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Everyone Has Bad Days

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Right when Darkiplier opened his eyes, he knew it was going to be a bad day.

He winced and groaned, wanting so bad to move but knowing that even the slightest shift would make it worse. Pain – a dull, throbbing, agonizing pain – thrummed throughout his whole body, making movement a chore. Of course, the demon was always in some degree of pain; walking on shattered bones and forcing muscles that were dead and decaying to function tended to cause that. But, as with most pain, some days were worse than others.

Squeezing his eyes shut, he mentally prepared himself for the torture he was about to put himself through, then slowly sat up, choking back his sounds of agony. Oh how he wished he could take painkillers, but, alas, when your body’s dead there isn’t exactly a working heart to pump the relieving substance through you. Besides, he was the leader, or more accurately, the only one of this ragtag group of idiots to have a fully functioning brain, and his was literally dead.

Sighing, he oh-so-slowly shifted himself till he was sitting on the edge of the bed, his feet not quite brushing the floor. He delicately moved to grab the old cane he kept propped by his bed, grateful for the relic at times like these. The blue soul within him thrummed at the familiar contact as Dark leaned heavily against the object, using it, and, in correlation, his arms, to bear the brunt of his weight. His arms themselves weren’t that damaged, but the way this body had fallen had caused the left shoulder socket to shatter on impact and severely dislocated his right shoulder, neither of which were ever treated, not like they could.

Straightening his back, his eye twitching, he put on his best mask and took his first step of what was sure to be an awful, awful day.

Dammit, Dark hated when he was right.

He’d managed to get through the morning without incident, making his way slowly and stiffly toward the kitchen for the ‘Family Breakfast’ King, Bim, and the Jims were so keen on having. Google had been their chef that particular morning, Bim hovering over his shoulder to make sure the genocidal robot didn’t slip anything ‘extra’ into the food. Wilford was, strangely, nowhere to be seen.

“Early mornin’ interview.” Ed’s voice startled him, though he managed to show no physical response, the cowboy answering his silent question. “Fuckin’ psychopath left before dawn. Feel sorry for whatever idiot decided to let Warfstache interview them.”

Dark bared his teeth. “D o n ‘ t  call him that.” His voice echoed strangely, a hint of his already tested patience and willpower to not just scream. “As I recall, you have no right to judge what Wil does for an occupation. After all, child trafficking is a much more…unsavory business, is it not?” He smiled, his form splintering slightly.

Ed flushed, opening his mouth to retort, but didn’t get the chance. “Now now, you two, no fighting,” the Silver Shepherd muttered, only his frown visible through the mask.

“At least, not before I’ve had my coffee,” chimed in Dr. Iplier, raising his too-large mug for emphasis.

“The Host implores Darkiplier to sit down and join us.” Dark fixed the blind ego with a glare through narrowed eyes. He had a feeling he knew more than he was letting on, simply by the tone of his voice and the way his head was cocked in the demon’s direction. But, Dark wordlessly obeyed, slipping into his seat at the head of the table, almost sighing in relief with the weight off his legs.

Slowly, the few egos not yet there arrived, sliding into their designated seats: the Host to the right of Dark, with Dr. Iplier, the Silver Shepherd, and the two Jims filling up that side of the table, Google’s empty chair, Bing, Ed Edgar, Bim’s chair, and King to his left. Wilford’s seat at the opposite end was, obviously, empty.

Soon enough, breakfast was served, and everyone dug in to their own plates, the only sounds to be heard were of clinking silverware. It was a pleasant silence; not awkward or tense. In a house filled with psychopaths and murderers and demons with not a single moral compass to be seen, silence was a relief. Breakfast was a time of peace, and no one was keen to break it.

Even with the lull, Dark was breaking. Most days he could function like nothing was amiss, like he was just as physically whole as the rest of them. On most days, the silence for him was welcomed. On bad days, however, bad days like today, the silence meant no distractions from the agony of broken bones grinding together, from punctured lungs and shredded organs. From splintered skulls and the constant, ever-present writhing of his Frankenstein’s Monster-like abomination of a soul. In the end, he didn’t even touch his food, just stared and watched as it grew cold with dead eyes as he drifted deeper into his mind, searching for some reprieve from his waking nightmare.

“Hey, you alright Dark? You didn’t eat anything.” Dark was snapped back into reality by Bim’s concerned voice, and suddenly all of the egos’ eyes were on him. Dark didn’t look at any of them, just stared blankly at Wilford’s chair.

“I am perfectly fine, Trimmer.” He saw the Host frown out the corner of his eye. He grabbed his cane and stood. “If you’ll excuse me, I have a lot of work to do.” And he left without another word, retreating to his office, uncomfortably aware of the others’ gazes boring into his back.

Yes, breakfast past without incident. It was hours later when Darkiplier’s control finally snapped.

He hadn’t left his office since he abruptly left that morning, slaving over the paperwork and spells that kept the manor running. Jackieboy Man, the ‘leader’ and frankly the most stable of the Septic Egos, had sent a letter detailing Dr. Schneeplestein’s desire to meet with Dr. Iplier and trade medical knowledge. Though he had a sneaking suspicion that the meeting was less about ‘trading medical knowledge’ and more ‘fangirling over the latest episodes of Doctor Who’, Dark had made a mental note to show the letter to the doctor tomorrow. The work grounded him, allowing him to keep his agony to the peripherals.

And then the door opened.

The break in his immersion made his pain snap to the forefront of his mind, and Dark had to grit his teeth to keep from screaming. He sat straighter, stiffening his back to keep up his air of normalcy despite how much he just wanted to collapse. “What is it that you need?”

“Bing is going on a goddamn rampage!” Dark stifled a sigh. Bim always had a…penchant for theatrics. Perhaps that was why Wil had taken him under his wing.

Really now?” He didn’t even try to keep the dry, sarcastic disbelief in his voice. He didn’t need to turn around to know that the game show host was blushing.

“Okay, well, no, but he’s in my studio! His glitchy ass is wreaking havoc on my equipment, static is everywhere, and he won’t listen to me! He keeps going on about his ‘vlogs’ and whatever and he’s driving me crazy! I bet if I went back there right now he’d have managed to get himself tangled in the cables, fucking–”

“Have you gone to Google yet?” Christ, he couldn’t take any more of this whining. It was giving him a headache, and the last thing he wanted was more pain. “We all know the little default will bow to his every whim.” He allowed himself a smirk.

“Okay, but…Google scares me.” At Dark’s growl of annoyance, Bim quickly backpedaled. “But, but, I uh, I-I’ll go talk to him anyway. Thanks Dark.” He patted the demon on the shoulder.

Dark’s vision went red.

The thin, wavering self-control he had shattered, and Dark screamed as his aura lashed out at everything around him. Dark was at the center of a tornado, hunched over and sobbing as his pent-up torture washed over him. His vision was smothered with static, the ever-present ringing growing utterly deafening with his spiraling control, and he hurt it hurt pain pain pain make it stop make it stop he could hear Bim screaming Hell he was screaming he was crying and it hurt hurt hurt God why in a deep corner of his mind he wondered detachedly if Bim would survive the onslaught of his aura effectively chewing him up and spitting him out but it was hard to care when it felt like millions of white-hot needles were embedding themselves in every inch of your body, he just wanted it to stop

There was a hand on his head, and everything went quiet.

Dark was still sobbing, was still in unbelievable, agonizing pain, but his aura calmed and quieted, the ringing faded to its regular background noise volume. Gentle fingers raked through his hair, and the two souls stitched and forced together both stilled, reaching out and pleading for the touch they both craved like flowers after a drought, crying out for this one man’s affection.

Darkiplier spun around and buried his face in Wilford’s shirt.

Wil wrapped his arms loosely around the demon, tucking him closer to his chest, and rested his chin atop his head. “Shhh…” He brought one hand around to cup the back of Dark’s head. “Shhh, it’s okay, Dark. It’s okay…” Wil continued to comfort him as Dark sobbed, staining his shirt and unable to form coherent thought.

“It hurts. Wil, it hurts, make it stop, make it stop…” His voice was nothing but a broken distortion, barely understandable. Wil just held him closer.

The bubblegum reporter pressed a kiss to his hair. “I know, I know…Hey, I’m going to pick you up, okay? I’m going to take you to your room.” Dark whined, balking at the idea of that kind of physical contact, even from Wil. Wil pet the back of his head, running his fingers through his hair. “I know, Dark, but you need rest. Especially after a day like this.” Gently, he looped his arms under the demon, lifting him up bridal style. Dark stiffened, hiding his face in Wil’s shirt as pressure was added to his spine. Wil continued to talk, murmuring things under his breath for only Dark to hear, distracting him. Distantly, Dark was aware of the sharp smell of blood and Dr. Iplier’s frantic words in the background, but Wil’s voice was so soothing, such a sharp contrast to his usual personality, Dark just let the rest of the world slip away.

By the time soft sheets were underneath him, his sobbing had died down to quiet crying. The second Wil stepped away, Dark whined, reaching out blindly for him. Wil took his hand and pressed his lips to the back of it. “Shhh…sleep, Dark. I’ll be back soon.” He drew away again, and Dark’s eyes slipped shut involuntarily. He was asleep in seconds.

When Dark opened his eyes again, he felt lighter. The pain was still there, it was always there, but it had lessened significantly from earlier. He pushed himself upright, wincing slightly, and rubbed at his eyes. Wilford was nowhere in sight. He made a move to get out of bed, and suddenly Wil was there, pushing him back down and shaking his head. “No no no, you stay put, love. You need your rest.”

Dark opened his mouth to protest, but then raised an eyebrow once he spotted the tray occupying Wil’s other hand. “Are those…cookies?”

Wil beamed. “Freshly frosted!” He tapped a finger on Dark’s nose. “You may be able to keep up your serious, edgy side with the others, but you can’t hide your sweet tooth from me!” He handed Dark a cookie perfectly frosted with bright pink icing, and the demon couldn’t help the smile that crossed his face, though it quickly fell.

“How…How is Bim doing?” Wil frowned and took a seat in the bed.

“Well…you did a number on him, that’s for sure. But he’ll be okay. I checked in with Dr. Iplier. He’ll need several stitches in several places, and he lost a lot of blood, but no wound was too serious. Like I said, he’ll be fine. Don’t worry, Dark. Eat a cookie. You’ll feel better!” He added the last part with a sing-song lilt to his voice, silly little grin back in place.

Dark let his head fall back on the pillow, closing his eyes and taking a bite of Wil’s sugar cookie. His smile immediately returned. “Okay, what will I have to do to get you to make these again? Every day, really?”

Wil laughed. A soft sound, nothing like the deranged cackle that was the usual. “If you promise to smile more, I will gladly!”

Dark finished the last of his cookie and was already reaching for another. His hand faltered briefly. “How did you even know to come? I thought that you were at work?”

“The Host called. He said ‘if you are not there with Darkiplier by this afternoon two of the possible futures involve death and only three do not end in massive destruction.’” Dark laughed at Wil’s attempt to imitate the Host. “So, I came. So a few people didn’t get their interviews, but we can always reschedule. You’re much more important.”

Dark blushed, then grabbed Wil by the waist and tugged him down with him, snuggling into his chest. “I still feel like shit. How about we just lie here, eat cookies, and just…sleep.”

Wil shifted, wrapping one arm around Dark and resting the tray across his lap. He closed his eyes and let out a deep sigh.

“Sounds perfect.”

Chapter Text

The King of the Squirrels was an erratic, rather withdrawn ego. He preferred the company of his subjects more than that of the others, really only befriending Bim and the Jim twins. Oh he did what he was asked, attending the meetings and breakfast (though it was more the Jims’ idea than anything), but he slipped away to the grand outdoors the moment he was able. No one really knew where he went when he wasn’t in the manor. The beautiful clearing he stayed at was so very deep in the forest. Usually it was a blessing. It allowed for him to be uninterrupted while he cared for his squirrels.

Today, it was a curse.

Today, he craved comfort.

King sobbed, a gasping, heartbroken sound, as he held close the body of one of his beloved squirrels, the first. They’d found each other when King was young, a child, and of course, being at the lovely age of eleven, he’d promptly given the friendly squirrel the name ‘Acorn’. Even from a young age, King was always more comfortable around animals than people, so it wasn’t a surprise when he rapidly became attached. It was when Acorn let the child pet him for the first time that the bond really formed, and the young ego promptly declared himself King of the Squirrels. And just like that, King refused to go anywhere without Acorn nearby, whether he was on his shoulders or just outside, he was always near.

And now, nearly twenty years later, Acorn was gone.

King hunched over himself, clutching the lifeless form tight to his chest. He’d known it was coming. They’d both known really. After nearly twenty years, the two had formed their own form of a sort of language, a short hand. And King knew that Acorn’s lifespan was coming to a close. His age had begun to show in the past year or so. He ran stiffer. He didn’t climb as much. He preferred to sleep under King’s crown or drape across his shoulder rather than scamper along beside him. But King had managed to disillusion himself, convince himself that the day he would wake up and Acorn wouldn’t be there to greet him would never come to pass.

Which made the day it finally came so much harder.

King’s grief-filled cries had begun to attract the attention of his other subjects. He had a name for every one of them. Some he’s known almost as long as Acorn. Others he’s only known for a couple of weeks. It didn’t matter; his bond with them didn’t even compare to the one he’d forged with the fragile little thing that now looked so sad and broken in his hands. More tears fell, and King felt like all the light had been drained from his world. Acorn had been more than a pet; he never really was. He was a friend, his dearest friend, and now he was gone.

Thunder cracked above, and the other squirrels scattered. King finally stood, straightening his back and cradling Acorn in one arm as he rubbed at his eyes with the other. He managed to tear his eyes away from the body, intending on finding a suitable spot to bury him before the storm hit, but what he spotted before him had the skittish ego flinching back a bit, adverting his gaze. “Wilford! I um…h-how long have you been standing there?”

“Long enough.” The reporter walked slowly toward him, uncharacteristically slow. King fiddled with his cape, shifting it to cover his front.

“I…uh how did you know where I was? I though you guys didn’t know where I went…?”

“Oh I’ve always known.” Up close, King could see the glaze over Wilford’s eyes. “I make it a point to know what places everyone frequents. Helps make round-up easier when it needs to happen.” Those glazed eyes shifted to his own, and Wilford’s head cocked to the side. “I’m…sorry. About your friend. Do…you want any help?”

King blinked, stunned. “Um…I just need to…just need to b-bury him. If you want to help, I mean…” Wordlessly, Wilford walked over to a far end of the clearing, a spot surrounded by wild flowers. King blinked again, and suddenly there was a small hole at Wilford’s feet, the reporter staring at him expectantly. Thunder boomed above, the sky darkening as King made his way over to the other ego. Staring down into the hole, the…grave, he was almost reluctant to let go. But, he shifted his cape aside, pressing one last kiss to Acorn’s soft, achingly cold forehead, and gently laid him in the hole, unable to stop the tears cascading down his face.

Lightning lit up the sky, and the loudest explosion of thunder yet had King flinching and shaking. Strong arms wrapped around him, and suddenly he found himself crying into Wilford’s chest, trembling as indescribable grief flooded through him. It took a long time for him to realize that Wilford was speaking, whispering comforting words into his ear. By the time he had calmed down enough to speak, the skies had opened up and the two of them were soaked through.

King made a move to pull back, and Wilford let him go. The crazed reporter still had the same strange, clouded expression. King sniffled, looking down to avoid the other’s gaze. “Um…th-thanks. Really.” Wilford just stared at him, his brow furrowed. The two stood there, the rain soaking into their skin, until Wilford spoke up again.

“I…have something to show you. Come on.” And with that Wilford turned around and started back towards the manor. King shuffled in place, debating whether or not to follow, before darting warily after him. The walk back to the house was filled with silence, and King couldn’t tell if it was tense or awkward or just confusion. Honestly, it was probably all three. It was a relief when the manor came into view. Wilford sped up the pace.

“W-wait! Wait, Wilford, hold on a second!” King stumbled through the door after him, tripping over his own feet in the process. After righting himself, he looked up to see Wilford standing by the kitchen table, next to a medium-sized cardboard box. The reporter was still just staring, watching him as the younger ego inched closer. “Um…what is that?”

He just gestured to look inside.

Hesitantly, King did exactly that, rising up on his tip-toes to peer over the edge of the box. He gasped, mouth falling open. Inside, curled up in the far corner, was a terrified, very pregnant red squirrel. He glanced at Wilford. “Where did you…How did you…” Tenderly, he lifted the creature into his arms, soothing her gently. She chattered quietly in his hold as he looked up at Wilford expectantly.

His brow was furrowed again, his eyes slightly clearer. “I…she was outside of my studio building, just…on the ground. I didn’t know what to do, so…I brought her to you.”

King looked down at the squirrel in his arms. He was still grieving, his chest still hurt and his eyes still watered whenever he thought back to the one he had lost, but looking down at her…he knew he would heal in time. Never completely, God no, but… “Thank you, Wilford. I…thanks.” He smiled. “I’m gonna call her Vita. Means ‘Life’ in Latin.”

Wilford tilted his head to the side. “You speak Latin?”

King shrugged, adjusting his crown and blushing. “Well…. a-a little.” He beamed up at Wilford. “I-I have to go make a nest for her.” He was bouncing excitedly now. “There’s so much stuff she needs…I can’t put her outside, it’s getting too cold…” He dissolved in to unintelligible mutterings, before darting off to his room, leaving Wilford alone in the kitchen.

It was only several hours later, Vita now in a comfortable make-shift nest of old shirts and blankets, that King realized that Wilford had been in one of his rare moments of semi-lucidity, an event all egos were told to immediately report to Darkiplier. But then Vita made a noise, and King dismissed it from his mind.

Chapter Text

“And Mr. $51, 657 is in the lead!” Bim turned to the camera with a wide, bright smile, not even bothering with the pretense of knowing his contestants’ names. “That means you get to start off our next round! So, what would you–”


Bim whirled around, scowling and ready to chew out whatever technician decided to interrupt his show, but a horrible, screeching grinding sound cut him off before he began, and he was forced to covered his ears. “What the Hell–” He glanced around, turning back to the three contestants, who were all looking around confused, their own ears covered. The screeching came again, and the beam supporting the stage lights above them slid downwards simultaneously. Bim’s eyes widened, diving out of the way just before the beam crashed to floor in a grand display of sparks and the sound of metal grating against metal.

Bim’s ears rang as he stood, completely disoriented. The studio was in utter chaos, people running every which way, their piercing screams making his ears hurt. Lights flickering, adding to his disorientation, Bim surveyed the damage. The beam had fallen in such a way that the stage was completely separated from the technical side.

Right on top of one of the contestants’ podium.

Bim raced over to it, stumbling his way past sparking wires and broken lights and bits of metal. Two of the contestants, some red-haired woman who had barely a thousand dollars during the show and a man that Bim only vaguely remembered for the tattoo partially visible on his neck, were coward on the other side, holding tight to each other.

The third, his lead, was half-hanging out from beneath the beam.

Bim covered his mouth, stumbling back and grabbing at his hair with his fist. He turned away from the scene, his breathing coming in rapid gasps. Oh God oh God oh God –

“Bim! Hey, Bim, what’s wrong? What the bloody Hell happened here, are you alright?” Wilford was suddenly by his side, and Bim wasted no time in turning and clinging to the other, not even questioning how he got there. “Jesus! Is that a person under there?!”

The younger ego let the first sob fall. “I-I-I don’t know what happened! It just…fell! How does this happen, everything’s so messed up, oh this is so not what supposed to happen! God, what am I going to do?! I can’t run a show when someone dies unplanned in the middle of it!” He continued to cling to his stunned mentor, his head spinning.

Yeah, Bim didn’t have a problem with death. The game show host himself had a habit of murdering contestants as ‘part of the game’ mid-way through episodes and then forcing the unknowing, unsuspecting remaining contestants to indulge in acts of cannibalism. Add in the fact that Wilford Warfstache had taken him under his wing himself, and all the crazy psychopaths he lived with, Bim was very used to death. No, what he had a problem with that was making him lose his mind so easily was the fact that this was unplanned, it was off-script. Bim was a terrible improviser. He went so far as to follow his chosen contestants for weeks before they came on the show, studying the way the spoke and their mannerisms so he wouldn’t be too surprised and was able to build a loose, possible script. He had an order, a plan for everything. When things went awry, he tended to break down.

This was no exception.

Bim was hyperventilating at this point, his words dissolving into incoherent babbling as he clutched at the reporter’s shirt. Wilford was stiff in his hold, clearly unsure of how to handle the panicking ego. “Bim! Hey, we can fix this, don’t worry, please stop crying…” Wilford was completely oblivious to the screams and chaos around them, one hand on the small of his apprentice’s back, the other having a firm grip on Bim’s shoulder. He appeared to mentally stutter, and, this close to him, Bim could feel the sudden shift in Wilford, even before the bubblegum man pulled away, both hands now gripping his biceps. “Good God, man, get a hold of yourself! We can fix this, just trust me!” He shook the other a little. “Do you trust me?”

Bim sniffed, wiping at his eyes, a tiny grin forming. “Absolutely not.” Wilford’s own too-wide, psychotic grin spread across his face, his teeth glinting, his eyes far too bright. It was an expression that made most shy away in terror.

“Right you are! So, first things first – we need to get rid of that beam.” Wilford placed his hands on his hips, staring at the offending object with a slight scowl, his brow furrowed, ignoring the blood and brain matter that oozed from beneath it. He kicked at the leg of the crushed man sticking out, making noise of impressed and surprised disgust as the limb dislodged itself with a sickening pop! and splattered against the wall. “Ouch…So, any ideas?” He raised an eyebrow, glancing at Bim from the corner of his eye.

“Well…” Bim snapped his fingers. “I got it!” The younger ego began rambling out ideas, and Wilford, after making a few calls to an exasperated and very annoyed Darkiplier, made them reality. And thus the two began the arduous task of cleaning and repairing Bim’s studio. Wilford pointed Bim in the right direction whenever the younger ego began to panic with a few well-placed and skillfully worded questions, watching with amusement as he then proceeded to spew creative solutions, which Wilford indulged in with glee.

And if Wilford felt a glow of pride watching his little prodige bounce around and take charge, well, that was his business.

Chapter Text

Ed Edgar’s chosen business practice was an…unsavory one, to put it mildly. Child trafficking wasn’t exactly the most respectable job. That being said, it brought in a Hell of a lot of money. In fact, him and his business was the lead source of income for the egos. Though Dark and the Googles were the ones who handled all the finances, Ed was very aware of this. It caused to him have an almost permanent smug smirk, one that had been slapped off his face by all the egos – including some of the Septics – at least once. He was proud of what he built.

That being said…

When something went wrong, it went wrong.

The egos had all been at breakfast when Ed got the call. It had been the Silver Shepherd’s turn to make it (he always made the best omelets). Ed’s phone had gone off just as they all began to eat, ‘Cotton-Eyed Joe’ blaring loudly in the quiet room. He had excused himself, and soon after the shouting started. The other egos were able to paint a pretty clear picture of what had happened even from just the cowboy’s side of the ‘conversation.’

“What do you mean you ‘lost a shipment’, you better fuckin’ do somethin’ and replace it! No, you listen to me! I don’t give a rat’s ass if you think it’s impossible, I had a ship filled with cargo, and if you don’t find a way to fill that ship back up before it sets sail I will personally shove the barrel of my gun up your ass. I don’t care what you do! Hell, I don’t care if you kidnap Barack goddamn Obama’s daughters themselves, because I have a lot of money riding on this and if you fuck this up even more than you already have, it will cost you dearly. Got it? Good. Get on it.”

Some of the more mild-mannered egos – specifically King, Silver, Bing, and the Jims – shifted uncomfortably in their seats, though Bing was subtler in showing his discomfort, his bright, golden-orange eyes seen flicking quickly to Google sitting next to him before he pushed his shades farther up his nose. All of the egos, save the impassive Google and the all-knowing Host, jumped when they heard a loud crash, followed by an angry, wordless shout, and then Ed was walking calmly yet uncharacteristically stiffly back into the room. His knuckles on one hand were bleeding.

He locked eyes with the Jims. “Sorry, boys, I may have accidentally punched a hole in one of your fancy teleprompters. I’ll get you a new one.” The Jims hardly heard his words, gasping out in horror before scrambling out of their seats, breakfast completely forgotten as they raced past him and darted down the hallway, crying out each other’s names in a panic.

Dark locked eyes with Wilford from across the table, snapping his broken neck back into place before narrowing his eyes. Wilford did the same, gaze flicking to Ed before raising an eyebrow. Dark simply folded his hands, resting them on the table, tilting his head slightly to the side. Wil promptly rolled his eyes dramatically, then stood, choosing to ignore Dark’s pleased smirk. “Alright, Eddy, why don’t you just follow me and we can go some place where you’re less likely to – what did you say? – shove the barrel of your gun up someone’s ass.”

Ed’s eyes shifted slowly to the eccentric reporter. He flicked his wrist, sending blood flying through the air. Google growled as some of it landed on his cheek. “I don’t need to go anywhere, I am perfectly capable of handlin’ my own damn business. Keep your psychopathic ass away from me.”

Dark’s expression didn’t change, but his aura immediately cracked, his red and blue doubles standing ominously to either side of him, the ringing that perpetually surrounded him growing louder and shriller. Wilford rushed for the cowboy, arm outstretched. “Okay, now you really have to hurry up. Don’t resist, you’ll just hurt yourself.” His fingertips brushed Ed’s arm and suddenly both egos were gone.

Ed found himself momentarily unable to breathe, black surrounding him on all sides, before the world popped back into existence and he greedily choked in air, a hand around his throat as he glared daggers at the flamboyant reporter. “What the fuck, Warfstache! I told you to stay the Hell away from me!” He glanced at his surroundings, at all of the trees and vegetation. “Where the Hell even are we?!”

Wilford brushed off his shirt. “Relax, we’re just in the woods surrounding the manor. Home is back that way.” He gestured vaguely over his shoulder, then placed his hands on his hips. “You need to calm down, my friend. I brought you here to blow off some steam, so–” He spread his arms, staring Ed dead in the eye. “Shoot me.”

The cowboy instantly recoiled, stumbling back a few steps. “What?! I’m not gonna fuckin’ shoot you, what the fuck! What is wrong with you?!”

Wilford was still just standing there with his arms outstretched, presenting himself like a target. “Come on, shoot me! You clearly need to vent off some frustration, and it won’t hurt me! I’ll be fine, and you’ll feel better!” He wiggled his fingers, grinning broadly, eyes unnaturally bright.

Ed just flinched back further. “God, you really are psycho! I’m not gonna shoot you! Even if I did, which I’m not, do you have any idea what Dark would do to me?!”

Wilford rolled his eyes, arms dropping to his sides. “Fine, if you won’t trust me, I’ll just have to show you!” He drew his own revolver, from where was unclear, and leveled the barrel with his own head, not quite touching.

Ed froze. “Wait, holy fuck, Wilford–”

He pulled the trigger.

Ed ducked down, covering his face, not wanting to see the inevitable mess. Dark was going to kill him, Wilford just shot himself in the head right in front of him, God, what the fuck

“See! Perfectly fine!”

Ed dropped his hands, not trusting his ears. Wilford was still standing there, gun in his hand and still grinning as mad as ever. There wasn’t even a bruise on the man as he tucked his gun back away. Ed’s mouth fell open, physically shaking from the Hell he just went through. “What…How…”

Wilford simply spread his arms again, waggling his eyebrows comically. “I bet you want to shoot me now, huh?”

Without really thinking about it, Ed whipped out his pistol and did exactly that. Wilford didn’t even flinch. “Why would you do that to a guy, huh? You can’t just shoot yourself in the head!” Every few words were punctuated with another deafening bang! as Ed pulled the trigger.

“Hey, I told you I’d be fine! You’re the one who didn’t listen!” This time, Wilford winced slightly as the bullet grazed his throat, the sensation uncomfortable. “Besides, you’re not thinking about your shipment anymore!” As soon as the words left his mouth, Ed’s face darkened. With a frustrated, angry shout, Ed proceeded to empty his gun on Wilford’s chest. Still feeling unsatisfied, pent-up rage bubbling under the surface, he holstered his gun and walked up to the reporter. Wilford raised an eyebrow.

Ed punched him in the jaw.

Wilford stumbled back, more in surprise than actual pain. He didn’t move to defend himself, letting Ed vent out his aggression. In other words, he just stood there and let the cowboy beat the shit out of him. By the time he was done, Ed was panting and sweaty, his sunglasses slipping down his nose. Wilford remained unfazed, his hands on his hips as he surveyed the considerably more subdued ego. “Now do you feel better?”

Ed sniffed, adjusting his glasses. “Actually…yes. Uh…thanks.”

Wilford beamed cheerfully. “It was my pleasure! Now, let’s get back home. My omelet is probably so cold…”

Chapter Text

Bing slunk through the hallways of the manor, trying his best to hide his tears behind his shades. He tried so hard, he did, he really, really did, but it was never enough for Google. The other android was just so harsh, always expecting perfection, and now that there was four of them, it was just that many more voices criticizing Bing at every turn. Google was impassive, logical, and efficient; the perfect machine. Everything Bing was not, with his softer and more-easygoing personality. He had always been the more…human-like android, more prone to emotion. Sometime he thinks Google forgets that. Or he just doesn’t care.

Bing was thankful the hall was empty as he tried to stealthy make his way back to his room and break down in peace. He wasn’t just a default, he did have purpose, no matter what Google said. Besides, his superior was just angry, right? He didn’t mean anything he said.

So why did it hurt so bad?

Bing was so busy wallowing in his own thoughts that he didn’t notice that someone else had entered his proximity until they called out his name. “Bing! What’s wrong? You’re…I didn’t know you robots could cry.”

The younger android flinched, glancing up at the intruder, tears the color of liquid fire and just as bright pouring down his cheeks. “Oh! He-hey, Wilford dude! Did ya need something?”

Wilford quickly took in his disheveled form, not answering, hands on his hips. Bing ducked his head self-consciously (another human quality). His logo was dimmer than usual. “You look like Hell. What happened?”

Bing sniffed, forcing a laugh even though he was unable to stop his tears. “Oh you know, j̮̕ust Gō͜ǫ̌glḛ͆ being Google!” His voice began to glitch and grow tinnier with emotion.               

Wilford narrowed his eyes. “Do I need to pay Google a little visit?”              

“N͔̣͒o!͍͂ No, it’s…it’s fine.” His next laugh was broken and glitchy. “Besides, it was m̯̐y-m͚̌y͚̔-̜͞m̦̕y f̥̊ä̫u̡̔ļ͂ṱ͘. I screwed up. Hě̝-h͆͢e̯͘ ẘ̻a̢s jus͖̽t mad.” He looked up at Wilford, removing his shades to reveal his eyes, glowing a golden-orange and the tears kept coming. “Right?”              

And with that, Bing broke down.              

His body crumpled, and he curled into a tight ball on the ground as he sobbed, hands fisted in his hair. Seconds later he felt warm arms wrap around him, and he quickly latched onto Wilford in return, the android’s arms looping around him and pulling himself closer to the reporter, face buried in his shirt. “I͓͌-̱̓I'̬͋m̧̉ ͠ͅno̜͘t̄͜ ͗͟j̦͝ṵ̃s̢̆t ̢̊d̨̉e̪͘f̳͋â͉ult͓̅,̥̾ ̙̄I̮͠-Ỉ̥-̨͐I̳̽'m ̡̊not b͚̕rơ͢k̰̋e͎͛n̟̅-͔͗k̪̾en.̻͂.̜̈́.̞̽” He had lost all control over his voice, glitching like mad and just sobbing. Google’s criticisms had driven deep this time; the constant berating infecting him to his core. “Ĭͅ-͇̉I'm̨̌ ̧̃n̜͛o-̪o̹͗t̞͞..͈͛.”              

“Shh, Bing, of course you’re not! You really shouldn’t take Google’s words to heart like this.” Wilford let out a dry chuckle. “Though, I suppose if Dark said something similar to me on a regular basis I wouldn’t be in a much better state.” Bing blushed, well, the android equivalent, tiny LEDs under his synthetic skin making his cheeks glow orange. His sobbing died down – really only because his tear ducts ran out of liquid – and Wilford gently pushed him away, hands on his shoulders, and looked Bing dead in the eye. “Now you listen to me, Bing. You have to stand up for yourself! Just because Google is your ‘superior’ or whatever term you use, doesn’t mean he get’s to be a prick.” He gave a wry little smile. “You should go stay with Chase for a few days, you are friends, are you not? Stick it to Google and make him realize he actually does need you.”               

Bing sniffed, wiping at his eyes with the back of one hand, his shades firmly grasped in the other. “Ĭ̞͇̤̌̒.͙͕̙̒͐̄͜͝.̙̉.̮̹̏” He cleared his throat. “I don’t…Is that a good idea?”              

Wilford beamed. “Of course it is! Let Google suffer for a couple of days, who knows, you might get a little something when you get back.” The reporter waggled his eyebrows, laughter reverberating in his chest, and Bing shoved at him, blushing brighter. Wilford stood, tapping Bing on the nose. “Now you stay put. I’ll be right back. I just have to get a little…something something.” And then Wilford was skipping down the hallway, humming an odd tune and twirling a knife that he definitely didn’t have before.              

“Wait – wait, Wilford! Hold on a minute, man!” Bing tried to stand, but he ended up just tripping over his own limbs and laid sprawled on the floor. He grumbled to himself, instead focusing on trying to rub his face clean of the stains his tears left behind. He resigned himself to his spot on the floor, slipping his shades back on and waiting impatiently for the reporter’s return. A few minutes later, someone cleared their throat behind him, and Bing glanced over his shoulder, scrambling to his feet soon after. “Google! I – what – um –” He cut himself off, looking down and fidgeting with his fingers.              

Google stood a few feet in front of the younger android, his back perfectly straight, his hands clasped behind him. Wilford loomed over his shoulder, a slight frown gracing his face. “I believe Google has something to say to you, Bing!” He punctuated his statement with a sharp kick the back of Google’s shin. The android growled, and Bing immediately recognized all the near impossible-to-see ticks signaling that Google was just barely holding back from strangling the bubblegum man.              

Still, Google straightened himself further, then locked eyes with Bing, neon blue eyes glowing bright. “I…would like to apologize, Bing. I forget that you are more…emotional than I. It was never my intention to damage you in such a way.”              

Bing looked away, not entirely sure if Google’s apology was genuine or simply forced. “I know.” He cleared his throat, uncomfortable, and his wandering gaze met Wilford’s. He nodded his head behind Google, making a ‘go on’ gesture. Bing stiffened his back, trying to match Google’s posture. “Um…I’m going to stay with Chase for a while. To, you know, clear my head, take a break. I’m…not sure when I’ll be back.” Google’s mouth had parted slightly. He looked…surprised? Struggling to comprehend? Panicked? Bing tried for a smile; it didn’t quite work. So, instead, he spun on his heels and walked the opposite way. The second he turned the corner, his shoulders sagged, his posture dropping and he tried to avoid dry sobbing.              

He bolted to his room, slamming the door and sliding down to the ground, closing his eyes, heels of his hands pressed firmly against them, and opened his messaging app. ‘Hey Chase, can I stay with you for a few days? It won’t be long, I promise.’              

'Yeah man! Stay as long as you like! Can I ask why?’

Bing groaned out loud. ‘Long story short, Google’s a prick and I just need to get away for a bit. I’ll try not to intrude on you Septics too much.’              

'That sucks dude. And don’t worry, we’ll have a blast! I’ll see you soon, yeah?’               

‘Thanks Chase. I’ll be over soon.’ Bing stood, exhaling slowly. Grabbing his skateboard, he marched out of his room and out of the manor. The Septic Mansion wasn’t too far away.              

And if he saw Google in the main entryway, watching him leave, he didn’t acknowledge it.

Chapter Text

It had been exactly one week, five hours, and twenty-two minutes since Bing left.              

Google had begun to feel strange.              

The android was not used to emotion. Well, he wasn’t used to emotions other than irritation and rage. But the absence of the younger, more eccentric android had left his core and circuits feeling knotted and painful, and this feeling grew the longer Bing was away. A quick search later and Google discovered that this feeling had a name – anxiety. He was anxious for Bing’s return. He wanted him to come home. It was new and strange and Google didn’t like it. Not to mention the fact that this foreign sensation was beginning to make him glitch and spark occasionally. It was only a matter of time before the persistent sparking damaged a system.              

And that’s how Google found himself stuck on the couch in the main living area of the manor, unable to move and staring blankly ahead. He couldn’t get one of his extensions to fix him, as they shut down whenever the main android was incapacitated. And Bing was still with Chase Brody and the Septics. Dr. Iplier was no engineer, and Google didn’t trust any of the other egos to go anywhere near his inner workings.              

Someone bounced into the room, and Google scowled. Of course. He briefly debated whether or not he should ask Wilford Warfstache for help, and he almost decided against it, but he needed to discuss a few things with the reporter. He was the reason he was in this mess after all.              

“Warfstache.” The mentioned man jumped, spinning around, immediately giving Google a wide, psychotic grin.               

“Google! How’s it hanging? You’ve been looking a little glum lately!”              

The android clenched his jaw. If he’d been able to move, he would’ve strangled Warfstache. Then again, if he could move, this conversation wouldn’t be necessary. “I require…your assistance.” The words came out smoothly through admittedly bared teeth, revealing none of his anger.              

Warfstache seemed surprised, quickly sliding back into his grin. “Of course! What is it you need, my friend?”              

“It appears that some of my systems have been compromised. I need you to fix it, as I cannot move.”              

“I’m happy to help, but wouldn’t it be wiser to get one of your brothers to do it?”              

Google resisted the urge to role his eyes. “My ‘brothers’ as you called them are mere extensions of myself. They shut down when I am damaged. And as you are well aware, Bing still resides with Chase Brody. You are, unfortunately, my only option.” Warfstache’s grin still plastered in place almost made Google change his mind. “I will guide you through the process. Do not do anything unless I explicitly instruct it.”              

Warfstache raised his hands. “Relax, Google, I have no interest in messing with your junk.” This time, Google did roll his eyes as the reporter smiled cheekily.              

“First, open the panel on the back of my neck. That will give you access to all you need.” Warfstache stepped around him and did as told. The next few minutes passed by quietly, Google relaying instructions and Warfstache thankfully followed with surprising obedience. Google felt his core twist painfully. Almost shyly, with more than enough hesitance, he asked, in an embarrassingly small voice, “When do you think Bing will return?”              

Warfstache started at the question, and pain burst from his neck. “Sorry!” He fell silent, likely thinking. “I don’t know. The poor boy is probably having the time of his life with his friend. A vast change in atmosphere if you ask me.”              

Google snarled at the implication. “I treat Bing just fine. And I have the right to run my portion of our collective business exactly as I see fit.”              

The bubblegum man snorted. “Be that as it may, you do not treat Bing ‘just fine’. If you did, he wouldn’t have collapsed right before my eyes, sobbing and trying to convince himself that he had purpose and wasn’t just the default.” Google’s eye twitched. The twisting, dreadful feeling in his core was beginning to radiate through the rest of him as Warfstache continued. “I’ve seen the way Bing looks at you. There’s a reason he’s so eager to please. And if you don’t lighten up, if you don’t shower that boy with praise and affection when he gets back, one day he may walk out that door and never come back.”

Google was not expecting the sudden rise of panic at Warfstache’s words. As a result, his circuitry sparked and the reporter jumped back. “Yowzah! Welp, I’ve said my piece. Let’s get you back up and running, huh?” Warfstache patted his shoulder, the serious air suddenly absorbed by his radiating chaotic energy. “What’s next?” Google relayed the last few steps to Warfstache, but his mind was very much elsewhere, trying to dissect the man’s words. He barely noticed when his CPU whirred and his fingers twitched. Affection was a very foreign term to the android; he must research it. And what did he mean by ‘the way Bing looked at him’? Google would’ve most likely sat there the rest of the day, contemplating and over-analyzing, if King had not burst into the room, peanut butter dripping off his face, crown askew, and a wide, excited beam splitting his face.

“Guys! Vita finally gave birth! Do you wanna see?” Warfstache clapped his hands enthusiastically, immediately darting to follow King. Google hesitated a moment before following, a few joints stiff from his hours of forced immobilization. King led the two back to his room, squirming past the small crowd of a few of the other egos. Google was left in the back of the group. There was a collective gasp, and Bim’s voice was the first heard.

“King! They’re so cute!”

“And squishy.” That intelligent remark was Warfstache.

“Why are they all pink?” A question voiced by the Silver Shepherd. Google tunes out King’s answer. He already knew. Instead, he made himself grow taller, a feature he most commonly used to tower over the other egos and make them feel uncomfortable (a guilty pleasure), to see what the commotion was about. King was standing in the center of the room holding a bundle of blankets. Cameraman Jim had his large news camera focused up-close on said bundle, Reporter Jim dancing around them both with his microphone and saying something that frankly sounded like gibberish. Using his enhanced eyesight, he was able to spot the seven pink, squirming animals all nestled around their mother in the bundle King carried. He couldn’t help but cock his head to the side. They did look rather squishy.

While the rest fawned over the newborns, King answering all questions with unbridled enthusiasm, Google took a step back, regressing into his servers to research ‘affection’. It was…an interesting topic. Humans were so weird. He was amazed at how such a fragile and frankly addlepated species had managed to last hundreds of thousands of years.

The sound of the front door opening reached his ears, and suddenly Google was off like a shot.

“Hey dudes! I’m ba –” Bing hadn’t even finished his sentence before Google was rounding the corner, CPU humming loudly and his logo glowing brighter than it had all week. Bing jumped at his sudden appearance, then shifted nervously, refusing to meet the other android’s eyes. “Um…Hey Google.”

The older android was silent for a moment before he cleared his throat, attempting to regain his composure. “You’re back.” Google would forever deny that his voice cracked a little. He closed the distance between the two of them, not remember his altered height until he was gazing down at Bing, the younger android’s cheeks glowing yellow-orange, their chests almost touching.

“Um, yeah! Staying with Chase was super fun and all, but I just…I needed to come home. It wasn’t permanent anyway, but, um…” Bing was still refusing to look at him.

“I’m glad you decided to do so.” Google’s own cheeks began to glow a light blue. “I have…missed you.”

That got Bing’s attention, as his eyes finally locked onto Google’s. “You…wait, what?”              

Google’s face just flushed deeper. He’d never second-guessed his research before, but God he hoped he was right. So, instead of answering, he leaned down and tentatively pressed his lips to Bing’s. The younger let out a squeak as Google’s hands came up, one supporting the back of Bing’s head, the other cupping his face. After a long moment, Google pulled back. It was the most sweet, intimate moment he’d ever experienced. And, looking at Bing, he made an educated guess that he felt the same.              

He didn’t expect it to feel so warm.              

Bing was completely speechless, his mouth hanging open slightly, eyes wide behind his shades. Google gently caressed his cheek with his thumb. “I promise to be more lenient with you in the future. And I sincerely apologize for how I made you feel. You are not just a default. You do have a purpose.” He smiled, a soft, new expression, and for the first time Bing smiled back.              

Bing glanced away. “Um…c-can I, uh, you, I-I mean we uh…” His eyes flitted to Google’s lips, and the older android chuckled before kissing him again. Bing sighed softly, and not long after Google felt his hands tangling in his hair, pulling him closer. He practically growled into Bing’s mouth at the touch.              

“Hey, Google, where’d you run off to in such a…rush…oh.”               

Warfstache only had time to let his eyes widen before he had to run.

Chapter Text

There were only four places the Host frequented: his room, his radio studio, Dr. Iplier’s office, and the basement of the manor. The basement was his personal haven. It was a vast library; shelves that seemed to go for miles filled with books. And each and every one of them contained the Host’s own beautiful, perfected, looping handwriting. Some were novels, stories he’d woven together with skillful, practiced words in his spare time. Most were visions, detailing glimpses of the future. Some had already come and gone, others have yet to pass. Some of these pages were bloody and smeared with red, his Sight causing his vacant sockets to weep tears of blood that dripped onto the pages and swirled with the ink.         

The library was always dark, as a blind man had no need for light, save for a single candle that rested on the Host’s desk in the center of the cavernous basement, the shelves and books radiating out from him like a spiral. The candle was not meant for himself, though, mainly to give the others a way to guide themselves to him if he was needed, and the heat helped dry the ink on his most recent works. The Host was a simple man, preferring the texture of a quill and ink on parchment rather than that of a pen and paper.               

Narrations slipped gracefully from his lips as he worked, the only sounds echoing and bouncing off the shelves being his own voice and the scribble of his quill. The Host didn’t mind the silence. The others were so chaotic, so noisy, and most radiated a toxic aura that suffocated him after too long, and he Saw and Heard so much inside his own mind that the added cacophony only made his head hurt and his eyes bleed; an event that made the others uncomfortable and made Dr. Iplier panic and rush him away.              

The Host paused in his work, narrations ceasing for a moment as he thought of the good doctor. The ego was created only eight short months after himself, and just in time to pick up the broken pieces after the Author had ripped out his own eyes – with blunt nails and bare hands out of sheer desperation and agony as visions swarmed him with unrelenting Hell – and he became…the Host.               

It had been a very professional relationship at first, the doctor helping him through the most unbearable pain he’d ever experienced as he grew used to his sudden self-inflicted blindness and his identity became muddled and he knew he wasn’t the Author, not anymore, he felt that in the very core of his being, but that feeling left behind the burning question of ‘Then who?’ And Dr. Iplier had been there to wipe away his bloody tears and change the bandages over his eyes as he slowly rose from the ashes and truly embraced the Host. Of course it developed into more.              

Shaking his head, willing his light blush away, the Host returned to his work, engrossed with his elegant narrations and the sound of his quill scratching at the parchment. A tiny smile graced his lips as a brief vision of Darkiplier and Wilford Warfstache, laughing and dancing sweetly to faint music in the demon’s room, entered his mind, his hand moving on its own accord to describe and write it down. The beautiful glimpse didn’t last long, however, and soon the image shifted.              



So much blood, there was so much blood on his hands how could he have done this he was a killer he’d killed people murderer murderer murderer he was standing on the roof, rain was soaking into his skin as he stared down at the ground below murderer he was a murderer –               

The Host gasped, his quill falling from his hands as they flew up to grip the sides of his head. The soft sound of dripping echoed through the library and the Host became acutely aware that he was crying, could feel the blood soak through his bandages and slide down his cheeks onto the edge of his desk. He made to stand, the screech of his chair scraping against the floor bouncing around the room and inside his skull as he crashed to the floor, knees weak and he was shaking like a leaf as indescribable grief flooded from his vision and into him, his chest tight and painful. One hand clawed at his shirt, at his chest, trying to relieve some of the agonizing pressure as he pressed the heel of the other against one of his sockets, both trying to stem the blood flow (though he knew he was making it worse) and get rid of the vision by causing himself pain.              

He stood on the ledge of the roof, arms outstretched to either side. The ground didn’t look far enough away, not nearly far enough for all the pain he’d caused. He never wanted this. He just wanted to be happy. There was a knife in one hand. His arms stung. A tally for every person he’d hurt and God there were so many he was going to be sick and –               


He turned around. A figure was coming toward him. They were blurry and unrecognizable through the rain and the tears clouding his vision but he knew who it was. How could he possibly not recognize him, with his soft, blue outline that only he ever seemed to see?              

The Host let out a heart-wrenching sob, curling into a ball on his knees, forehead pressed against the cold floor, both hands now ground against his sockets. He’d never had a vision like this, never felt this raw, unbridled pain before. It hurt, it really fucking hurt, and it just. Wouldn’t. Stop.               

A loud creak rang through the library, the tell-tale sound that someone was pushing open the door. He wondered if it was Dark. The powerful ego occasionally visited him in his sanctuary, sometimes to borrow a book, sometimes to read his most recent visions, sometimes to just talk, because as much as the Host loved the quiet, he occasionally grew lonely. The thought was enough to send the Host scrambling to compose himself, at least containing his sobs to muffled whimpers as blood dripped onto the floor in a near steady stream. The last thing he needed was the demon seeing him in such a weakened state.              

“Hey Hosty! Darki – bloody Hell it’s dark in here – Darkipoo wants to see if you – Holy Jesus!”               

The thundering echoes of hurried footsteps assaulted his ears, but the Host was too far gone to do anything but let go of his self-control and sob, louder than before, and so much more painful due to the brief period of being pent-up. An arm wrapped around his shoulders and the Host was being pulled upright, pulled to face the intruder. He didn’t need to see to know the look of horror that must have passed over Wilford’s face at the sight of him. “Host?! Holy fuck, what’s wrong?! Bloody Hell, come on, let’s get you to Dr. Iplier’s.” More gently than the Host knew Wilford was capable of, he pulled the Host’s hands away from his bandages, blood still continuing to flow freely as he looped an arm under the blind ego’s shoulders, hoisting him up as he half-carried, half-dragged the Host out of the library.              

The Host gripped onto Wilford’s shirt as best he could with his hands soaked in his own blood. He knew he was painting the other ego’s shirt red, but the other didn’t seem to care. He may no longer have eyes, but he’d never felt truly blind before, always able to rely on his narrations and visions to see and make his way around. But his mind felt like a battlefield; pure chaos as that one vision wreaked havoc. His narrations wouldn’t come, and his Sight was useless. He was terrified and scared and he shook in Wilford’s grasp.              

“Hold on, Host, just a little bit more. Can you handle a bit more stairs?” The Host just made a strangled noise in the back of his throat, whimpering as Wilford adjusted his grip and started up the stairs to the second floor, where all the egos who worked from home’s offices resided. The Host must have blacked out briefly because the next thing he knew Wilford was pounding Dr. Iplier’s door. “Iplier! Open up, we have a fucking situation!”              

The door opened, and the Host let go of Wilford’s shirt to weakly reach out for his beloved doctor, mumbling his name. “Oh my God – Host! Quick, get him on the bed!” And suddenly he was being rushed inside and laid down on a soft mattress, whining as blood began to pool in the back of his sockets. Dr. Iplier immediately went to work, picking at his soaked, sticky bandages and removing them. The Host could feel him wince when he cried out as the ruined cloth stuck to the sensitive tissue of his sockets. “Christ, do you know what happened, Wilford?”              

“Haven’t the foggiest! I found him like that, curled up in the library and sobbing his brains out!”              

“Hm, must’ve been a vision.” The Host moaned weakly as Dr. Iplier set about cleaning his face. “I’ve never seen him this bad before though!”              

He heard Wilford snort, though worry laced his voice. “Hell of a vision.”              

The blind ego felt soft lips brush against his forehead, and he managed to raise his hands to grasp at Dr. Iplier’s coat, whimpering quietly. “Shhh. Sleep. I’ll have you fixed up in no time. Sleep.”

When the Host woke, it was to the sound of arguing.              

“Wilford, I understand your concern, but the Host is fine. I’ve got this covered, and you are, frankly, in the way now. Please leave.”              

“Like Hell! You have no idea what state he was in when I found him, doc, he was kneeling in a pool inch-deep of his own blood with his hands digging into his bandages and letting out the most awful sounds I’ve ever heard. I’m not leaving until he at least wakes up.”               

“Fucking Christ, Wilford, don’t make me get Dark.”              

“You don’t have the guts.”              

The Host attempted to push himself upright, but a sharp throbbing in his head made him fall back, crying out sharply. Immediately the voices ceased, and two pairs of hurried footsteps reached his ears. “Host! Are you okay, what the Hell happened?”               

He felt Dr. Iplier’s hand on his cheek, and, smiling softly, he reached up to cover it with his own. “The Host…has seen better days. He would rather not recite what elicited such a response, in fear of relapsing.”               

He heard the doctor’s shaky sigh. “That is perfectly reasonable. I’m just glad you’re alright. You gave us quite the scare.”              

“The Host apologizes, though it wasn’t exactly within his realm of control.” He turned his head toward where he figured Wilford was standing, noticing acutely that bandages were absent from his eyes. “The Host thanks Wilford. Had he not come, the Host is…unsure of what might have transpired.”              

“Me too, Host.” He heard the rustling of clothes, then – “Now, I will leave. You better take care of him.” Dr. Iplier’s responding eyeroll was so strong it was audible, and the Host couldn’t help but chuckle. He heard the door open, then remember something distinct from his vision.              

“Wait! Wilford.” He raised himself up on his elbows, tilting his head to the side. “Does Wilford, by chance, know a man by the name of Damien?”              

There was a lengthy pause. His Sight flashed, and the Host had a clear image of Wilford standing in the doorway, the door itself caught in an iron grip as the older ego’s brow furrowed in confusion, a frown heavy on his features, looking for all his worth like he was trying desperately to remember something. Wilford looked up at the Host, his usual smile back on his face, but his eyes still looked trouble.              

“I haven’t the faintest idea who you’re talking about.”

Chapter Text

When the Host finally fell asleep, Dr. Iplier panicked. His breath came in rapid gasps, unable to tear his eyes away from the blood-soaked body off his beloved. The only spot clear of red appeared to be where he’d wiped of the Host’s forehead in order to kiss him. If he hadn’t seen the Host moving and heard his voice mere moments ago, Dr. Iplier would’ve assumed the blind ego was dead.              

That thought only made his panic worse.

He startled when there was suddenly a hand on his shoulder. He’d completely forgotten Wilford was there. The reporter spun him around, a firm grip on both shoulders. “Hey! Hey, look at me.” Wilford tilted his head to the side. “You need to focus! What do you need to do first?”

Dr. Iplier swallowed harshly, blinking back tears and attempted to calm his erratic breathing. “I need to…need to clean him up…change his clothes…” Wilford flashed him a smile, most of his usual insanity vacant from the expression. He let the doctor go, pushing him lightly, and all of Dr. Iplier’s instincts finally kicked in. He rushed to one of the many cupboards lining the walls of his facility, grabbing a bottle of disinfectant and a large box of cotton balls. Almost as a second though, he darted over to his desk, opening the bottom drawer and pulling out a pair of fleece, light blue-and-white plaid patterned pajama pants and an old, slightly too- big black t-shirt (he slept in his office way too often), before running back to the Host’s bedside, dumping his items on a nearby cart.

Dr. Iplier let out a horrified noise when his eyes finally fell on his beloved’s face again. In the brief period the Host had been lying down, his sockets had filled with blood, running in tiny tiny rivulets down the side of his face. “Oh my – Wilford, grab that bucket for me! I need to drain his sockets before I do anything! Holy fuck what kind of vision was this?!”

Gently, he lifted the Host’s head off the bed, leaning him over the side to allow the bloody sockets to drain. He heard gagging sounds behind him, and turned his head. Wilford looked suspiciously pale. Noticing Dr. Iplier’s eyes on him, he shrugged. “I have seen a lot of fucked up shit in my time. Hell, I’ve caused a lot of fucked up shit. But that…is disturbing.”

Dr. Iplier let out a hoarse chuckle. “At this point, not a lot can faze me. But God…” He choked back tears once more. “I’ve never seen him this bad, vision or no. The torture he must’ve gone through…” He presses another kiss to the back of the Host’s head, and the blind ego let a small noise in his sleep. The doctor raked his fingers through his beloved’s hair, soothing him gently. He turned back to Wilford. “You can leave if you want. I think I’ve got this under control now.”

To his surprise, the crazed reporter stubbornly crosses his arms. “I’m not going anywhere. Anything else he needs?”

Dr. Iplier blinked, shifting the Host back onto the bed fully. Inspecting his sockets, he let out a sigh of relief. “Well, it looks like the bleeding stopped naturally, which is very good. Usually bleeding caused by his visions, combined with his hemophilia, just continues until I add pressure, which is really uncomfortable for him because it involves me sticking a hand in his sockets. Which…I still have to do anyway to clean them out.” He sighed again. “Wait for me to clean his face, then I’ll need help changing him.”              

Picking up a cotton ball, Dr. Iplier dipped it in the disinfectant and got to work, rubbing at the drying blood that caked his beloved’s face. While he worked, Wilford chatted endlessly, telling one absurd story after another (usually painting Dark as a damsel in distress, something the doctor couldn’t but roll his eyes fondly at). He was a welcome distraction. Were he alone, Dr. Iplier most likely would have spiraled into a frantic, worried panic over the unconscious ego currently before him.

When the Host was finally cleaned of his own blood, the doctor motioned Wilford over. Together, with a surprising amount of effort needed, they managed to strip the blind ego of his trench coat, which was sticky and soaked to the touch, shirt, and pants. Dr. Iplier winced. There was so much blood, staining his beloved’s bronze skin red. Still, he turned to Wilford, dumping the pile of filthy clothes into his arms. “Will you take care of these?” He wrinkled his nose. “And do yourself a favor and wash your own clothes. The last thing we need is Dark going into another fit thinking you’re injured. I don’t think Silver has quite recovered from the last time.”

Wilford let out a laugh. “I suppose you’re right. I’ll be off then. I’ll be back soon though!” He turned toward the door, humming some odd tune.

Without entirely thinking about it, Dr. Iplier called out to him. “Hey Wilford?” The bubblegum man spun around, an eyebrow raised in question. The doctor smiled. “Thanks. For a man who’s completely lost his mind, you have a…reassuring ability.”

Wilford laughed again, but it had a strange tone this time. “Well, I don’t know about that.” His eyes clouded, his mouth quirking up in a tiny smile. “I just don’t like to see you guys upset.” Dr. Iplier blinked, and he was gone.

There were a lot of things he should’ve done. He should’ve rushed to tell Dark about the strange behavior. He should’ve tracked Wilford down and questioned him further. He should’ve never let the man leave in the first place. But the Host needed him, and he would rather die than abandon him. And when Wilford came back into his office, bouncing around and a lollipop in his mouth, he shrugged it off, focusing on making sure the Host’s sockets were clean.

And when the Host finally woke, all other thoughts but him were erased from Dr. Iplier’s mind.

Chapter Text

The Silver Shepherd was having a rough day.              

He’d been out late the previous night, fighting crime with Jackieboy Man to keep the Ego Realm under some semblance of control, but, since not many ‘superhero’ personas were created, it was pretty much just the two of them against hundreds if not thousands or millions of psycho-sociopaths with varying degrees of insanity. The two heroes had finally parted ways at about 1:00am, and the Silver Shepherd gladly collapsed into his sheets, not even attempting to get his costume off.              

He didn’t remember the date.              

When morning rolled around, he let out a loud groan, the sunlight too bright even through the tinted mesh fabric of his mask. Literally rolling out of bed, he stood slowly, swaying slightly on his feet, and half-heartedly adjusted his cape as he meandered slowly down the hallway to the dining room, the smell of bacon guiding him in his hazy state. Bim was standing at the stove, and Silver blanched, making a mental note to not eat any of the bacon. He hasn’t trusted the game show host’s cooking ever since he found what looked suspiciously like a finger amidst his sausage one morning, nail and bone and all. Stumbling into the kitchen, he raised an eyebrow when he noticed all of the others staring at him with surprised, disbelieving expressions.              

“What? Is there something on my costume?” Glancing down at himself, he noted a few wrinkled and dirty patches from last night, but nothing out of the ordinary. He looked back up, even more confused than before.              

The Host spoke up first. “Usually…does the Silver Shepherd not remember today’s date?”              

“Uh…” He wracked his brain. “Tuesday, right?” His eyebrows furrowed. Even the care-free, sociable Jims were starting to shift skittishly. He narrowed his eyes. “What am I missing here?”

“It’s nothing.” Dark’s voice washed over the other egos, his perpetual ringing raising in both pitch and volume, silencing any form of protest. The demon turned to him. “Come. Join us. There is absolutely nothing for you to worry about.” He accentuated his sentence with a pointed glare at Ed, who had opened his mouth to say something, instead dissolving into unintelligible mutters.

“If you say so…” He made his way over to his seat by Dr. Iplier, who was smiling warmly at him from behind his coffee mug. His body ached as he sat down, forcing itself on high-alert and combating harshly with his sleep deprivation. He was so busy searching through his mind for the importance of today he didn’t even notice when a plate was set down in front of him. It was September, right? September…September…17th? No, 18th. What was so important about September 18th?

September 18th

September 18th

A smile and a blue mask flashed through his mind.


Without warning, the Silver Shepherd shoved himself away from the table, the chair making a screeching noise against the floor. The usual breakfast noises stopped. He didn’t notice. He was too busy drowning in self-loathing and grief as he bolted back to his room, the echo of his slammed door reverberating throughout the manor.

The second the door closed, he ripped off his mask, leaning heavily against the wall, tearing at his hair. He was sobbing, heaving, gasping sobs as his body went boneless and he slid down the wall, ending up in a crumpled pile on the floor. How could he have forgotten him?! He forgot! How could he have possibly forgotten the day his best friend, his partner in fighting crime…


Suddenly he found himself unable to breathe, grief literally suffocating him, until he managed one shuddering gasp. He couldn’t think. He couldn’t breathe. It was too much, always too much, emotions overwhelming him to the point of short circuiting. Somehow, he’d managed to crawl over to his bedside table, fumbling for the framed photo resting there and holding it tightly in his grasp. He didn’t look at it, didn’t dare to, but it didn’t matter. He’d memorized every detail long ago. It was a photo of himself and Ibis, his precious partner, through thick and thin. They were both in costume, smiling ear to ear, laughing, enjoying life, the forest behind the manor glinting in the autumn sun in the background. It was the perfect photo. And it haunted him. Because it was taken only a few days before.

There was a knock on his door, and he heard it open. Footsteps sounded on the wooden floor, and then there was a hand on his back, rubbing soothing circles. Silver managed to pick his head up off the floor long enough to see who it was. “Why are you here?”

“To check up on you.” Wilford sat down next to him, still keeping a hand on the hero’s back. “You left in quite the hurry.”

“I forgot him!” Silver could barely hear himself over the deafening memory of a single gunshot. “How could I have forgotten him?!”

Wilford was silent for a moment, listening the Silver Shepherd’s harsh sobs. “It was three years ago, Silver,” he finally said quietly. “That’s a long time. Now I don’t understand why he hasn’t come back yet, a bit rude if you ask me, but moving on is important.”              

The grieving hero couldn’t help but stiffen. He knew Wilford was just trying to help. It wasn’t his fault his mind was like a shattered mirror. So, instead, he redirected. “But I can’t move on!” Finally, he sat up, looking the reporter right in the eye. “I should’ve known, he was my best friend, if I had known I could’ve helped him, he wouldn’t have felt so alone, it’s my fault –”              

“No. Stop that.” Wilford’s relaxed, comforting hand on his back shifted to both having firm grasps on his shoulders. “What Ibis did is not your fault. Don’t ever think that.” His head tilted to the side, and his lips shifted into a tiny, soft, sad smile. “The death of Daniel Kyre hit all of us hard, but none worse than you. You were the only one of us that was close to any part of him. It’s understandable that you’d feel the most pain. But moving on is a vital part of the grieving process. Now I’m not asking you to forgot, God no, because remembering is important, too. I’m asking you to let yourself heal. Ripping this wound open year after year will just leave a bigger, nastier scar until it can never close again.”              

Silver stared at Wilford, dumbfounded and speechless. His sobbing had calmed, leaving him with just tears streaming down his face. “Um…I-I’ll try. But when everything I see just reminds me of him I can’t –”              

“I know! I know. No one said it would be easy. But…” This time, Wilford smiled for real. “Remember, you do have us. Dark, Host, Google, Bing, Iplier, King, Bim, Ed, the Jims…As crazy and strange and mad as we all are…we’re family, in a sense. You can always rely on us. We’ll help you. That’s what family does, is it not?”              

The Silver Shepherd blinked, then wiped at his eyes. He found himself smiling, even though the tears still hadn’t stopped. He looked down at the picture still held tightly in his hands. Seeing Ibis…seeing Daniel…it still hurt. It made his chest tight and painful and had his eyes overflowing with fresh tears. He was a hero. At least, he was supposed to be. He doubted he would ever stop feeling like he could’ve done something more. But…              

“Yeah. I suppose you’re right.”

Chapter Text

It started out as a normal day for the Jim twins.              

The brothers had been out in the forest, dead set on getting a story on how King was planning on introducing the baby squirrels to the outdoor world. The only problem was that they didn’t quite know where King’s clearing was. So, that led to the two of them, for lack of a better word, prancing through the trees, Reporter Jim several steps ahead of Cameraman Jim, holding his microphone close to his mouth and babbling endlessly into it as he leapt forward in an oddly graceful way.              

“Jim! Jim, it’s a breakthrough, look at these strange markings on the leaves here! Clearly, a muuuuuuurder has happened here! Or! Another, very unlikely, explanation! It’s autumn! The leaves are falling, Jim! We must be on the right track!” After zooming in on the afore mentioned leaves, Cameraman Jim, or CJ, focused back on his brother, still extremely zoomed in, just in time to catch Reporter Jim, RJ, trying to scale a tree with all of the grace the Jims were known for.               

That is to say, absolutely none.               

“To find the King of the Squirrels, you must follow the squirrels! To find the squirrels, you must become one with the squirrels, Jim! Come, Jim! Become the squirrel, Jim!” RJ continued to climb the tree, CJ staying on the ground to capture the shot. CJ briefly looked away from his camera to watch RJ slide on his belly like in inch worm onto a branch, wiggling comically, a serious expression on his face. He’d forgotten that his camera shot was still zoomed in, and he focused back on his shot, intent on following his brother’s every move.              

Just in time to watch RJ slip.              

It was a surreal experience. At first, it was in slow motion; he watch as the sheer panic crossed RJ’s face as he slowly fell off the branch, his body careening to the side. He was too high up, he was going to get hurt, but CJ seemed paralyzed, unable to move. He saw RJ try to scramble for a hold on the branch, trying to pull himself back up, but to no avail. The tips of RJ’s fingers finally lost contact, and RJ was in open air, and then suddenly he was hitting the ground, a sickening crunch! echoing around them in the eerily silent forest, disturbingly still. RJ didn’t move to get back up, didn’t move at all. CJ was frozen, a helpless spectator as a small pool of red began to grow beneath his brother.              

Something broke within him.              

JIM!” CJ screamed his brother’s name, dropping his camera and bolting towards the other. RJ’s right arm was bent in a way it shouldn’t be; CJ could see a bit of bone peeking out from the torn skin that littered his body. His left foot was completely spun around backwards. There was a nasty gash on his forehead that was bleeding heavily. One of CJ’s hands immediately flew to his mouth, tears springing to his eyes. He practically collapsed to the forest floor, pulling his brother’s head into his lap. “Jim.” He shook his twin lightly. “Jim, wake up. Wake up! Jim!”              

RJ didn’t even twitch.              

A tear fell onto RJ’s face, smearing the blood, as CJ stared down as his brother. Then another. And another. And another, until CJ was full-on sobbing and clinging to his twin. He needed to get RJ home, get him to Dr. Iplier, but he couldn’t carry him on his own, not like this, so CJ did the only thing he could think of.              

He cried for help.              

HELP!” His words came out broken and strangled. “SOMEONE HELP, PLEASE!” He knew it’d be a miracle if anyone actually came. The manor was too far out. God, he really hoped King was close by. If not…              

RJ was still bleeding sluggishly, soaking CJ’s clothes. Dimly, he realized he should do something about that, but he didn’t know what. He was a cameraman, he was clueless, he had no idea how to help and his brother was about to die in his arms because of it. He held RJ closer, burying his face in his hair as he sobbed. “Someone…please…”              

“Holy sh – Jims?!”              

CJ looked up, vision blurry with tears. King was standing just a few feet away, mouth open in shock, a few squirrels clinging madly to his shoulders and cape.               

“Help us.”

CJ sat in Dr. Iplier’s office, completely silent, tears flowing freely down his face. RJ lay in the bed before him, hooked up to all kinds of beeping machines, fresh stitches closing the gash in his head and his arm and leg both set in casts. He could hear Dr. Iplier and Dr. Schneeplestein – the Septic doctor had finally been granted his wish to visit – talking and flitting about in the background, but he didn’t acknowledge them. All his focus and attention were solely on his beloved twin.

The Jims had never been apart before, not truly. They’d been created together. They worked together, they played together, they were two halves of the same whole. One couldn’t function without the other. Then again, they hadn’t had to function without the other before, not until now. CJ was left feeling completely lost, a strange, empty, painful feeling in his chest, as he kept a watchful eye on his unconscious brother.

He reached out to hold his brother’s hand, flinching at how cold it was. His mind flashed to when they’d arrived back at the manor, himself in complete hysterics and clutching RJ’s limp form as King shouted for help. Both the doctors had immediately rushed down the stairs. They’d had to physically pry CJ from his brother, screaming all the while, before they could get him to Dr. Iplier’s office, CJ hot on their heels.

The sound of the door opening made CJ flinch again. There was a new voice in the room now.

“Ah, Vilford! Ve veren’t expecting you to visit!”

“Is RJ okay?”

“Yes, he’s fine, he’s stable, but Wilford, you really shouldn’t be here, they’re both rather fragile at the moment and –”

“Oh, so CJ’s here as well! Perfect, I would like to talk to him.”

“Vil – vait – Vilford zat vas not an invitation!” It sounded like there was a brief struggle, then a popping noise, and Dr. Schneeplestein swearing colorfully in both English and German. There was a sudden hand on his shoulder, and CJ flinched once more, instinctively curling toward his brother.

“How you holding up?” CJ looked up, tearing his gaze away from RJ for the first time. Wilford was gazing down at him; there was a kindness in his eyes, as well as a distinct lack of insanity, that made CJ feel both uncomfortable and reassured. He looked away, focusing back on his twin.

“Doctors said ‘m in shock,” he mumbled, tightening his grip on RJ’s hand. He heard Wilford pull up a chair beside him. CJ’s hand was shaking when he brought it up to wipe at his eyes. He couldn’t stop crying. “Do…do you think he’ll be alright?” His voice broke as he spoke. “I-I-I mean, I-I know he’ll be alright, the doctors said so, but…” A gasping sob escaped him, fresh tears rolling down his face. “I-I watched him fall, and-and he wasn’t moving, a-a-and I thought…I thought he was…he was…” He didn’t finish his sentence, instead leaning forward to press his forehead to his brother’s hand and sobbed.

“Hey! Hey, of course he’ll be okay! If Iplier and Schneeplestein say he’ll be fine, he’ll be fine. You’ve got to trust them. Plus, you boys are tough. I know he’ll pull through.” Wilford offered him a smile. “Besides, you’re at his side, are you not? If that doesn’t give him strength, I don’t know what will.”

CJ sniffed, raising his head slightly to look at his brother’s face. RJ was still unconscious, still unnaturally pale, but…he did look a lot better than before, when they were out alone in the forest. Slowly, and very hesitantly, he let go of RJ’s hand, turning to pull Wilford into a bone-crushing hug. His tears, which had still yet to stop, began to soak into the reporter’s shirt. “Thank you.”

Wilford immediately returned the hug, slightly caught by surprise. “It’s no problem, Jim. RJ will be fine. You’ll see.”

CJ pulled back, latching back onto his twin’s hand, his other hand twitching in his lap. “Um…Wilford…could you…stay here with me? A-at least, until he wakes up? I don’t…I don’t want to be alone.”

Wilford smiled, producing a bag of cotton candy out of thin air. “Of course!” He shifted, getting more comfortable in his chair, before launching into an obviously fabricated story involving an Old West style shoot-out, a thirty-foot rattlesnake, and cyborg aliens, starring himself as the Hero™ and Dark as the grateful damsel in distress. Even in CJ’s numbed state, Wilford’s eccentric storytelling had him laughing quietly. He could even hear Dr. Iplier and Dr. Schneeplestein laughing in the background.

Wilford was still there, hours later, when RJ finally woke up and CJ was finally able to pull his beloved twin into the tightest hug he could manage.

Chapter Text

A storm was brewing over the manor.              

Dark sat alone at the kitchen table, sipping slowly at a mug of coffee as he stared out the window, watching the sky darken. He could taste the ozone in the air. He made a noise deep in his chest, shifting in his chair as he took another sip of his coffee. Thunderstorms always made him uncomfortable. Well, not necessarily him; the two souls within him tended to grow agitated and aggressive when thundered blared and lightning flashed. After all, it was the last thing they ever saw and heard before their deaths nearly a century ago. Not to mention, when his inner abomination was agitated, his pain spiked, currently leaving him simmering on the precipice of agony, not quite unbearable, but definitely enough to leave him fidgety and restless.              

Something pricked at the back of his mind; a growing sense of unease that made his skin crawl, but he couldn’t pinpoint exactly what about. It…bothered him. But, he just shifted again and continued to drink his coffee, staring out the window and watching as the first drops of rain began to fall. He let his eyes unfocus, withdrawing into his own mind to just…think, listening to the whispering voices of his twin souls, and separate himself from the distractions of the outside world. So deep in his own head, he didn’t notice when someone else walked into the room until they laid a hand on his shoulder. He spared them a glance before resuming his window watching. “Hello, Host. Good afternoon.”              

“Does Darkiplier mind if the Host joins him?”               

“No, not at all.”              

The Host slid into his usual chair to Dark’s right. A few mumbled words later and the blind ego had his own steaming cup of coffee. Thunder boomed again, and Dark couldn’t help visibly recoiling, as slight as it was, even as a small smile spread across the Host’s face, his head tilted to his left. He hummed, content. “Before the Host lost his sight, he used to love sitting outside in the rain, letting it soak him to his core. It would fill him with inspiration. He would write for days afterwards, till his hands were numb. The Host still loves the sounds and the smell of a good storm. It is…relaxing, is it not?”              

Dark grimaced, humming and taking a sip of his coffee. “Maybe for you. I would much rather the storm be over as quickly as possible. It…irritates me.” He idly snapped his neck back into the place, then stretched, realigning his spine. His joints ached. Everything ached. He was half tempted to just track down Wil and go to bed. He actually opened his mouth to excuse himself from the Host’s company and do exactly that when Dr. Iplier wandered into the room, clearly half asleep and rubbing at his eyes, yawning. He immediately zeroed in on the Host, walking over and resting his forehead on the blind ego’s shoulder, moving only to place a sleepy kiss on the Host’s lips.

The Host’s smile widened. “Good afternoon, doctor.”“Hey.” Dr. Iplier sighed, wrapping his arms around the Host and burrowing his face further in his shoulder. He sniffed. “You have coffee.”

The Host chuckled as Dr. Iplier grabbed his mug and and downed it, even with the steam still rising from it. “The Host could’ve just made the doctor one of his own.”

Dr. Iplier grumbled into his shoulder. “Yeah, but yours tastes better.” The Host just laughed again, pulling the other into another kiss.

Darkiplier watched the scene unfold through impassive eyes. Thunder rolled and he scowled. His quiet was being disturbed, his pain making him more irritable than usual. He sighed deeply, closing his eyes and drinking his coffee as a shout rang through the manor.




“You require a break. Now stop struggling, else I may drop you.”

The source of the shouting finally came into view. Bing was draped down Google’s front, his fingertips just barely brushing the floor, his legs hooked over Google’s shoulders and held there by the more powerful android. At some point Bing had lost his glasses, leaving his bright, glowing orange eyes exposed. When Google rounded the corner, a far too pleased smirk on his face, Bing was curled up, trying to pry Google’s hands from his legs before he gave up, falling back down with a groan, his back thumping against Google’s chest. He froze once he spotted their audience of three, smiling nervously, the whirring of his CPU growing slightly louder. “Uh…wazzup guys.”

Dr. Iplier raised an eyebrow. “You have literally got the entirety of human knowledge in your head. There are easier ways to pick someone up you know.”

Google’s smile was both unnerving and endearing as he gazed down at Bing’s pouting face. “Perhaps. But this was the most entertaining option for me.” Bing’s hands blurred, a tell-tale signal that he was flipping the other android off. Google practically purred his next words. “Watch it, Bing. I can still drop you.”

Bing grumbled something unintelligible, crossing his arms. “Yeah, yeah.”

Again, Dark made no comment, choosing to only be a spectator. He must admit, though, Bing was a lot easier to handle ever since he had quit dancing around Google. He was no less unpredictable, but his outbursts were far less obnoxious and easier to clean up. Google as well was not as rigid and stubborn as before. He was able to be persuaded now. It saved Ego Meetings a lot of time and destruction now that Google’s ‘logical’ solutions no longer clashed as harshly with Dark’s decisions.

The next boom of thunder was particularly loud, the accompanying lightning nearly blinding. Dark disguised his flinch as him ducking down to take another sip of his coffee, hoping that neither the ever-watchful Google nor the ironically observant Host noticed the movement. The last thing he needed was either of them zeroing in on a weakness. He had to fight back a growl at the noise. He wanted Wil. But, he hadn’t seen his beloved bubblegum man all day. The second the realization crossed his mind, that sense of foreboding in the back of his mind spiked, his twin souls beginning to writhe. He narrowed his eyes, brow furrowing.

Where was Wil?

He was pulled from his thoughts by another pair of approaching voices, his scowl deepening.

“Bim, I’m tellin’ ya, clean up your weird, sparkly hair-whatever when you’re done with it! I’ve been pickin’ silver glitter out of my mustache for a month!”

“I’m sorry, Ed, but it’s not entirely my fault. Glitter isn’t exactly the easiest thing in the world to clean.”

“Well, here’s a solution – you don’t need to put fuckin’ sparkly shit in your hair whenever you get in front of a damn camera! Stop buying it!”

A harsh gasp. “That is blasphemous, Ed!”

The two rounded the corner in time for the others to catch Ed’s eyeroll, his sunglasses resting on the brim of his hat. Bim’s face was filled with obvious insult and betrayal, a hand over his heart, eyes wide. Both egos jumped when they noticed the others lingering about the area. “Oh! We…weren’t expecting anyone else to be in here.”

Ed’s eyes were immediately drawn to the display the resident androids held. “Google, what the fuck are you doin’ with that poor boy?”

Google grinned, eyes flashing. “Relaxing.” Bim snorted, arms still crossed.

Dark growled low in his throat. Ed’s southern drawl was annoying on most days, but it was intolerable to him right now, combined with the already insufferable mixture of his prickling, ever-present pain, his abomination’s agitation, and his own growing anxieties.

Unfortunately, he attracted the attention of the Host. The blind ego tilted his head towards Dark, frowning slightly. “Is something the matter with Darkiplier?”

Dr. Iplier, who had all but fallen asleep on the Host’s shoulder, turned his head, scrutinizing the demon through narrowed, tired eyes. “You don’t look so good.” His words were slightly slurred and mumbled.

“I assure you, I am perfectly fine.”

The Host’s frown deepened, and he opened his mouth to say something, but then a crash resounded through the manor, in harmony with the boom of thunder and the sound of the pounding rain. King suddenly appeared in the entry way, arms spread wide. His crown was askew, his eyes blown wide with a panicked, nervous expression on his face. Not to mention the fluffy baby squirrels crawling all over his body. “Uh…have any of you seen a baby squirrel? Yay big, brownish, pretty uh…squirrely? I appear to be missing one.”

Dark couldn’t help smacking his palm to his forehead before thunking his head down onto the table. Especially since not two seconds after King’s arrival the tell-tale cry of “Jim! Jim!” began to echo down the hall. A moment later and the Jim Twins had entered the kitchen in all of their strange, chaotic glory. Reporter Jim’s arm and ankle were still encased in casts, requiring the aid of crutches and his brother to help him get around, but his accident had apparently done nothing to damper his enthusiasm, as he wasted no time in shoving his microphone in King’s face, inquiring about the missing squirrel. Cameraman Jim, however, seemed much more careful, no longer dancing around their acquired target like he usually would, instead keep a hand on RJ’s elbow, subtlely supporting his twin.

Past Bing’s indignant squawk as Google finally set him down and the background chaos of Bim and Ed’s argument and the Jims’ ‘interview’, Dark heard the Host chuckle next to him. “It appears all of the egos are here except the Silver Shepherd and Wilford Warfstache. So much for Darkiplier’s quiet.”

Dark raised his head at the Host’s words. “Speaking of Wil, have either of you seen him? I haven’t all day. He missed breakfast this morning, too.” He tried his best to keep the anxious concern out of his voice, but to no avail.

At some point, Dr. Iplier had draped himself across the Host’s lap, snoring lightly as the blind ego raked his fingers through his hair. The Host hummed, tilting his head back. “The Host has unfortunately not encountered Wilford today, nor has he had any visions of his possible whereabouts. He apologizes that he could be no help to Darkiplier.”

Dark’s anxiety skyrocketed, his shell beginning to crack and his ringing reaching a new pitch. He opened his mouth to reply, but then the back door slammed open, attracting all of their attentions. The Silver Shepherd was standing in the doorway, dripping wet and shaking. “Uh…I saw something…concerning coming home. Does anyone know why Wilford would be on the roof, especially in this kind of weather?”

Dark immediately stood, his chair screeching against the floorboards. His aura was definitely beginning to split as he outwardly showed more panic than he would’ve liked. His ringing was nearly deafening. “Where?”

“Just…standing there, near the ledge! I tried calling up to him, but he either couldn’t hear me or was just ignoring me.”

The Host made a noise beside him, and Dark’s attention snapped to him, his aura beginning to twist around him. The Host looked pale, blood beginning to drip down the sides of his face. “The…the vision…” His fingers tightened in Dr. Iplier’s hair, the man waking with a pained sound.

Dark’s eyes narrowed. The only sounds in the manor now we’re his angry ringing, the crash of thunder and the persistent pounding of the rain. “You had a vision of Wil on the roof and you didn’t think to tell anyone?!”

The Host’s voice was shaking now, blood staining his cheeks. “The Host admits, he had a powerful vision many weeks ago, but it was too vague for him to discern who it was about. All the Host knows is whoever that vision was about, they are in great pain. If it is about Wilford…” Suddenly, all the blood seemed to drain from the Host’s face, making his skin appear deathly pale and contrasting harshly with the crimson still seeping from beneath his bandages. He stood sharply, sending Dr. Iplier tumbling to the floor. “He’s going to jump off the roof!

Darkness seemed to infect the room as a silence rang heavy at the Host’s words. The crash of thunder had every ego flinching. The lightning that followed lit up the room just in time for the egos to watch Dark step into the Void and disappear.



So much blood, there was so much blood on his hands how could he have done this he was a killer he’d killed people murderer murderer murderer he was standing on the roof, rain was soaking into his skin as he stared down at the ground below murderer he was a murderer –

He stood on the ledge of the roof, arms outstretched to either side. The ground didn’t look far enough away, not nearly far enough for all the pain he’d caused. He never wanted this. He just wanted to be happy. There was a knife in one hand. His arms stung. A tally for every person he’d hurt and God there were so many he was going to be sick and –

“No!”He turned around. A figure was coming toward him. They were blurry and unrecognizable through the rain and the tears clouding his vision but he knew who it was. How could he possibly not recognize him, with his soft, blue outline that only he ever seemed to see?

“Stay back, Damien!” He saw the figure falter slightly, but he kept running. He took a shuffled step backwards, arms pinwheeling, dropping the knife, and sending blood flying through the air as he tried to keep his balance.

“Wil, get away from there! You’re going to fall!” He squinted his eyes, trying to peer through the downpour. Damien looked terrified, his eyes blown wide. He was sure he was shaking as the wind tore at his suit and hair, the rain and thunder nearly drowning his voice out.

A choked sob escaped his lips. “That’s the point, isn’t it?!” Another sob. Damien had stopped short, only a few feet away. “I’ve hurt people! So many people! I tried to count, but…” He was beginning to tremble. The bite of the rain had made him numb, his arms no longer stinging even though he could see them still dripping blood. “I can’t…I can’t live like this! Knowing I’ve done such terrible things and knowing I just breezed past it, not even batting an eye and…” He sobbed, numb hands fisting in his hair. “I murdered the detective, a-and your friend, I…” He couldn’t finish the sentence, gasping, ragged noises being torn from his throat as more tears mixed with the rain.

“Wil, none of that’s your fault! It’s not your fault! Please, just listen to me!” Damien’s voice cracked on the word ‘please’, sounding strained. “Don’t do this…please…don’t do this…” Something shifted in Damien’s form, and suddenly it wasn’t just a blue outline he had; red mirrored it, the colors split down the middle on either side of his body. “Just…come down.”

How is none of it my fault?!” He was in near hysterics, rounding on the other. “I can remember all of it! I remember feeling myself pull the trigger, I remember plunging a knife into someone’s stomach! There is so much blood on my hands, Dark!” Dark’s shell cracked further at his recognition, the rain making his skin seem greyer, the wind whipping around him. “I can see it! And it won’t come off! No matter what I do! How is it not my fault?”

Dark reached out a hand, one red and one blue copy mimicking the movement to either side. “Wil, just come down. I’ll explain everything if you just –”

A door slammed open, and behind Dark he could see the others racing towards them, a chorus of his name reaching them first. He flinched at the sudden noise and movement, stepping backwards instinctively. His eyes widened, locking with Dark’s as his foot slipped out from under him. Thunder boomed at the exact moment Dark screeched “No!

And then he was falling.

He didn’t scream. He didn’t have time to, not before there was a fist tightening around the collar of his shirt, halting him mid-air. The next thing he knew he was being pulled back onto the rooftop, collapsing to his knees, and into Dark’s clinging embrace, tucked against his chest with one of Dark’s hands on his back and the other on the back of his head, pulling him as close as possible. Wilford immediately latched onto the other in return, sobbing brokenly as Dark murmured into his hair. “Don’t you ever do that again, I’m not losing you, not now, I can’t, I won’t, please don’t leave –” Dark pulled back just long enough to press a desperate kiss to Wilford’s lips, just to reassure himself that he was there and he was okay. Wilford clung to the sleeves of Dark’s soaked suit, pressing back just as desperately. Both were shaking. Both were crying, their tears mingling with the rain and making their lips taste like salt.

Dark’s form had split completely, leaving red and blue images standing to either side of the kneeling egos. When Wilford pulled back, he noticed immediately that they were different. Instead of perfect carbon copies of Dark as per usual, they had their own shape, their own form. Wil’s eyes widened, flicking between the two and unable to stop the fresh flood of tears. How could he have not seen it sooner?

Damien was standing to Dark’s left, pale blue, unmoving and gripping his ghostly cane like a lifeline, tears running down his face. He looked exactly as he did the day Wil lost him, lost everything. Despair and agony were written in every line of his face, and Wil watched as he silently cried, looking so desperately like he wanted to reach out and touch him, to reassure himself, instead just crushing his cane in a tighter grip, bowing his head.

Celine was to the right, glowing red. She made no attempt to hide herself, unlike Damien, black tears of ruined make-up marring her face. She wasted no time in reaching out for him, mute sobbing escaping her lips, her other hand clutched tightly to her chest. She looked every bit as beautiful as he remembered. It made his heart ache.

Wil raised his hand, letting their fingertips brush, and suddenly he could feel everything they felt, all the pain, the panic, even a touch of anger. But the most overwhelming was the sheer ocean of fear and the waves of utter relief that crashed over him every time Dark tightened his hold, clinging to him like he might fade away if he ever let go. Wil shifted so he was holding Celine’s hand, then reached out to pry Damien’s away from his cane. It was strange; the images weren’t quite solid, and they were achingly cold, yet he held tight all the same, burying his face in Dark’s shoulder. “Both you…this whole time, both of you have been here this whole time and I thought – Damien, Celine, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry –

“Shhh, it’s okay, Wil. It’s okay.” Dark pressed another kiss to his forehead. “I – we – love you. Always have, and always will, till the end of time. Nothing you could do or say or think will ever change that.”


Both egos jumped, Damien and Celine merging with Dark once again, and then the others were catapulting themselves into the scene, most noticeably King and Bim, who had literally launched themselves at Wilford, unavoidably pulling him away from Dark and sandwiching him in a hug. Bim sobbed loudly into his chest while King just gripped his shirt tightly, his face smothered against his shoulder. It had stopped thundering, the sky and rain lightening up. It didn’t really matter by that point; they were all soaked to the bone. None of them really cared.

Bim raised his head, locking eyes with Wilford. His glasses were falling off his face, his hair plastered to his head, his suit completely drenched. “Why would you ever think this was a good idea, all of us were having a unison heart attack! I…” His bottom lip quivered, and he ducked his head back down, pressing his face to Wilford’s chest, his grip on his shirt tightening.

“What would we do without you?” King’s voice was quiet, muffled by both Wilford’s shirt and the rain, but he still heard it clear as day. He opened his mouth to reply, but, for the first time in his life, found himself completely, utterly speechless. All that came out was an unflattering squeak, then he wrapped his arms around the two younger egos, pulling them close.

“The Host…the Host is thankful Darkiplier c-caught Wilf…Wilford in time…” Wilford looked up. The Host was leaning heavily on Dr. Iplier, pale as bone and his face painted pink and red with smeared blood. “He is…still reeling from a vision where that did not come to pass…”

Slowly, Wilford stood, Bim and King pulling back, and enveloped his arms around the Host, taking his full weight from Dr. Iplier. The Host latched onto him quickly, sobbing quietly into his shoulder, neither caring that he was getting blood all over Wilford’s shirt. “I’m right here. Nowhere else.”

The Host tightened his grip. “The Host knows. He knows, but the physical reaffirmation is welcome.”

The Host pulled away, and then Dr. Iplier was there, gripping his wrists in an iron hold as he inspected his arms. He cleared his throat, eyes flicking to Wilford’s face briefly. “Um…tha-that’s a lot of damage…” Wilford pretended not to notice the doctor ‘discreetly’ motioning to the Host to kick his abandoned knife off the edge of the roof. “I’m gonna need to bandage these, you really should just come find someone next time one of your lucid episodes hits like this to avoid…” Dr. Iplier swallowed harshly. “To…to avoid…” His forehead dropped to Wilford’s chest, his grasp loosening. “Christ, Wilford. You scared us. When you fell…” He cleared his throat again, dropping Wilford’s arms and wiping at his eyes. “Please…do us all a favor and never do this again.”

Wilford laughed dryly, more of a hoarse chuckle. “It’s a deal.”

Suddenly Dr. Iplier was being shoved out of the way to be replaced by Ed. The cowboy looked like a human waterfall, rain water pooling in the brim of his hat and pouring off the sides. His arms were crossed as he studied Wilford. The bubblegum man shuffled his feet self-consciously, and he jumped as arms encircled his waist from behind, a soft ringing in his ear. He relaxed back into Dark’s arms as Ed opened his mouth to speak.

“You’re an idiot. You know that right?” Dark’s hold tightened, the ringing growing slightly harsher. Ed continued on. “But…I am glad you’re okay. This place wouldn’t be the same without you. We’re all fuckin’ crazy here, but I think we’d be lost without your…special brand, if you know what I’m sayin’.” Ed blushed, ducking his head. “What I’m tryin’ to say is…we’d miss you.” He coughed abruptly. “Silver, it’s your turn!”

Ed practically ran away, hiding his face under his hat and consequently spilling water all down himself, making Wilford chuckle, and then Silver was taking his place. The hero glanced at Dark, seemingly asking for permission. Dark withdrew, still keeping a hand on Wilford’s back, and then Wilford didn’t even have time to blink before Silver was crushing him in a hug. He actually stumbled back a bit before wrapping his arms around Silver in return.“You’re okay, you’re okay, you’re okay you’re okay you’re okay –” Silver mumbled the phrase over and over into his shoulder, physically shaking with his sobs. Wilford opened his mouth to say something to reassure the hero – what, he didn’t know – but then Silver’s words changed. “I can’t go through that again, I can’t, not again, never again, you’re okay, you’re alive–” Silver’s grip weakened as he completely broke down, sagging into Wilford’s hold.

Wilford was completely stunned, freezing in place for a solid ten seconds before burying his face in Silver’s shoulder. “I’m sorry. I didn’t…didn’t think…I’m sorry…”

Silver didn’t pull away for a long while, clinging to him almost fervently, but Wilford didn’t mind. The rain had begun to slow, and in no time at all the sun was shining once again. The second the hero had let go and stepped away, Wilford was tackled from behind, sending him rocketing to the ground.

****, Wilford! Thank ****ing C͉̤̉͠͞ͅh̨͈͑̓r̫̊iş̄̽ͅt̺̑ you’re okay!” Wilford grumbled beneath Bing, squirming lightly.

“Bing, I appreciate the sentiment, but you weigh the equivalent of a pick-up truck, get off.” Bing either didn’t hear somehow or chose to ignore him, not moving an inch and staining Wilford’s already soaked and bloodstained shirt further with orange tears.

“Apo-o̼͐l̘͆-o̹̓l͢-ologies, Wilford. W̹̒ȇ̜e̖̓e̮͌e̖͠ě̳ appear to be gli-i̫͞ṯ̾ĉ̪h̯̚i̕͟n͉̏g͔̊ due to the r̺͂a͉͘a̗͐a̮̽a̡͊a̖͘a̙ă̰a͟i̩̒n̦̊.” As if accentuating his point, Google glitched violently as he plucked Bing from on top of Wilford, Bing’s own body lagging immensely. The younger android, however, didn’t seem to care, reaching out for Wilford the second they were forcefully parted. The reporter got to his feet, facing Google and the semi-struggling, sobbing Bing, firmly held back by Google’s grip on the back of his shirt. Google raised an eyebrow at Wilford’s inviting expression, shrugged, then let go, smirking slightly as Wilford was nearly bowled over again by Bing’s desperation for contact.

“Hey! Hey, Bing, it’s okay, I’m right here!” He hugged the android back tightly, Bing himself nearly crushing him. The younger android seemed incapable of words now, simply pressing his face against Wilford’s shoulder. He winced. “Though, if you don’t let up a bit, you might break something.”

“S͍ȏ͚r̡͊r͇͞y̲͞.” Bing sniffed, loosening his grip slightly but not letting go. “I͢͝-̖̌I͈͡-͓͌I̛̻ just can’t believe…we n-n͍͝e̛̮a̮̚r̠-nearly lost ý͎o̐ͅó̻õ̯o̞̊ṷ̏.” Wilford jumped when Google laid a hand on his other shoulder. The older android looked surprisingly…emotional. His normally bright, neon blue eyes seemed duller, his cheeks stained a lighter shade in the shape of tear tracks. Both their CPUs were whirring loudly with the occasional stuttering. Google’s other hand came to rest on Bing’s back.

“I̦͑-̀͜î̞-̣͞i̢͆ṯ would admittedly b̭͘e̗̋e̙͂e͊͢ẽ̥…different witho̜͞u͈͂t̨̐-out you. I d͉̈ȏ̥ȍ̳o̺͒ȏ̻o̖̾n̲̽'̱̽t͎͠ mean that in a goo-o̖͌o̫͂-ood way.” Google’s gaze shifted, eyes flashing briefly, before he slowly, tentatively, wrapped his arms around the both of them. He adjusted his height so he could press his face to Wilford’s hair. “A̔͟a͓a̾͢a̲a̩̒s̫͡ Ed Edgar, said…we’d miss you.” Wilford didn’t even have time to respond before the Jims came barreling in out of left field.

“Group hug, Jim!”

“I second that, Jim!”

And then both of them were plastered to Wilford’s side, pressing the androids closer to him. Not long after, Dark’s arms were sliding around his waist again, his face pressed to the back of his neck. The others quickly followed, and within no time Wilford was in the middle of a circle of the egos, tightly packed together and in varying degrees of emotional messes.

He didn’t know what to do. What was one supposed to do when confronted with this scenario? He found himself blinking back tears – and failing miserably – and hiding his face, burying it in Bing’s shoulder. “I… I’m sorry. I’m so so sorry –”

He felt Dark’s lips move before he heard him. “It’s okay, Wil. You did nothing wrong. You’ve been there for us in all of our darkest moments. Let us be here for you. Besides…” He felt Dark smile. “It’s like you said. We are family, are we not?” He pressed a kiss to the back of his neck, hugging him tighter. “We’ll help you, Wil. We’ll take care of you.”

Wilford didn’t say anything, just sobbed openly in the midst of all of the others, the others who didn’t care how many people he killed or how crazy he was. The guilt still weighed heavily on his own conscious, crushing him, making it difficult to breathe. He didn’t know if it was better or worse that he knew that guilt would fade as the sun rose, his mind’s broken pieces that briefly slotted together slipping apart once more. He sniffled as the group broke up, Dark’s hand slipping into his own. “What do you say we head back inside? You must be freezing.”

As if on cue, Wilford shuddered, abruptly realizing that he had been standing in the rain for God knows how long, completely soaked to the bone. He squeezed Dark’s hand, forehead falling on his shoulder. He felt so tired all of a sudden. “Okay.”

There was a strange, muffled noise – sounding suspiciously close to an explosion – coming from below them that made them all jump. King paled, going rigid. “I just realized I have left six rambunctious baby squirrels alone to run amuck in the manor. And one is still missing. Shit.”

Wilford laughed, and something clicked in his mind. He lifted his head from Dark. “Oh! That reminds me.” With his free hand, he reached behind him, immediately drawing it back out with something small and fluffy resting calmly in the palm. “I found this little guy in my room this morning, snuggled into my pillows. I believe this is your missing squirrel?”

King instantly brightened. “There she is!” He moved to take the little squirrel from him, but then hesitated, instead rubbing the back of his neck. “Um…h-how ‘bout you keep her. I-I mean, she clearly likes you, I don’t think I’ve ever seen her so calm. Only if-if you want to though.”

Wilford face lit up, smiling brightly as he cupped the little squirrel in both hands. She looked up at him, head cocked to the side and chattering softly. He rubbed the top of her head with his thumb and she purred, closing her eyes. “I’m gonna call her Bubblegum.” Dark chuckled next to him, wrapping one arm around his waist. The reporter frowned. “What! It’s a good name, Dark!”

“Only you, Wil. Only you. Now, let’s all get dried off. I think we still have some peppermint hot chocolate, too…that is, if you and Bim didn’t drink it all.”

“Hey! Wilford doesn’t let me touch the hot chocolate!” Bim pouted, crossing his arms.

Wilford smiled sheepishly.

“Movie night! Movie night! Movie night!” The enthusiastic chanting of the Jims quickly infected the rest of the group, and soon everyone was smiling.

Dr. Iplier shrugged. “I’m down for a little R&R. I think we all need it after today.”

No horror, though.” The Silver Shepherd’s request had both Jims groaning. “I’m serious you two! Last time we watched a horror movie you two slept with me in my room! I don’t need that, thanks!”

“Aw, c’mon, Silver! Let the boys have their fun!” Ed grinned, and Silver grumbled under his breath.

“No horror. My executive decision. Horror is the last thing we all need.” Dark linked his elbow with Wilford’s, leading him toward the stairs. “Moana’s on Netflix though.” Wilford couldn’t help but laugh at the Jims’ ecstatic cheers.

“The Host volunteers to tell a story afterwards to any who wish to participate.” The Host grinned as the Jims cheered louder, intertwining his fingers with Dr. Iplier’s as the twins raced forward as fast as they could with RJ still limping awkwardly with his casts and crutches.

“F̯̑i͇̇ḭ͗i̞̚i͜͝i͔͞i̛̺i̼̔r̼s̹͘t͚̓ we must clean ou-o̢̽ụ̀r̯͞selves up.” Google scowled distastefully. “My-y̦͡-̲̓y͔̔ mecha-ę͑c̲͐h͈̕a̩̎nisms f̧e̬͒e̟̿ę͒e̺̾e͎̎ḽ̊…gross.” Bing laughed, Google making a noise of disgust as he moved.

Dark snorted. “That’s a given.” He pecked Wilford on the cheek, opening the door for him. “Everything will be okay, Wil.” His voice was low, for his ears only. He smiled. “You’ll see.”

Wilford couldn’t stop beaming. Bubblegum chattered and circled in his hands. Bing and Bim raced past him, following the Jims and yelling about popcorn. He could hear the Host murmuring softly to Dr. Iplier behind him, as well as Ed and Silver arguing about the quality of horror movies. King was wringing out his cape and grumbling about the baby squirrels no doubt wreaking havoc below as Google gave off a vague threat if they had gotten into his office. Wilford sighed, leaning his head on Dark’s shoulder.

“I think I already do.”