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My Sweeter Half Instead

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On the first night that he actually sleeps after it, as opposed to going into some kind of exhaustion-induced coma, he wakes up in the empty void and screams, and not a single voice replies.

He picks himself up off of the rock.

'What do you want from me?'

The void chatters and whispers and giggles, and the heart pounds in his pocket despite the fact that he locked it away in disgust and horror months ago, and the Outsider says,

'Come find me, Corvo.'

'I'm not playing your games any more!'

'Then I shan't let you leave,' comes the sing-song reply, and Corvo knows that – and how many lifetimes has he spent here, waiting until the bleakness of the void is more loathsome than speaking with the Outsider? He flexes his hand.

He sometimes thinks about if he could have, if he had used that power, when Havelock stood at the top of the lighthouse with his arm around Emily's neck – but then, could he have faced the Outsider, when he inevitably sucked him back into the void, after he had spat in his face and told him that he rejected this 'gift', that these powers made him sick, that he wasn't going to collect old bones for a malicious spirit, no.

After his sixth blink – past Emily's grave, Burrow's map table, the servant's room in the Hound Pits with the windows shattered and water running from the floor up endless walls – the Outsider appears behind him.

'You're a strange man, I've had fun. Have you have fun?'

'Please don't.'

'The strangest thing,' the Outsider continues, though Corvo still hasn't turned to face him, 'is that you thought you were the hero. The whole time, you didn't realise that little people are people too.'

'You've told me this before. You showed me the Empire in ruins. Please put me back on the boat. You've had your fun.'

'Oh Corvo, won't you at least give me a kiss goodbye?'

Corvo bristles. He doesn't – he wants to scream and jump into the void, but that won't solve a thing, and he'll still be here in a thousand years on the whim of a spiteful god. He spins on his heel, and reels at what he sees.

The Outsider is... he's wearing Emily like a miserable rubber suit. Her neck and wrists are black with bruises and there's kelp in her hair (Jessamine's hair) and her face is bloated, grey and flaky. Hagfish have bitten at her ears and fingertips, and as the Outsider forces her poor dead face into a smile her lips split open, filthy river-water running from the wounds. Corvo screams.

'Get out of her, you monster!'

'I thought you'd like to see her,' the Outsider's voice in Emily's precious, ruined face. She gives a little twirl, 'this is how they found her. She washed up on the riverbank, after two whole days. I'm sure it would have been sooner, but there wasn't a living soul on that island once you were done with it, Corvo.'

'Stop it! Put me back, please put me back.'

There is a sound that could be the Outsider humming, and then he says, 'Not yet. I've got some others to show you,' and Emily disappears, fast as Daud or one of his whalers, only to be replaced by Havelock.

'He was so afraid of you. He jumped from the lighthouse like a man trapped in a burning building jumps from a flame.' Havelock is in a similar state to Emily, he stands strangely – his back is broken – eyes closed, and Corvo wonders if there would be anything behind them if he were to open them, or if the river had claimed his eyes too. Tentatively, he steps toward the sad corpse – fuck, he just wants to put his hands around that throat, the combination of the Outsider and the Admiral taunting him, but as he reaches the body disappears, and Treavor Pendleton appears behind him, the void laughing brittlely as a bone charm.

'His brothers are still working the mines, digging dirt for cousin Celia,' Treavor moves like a marionette on uneven strings, like a weeper, spitting blood onto the stone (the steps to Dunwall Tower), 'He thought he'd see them again. Perhaps I should let them see him.'

Corvo is not prepared for Martin. He's – he stands like a normal man, which makes his burst head all the more unsettling. Tongue shot through, his shattered jaw still works away, the Outsider's voice disembodied, floating past Corvo's ears, 'He hated the Mark. He almost hated more the fact that you didn't use it.'

He expects Samuel and the neat bullet-hole in his neck next, but the mangled mess that is Martin becomes Callista, becomes Lydia, becomes Wallace, bound in bloody sheets and left out in the sun. 'They thought you were a hero, too, for a while.'

And Wallace's sheets unravel and Jessamine falls out, beautiful, pale and very, very dead, and Corvo leaps into the void.

The Outsider sighs.

'You're a very boring man. I'm almost sorry I disturbed you. Almost. But you mustn't think you didn't impress me.'

Corvo has never fallen through the void for so long. 'I'd rather I hadn't.'

'Oh Corvo. In another world, things went differently.'

The void fades, and Corvo drops lightly to the deck of the boat. The waves sing like whalebone, and he prays that there isn't a void at the bed of the sea.