Dark had hoped saving the Author's life would have rewarded him with the ego's loyalty.
Technically, it had, as the Author grudgingly agreed to leave his cabin in the woods and join the few other, minor egos Mark had so capriciously created where they resided in a small, modest office complex. The Author also completed whatever tasks Dark asked of him, particularly those in need of his "special" abilities. On the surface, to any outsider, Dark had won their long time game of cat and mouse and now had the powerful ego firmly under his thumb.
Only, that was not quite the case. It was in all the little things: tone, attitude, subtle actions, muttered words. Oh, the Author would do as Dark requested, but it was like directing a stubborn mule. He tried to dodge Dark more often than not, and would act a petulant child while doing as Dark asked. It was similar to pulling teeth, something Dark had personal experience with, albeit not on the receiving end.
He found he really did not like it.
No, Dark had truly had enough of the Author's rebelliousness. He'd put a lot of time and energy into making sure the Author survived, and it was time to properly collect his due. Thankfully, cornering the ego in his own little office space was quite easy for once. Apparently, he'd been absolutely absorbed in his latest novel.
"Author." The word was clipped and cold. Dark noted how his voice made the Author's shoulders bunch up with abrupt irritation. Good.
Slowly, the ego rotated his head, though the scritching of his pen had only paused for a moment. He went right back to it while he spoke, not even offering Dark so much as a glance. "That's my name."
Rude, impudent little wretch of an ego. How someone so powerful managed to host even less manners than an ego like Silver Shepherd or Ed Edgar was beyond Dark. Still, that was precisely the reason he had paid the Author a visit. By the end of their impromptu "meeting," the Author's attitude should be well adjusted. "I am aware. We need to have a talk."
That was Dark's nice way of saying "put the pen down and face me when I'm speaking to you," and they both knew it.
The Author sighed bitterly but ignored the subtle command. "What, Dark? What is it you want now? Is Wilford going crazy again? Do I need to round up some new, hapless ego for you to take under your suffocating wing? Oh, no no, let me guess. You want to make another attempt on our dear creator's life?" The words were sneered, mocking, and Dark felt the soft flames of anger licking at his insides.
The Author wasn't wrong in his assumptions. Those were all tasks Dark had asked of him since bringing the Author here. Granted, the last one never really seemed to work. Mark, in either his cleverness or sheer dumb luck, had managed to give himself an immunity to the Author's narrations. Dark could not blame the man. He had done much the same after saving the Author's life, determined not to allow his new pet to bite the hand which fed him, so to speak. Anytime the Author would have the audacity to narrate Dark, that old bullet wound would rear its agonizing head, silently tormenting him until Dark took away the pain again.
He had thought such a failsafe measure would be enough to keep the Author in line, but apparently the threat of immense pain was no longer viable. Sighing, Dark resisted pinching the bridge of his nose. Perhaps he should try being more direct. "Author. Look at me."
"Nnnnaah, think I'm good here. I'm at the climax. It requires my full, and undivided attention." Still, the Author refused to cooperate, quite obviously pushing his luck on purpose.
Dark hated that streak among the egos. It was all Mark's fault. Yet, seeing as he could not take out his frustrations on their creator, he would simply have to settle for the next best thing. Or, more accurately, next best person. He sighed again, "Why must you always make things so difficult?" In a heartbeat, the shadows in the room darkened, and inky black tendrils slithered out from the corners to wrap around the Author's limbs. They ripped him away from his desk, pen flying across the room as the ego was twisted to face Dark. His feet were not even touching the ground.
"Fucking bastard!" The Author snapped as Dark stalked forward. The pair looked complete opposites in the heat of the moment. Dark, gliding forward like an iceberg, frigid cold and unyielding. The Author, practically hissing and spitting like an angry cat where he struggled against the tendrils, muscles contorted to properly convey his fury. Well, not only fury.
Dark wasn't a social manipulator for nothing. He could see the fear in those brown eyes; eyes identical to their creator's. Dark hated to look at them. "This could have been easy, if you'd only listened. I just wanted to talk."
"Well here's a newsflash for you. You're the last person I ever want to speak with. Get it through your damn head!" The Author snarled.
Dark did not so much as bat an eye at the ego's rage or his filthy language. His hand snapped out, like a viper, grabbing at the Author's chin with a harsh grip that left the ego wincing. Good. "You're the one who let me in. You're the one who chose this existence. You could have died in that cabin and faded away, but I gave you a second chance. I am the reason you are still here at all. You are far, far too quick to forget your place, Author." Dark's tone had shifted to a low, threatening growl.
Even so, that ego hosted a fire in his eyes. The Author was scared, but defiant, no matter how the odds stacked against him. It was infuriating. "Why are you doing this? You're an ego too, just like me-"
"I am NOTHING like you."
The words were a horrible wail, a cacophony of three voices clamoring together, shaking the very air around them. The tendrils trembled in the wake of it. Dark's shell cracked, brilliant crimson and gleaming cyan splitting off dangerously before he reeled them back in. Dark stared down the Author with his own fire as he composed himself.
"I am more than you will EVER be."
Dark jerkily released the Author's jaw and ran a hand through his hair, smoothing back any stray hairs. He turned away from the trapped ego and decided to begin his little lesson; the Author's last chance. "It's time you learned a lesson...." He started to pace the room, like a great jungle cat on the prowl, hands clasped firmly behind his back. "It's time that you understand.... Don't ever count on anybody else, in this or any other land." He turned away from the Author fully, staring into the shadows, the softest edges of red and blue shimmering away from his squared shoulders.
"...I once hoped for friendship, to find a place among my kind." He ducked his head slightly, squeezing his eyes shut. So many faces flashing through his mind's eye. A blue shade of himself broke off, screaming silently into the abyss before being dragged back in. "...but those were the childish wishes, of someone who was blind."
Dark turned around, meeting the Author dead in the eye, pleased to see how terrified yet equally puzzled he was. Good, at least he had the ego's attention. Hopefully, there would be no interruptions. The shadows swirled about his form, agitated in the wake of his memories, his rising emotions, red and blue crackling along the seams of his suit. "Open up your eyes, see the world from where I stand. Me among the mighty..." He strode forward, leaning into the Author's personal space. "You caged, at my command."
Dark gestured to the journal still laying open and unfinished upon the Author's desk. "Open up your eyes, give up your sweet, fantasy land..." That same hand returned to wrap around the Author's neck, triggering a gurgled noise. Dark was not strangling the ego, not yet, but the threat was there. "It's time to grow up, and get wise.... Come now, little one..."
Oh, how the Author hated that. Dark did not care. In his eyes, the Author was little. He would be insignificant, were it not for his incredible power. Dark's free hand almost cradled the side of the Author's face, thumb and forefinger framing one of those brown eyes perfectly. "Open up your eyes...." Yet, staring into those eyes, Dark found more memories flooding back. Pictures and moving images he would rather forget. His shell splintered and crackled.
"We all start out the same, with simple, naive trust...."
He could recall his friendship with Mayor Damien, how kind and genial the butler had been, the Colonel's good natured tomfoolery, how Mark laughed and invited them all to have a wonderful time. The detective...
"Shielded from the many ways that life's not fair, or just."
Finding Mark's body, aiding the detective, questioning the various guests and staff as all the while tensions rose and Celine arrived on the scene, primed and ready for disaster.
"But then there comes a moment, a simple truth that you must face..."
Dark closed his eyes and pulled away from the Author. For the briefest of moments, pain flickered across his face. For just a tiny window of time, he appeared more vulnerable than he ever had before. His shell split, his crimson half screaming to the heavens while his blue counterpart seemed to sob and wail, curling towards the floor.
A struggle. A shot. A f
Such a short distance, stretched to such a long time. The Colonel's face.
It was an accident.
He swore it was.
"...if you depend on others, you'll never find your place."
Dark turned away from the Author. Slowly, he composed himself, drawing back in his layers, the shadows around them calming into their more manageable state. They'd started to go haywire at the peak of Dark's emotional duress. He was ashamed he could still feel such things. Taking a breath, he drew himself up, relieved the Author was either too stunned or still too confused to comment. "And as you take that first step, upon a path that's all your own...." He turned to the Author, that same steely coolness from earlier having returned to his gaze.
"You see it all so clearly. The best way to survive is all alone." Dark swept forward, grasping the Author's face again, willing him with words and actions to just listen. To properly let him in, to give up his foolish stubbornness and concede his defeat; his full surrender. "Open up your eyes, see the world from where I stand. Me among the mighty-"
He tossed the Author's face loose and gestured to the tendrils still keeping the ego tautly held at his mercy. "-you caged, at my command. Open up your eyes, and behold the faded light." Dark clasped his hands behind his back once more and tilted his head, leaning in close to the Author. "It's time to grow up, and get wise. Come now, little one... open up your eyes."
"Open up your eyes!" Dark snapped, cutting off the Author's first words in so long, the start of another protest. This time he was not nice with his actions. He backhanded the ego outright, making his head snap painfully to the side, Dark's voice a low growl again in warning. "Either you bend to my will, or I will make you bend. Your choice. Just as it was in the cabin."
The Author huffed out a breath, but he was in no way defeated. That same defiant look was lifted back into place. He still had the gall to stare Dark down.
Perhaps that was just the solution.
"You may have saved my life, and perhaps I can't be rid of you. But you will never own me, Darkiplier." The Author sneered, lip curled in blatant disgust.
Dark, unphased, leaned back away from the ego. His hands had returned to their prim position at the base of his spine while he coolly looked over his prisoner. The temperature in the room seemed to drop several degrees. "Oh, Author. Author, Author, Author...." He shook his head, tone that of a parent attempting to correct a clueless child. Smaller tendrils snaked off the larger ones holding the Author in place, firmly grasping the ego's head to keep it still. Dark reveled in the spike of fear that summoned up in the younger ego. "I told you this could have been easy...."
"Wh-what are you doing? Dark!" The Author was gritting his teeth, muscles taut where they strained against the tendrils with a renewed vigor. Tiny, spiderweb-like tendrils were forcing his eyes to stay open. It looked painful.
"Just remember in the future, when you loathe my very existence and all I have done, it has always been a choice. Your choice to live with." Dark crowded the Author, lifting a hand. His fingers delicately stroked along the skin surrounding one of those soulful brown eyes. "I would tell you to hold still, but... that shouldn't be a problem."
"D-Dark... Dark... NO!!"
The eyes were the window to the soul, or so the saying went. Dark wondered what that meant for someone without them.