A four-fingered, white gloved hand tugs on his shirt. He turns to look at Bendy, then nods and stands up.)

Our world's about to break,
Tormented and attacked

(Shot of Wally, cracking his knuckles as the Abomination approaches. Shot of Sammy lashing out at a trio of bank robbers as bullets pass harmlessly through his liquid form.)

Lost from when we wake
With no way to go back

(Shot of Susie carrying Allison over a horde of gamma monsters. Allison lets go, joining Norman in the midst of battle.)

I'm standing on my own
But now I'm not alone
Avengers, Assemble!

(Shot of Shawn using his phasing powers to free the chained-up Butcher Gang. Shot of Thomas freezing a pair of AIM guards. Shot of Grant teleporting out of the way of a robotic arm.)

Always we will fight as one,
'Til the battle's won
With evil on the run,
We never come undone
Assembled we are strong
Forever fight as one
Assembled we are strong
Forever fight as one

(Shots of the team fighting Thanos's forces.)

Our world's about to break,
Tormented and attacked

(Shot of Bendy glaring at an unseen enemy as he spreads his wings and pulls out a pitchfork.)

Lost from when we wake
With no way to go back

(Shot of Boris inside the Greyhound armor. Dropping to all fours, he charges forward.)

I'm standing on my own
But now I'm not alone
Avengers, Assemble!

(Shot of Alice drawing La Pucelle as she stands protectively in front of a trio of frightened kids.)

Always we will fight as one,
'Til the battle's won
With evil on the run,
We never come undone
Assembled we are strong
Forever fight as one
Assembled we are strong
Forever fight as one

(Shots of [C4/C5 characters] in action.)

Avengers, Assemble!

Always we will fight as one,
'Til the battle's won
With evil on the run,
We never come undone
Assembled we are strong
Forever fight as one
Assembled we are strong
Forever fight as one

(Shots of various enemies, including the High Evolutionary, the Leader, and Joey Drew.)

Avengers, Assemble!

Always we will fight as one...

Avengers, Assemble!

With evil on the run...

Avengers, Assemble!

Assembled we are strong
Forever fight as one
Assembled we are strong
Forever fight as one

(Shots of other heroes, including Doc Samson, Jocasta, Goliath, She-Hulk, Thunderstrike and the Fantastic Four. Shot of the team standing together.)

Chapter Text

Trembling in fear as he descended even further into the workshop's depths, Johnny couldn't help but wonder what would become of him. He remembered the list of names he'd spotted in several places--the woman who had once been Lauren Blondell had told him that it was Joey's 'Invite Back' list. Unsurprisingly, it had been pretty small, as most of those who worked here had reasons to turn their backs on Sillyvision:

-Henry was the first to leave after an argument with Joey--over what, no one knew for sure.
-Wally finally ran out of patience after a particularly bad day, and made good on his vow to leave, though not before vandalizing Joey's office while the director was down in the toy department.
-Sammy had taken a job composing songs at another animation company, which had a far less hostile work environment.
-Susie walked out after Joey refused to explain why he'd reassigned the role of Alice Angel.
-Norman retired after his health began to decline, although to be fair, most of that was simply age catching up with him.
-Shawn left after Joey's near-OCD perfectionism became too much for him, only a day before Wally quit.
-Allison took Susie's advice and made a hasty departure after Joey called her Alice one too many times.
-Thomas had gotten fed up with all the repairs he had to make to the Ink Machine, leading Joey to hire a guy named Murray Hill in Thomas' place.
-Grant realized that the company wouldn't last much longer, due to Joey's erratic financial habits, and decided not to go down with the ship.

And that was just the people whose voices he'd heard in the tapes lying around the studio. More than once, he thanked his lucky stars they were OK.

Then there were the employees who'd disappeared before the studio shut down--unexplainable at the time, but now Johnny had a pretty good idea of where they had gone. Between all that and what he'd experienced since he'd first reentered the building, he was wondering why he'd come back at all.

Given how lost in thought the pianist was, he failed to notice the ink pond at the bottom of the stairs until he tripped and fell forward. The ink tried to force itself into his lungs, to drag him under and never let go, but he was able to surface multiple times. Eventually, he reached the other side, pulling himself out and gasping for breath.

Only once he caught his breath did he notice that the ink had transformed him. Everything about him looked more cartoon-like, from the four fingers on his hands to the lack of visible elbows and knees. His breathing became more rapid as he grabbed his head and gave a firm tug, only for the skin to stretch beyond normal human elasticity.

No, no, no! This can't be happening!

He let go, and his cheeks snapped back. Burying his face in his hands, he tried not to weep in despair.

"I'm never getting out of here, am I?"

Without warning, a loud crash caught his attention. A moment later, a large crate came flying down the hallway, slamming into Johnny and leaving him flat on the floor. Being newly Toonified, however, he popped back into shape almost instantly.

That didn't hurt at all, he realized. Now that he thought about it, there were a lot of cool things Toons could do.

Maybe...this won't be so bad after all...

Getting to his feet, he spotted what looked like Charley chasing after Edgar, both looking as they did in the show.

"Wolfgang, get your *bike bell* back here!"

Hearing the sound effect replacing the curse, Johnny smiled, his fear melting like the snow in spring. Yes, most of the people who once worked at the studio were blissfully unaware of what had become of their peers, but if he had to be honest, they were kind of missing out.

Chapter Text

It had been many years since the studio was closed. So long since everyone had left. Well, almost everyone.

Joey had stayed for a while. He'd given Bendy and his friends, including her, physical bodies. But then, he'd gotten sick, and eventually died. Without him, there was no one to maintain the machine, and all kinds of monsters were spawned.

Abandoned, with no one knowing they existed, it was easy for Alice to lose her mind, especially after she and Bendy started fighting. Like him, she let herself be tainted by the negativity, being twisted in mind, body, and soul.

(I don't know if I can yell any louder,
How many times have I kicked you out of here
Or said something insulting?

I can be so mean when I wanna be,
I am capable of really anything,
I can cut you into pieces,
When my heart is broken.

Please, don't leave me.
Please, don't leave me.
I always say how I don't need you,
But it's always gonna come right back to this.
Please, don't leave me.)

Though she claimed her killing and dissecting Boris repeatedly was to make herself beautiful, that was merely an act. He wanted to leave the studio, and go into the cold world outside, a world they didn't belong in. She couldn't let him leave.

She couldn't let him leave her.

When Henry came back, she thought he'd simply leave after helping her with her tasks. But he just had to go and try to take Boris with her.

Didn't he understand there was no place out there for them? None of them could leave. She couldn't--and wouldn't--let them.

(How did I become so obnoxious?
What is it with you that makes me act like this?
I've never been this nasty.

Can't you tell that this is all just a contest?
The one that wins will be the one that hits the hardest.
But baby I don't mean it.
I mean it. I promise.

Please, don't leave me.
Please, don't leave me.
I always say how I don't need you,
But it's always gonna come right back to this.
Please, don't leave me.)

Henry didn't give up, though. Even after all she'd done, he still refused to take the hint, and came back for Boris. When she asked him why, he told her something she never expected to hear.

"He doesn't deserve to be trapped here."

The very idea that someone could care about any of them broke her facade. All this time, she thought there was no place in the world for them but the studio. Once Henry had left the room, she cast off the dead husk of a body she'd worn for so long and lay on the floor, weeping and wishing he really had killed her.

(I forgot to say out loud
How beautiful you really are to me.
I can't be without.
You're my perfect little punching bag,
And I need you.
I'm sorry.)

In the end, though, he came back for her, with Bendy and Boris accompanying him. She had told him to leave her behind, but he refused.

"You've been alone long enough, Alice," he told her. "I won't let you suffer any more."

(Please, don't leave me.
Please, don't leave me.
I always say how I don't need you,
But it's always gonna come right back to this.
Please, don't leave me.

Please, don't leave me.
Please, don't leave me.
I always say how I don't need you,
But it's always gonna come right back to this.
Please, don't leave me.)

Chapter Text

"What's going on here?"

Caught by surprise, Henry and Bendy turned to see Joey wheeling in through an open doorway. The former studio director was clearly in failing health--Henry doubted his former friend could stand up on his own any more.

"Joey..."

"So you are here," said Henry. Dropping his axe, he put his hands on his hips as he glared at Joey. "Care to explain what you've been doing here, and why everyone here wants to kill me?"

"We weren't trying to kill you," Bendy protested. "We just wanted you to leave."

Joey sighed. "Bendy, we talked about this. I'll be gone soon, and I want you and the others to be in good hands."

So that's why he called me back, Henry realized, watching as Bendy ran to Joey, turning into a three-dimensional copy of his cartoon self as he did so. He needs someone to care for Bendy and his friends.

"I don't want to leave!" Bendy wailed. "I love you, Papa Joey! We all do!"

Leaning forward, Joey allowed Bendy to hop into his lap, pulling him close. "I know, and I wish you didn't have to go either. But I know Henry, and I trust him. Even if he can't take you in himself, he can definitely make sure you and the others will be OK."

"You can say that again."

Taking Bendy into his arms, Henry stroked his head between his horns.

"Don't worry, bud. I'm not gonna let anything bad happen to you, or the others. Now, let's go find them."

Setting Bendy down, he picked up his axe, taking one last look at Joey as they left.

Guess I was wrong, he thought. You haven't changed at all, Joey.

Chapter Text

He had reached the end of his descent, and while he had started his journey alone, Henry certainly wasn't anymore. Throughout his trek, his search for a way out had turned to a quest to free the Toons, along with whoever else he could save.

Now, alongside Bendy, Boris, Alice, the Butcher Gang, the Projectionist, and the Prophet (who he now knew to be Aaron, the former band conductor and would-be protege of Sammy Lawrence), he was ready to confront Joey and put an end to his former friend's malice.

"Here we are," he said, approaching the door. "Let's do this."

Opening the door, he stepped into a vast altar room, the marble walls and floor covered in pentagrams and ink stains. Rows of torches provided the only illumination, though there was plenty of it.

In the middle of the room was a gigantic inky abomination, which they all knew had to be Joey. From the waist up, the former studio director now resembled Bendy's monster form, albeit with two solid white orbs for eyes and an open mouth full of sharp teeth. His lower half was simply a mass of ink, not unlike that of a Searcher.

"There you are," he said. "I was hoping you'd reach me, though I didn't expect you to bring company."

"We know the truth," Bendy said. "We're not afraid of you any more."

"Doesn't mean you can stop me," Joey leered. "I have achieved perfection--something none of those fools following you could. Now, I am god of this place."

With a wave of his hand, ink poured into the room, forming a two inch deep pool around him from which numerous mindless clones emerged.

"Even gods can fall, Joey." Streams of ink swirled around Henry as his tone grew more confident, though he did not raise his voice, it still rang loud and clear. "I couldn't care less about perfection. The beings you created--Toons and otherwise--they do not deserve to suffer because you can't handle a few flaws. You call yourself their master, but you are not worthy."

"And I suppose you think you are?" Joey growled.

"I don't want to be their master," Henry retorted. "But I am willing to be their friend. And if that means I have to stay here the rest of my life, then so be it. Giving them a chance to be happy is worth hell."

With that, he charged forward, forming an axe from ink. Behind him, Bendy and Alice started issuing commands.

"Do whatever you have to so that he can take Joey down!" Bendy ordered the Searchers.

"Watch his back, and do not let a single enemy live!" Alice chimed in.

Nodding determinedly, the Searchers, Aaron, and the Projectionist leapt into the fray. Meanwhile, Boris looked around the room, spotting a lever.

"Cover me!" he called to the Butcher Gang.

They did so, keeping whatever clones tried to attack the wolf as he ran to the lever. Pulling it caused several crates to drop, crushing a number of clones. At the same time, the ink pool grew, soon turning into a vast lake of black. Undeterred, Henry took to using the crates as platforms.

"Enough of this!" Joey roared. Reaching out, he extended his arms, trying to either grab Henry or pierce him with sharp talons. Before either of them could reach him, Aaron and the Projectionist ran in front of him. The latter grabbed the hand trying to crush him and pinned it to the ground. Aaron was not so lucky--letting out a cry of pain as he was pierced by the beast's talons, he barely had time to look over at Henry before he went still.

"NO!"

"Fool," snarled Joey. "Why bother sacrificing yourself for these wastes of ink?"

"Because they're not," Henry declared. "They're not just cartoons for our portrayal. They are alive."

"I'M THEIR CREATOR!"

"No," Bendy said, transforming into his monster form. "You are a traitor. And you. Die. Tonight."

A pair of batlike wings emerged from Bendy's back, and he took to the air. Grabbing Henry, he carried the animator to a point over Joey's head. Henry raised his axe high as Bendy released him, driving it into the head of the abomination that had once been his friend. With a howl of despair, it melted into lifeless ink.

Satisfied that he had ended the terror once and for all, Henry let himself collapse. Just before he blacked out completely, he saw Bendy--no longer in monster form, but still with wings--flying down to catch him.

Chapter Text

"This had better be important, Joey," Aaron growled. "Sammy needs me in the recording hall this afternoon."

"Oh, it is important, Aaron. There's something I need you to do."

"And what's so important that you made me come down to this blasted--"

Without warning, the band conductor felt a pair of hands shove him roughly. He fell forward, landing in the ink vat with a splash.

"I'm sorry, my friend," Joey said ruefully as he looked down. "But I gave my word to Bendy that he and his friends would have physical forms again. Fear not, though. You will be part of something great."

A few hours later, Aaron awoke, transformed not only in body but in mind. He had seen so much during his time in the black depths. Where once he sought only to prove himself to Sammy, he was now loyal only to the spirit who had kept the studio afloat.

So when the company moved to a new studio, he remained behind, turning the old workshop into a cathedral dedicated to Bendy. If not for the False Angel's presence, it would have been the perfect shrine.
--------------------
"Look, Mommy! Is that a robot?"

Blinking in confusion, Bendy followed the little boy's finger to see he was pointing at Norman.

"Huh, he's right. You do look kind of like a robot."

Norman just shrugged as he sat down. Edgar scrambled into his lap, while Charley and Barley perched on Boris's legs. Bendy and Alice sat down next to him, and Sammy took a seat on their other side.

"So where are we going?"

"I guess we'll figure it out when we get there," Sammy shrugged. "But the further we are from the studio, the better."

The doors closed, and the train began to move.
--------------------
"So lemme get this straight--you guys lost a game of dice against your world's version of the Devil, and he made you go debt collecting to avoid losing your souls."

"Pretty much." Cuphead gave a shrug, then grinned. "But afterwards, we kicked his butt and set everyone free."

"What about you?" asked Mugman. "What's your game like?"

"Let me put it this way," Bendy said. "My game is to Disney stuff what Madoka is to Sailor Moon."

Cuphead and Mugman shuddered.

"That doesn't sound good."
--------------------
"Wow, there are a lot of explosions in these movies." Bendy narrowed his eyes as he peered at the screen. "Did he just get impaled through the eye?"

"Yes, he got impaled through the eye," Sammy said. "Now please be quiet. I'm trying to watch."

"At least he's not calling you 'My Lord' like that whacko clone did," Wally remarked.

"Franks, be quiet. You're ruining the movie."

A few minutes later, Thomas emerged from the bathroom, rejoining the group.

"Can't say I'm surprised Boris and the girls aren't watching," he commented. "But Henry? I thought you didn't like horror movies."

"After living through a real-life horror movie?" Henry laughed. "This isn't quite so scary."

"I still think we should skip the elevator scene," Shawn piped up. "First time I saw it, I threw up."

"Don't blame you," Grant agreed. "Might give Bendy and the Butcher Gang nightmares."
--------------------
"Susie! It's so good to see you!"

"Good to see you too, Mary," Susie said with a smile. "How long has it been?"

"Much too long," Mary answered. "Who's your friend?"

"Actually, he's my fiancee." Susie gestured for Sammy to join them. "Sammy, I'd like you to meet Mary Mills. She and I were friends as little girls."

"It's Mary Storm now, actually." Mary held up her hand to reveal a ring on her finger. "That's my husband Franklin up at the front desk."

Following Mary's gaze, Susie noticed the man in question--slightly older than the two women--filling out a form.

"By the way, do you remember how we agreed that whichever of us got married first would have to name their oldest daughter after the other?"

Chapter Text

"How's she doing?"

"Well, the good news is that she's stable," Hank said with a relieved smile. "She's in no danger of dying anytime soon."

"If ever," commented Bendy. "Toons are stupidly hard to kill."

"What I don't understand," Scott remarked. "Is why she didn't end up falling apart the way Fitzroy did."

"Ah'm not sure," admitted Rogue, emerging from the infirmary. She'd shrunk about half a foot in height, in addition to losing all color in her skin and hair. "Ah remember trying to get Alice to safety. Long as Ah could do that, it didn't matter what happened to me."

Logan put a finger to his chin. "Fitzroy panicked. You didn't. Maybe that's why you're still in one piece."

"In any event," Hank continued. "She no longer possesses her energy absorption powers. Apparently they've been replaced by the same abilities possessed by Bendy and the other Toons."

"Guess means you ain't gonna hurt me if I do this," chuckled Remy, pinching the Southern belle's cheek and making it stretch out slightly further than a normal human's. Rogue swatted him, which sent him flying into a wall.

"As you've probably noticed, she still possesses the powers absorbed from Ms. Marvel."

While Hank went to help Remy up, Bendy gave Rogue a mischievous look. "Oh, I am gonna have a lot of fun showing you the ropes."

"Oh, great," Logan groaned. "He's going to turn her into Little Miss Mischief, isn't he?"

"Actually," Rogue said with a smile. "Maybe...just Mischief."

Chapter Text

"Just leave me," Bendy sniffed. "After everything I did..."

"No, Bendy." Henry knelt down beside him. Gently, he turned the Toon's head so they were looking directly at each other.

"Boris and Alice told me everything. They told me about what Joey did to you, and how it made you lose trust in humans. They told me how you three used the machine to make copies of the people who used to work here so you wouldn't be alone, even though you never met them."

Standing nearby with Boris and the Butcher Gang, Alice nodded sadly. Between their lack of knowledge about the former employees of the studio, the grudge they held because of Joey's actions, and the fact that unlike a body and mind, a soul could not be duplicated, the clones had come out horribly wrong, twisted physically and mentally. Luckily, she, Boris, and the original Butcher Gang had managed to hide safely until Henry came back.

"I know you feel like I broke my promise to come back, and believe me, I wish I'd come back sooner. But there's a quote from a movie that I think is kind of fitting here." He took a deep breath. "ʻOhana means family. Family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten."

"Do...do you really think of us as...as family?"

"I do. Let's go, Bendy."

He rubbed Bendy's face with a small cloth, before wrapping Bendy in a blanket and holding him close.

"It's going to be OK," he reassured the little demon, whose arms were wrapped around his shoulders. "I'm taking you and the others home."

Chapter Text

"Where'd did you learn to do all that stuff?"

"After I quit working here, I started acting in movies," Susie explained. "Originally I played Disney princess-type girls--gentle, all-loving, wouldn't hurt a fly. But after an incident on set, I discovered I could play tough girls too. In fact, that's how I got the role of Valerie Strong, the star of Lesser Key. She was a secretary who found out she was part of a secret project to create super spies."

A nostalgic smile briefly crossed her face. "That role landed me my first Oscar."

"Wow," Edgar said in awe. "You're really lucky to be such a star."

"Not as lucky as Wally, Shawn, Thomas, or Grant," Susie admitted. "Joey didn't get them."

For a moment, she looked crestfallen, but then her expression changed to one of determination as she turned to the Butcher Gang.

"But I'm getting out of here. And I'm bringing you with me."

Chapter Text

Much as Henry wanted to leave the nightmare that had once been the old studio, he was determined to bring as many people and Toons with him as he could. So when the woman calling herself Alice (whom he strongly suspected was Allison Pendle) offered to let him leave in exchange for a few favors, he'd requested that she give him information instead. She had accepted, agreeing to answer one question for each task.

It hadn't been easy, but he'd done all she'd asked of him. Now, the moment of truth.

"OK, first question. I know you're not Susie Campbell--from Boris told me, you've been down here too long, even with the time field. So with that in mind, am I correct in assuming you were once Allison Pendle?"

After a pause, she nodded. "Joey wanted a better Alice Angel. For whatever reason, he chose me to fill that role."

"How?"

"With the Ink Machine, of course. He injected me with ink and threw me inside. I emerged as a shapeless mass of ink, nowhere near as human-looking as Sammy, so I was thrown back in. The second time I emerged, it was in a more correct form."

"And the...dissections? What are those for?"

"Joey told me I could use the various clones that have been running around to finish the job."

She held up three fingers. "Two questions left."

Henry bit his lip, thinking. Finally, he asked the question he most needed her to answer. "Do you know of anyone else here? Besides me, Sammy, and the Toons, I mean."

Allison closed her eyes for a moment. "Let's see...I know the Butcher Gang created a duplicate or two of Norman, whom you defeated. I also noticed Susie arrived recently, and she's sticking close to the old Alice. Them aside, I know there are at least four others--I'm not sure who they are--who returned, but are still human and sane. If there's anyone else, I haven't seen them."

Henry noticed that as she answered his questions, Allison had become far less psychotic. He wasn't sure how long this would last, however, so he had to act now.

"Do you want to come with us?"

Allison blinked, clearly caught off guard by the question. "What?"

"You don't deserve to be stuck here any more than the rest of us," Henry said. "I don't plan on staying here, but the more people who leave with me, the better."

She still looked unconvinced, so he sweetened the deal. "I could probably find something in Joey's notes to help fix you--a way that doesn't involve cutting up anyone."

Less than five minutes later, the two departed the sanctuary, off to rejoin the others.

(BATIM)

Sammy glanced from side to side as he made his way down the halls, keeping watch for any sign of 'Bendy'. He'd offered to keep the ink demon distracted so Henry could complete those tasks for 'Alice' with one less major distraction. Unfortunately, 'Bendy' seemed to have lost interest in him.

"Maybe I should go looking for that thing, if only to make sure he hasn't got Henry."

Just then, he heard a loud whirring noise coming from further down the passageway, as well as the sound of someone panting as they ran. Thinking quickly, he ducked into an alcove and pressed himself against a wall, feeling his body flatten to almost paper-thinness. He tried not to chuckle as he remembered how often he'd seen cartoon characters get squashed into living pancakes.

Suddenly, there was a bright flash, forcing Sammy to close his eyes. When he opened them again, Norman was standing nearby, hands on his knees as he caught his breath. He was also glowing faintly--he was most likely the source of the flash.

Returning to normal, Sammy approached him.

"Norman? Are you OK?"

The somewhat younger looking man--Sammy suspected that reversion to one's prime was a side effect of the ink--looked up. "Sammy? Damn, can't believe you're here. Thought you'd have avoided this place like the plague after it shut down."

"I only came back to tell Joey to leave me alone," the ex-music director explained. "But he stuck me with a syringe, and up until recently, I was wandering the music department, completely out of my mind."

A loud screech caught their attention, and they turned to see a hulking form emerge--mostly human in shape, but with a projector for a head, large film reels sticking out of its shoulders, and a speaker-like device in its chest.

"Shit!" Norman swore. "We gotta run!"

Much to their dismay, a horde of Butcher Gang clones blocked their path. Fortunately, behind said horde, Susie and Alice came running up, the latter whipping out a mallet and squashing the copies flat.

"Hang on!" Susie called. "We're coming!"

Letting out a screech, the projector monster charged forward, only for Sammy to wrap himself around the beast. It tried to throw him off, but Sammy just tightened his grip.

"Don't know how long I can hold him!" he called. "Little help here?"

In response, Susie gestured, and a crate floating nearby rose out of the ink. Sammy barely had time to pull away before the crate slammed into the monster's head. Letting go as it fell to the floor, he pulled himself back to normal proportions.

"Are you OK?" Alice asked, helping Sammy to his feet.

"Yeah," he replied. "It'll take more than that to put me out of action."

Norman tried and failed to conceal a laugh. Susie gave him a look.

"Save the jokes for later."

Closing her eyes, she placed her fingers to her temples, reaching out to mentally converse with Henry. Finally, she turned to the others.

"He's up on Level 9, and he's unharmed. That monster didn't get him."

Sammy sighed in relief. "Good. Let's head up, shall we?"

Chapter Text

"Dear God," Henry gasped, looking over the instruments. "So many people, just...erased."

Boris whimpered quietly in fear, Wally placing a hand on his shoulder.

"I'm just glad none of you guys disappeared," said Bendy. "Dunno what I'd do if I lost you."

"But why are we still here?" Sammy wondered aloud. "Something tells me it's not just dumb luck."

"While I was flying over the city, there was this strange black glow around me," Susie piped up. "And I felt like something was trying to grab me."

"Same here," Norman chimed in.

"Do you think...the ink protected us?" Alice wondered. "Everybody at Sillyvision got exposed to it, even if most didn't end up like Sammy or Allison."

"Maybe," Allison mused. "That definitely wasn't ordinary ink in the machine."

"Doesn't mean I'm grateful to Joey," growled Sammy, folding his arms. "He's still a goddamn lunatic."

"So what do we do?"

"Shawn, Thomas, and Grant are checking to see who's safe," Henry answered. "Meanwhile, there's bound to be chaos going on outside. We are going to make sure there are as few additional casualties as possible."

Everyone nodded.

"And if we can do anything to fix what went wrong," Bendy added. "So much the better."

Chapter Text

"Let him go, Sammy." Bendy appeared in the doorway. "He's here to help."

"O-of course, my Lord."

Hastily, the ink man undid the ropes binding Henry to the pole. "I thought you'd be angry with him, seeing as how he left this place behind so long ago."

"A) that wasn't really his fault, and b) he's here to help. I snuck in a note with Joey's letter telling him what was going on."

Sammy nodded in understanding. "If I might ask, how did he acquire his current form?"

"Bendy thought blending in might help, and I can't say he's wrong." Henry took out a small piece of paper and a pen. "Think I've got the whole hammerspace thing down now."

He put a check next to Sammy's name. "So who else is here? I know Wally, Susie, Shawn, and Thomas are OK."

Sammy tapped the mask's chin in thought. "Offhand, I know there are at least two others--Norman Polk and Allison Pendle. Unfortunately, they probably won't be as...cooperative as I am."

"Why? What happened to them?"

"After we turned against him, Joey tried turning Allison into a new Alice," explained Bendy. "She kinda...went nuts as a result. Got all obsessed with bein' perfect, and started cutting up Boris clones."

"I thought Joey was responsible for the one upstairs."

Bendy nodded. "He was. That's where she got the idea. Now let's get going. There's a safehouse a few floors down. Boris is waitin' for us there."

Chapter Text

When she took Alice from the studio, Susie had made her two promises--first, that she would never have to go back, and second, that she would never leave the angel behind again. However, Joey had sent a few of his minions to retrieve the angel, and much to her dismay, Susie couldn't stop them from abducting Alice. Thus, she accompanied Henry back to the studio less than a few days later. But it wasn't until she'd stopped Henry from running out the door after turning on the Ink Machine (and fallen into the basement with him) that she revealed why she'd accompanied him. Much as Henry wanted to get away from 'Bendy', he hadn't protested when she said she wasn't leaving without Alice.

After an encounter with an inky clone of Sammy, the two of them had encountered 'Bendy' again. Not wanting the monster to get both of them, they'd split up, with Susie eventually finding her way down to the prototype amusement park. Alice, who was thankfully not seriously harmed, was hiding down there with the original Butcher Gang. Happily reunited, the girls set off to find Henry, joined by the Butcher Gang.

Along the way, they found Lacie, who'd been turned into a Toon resembling a taller version of Alice, and Boris, who'd barely managed to escape a maddened Allison Pendle. The former mechanic managed to assemble a new arm for the wolf, as well as fix his voice. Unfortunately, there wasn't anything she could do to fix herself, but she didn't really seem to mind much. Eventually, they found Henry, and with his help, they were able to find the real Bendy and leave the studio once and for all.

Only a few months later, all nine of them were headed to meet their friends and former coworkers at the Survivors' reunion. In that time, they'd been residing together, determined to keep their little family together. Truth be told, it wasn't easy dealing with six kids, but Susie didn't mind.

After all, a mother will do whatever it takes for the sake of her children.

Chapter Text

"Quiet down, everybody!"

Hearing Jack's shout, the gathered Searchers, Toons and other assorted ink creatures immediately ceased their chatter and paid attention, eager to hear why the first Searcher had called this meeting.

"Thank you. Lens, if you would?"

Nodding, the Projectionist tapped the side of his head. Upon the wall behind Jack, a list of names was projected:

-Henry Walters
-Wally Franks
-Sammy Lawrence
-Susie Campbell
-Norman Polk
-Shawn Flynn
-Allison Pendle
-Thomas Connor
-Grant Cohen
-Lacie Benton

Many more names followed, a few of which were marked with an X.

"You all know this, right? The list of folks who Joey ain't calling back, for one reason or another?"

Everyone nodded.

"Something or someone made it so as long as there were people on that list in town, no one who came in here would be able to exit the barrier around the studio--assuming, of course, that they became ink or a Toon."

"But almost everyone on the list moved away, and the rest passed on," continued Aaron, adjusting his mask as he joined Jack at the front of the room. "So now that they're 'out of harm's way,' the barrier grew to cover the town."

Les raised a hand. "Uh, suppose one of 'em comes back...?"

"Not gonna happen," Jack reassured the voice actor-turned-cartoon sailor. "The barrier also keeps the folks on the list out. If they get too close, they'll get the urge to turn back, and even if they wanted to get in, they couldn't."

Aaron gestured to the Projectionist, who tapped his head, causing the list to be replaced by a birds-eye view map of the town. Nodding his thanks, the former band conductor continued.

"As I was saying, now that the barrier covers the town, we aren't stuck in here any more. However, there's still the other townspeople to keep in mind. They don't know what's happened to us, and they may take it badly. In addition, the ink isn't confined to the studio any more either--the barrier is the only thing keeping it contained. So the way I see it, it's only a matter of time before it gets out of the studio."

"Which leads us to this," Jack continued, gesturing to the Projectionist, who replaced the map with two rows of small pictures. Each of the pictures in the top row depicted two stick figures, one of which was clearly intended to be Bendy while the other was a person. The Bendy figure in each picture was engaged in some form of cartoon antics with the human as his target. In the set on the bottom row, however, each human stick figure was replaced by a crude drawing of a grinning Searcher or laughing copy of Bendy.

"You all know of the ink's transformative effects on living things. And you know what we're capable of doing. In all frankness, I figure a 'preemptive strike', so to speak, will make things go more smoothly than just waiting and letting the ink do all the work."

"Getting it over with quickly versus dragging it out," Johnny summarized.

Jack nodded before stretching an arm to point to a few of the pictures. "Remember when we found out that using Toon physics on someone who isn't a Toon turns 'em into one? Between that, and how easy it is to make new Searchers, it shouldn't be hard to get the job done."

He looked around. "Any questions?"

"Just one." Les raised his hand. "When do we start?"

Everyone nodded. More than a few of them had loved ones they wanted to see again, and they had the chance to bring them in to join the party.

This was going to be fun.

Chapter Text

Leaning back against the wall of his cell, Henry closed his eyes, losing himself in thought. It had been six years since he'd been locked up for Jack Fain's murder--a crime he did not commit--and he still had twenty-four years to go.

Much to his relief, the majority of his former coworkers believed in his innocence, to the point where they'd quit after Joey refused to show support for the animator. Since then, they'd gotten jobs at other animation companies, which had done wonders for their well-being, especially their psychological health. In fact, Wally, Sammy, Susie, Norman, Shawn, Allison, Thomas, Grant, and Lacie (all of whom visited him whenever possible) had gotten hired by Disney, which probably infuriated Joey.

Briefly, he thought of his former boss, half-wondering if the man had anything to do with the disappearances of a few of the other former employees. Grant mentioned during his last visit that Joey had sent letters to the missing ones, but not to anyone who was now working for Disney.

Probably because they're dead to him, Henry thought.

An unfamiliar dripping sound caught his attention. Opening his eyes, he saw drops of black liquid falling from the ceiling, forming a puddle on the floor.

"Ink?" he wondered aloud.

Looking up, he saw a large black patch, almost like a cartoon pitfall, had appeared on the ceiling. A moment later, a white-gloved hand with four fingers popped out, feeling around for something.

"Henry? You there?"

Henry's eyes widened in shock. "Bendy?"

Sure enough, the familiar face of the Dancing Demon poked his head out. Blinking in confusion, he looked around before giving a sheepish grin.

"Whoops. Sorry about that. It's usually easier if I know where I'm going." He looked into the pitfall. "You got a hold of me, right pal?"

There was a pause, after which Bendy nodded in response to some unheard reply. Then he stuck his hands out.

"Grab on, and let's go."

"Wait, wait." Henry waved his hands about in confusion. "Could you maybe, I don't know, explain what's going on here?"

"Long story," Bendy answered. "I'll tell you this, though--we know you didn't kill Jack, and we're gonna help you prove it."

Pleasantly surprised to hear this, Henry took hold of Bendy's hands.

When the guards came around the next morning, they were surprised to find the cell empty, with nothing but a puddle of ink on the floor.

Chapter Text

They were so close to freedom. Only one thing stood in their way.

The monster that had once been Joey Drew.

In a last ditch attempt to destroy them, Joey had unleashed the full brunt of the Ink Machine's power. The resulting flood had already put all the remaining clones out of their misery, leaving Henry, his three companions, and his former friend as the only living things within the studio's walls.

Yet even as Henry struggled to stay afloat, having already dropped his weapon to lighten the load, he refused to give up. In fact, he was certain he was getting out--with the others.

"Henry!" Alice shouted. "Take my hand!"

Reaching out, Henry grasped hold of Alice's hand. Upon doing so, he found himself rising out of the ink. For a brief moment, he was caught off guard, but then, he remembered what Joey said about belief. A surge of determination shot through him as he reached out to Boris.

"Grab on, pal."

Pulling Bendy into his arms, the wolf took hold. All four rose higher, the ink growing further away beneath them.

"No!" shrieked Joey. "How?!?"

"Belief can make you powerful," Henry reminded him. "In my case, it's belief in the bonds I have with these wonderful creations--the ones you cast aside like they meant nothing."

"He didn't give up when that fake Alice tried to cut me up."

"He promised to get us out, and let us meet the people who worked here."

"He cares about us, unlike you."

"That is why you lose, Joey. As long as we all stand together...it doesn't matter how powerful you are. We can take whatever you throw at us. Like the song says...you will never break the chain."

Closing their eyes, they allowed the power of belief to carry them up to the top floor, where they stepped onto solid ground once again.

"So...it's over?"

"Yeah, it's over." Henry gave Bendy a tired smile. "Let's go home."

Chapter Text

After Joey turned Jack, Norman, Bertrum, and the park staff into monsters, Alice had torn up what she thought were the rest of the letters her creator had planned to send. It seemed, however, that she missed one. So when Henry returned to the studio, she followed him in secret, making sure to stay out of sight in case that failed draft who had somehow remade herself--AKA Malice--found her. In doing so, she noticed a number of odd things about the animator.

First of all, it had been almost thirty years since he'd worked for Joey, yet he didn't seem much older than in the pictures she'd seen of him. Second, he cast no reflection or shadow. Third, he seemed able to shrug off injuries that would kill an ordinary human.

Not to mention, if she looked closely, she could see his ears and teeth were somewhat pointier.

As he followed Boris into the safehouse, Alice sighed. Hopefully, she'd get to ask him later. Meanwhile, she needed to check on the Lost Ones and make sure Malice hadn't gotten to them.

Chapter Text

Deep within the lower levels of the toy department, a disfigured woman shuddered as a thick glob of ink fell away from her body, landing on the floor with a squelching noise. As it rose into a vaguely humanoid form, she hastily turned and retreated toward the elevator. Muttering a few curses in Japanese, she hit the button for Level 9 with her elbow, as she was carrying a squirming Fisher.

Once, she had been known as Tomie Kawakami, a creature who was the very embodiment of lust. She traveled the world, seducing men and manipulating them for her own amusement. In the end, they would kill her, but she would always come back, for she possessed incredible powers of regeneration.

But then she encountered a man named Murray Hill, who had somehow found a way to immunize himself to her charms. Pretending to fall for her, he tricked her into accompanying him to an old animation studio, where Joey Drew forced her into his Ink Machine, attempting to turn her into a living version of Alice Angel. Her regenerative abilities saw the ink as something akin to a virus, and tried to get rid of it, but the ink's power was too strong. As a result, she became a deformed version of Alice. Furious at the loss of her beauty, she took to disemboweling clones of the other Toons, using their ink to try and fix herself.

While she normally remained close to her sanctuary, sending others to do her bidding, she would sometimes go wandering if she needed some fresher air. Usually, she went down to the warehouse where the equipment for Bendy's Inferno--Joey's planned theme park--was stashed. A few months after her first visit there, she encountered a few of the park staff--the park idea had fallen through, and they were there to retrieve the equipment for their boss. Not wanting them to reveal her existence, she killed them, only for them to revive as inky shadows of their former selves. When news of their disappearance got out, others were sent to find them, who met the same fate. Eventually, their boss had come to investigate himself, and she had a great deal of fun breaking the haughty fool's mind before stuffing his corpse into a carousel.

Her reminiscence was interrupted by the ding of the elevator reaching Level 9. Checking for any sign of the Ink Demon or other monsters, she carried the still-struggling clone of Barley into her sanctuary, humming to herself.

Chapter Text

Hello, everyone!

As of today, I will be accepting writing prompts from my readers. However, I do have one caveat:

RESPECT THE SAFETY LIST.

I am pretty sensitive about certain characters not being harmed, so please do not ask me to violate the list and put said characters in harm's way. You can find the safety list here for reference.

Feel free to post your requests as reviews in this or other stories.

Chapter Text

"Is something wrong?"

Alice glanced up at Susie. "What do you mean?"

"You've been giving Allison funny looks all evening."

Putting down the book she'd been trying to focus on, Alice sighed. "When we were getting changed earlier, I noticed there were scars near her...what's the word...nether regions." She bit her lip as she looked at Allison. "Did Joey do that to you?"

For a moment, Allison said nothing as everyone looked at her. When the SHIELD doctors fixed her face--done in exchange for her permission to remove the implanted horns and halo--they were unable to remove the scar on her chest where Alice had stabbed her. She considered that scar a reminder of what she had done during her time as a prisoner of the studio. Likewise, those other scars were also a reminder.

"No, those weren't Joey's doing," she finally said. "Do you remember how I told you about the Red Room?"

All three Toons nodded. "It's the place you were trained in."

"Once I completed my training, I was forced to undergo surgery--the others called it a 'graduation ceremony.' Basically, they..."

Here, Allison took a breath to calm herself.

"They sterilized me."

Most of the humans present in the room looked horrified, but the Toons were confused.

"You don't mean like that liquid soap stuff, right?" Boris asked.

Allison shook her head. "No, not like hand sanitizer sterile."

"It means she can't have kids," explained Henry. "They made it so she can't get pregnant."

Hearing that, the Toons looked just as horrified.

"That's terrible!" Alice cried. "Why would they do that?"

"Because they felt if I couldn't get pregnant, I wouldn't consider starting a family. One less reason to leave."

"Guess they forgot about adoption," Sammy remarked. "No reason you can't take in a kid who doesn't already have a family."

Reaching over, Susie squeezed Allison's hand comfortingly. It was clear that the other woman had a lot of scars, physical and emotional. But they'd be there for her. There was no way they'd let her go through her recovery alone.

Chapter Text

Looking down at the audio player in his hand, Henry bit his lip. Most of the ex-workers whose recordings he'd found had never looked back after leaving. Unlike him, they had no reason to return. Sammy had considered paying Joey a visit, if only to tell his former boss to leave him alone, but had decided against it after Jack, Norman, and Allison disappeared.

"God, how many others did Joey do these horrible things to?"

"You said Wally, Sammy, Susie, Shawn, Thomas, Grant, and Lacie are all OK," Allison said, counting on her fingers. "The only others I know about are the people who worked on Bendy Land. Most of the others were smart enough not to come back here."

Boris patted her shoulder comfortingly, eliciting a sad smile.

Up ahead, the Projectionist flashed his light three times. Henry gave a nod.

"No sign of Bendy up there, but we should still be careful. Let's keep going."

Chapter Text

"Who is it?"

"It's me."

The door opened, and Allison let Susie in. For a minute or two, they just looked at each other.

"I'm sorry I said those things to you," Susie finally began, only for Allison to hold up a hand, cutting her off.

"No, don't apologize. You thought I was going to take Fleecemon away from you."

"But...but I..."

"It's just as much my fault as it is yours," Allison said. "I was jealous of you, and not just about the whole Tamer thing. You don't know what my life was like before your parents adopted me. Compared to me, you had it easy. But that wasn't an excuse for me to be such a jerk to you. So I'll forgive you, if you'll forgive me."

"Yeah," Susie agreed, a smile appearing on her face. "I think I can do that."

As they hugged, Fleecemon let out a sigh of relief. Things could only go uphill from this point.

Maybe someday, Allison will have a partner of her own.

Chapter Text

When I was just a little girl,
My mama used to tuck me into bed,
And she'd read me a story.
It always was about a princess in distress
And how a guy would save her
And end up with the glory.

Once upon a time, there was a cartoon angel. And she was beautiful. And loved by all. She was a perfect little angel.

But one day, she decided she didn't want to be a perfect little angel any more.

I'd lie in bed
And think about
The person that I wanted to be,
Then one day I realized
The fairy tale life wasn’t for me.

She'd heard about both of her voice actresses--how they'd been strong independent women who wouldn't let themselves be used by Joey. She'd heard how Joey had made the switch from Susie to Allison after the former rejected his advances, and how this ultimately led to their permanent departure.

And she wanted to be like that.

I don’t wanna be like Cinderella,
Sitting in a dark, cold, dusty cellar,
Waiting for somebody to come and set me free
I don’t wanna be like someone waiting
For a handsome prince to come and save me
Oh, I will survive
Unless somebody's on my side
Don't wanna be no, no, no one else.
I’d rather rescue myself.

Unfortunately, Joey didn't accept that she didn't want to be the docile sweetheart any longer, prompting him to create another Alice, who swiftly turned on him. Likewise, the Butcher Gang laughed at her when she told her fellow Toons how she was taking a new role.

But Bendy and Boris didn't laugh at all. In fact, they supported her, even helping her train.

Someday I'm gonna find someone
That wants somebody's soul, heart and mind
Who's not afraid to show that he loves me.
Somebody who will understand I'm happy just the way I am.
Don't need nobody taking care of me.

When the Ink Machine got out of control and started spewing out monsters, she and the boys took to hunting them down. Admittedly, she started having doubts when she learned that many of them believed themselves to have once been human, but a run in with Malice swiftly changed her mind, for she knew that the real Susie and Allison would have wanted her to be as strong-willed and unwilling to take crap from anyone as they were.

I will be there for him just as strong as he will be there for me.
When I give myself then it has got to be an equal thing.

Not long after Joey fell victim to Malice, the False Angel began doing gruesome experiments, cutting up the Butcher Gang--and later, their deformed copies--and using their organs to alter her appearance. Eventually, she tried to use Boris, but Alice was able to rescue him, though he did lose an arm in the process.

I don’t wanna be like Cinderella,
Sitting in a dark, cold, dusty cellar,
Waiting for somebody to come and set me free
I don’t wanna be like someone waiting
For a handsome prince to come and save me
Oh, I will survive
Unless somebody's on my side
Don't wanna be no, no, no one else.
I’d rather rescue myself.

From that point on, the two stuck together, doing everything in their power to interfere with Malice's plans. Meanwhile, Bendy used the ink from the lost arm to give himself the ability to turn into what he called his Ink Form. While he couldn't use hammerspace or any other aspects of Toon physics in that form, it did make him much stronger physically.

Much as Alice wished that Bendy would stick with her and Boris, she understood that he was the type to do his own thing, and so she let him act on his own.

I can slay my own dragons.
I can dream my own dreams.
My knight in shining armor is me.
So I'm gonna set me free.

Eventually, Bendy found out where Henry lived, and was able to send a letter inviting him back. True, things would have gone much more smoothly if the demon had shown himself in his Toon form, but given all the monsters running around, he felt it was safer for him to stay in Ink form.

Regardless, Alice and Boris eventually found Henry, and the angel was able to take Malice down for good. From there, it was easy to persuade the animator to help them destroy the machine. The icing on the cake was when Henry turned out to be just as supportive of Alice as Bendy and Boris were, especially when he said both of her voice actresses would be proud of her.

And they were.

I don’t wanna be like Cinderella,
Sitting in a dark, cold, dusty cellar,
Waiting for somebody to come and set me free
I don’t wanna be like someone waiting
For a handsome prince to come and save me
Oh, I will survive
Unless somebody's on my side

I don’t wanna be like Cinderella,
Sitting in a dark, cold, dusty cellar,
Waiting for somebody to come and set me free
I don’t wanna be like someone waiting
For a handsome prince to come and save me
Oh, I will survive
Unless somebody's on my side
Don't wanna be no, no, no one else.
I’d rather rescue myself.

Chapter Text

It had been almost a year since the 'Toon Henry' incident, and the cursed ink that had been extracted from the animator had supposedly been disposed of. But in reality, that particular mass of the substance had escaped into one of the closets, coalesced into a ball and quietly sat in isolation.

Now it was ready.

Without any sort of warning, the ink ball opened like a flower, revealing a small Toon that resembled Bendy, albeit with inverted horns, mitten-like gloves, and a necktie instead of a bow tie. He blinked in confusion at his surroundings before noticing the closet door was slightly open.

Crawling out from under the shelf, he emerged into a mostly empty hallway. Henry and Bendy were at the end of it, the animator telling the demon about something he did with his wife over the weekend. The new Toon gave an inquisitive chirping noise, prompting to look up. For a brief moment, the pay just looked at each other, then Henry finally spoke up.

"Bendy, go get Joey."

Chapter Text

Henry shivered involuntarily as he, Elphaba, Bendy, and Sheba gazed up at the octopus ride. There was a distinct feeling of wrongness emanating from it--the same kind of wrongness he'd felt coming from the Lost Ones. Clearly, while Joey hadn't subjected any of his former employees to that godforsaken machine, the amusement park staff hadn't been so lucky. In doing whatever it was that turned them into the Lost Ones, Joey had committed one of the most horrific sins known to man: severing the connection between his victims and their daemons.

"You see what I was talking about?" Bendy said with a slight whimper. "It's not like those other monsters. They didn't make you feel icky just looking at 'em."

"Because they weren't human," Elphaba growled. "So they never had daemons."

"I've only ever read about severing the bond," added Henry, feeling nausea building in his stomach. "The very idea of a human being without a daemon is just unnatural. It's like living without a heart or a brain."

Part of him wondered if he should go back and put the Lost Ones out of their misery. Given that they weren't like the other monsters he'd encountered in that they were once human, not to mention they weren't a threat, the only real reason he could think of to kill them would be as an act of mercy.

(BATIM)

Despite the knowledge that the creature now lying dead on the ground never had a daemon, and thus was not the wolf he'd befriended, Henry still felt like vomiting. He hadn't wanted to kill the poor beast, but from the howls and whimpers he'd heard, it had obviously been in horrible pain. While he hadn't exactly been able to ask permission, there was little doubt that like the Lost Ones, it was no longer suffering.

A scream of rage jolted him out of his thoughts. He spun around to see Malice running towards him, looking ready to strangle him. Suddenly, however, she emitted a strangled sound as a blade pierced her from behind. As it slid out again, she fell to the floor, lifeless.

Looking up from the body, Henry was surprised to see a less deformed Alice--albeit one without a halo--standing there, a sword in her hands and a nightingale daemon on her shoulder. To his immense relief, Boris and Natasha stood beside her, the former now having a mechanical arm.

"Boris!" Bendy cried out in delight.

Henry smiled as demon and wolf embraced, then turned to Alice.

"Nice timing."

"Thanks." Alice took out a cloth to wipe her sword. "Oh, this is Raphael, by the way."

"Pleased to meet you," greeted the bird. "Boris told us how you explained daemons to him."

As they spoke, Elphaba looked down at Malice's body. Though she had sensed the False Angel had never possessed a daemon, it was almost possible to mistake her for someone who was once human. But her behavior removed all doubt--unlike the angel who had slain her, Malice had never possessed a soul.

Chapter Text

Looking into the mirror, the woman commonly known as Malice placed her index and middle fingers to her cheek. That last dose of ink had done wonders for the right side of her face, removing the flaws and making it appear more like a human's.

Exactly as she wanted.

The first time she came out of the Ink Machine, she was nothing but a mass of living ink. Joey had forced her back in, and when she emerged again, she had taken the form of the original Alice Angel. The character had undergone a design change not long after her original voice actress quit, and since Joey couldn't decide which version he liked the best, he'd brought both of them to life, referring to the newer version as Allison in reference to her voice actress.

Like the other creations of the machine, they heard about the people who used to work in the studio, mainly from Joey and from the various tapes lying around. And the more the two Alices heard about Susie Campbell and Allison Pendle, the more they wanted to meet them. But Joey wouldn't let them leave, out of fear that as Toons, they would not be accepted by the outside world. So Alice decided that she would use the magical ink to turn herself into a human.

After much experimentation, she discovered that ink taken from the Searchers (the failed drafts) and her fellow Toons was the key, although it would take multiple doses to fully transform her. The fact that she would have to kill them was of little concern, as they would simply reemerge from the machine with their full memories and personalities intact. Joey, on the other hand, tried to stop her, only to be thrown into the machine during the struggle that ensued. When he emerged, he had become a deformed creature similar to Bendy. In his new form, he was much stronger and tougher physically, and she knew that she wouldn't stand a chance against him, so she secluded herself in a sanctuary of her own making, in order to avoid him finding her and forcing her back into the ink. On occasion, she would venture out to collect the ink and other materials she needed, using specially crafted hiding spots to avoid the Ink Demon that Joey had become.

During one of these trips, she found a letter Joey had written to his friend Henry, obviously an invitation to come and meet the Toons he'd created. This inspired her to lure the former workers, excluding those who did not have tapes lying around, back to the studio, theorizing that their guts would help her achieve her goal. Although most of those she invited did not return, a man named Bertrum Piedmont, who had once consulted on a Bendy-themed amusement park, showed up accompanied by some of his staff, believing Joey wanted to apologize for not giving credit where it was due. When Malice revealed her deception, they tried to flee, only for most of them to end up as the Lost Ones. Bertrum was fused with one of his rides, and went insane as a result.

It was this that prompted the 'perfect' Toons (Bendy, Boris, and Allison) to go into hiding, and Joey to finally send the letter to Henry in a desperate attempt to stop Malice from claiming anyone else. Malice made no effort to stop him, for to her, it didn't matter. As long as she could keep the Ink Demon at bay, it would be only a matter of time.

Soon, she would be human. And then the world would be her stage.

Chapter Text

After putting the Toons to bed, Joey made his way up to the music department, the failed drafts moving out of his path. He reached the recording hall and entered the booth, wiping ink out of his eyes as he made adjustments to the equipment. Once he'd adjusted the pitch to sound like Bendy, he began to speak into the microphone.

"Ladies and gentlemen, your attention please!

You are hereby charged with the following crimes:

-Theodore Bryar, your negligence in keeping your properties up to date with the safety codes led to the death of Nicole Benton.
-Samantha DiFornio, you persuaded Barry Gates to commit perjury in the trial of James Nolan, out of a grudge against prosecutor Grant Cohen.
-Abigail Erickson, you stalked Susan Campbell out of a belief that she was attracted to you, and attempted to kill Allison Pendle when she contacted the police.
-John Ferarra, you raped Ann Lawrence, resulting in her suicide one month later.
-William Heslup and Kate Heslup, you stole the identities of Rudolph and Laura Franks, forcing them to spend 3 years living with Rudolph's parents before they sufficiently recovered.
-Christopher Mitchell, you murdered Wade Flynn after he refused to pay protection money to your boss Dean Moretti.
-Bertrum Piedmont, you are responsible for the molestation of no fewer than twelve middle school children over a period of four years.
-Michael Sechooler, you burned a cross on the lawn of Malcolm Polk and his family.
-Daniel Wallace, you were among those responsible for a fire that claimed the life of Alvin Connor, and unlike the other two men, you never stood trial.

Prisoners at the bar, have you anything to say in your defense?"

After giving the recording a listen, he nodded in satisfaction. Now all he had to do was make sure it would match up to the animation he'd drawn up, and the stage would be set.

He was well aware that sacrifices had to be made in the pursuit of his goals, but he would never use innocent people, especially the people who used to work for him. So instead, he elected to use those who were not so innocent, including more than one person who'd attempted to cause serious harm to any of his former staff. While he had placed a charm on the workers whose misfortunes he was now avenging, ensuring their luck would generally remain far on the good side, those responsible for the misfortunes in question would be subjected to twice as much grief as they had inflicted, albeit in a different form. Joey had benefitted greatly from his accidental transformation into the Ink Demon, but those he brought justice upon would experience only suffering.

Yes, this would be quite the horror show.

Chapter Text

Kneeling on the floor, Joey traced the last of the requisite sigils in ink, careful to avoid accidentally smudging what he'd already drawn. Once the circle was completed, he picked up a piece of paper sitting atop one of the coffins and read the list of names upon it:

Lacie Benton
Susie Campbell
Grant Cohen
Thomas Connor
Shawn Flynn
Wally Franks
Sammy Lawrence
Allison Pendle
Norman Polk
Henry Walters

There were several more names following, all of which belonged to former studio employees.

Nodding in satisfaction, Joey set down the list. Everyone whose name was written there would be safe once this ritual was complete--not only from the spell he was going to use to bring the Toons to life, but also from the rogue Reaper Veles. Veles absolutely refused to take no for an answer and hunted down those who escaped him, often toying with them in much the same way a cat does with mice.

However, sacrifices still had to be made, so the Ink Machine sought out substitutes. Perhaps because of the protection spell, it paid special attention to Veles's victims, including the seven survivors of a plane explosion...

(BATIM)

Clear Rivers blinked in confusion as the world came back into focus. The last thing she remembered was looking into Eugene Dix's room, feeling relief that he wasn't dead yet. Now, she was lying on a couch in a small room, which also contained a dresser, a TV, a Tasty Eats machine, a trash can, and a coat hanger stand. Standing next to the couch was a cutout of a cartoon woman with an angelic halo and two small horns. Next to her sat a doll of the same woman and a tape recorder. There were also a couple of candles held in cut-up soup cans atop the dresser.

Getting up, Clear caught a glimpse of her reflection. To her surprise, she now resembled a taller version of the woman, though she didn't have a halo.

"What's going on?" she asked herself quietly.

A faint ringing sound caught her attention. Looking down, she spotted a faintly glowing ring by her feet, which she picked up. While it probably wouldn't float like a real halo, it didn't feel right to not wear it, so with a bit of fiddling, she was able to position it to resemble a headband.

Once that was done, she made her way out and started looking around. Eventually, she found her way to a room with memorabilia of the woman, and several TV screens lining the walls. Mere moments after she entered, the lights turned off and the screens turned on, the woman's face appearing on them.

"I'm the cutest little angel, sent from above,
And I know just how to swing.
I got a bright little halo, and I'm filled with love...
I'm Alice Angel!
I'm the hit of the party, I'm the belle of the ball,
I'm the toast of every town.
Just one little dance, and I know you'll fall...
I'm Alice Angel!
I ain't no flapper, I'm a classy dish,
And boy, can this girl sing.
This gal can grant your every wish..."

"NO! I'M ALICE ANGEL!"

Spinning around, Clear saw another woman standing in the doorway. Like her, the other woman bore some resemblance to Alice, but her horns were larger, her halo was partially merged with her head, and the left side of her face was melted (or swollen, Clear couldn't quite tell), with her teeth slightly exposed and one eye missing. Additionally, there was a thin line on her neck that had a few drops of ink, like her throat had been slashed.

Briefly, the image of another face flickered in Clear's mind--a face she recognized. Clear's eyes widened in horror.

"T-Terry?"

"Not any more," the woman who had once been Terry Chaney said, grinning wickedly. "I'm Alice Angel now."

Suddenly, her expression changed, as Clear got a flash of another familiar face--that of Valerie Lewton.

"Run, Clear," she said. "Find the others, and get out."

Without hesitation, Clear obeyed, running out as fast as she could with Terry's maddened laughter ringing in her ears.

If the others are here, I need to find them. And fast.

Chapter Text

Bendy didn't know who the man calling himself his Prophet originally was. Joey knew full well that most of the people who made those recordings would never have accepted an invitation back to this place. (The exception was Bertrum, since his ego made it impossible for him to pass up the chance at a possible apology from Joey Drew.)

Nonetheless, the man could still serve as a Prophet of sorts.

"Yeah, you're my Prophet all right. And you are going to spread the word for me."

"I...I don't understand."

"Then let me show you."

Holding out a hand, Bendy called on his ink manipulation powers, concentrating on the ink that composed the Prophet's body. Under his mental command, the man's limbs and torso stretched out, bending and contorting, but causing no pain. Plucking the mask from the Prophet's face, Bendy returned him to his normal proportions.

"Now you try. Just think about what shape you wanna take, and let the ink do the rest."

Still gazing down at himself in wonder, the Prophet nonetheless obeyed, his once featureless countenance morphing into a human face--not that of Sammy, Bendy noticed.

"Now do you see what the ink has done to you? It freed you from the limits of human shape. You may not be a Toon like Joey wanted, but this ain't so bad, is it?"

"No," the Prophet breathed. "And the others...are they...?"

Bendy nodded. "If they ain't Toons, then yeah. 'Course, being a Toon has its own perks, but still." He gestured to the doorway. "Now go, and spread the word."

Heart lightened by newfound understanding, the man did so. Watching him go, Bendy's grin widened. True, he couldn't turn any of Joey's victims back into humans, but he could get them to see the good in being made of ink or being Toons.

He Will Set Us Free, the writing on the wall said. But 'free' had more than one meaning.

Chapter Text

Joey Drew Studios had encountered visitors from other worlds before. First had been Sammy Wes Lawrence, whose return home had been...unsettling. Luckily, another visitor, a young lady who called herself Rosemary, had reassured them that he was fine--he had quit working for his version of Joey not long after he got back, as did his world's counterparts of the others, so by the time things went south, they were all out of harm's way. There had been a couple of others since then, and things had turned out all right for them too. From what Rosemary told them, in the majority of worlds in their part of the multiverse, either the counterparts of at least some of Joey's employees (always including Wally, Sammy, Susie, Norman, Shawn, Allison, Thomas, Grant, and Lacie) got out in time, or had nothing to fear from their boss. But unlike the previous visitors, the two latest newcomers--Barbara Johnson and her daughter Susie--had absolutely nothing to do with the studio, nor did they wish to return home.

"So your world's version of the studio closed down because my counterpart was invited to an underwater city called Rapture?" asked Joey.

"He said he had a better chance of making his dreams come true there," explained Barbara. "Fred, my husband, told me he was pretty strange, but apparently, he did give his workers rather generous severance packages, even if he felt like they didn't understand his beliefs."

Relief surged through Joey at the knowledge that his counterpart had not harmed any of the studio employees. "I'm almost afraid to ask, but what happened to him?"

"He started using a substance called ADAM," Barbara replied solemnly. "ADAM lets people alter their DNA, meaning they can change their appearance, get rid of health problems, even give them incredible powers. Unfortunately, most people can't handle it, and if they use too much, they become deformed and insane. I never touched it myself, although I was tempted to after Susie was nearly killed by a Big Daddy, but Fred..."

As Joey and Barbara continued to talk, Bendy noticed a brunette girl sitting on the floor, playing with a doll resembling a scuba diver. The weird people who brought her and her mom here said that she would one day be voicing a character here (not Alice, they'd been clear about that).

"Hi, I'm Bendy."

She looked up. "I'm Susie."

Bendy frowned slightly. "We got an older Susie here, and I don't wanna confuse anybody. You got a middle name?"

She nodded. "Uh-huh. May."

"OK, I'll call ya Susie May, then." He held out a hand to her. "Come on, I'll introduce you to everybody."

Chapter Text

(Zoom in on the Bendy head logo, which turns into the X-Men symbol. Shot of Bendy whipping out a giant mallet.)

Text (BATIM font): Bendy

(Shot of Henry placing a hand to his temples, projecting waves of psychic energy.)

Text (red energy): Mindset

(Shot of Wally leaping into the air, extending a fist as he comes down.)

Text (stone): Manpower

(Wally shatters the rock below with a punch. Shot of Boris hopping onto a ledge, curling his hand into a fist.)

Text (BATIM font): Boris

(Shot of Sammy transforming into his mist form. Retaining his human shape, he flies around the text.)

Text (cloudy): Mist

(Shot of Susie hovering in place. Holding up her hands, she fires several beams of light upwards as her butterfly aura appears.)

Text (glittering): Butterfly

(Shot of Norman surrounded by waves of energy, a large eye in the background.)

Text (illuminated): Argus

(Shot of Alice pulling her sword out of hammerspace and swinging it around.)

Text (BATIM font): Alice

(Shot of Allison hovering in the air, wings beating rapidly. Pulling off a spot from her arm, she tosses it off to the side, where it expands into a portal that she flies through.)

Text (red with black spots): Ladybug

(Shot of a blurred form zipping back and forth. It briefly pauses to reveal Shawn, who promptly dashes off again.)

Text (slightly blurry): Landspeed

(Shot of Thomas removing a metal sphere from his belt. He squeezes it, and I transforms into a pistol. With a quick twirl, he shoots a laser at the screen.)

Text (mechanical): Crafter

(Shot of Grant, whose body briefly coats itself with a silvery liquid. It disappears, revealing he's no longer visible.)

Text (transparent): Griffin

(Shot of Lacie crossing her arms, which morph into metal blades.)

Text (metallic): Switchblade

(Shots of the group in action against various enemies. Shot of the group running onto the Blackbird and taking off. Cut to the Bendy head logo.)

Text (underneath logo): X-MEN

Chapter Text

Henry could barely believe it. After what felt like an eternity, he was finally out of the studio, with Bendy, Boris, and Alice at his side. True, it wasn't easy getting Bendy to see that Henry wasn't with Joey, but it was worth the struggle. Now here they were at a Greyhound station, waiting to catch a ride out of town.

"Penny for your thoughts?"

"I was just wondering who else is still around," Boris said. "You're not the only one who Joey made immortal, are you?"

"Nope." Henry shook his head. "There are at least nine others--Sammy, Susie, Norman, Allison, Wally, Shawn, Thomas, Grant, and Lacie. I've been meaning to get together with them, but I've never been able to find the time. Maybe once we get back home..."

Just then, a bus pulled up, and the four of them boarded, ignoring the stares from the other passengers. They took their seats, and Henry pulled out his phone, turning it back on and sending a quick text to the others:

On my way home. Should be back in town by tomorrow at the latest. Got quite the story for you.

Putting his phone away, he sat back to watch the passing scenery. A particular song rising to the front of his mind, and he quietly began to sing.

"Let us be lovers,
We'll marry our fortunes together
I've got some real estate
Here in my bag
So we bought a pack of cigarettes
And Mrs. Wagner's pies
And walked off to look for America..."

Chapter Text

There are no words to describe how angry Joey was at that moment.

"Do you have ANY idea how long it took to contact Henry?" he was shouting. "Nearly thirty years since I lost touch with my friend. And when I finally managed to get him to come back, you put him through a horror show!"

The deformed copies of Bendy, Alice, Sammy, and the Butcher Gang hung their heads, looking like children who were caught with their hands in the cookie jar. Even after all they'd put him through--the knowledge that the Sillyvision staff were all fine had only done so much to comfort him--Henry couldn't help but feel a little sorry for them.

"Chasing him around the studio like you were going to murder him! Trying to sacrifice him! Making that elevator crash! And all those other tricks you played! He didn't find them funny, and neither do I!"

As Joey continued berating the increasingly guilty-looking ink creatures, Henry turned to look at the Projectionist and Allison. The former had been created when one of Norman's projectors had fallen into one the Ink Machine's collection vats.

"He's not going to...hurt them, is he?"

"Nah." It still surprised Henry how much the fusion of ink and machinery sounded like Norman, possibly because the projector had originally belonged to him. "Took Joey a lot of tries to get the results he wanted, but he wasn't going to get rid of the old drafts just because they weren't perfect. He lets us use this place as our stomping grounds since everybody else is working at the new studio."

"I'm sure Joey will come up with a suitable punishment," Allison said. "Most likely, it'll include an apology letter from each of them."

By this time, Joey had finished his lecture. Putting a hand on Henry's shoulder, he turned to the other two.

"I'm taking Henry and the Toons over to the new studio. Make sure these miscreants behave themselves until I come back."

The Projectionist and Allison threw sharp salutes. Nodding in satisfaction, Joey escorted his friend out to the car, Boris following them. In the back of the car, on-model versions of Bendy and Alice were waiting for them. Alice briefly got out to let Boris into the middle seat, while Henry took the passenger seat up front.

"Glad you're OK, pally!"

"Yup!" Boris smiled at the Bendy. "Right as rain!"

"We were really worried about you," Alice said in relief. "Lucy has quite the taste for the macabre. Small wonder they nicknamed her Malice."

Henry turned to Joey. "So, ah, do any of the others know?"

"Not yet," Joey answered. "I wanted you to be first--well, aside from Allison, but that was unintentional." He looked thoughtful. "Even though she got turned into a Toon by accident..."

"No, Joey."

The director mock pouted as he started the car. "Aw, you're no fun."

Chapter Text

RRRRRINNNNGGGG! RRRRRINNNNGGGG!

Muttering several Irish curses, Shawn reluctantly disentangled himself from the sheets and felt around for the phone. Beside him, Wally groaned, equally upset by having his sleep interrupted so rudely.

"Hello?"

"SHAWN! TURN ON THE NEWS!"

Hearing Susie's shout, the toymaker hit the speaker button before looking for the remote. A few minutes later, he and Wally were staring dumbstruck at the TV screen, barely able to believe what they were hearing.

"Shawn, please tell me this is real," Wally finally said, sounding like he was about to start crying.

"It is," Shawn choked out. "We've got to celebrate."

"Oh, we will be," Susie laughed. "Sammy and I are going to hold a party at our house tonight. In fact, he's putting together a playlist right now." A pause. "He wants to know if you mind having a lot of Queen songs on the list."

"Tell him he can play whatever the hell he wants!" Shawn laughed. "Love won!"

Chapter Text

Of the billions of people living on Earth, roughly ten to twelve percent were not human in the traditional sense of the word. Among the various other races that made up that ten to twelve percent were the Avix, who were mostly human in appearance, but possessed fully functional wings. During Sillyvision's years in operation, it had no fewer than nine Avix among its staff. Some already had their wings, while others developed them during their years of employment. Even after the studio shut down, they still stuck together as a flock and though Norman was the oldest and had the most experience, he didn't mind that the others elected Henry as the leader, with Grant as his second-in-command.

Tonight, the flock would be getting its tenth member.

(BATIM)

"Where the hell is Henry?" Sammy shouted. "He's flock leader, he should be here!"

"I tried calling him," Thomas told him. "But no luck."

Realizing that he was now in charge, Grant started barking orders.

"Wally and Thomas, go fetch some cloths and water. Susie and Lacie, turn her over and take off her shirt. Bra too, if necessary. Sammy and Shawn, stay here and help out where needed. Norman and I will get a bed ready for her."

As Wally, Norman, Thomas, and Grant left the room, the other four knelt beside the whimpering Allison. Susie took her friend's hand and squeezed tightly as she and Lacie rolled her onto her stomach.

"Make it stop," Allison sobbed, tears of pain forming in her eyes.

"Just hang in there," Susie said encouragingly. "You're gonna be OK."

"It always hurts when this happens," Sammy added. "But we're right here."

Lacie, meanwhile, had managed to remove Allison's top, revealing two slowly growing slits on her back. There was a small amount of blood oozing from them, staining the back of her bra red.

"Don't look, boys," Susie warned, hastily undoing the clasps.

Heeding her tone, they obeyed her warning. Just as Allison's now highly swollen back became fully exposed, Wally and Thomas ran in, with a large bucket of water and an armful of cloths, respectively.

"Oh boy, here it comes," Thomas warned. "Back up, everyone."

Sure enough, it was less than two minutes before two large, carnelian red wings burst from Allison's back, accompanied by an ear-piercing shriek. Grabbing a cloth from Thomas, Wally hastily soaked it before handing it to Susie, who began cleaning off the blood.

"I can grab something to cover her chest," Sammy offered.

"Yes, please."

(BATIM)

"How is she?"

Thomas looked up at Henry, pewter grey wings drooping tiredly. "She's doing better, but she'll be out for a while. I've been with her all night."

Newly returned from the studio and smiling despite his exhaustion, the former animator nodded. "I'll get you some coffee."

As he left, Thomas looked back at Allison, who lay fast asleep on the bed with her new wings spread out behind her. The others were there too, their own wings out--Wally's in lemon yellow, Sammy's violet, Susie's hot pink, Norman's tan, Shawn's kelly green, Grant's peacock blue, and Lacie's pumpkin orange.

A moment later, Henry rejoined them, his ivory wings still dripping wet--it had taken just over an hour to wash them clean of ink.

"Here you go. I brought some juice for Allison when she wakes up. Susie told me she lost quite a bit of blood."

"Good thinking." Putting the juice glass on the bedside table, he sipped the warm coffee.

"So Joey actually brought Bendy, Boris, and Alice to life?"

"Yep," Henry answered. "They're asleep on the couch downstairs. I know they'll be happy to meet you guys once they're awake."

Chapter Text

As Henry slowly regained consciousness, he was surprised to feel something moving in his arms. Looking down, he saw a large purple object with a spot resembling a diamond.

"Oh, that's right," he said quietly. "Forgot about you for a minute."

He'd found the object not long after he'd entered the studio, nestled in the open chest of a strange black doglike creature's corpse. Out of curiosity, he'd taken it with him, and when he'd fallen into the basement, he'd managed to land so that his body cushioned it.

A shudder ran through his body as he remembered the eerie purplish-black creature with glowing red eyes and that maniacal grin.

Was that supposed to be Bendy? he wondered.

A cracking noise caught his attention. Looking down, he saw the object was breaking up.

No, not breaking. It's hatching!

Sure enough, the egg--for that's what it clearly was--broke apart, revealing a small, roughly human-shaped creature. It was purple in color, with a small red gem in its chest and two diamond-like gems for eyes.

"Sayyyyy?"

*

Walking through the music department with axe in hand, Henry soon found himself engaged in conversation (mostly one-sided) with his new companion.

"I wasn't the only one to quit before things got bad. There are a few others--Wally, Sammy, Susie, Norman, Shawn, Allison, Thomas, Grant, and Lacie are the ones I still see regularly. Might be a few others, but I don't recall offhand."

"Sable say."

"You know, you kind of remind me of Bendy."

"Eye?"

Henry pointed to a Bendy cutout nearby. "That's him. My job when I worked here was to draw cartoons, and he was the main character."

"Sable. Sableye."

Curious, the Sableye approached the cutout, only for several new creatures to appear--a purple rat, a ferret-like creature, two small birds, and a raccoon with jagged fur. They charged towards the duo, but Henry swung and hit them with the flat of the axe blade. Meanwhile, the Sableye started using Scratch attacks, and while they weren't particularly strong on their own, the only other attack he knew was a Ghost-type move, which would do no good against Normal-types.

Before long, all five of them were out cold.

"Whew, that was close."

"Sableye."

"We still have to find a way into Sammy's old office, though." Henry gestured for the little purple ghost to follow him. "Come on, Bendy."

*

A small brown creature with a bone helmet was standing above Henry as he awoke. In one hand, it held a small club, also made of bone.

<I must admit I am honored you came all the way down here to visit me. It almost makes what I'm about to do seem cruel.>

Henry blinked in confusion upon hearing the voice echoing in his mind.

<But the believers must honor their savior. I must have him notice me.>

Trying to get up, Henry realized he was bound tightly. At the same time, he also realized that he recognized the voice. But from where?

<Wait. You look familiar to me. That face...>

That's when it hit him.

Aaron.

Aaron Kimball, the former band conductor, had gone missing not long after the studio closed. Sammy hadn't really minded that--Aaron was sycophantic towards him to the point where it got uncomfortable.

<Not now, for our lord is calling to us, my little sheep. The time of sacrifice is at hand! And then, after all these years, I will finally be freed from this...prison. This freakish...inhuman...form I call a body.>

But if this creature was Aaron, did that mean the other ones were once former workers? Other than the ones who he still saw regularly, almost all of Joey's staff had disappeared.

Guess 'Sillyvision Survivors' is a good name for our little gang, he thought. Now I'm really glad I didn't try and kill any of the critters that attacked us.

<Listen! I can hear him. Crawling above. Crawling!>

Shaking his head, Henry began searching for any sign of Bendy.

<Let us begin. The ritual must be completed! Soon he will hear me...he will set us free.>

With that, the creature walked out of view. There was the sound of a door closing, and a moment later, the speakers crackled to life.

<Sheep, sheep, sheep, it's time for sleep. Rest your head. It's time for bed. In the morning, you may wake. Or in the morning...you'll be dead.>

Fortunately, not only did the bindings come undone easily, but at that same moment, Bendy ran in.

<Hear me, Bendy! Arise from the darkness! Arise and claim my offering! Free me! I beg you! I summon you, ink demon! Show your face and take this tender sheep!>

As Bendy helped Henry to his feet, a loud cry echoed over the speakers.

<No! My lord! Stay back! I am your prophet! I am your--AAAHHH!!>

The speakers shut off, just as a small horde of creatures popped out to attack.. Not wanting to harm them, since they were probably once human, he was relieved when Bendy leapt to his aid, clearing a path out of the room.

*

Whatever creature the monster that had chased them was, Henry had little doubt that the ink was making it stronger. Bendy had said it was supposed to be a Ghost type (whatever that meant), but he hadn't been able to do anything to it.

"You OK...Bendy?" he panted.

<I think so.>

Looking around for the source of the new voice, Henry felt a tug on his leg, prompting him to look down at Bendy.

<Are you OK, Henry?>

"So you can talk, then?"

<Kind of,> Bendy admitted. <Didn't know I could do that until now.>

"Well, you were born only a few hours ago."

<H-hello?>

Bendy and Henry looked at each other. That voice sounded similar to Boris, but somewhat higher in pitch.

"I know you're there," Henry called. "Come on out."

For a moment, nothing happened. Then, slowly, a small blue bipedal dog that looked as if it was wearing a black bandana emerged from around the corner.

"Ri?"

Chapter Text

"Grant? Can I see you in my office for a moment?"

"Sure," Grant replied. "I don't have anything else to do today except getting the checks in order."

Closing the door behind him, Grant briefly wondered if Joey was going to tell him what was going to happen to the old studio--they were in the middle of relocating to a new one thanks to how successful the show was becoming. Then he spotted the TV and videotapes on the desk, as well as the uncharacteristically serious look on Joey's face.

"I don't know how strong a stomach you have," Joey began. "But you are the only legal expert I have on hand at the moment."

He gestured for Grant to take a seat beside him, which the finance manager did.

"About an hour ago, Wally brought these to me, asking what he should do with them since the Lost and Found box has been taken over to the new studio."

He held up one of the tapes. Looking close, Grant could see the words Property of Bertrum Piedmont--DO NOT TOUCH written on it in large letters.

"It was possible that this was simply Bertrum being possessive, but I thought I should check, just in case."

Sliding the tape into the VCR, he turned to Grant. "All I can say is...brace yourself."

What Grant saw next made him very glad he'd said no when Thomas and Lacie had invited him to join them for lunch. About three minutes later, he'd seen enough.

"I'll tell you this right now: if you want Bendy Land to become a reality, you cannot have Bertrum Piedmont be associated with it."

"Figured as much," agreed Joey. "The only trouble is, his design for the park is too good not to use." He sighed. "Perhaps I should still use it--just take his name off it."

Grant frowned slightly, then nodded. "Normally, I'd object to that idea, but this..."

At this point, he couldn't fight the urge any longer. Fortunately, Joey managed to get him a trash can to vomit into.

"Thanks," Grant said once he'd finished. "As I was about to say, I will gladly look the other way if you choose to not give him credit. In fact, I'll tear up his paycheck myself."

"Make sure some of that money goes to Wally," Joey said to him as he left. "Thanks to him, we may have just averted a major scandal. He deserves a raise."

As soon as Grant left, Joey leaned back in his chair and sighed. The people who worked for him may not have understood just how powerful belief could be, but he still cared about them. Part of the reason for the move to the new studio was so that he could use the old one to begin his greatest work, while simultaneously making sure none of them would be in harm's way.

If I had known what kind of monster Piedmont was, I never would have let him near this place, never mind have him consult on Bendy Land, he thought. A raise just doesn't seem like enough to repay Wally for unearthing a pedophile.

He smiled. Maybe I should have him do a voice audition. It wouldn't be too hard to create a character for him...

Chapter Text

Battle was raging all throughout Asgard. The goddess Hela had come to bring about Ragnarok, since Loki was no longer willing to do so, and she had recruited two rogue Asgardians--Skurge the Executioner and Amora the Enchantress--to aid her. In an effort to keep the dark queen's draugr forces away from Midgard, Thor had arranged for the Avengers to be brought to Asgard. Scott had dropped by the Pym house to meet the three newest members of Force Works (Wraith, Iceman, and Dybbuk) at the time, and so the fledgling team had come along. Thor welcomed the unexpected reinforcements, and though was intrigued by the Toons, it was mutually agreed that protecting Asgard took first priority.

"It shouldn't be much farther to the throne room," Fandral said, expertly dodging a draugr's sword and countering with a slash from his own blade.

"Let's hope Heimdall can hold on a little longer." Sif decapitated three more draugr that had been trapped in ice. "If Hela gains access to the Bifrost..."

"Only problem is those two," Ironclad gestured in the direction of Skurge and Amora, the latter of whom was trying desperately to convince the former to let the draugr do the fighting. Much to her chagrin, Skurge eventually grew tired of this and leapt into battle. Thor hurled Mjolnir at the Executioner, but the other man was surprisingly fast. He dodged the hammer and tackled Thor to the ground. Without Thor to call it back, the hammer hurtled straight at Boris.

"No!"

Without thinking, Alice flew forward, desperate to stop Mjolnir from hitting the wolf. However, the moment she grabbed it, there was a bright flash, causing all present to look up. When it cleared, Alice was dressed in black and white armor, similar to Sif's in appearance, but with a long white cape.

"My God!"

"Did she just--?"

"No! This cannot be!"

"I WON'T LET YOU HURT MY FRIENDS!"

Raising Mjolnir aloft, Alice soared towards Skurge. Numerous draugr tried to stop her, but she swatted them aside. Skurge raised his axe, and the two began to battle.

"Man, look at her go." Bendy was awestruck by Alice's vigor. He knew she was no pushover, but this was something else.

"She fights with the strength and courage of a valkyrie," Thor agreed. "Perhaps I should speak to the blacksmiths about creating a weapon for her."

Hearing that remark, Blackbird and White Rabbit felt their hearts swell with pride.

"Our little girl's all grown up."

Chapter Text

It had been just over two weeks since Henry, Bendy, Boris, and Allison had escaped from the studio. The other Sillyvision Survivors were horrified by what their former boss had been doing. Susie was especially upset--not only had the character she loved been twisted into a monster, but it had happened because Joey replaced her out of the belief that an Alice that had once been human would somehow be better--and so she gladly let Allison stay with her.

One night, they were sitting in the living room, Susie setting up to record an episode of one show while waiting for another to come on. Suddenly, they heard someone singing outside. Allison got up and walked over to look outside. Much to her surprise, a fully on-model Alice was dancing on the balcony.

"Susie? Alice is outside--at least, I think it's her. Her face isn't disfigured anymore."

Outside, the angel in question had stopped dancing, and was now kneeling on the balcony, tears streaming down her cheeks.

"Please, don't leave me.
Please, don't leave me..."

"Now she's crying. And singing. Dear Lord, she's so dramatic."

Susie rubbed her forehead. From what Henry had told her, Alice was incredibly emotional, much like a highly exaggerated version of her.

"Please tell me I was never that bad."

"You weren't," Allison replied sincerely. She turned back. "I can't watch this anymore, Susie. She just threw an entire bouquet of flowers over the edge. I don't even know where she got it. Or the boom box she's holding. Dear God, she's about to put Tina Turner on."

Hearing that, Susie finally gave up.

"Oh, for God's sake, fine! Let her in. I'll make some cocoa."

Hearing this, the angel outside perked up, expression turning to grateful joy.

Chapter Text

Less than a week after Sammy, Susie, and Shawn had left Joey Drew Studios for good, Wally and Thomas finally had enough, and decided to follow suit. They offered Lacie the chance to go with them, and she accepted without a second thought. In doing so, she narrowly avoided ending up one of the Lost Ones like the rest of the park staff--since Bendy Land wasn't going to happen, Joey decided to use them as his first test subjects. By the time he ran out of park workers, he'd managed to refine (but not perfect) the inking process. With the studio on its last legs, he moved on to the rest of his remaining workforce. However, unlike the Lost Ones, they didn't really mind their transformation so much.

"Ooh, I'm Aaron. I worship Bendy because Sammy's not here anymore. Matter of fact, I actually think I'm Sammy Lawrence."

As his companions howled with laughter, Jason reverted his face back to its normal appearance.

"Do Wally! Do Wally!"

"No, do Shawn!"

Before the former trumpeter could accept either request, Johnny emerged from a nearby pipe. While he usually hung around the recording area or inside the organ, he would occasionally drop by the lower levels for a change of scenery.

"They're at it again."

All three groaned, knowing exactly who the organist was talking about.

"Seriously? Why do those guys have to be a bunch of killjoys? I mean, they haven't left Park Storage since they got inked."

"Methinks it's time we did something about them."

Johnny nodded in agreement before vanishing back into the pipe. The others followed, making their way through the pipe network down to Park Storage. Emerging near the haunted house, they soon found the former park staff.

"Okay, you guys have got to cut it out." Jason put his hands on his hips and gave them an annoyed look. "Yes, you're not leaving this place anytime soon, but it's not that bad."

"Not that bad?" one of them--Rob, if Jason recalled correctly--half shouted. "Are you insane? How can you find anything good about this?"

As he gestured to himself, something occurred to Jason.

"Guys, I don't think they've ever learned to shapeshift!"

"Are you kidding? It's been years and they never realized it?"

"Well, we'll just have to show 'em, then."

Before Rob or any of the other Lost Ones could ask what they were talking about, Jason slid over (while the Searchers could form legs, most preferred to simply glide, comparing it to sock racing) and grabbed hold of Rob's arm. He pulled on it, and the limb stretched out, growing almost two feet before Jason let go. Rob's eyes widened as he watched his arm return to its original length. For a moment, he just stood there, trying to understand what had happened. Then it all clicked--being made out of ink meant his form was completely liquid. It was only through his will that it retained a human shape.

Placing one trembling hand to his face, he concentrated slightly, and his head turned from a blank mask to a replica of his old self, hair and all. He ran his hand over it in disbelief, feeling it to make sure it was real. As his fear melted away, quickly being replaced by wonder, he stretched his arm out to one of the other Lost Ones. Grabbing the area where the nose would be on a flesh and blood human, he gave a firm yank, and the 'skin' stretched like taffy, snapping back into place when he let go.

Suddenly, the spell was broken. Amazed by their newly realized pliability, the former park workers burst into giggle fits as they started playing with their bodies, stretching, contorting, and morphing into different forms.

"See? What did I tell you? It's not so bad."

None of the no longer Lost Ones could disagree.

Chapter Text

Hallucinating due to ink fumes was uncommon, but certainly not unheard of at Sillyvision. As a matter of fact, it was almost a rite of passage to have an 'ink trip.' They were rather varied, and more than once, the particular visions made it into the cartoons in some fashion--Joey was even toying with the idea of a horror movie based on Henry's ink trip on his first day back.

But nothing could have prepared them for when Susie went through it.

It had been a normal morning for her, right up to the point where an ink pipe burst, spraying her with the stuff. As her vision returned, however, the recording hall suddenly looked different. The floor was now made of marble, and the ink puddles had turned to clear water. Picking up a dropped pen lying nearby, she stood up and looked around.

"All I'm saying is that the design is too good not to use, with or without Piedmont. Make no mistake, I'm not letting that man anywhere near--"

"Susie? Is something wrong?"

Susie turned, finding herself face to face with two elegantly dressed men, both wearing masquerade masks. A look of fear crossed her face, and she backed away.

"Oh, no," one of the men said resignedly in Grant's voice.

Just then, Sammy entered, holding a small stack of music sheets. Catching sight of Susie, he put them down and went over to her.

"Susie, what do you--?"

"Mr. Bubbles!"

Eyes lighting up, Susie hugged Sammy tightly. The other two men looked at each other, before Grant spoke up.

"Maybe you should stay with her until it wears off."

(BATIM)

Fortunately, Sammy had already finished with the songs for the next episode, so he was able to concentrate on watching Susie. She wandered through the studio, avoiding everyone who crossed their path, until they finally reached the toy department.

"Look, Mr. Bubbles," she said cheerfully. "ADAM!"

Running over to a large Alice doll, she knelt down and began poking it with her pen.

"There is a land called Lillipoppy, and living there is the Lillipop. I'll go there soon with Mr. Bubbles, and we'll search the place from tail to top."

Sammy raised an eyebrow at the voice actress's song. It seemed like she had mentally regressed to a child, but her behavior was not that of an ordinary elementary schooler.

"And if we find no Tattlelambie, and if I eye no Porkieknot, perhaps we'll dine on ham and jammie if we can't find the Lillipop."

Finally, she stopped poking the doll, and made as if to drink from the pen.

"No, no, no. You don't want to do that, Susie."

Feeling Norman's hand on her wrist, Susie looked over at him, before letting out an ear-piercing shriek.

"You're scaring her, Norman!" Sammy quickly pried the projectionist's hand off, before gently hugging Susie.

"Thank you, Mr. Bubbles!"

Norman raised an eyebrow. "Ink trip?"

Sammy nodded. "Come on Susie."

Yawning as she got to her feet, Susie let Sammy take her hand and lead her out.

"I'm ready for dream time, Mr. B."

(BATIM)

Eventually, the hallucinations wore off. Susie, however, seemed more than just mortified by her actions, like she'd exposed some big secret. As it turned out, that was exactly what had happened. Luckily, Grant knew what was going on, and offered to help her explain.

"When I was a kid, my dad told me about his brother Sander, who went missing before I was born," he told them. "He was apparently a complete whackjob, but I was curious as to what happened to him. Years later, I met this woman named Grace Holloway, who told me about an underwater city called Rapture."

Listening as the finance manager told them what he knew, with Susie filling in the blanks, Sammy gave his girlfriend a hug. About six or seven months ago, she'd mentioned that she'd gone through a very bad time in her life, but she'd gotten through it with some help. He thought she meant she'd been molested.

Seems he wasn't that far off.

Chapter Text

Night had fallen over Proctor House, but one of its residents was still awake. As his friends lay asleep, Henry got out of bed and started searching underneath it, careful not to wake Norman. Pulling out a thick crimson and black book out, he crept out of the room, down the hall, and into Joey's ritual room.

It was no secret among the wards of Proctor House that their caretaker, Joey Drew, was into the occult. More than once, they'd observed him making deals with spirits and demons--not soul pacts, mind you, since demons didn't always ask for those. As long as they were careful, Joey didn't mind them watching.

"I'd be something of a hypocrite if I didn't give you a chance," he'd said. "But if you want to practice ritual magic, you should make sure you know what you're doing. Observe what I do, and learn from what you see."

Henry had paid very close attention, and had done a tremendous amount of research. Now he felt he was ready to perform a very special ritual indeed.

Setting the book down, he pulled out a small bag from where he'd stashed it from under the small table Joey used as an altar. He opened it, removing three plastic water bottles filled with ink. Collecting that much had taken a while, and a good chunk of his allowance, but if this worked out, it would all be worth it.

"Good, they didn't leak."

Reaching into the bag again, he took out the one other item he needed: one of his sketchbooks. He opened it, carefully removing three pages and setting them down in the center of the pentagram on the floor before pouring one bottle's worth onto each page. Then he set a few candles around the pentagram, lit them, stepped back, and began to chant. As he did so, a pillar of light erupted from the pentagram. Within the pillar of light, he could see three forms emerging from the ground--a large bipedal dog or wolf of some kind, a woman with two small horns and a halo, and a small imp. As it faded, he could see them in all their glory. His cartoon creations--Boris the Wolf, Alice Angel, and most importantly, Bendy the Dancing Demon--were there in the flesh (metaphorically speaking).

Smiling happily, he held out his arms.

"Hi, guys."

All three Toons returned the smile as they ran into his arms.

"You're our creator, aren't you?"

"Of course he is! Who else could he be?"

"It's really Henry! This is great!"

As the trio and their creator rejoiced, Joey watched from the doorway, smiling proudly.

Only your first try, and already you've done something spectacular, he thought. I see much promise in you, Henry.

Chapter Text

(Pride: Allison)

Looking through the glass, Allison wondered who exactly the woman on the other side had been. She claimed to be Alice, but the character she and Susie had both voiced was never this vain. Like 'Bendy' and the Prophet, she was a perversion of the one she was based on.

Her mind flashed back to the tape she'd heard in the room at the end of the 'Path of the Angel.' Susie had been very upset when she lost the part, refusing to speak to her for almost a week. But she was not the type to let pride cloud her judgment, and wisely chose to quit, going on to have a successful voice acting career. Not to mention, she and Sammy had gotten engaged a few days ago.

"The first time I was born from its inky womb, I was a wriggling, pussing, shapeless slug. The second time...well... It made me an angel!"

Perhaps she was never human at all. That might explain why she knew nothing about how Alice was supposed to act. Instead, she had taken after another angel who had succumbed to pride.

And like Lucifer, this false Alice was trapped in Hell.
*******
(Envy: Lacie)

With a loud screeching, mixed with a cry of anguish and sorrow, the carousel ground to a halt, never to start up again. Glancing at the face of her former boss, Lacie picked up the dropped tape player, and Bertrum Piedmont's voice rang out one last time.

"The biggest park ever built, a centerfold of attractions. Each one, more grand than the one before it. It makes my eyes come to tears at the thought. But then...oh Mr. Drew. For all your talk of dreams, you are the true architect behind so many nightmares. I built this park. It was to be a masterpiece! My masterpiece! And now you think you can just throw me out? Trample me to the dust and forget me? No! This is my park! My glory! You may think I've gone...But I'm still here!"

Shaking her head, she let it fall to the floor again. Piedmont had always been envious of other park designers, always seeking to outdo them in a relentless pursuit of recognition. Even after Bendy Land fell through, he still refused to be left behind.

Ironically, his jealousy and desire for appreciation had ensured he would remain in the abandoned storehouse, just as forgotten as everything else related to the failed park.
*******
(Wrath: Wally)

Huddled inside a Little Miracle Station, Wally waited for the Ink Demon to go away. Ever since he'd turned on the Ink Machine (like a complete moron), the monster had been chasing him. Strangely, it kept changing form, though that grin always remained on its face. Yet underneath that sinister smile, the ex-janitor could tell there was a seething, boiling rage.

But where did that rage come from?

Wally was no stranger to rage. Being the klutz that he was, he got yelled at almost every week back when he was working here, usually by Sammy. Then again, something about this place seemed to aggravate people, as getting out had done him and the other survivors a world of good: Sammy in particular had mellowed out a lot.

Outside, the ink web had vanished, indicating that Bendy was gone, so Wally opened the door and climbed out. As he did, he caught a glimpse of writing on the wall, and he remembered the message he'd seen in the basement.

Was 'The Creator' Joey? If so, what did he lie about?

To be honest, Wally had been fine with not knowing. All he wanted was to get out of there, hopefully with Boris in tow. Now that he thought about it, though, if there were other Toons here, maybe he should try and save them too.
*******
(Sloth: Sammy)

A sigh escaped Sammy as the tape came to an end. Typical Wally, either screwing up the simplest of tasks or just being lazy. Either way, he made life that much more difficult for the music director. He had gotten better after leaving, though.

Perhaps it was just this place in particular. It did seem to bring out the worst in people, and Sammy's own outlook had improved once he and Susie left, as had that of the other survivors.

Thinking of Susie sent a jolt of determination through him as he turned and set off to find the keys. No matter what it took, he was going to get out of this damn studio and back to his wife.
*******
(Greed: Shawn)

"There's nothing wrong with dreaming. Wishing for the impossible is just human nature. That's how I got started. Just a pencil and a dream! We all want everything without even having to lift a finger. They say you just have to believe. Belief can make you succeed. Belief can make you rich. Belief can make you powerful. Why with enough belief, you can even cheat death itself. Now that...is a beautiful, and positively silly thought."

Shawn shook his head. Joey stopped at nothing to get what he desired, but too often it came at the expense of others. Clearly, the man didn't give a damn about anyone other than himself, happy to sacrifice those who weren't smart/lucky enough to get out in time. Now the poor souls were suffering horrifically, all because Joey had taken an idea meant to encourage and inspire, and had completely perverted it.

Sooner or later, it would all come back to bite him in the ass, if it hadn't already.
*******
(Gluttony: Thomas)

Thomas would never admit it--at least, not without prodding--but he had a soft spot for Boris the Wolf. As such, he'd been relieved to see him alive and well, and very glad that he was an ally.

Stepping out of the safehouse bathroom, he noticed Boris glancing over at the stove.

"Hungry?"

The wolf nodded.

"I thought so."

Boris wasn't completely dim, but he was certainly content with a simple life. In the earliest shorts, he seemed to care more about food than anything else. True, he was originally Bendy's nemesis, but mostly that was in retaliation to the demon's own pranks.

Eventually, things started to cool down after an episode where Bendy went too far, and in the Butcher Gang's debut episode, the two actually worked together to escape them. That episode marked the beginning of their friendship. After that, Boris was developed a little more, though he never lost his love of food. It had gotten him and Bendy, not to mention Alice, into a few scrapes, but he did learn somewhat.

Whatever the case, Thomas was determined to get him out. Maybe Bendy and Alice too, if they were friendly, but definitely Boris.
*******
(Lust: Susie)

A look of disgust crossed Susie's face as the tape clicked off. So far, only one of the tapes with her voice expressed her true feelings. Never mind the fact that none of the people who had supposedly made these tapes could have done so, both the one in the room with the Boris clone corpses and this one were all lies. True, she had been upset when Allison became the new voice of Alice, but she had quickly realized why it had happened.

Less than a year after she started voicing Alice, Joey had started making advances--asking her to come to lunch with him, calling her Alice, and similar. Though he had never done anything outright inappropriate like groping, the whole thing made her uncomfortable, and after he called her Alice one time too many, she told him to stop and that if he didn't, she'd ask Grant to hold a sexual harassment seminar.

Joey, however, didn't seem to understand that she simply wasn't interested in him. And when she flat out told him that, he gave the role of Alice Angel to Allison, presumably to make her change her mind. Maybe he had another goal in mind, but it didn't matter. Susie would rather leave Alice behind than cave in to Joey Drew.

And she did, making it very clear that only one person could tell her who to be, and that person was herself.

Chapter Text

Alice and Boris led Henry down to where the real Bendy was waiting for them. He was glad to see Henry, moreso when the animator told him that he intended to bring all three of them with him and Buddy. None of them were sure exactly where the small Bendy lookalike had come from, but Henry was glad Buddy had stuck with him, and wouldn't leave him behind.

"So what's the plan?" Henry asked. "We need to deal with the Ink Demon, and those other monsters, if we want to get out."

"I've been working on this," Bendy answered, showing him a device of some kind. "Basically, it's similar to a bomb, but instead of exploding, it'll spray a mix of acetone, turpentine, and benzene all over the place. Whatever's caught in the blast will be destroyed if it's made of ink, so once the timer starts, we'll have to run for it."

"I am Buddy?"

"Don't worry," Henry reassured him. "I can carry you."

With that, the five of them entered the demon's lair. As Henry, Boris, and Alice held off the Ink Demon and his clone minions, Bendy took Buddy and the bomb over to a nearby corner, where there was a vent leading to the Ink Machine's core.

"Okay, Buddy, listen close." Bendy set the bomb down. "To activate the bomb, first you flick these three switches, from left to right. Once that's done, you press the green button, which will give us five minutes to get out of the blast range. Now whatever you do, don't push the red button. That will set off the bomb immediately, and we'll all be dead."

He leaned close. "Now, repeat back what I just said."

"I am Buddy."

"Yes."

"I am Buddy."

"Mm-hmm."

Buddy pointed to the red button. "I am Buddy."

"No, that button will kill everyone! Try again."

"I am Buddy."

"Right."

"I am Buddy."

"Uh-huh."

"I am Buddy."

"NO!"

Fortunately, not only did Buddy end up pressing the right button, but all five of them were able to escape with just under a minute to spare. Less than ten minutes after they were out the door, they were on the road, leaving the studio behind for good.

Chapter Text

Since February of the previous year, Joey had been testing every single one of his employees in some fashion or another. Of them, some had proven themselves believers, while others lacked the devotion needed to be part of his masterpiece.

As he sat at his desk, he turned away from the storyboard to look at the list in his hands:

Wally Franks

Sammy Lawrence

Susie Campbell

Norman Polk

Shawn Flynn

Thomas Connor

Lacie Benton

There were more names below, each belonging to someone who did not believe in Bendy (although that did not mean they weren’t open to the power of belief and dreams). Each had failed their test, and he had managed to get them into new jobs where they’d be happy. No reason they should be punished for not believing—it wasn’t their fault. He didn’t even mind that most of said jobs were at a more successful animation company. The show wouldn’t be needed much longer.

Closing his eyes, he took a deep breath, inhaling the scent of the early fall breeze coming through the window. Soon, Bendy and his friends would be real.

And soon, the faithful would be reborn.

He wondered, briefly, if Henry would have passed the test. Perhaps he should invite his old friend back at some point.

Chapter Text

In the years following the closing of Joey Drew Studios, only one of Joey's former workers--animator Henry Walters--had returned to the old workshop. After a series of misunderstandings, he had befriended the living Toons and their quirky 'roommates', the beings made from leftover magical ink that had patterned themselves after some of Henry's former coworkers.

 

One day, however, the studio received a few unexpected visitors.

 

*****

 

"Now I see why Master Hand wouldn't let any of the kids or Luigi do this."

 

"Tell me about it. Luigi had nightmares for almost a month after the Castlevania fiasco."

 

"I know. The sooner we find this guy, not to mention Fox, the sooner we can get out of here."

 

Hiding inside one of the Little Miracle Stations, Henry and Bendy looked at each other.

 

"Who do you think they are?"

 

"No idea," Henry admitted. "I don't even know what they are."

 

Bendy couldn't disagree with him. He was used to non-human beings roaming the studio, but it was obvious that two-dimensional monochrome men and puffballs in armor weren't exactly normal outside the studio either.

 

Suddenly, there was a loud screeching noise as the Projectionist emerged from behind a corner, Boris and the Prophet in tow. Hastily, the two strangers ducked out of sight. Wading through the ink, Boris approached the Little Miracle Station and knocked.

 

"Okay, you got us," Bendy chuckled, opening the door. He turned to their unexpected guests. "You two want to explain who you are, and what you're doing here?"

 

"Help us find our friend," said the armored puffball as he and his companion emerged. "And then we'll tell you."

 

*****

 

Henry had never understood where Malice's mad scientist tendencies came from. Allison had never been good at playing villains, unlike Susie, who could play a variety of roles. Then again, Alice's personality was based on Susie, both in screen and in reality. Maybe she thought since Susie's personality was taken...

 

"Ah, hello, Henry," Malice said brightly as the animator entered, followed by Bendy, and the two strangers, who had introduced themselves as Mr. Game and Watch and Meta Knight. “I was just trying to figure out what to do with this little fly here.”

 

She gestured to the table, where a bipedal fox lay struggling to escape his binds. Henry rolled his eyes.

 

"Malice, let him go."

 

The fallen angel pouted. "Aw, you're no fun."

 

Hitting a switch, she released her captive.

 

“Sorry about that,” Henry said apologetically. “Malice is...well...a few frames short of a reel.”

 

Game and Watch nodded. “Are you all right, Fox?”

 

“I’ve been through worse.”

 

*****

 

As it turned out, the three were there to invite Bendy to something called Super Smash Brothers, a tournament for game characters. They were quite surprised to learn that there were worlds outside their own, much less ones where there was a video game based on them. In the end, however, it came down to one thing.

 

"Can my pals come too?"

 

The 2D man nodded. "Guests are allowed, if they're invited by a Smasher. Plenty of room in the mansion."

 

"Then I'm in."

Chapter Text

When Henry first came back to the studio, Bendy had been quick to attack him, thinking he’d be like Joey. He remembered all too clearly how the studio director had tortured his creations, even driving the first draft of Alice insane. Boris was more willing to trust the animator, pointing out that Joey’s actions while the studio was operating had driven everyone away. Still, Bendy remained unconvinced—at least, up until Henry set off to get Boris back from Malice.

 

He’s the first human to come back in years, he thought. But instead of running away when he had the chance, and letting Malice have her way with Bo, he’s actually trying to get him back—trying to save him, even though he ain’t human.

 

I was wrong about him. He’s not like Joey at all.

 

Vanishing into a nearby puddle of ink, he swam through the dark abyss, ignoring the voices of the legion. He kept his eyes closed, allowing himself to be guided by his connection to the cutouts and pictures, and eventually found Henry fleeing from the Projectionist. The animator reached a Little Miracle Station, slamming the door closed just as Bendy made his presence known. Curling his hands into fists, the demon charged forward, landing a devastating blow on the Projectionist. The beast let out a screech and fell to the floor.

 

Peering into the hideaway, Bendy was relieved to see Henry was unharmed. He turned and grabbed hold of the Projectionist’s leg, dragging him away.

 

Don’t worry, Henry. Next time we meet, it’ll be on better terms.

Chapter Text

It was done.

 

After all the blood, sweat, and tears, he’d finally made Bendy real. Not just him, either—Boris, Alice, and the Butcher Gang were alive, too.

 

Unfortunately, it had come at great cost. Everyone who was still working for him—the animators, the band, the toy department, the park staff, and all the rest—had been sacrificed. Their screams still rang in his ears, but he could do nothing to save them. Not if it meant a premature end to the Toons’ chance at life. And so, he had watched as they turned to ink, softly crying as they fell apart before his eyes.

 

He pulled a photo out of his pocket, which showed him standing with Henry, Wally, Sammy, Susie, Norman, Shawn, Thomas, Grant, Lacie, and Allison. Those ten had all left in the years beforehand, and he doubted any of them were coming back.

 

At least they were safe.

 

“So you did it,” a voice said. “You brought Bendy and his friends to life.”

 

Looking up, he saw Linda standing there, looking as she did in life. It had been heartbreaking to sacrifice her, but if there was one thing he had cared about more than the cartoons or his dream, it was his little sister.

 

“Yes,” Joey said. “I did.”

 

“What did it cost?”

 

“Everything.”

Chapter Text

It had already been a long week, and everyone was pretty stressed out. But up until now, all the problems that had occurred were small. What happened on Friday was far from a minor issue.

 

“Damn it, Grant! I want answers! Who’s responsible for this?”

 

“Look Joey, I’m pretty sure they didn’t mean anything harmful...”

 

Raising an eyebrow at the shouting coming from Joey’s office, Henry looked over at Wally. “Dare I ask what’s going on?”

 

“Well, you remember that creepypasta I found? The one where Joey’s completely psycho?”

 

Henry nodded. “Bendy and the Ink Machine. Susie was really upset about that one. In fact, half of that rant Sammy posted on YouTube was about her character—and he dedicated the first five minutes to yelling about the Prophet.”

 

“No surprise there,” the janitor replied. “Anyway, somebody‘s actually thinking of making a movie out of it, but the ending...well, it ain’t gonna be happy.”

 

“I swear to God, Grant, if they think they can get away with slandering my employees, they’ve got another thing coming,” Joey continued to rant as he emerged from his office, Grant following him. “Tell them that if they want to do this, they are going to need to make some changes, or they will be facing a lawsuit. It’s one thing when it’s harmless...what’s the word...?”

 

“Fan fiction?”

 

“Thank you.” Joey was breathing deeply to calm himself. “As I was saying, it’s harmless when it’s just fan fiction, but for it to become an actual, in-theaters movie? No, I will not have my employees’ reputation, or that of my company, damaged like this.”

 

“If I may offer a suggestion?” Norman piped up. “Maybe you should write a list of what you want changed.”

 

“Yes, that would help a lot.”

 

Joey turned and went back into his office, while Grant set off to make a call.

 

“Maybe I should help him with that list,” Henry said. “After all, he does want to bring Bendy to life, even if human sacrifice is out of the question.”

Chapter Text

"Why have you been doing this?"

 

Bendy hung his head, unwilling to look Henry in the eye. “Joey dreamed of bringing us to life, but he had no idea that we needed an anchor to keep from being pulled back. When he found out, he went crazy trying to find hosts for us. Problem is, most of them didn’t work out so well.”

 

“I’m guessing there was a reason for that,” Henry said. “Were they incompatible in some way?”

 

Bendy nodded. “He sent letters to everyone who worked here. Aside from Wally, Sammy, Susie, Shawn, Thomas, and Lacie, they all came back, only for most of them to end up as monsters. Luckily, Allison turned out to be a good host for Alice.”

 

Nearby, the angel gave a small smile. From what she’d told him, she was essentially a fusion of Alice Angel and Allison Pendle—mostly in mind, though she was physically a much ‘cleaner’ fusion than Malice.

 

“I got no idea who Bo’s host is,” Bendy went on. “But Joey used himself as a host for me. When he did, I saw how much pain he was in, and how he’d lost his mind in making his dream come true. I didn’t know how to help, so all I could do was watch as he lashed out. There’s almost nothing left of the man you once knew.”

 

By this point, the echo had vanished from Bendy's voice--it was just him speaking now.

 

“I can't do this any more, Henry. Without a host, I can't stay in this world. Boris and Alice were lucky--their hosts were not only willing to merge with them, but sane. Joey, on the other hand..."

 

Raising his head, the demon looked at Henry. "I don't want to hurt people any more. Will you help me?"

 

Henry looked at Bendy with a sad smile, knowing what the demon was asking.

 

"Yes."

 

A spark of hope entered Bendy’s eyes as Henry held out a hand and gently stroked the demon’s face. Reaching up, he took it, and the ink that made up his body began to flow over Henry’s body.

 

While this was going on, the Searchers, Butcher Gang clones, and other monsters came swarming into the room, drawn by a sense of what was happening. Every one of them instinctively knew the nightmare was finally coming to an end. As they watched, the ink reshaped Henry’s form as his mind merged with that of Bendy. Within moments, the two had become one: the true Bendy.

 

Looking out at the inhabitants of the studio, the part of him that had once been Henry recalled the ones who had not returned. The six of them had no reason to come back. But Henry had, for he was needed. Memories of what had become of those who hadn’t quit passed through his mind, seen through Bendy’s eyes. In his madness, Joey had done nothing to ease their pain, leaving them to suffer. But Bendy had shown them the light. He showed them that while what had been done to them could not be undone, their existence did not have to be hellish. Within the ink, they had been reborn.

 

And now that he was complete, their prison would become their paradise.