When the doorbell rang, Dark groaned, shifting in his seat on the couch to wrap his arms around Wil plastered next to him, burying his face in his shoulder. “Just one day, can we go one day without someone bothering us? It was quiet.”
Wil laughed, pressing a kiss to his hair before moving to get up. “You just stay here then. I’ll get it.” He stood, and, despite his suggestion, Dark stood with him, hand-in-hand and trailing after him with his head lolling back on his shoulders. When they got to the door, he sighed, straightening himself and running a hand through his hair as Wil opened the door.
Standing on their doorstep was Abe the Detective, looking no older than that dreaded day all the way back in 1925 and dressed the same, and he was glaring at Wil with enough venom to dissolve steel. “You –” he spat, walking forward with a finger pointed accusatorily and forcing them both to back up. “You left me! You promised you’d help me and you just abandoned me! You lying, murdering, piece of shit –”
Wil raised his hands, halting Abe in his tracks and shaking his head in startled confusion. “Whoa whoa whoa, slow down there, friend! I don’t even know you!”
Somehow, Abe’s expression grew more furious, raw betrayal evident in his eyes. “Ooooh no, oh no you don’t, you’re not pulling this shit on me again, I will not allow it! You and I are gonna –”
“Heyyyy, detective! Long time no see!” Dark cut him off, finally snapping out of his shock, and grabbing his shoulder and pulling him inside. He dragged him away from Wil, slamming the door, much to both of their confusion. “You’re gonna come with me, okay? We have to talk.”
Abe glanced over his shoulder at Wil, who had frozen to the spot, completely bewildered. “Wait, but I’m not done with him yet!”
“Oh yes you are.” Dark tore open the Void, dragging Abe through it, and they popped out in his office.
Abe stumbled, glaring about the room before whirling on Dark. “What the Hell was that? What is –”
Dark’s aura flared, and Abe’s clacked his jaw shut, swallowing nervously. “What are you doing here, Abe? The last time you popped up was 1977 and before that it was all the way back in 1925! You can’t just come barging in like that!”
Abe’s brow furrowed. “Hold on, you say that like it’s been a while! I last saw him in that club two months ago, and he promised he’d help me understand whatever the fuck is going on and then he just dropped off the face of the Earth! And then I find him – and you – here of all places!”
Dark closed his eyes, sighing and pinching the bridge of his nose. “That’s right, I forgot; time doesn’t agree with you. Abe, for the rest of the universe, what you just described happened forty-two years ago. Wil honestly has no idea who you are. You caught him in – well, more like triggered – a very rare moment. I’m sorry.”
Abe opened his mouth, most likely to retort, but he closed it again and Dark could see the realization dawning on him. He collapsed in the chair by Dark’s desk, head in his hands. He let out a strained laugh, shaking his head. “Fuck. I didn’t – forty-two years…I’m in a whole different century now, aren’t I?” He raised his head, laughing again. “I saw…the manor – for me – was only two months ago. Everything was only two months ago. And you’re telling me that…that that all happened…” He trailed off, pausing for a moment, before his eyes widened. “… Nearly 94 years ago?! God, I’ve missed so much…” He glanced at Dark, at his red and blue outline, and he swallowed. “How…how are they? I mean, I know I didn’t know them, barely at all beyond what…what he hired me to look into, but…are they okay?”
Dark gave him an odd look, not saying anything for a long time. “…Would you like to see them?”
Abe’s jaw dropped, sitting a little straighter. “You…you can do that?”
Dark didn’t reply, just moved to sit in his own chair. He drew a deep breath, relaxing his shoulders, and his body split, his two mirror images standing to either side of him, and then they shimmered, taking the form of a young woman and a young man.
Abe stood, chair screeching along the floor, as both Damien and Celine smiled at him, glancing at each other in amusement. He took a shaky step forward, glancing at Dark with wide eyes. “Can they talk, c-c-can I touch them?”
Dark raised an eyebrow. “They, physically, can’t talk, no, but I can still hear them. But you can touch them.”
Abe immediately launched himself at Damien, pulling him into a tight hug and taking him completely by surprise. “God, I am so sorry…if I knew what he was planning to do with the information I dug up for him…that he would do what he did…I never would’ve done it. I never…”
He broke off, letting out a loud sob, and Damien returned his hug. Dark smiled gently. “They don’t blame you, Abe. Neither of them do. And Wil…when he’s in his right mind, he blames no one but himself, and, of course, him. You’re not the one at fault.”
Abe pulled back, a strange look on his face, and Damien tilted his head. “I just hugged a dead person.”
Damien’s eyes widened, Celine burst into silent laughter, and Dark chuckled. “Yes well, you can check that off the bucket list now.”
Abe gave a disbelieving laugh, turning to face Dark. “Does…Does the Colonel – er Wil – still go by the stupid Wilford Warfstache name?”
Dark chuckled. “Yes. He’s made quite a name of himself in recent years. He’s even got an apprentice.”
Abe’s eyes bugged out of his head. “Dear God there’s two of them. How are there still living people in this world?”
“They certainly try their best.”
Abe’s brow furrowed, and he gave Dark a quizzical look. “I noticed the ring on your finger earlier. What’s up with that? Never pegged you for the jewelry type.
Dark immediately blushed, staring with a fond smile at the ring. “Wil proposed to me. On Valentine’s Day no less. We’re getting married on the summer solstice.”
Abe scratched the back of his head as Celine and Damien shimmered again and disappeared, merging back with Dark’s body. “Oh wow. I…didn’t even know you two were an item. I’m really out of the loop, aren’t I?” He cleared his throat awkwardly, glancing about the office. “So you two are back here, huh? The past still pulling its strings? Bit of a big house for just two people, isn’t it?”
Dark propped his head up on his fist, leaning against his desk. “Actually, there are twelve others living here as well. It’s a bit complicated to explain, but I’m pretty sure you’ll get the gist once you meet them. I’m honestly a bit surprised one of them has yet to come barging in here.”
Abe’s jaw dropped yet again. “Twelve – how is this place still standing?!”
Dark gave an honest shrug of his shoulder. “Seventeen of us total if you want to be exact, but the extra three don’t show themselves often. Though they might make a special occasion for you. Androids are naturally curious.”
Abe shook his head, clearly overwhelmed. “Hold on, androids?! Like from the movies and books and stuff?! What?!”
Dark laughed, waving his hand and tearing another gap in the Void. “Better for you just to meet them. I have a feeling they’ll love you. Just…don’t let them surround you, else you’ll never escape.” He didn’t give Abe time to question the vaguely threatening remark, standing and pulling him back through the Void. They ended up in the living area, the usual gathering place, and Dark was unsurprised to find them all scattered about the room, doing one thing or another. He cleared his throat, calling their attention. “Everyone, this is Abe. A very old friend of mine.”
Bim was the first to bounce to his feet, disentangling himself from King and flashing him a dazzling smile, running a hand through his glitter coated hair before offering it to Abe. “Hi! I’m Bim Trimmer, Wilford’s apprentice and game show host extraordinaire!”
Abe raised an eyebrow, shaking his hand. “You’re uh…sparkly…”
Dark smacked a palm to his forehead and Bim simply laughed. “I like you. Come on!” He grabbed Abe’s hand, pulling him toward the rest of the group. Abe immediately zeroed in on the twins, narrowing his eyes suspiciously as they exchanged glances, recognition settling in all three of them.
“You two! You’re the two reporters who broke into my crime scene! I have a few choice words for you!”
The Jims scrambled to their feet, exchanging rapid glances between each other and the detective. RJ was the one to speak first, gripping tight to his brother’s hand with their free hands raised in mock surrender. “Okay, hey now, that was a really long time ago, you can’t possibly still be mad about that!” Abe simply narrowed his eyes further, and RJ swallowed, CJ picking up where he left off.
“B-besides, that was the biggest story of our career! There’s no way we would’ve advanced without it!” CJ offered him a tight smile, both of them inching backwards slowly.
Abe looked like he was about to say something before he deflated, placing his fists on his hips. “Yeah whatever. As long as I don’t catch you poking around more off-limits crime scenes.” The twins exchanged too wide smiles before nodding, dropping back to the floor in perfect synchrony, and CJ grabbed his camera, clearly focusing on him.
The rest of the introductions went by relatively smoothly. Abe had fawned over Google and Bing for a solid five minutes each, much to their delight, and had been very surprised when Bubblegum launched herself at him, shooting from beneath King’s crown and climbing onto his shoulder, sniffing at his hat (King, of course, had blushed profusely, incredibly embarrassed and hiding his face in Bim’s chest). He’d immediately hit it off with Reynolds, oddly enough, and had equally immediately grown incredibly suspicious of Ed, keeping his distance. Ed just scoffed, pulling his hat over his face and perched in his odd way on his recliner with his legs dangling over the armrest and arms crossed.
Dr. Iplier shot a look over his shoulder at the Host, who hadn’t moved from the loveseat. “Host! Don’t be rude, introduce yourself!”
The Host finally glanced up, tilting his head. “The Host feels no need to introduce himself when he says his name before nearly every sentence.” His almost ever-present smirk made its way to his face as he turned his head toward Abe. “Besides, he has known of the detective’s arrival for a while. In the Host’s mind, they have already met.”
Abe did a double-take, staring at the Host with his mouth open in surprised confusion. “How did you know I was…” His face split in a grin, pointing a finger at the Host. “You’re creepy. I like you.” The Host just grinned back, and Peggy made herself known in the folds of his coat, her head popping up by his shoulder and staring with curious big eyes at Abe.
Wil sidled up to Dark’s side as Bim was dragging Eric into the scene, the anxiety-ridden kid fumbling nervously over his words. Dark laced their fingers together, and Wil shot him a glance out the corner of his eyes. “An old friend, huh? Why did he say he knew me earlier? I’ve never seen him before.”
Dark pressed a kiss to his cheek. “It was just a mistake. He…he thought you were someone else, someone we both new a long time ago. Don’t worry about it.”
Wil just hummed, clearly dissatisfied with the response, but he quickly burst into giggling laughter as Abe spun in a circle, paling significantly and glancing fearfully at Dark when he realized he was surrounded on all sides by the curious egos. “It’s nice to have a guest, though. It’s been a while.”
Dark just chuckled, pulling Wil closer.
Hours later saw the egos still gather in the living area, sitting with rapt attention as Abe told some obviously embellished story about a case he once worked. “– So there I was, gun in one hand and a pool noodle in the other, and this fucking rhino just charges me and –”
“– And I think that’s enough.” Dark cut him off with a raised eyebrow, glancing at the twins briefly before giving Abe a flat stare.
“Aw, come on, Dark! It was just getting to the good parts!” Bim pouted from his spot in King’s lap, King himself sporting a seemingly permanent bright red blush.
“Be that as it may, it’s getting late.” He looked back to Abe, tilting his head. “Will you be staying with us for the night?”
Abe glanced out the window. The sun had almost completely slipped below the horizon, painting it a brilliant gold as inky blue creeped its way to the forefront. “No…I think I’ll go. I have a whole new century to explore, and nearly just as long to catch up on.” He gave Dark a genuine, warm smile. “Thanks for the offer though.”
“Will you visit us again sometime?” Silver looked slightly panicked.
Abe’s smile became hinted with sadness, in such a small amount that Dark doubted anyone but himself picked up on it. “I’ll try my best.” He stood, cracking his back, and Dark unwound himself from a long-since passed out Wil to walk him to the front door. He opened it for him, and Abe stepped out onto the porch, turning around and giving him another smile. “You’ve built yourself something wonderful here, Dark. Take care of it. I hope the best for you, all of you. Damien and Celine, too.”
Dark smiled softly. “Thank you, Abe. And I wish the best for you, too. It’s a very different world out there from what you know. Be careful.”
Abe nodded once, spinning on heel and adjusting his hat as he walked off. Dark hesitated for a moment before closing the door, sighing and shaking his head. He got back to the living area to find most of the egos had dispersed except the Host, Dr. Iplier (who had fallen asleep with his head in the Host’s lap), and, of course, Wil. He shot the Host a small smile before scooping Wil into his arms, tearing a hole in the Void and reappearing in his bedroom.
Setting his fiancé down on the bed, he collapsed onto it himself, finding himself suddenly exhausted. Abe’s reappearance had…brought up old feelings that had been tucked away for a long time but…it had been nice all the same. Having a friend who had gone through the same things he – they – had and actually remembered was…different, and very welcome.
With a long sigh, he curled around Wi and drifted off to sleep.