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A Living Nightmare

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Chapter One
Just So Tired

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Ink was in the middle of a fight with Nightmare and his gang in a nearly destroyed AU. Dream was there by his side, fighting bravely against his own brother.
Ink dodged Nightmare's sharp tentacles, the bladed end of one scratching the side of his skull. That was way too close. He flung pink paint at Nightmare with his brush, but he easily sidestepped the projectiles.
Ink ducked suddenly as a knife whistled over his head, another just clipping his left collarbone. He winced internally. Dream shot arrows at Nightmare and the Dark Sanses to distract them and help Ink, aiming to maim and injure, not to dust. He still thought they were redeemable, after everything that they've done...
"Nightmare, please! You don't have to do this!" Dream called out, his voice slightly hoarse. "It's not too late to come back!"

Nightmare laughed coldly, his mouth curled slightly upwards in a smirk. "Why would you ever think i wanted to come back, Dream?"

The guardian of negativity took advantage of his brother's distraction to attack him, lunging at him with sharpened tendrils aimed at his SOUL. Dream dodged most of them, shooting multiple arrows at Nightmare's inky body, but one tendril managed to stab Dream in the shoulder.

Dream winced and tried to pull away in a panic, but the tendril curled itself around the wound, refusing to be dislodged. Something about the ooze imbedded in Dream's shoulder was keeping him from teleporting- he didn't think he could escape.
Nightmare stabbed his other shoulder as well and curled a tentacle around Dream's neck, choking him. The latter watched as Dream writhed, holding him about a foot off the ground, making any escape impossible.

"N-Nightmare! Brother! Please don't do this-!" Dream gasped for breath, trying to struggle. Nightmare had knocked away Dream's bow when he first wounded him, and it was lying on the ground a few yards away.

Nightmare laughed. "You think i still care, after everything you've done? I'm nothing but an emotionless monster, Dream. Even you, my bothersome brother, should know that."
He reared back yet another tentacle, ready to strike at Dream's SOUL.

Ink was busy fighting Killer, Horror, Dust and Cross, fending them off with well-timed swings of his paintbrush and splashes of paint. He could hear Nightmare and Dream talking. He sighed internally. Dream was never going to get through to Nightmare...

Ink knocked the Dark Sanses back temporarily by sending out a wave of acidic pink paint at them, looking back to see how Dream was faring in his fight. He gasped when he saw Dream held aloft by Nightmare, impaled by his tentacles, with Nightmare ready to strike a fatal blow.

The Creator teleported hurriedly next to them, swinging his paintbrush viciously at Nightmare. The inky black skeleton hissed in surprise, recoiling, his tentacle hitting wide of Dream's SOUL and only barely scratching it instead of impaling it and killing his brother as he had surely intended.

Nightmare retracted his tentacles in a flash from Dream, jumping back to a safe distance, tendrils coiled near his back and ready to attack. Nightmare was vicious, but he wasn't stupid. He wasn't going to fight both of them without backup from his boys, who were coming as fast as they could.

Ink stood in front of Dream's collapsed form protectively, growling. "Stay away from him, you bloodthirsty monster!"

Nightmare yawned. "You can describe me all you want, Ink. No point in trying to insult someone who can't have their feelings hurt."

Ink snarled and picked up Dream and opened a portal to his home in the Doodle Sphere, ready to make his escape. "This isn't over, Nightmare."

Nightmare grinned infuriatingly, knowing he had won. "If you say so, Inky."

Ink jumped through the portal and landed hard in the living room of the Star Sanses' base. Dream was heavier than he looked. He quickly set Dream on the couch and dashed to get the med kit from the bathroom cabinet, opening it on the way back to the living room and taking out the healing gel and bandages.

Dream was still responsive when Ink came back, to his great relief, but only barely conscious. Ink was worried- Dream had gotten a brutal hit out there. He started tending his friend's wounds.
The worst by far was the shoulder wounds where Nightmare had stabbed him. Ink began by gently cleaning out the excess leftover ooze from the bone. It was pierced straight through, like a needle through paper. Dream winced and whined slightly, tears coming to his eyes. Ink sighed in empathy.

Once the leftover ooze was cleared out, Ink began to cover the entire puncture with healing gel before wrapping it tightly yet gently in bandages. The hole itself was relatively small, about the size of a dollar coin, but it looked horribly painful. Dream shuddered and whimpered the entire time. Ink repeated the process with the other wound in the opposite arm, and then turned to Dream's SOUL. Nightmare had scratched it, and that worried Ink. Such negativity that made up Nightmare's entire being could really hurt a person like Dream, who thrived off positivity and happiness. There was only a very small scratch with a few droplets of ooze still on the upside-down heart shaped SOUL. Ink cleared off the slime carefully and covered the entire SOUL with healing gel. It was expensive, but better safe than sorry, right?

Dream's eyes finally focused a few minutes after Ink had finished dressing the smaller wounds, resting on his best friend. Ink let out a tense breath. He had been so worried.

"How do you feel?"

 

Tears came to Dream's eyes, and he looked away. "I- I feel terrible. Nightmare and I were so c-close before he apple incident and n-now..."

Dream broke down into sobs. This wasn't new to Ink, far from it. Dream had cried sometimes when Nightmare had badly injured him. Dream would never give up hope that his brother would one day come home, and it hurt him worse than the puncture wounds in his collarbones to think that his only family hated him enough to do this to him.

Dream couldn't stop the flow of tears, and Ink moved to sit down next to the propped-up Dream on the couch, hugging him gently. "A-am I not good enough for him? Am I j-just a terrible b-brother?"

 

Ink hugged Dream a bit more tightly. "Never, Dream. You're amazing. Nightmare is the one that isn't good enough for you." He hated seeing the Guardian of Positivity so distraught.

Dream cried himself to sleep, exhausted from the fight. Ink gently pried his fingers away from his scarf and torso and stood up, getting a blanket resting in a nearby chair and spreading it gently over his friend before going to the kitchen to get himself a drink of water.

Ink sat down at the table in the kitchen, rage slowly growing inside him. No matter what he or Dream did, Nightmare was never going to come back to the Star Sanses' side. He wasn't even Nightmare anymore- just an empty husk corrupted by black apples from the Tree of Life. And Nightmare was steadily getting more dangerous- Ink didn't want another Error running around. One was bad enough!

He had to do something. Dream would never give up hope, always living in a fantasy where one day, his brother would come back to him. Ink smiled grimly. That was about as likely as Error running around with a wedding dress in an Underfell AU.

 

There were no solutions and Ink HATED it. Dream would always be there by his side on the battlefield, hopes high that his brother would come home. And Nightmare would enjoy crushing them painfully. If only Ink could get rid of the disgusting skeleton...

Get rid of Nightmare.

Why not?

It wasn't like Ink couldn't get rid of him. Dream would never agree to it, but if Ink could find a way to kill Nightmare, to get him cornered with no escape...

Ink pulled out his notebook and began to write out ideas. He'd have to be very, very careful not to let Dream see this. But if he could figure out a way to get Nightmare out of the way, he could focus on Error. No more negativity or night terrors for any of the AUs- they could finally have some semblance of peace. Nightmare wouldn't hurt Dream anymore.

Never again.