The Host pressed himself against the wall, back to it, trying to calm his racing heart. He could hear Dr. Iplier humming in the next room, the kitchen, as he prepared breakfast for them. The idea of a ‘Family Breakfast’ was their newest ego Bim Trimmer’s suggestion, quickly adopted by the King of the Squirrels and the Jims and given enthusiasm by Wilford Warfstache until Darkiplier had been forced to comply.
The Host swallowed, mouth dry, as he mentally psyched himself up for rounding the corner. He was absolutely not flustered by the idea of being in a room alone with the doctor, even if it did happen multiple times a day to change his bandages. He did not revel in the attention he gave him as he changed his bandages, the feeling of his hands brushing against his hair most definitely not soothing in any way. He was absolutely, positively, definitely not hopelessly in love with Dr. Iplier. Nope.
Taking a deep breath, he fiddled with the edge of his trench coat, movements a bit unsure and fumbling, still not completely used to life without his sight, even after a year. Finally summoning up the courage, he prepared to round the corner, and –
“Hey, Host! What’s up?”
The Host jumped, slamming the other into the wall in reflex, tense and jittery. He let out a sigh of relief when his mumbled narration brought forth a painted image of Bim, wide-eyed and shaking in his grasp. “Do not sneak up on the Host,” he hissed, releasing the other. Bim nodded slowly, adjusting his suit and running a hand through his hair.
“Sorry! It’s just, usually you know what’s happening before even we do! Is something wrong? I mean, I know I’m new here and all, so I don’t want to overstep any bounds, but…”
Bim trailed off, and the Host could hear Dr. Iplier’s quiet humming once more, seemingly undisturbed by the brief scuffle on the other side of the wall. He could feel his face heat up, a blush steadily creeping down his neck as the humming evolved into soft singing. He tried to narrate as quietly as possible as to not betray his thoughts, but, judging by the description of Bim’s Cheshire grin, his efforts were unsuccessful.
“Oooooh! Someone’s got a cruuush on the doctor!” Bim’s singsong voice only added to his blush.
“Shut up!” The Host covered his face with his hands. “Does Bim realize how difficult it is to hide one’s feelings when they are forced to narrate almost every thought and movement out loud? The Host does not need him ruining a full year’s worth of effort!”
Bim tilted his head to the side. “Why not just tell him? Be a lot easier.”
Immediately the Host paled, blush fading. “No. The Host would rather not destroy the wonderful relationship he already has with Dr. Iplier, not to mention the uncomfortable situations that would no doubt arise when he goes to get his bandages changed.”
Bim scoffed, then threw and arm around the Host’s shoulders. “That will absolutely not do. I may be new, but watching you pine after Dr. Iplier for the past two weeks I’ve been here – yes, it is very obvious, even without the flustered muttering – has been driving me insane. I don’t know how the others have stood it for so long. Anyway, I have designated myself your wingman! You and Dr. Iplier will be the power couple of the century by the time I’m through! Well, second to only Dark and Wilford, because man are those two goals.”
The Host was shaking his head before Bim had even finished, pushing the other off of himself. “The Host said no. He appreciates the younger’s desire to help, but he asks Bim to kindly leave well enough alone.” With that, he marched into the kitchen, immediately stopping short when his Sight flashed and he watched Dr. Iplier turning around, flashing him a bright smile.
“Host! Hey, how’s it going? Your bandages alright?”
The Host was suddenly struck with his dry mouth again. Swallowing harshly, he stammered out a reply. “They…they a-are satisfac-satisfactory.”
The doctor’s smile widened. “Good! Remember to stop by later. I know it’s been a year since…you know, but I still don’t want to run the risk of them getting infected.” His smile dropped abruptly, and he squinted at the Host. “You sure you’re okay? You’re looking a little red.”
The Host nodded, firmly keeping his mouth shut as he pulled his coat tighter around him. As such, he nearly jumped out of his skin when Bim came up behind him, trailing a hand down his arm. “Yeah, ‘cause you’re doing great on your own,” the game show host whispered. “I’m going to help you, whether you like it or not. Because this is clearly not working.” He patted the Host’s arm, then moved to his seat, just as Google trailed into the room, arrival announced by the Host’s flustered narrations and the sound of his pistons moving.
The Host hurried to his seat as Google surveyed the room, clearly analyzing them. The Host could feel the android’s piercing eyes linger on him before he slid into his seat next to Bim, not saying a word. The Host didn’t know if he should be grateful for his silence or not, as Google was prone to jumping to conclusions based on the ‘data’ he gathered and was about as socially and emotionally aware as a toothpick. In his defense, he was the second youngest, created only about a month before Bim, and he preferred to stay in his office rather than suffer through social interaction. Bim was quickly changing that however, encouraging everyone, including the more antisocial egos like the Host, Dark, and Google (much to their irritation), to spend time together, to get to know one another. The flamboyant ego was changing a lot of things since his arrival.
King slunk in next, a squirrel tail that was poking out from beneath his crown covering one eye, shifting uncomfortably next to Bim. The Host shared his sentiment. Back when he was…the Author (even just thinking the name made him want to gag), it had just been him, King, Dark, and Wilford, plus the Jims, for a long time. And then Dr. Iplier came along, not that the Host was complaining, but the sudden influx of egos, the Silver Shepherd, Google, and Bim all being created with months of each other…it was taking some time getting used to a noisier household.
Dark and Wilford came in next, their elbows linked together in an old-fashioned display. Wilford was laughing, his face covered with his free hand and shoulders shaking, and Dark was looking at him with such a fond smile that the Host’s heart ached, his mind filled with the fantasy of Dr. Iplier looking at him like that, of what could be, if he only had the courage and the confidence that the doctor wouldn’t reject him on the spot.
The Silver Shepherd wandered in last (the Jims were off on some news story), just as Dr. Iplier was setting the plates down and slipping into his own seat, the Host adamantly remaining rigid and silent, fighting back the narrations in order to not burst his thoughts out loud. “Sorry I’m late! Ibis and I were out until early this morning fighting crime. It’s getting more dangerous out there every night; more egos are popping up left and right! It’s a nightmare!”
Wilford snorted, idly waving a knife he didn’t have when he walked in. “I think it’s a good thing! It was so boring here when it was empty! Nothing to play with!” Dark hummed, whether in agreement or not was unclear.
The table dissolved into silence, the egos reveling in the only quiet minutes they would have that day. The Host spent most of it stiff and uncomfortable; he could feel the doctor’s radiating body heat, warming his right side and making his face flush. He could also feel Bim’s knowing look, his eyes making his skin itch under his coat. He really wished he would stop, and he couldn’t shoot the youngest a warning glare, considering he lacked the eyes to do such a thing. So, Bim kept staring, his smirk obvious even without sight, as the Host grew more uncomfortable by the minute. He was the first to push away from the table once they were done, hurrying to his radio studio as fast as he could.
He practically slammed the door, collapsing with relief into his chair. Covering his face with his hands, he let out a groan. He. Was. Hopeless. He was acting like a twelve-year-old with a crush. The worst part was he couldn’t help it. Hiding his feelings clearly wouldn’t last much longer; he was a terrible liar, and if the new ego who’d only been around two weeks was able to pick up on it, he needed to do something.
Sighing with something akin to defeat, the Host turned to his equipment, preparing to go live for his radio show. Just as he was about to hit the button, his door slammed open and Bim barged into the room.
The Host clenched his teeth. “What does Bim Trimmer think he’s doing?”
Bim seemed blissfully unaware of the Host’s anger, merely plopping down in the extra seat beside him, the one he used whenever he decided to have a ‘special guest’ on his show. “I’m here to help you pull your head out of your ass! And man do we have work to do!” Bim clapped his hands once, bouncing back onto his feet to pace along the length of the room. The Host thudded his forehead against the desk, the beginnings of a headache prodding at his mind. Christ, this one had enough energy to rival Wilford; he could barely handle one eccentric psychopath. He didn’t particularly want to deal with another.
Without lifting his head, the Host mumbled, “The Host reminds Bim that he does not need nor want his help. The Host requests that Bim leave.”
Bim let out a derisive snort. He finally settled into a position, leaning against the back wall with arms and ankles crossed. “Yeah that’s a no from me. I’m not going anywhere until you have a plan. You’re a writer, right? So write him something! Poem, short story, I don’t care, but you gotta express yourself somehow! Ooh, maybe put a rose with it, too, is there a garden somewhere in this place?” Bim was racing off before the Host had the chance to reply, leaving his studio door wide open. Mumbling a few words, the door slammed shut on its own, and the Host finally lifted his head. He was acutely aware of the red streaks running down his face, his head throbbing.
Despite this, after taking the time to compose himself, he went live and began to talk.
Hours later, as the Host walked through the manor toward Dr. Iplier’s office for his daily bandage change, he couldn’t stop thinking about Bim’s idea. Should he write something? Even if he decided to, where would he even start? Even as the Author, when his power resided in his written word, he’d never been too good at the whole…romantic genre, preferring to indulge in psychological horror, the more fun choice. Where would he even begin?
So lost in thought, the Host didn’t realize he was at Dr. Iplier’s door until the man himself called out to him. “Host! Come on in.” Starting a little, the Host did as commanded, narrating quietly under his breath. He sat down on the small bed, and Dr. Iplier frowned. “You’ve been bleeding. Why didn’t you come to me?”
The Host simply shrugged as the doctor began picking at the knot in his bandages. “It wasn’t serious. The Host did not deem it necessary to bother Dr. Iplier.”
Dr. Iplier tutted softly, peeling his bandages away slowly. “Host, you’re not gonna bother me! It is literally my job to take care of you. Plus, all bleeding is serious! With your hemophilia, you could die from a papercut!” As a way to accentuate his point, Dr. Iplier tapped him on the nose, setting down the soiled bandages with the other hand. Almost immediately, the Host’s face lit up in a fiery blush, setting off a chain reaction and making blood drip from his sockets. “What the – fuck!” Dr. Iplier instantly began to panic, grabbing a cotton ball and dabbing at the blood.
The Host’s blush darkened, now due to embarrassment more than anything else, which of course made more blood flow, until both the Host and Dr. Iplier were flustered messes. “Shit – wait – hold on –” The Host heard the doctor sprint away, the clattering of various objects being pushed aside, and then he was coming back. There was a sudden pinch in his neck, making him wince, and he could feel something being injected into his bloodstream. “Sorry! Didn’t give you much of a warning there. Anyway, that should help with the clotting.” He cupped the Host’s face in his hands. Though the blind ego knew he was just peering into his sockets, trying to determine if the clotting agent was working, he couldn’t help but let his mind hope. “You alright?”
The Host gave a shaky nod. “The Host is fine. A bit embarrassed, but fine.”
Dr. Iplier laughed, rubbing his thumbs over his cheekbones once before pulling back. “There’s nothing to be embarrassed about! We got it under control, everything’s okay, right? Come on, let’s get you cleaned up.”
The two were silent as Dr. Iplier worked, cleaning the blood from the Host’s face and wrapping fresh bandages around his sockets. His face was still dusted a light pink, even as Dr. Iplier patted his shoulder, smiling broadly. “There we go! Hey, take it easy for the rest of the day. I know your insatiable athleticism will make that difficult, but…”
The Host snorted at the doctor’s sarcasm, pulling another laugh from Dr. Iplier. The Host suddenly felt the overwhelming need to touch him, to maintain some form of physical contact. But, he restrained himself, his twitching hands the only thing betraying his desires. Instead, he gave a quick thank you and bolted, retreating to the basement of the manor, to his library.
The second the door closed, he breathed a sigh of relief, sliding down the length of the wood till he was sitting on the floor, face buried in his hands. That had to be the most embarrassing experience of his life. Maybe he did needs Bim’s help.
Almost immediately he shook the thought from his mind, standing up. No, he was perfectly fine, he did not need outside assistance, he could handle his own feelings himself. Clasping his hands behind his back, he began to make his way through the maze of the library toward his desk in the dead center. Might as well get some work done while he was here, right? Sitting down, letting out a long sigh, he picked up his quill and the visions he was normally able to hold back (to some degree) swarmed his mind.
Immediately he was hit with a vision of Bim pacing in the darkened library. Judging by the shadows that danced across his face, he was standing just in front of the Host’s desk, and not too far in the future either. Giving another long-suffering sigh, the Host resigned himself to the inevitable interruption, dipping his quill in the ink and documenting the occurrence. He settled into his usual rhythm, his hand never ceasing its movements as he wrote down every fleeting glimpse of the future, blood dripping steadily from his empty sockets and occasionally splattering onto the page.
He was expecting it when the door slammed open. His annoyance levels spiked high when Bim’s call of greeting echoed around his library. “How does Bim Trimmer keep finding the Host?” His words just barely contained his irritation.
“You’re only ever in like four rooms. It’s not exactly difficult.” The Host allowed himself a small smirk of satisfaction as he listened to Bim’s fumbling footsteps as he stumbled his way through the dark. “Christ, it’s so dark in here! How do you – never mind. Dumb question. Aha!”
The Host couldn’t stop the low, territorial growl that escaped him when Bim finally managed to stumble his way into the light of his candle. “Leave.”
“But I just got here!” The Host listened, with growing aggravation, to Bim’s echoing footsteps as he marveled the library. “This place is cool! Did you write all of these?”
“Yes!” The Host pause, taking a moment to calm his breathing. Blood splashed against the desk, echoing softly. “The Host demands that Bim Trimmer leave. He is interrupting the Host’s work. The Host is giving Trimmer a chance to leave of his own accord before the Host makes him.”
Silence. The only sound was the steady dripping of the Host’s blood onto his desk, seeping slowly into his papers. The tremor in Bim’s voice was very audible when he finally spoke. “Fine. Fine, I-I’ll go. I was only trying to help.”
“It was never wanted,” the Host hissed. He listened, quietly seething, to Bim’s retreating footsteps. At the sound of the door thudding closed, it was like his strings were cut, and the Host slumped over onto his desk. All of his anger was gone, draining out like the blood trying so hard to fill his sockets. He was too harsh. He knew he was too harsh, Bim was brand new, he didn’t know any better.
I was only trying to help.
With an almost reluctant sigh, the Host picked himself up off the desk, searching for a blank piece of parchment. Practically forcing his Sight to active, ignoring the pulsing, prickling pain in the back of his sockets, he meticulously, artfully wrote three simple words onto the piece before setting it nearer to his candle to help it dry. Then he began to speak, shoving power into his words until he was holding a perfectly crafted, thornless white rose in his hand.
Making sure the ink was dry, the Host let his Sight fade. Tucking both note and rose into an interior pocket of his coat, the Host began to make his way to Dr. Iplier’s office, blood painting his face red.
Welp, he’s used up his courage for the month.
The Host slammed the door of the library, pressing himself firmly against it, breathing hard and face burning. Fresh, soft bandages decorated his face. As he had been exiting Dr. Iplier’s office, after triple checking that his back was turned, the Host had slipped the rose and note onto his desk before leaving as quickly as possible without being suspicious.
Swallowing harshly, he peeled himself away from the door, stumbling on shaking legs back toward his desk, his fingertips trailing over the spines of his books and absorbing the comfort of his own words. He could feel the tension leave his body as the faint warmth from his – surprisingly – still-lit candle washed over him.
His Sight chose that moment to flash, and the Host scowled at the unsightly mess that was his desk. Blood was still dripping sluggishly off the edge, pooling in a half-congealed puddle on the floor. His papers were soggy, pulpy, bloody disasters, not to mention his quill, which was soaking in the mess. He let out a peeved sigh, his mumbled narrations laced with annoyance as he cleaned up the disaster. His mood instantly dropped when he realized he would have to actively search for the visions again, cringing at the feel of the unsalvageable parchment beneath his hands.
By the time all that remained of the mess was another dark stain on his desk, the Host’s mood had fouled significantly, his narrations like spitting venom from his mouth has he rummaged in a drawer for a new quill and parchment. It got worse when he was forced to relive the vision of Bim’s appearance, guilt now lacing his thoughts as well. He had practically spit in Bim’s face, hissing harsh words and what does he do then? He turns around and does exactly as he said. He was pathetic.
Thinking back on it, what has he done to deserve Dr. Iplier’s affection in the first place? He’s been nothing but a burden, from the moment Dr. Iplier was created, all he’s been is a burden. He didn’t deserve him. He didn’t deserve anything he’s been given.
The Host’s thoughts quickly spun deeper downward, remembering events that have long-since passed. The Author was horrible. He tortured, murdered for fun, for his own twisted, sadistic enjoyment, playing mind games and hurting everyone around him until they were on their knees and begging for mercy. Mercy he never gave. And because of the power he wielded, he could bend them all to his will with a few written words. And that awful, corrupted, dark sense of maliciousness still lived within him. The Host was selfish for even hoping that Dr. Iplier would want to be anywhere near him, let alone form a relationship. Perhaps it would be better if Dr. Iplier stayed away.
So buried in his own swirl of self-loathing, the Host almost missed the tell-tale creak of the library door opening. Assuming it was Dark popping in for one of his sporadic visits, he didn’t acknowledge it outside of the bitter narration of the sound. As such, he jumped out of his skin when he heard a very different voice, definitely not the demon’s.
The Host forced himself to be still, swallowing harshly and setting his quill down on his desk, ignoring the ink that smeared across his hand. He didn’t turn around. “Dr. Iplier. It is...a pleasant surprise to have the doctor down here.”
“I have a secret admirer, apparently.”
The Host’s mouth immediately went dry. “Oh really? How does the good doctor know this?”
“They left me this. And a note, well, more a piece of paper just signed ‘Your Secret Admirer.’” His Sight flashed, and the Host instantly focused on the white rose Dr. Iplier was twirling between his fingers, a soft smile on his face. There was an emotion the Host couldn’t quite recognize glimmering in his eyes.
Feigning curiosity, his previous thought process long-since abandoned, the blind ego cocked his head to the side. “Does Dr. Iplier have any idea who this mysterious person may be?”
“Actually, I do.” The Host froze, sitting stiff. “See, it’s not so much a ‘secret’ when one can instantly recognize the handwriting.” He could hear the footsteps draw closer, until he could feel the phantom weight of Dr. Iplier’s chin hovering above his shoulder, his breath warm against his ear. “Absolutely no one in this chaotic disaster of a house cares or pays that much attention to detail. Except...you.”
And the Host, with all of the grace and eloquence he was known for, spat a single word: “Fuck.”
Dr. Iplier let out a surprised laugh in his ear, forehead dropping to the Host’s shoulder and setting the blind ego’s face instantly into flames. Dr. Iplier spun his chair around, decidedly ignoring the harsh sound it made against the floor, and promptly sat himself in the Host’s lap. His hands instinctively came up to rest on the doctor’s hips, completely at a loss for words for the first time in his life as his blush deepened. “Um.”
He was unable to see the way Dr. Iplier flushed, tucking the rose into the top button hole of his trench coat, unable to see him lean down, and was therefore taken completely by surprise when he felt soft lips against his own. He let out a strangled squeak, body going rigid and grip tightening as Dr. Iplier gently cupped his face. Gradually, he relaxed, melting into the kiss and pressing back lightly, his grip softening. Of course, the second Dr. Iplier pulled back his brain immediately short-circuited, his jaw dropping. “Uhhhhh…”
Dr. Iplier laughed again, caressing his cheeks with his thumbs. “Never thought I’d see you at a loss for words!” He gave him another kiss, this one pressed to the tip of his nose, and he apparently delighted in the way the Host’s blush darkened further, spreading down his neck.
The Host swallowed. “The Host –” His voice cracked, and he cleared his throat, trying again and trying to ignore the gentle caresses. “The Host would like to ask why.”
Dr. Iplier hummed. “You honestly think I didn’t notice the fact that you blush pretty much whenever I look at you? Or that I didn’t hear that little conversation you had with Bim this morning?” The Host’s jaw snapped shut with a sharp clack of his teeth, turning his head to the side. However, the doctor gently coaxed him back to face him. “Hey! It’s okay. You’re not the only one who’s bad at keeping their feelings a secret. I’m pretty sure Silver was about ready to lock us in a room together.”
They both laughed breathlessly, and the Host couldn’t help but bask in the affection, suddenly keenly aware just how starved he was for it, his hands sliding up to rest on Dr. Iplier’s waist. It was then that his previous train of thought began whispering at his mind once more, and his blissful little smile fell. Dr. Iplier instantly picked up on it. “Host? What’s wrong?”
“The Host…the Host doesn’t deserve this!” Tears, both clear and red, began to soak into his bandages. “He’s…he’s done horrible things – the Author –” He cut himself off, choking back a sob. “The Host does not deserve to be loved.”
“Hey! Hey – wait – don’t think like that!” Dr. Iplier hurried wiped away his tears, uncaring of the blood now decorating his fingertips. “I only knew the Author for…for a-a week before…” He trailed off, clearing his throat. “But, even though I only knew him for such a short time, even I can see that you are absolutely nothing like him.” His thumbs resumed their slow caresses as he spoke. “You’re kinder, you’re more respectful, you’re less violent, you have much better fashion sense –” The Host cut him off with a snort, ducking his head and bringing one hand up to cover his mouth. Dr. Iplier pressed a kiss to his hair. “And – most importantly – you are more loved than him. You are not the Author, Host, and you never will be. You’re just two different minds that have the misfortune of sharing the same body.”
The Host found himself unable to speak, head still bowed. So, he allowed his actions to speak for him – the hand holding the doctor’s waist snaked around his back, pulling him closer as the other shot up to grip the back of the doctor’s head and pull him into another kiss. This time, it was Dr. Iplier who made the surprised squeak, though he gave in much faster, kissing back with enthusiasm.
The Host was the one to break the kiss, blood and tears still drying on his face. “Dr. Iplier has…no idea how much his words mean to the Host.”
A soft laugh reached his ears. “It was, sincerely, no problem. Come on, you need new bandages. Again. Three times in one day, must be a record!” His words made the Host flush, and he shoved him off his lap, smirking at his strangled, surprised cry. “Hey! A little warning next time!”
The Host laughed, standing and helping him to his feet. He flushed again when Dr. Iplier refused to let go of his hand, lacing their fingers together instead and leading him through the library. The Host couldn’t help but smile, letting Dr. Iplier pull him along, toying with the rose on his lapel with soft fingers.
He owed Bim a major apology.
…and a thank you.
“Wait – no – not in front of – Dr. Iplier!”
The Host was dragged along – unwillingly, might he add – into the main living area by Dr. Iplier, their fingers still intertwined and the other stubbornly refusing to let go. He covered his face with his free hand, face burning, just in time for them to round the corner and they were suddenly in view of the eight other egos in the manor.
“Hello everyone!” Dr. Iplier was beaming, entirely too pleased with himself while his partner lit up with embarrassment beside him.
“Fucking finally!” Wilford’s exclamation seemed to jumpstart everyone else. Dark just snorted, rolling his eyes and going back combing his fingers through the reporter’s hair, the two completely sprawled out on one of the loveseats, though his attempts to hide his smile failed miserably. The Jims were on them in seconds – Cameraman Jim was zooming in on their intertwining hands while his brother shot off questions faster than they could answer.
Google appeared to be the only one completely disinterested, simply crossing his legs and tucking himself further into the corner of the couch. King and Silver, however, both instantly lit up like Christmas trees – King clapped his happily while the Silver Shepherd sighed with relief, his smile visible plainly through his mask.
Both the Host and Dr. Iplier jumped when Bim suddenly appeared behind them, throwing an arm over both of them and grinning like a madman. “Hey! Glad to see you took my advice to heart!” His grin turned cheeky, poking at the rose still in his coat.
The Host finally dropped his hand, turning his head toward Bim. He gave a shy smile. “Yes. The Host gives his thanks to Bim. Had he not…encouraged him, this may never have come to pass.” His flush deepened. “He would also like to apologize. He admits he was a bit short with Bim earlier.”
Bim simply shrugged. “It’s fine. I got some blame here, too. I overstepped my bounds, I should’ve back off sooner. But hey! I’m happy for you two! So go have fun!” He stepped away, shoving them both lightly with that cheeky grin still in place. They stumbled, and the Host did his best to convey that he was shooting the younger a glare.
Dr. Iplier laughed, pressing a kiss to the Host’s forehead and immediately igniting another blush, pulling forth another laugh. “I swear, I hope you’re this easy to make blush forever. It is adorable.” The Host muttered something under his breath, something that sounded suspiciously like ‘the Host hopes otherwise,’ before he was pulling the other away, toward his studio and away from the gawking others.
After all, he had a relationship to explore.
God I love this ship. This ship deserves more. So much more.