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A Study in Sleep

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Randal burst into the clinic, half carrying the Host who was soaked in blood and muttering under his breath. He mumbled something to the blind ego who was barely hanging onto him before jerking his head back up to the pristine clinic. “Doc! Hey! We have a problem!” He yelled, his shoes squeaking under him when his footing shifted. He quickly readjusted before either of them fell.

Edward ran out from somewhere deeper in the clinic, a sharp gasp leaving his lips when he saw the other. “What the hell happened?” He rushed to them, trying to assess the Host, but he wouldn't move his hand away from his soppy bandages. Blood dripped off his face in a waterfall, occasionally smearing further across his face when he cowered away from the doctor's hands.

“We were outside with Eric and he just froze up! His eyes started gushing blood and he collapsed for a minute! He hasn't shut up since I picked him up.” Randal’s shirt was also covered in blood, as were his hands. He looked horrified. “I got him here as soon as I could.”

Edward lead the pair to one of the beds, Randal then laid the Host down on it, letting out a grunt when he had to lift the blind ego. He could hear the faint mumbling, it eased his mind. At least the other was conscious enough to form sentences. He quickly rushed to a cabinet and filled a syringe with a clotting agent, then returned back. He stabbed the needle into the other's neck and then pushed down on the plunger. He tried to pry the hand away from the blood soaked bandages again, but the Host wouldn't budge- wouldn't allow him to take away the cloth.

“The Host sees... Blood. So much blood- He didn't mean to. He didn't mean to. He had no other choice.”

Edward sighed gently, pushing the other's hair back and feeling the feverish skin under his hand. The words made him shudder, he hoped to God this wasn't an accurate vision, and closer to an option of the future. “You didn't do anything, Host. Hey. Stay focused.” He kept his voice calm and even despite the frantic mumbling from the man below him. He had to keep a level head. He was debating whether a sedative would help in this case. He froze when he felt a hand reach up and grab at his scrubs with a harsh grip, twisting the fabric in a shaking fist. “Host. Please let go. You're fine. Nothing-”

“He didn't mean to kill them. He cried. He kept crying.” The Host wasn't snapping out of whatever vision he was stuck in. Too caught up as he twisted and turned in the bed. Sweat and blood matted his hair. Suddenly, his hands flew to claw off the bandages and to scratch at his face. His blunt nails shredding the bandage and the skin underneath. “He was forced to. It's only red. He's scared.” His bandage had been pulled completely away from his face, leaving his eye sockets exposed. He whimpered, lost to the present world. He wanted to relieve the pain that was coursing through him, to stop seeing the blood that crashed along the walls of the manor. They were all dead, each one suffering in their last moments, wanting to know why it happened. Their last thoughts trying to figure out what they had done wrong  A figure stood alone, choking on the copper scent and his own sobs.

“Shit! get his hands away from his face!”

Randal jumped to pull the blind man's hands away and pin them to the bed. His wide eyes caught sight of where the Host's should have been. He bit back a gag, but couldn't look away from the other's face. The injuries burned into his brain, and it was haunting. He doubted the image of empty eye sockets leaking blood would ever leave his mind.

The feverish muttering became more frantic, even more so when his hands were ripped from his face and pressed into the bed on either side of his head. The Host twisted and pulled at the hands pressing his wrists to the bed, keeping his own hands away from his face. He cried out, writhing under the surprisingly strong hold. He didn't hear the doctor say something about a sedative. The Host's panicked words eventually boiled away to sobs, no longer struggling against Randal's grip. He came to just as another needle was pressed to his neck and a sedative began coursing through his veins. He turned his head away as reality crashed back to him. His breathing was ragged, uneven and desperate. He could feel the blood on his cheeks and welling up in the scratches he inflicted upon himself.

Edward sighed and bowed his head down slightly in relief. “Host? Are you okay? Are you… here?” He whispered, one of his hands reaching out to card through the matted hair, watching the other relax into the gentle touch.

“The Host… The Host returns from his visions to acknowledge Dr. Iplier’s gaze. He apologizes for his outburst and asks that Randal please let go of him as he is no longer a danger to himself.” The Host murmured, suddenly feeling embarrassed about his actions. He felt very naked without a bandage covering his eyes, he knew Randal must have seen the permanent injuries, and he knew that the other was disgusted with the sight. He fell back into his narrations, fingers still twitching under the grip Randal had on his wrists.

Dr. Iplier and Randal shared a look before he nodded and Randal hesitantly released his hold. There was a gentle, ‘its okay, I got this’ before Randal said something about going to check on Eric before he rushed out.

The Host's breathing slowly returned to normal as the doctor continued to play with his hair. He began to relax fully into the gentle touch. He knew his head should be pounding and that he should be feeling nauseous after a vision, but instead his head just felt fuzzy. “The Host doesn't appreciate sedatives.” He sighed despite himself, his body relaxing into the mattress. He would rather feel the aftermath of his visions immediately, opposed to several hours later when the sedative had worn off.

Edward continued to work the through the blood and gel in the other's hair, a smile grazing his lips at the comment. “Yeah, I know. You were getting aggressive. It was the only option.” He said easily, finally pulling his hand away. “Okay. I'm gonna clean you up now.” He kept his voice soft, knowing that what the other needed more than anything was quite and softness. He grabbed a cotton ball and dampened it with a disinfectant before he began to gently wipe away the blood and sweat, cleaning the wounds as he went. He flinched when he heard the harsh hiss of pain. He murmured his apologies any time he heard sounds of discomfort, trying his damndest to avoid them if he could. Once the blood was finally cleaned away, he wrapped fresh bandages over the other's eyes. “What happened? What'd you see?” He asked after a long moment.

The Host was quiet, or as quiet as he he could be, as Dr. Iplier worked. The only thing to leave his lips were barely audible narrations and the occasional sound of pain, which was followed by apologies from the doctor. He felt the cloth slowly wrap over his eyes and he sighed in relief, the last of his muscles relaxing as his shame was covered. The calm lasted only a few minutes before his body went stiff again. The question ripped through the room and swallowed him whole. “What did Dr. Iplier hear?” He asked instead. What he saw was detailed and painful, he shifted slightly. His hands felt as if there was dried blood on them.

“You said something about someone- some guy- didn't mean to do it… And that there was blood.”

The Host pressed into the mattress, trying to hide from the concerned eyes. He reached up to fidget with the bandage slightly, unsure of how to answer the question now. “The Host doesn't know who it was.” He started slowly, his head snapping away from the other's gaze. His mouth felt dry suddenly. “The man… h-he,” he took a shuddering breath, the emotions welling up in his chest and flooding his fuzzy head, “didn't want to. It wasn't his fault. And he wanted them all to know that. He was so sorry. He cried for them.” Fresh blood bloomed across his bandages at his distress, his hands snapping to his side to stop fiddling with the cloth over his eyes. He was afraid he would rip them to shreds again.

“For who?” Edward asked, his hand on the other's and gripping it to show support. He felt bad for the other. He wanted to stop asking questions, but knew Dark would need answers as it was required to report any visions the Host had to the demon.

“For everyone else in the manor.” The words tumbled out of the Host's mouth before he could stop them. Then, blood and tears began to slip down his cheeks. He felt hands move to wipe his cheeks, his head turning away from the touch with a shake of his head. “It's not- The Host... The Host is scared.” He said softly. “He doesn't know when, o-or how, he just knows it will happen.” His voice cracked gently. “Hell, the Host isn't even sure that it will happen. Maybe it was a possible future.”

Edward smiled gently, noticing the way that the other seemed relieved at the second thought. “Yeah, that's true. How often are your violent visions reality?” He asked, giving a reassuring smile. They sat like that for a while together, with the other keeping his head turned away so desperately. He continued to gently try and get the other to turn his back, making jokes and anything else he could think of. After a few minutes he started to tell stories, stupid ones about the other egos. He was in the middle of a story of when Mike accidentally found Bim and a contestant on his show, both very naked. Then, he heard it. A soft snore cutting between them. “Oh, really?” He said with a smirk tugging at his lips. “My stories put you to sleep?” He chuckled gently. He took a moment to take in the Host's face as he slept, then he reached out to gently to ruffle the other's hair.

Chapter Text

There was a lazy Sunday, a rare moment of peace settled across the manor. The two figures sat on the outdoor furniture on the courtyard. They sat in a comfortable silence- as close as it could be, the two taking small sips of their respective cups of tea. They didn't speak to each other, didn't feel the need to. Instead, they watched the slow breeze pull through the trees and kept an ear out for interruptions. Finally there was a clink of a mug being placed on the little table in front of the wicker couch they sat at. Dark took a deep breath and glanced to the ego to his left. His face was resting in something close to calm. Even with the constant ache in his shattered body. “Is this what you usually do on Sunday evenings?” He finally asked, his hands folding into his lap.

A small smile pulled at the Host's lips, his head still forward and his fingers curled around the mug. “Usually. The Host doesn't normally allow other egos to join him. As they are usually too energetic for The Host's liking.” He murmured into his mug before taking another sip of the warm, minty tea. “But Darkiplier is always allowed to sit with the Host.” He smiled fully, his head turning to face the demon to drive his point home.

Dark chuckled lightly. He understood what the other meant, as there weren't many people in the house who could stand just sitting in a mostly silent state for an hour and a half. “Is it because you like the company?” He asked casually, leaning forward to take his mug once more. A wince pulled across his face as a fire bloomed along his shoulder and down his spine. He must have moved too fast to be experiencing the pain as severely as this.

“The Host informs Dark that it's for that reason. As well as he believes that Dark is something like a friend.” The Host explains, worry flashing in his features when he heard a faint hiss of pain come from the demon. He knew the other was in pain, he always was. In his infinite knowledge, it was hard to hide things from him; of course, he knew what Dark was and the shattered remains that came after it. He understood the other's rage and where it came from. If he focused too much on the other, he could hear the stitched together souls scream for release. He reached out with one hand gently to touch the demon’s injured shoulder. “Would the Host be overstepping his boundaries if he offered to help?” He asked gently, mimicking what Dr. Iplier did when he was in pain. He could feel the other's aura creep around his hands in a silent plea, but he wouldn't move until he was given explicit consent.

Dark relaxed somewhat at the simple touch, his red influence simmering down as the blue outline of his aura seemed to swell. Damien, always the romantic- always touch starved in this form- loved the attention. He scoffed at the hum he heard from the aura, a familiar, distorted male voice echoed from somewhere in the black void that surrounded him. “Old friend, I would be honored to have you ease the pain.” He said gently, leaning in slightly to the touch. He could feel the red influence seem to positively acknowledge the touch as well. That was new. Usually, Celine wouldn't bother to acknowledge anything past her own anger, set on getting what she wanted. He hummed gently, allowing his aura to move on it’s own; wrapping around the Host's fingers and hands and drawing him closer. He heard the other begin to speak and felt the magic wash over him. The ache in his shoulder faded away, as did the constant strain in his neck. His body relaxed gently and he opened his eyes again, unsure of when they slipped shut in the blissful feeling. The dust and rot that was Dark seemed mend as well, the magic breathing in life and setting shattered bones.

“May the Host go on?” The Host kept his voice low, acknowledging the blissed facial expression the other had. It wasn't enough though, he could hear the souls inside the demon. Damien begging him not to pull away yet, and Celine agreeing in her own stubborn way. The souls didn't seem to hate that he could acknowledge them, they acted like they loved the attention they got.

“Of course.” Dark wouldn't stop the other in that moment, the touches far to calming and comforting. Honestly, the Host was the only one he trusted to interact with the red and blue influences, anyone else would fear them. The blind ego was the only one who didn't seem to pass judgment. He heard mumbling and felt his body split into three figures. Celine in a red outline to his right, and Damien in a blue outline to his left. The three sat on the couch, himself and the red influence seeming to be the only two nervous about their vulnerability. The blue influence couldn't help, but to smile fondly at the blind man before them.

“Come on, old friend. We're not afraid of you.” Damien's voice startled Dark and Celine. They couldn't talk, they shouldn't be able to speak outside of Dark’s mind. Yet, he seemed unfazed by it, as if he already knew it was happening. In reality, he was too trusting, he never cared to learn to grow skeptic of others. Even after the last time his trust got him killed.

“The Host… The Host acknowledges Damien's friendliness and accepts it in full.” The Host panted out. When had he lost his breath? He was aware of the blood beginning to track along his cheeks in their usual pattern. He stood up and pulled the twins up to stand with him. He turned to Damien first. “The Host apologizes if this is jarring for Damien and Celine. The souls felt trapped inside and the Host felt as though they needed to breathe. They can move around the manor.” He sat down, exhaustion settling in his mind. Standing did him no good, so he continued his explanation from his seat. “The others won't see the souls. But they can be free, if only for a little while. They will come back before it is too late for all three of them.” He explained.

The twins shared a look. Damien was the first to speak.

“Host, I don't believe we can accept what you're saying-”

“Go.” Dark encouraged, already laying his head on the blind ego's shoulder. “Some time apart might do us all some good.”

“Thank you.” Celine whispered gently, she reached a hand out to cup the side of the Host's face, Damien leaning in to mimic the action on the opposite side. She was in awe with the power, being trapped in that body for nearly a century almost drove her mad. Now, she had a taste of freedom, and it was enough to calm her fried nerves. “I don't know how you did it, but thank you.” She smiled fondly at the blind man, trying to wipe away the blood to the best of her abilities. It didn't work, she didn't even get to smear the blood away. They were simply ghosts, allowed to freely haunt the manor now.

Then, the twins ran inside, excited and chattering about seeing their home again. Jokes rang through the empty backyard until their voices grew softer. Until, they vanished inside the home.

“How did you do that?” Dark asked, words slightly slurred due to tiredness. His aura retracted back into himself, slithering into his shadow. He wondering if their souls were still tangled with his, or if all three of them were separated. No, they had to still be tied up. Any separation had to be only on a more physical level, any spiritual separation would have killed them. He heaved a sigh, unsure of that was correct. He was merely guessing what had happened.

The Host rested his head on top of the other's and smiled slightly. “Magic and reality are to be bent to the Host's will.” He said plainly. His breathing evening out before he was fast asleep outside, another gentle breeze passing through the trees. He slept soundly for once, just a comforting silence in the dark space of his subconscious.

Dark woke up several hours later in the dark, draped over a still sleeping Host. He spotted them then, pressed to either side of the blind ego. The red and the blue influences doing everything they could to make sure the breathing man was comfortable. He noticed the way that Celine kissed his twitching fingers and Damien carded his fingers through the Host's hair, musing about the golden streak. He didn't bat an eye, knowing that their influence was still there. He could feel their souls squirming, but at least they wouldn't scream. Not yet, at least. He settled back down, the other was extremely comfortable, after all. “Don't get too attached to him.” He murmured. “He'll become tired of your clinginess as well.” He spoke to both of them, settling down when he saw tears streaming down the two souls’ faces, trying to scoot away from Dark.

“He told us to stay.” Celine whispered as her anger spiked, but kept a calm voice as she continued to kiss along the Host's hands, pressing a kiss to his wrist. Her head turning towards her brother when Damien used a hand wipe away the tears that traveled down her cheek.

Chapter Text

The old library was something out of a horror movie, it was dark and twisted every which way it wanted. Not to mention, that it was in a basement. All of these factors just aided into the tight ball of anxiety that was settled in his chest. Eric twisted the handkerchief as he walked the library. It was late, but he was given explicit permission to come down to the library whenever he wanted to. He knew that he was told the truth, because he doubted that the Host could even lie. His hands trembled slightly, he had been worked up and any sound probably would have had him running for the hills. His body wound up tight due to his anxiety, a nightmare about angry fathers and harsh words. He stepped into what one could call a sitting area; it was just an old leather couch with a desk and chair pressed against the wall. The books piled high next to the couch alarmed him; they were ripped and smeared in blood. His stomach dropped at the sight.

"U-um. Host? A-are you in here?" He whispered, his voice echoing around the expansive room.

A door to his left opened and Eric let out an undignified yelp, turning to face the Host who emerged from a side room with fresh blood dancing down his cheeks.

"The Host asks if Eric is having a nightmare as he seems distressed and is awake at three in the morning."

Eric nods, twisting the handkerchief so aggressively it looked like it might rip in his hold. He knows that the Host couldn't see him and decides to speak up instead. "Yeah I-I had a nightmare." He said gently, his breathing was a little heavier as he shifted on bare feet. He looked down as he realized that the Host was also in pajamas, it felt to be too private to look at. The Host's pajamas appeared to be a ratty pair of sweatpants with an old t-shirt, both stained in blood. They were the opposite of the pristine pajama pants and shirt he wore to bed, his clean and smelling like lavender detergent. "I'm sorry if I interrupted-"

The Host's lips twitched into a smile, one as genuine as he could convey with a lack of eyes. He closed the distance and placed a hand on the other's shoulder, effectively silencing whatever he was going to say next. "The Host offers to read Eric a story as it's the best thing to ease his own nightmares." He explains, chuckling when he heard an over enthusiastic agreement to being read to. He allowed Eric to lead him through the library and back to the sitting area. They both plopped onto the old couch, a book appearing in his hands when he did. It was an old, but effective children's chapter book, they had been slowly making their way through it. The only time either of them reading it was when the other sought out comfort from him late at night. He began to read from the book, his narration allowing him to see and read.

Eric curled into the other side of the couch, listening to the low voice read to him. It was comforting, the Host seemed to know how to calm someone down without even using his magic. He couldn't relax though, his heart still drumming in his chest. "U-um." He said softly, shrinking in further on himself when the other's head snapped up and voice stopped, the Host's head tilted in silent question. He took a deep breath. "Would it-it be okay if I laid d-down? I-It's okay if I can't!" He added the second part soon after, deciding to press himself further into his end of the couch and bury himself there. The Host closed the book and nodded, a reassuring smile on his lips.

"The Host takes no issue in Eric making himself as comfortable as needed. He is just happy that he can provide some comfort while Eric is upset." The Host mumbled, pausing so the other could move. It took some coaxing to actually get the other to move from his spot. He froze for a split second when Eric laid down on him, curling up on his chest like a kitten. Oh. That was new. Usually, people kept their distance from him unless physically contact was necessary. He tended to give people the creeps. He stretched his back slightly, unsure of what to do when someone actively sought out physical contact. He felt Eric wrap his arms around his middle and he felt something tug at his heart. He slowly wrapped his arms around the other's shoulders. "The Host asks Eric if their contact is okay as he does not want to upset him further." He mumbled out absently.

"N-no this is fine. Can w-we just stay like this?" Eric's voice came out smaller than he meant, causing him to wince slightly at the sound. He didn't want to appear weak to the god-like Host. Yet, there he was, curled up after asking to be read a story.

"The Host thinks that their position is perfectly suitable as long as Eric feels better." The Host murmured, his hand reaching up to pet the hair at the base of the other's neck content when he heard a happy sigh in return. He asked if they should keep reading, the suggestion was denied. They laid like that in pure silence instead, until he was certain that Eric was fast asleep on his chest. He felt guilty, seeing Eric curl up on his bloody t-shirt when he's so used to seeing blood. The other deserved nothing but the best, and yet he laid there with arguably one of the most violent egos. He titled his head back and way from the sleeping form, scared that blood somehow would taint the other's skin. He knew that it wasn’t logical, but he knew what kinds of things Eric had seen, and he didn’t want Eric to ever see it again. His position would lead him with a sore neck and back in the morning, but he didn't care. He kept his breathing slow, to make sure that Eric kept undisturbed. Finally, he rested. He allowed himself to slip into the comforting call of sleep, with a body curled up against him. His voice the only sound in the library as he narrated in his sleep, breathing life into the library as it seemed to curl around them and kept their space safe.

Chapter Text

“The Host asks what documentary Google is watching.”

The sound was soft and scratchy, making Google jump and jerk his head behind him to face the Host. The Host looked awful, the bloody trails on his cheeks contrasting on his deathly pale skin. He still wasn't the most comfortable around the other, not since the fight they had in the meeting room. Sometimes, he swore he could still hear other voices along with the other's narrations. “Bing turned it on. Something about deep ocean animals.” He said slowly, turning his head back to the TV when he didn't hear anything else being said. He assumed that the other had walked away from the living room. He should probably warn Dr. Iplier about the condition that the blind ego was in, maybe it was more serious than he was being lead to believe. The android was snapped from his thoughts when the couch dipped next to him. He locked up, fear rushing through his core.

“The Host… Apologizes if he scared Google. He has been working for days on end and simply wants to think of something other than the future for a while. That is why he is here.” The Host gestured to the living room with a lazy, slightly shaky hand.

Oh, so that was it. The poor guy was working himself to death for Dark. Google nodded despite himself and glanced back to the TV. He felt a strange urge to make sure the other was okay. It wasn't as if he could look up what was wrong with the other on the internet. The idea made the corners of his lips twitch up for a moment out of how ridiculous it was. “It’s alright if you want to stay here. I won't stop you from watching TV with me.” He winced slightly at his choice of words, wanting to apologize. He sighed in relief when he heard a chuckle instead.

The Host tilted his head to the side slightly, facing the android. There was a knowing smirk blossoming on the corners of his chapped and pale lips. “The Host reminds Google that he can't watch television as he is blind. But thanks Google for the invitation nonetheless.” He spoke softly, leaning against the couch. He let his aching head fall back and tuned into the sound of the narrator of the documentary. “The Host will listen to the program instead. The voice quiets the ones in his head.” He said matter of fact, his voice so soft and broken from overuse. He wiped at the very dried blood that laid under his nose, his face contorting in disgust at the action. He needed to keep working, but there was a pull to just rest for a while. There was a deep ache in his bones and mind, he would work better later if he rested a little now.

Google watched the pitiful state the other was in, he felt bad for him. He opened messenger and sent a text to Dr. Iplier, explaining what kind of state the blind ego was in. It was for the better if a medical professional knew as well. He noticed the way the other recoiled when he touched the dried blood under his nose, like that blood was wrong compared to when it came from his eye sockets. “Does your nose usually bleed?”

“No. The Host's nose shouldn't bleed unless he is working himself to the bone.” The Host's head rolled to the side to face the android.

“What the hell is he making you do?” Came Google's surprisingly sympathetic voice.

“Darkiplier had asked the Host to find outcomes of future plans and make predictions for the best choices. The Host has been working for three and a half days now.”

Google felt his core tighten at the idea. The other looked ill, he looked so tired and broken down. “Have you slept since you started?” He then froze when he realized he hadn't seen the other at breakfast that morning, or the morning before. “Have you eaten at all?” Anger flashed in his wires when he saw the slightest shake of the blind man's head. “Bing will bring you water and something to eat. I've already contacted Dr. Iplier to come check on you.” He said simply, he wanted to drag the other to Drak and show the demon what he had done to the Host. Show what the overwork had done. The TV flickered and he caught another glimpse of the other's ghastly face and he shuddered at the sight. He felt a hand weakly grab his wrist.

Google hated when the Host did things like he could see where he was. It was so unnerving.

“The Host asks why Google is being so kind to him.” The Host's head snapped to the kitchen, a second later he heard glass breaking and bleeped out curses. His head was both in the future and in the present, which was very disorienting. “He doesn't understand the other's concern for him.” He croaked afterward.

“Because I feel the need to make it up to you as last time we spoke you nearly killed me. I respect you too much to see you kill yourself over work.”

Again, that eerie smirk ghosted the Host's lips. He looked downright terrifying when he was in such a ruined state and he smiled. “The Host reminds Google that he has already tried to kill himself. He doubts he can even die at this point. Maybe, a new version of himself will rise from the ashes.” With those words he turned back to face the ceiling, a grimace pulled across his face as he tried to calm the headache pounding in his skull and the hunger gnawing at his stomach. Maybe, he was dying. It sure felt like it. From what he remembered of being shot, dying always hurt. He certainly didn't want to die from blood loss, not again.

Google made a face at the comment, there was something so creepy when the other reminded people that he had tried to kill himself, that he cut out his own eyes. The android shook his head, instead focusing again on the TV, following the Host's actions almost instantly. They sat like that for a while, in a strangely comfortable silence. He wondered why the other had stayed in the living room to talk to him. He wasn't the most sociable out of the egos, but then again neither was the Host. It might be why they were so comfortable now. He felt pressure on his shoulder and turned his head to see what was on him. His eyebrows furrowed when he saw the it was the other's head. There was a spike of panic in his core.

Did the Host actually just die?

The android was brought back when he heard soft mumbling and an occasional snore.

Oh.

Google knew the unspoken rule. No one was allowed to wake up the Host if he fell asleep, the poor guy barely slept so when he did it was a miracle. He made a face when he heard ‘warm,’ ‘comfortable,’ and ‘soft’ mixed with the soft narrations. He wasn't sure how he felt about being regarded in such kind words. He sent another text to the doctor, telling him to hurry up and get the other off of him. He tensed when he felt the other nuzzle further into his neck to chase warmth, the bloodied bandage scratching along his skin and leaving marks on his shirt and neck.

He wasn't sure what he was supposed to do when someone slept on him, he spent most of the time with androids that didn't sleep. He heard the mumbling become slightly more erratic, shifting from where they were now to a cabin in the woods. He listened to the description of a man who hunted someone down and beat them with a aluminum bat and dragged their half dead body back to the cabin. Google recoiled ever so slightly at the words. He didn't realize how fitful the other slept. He heard a soft sob from the crook of his neck and felt hands grip slightly onto his pant leg. The action was so broken, this was someone who was so lonely and scared. Scared of what, he would rather not find out.

“Dude, sorry it took so long I broke, like, three cups and-” Bing stopped talking when he saw the Host asleep on Google. He almost laughed, but chose to keep his voice soft instead. “Aww. He likes you. Which is weird because he definitely tried to kill you.”

Google did something close to flushing, he wasn't sure if his embarrassment was obvious. “He's been working for three days straight and simply passed out from exhaustion.” He glanced down when another soft noise cut through the mumbled narrations. The Host kept repeating something about blood, and it made him shudder. “And besides. He tried to kill me. Proving that he does not like me. I am a victim of circumstance.”

“Whatever you say, dude.” Was all Bing said as he placed the snacks onto the living room table. He sat down on the loveseat to the left of the other two, snickering every so often when he caught a glance of them. “Did you ever call Dr. Iplier about your new friend?”

“No. I texted him.”

Bing snorted. “He doesn't read his texts. Calling him would probably get him over here to pry your new best friend off of you.”

As if he heard the conversation, the Host shook his head in his sleep, his grip tightening slightly. “No no no no. The Host cannot be alone. Please don't leave him alone, the Host needs to stay.” He whispered frantically, the words were cut with something close to sobs.

Google dropped his head down slightly at the panicked words. “Are you awake?” He mumbled, getting no response from the blind man laying on him, but a small giggle from Bing. He shot the other a glare quickly. “Go get the doctor because the Host looks like he might die soon. Inform him that he's asleep too.” He seethed, becoming strangely protective over the sleeping man. He watched Bing stand up and walk out of the living room and towards the clinic. “I'm not going to leave you if that's what you want.” He added to the other as soon as they were alone. He still didn't understand the whole ‘comforting’ thing, but he seemed to be doing well judging by the Host's actions. He felt the other begin to relax properly once more, still mumbling into his neck. He wrapped an arm around the other's waist, mimicking what he had seen in movies. The Host seemed to respond positively to the action, burrowing deeper into the warm crook of his neck.

“Host? Are you- Jesus Christ.” Dr. Iplier’s voice stopped short at the sight of the bloodied mess that was the Host. Of course, he found it funny to see them curled up on the couch, but he was a medical professional who needed to help. Plus, he knew that Bing had already taken pictures. “Google I need you to very carefully take him to the clinic. I have to clean him up and give him some fluids.” He said quickly, the corners of his mouth quirking up in amusement at the sight. He watched the android very slowly scoop the towering Host into his arms. It was funny, the Host was around six-foot-four and Google was exactly five-feet-ten-inches. Yet, the giant was curled into a tight ball against the android's chest. They made their way down the hall to the clinic, Dr. Iplier leading the way.

When the entered the clinic, Google slowly laid the Host onto one of the hospital beds. He went to step away when a hand grabbed his wrist in the same childlike grip.

“The Host was promised,” The blind ego sounded so broken and scared, “that he would not be left alone.”

Google made a face at the grip, he was unsure if the other was awake or not at this point. “But you're not alone any-”

“Please.”

Google sighed, pulling up a chair next to the bed and sitting down. The grip on his wrist slackened easily.

Dr. Iplier turned back with an armful of supplies, blinking when he saw the android was still there. “Oh! Um. That's fine. I didn't expect you to still be here.” He bit back a laugh when he saw Google raise his hand to show the grip the Host had on his wrist. “Well. I guess you're staying then.” He quickly got to work, stabbing the needle of a syringe into the blind ego's neck and pushing the plunger down. He raised an eyebrow at glare that had settled on Google's eyes. “It'll help to clot his blood.” He said easily, trying not to upset the android. Dr. Iplier explained everything he did, just to make sure he didn't upset the strangely protective android.

The Host woke up about an hour later, twitching and jerking back to reality. He sat straight up, his breathing erratic. He was already mumbling to himself, narration showing him he was in the clinic. “The Host turns his head to meet Google,” he jumped back slightly when he saw the android not realizing there was another person in the clinic, his narrations seemed to be ahead of his groggy mind, “he asks why they are both in the clinic. Did… something happen again?”

“Acually. You fell asleep on Google and he brought you in here.” Dr. Iplier called from somewhere further in the clinic.

“The Host apologizes for causing any discomfort or making Google detour from whatever he was going to do today.” The Host was flushing bright red as he reached up to pick at his fresh bandages. His head snapped away from the android's to try and hide his embarrassment.

Google smiled ever so slightly, standing up. “Its okay. As long as you're feeling better now.” He went to leave, but was caught off guard by the next words out of the other's mouth.

“He thanks Google for staying with him. He's not sure if anyone else would have stayed with him in the state he was in. Most would  have left him on the couch.” The Host muttered, falling back into the hospital bed.

Chapter Text

Since Mike appeared in the manor- riddled with distrust and anxiety, with the police still looking for him- back in 2015, there were certain egos he was scared of and did his best to avoid. He had seen Wilford shoot a game show contestant for no reason at all. He had watched Dark snap somebody's neck for no longer being useful to him. Google always looked two steps away from gutting him. Above all, though, he was terrified of the Host. Within a few minutes of their first meeting, he learned that the blind ego had ripped out his own eyes and had killed multiple people. Of course, the Host seemed distressed about Bim sharing such information, but that didn't stop Mike from being scared half to death at the thought. Since then, his fears of the other egos had mostly subsided to general annoyance than anything else.

Well, except for his fear of the Host.

That's why he was frozen in his place in the kitchen, all his memories of Fazbear's coming back full swing. His instincts told him that he should be running away, instead of standing in horror with a bowl of popcorn clutched in his hands. His eyes shot wider behind his glasses when the figure made his way towards the entrance to the kitchen.

The Host looked like a ghost, bright red blood popping against his pale skin. His voice was low and melodic as he made his way through the hallways like a spirit haunting the manor. His bandages were stained in old and new blood and made him look just a threatening as he could. He had recorded something that night, telling the story of a man brought to insanity and controlling every aspect of his life. It took an exceptional amount of effort, which left him exhausted and hungry. He stumbled to the kitchen, his words becoming slightly slurred from his need for rest. He opened the fridge before he bristled like a cat being noticed. His head snapped to the side, able to hear Mike's soft, panicked breathing. He rolled his neck, sighing when the joints popped. A smile curling around his lips, the corners of his mouth bloody. "The Host does not appreciate people staring- especially those who have already seen him before." He opened the fridge and pulled out the carton of orange juice and a tupperware filled with leftover chicken and rice, a sticky note with his name stuck to the lid. He hadn't made it to dinner that day, and someone was kind enough to save him a portion.

Mike nearly dropped the bowl when he heard the other's neck crack, the sound ringing out around the quiet kitchen. His skin crawled at the sight of the smile, reminding him of ghosts of dead children and the man who carried out the act. It wasn't fair to compare them, the Host had been nothing, but kind to him when he was adjusting to the manor. The guy just creeped him out. "Sorry. You just look- You don't look good." He finally stuttered out, placing the bowl of popcorn onto the counter. He didn't move closer. Not to something so close to his memories of violence. "Are you okay?"

"Oh, the Host is fine. He just needs to eat as he hadn't in a day." The Host said easily, hands snapping to the counter to steady his sudden loss of balance. He was a bit worse off than he expected. He reached up to wipe the blood from the sides of his mouth, able to taste it.

Mike jumped forward when the other almost fell, both hands moving to steady him. He almost smiled at how blatant of a lie that was. "Yeah, okay. You're fine. Sure, thing." He muttered sarcastically, stepping back to investigate the Host further. He shook his head and moved so one of the other's arms was looped over his neck.

"The Host wants to know what the hell-"

"Shut up. You're sitting down on the couch. I'll bring you your food." Mike interrupted, half dragging the blind ego to the living room and unceremoniously dropping him onto the couch. He muttered something under his breath about the other staying put before he went back to the kitchen. He reheated the tupperware in the microwave and poured a glass of orange juice, then made his way back into the living room to set the food on the table in the middle of the room. He disappeared once more to collect his bowl of popcorn, then returned to sit to him next to the other. He was watching a sketch comedy show from the 1980's, but he really wasn't paying attention to it anymore. He was more impressed with the way that the Host was moving so gracefully, head facing forward like he was watching the TV as he ate. He didn't even reach for his own food, too interested in the fluid motions.

"The Host doesn't like to be stared at. It makes him feel like a sideshow attraction."

Mike flushed at the comment, not realizing how obvious he had been with his staring. "Sorry. It's just- How are you doing that?" He asked finally. He wanted to know how the hell the other managed to move as if he still had eyes.

The Host smiled again, somehow managing to stifle a laugh at the question. How did he do what exactly? His blindness didn't impare him. He could live without his sight. "The Host reminds Mike that he is blind- not helpless." He said before shoveling another forkful of rice into his mouth. "The Host can use all sorts of things so that he can see," he paused, thinking, "he also can survive without even his magic if need be.” He added, then returned to his food. He was almost insulted that the other thought that he was helpless, but ultimately just found it hilarious.

Mike nodded slowly, as if he understood. He closed his eyes halfway before he heard the other let out a low mean of pain. His eyes shot wide as he sat up slightly, adrenaline spiking. "What? What happened?" His voice dripping in anxiety. He glanced over and froze, his nose wrinkling up at the sight of more blood blossoming across the bandages that laid over the other's eyes. The Host had doubled over in pain, cradling his head in his hands. "Woah, woah, woah. Hey, relax. You're okay." He whispered gently, reaching out to place a firm, but gentle hand on the other's shoulder. He watched the blood ooze down the other's cheeks with barely hidden disgust as he reached out with both hands, replacing the ones beginning to rip at the dark hair with a much softer touch. He was still thoroughly creeped out by just about everything that the Host did, he nearly shrieked when hands reached out to grab at his white t-shirt. "I got you. Okay? You're gonna be fine." He stressed, pressing their foreheads together. He refused to leave, too focused on keeping the other calm.

The Host was fine eating in silence, until a hash pain shot through his head, pounding in his skull. He doubled over, tearing at his hair in attempt to ground himself. When his hands were pushed away, they shot out to find something else to grab. He twisted the cotton fabric between his fingers, trying his damndest to calm down. He needed to sleep, this kind of headache only came from exhaustion. "The Host… The Host needs to rest." He finally ground out between clenched teeth. He stood up on slightly shaky legs, and was immediately greeted with Mike standing up with him, defiance clear in his eyes.

"I'm not letting you wander around when you're about to drop."

"Fine. Lead the Host through the manor he has lived in much longer than Mike." He bit back, the pain making him much more aggressive than he would usually be. He felt Mike once more loop his arms around his shoulders, and then manage to scoop him up. He was getting tired of being carried around as of late. He pressed his forehead into the other's shoulder and hissed through his teeth, the pain spiking until he was almost nauseous. A new wave of dizziness washed over him, for a moment he thought he might vomit at the sensations that assaulted him. He made a small sound of distress, baring his teeth at the pain. Maybe, just maybe, it was a good thing that he was being carried.

Then, the Host felt himself falling onto a bed. His own bed, to be more exact. Then the bed dipped to his right, the weight suspiciously like Mike. He fell back into his usual narration, turning and and twisting until he was more comfortable. He finally relaxed when he he had an arm thrown across the other's chest and their legs tangled together. He could feel the blood dripping down his face in small rivers on his cheek, but he couldn't bring himself to care because of exhaustion.

"I'm not getting out of this?"

"The Host would like the company as he tends to have vicious nightmares."

Mike sucked in a breath of defeat before forcing himself to nod. He shifted so he had an arm wrapped around the other's frame and held back a laugh. "I also have pretty bad nightmares. We'll keep each other company then." He mumbled, glancing back to the other's face. He was quickly coming to trust the blood stained face in front of him. Maybe, because he had made sure the other didn't pass out. Or maybe, something else. He wasn't sure. "Hey, Host," he heard a barely audible hum to show that he was being listened to, "I got this. You get some sleep, okay?" With that he felt the other shift closer and promptly pass out next to him, still softly mumbling even in his sleep. He kept checking the door, like something was going to burst in the room at any second. He kept it up for nearly an hour before finally the gentle breathing on his shoulder lulled himself into the first deep sleep he had in a long time. They fell asleep curled around each other, still in their clothes, and above the covers.

He woke up in the early afternoon, the sun shining bright from the window. He squinted, holding a hand up to shield his eyes. He blearily looked around the room, it certainly wasn't his. Where was he? His question was answered when he heard the continued soft snores and narration coming from the blind ego he was tangled with. He was tempted to get up and leave, but then he was being curled around again. Damn it, he was stuck. He settled back into the bed, this time yanking the blanket over them. That was the best sleep he had ever had, and he was planning on chasing that comforting feeling and going back to sleep.

Chapter Text

The Host entered the clinic, surprised when he was greeted by a German doctor instead of the usual Dr. Iplier. He stilled at the door and shifted.

"New bandage change?" The heavily accented voice said, looking up from the clipboard Edward had left him. He blinked. "You look like hell."

The Host nodded his head slightly to answer his question, not going to try and speak much. Henrik was always a bit short with him- well, it wasn't like he was particularly long with anyone, the other was short with everyone. He knew it was a defense mechanism as well. He understood why of course, failing to save your best friend's life would do that to you. "The Host was just seeing hell." He responded, a small smile crossing his lips. He slowly crawled onto one of the beds of the clinic, one of his hands reaching up to pick at the knot of his bandages that was nestled in his hair.

Henrik allowed himself a smile at the comment. "You're always seeing hell." He mumbled, the comment was more to himself. He batted the other's hand away and pulled the knot loose. When the bandages fell from the Host's eyes, a river of blood drained from his sockets. He let a few curses leave his mouth, rushing to clean the other's face. When he turned back around he froze. The Host had become deathly pale far too quickly, his whole body stiffening. He knew what that was. "You just had a vision though." His voice was gentle disbelief as words started to tumble from the blind egos mouth. He rushed to action and laid the other down with a firm, but still gentle push to the middle of his chest, he then maneuvered him so he was resting on his side. Blood trailing across the other's face in thick drops. What was he supposed to do when there was a vision?

Shit, shit, shit!

The German hit the palm of his hand to his forehead, attempting to remember what the unofficial protocol was. A few seconds later he remembered and rushed to a cabinet, and before the minute was up a clotting agent was coursing through the Host's veins. He sighed heavily, just listening to the feverish mumblings of the man below him.

"The bones snap under the blunt force, he revels in the cracking that echoes in his ears. He delivers another blow just to chase that sound."

Henrik shuddered at the words. He knew for a fact he wasn't supposed to wake up the Host during a vision, he doubted he even could if he wanted to. Instead, he was forced to listen to the story come out. A tale of the Host beating someone for what he could only assume was for revenge, he heard a particularly disturbing comment about being ecstatic to inflict pain again. His nose crinkled up. He didn't like seeing someone who was usually so withdrawn have such intense emotions and violent desires. "Host- you have to come back." Sometimes he wondered how the hell the other did it- being stuck in the past, present, and future could not be good for his mental health. How close was the Host to losing his mind all together? This so called gift had to be torture on him. "Do you hear me? I'm going to make sure you're going to be okay." He added, fear beginning to make him sweat. What if the other didn't come back this time? He shivered at the thought of the Host without his mind. Someone who could bend reality at their whim and none of the self control.

The vision didn't last long, a few minutes at most. Then the Host was crawling to sit up properly, blood oozing sluggishly down his clammy skin. He felt the waves of nausea and dizziness crash over him. "The Host… The Host wasn't sure why that happened. He apologizes to Dr. Schneeplestien." He muttered, his stomach twisting and flipping. He feared he might vomit and informs the doctor as such, not wanting to make a mess of the clinic. When a pan was place in his hands he calmed slightly. His mouth tasted like blood, and slightly smoky. He wasn't sure what that meant, but he sure as hell didn't want to find out. He was panting when he fell back into the bed, his body still twitching slightly. The body-wide ache and pounding headache came next, leaving him to stifle a moan of pain as he tried to get more comfortable in the clinic bed.

"I'm just glad you're okay. Edward would have my ass if anything happened to you." Henrik murmured in return, taking his time to clean up the blood that stained the other's face. He continued, lightly humming to himself as he moved. He tied the bandages tight over the Host's eyes, maybe a little tighter than he should have if he were honest. "Does that feel okay?" He waited for an answer for longer than he should have, blinking when he heard gentle snores instead. He chuckled lightly and laid the other down onto the bed, and letting his head fall into the pillows below

Chapter Text

Sunday evenings had become sacred, unspoiled and pure.

Dark would retire from his work, claiming to go to sleep, instead he would rush to the Host and allow his form to be split. Since it had happened the first time, he found that his productivity had increased and his shattered body had hurt significantly less. The body the three souls possessed far less cramped when they had some time apart. That's why the demon sat on an end of the worn leather couch, his aura moved in a way similar to how an angry cat flicked it's tail. The Host was busy with something or another for his radio show, and wouldn't be done for a bit longer now. So, instead he listened to the way the manor creaked, and the souls inside of him ached and screamed for release. Ultimately, he listened for cackling from a failed actor that still used his goddamn body. No, not his body, a voice from somewhere in his mind corrected. He made a sound of annoyance low in his throat. "You are me." He nearly hissed, reminding the blue soul of much more than he wanted. If he kept Damien under his thumb, he wouldn't realize how much power he had over them, if he was still convinced he was weak. That he wasn't arguing with himself now. "We're just what he wanted." He spat out 'he' like it was poison, and it was. That bastard never quits. He sighed heavily, trying to control his composure. He would not get angry because Damien was being stubborn, that would do nothing to help them because Damien was always stubborn. He wasn't sure how long he had been in that argument, or when he began pacing the length of the small sitting area. Muttering under his breath a one sided argument that wouldn't be heard from anyone else but the blue soul.

"Is Dark feeling alright?"

Dark snapped to sound of a tired voice, aura writhing at the sight. Freedom. Rest. Quiet. They were all so damn close to him. "I'm fine. Just do it." The words were colder than ice, biting at the blind ego in front of him. He felt a hand- considerate, but firm- place itself on his shoulder and lead him to sit back on the couch. He heard the mumbling and felt his body shift and split apart. Without the twins, he was a little more than a writhing shadow between the red and blue ghosts. Even with his stolen body, he couldn't keep it together enough without the two souls. Celine was the first to stand, moving to pull her brother up as well.

"The Host apologizes, but he would like to speak to the Mayor," The Host's eyeless gaze shifted to the Celine and then Dark, "alone." His tone commanding enough to make the demon leave, ripping a hole in the void and stepping through it with a slightly annoyed grumble.

Celine stepped in front of her brother with a glare, one arm flying out to stop him when he tried to step around her. There was something familiar in her actions, she had stopped him from too eagerly talking to people before. A memory of when they were children and a strange man tried to get Damien to get in a car with him, and she had to stop her brother from going. "He's not going anywhere without me." She said, he face suggesting she was speaking with more force than her voice could manage, she was a little over a distorted whisper.

"The Host assure the Seer that her brother is safe with him. He knows-"

"No. I'm not leaving him." Celine repeated, standing a little taller. There was desperation written into the lines of her face. Her entire stance faltered when Damien touched her arm, smiling softly.

"I'm a grown man, Celine. I'll be okay." Damien straightened, reminding the Host and the twins that he was present in the room. "You can't hide me from strangers forever."

Celine whipped her head back to look at him, shaking her head. "What if he tries to hurt-"

"We're dead. There's nothing more he can do to us." Damien cut her off before she could finish her sentence, her voice fading away. He knew she was tired. The splits did her well, but they wore her thin. She wouldn't stir until next Thursday after she eventually collapses and her body seeps back into the demon. She always had to go first, he knew it. "He can't hurt a ghost." He whispered with a smile teetering the wall between hopeful and sad. He watched her nod, hesitantly taking steps towards the door.

"Just- yell if you need me."

"I always do." He called back before the door clicked shut behind his sister. "Host, what did you need to talk to me about?" He questioned, his head tilting to the side ever so slightly.

The Host shifted, his jaw clenching then unclenching before he took a deep, shuddering breath. "The Host hears it. Hears what he says to the Mayor. What he says at himself."

Damien froze at the words, tears immediately pricked at his eyes and his form rippled. No, he knew. He wasn't that thing upstairs, he was Damien. His sister was Celine. He died, while that thing had always been there.

He remembers dying.

She told him he died, didn't she?

"The Mayor can't keep lying to himself and splitting himself further and further."

Now Damien was crying, his empty chest aching. He wasn't Dark. He was still good. He didn't have to be the villain. No, that was wrong too. "Then- how am I- how does Dark- I still did it." His words came out choked, sobs bubbling in his throat and dryly coming out. His hands raised to his hair, pulling at the strands. "I did it. I did it." He repeated over and over.

The Host's eyebrows furrowed, raising a hand in an attempt to comfort the other, but at a loss at to how he could help. He frowned, his hand reaching up to place delicately on the other's should as he continued to break down, the form was barely solid. He knew. He knew everything.

"Mark he- it was cold and it was so warm." Damien was barely making sense, his eyes almost gaining that glassy appearance again. "It made me- it made me- and I liked it! Hell, I loved it!" That night in the cabin, when the ice cracked and the fire went out, it was so cold. Mark managed to get in, the influence twisting away at him immediately. He remembers that he accepted that new role instantly. From that moment on, when he decided to take over, he did everything he could to get to Mark. He killed expendable people without thinking twice, he tortured, and manipulated. And he liked it. He liked the control he finally had, the one thing he never seemed to get in all his life. He was scared, of himself and tried to separate himself from what he had become. "I'm just him!" He yelled, breaking down fully, his body shaking with sobs. "I'm him, aren't I? That's what you wanted to tell me?"

The Host shook his head, reaching out to grab the ghost before he crumbled to the ground. Shit. In his desperation to get Damien to wake up from his own delusions, he forgot about the emotions that would come from that. "The Host...  needed the Mayor to understand who he is. He was tearing himself apart only to try and save himself." He was aware suddenly of the blood that was dripping onto his shirt and coat, and the tremble in his body. Exhaustion settled into him. "The Host needs the Mayor to understand. He is stronger than he thinks." He slowly sat down on the couch, listening and trying to reassure Damien through his sobs.

They stayed like that for so long, until Damien had finally calmed down to small gasps and cried himself out. Until the Host began to nod off. It took so long, and the other was beginning to grow tired as well, his body starting to shift and jerk. The comfortable silence lulling them into a soft place of rest.

"I get it now. I understand." Damien- god, was that even his name anymore?- finally whispered when he saw that the other had fallen asleep, soft narration being the only sign that he was even alive. He slowly stood up, reaching out. "I made a promise." He said gently, beginning to brush his fingers along the blind egos jaw. He swallowed thickly, biting back as tears welled up in his eyes again. He knew that he had to go back, and accept who he was. He had to stay strong, he had to get revenge. He had to get revenge for Celine. For the district attorney. For the colonel. For the detective.

For himself.

He clenched his fists. "I need to be what he wants. I need to kill that son of a bitch."  He choked out, his body dissolving into the void and back to Dark- no, back to himself. Forcing the shadow to look like him once again, twitching slightly as he moved his hands. He felt a wave of peace wash over him with his acceptance that he was what he was. He raised his hand to his face and inspected his grayscale skin. He was this now. It was better than the district attorney who was still stuck in the mirror, or Wilford who had a mind broken beyond compare. He popped his shattered neck into place before shifting into a more comfortable position on the bed.

Dark finally settled again.

Chapter Text

The Host settled into the desk, mumbling along with whatever he was writing. It was something about a reaccuring dream he had been having, he found that if he wrote it down, it usually would subside. It was just great details of him waking up covered in his own blood, it was a disturbing dream nevertheless.

"You'd think Damien would keep better watch over his prized possession. And yet..."

The Host stiffened, his narrations coming to a slow stop as fear settled in his stomach. He stood up from his desk, the library floor suddenly shifting underneath is feet and the temperature dropping significantly. He wasn't in the library anymore. He took a hesitant step forward, trying to figure out where he was. "The Host isn't supposed to be here. The Host isn't dead." The words were more helpful than he would imagine, not understanding where he was specifically, but he knew that the dead belonged in the space. His breathing picked up when he heard the bitter chuckle, his hands clenched into fists at the sound that seemed to echo around him. It kept him from truly getting a sense of understanding. His head whipped around to try and locate the cause of the voice, stuck disoriented.

"Of course you're not dead! I just needed to have quick chat with you and this seemed like the best place." Mark chuckled, leaning forward on his cane as he watched the panic settle in the other's body. "You know, for something so powerful- you look like a kicked puppy." He said thoughtfully, taking another step forward, then another until he was standing in front of the blind ego with a twisted grin on his lips.

The Host suppressed the shudder as he felt the man- not man, what was he? -step closer. He could smell the death on the other, decay thinly veiled with expensive cologne. He didn't move, already knowing what would happen, his dreams were about the aftermath of their meeting here. He had a fleeting image of the floor slick with blood and him curled up, bleeding from his eyes, nose, and mouth. He was scared of the future, but knew he was helpless to stop it. "The Host wants to know what the Actor wants from him." He bit out, words sharp as he tried to put on a brave face.

Mark patted the other's cheek in a mockingly sympathetic way. "I don't want anything from you. You have a special part. You're my welcoming gift for Damien and William. A little reminder that I'm back!" His tone was inviting, lulling the other into a false sense of calm. A his grin was sharp and threatening, eager to get his point across. He stared the other down, a cruel glint in his eyes. He clenched his hand closed and the Host crumpled to his knees with a stifled grunt of pain. "You see, I brought you here specifically," he spoke idly, beginning to circle the man, "because you can't do a thing. You're at my mercy." He hissed, grabbing a fistful of the other's hair and twisting the strands tightly. An ugly look flashed in his eyes, something animalistic and sadistic, contrasting dangerously with the Cheshire grin that seemed to be permanently fixed onto his face. He saw fresh blood bloom across the already dirtied bandages with the other's distress. Pride filled him at the sight. Oh, he was going to make something beautiful out of the Host. He leaned in close. "Now, let's get started, shall we?"

\\

The Host sputtered awake, coughing up blood and convulsing. Everything hurt and nothing felt right. He placed a hand on the floor and relief flooded him. Carpet. He was somewhere, somewhere he was supposed to be. He heard twin pair of footsteps chase into wherever he was, and he flinched on instinct. He tried to curl into a ball, but the pain in his side kept him from doing so. He shielded his face with his forearms, scared of what would come next. He couldn't speak, couldn't bring the words to work past his blistered lips and swollen tongue, he had to know what was happening in that place, and the exhaustion nearly killed him.

"Host? Host! My god, man- what happened?" Wilford yelled, dropping down beside and trying to get a good look at the body on the floor. Something about this seemed familiar, like he had done this with different clothes and when there were bullets to be dodged. He shook off the peculiar feeling and slowly moved the Host's hands away, when he did he heard the soft gasp from Dark. He rolled the blind ego onto his back, moving out of the way when he hacked up more blood, his mouth stained crimson.

Dark's eyes were wide as he peered from his spot standing behind Wilford. His fists clenched and rage boiling under the surface. He could see what lay beyond the physical injuries, the other had experienced some trauma. Something had even twisted at his soul. This was no amateur, this was someone with a plan. Though, he could see where pristine work became sloppy. "You struggled. Fought back?"

"He had to." Wilford answered back, inspecting the blisters and cuts around the other's mouth. "Hosty wouldn't go down without a fight." He gave a smile, it was reassuring in it's own way.

The Host wanted to fight the touches, each one sent fiery pain through him. Although, he couldn't move away. He was sure he had broken ribs, and he had passed out from blood loss too many times in that place, to exhausted to move much at all. He always woke back up in that echo chamber, Mark never seeming to be finished with him. He didn't make a sound at first, after the third time he had passed out he couldn't keep up, he couldn't fight back anymore. He never spoke, only answered Mark's toying questions with sounds of pain, he just took the punishment to save one of the younger egos from the same fate. Now, the punishment continued as his broken body was lifted off the ground, making him give a soft cry of pain. He couldn't relax, couldn't bring himself to calm as he was carried off, the smell of bubblegum engulfing his nose.

In Dr. Iplier's office, he was quick to explain the Host's situation. "He has no concussion, only three broken ribs, and his nose is broken. Other than that it's all bruises and scrapes." He said calmly, downplaying the injuries a small bit. It was closer to large gashes and deep, ugly bruises, but Dark didn't need to know about the lie.

"And the bad news?" Dark hissed, his aura cracking.

"We don't know what the hell did this." Edward mumbled, shifting his weight. "I mean, after you two, Host is the most powerful one here. And something just…" His voice trailed away when he heard a tired groan from the bed, as if informing everyone that he was still alive.

Wilford was over in an instant, listening to the younger ego babble about something. The Host was near hysterics, and he felt so sorry for the other. "Host? What happened? Are you okay?" He asked, reaching out to gently touch the blind egos face and inspecting it. Thank God for whatever magic the Host possessed, the blisters were gone and some of the lighter bruising seemed to have already healed. He listened to the rushed words, most of it nonsense, like there were several streams of consciousness overlapping and intertwining. A word made him pause, something in the back of his brain prickling. "Actor? We don't know any actors. Do we, Dark?" He asked curiously, still touching the other, he seemed to need the contact as he openly wept when Wilford pulled away. So, he stayed as close as possible to try and comfort the other.

Dark's body glitched fully at the word; his form rapidly shifting from a silent screaming, to sobbing, to back to where he stood still as the dead. He saw red at the word. Actor, actor, actor. His souls screamed, aching to spill blood. "Actor?" He mused out loud with a false calm in his voice, managing to pull his form together piece by broken piece. He was thankful that Wilford had his back turned and didn't see the outburst. "I've never heard of an actor before. Maybe you misheard?" He asked, somehow he kept himself together. He knew he couldn't trouble Wilford’s broken mind with things such as Mark, if he never had to expose the other to such things, he would be overjoyed. He nodded sympathetically when he heard the other agree, his eyes flickering down to the broken Host. Rage spiked again and his fists clenched at his sides. If he saw Mark he would make sure the bastard suffered, he was bringing in egos that didn't deserve pain or suffering. Mark touched something that was his, a part of the fragile family he created had been damaged. And he wouldn't stand for it. He turned to Edward, who still seemed stunned at seeing the outburst of before. "Let me know when he's... Stable." He said in a controlled voice. He didn't wait for the response, simply left the clinic.

Wilford stayed by the Host's side, listening to the incoherent mumbling, sometimes words being about whatever torture, other times it was about the immediate surroundings. He peaked over his shoulder at Edward who was writing something down, then back to the Host. "Let's get you some sleep." He said softly, raising a hand and pressing his palm to the other's forehead. He knew it probably wasn't fair to use his magic to make someone fall asleep, but the Host deserved rest after the abuse he faced. He heard the words teeter off, and felt the body below him relax into rest. He smiled fondly, just glad that everyone was okay. He began humming a tune, something old and calming. It seemed like he had always known the song, like it had been with him since before he was even born. He kept his eyes focused on the sleeping ego, pulling up a chair to sit next to the bed. He looked so young when he slept, not the jaded man that Wilford usually saw. "Say, Edward," he called, earning a hum in response. "Do you know an actor?" He asked. There was something about that word that made the hair on the back of his neck prickle and he couldn't let it go.

Chapter Text

Bing smiled slightly at the meme Google Red had sent to their group chat, he then settled more comfortably into his chair, it was so routine that he almost forgot that he wasn't in his own room. Since Mark had taken a rather violent interest in the Host, there were strict instructions not to leave him alone for more than a few minutes. Which gave the androids the night shift to make sure nothing happened to the blind ego. It was a strange job; he had watched the Host scream himself awake, which was creepy, but once the other was awake all was well. The guy was weird to say in the least, but everyone had taken to protecting him. It was the least they could do, the Host was both one of the most powerful egos and also one of the most fragile ones. He glanced from his tablet when he heard a sharp breath sucked in through gritted teeth followed by a choked cry that suspiciously sounded like a call for help. The Host was tangled in his blankets with one of the bedsheets wrapped loosely around his neck, he twisted the fabric in clammy hands so tightly the threading threatened to rip in the hold. Sweat was pouring down the man's forehead and his bandages were soaked through with fresh blood. Bing shot up and rushed over to the bed, tripping on a loose article of clothing and ending up crawling onto the bed to regain his balance. He reached out to place a hand on the other's shoulder, the shirt under his fingers damp with sweat and blood.

"Host- hey, man. It's me. You're okay. What's going on?"

The Host's head snapped away at the sound, gasping out a sigh when he was touched. Blood ran down his cheeks in fat drops at his panic, the soggy bandages doing nothing to stop the flow.

"Host? It's a nightmare. I promise you're okay." Bing kept his voice as gentle as possible, untangling the other from the blankets and sheets and slowly shaking his shoulder once more. He waited for a moment longer, debating how he could wake the other up when he was knocked back by the force of the blind ego sitting straight up. His eyes widened and he reached out to steady himself, so he didn't tumbled off the bed. "Are you okay- are you even awake?" He asked, reaching out towards the figure on the bed. He was glad for the night vision installment for his eyes, if it wasn't for that he would be completely blind to where the other was sitting.

"The Host… The Host is awake now." The Host panted out, his whole body began to tremble under the stress of his dream. He reached a hand up to his chest, relief flooding him when he wasn't greeted with the feeling of an oozing wound under his fingertips. The cuts were in the dream. He pulled his knees to his chest and rested his forehead there, trying to control his shuddering breaths. There was a beat of silence before he was crying fully, curled in upon himself in a tight ball. He could still see flashes of harsh smiles in his mind's eye, he could still smell the rot on the man even while he was awake, he could still feel the icy kiss of a blade to his skin. He shuddered, aware that it was more than a dream, that it was a vision of his future.

Bing instinctively wrapped an arm around the other's shoulders, he knew how to comfort people, it was coded into him. He knew how to care for someone when they were upset. It was in his programming to be more empathetic and caring, it was part of making Bing a more human-like android versus the more robotic Google. He sat in silence while the Host cried, he knew that physical contact was the first step in relaxing someone. There was a while before he noticed the grip the other had on his hair, pulling at the strands in fistfuls. Now, he was sure it was the time to introduce spoken reassurance, he settled a little closer and reached out to place one of his hands over the other's. "Host. Hey. You're here." He remembered what the Host had told Dark about what had happened the day he was kidnapped. "You're supposed to be here." He kept his voice soft, wincing when that earned a strained sob. He stayed close to the other, rubbing his arm and continuing gentle words. After a while it seemed that the other cried himself into a calm. Bing slowly pulled the Host's hands away from his hair and lifted his chin up to face him. "Hey, dude. You feeling better? You don't have to talk- just nod your head. Or shake it. I'll stay here." He offered a small smile to reassure that they were in a safe space.

The Host shook his head at the question, he had calmed down significantly, but he was still trembling. He opened his mouth, but he was silent. Instead, he hung his head and shook it again, he was not feeling better in the slightest. He just found out that at sometime he was going to be hurt again, violently. He was so terrified of being pulled away again. His breathing was beginning to pick up once more at the idea that he was at risk, and putting Bing at risk because they were near each other. He was a liability of the most dangerous kind. The kind that could very easily cause a friend to be kidnapped and tortured just like him. Though, he had a sick feeling that Mark didn't want anyone, but him. That the game was more fun when he was the victim versus anyone else. His gut twisted at the thought that he was the lone player. That brought up more disturbing thoughts. Was he the first player?

Would the game end if he died?

Would Mark even let him die?

He was pulled away from his thoughts when he felt a warm washcloth swipe the blood and sweat off his face, the feeling more than welcomed. When did Bing slip away long enough to get a rag? He felt the warm cloth brush against his now moving lips, unsure of when he started talking again. He wrinkled his nose, worried about what he said out loud while he was stuck in thought. He turned his head so he was facing where the other sat. "The Host thanks Bing for helping him. He," he paused, searching desperately for the right words, "is thankful that someone was there to help him calm down after his nightmare." He said gently, playing with the sheets under his hands.

Bing smiled at the words, wrapping his arm around the other's shoulders. "Hey, dude, it's no problem." He said gently, he felt the other drop his head into the crook of his neck, clearly exhausted after everything that had happened.

"The Host should probably sleep now."

Bing let out a small chuckle, agreeing with the statement. "Yeah you should. I got you. You're safe now." He spoke lowly into the other's hair, he sat like that for a long time, murmuring reassuring things for hours. He let out a breath of relief when he heard the other start to fall asleep, gentle air puffing against his neck. Once he was sure that the figure against him was asleep, he slowly laid the Host onto the pillows and gently tucking the blankets around him. The android was careful to not wake up the other as he made his way. He smiled when he was satisfied with his work, slowly sliding off the bed and sitting back into his chair, his tablet in hand again.

Chapter Text

"So, the moon landing. Was it fake?" Bim had spent the past hour or so asking about any conspiracy theory he could think of, because if there was one person who could confirm them, it would be the Host. The other knew everything, it was perfect. He was in the middle of potting a plant as he spoke, his new gardening gloves getting dirty as he placed the vined plant into the soil. He didn't wait for an answer, already asking about a new one. This time about aliens.  He eyed the other curiously as he waited for a response. Since Mark's stunt -or as he put it, returning gift-, the entire manor had been on edge. No one wanted to be left alone, and no one wanted to leave Mark's new found object of interest alone either. The egos wouldn't forgive themselves if the Host somehow was killed or hurt beyond repair, instead they tagged along with him wherever he went. That's what lead them to the small garden path, chattering to try and ignore the faint crook in the Host's nose from it being broken, or the way he still flinched if a hand was raised near him.

The Host would have rolled his eyes if he had any, settling further back into the bench he was sitting on. The warm summer day had made him shed his heavy trench coat, leaving him to sit in slacks and a patterned button down. This was not the topic he would prefer to talk about, but he decided to throw Bim a bone. Hopefully, if he did, the younger ego would drop the conversation as a whole. "The Host cannot give Bim a solid answer as the government has decided to keep such things a secret. And if they find that the public can't handle the truth, then he must obey their wishes." He said calmly, despite the corners of his lips quirking up. Okay, he might have exaggerated a lot of that. He could know if there were aliens or not, but he didn't care to put in the effort of finding out. It wasn't an immediate threat, so why bother about aliens? He chuckled when he heard the excited chatter continue, it might have been worth it just to hear the pure glee. 

"You confirmed it! Like, in a safe way you totally did! I knew it!" Bim cried happily, pointing at the other with a grin spread wide on his lips. "Wait 'till I tell Google, the smug bastard." He laughed, wiping the mud off his gloves and onto his apron. He then reached out for the watering can, pouring the water gently onto the plant. He was careful not to drown the vine. He glanced back to the other with a much fonder smile on his face. "Host, what's your favorite flower? Like, a summery one?" He asked, placing the newly potted plant onto the table to the other's left. He then turned back with his watering can and began to water the rest of the plants that were buried in the dirt. Gardening had become a hobby for him, and he was more than happy to share that hobby with other people if they were willing to chat with him. 

The Host pursed his lips at the new question. He wondered if he had a favorite flower at all. He had become somewhat cynical about flowers after he lost his eyes. He had become cynical about lots of things after he lost his eyes. His head cocked to the side slightly as he thought, trying to remember. The only flowers he was ever particularly fond of were the little white ones that grew along the path that lead to an old cabin. Though, that was years ago when his name and face were different. The more he thought about it the more he seemed to upset himself. "The Host… doesn't have a favorite flower." He said gently. He gestured to the bandages over his eye sockets when he was questioned about it, promptly shutting up Bim. He felt the other stiffen, like there was a question on the tip of his tongue he wasn't sure he could ask. "The Host asks Bim what is bothering him." He mumbled, head tilting to face the younger ego. 

"Oh. It's just, um." Bim fiddled with the edge of his apron, he hadn't expected to be called out. He wished the Host didn't have his infinite knowledge sometimes. "Just, uh- do you miss it? Being able to see?" The words tumbled before he could stop them, causing him to slap his hands over his mouth. His cheeks burned with embarrassment. "Fuck! Oh my God. I didn't mean that at all. Shit, fuck- I am so sorry, I-" He shook his head quickly. He was about ready to leave when he heard a sound that caught him by surprise. 

He wasn't expecting the Host to laugh. He could handle an offended outburst or something violent, but laughter? He didn't know what to do. He shifted on his feet before returning the favor, letting out his own nervous chuckle. "What's so funny?" 

The Host turned up towards Bim with a smile so dazzling it could put the sun to shame. It was a flash of genuine emotion, something he tried so hard to distance himself from. "It's nothing. The Host just found Bim's panic amusing." He said simply, his laughter dying away to again the blissful silence. He waited a few minutes, settling more comfortably into the bench he was sitting on. In the silence he felt the uncomfortable pull in his bones for rest. Since his experience with Mark, he didn't want to sleep. It only caused nightmares and made him wake up screaming, much to everyone's dismay. He tilted his head back slightly, a frown pulling across his lips. He wasn't particularly afraid of the silence, he just rather not be exposed to it as much as he used to be. He jumped slightly when he felt the other sit down next to him, his head snapping to Bim in silent question. 

"Woah, sorry. I didn't mean to freak you out. I'm just sitting down." Bim responded in an easy voice, much like he was speaking to a scared animal instead of an adult. He wiped the sweat off his forehead with the back of his hand, a sigh escaped his lips at the heat. 

"The Host... wonders what flowers Bim planted. They smell wonderful." 

Bim cracked a gentle smile at the statement. He took it upon himself to start describing all the flowers he had planted, trying to be as vivid as possible with his descriptions. He had a feeling that the other didn't want to stand up, instead he would grab potted plants and bring it back to the Host could touch the petals and leaves. The way the other brightened up at the gesture melted his heart, such childlike joy on a face usually created in worry. Seeing the stress melt away from the Host, it made him remember that the Host was only a little older than he was, he was just wise far beyond his years. When he had gone through each plant he had planted that day he flopped onto the bench next to the other with a deep sigh. "I'm glad you liked the plants." He said softly. He began to hum to himself not long after that, not being able to stand the silence between them. It was some song he heard on the radio on his drive home from the studio the other day, it seemed to fit the mood in a strange way.

When Bim felt the Host's head drop onto his shoulder, he was startled from his thoughts to look down. He head to do a double take. This was the Host? This young looking man? He looked so young when he slept. He reached up and gently brushed some of the other's hair from his face. "It's alright, big guy. I'll stay with you until you wake up." He whispered gently to the other, carefully leaning back on the bench and watching the sky.