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What's It Like In The Cold?

Chapter Text

Joey Drew spent his last dollars on bus tickets. Two, for a town only hours away but a distance for his heart.

The day of the ride, he hugged his mother goodbye, shook his father's hand. He said his last good byes before picking up his frowning son, carrying him onto the bus. Ben felt lighter then their carry-on bags and the weight of Joey’s loss.

Joey had made many mistakes in his life, and there was really no way of fixing any of them. But he could start over. It was dreaming that left him alone. Dreaming could give him something to stand for again.

“Joey! How about we get that seat?” Bendy was happier now, away from his grandparents, excitedly pointing to a seat midway of the bus. Joey shook his head.

“We’ll need seats a bit closer to the toilet in case either if us need to go. Can you find one near the back?”

Bendy put a hand to his chin and hummed as he scanned the back. Joey was already walking towards the almost very back, but it was always good to encourage the boy. Some of the other parents he’d talked to while trying to make up for his less than attentive upbringing, said the worst thing he could do was ignore the little things .

When Joey sat down in his selected seat while Ben was still browsing, Bendy seemed surprised. Immediately though, his attention was stolen by the city blinking outside the window. It was evening, and the city was coming alive.

By the time they reached their destination, it would be the darkest night. Joey could afford nothing else. Not the tickets and not another lifetime.

As the bus started to move, Joey took out his phone. It’s worth noting that he hadn’t changed the lock screen in years. It was of a little sleeping Bendy, only two at the time, holding a stuffed toy cat. The toy was much older then Bendy, having been Joey’s as a child. Before a particularly memorable sleep over, it had belonged to Henry Ross.

Henry.

The reason Joey had been able to dream, who he dreamed about, and one of the reasons Joey eventually realized he had it all wrong . He remembered the day almost every night. Replayed his words. Looked for any way Henry might have been wrong. But he never found one.

Bendy had been the other wake up call. Joey had looked down at the newborn baby who'd been placed in his arms, his son, and even in the panic of everything, realized that he wasn't living the life he needed to be.

So for the six years of Bendy’s life, Joey had been going as far as he could to make things better for himself. He knew in turn Ben would have a better life. It didn't always work out for them, but more importantly, he wanted to be someone Bendy would look back on one day and not feel bitter about .

At the very least, he wanted to be a honest enough man that Ben would be willing to point out any flaws as he saw fit. Not clench up and get nearly sick at the thought like Joey did with his own mother.

Joey wasn’t perfect, but he was trying his hardest to be as best as he could. While he couldn’t forgive his mother, or know exactly how he’d effect Bendy growing up, he could say he’d done pretty well for himself. So, he thought it was finally time to face the past head on.

Joey had sworn one day that he’d see Henry again. He’d wanted to make the effort every year, but his heart would drop, and dread would fill his body. Those days, after he put Bendy to bed, he would set himself upon with a bowl of ice cream, a terrible movie, and pass out like that . Only from the thought of seeing Henry.

Now, Joey had finally worked up the courage. He was glad the bus was already on its way or else he would have grabbed Bendy, gotten off the bus, and forgotten this whole thing.

“What are ya’ thinking about, Joey?” Bendy asked, grabbing for Joey’s phone. Joey let him take it.

“ Just things, Bendy.” Joey replied, watching as Bendy unlocked his phone and immediately went to a folder titled ‘Ben’s Games’. He selected a Halloween themed game despite it being winter, and almost the new year.

“Good things?”

After a moment’s thought, Joey replied.

“Yes, I think so.”


 

Henry Ross hadn’t been able to sleep last night, and was not having any more success this night. He blamed it on all sorts of factors. A little too much coffee. Too much traffic passing by his apartment. The landlord upstairs actively awake pass reasonable hours, and loud with her pacing. The wet snow pounding on his window.

Henry groaned, curling closer to his dog Boris, who wined, and placed his head on Henry's chest. Henry smiled a little, reaching to stroke behind Boris’s ears. Most people took one look at Boris, and that look was fear. They questioned why Henry had kept his beloved dog even after he realized he had actually taken in a mixed wolfhound puppy . Boris had grown much bigger than anyone expected.

They always said his dog was not meant to be a pet. Henry had always been under the impression that he had been adopted by monsters, but this just affirmed it .

Boris was good. Boris was loyal. Henry would do anything for his dog. Anything but be rid of him.

Just as Henry tried getting more comfortable, Boris’s head lifted from Henry's chest, and his ears perked up . Henry could make out an indistinct sound, and sighed.

“Did I forget to cover Alice's cage, good boy?” Why he had agreed to watch Susie’s bird, Henry wasn’t sure. The bird was a menace, and was always demanding the oddest things. Birdseed on only the left side of her cage, water that had to be free of birdseed even if she put it there, and many other strange things . Henry was now well aware why Sammy made a point of actively complaining about the bird.

Henry was about to just forget all about it, when there was a knock, seemingly at his front door. This was a reason to get out of bed, though undesired.

Henry yawned and gestured to Boris, and when Henry left bed so did Boris. Anyone who knocked on someone's door past twelve in the morning deserved to meet Boris. Henry was not above using Boris to make a point. It made them fear Henry even more.

Henry passed Alice’s cage, which was in fact covered. The sound must have been his guest, who was knocking once more.

“I’m coming, I’m coming.” Henry muttered as he unlocked the deadbolt and braced himself for the rainy snow.

"Henry?”

Henry's heart stopped. At least it felt like it had. That voice, the green eyes, the face behind the unkempt beard…

“Joey?” This couldn't be happening. He told Joey to never come back, and after eight years it seemed Joey had listened. But now he was shivering on Henry's doorstep.

“Hiya, Henry.” Another, tinier voice said, sleepily . Henry looked down sharply , seeing a child clinging to the man he used to call a dear friend. A child that looked far too much like Joey.

Henry looked up, giving Joey his best, if sleepy, glare. Joey actually looked threatened by it, but he pushed on.

“Henry, please. I’m here to make amends. You have to believe me.” In this moment, Joey took notice of Boris, and in an unspoken test, his eyes didn't widen in fear.

Boris didn't find Joey to be a threat either. He laid down beside Henry so he was more level with the little boy Joey had so obviously sired. The child locked eyes with Boris, and both their excitement was evident.

So Henry made an important decision. Maybe the most important decision of his life.

“Fine, get in before you both freeze to death.”

Joey crossed through the door, leading the child beside him. Once Henry pushed the door shut, he was pulled up into a hug by Joey.

“Henry. Henry…I’m so sorry.”

Frozen for a moment, not just from the cold, Henry carefully considered his reaction. He considered rejecting the hug, but as soon as Joey started crying, Henry's arms were around Joey.

If eight years of regret and other pent up emotions were starting to form in the corners of Henry's eyes, no one needed to know.

Chapter Text

Henry and Joey fell into a comfortable ignorance of each other, once their first emotions cooled off. Except when Henry had offered Joey coffee.

The child received a small hot chocolate, which had been requested as extra sweet.

In the light of the kitchen and not just the porch light, Henry could see even more resemblance between Joey and the child. This was even more unbelievable then Joey showing up again after what he’d done.

“So, kid, how do you like your eggs?” Henry asked when he placed down the hot chocolate.

“I’m not ‘kid’, I’m Bendy! Oh, yeah, eggs gotta be yellow.” Sunny side up, Henry assumed.

“Bendy, huh.”

“Yes!”

“Well, Bendy,” Certainly a nickname, and one that followed the logic of Joey Drew. “Do you like toast with your eggs?”

“Yes. And I don't want the egg bottoms brown! Joey always makes the bottoms brown and it’s yuck.” Bendy scowled, and made a waving gesture at Joey.

“It’s cooked, not yuck.” Joey meekly added before taking a long sip of his coffee.

“Joey,” Henry said sharply. “You always burnt your eggs. You feed a child burnt eggs. Shame on you.” Henry meant it in a hesitantly fond way, but Joey seemed to take it a little more personally.

“I do my best, Henry.”

Henry didn't doubt that. Bendy looked happy and healthy. The same could not be said for Joey.

“And I assume you still like yours scrambled?” Henry asked, and Joey gave a thumbs up, suddenly very interested in his coffee.

Henry still wasn't entirely sure what Joey was doing here after this time. Was this a miracle? Joey Drew admits his mistakes, and they all live happily ever after? Unrealistic, really.

Likely, Joey had other motives, but it still didn't stop Henry from feeling hope that Joey was being honest. Maybe they wouldn't be the kind of friends they were before, but they could get somewhere. Maybe they could move on.

The least Henry could do was get the eggs and bacon started.

Before Henry could get far from the table, Bendy spoke up again.

“Can I pet your dog?”

Henry turned to look at the child. Bendy was looking at the very patient Boris. He lying near the entrance of the kitchen closest to the table. Boris looked as excited at the potential attention as Bendy was.

Henry smiled.

“Of course. He’s a very good boy.”

Bendy flung himself from the chair and ran to Boris. Bendy attempted to hug Boris, but his arms didn't go all the way around him. Boris’s tail wagged, showing he didn't exactly mind.

“Just watch that he doesn't take you out with his tail. He’s done it to me. He doesn’t mean to but he gets excited.”

Bendy nodded, although Henry expected that in his excitement he might forget.

“He’s so cool! Where’d you get him? Is he part horse? Is he supposed to be this big?” Bendy chattered on. “Joey, can we get a dog? What's this dog’s name?”

“Let me answer before you ask more questions. His name is Boris. I found him wandering alongside a road and fed him some bacon soup I had in a thermos and he followed me home. I’m pretty sure-” Henry was cut off by a startled Joey.

“You still make that shit?”

“What’s that shit?” Bendy echoed. Henry wasn't sure what to say about the swearing. Henry decided it really wasn't his place at the moment to say anything.

“Bacon soup? Oh, it’s bacon and cheese boiled in creme. Plus other ingredients. I rather like it.” Henry considered making it instead. To spite Joey.

“It’s like diabetes had a baby with my lactose intolerance, Bendy. Don't trust Henry's bacon soup.” Eight years and Joey still remembered the taste. It was that bad.

“Okay, Joey.” Bendy didn't seem overly attentive to the conversation anymore.

“If it makes you feel better,” Henry said. “I don't make it that often anymore. I think the last time was when I found Boris. I certainly wouldn't feed it to him again.”

Henry liked this. If they kept talking about mundane topics, maybe they could ease into the things more hard to swallow.

“How you just came across a dog like that is…odd.”

“I suspect heavily that he was bred specifically for something. But it doesn't matter. Boris is my good boy.”

Joey went awkwardly silent after that, and Henry took that as permission to stop talking as well. If he was being honest, he didn't really like talking. With Boris, it was easy, but he’d much rather stay silent over anything else.

Henry put the bacon onto fry, and it didn't escape him that Joey looked uneasy. Past bacon soup trauma, Henry knew.

It wasn’t until he went to crack the eggs that he first heard Boris snore. Then he realized he hadn’t heard anything from Bendy in some time, suspicious for a child.

Boris was dead asleep, snoring softly. That never lasted long. Bendy was quite the same, using Boris less as a pillow and more as a bed. Joey already had his camera out and was taking pictures.

Henry would have to ask for some of those photos. It was adorable. Both the scene in front of him, and Joey’s sudden enthusiasm. For a child that belonged to him. Henry still couldn't get his head around that. But he wouldn't pry in any serious way. Not until he was more comfortable with Joey’s presence.

“I have to ask.” Henry grinned, thinking maybe a joke would help the mood. “Is he mine?”

Joey actually laughed. Either it was at the ridiculousness of the comment, or that Henry actual made a joke at a time like this.

“Yes. I made him in a ritual that involved failing to convince several gods that I did in fact have a soul. Instead I offered them the left shoe I took from you.” Joey added with a grin, a familiar twinkle in his eye.

Henry had missed that look.

“So that's where that went.”

Joey did that. Added facts into any single lie, that all too often, with the right lies, people would believe him wholeheartedly. With enough to work with, he could make anything sound truthful. Henry had noticed he was missing a shoe shortly after the last time he saw Joey. He’d forgotten all about it until Joey brought it up. It was likely Joey had in fact taken a shoe or had noticed it’s disappearance before Henry had, and with how his mind worked, he remembered it even now.

This familiar joy was tainted. Joey’s lying had been part of his eventual downfall. One lie too many had ruined what should have been a lifelong friendship.

Henry grabbed Bendy's cooling hot chocolate from the table and added coffee to it, downing it in one go. Hard liquor would have been more preferable at a time like this, but ever since Henry found out alcoholism ran in his family he’d tried cutting back. There'd been a little too much creme liquor in his coffee from earlier, despite this so called trying.

“Sorry.”

“Hmmm?”

“I’m so sorry. It actually took time for me to realize I was wrong, when it should have been obvious to me from the start. Then it took me this long to man up and admit it to you.” Joey held his head in his hands, sniffling. “I just feel like total shit.”

Joey looked up, where Henry was awkwardly offering Joey the plat of bacon.

“I really can't say much here. You have every right to feel like shit. But you came back, so...bacon?”

Joey reached for a piece, but then stopped, and shook his head.

“Henry, you socially inept bastard. Eight extra years and you still don't get people, do you?”

“You were going to take the food.”

“Yes, but,” The digital clock on the microwave said 2:24. “I never asked for food. It’s a bit too early. Let me have my misery until at least five.”

“Okay.” Henry started picking at the bacon himself. “Speaking of, how long are you planning to stay?”

Chances are not long. Joey probably had a wife to get back to. Or maybe not. Something about that made the bacon seem bitter. Now, Henry was fine with a man or a woman. When he came up short on his rent, aside from chores, he’d do other favours for his landlord. But Joey had never had any interest in women. It was unsettling, honestly, for him to have a child now. There could be a million reasons why and Henry liked none.

“I had no plans past apologizing and working to your forgiveness.”

No money to get back home, Henry guessed. Sneaky bastard. With a kid too. Henry was a sucker for kids.

“Stay for now since you came so far, and see if you earn it. You at least have my pity. I’ll drive you and Bendy home myself.”

Joey could live with that. It was fair. Even if Henry never fully forgave him, at least Joey had been able to apologize.

With one last look at Bendy and Boris, who was so careful even in sleep not to crush the six year old whose love he’d so readily earned, Joey took a piece of bacon, and felt a little bit of peace.

Chapter Text

Over bacon, they got to talking about their lives. Henry learned about all Joey’s attempts to better himself. In volunteer work and how he’d even tried church for some time but decided it wasn't for him. Joey learned that Henry had reconnected with his biological family, although his father had since passed .

It was something, at least, able to fall onto old patterns and ignore the new. Even when the bacon ran out, they just kept talking. Avoiding the awkward subjects, but that was alright.

By five am, as Joey unintentionally predicted, Joey was starting to calm down, come down, any unburied sorrow slipping away. Without that to keep him going, Henry led him to the couch, where Joey passed out.

Now with time alone with his thoughts, Henry was at a loss.

Was he happy Joey was back and willing to start over? Angry that he hadn’t listened?

Then there was Bendy to consider. He’d joked about it, but there had to be a reason Joey had brought the boy for Henry to see. Especially when it might have been more simple and honest to come alone. In any case, Henry would rather Bendy be his than any of the other uncomfortable thoughts swimming in his head .

Henry wondered if the intent to bringing Bendy was to confuse Henry's perception of Joey.

Was Joey honest or selfish?

Good or bad intentioned?

Henry was far too confused about this.

Making himself another cup of coffee, he opened the group chat he and his friends used, intending to ask for their opinion, but as soon as he saw the drunken texts and the usual suspects, he closed it.

Looking to see if anyone was separately active, so he’d possibly only have to deal with one drunk friend, he had the choices of Sammy, who from the group chat was probably the drunkest, and Wally who wasn't drunk texting at all.

Henry picked Wally.

Henryebread: You awake and functioning?

Franksandbeans: Yup.

Henryebread: Can I ask you a question then?

Franksandbeans: Sure.

What did Henry want to know?

Henryebread: Am I paranoid or dense.

Franksandbeans: Depends on the day.

Helpful.

Henryebread: I have a guest staying over. He and his kid.

Franksandbeans: Is he cute.

Joey had aged well, and the beard certainly helped that. Henry could be honest with that.

 

Henryebread: Yes but not the point

Franksandbeans: Fine. Don't get some. Be like the others.

Henryebread: Kid, remember

Franksandbeans: Right

Reminded of that himself, Henry went to check on Bendy and Boris. They were still passed out in the kitchen, and had he not known from experience that Boris was a moving heater he would have tossed a blanket over the two.

Henry wanted to leave the young ones, but even though he knew it foolish, he couldn't help but crouch down and study Bendy for any signs of him. Maybe it was the lack of sleep and too much coffee and Henry's already lessened grip on reality that most people ignored in favour of pointing out he was an airhead, but maybe there was a way Ben was his. Attempted demon summoning was up Joey’s alley.

It was wasted effort from the start anyways. Demons or not, Henry's red hair, blue eyes, and pale skin, combined with Joey’s dark hair, green eyes, and olive skin would not produce a dark haired, dark eyed, light brown skinned child.

Still. Henry was having feelings. He hated those sometimes.

 

Henryebread: I owe this child something. But I have nothing to give him.

Franksandbeans: I love your priorities. Shopping now is death anywas

Franksandbeans: Come hang out with me for a bit if you buddy is fine with it. Maybe I got something for the kid.

Joey was dead asleep, and probably would be until Bendy woke him up. Henry didn't see the harm.

 

Henryebread: Okay. See u in ten.

Henry grabbed a box of chocolates from his pantry. Chocolate would be appreciated, even if Wally was already surrounded by the stuff.

Henry left a quick note for Joey explaining his sudden absence just in case he wasn’t back before Joey woke up, and left into the cold.

Wally lived quite close to Henry, and that was purposeful. When Wally moved out on his own, his parents had wanted him to move in with Henry, since, in their words ‘Henry is the nice one’, and they hated the thought of either of them living alone. But when Wally was wanting to move out, Henry had just found Boris and unfortunately Mrs. Franks was allergic to dogs, and she wanted to be able to see her son from time to time. They compromised by finding Wally a nice place within walking distance of Henry.

Even though Wally greatly beloved by their entire friend group,it was Henry who knew him the longest, so the Franks trusted him the most. He’d been hired as a preteen to babysit a very tiny Wally, and since then he kept up a good friendship.

In fact, Joey had also known Wally about as long as Henry had. He hadn’t been as fond of Wally as Henry was, but always treated him fairly.

Of course, Joey hadn’t seen him now for eight years, and he only knew Wally by his dead name. They’d ought to correct that. That would be top of the list once Henry had a present for Bendy.

Henry made it to Wally’s house short of five-thirty, and Henry gave the door one swift knock before Wally was there, door open in an instant.

Henry handed him the box of chocolates first, as a hello, before stepping inside.

“Thanks!” Wally said, studying the box. “Belgium, too! That grandma of yours is awesome. Think she’d be willing to take me all across Europe to try chocolate?”

Henry shrugged.

“Ask her for me. As much as I really do love my janitorial work, I would so be up to getting to travel and eat chocolate.”

“Would be nice.”

Wally laughed, but it was a little bit of a scared laugh.

“Okay, chatterbox. This guest of yours must be important if you're talking.”

Henry had probably talked more today than he had the rest of the month, if not the year, so that was understandable. Joey had a nature aura to him that brought out words in Henry, and Henry had stopped wondering why even before their eight year separation.

After exchanging a quick hug, they settled into the living room, where Wally had already prepared a pile of things. Shawn Flynn made toys as one of his hobbies, and had a habit of leaving them at peoples’ homes. Henry usually gave the few ones he received to Boris for the dog to sleep with, so he had no unused ones at his place to give Bendy.

“Before we dig into this, can I ask how this ‘guest’ may interfere with what you have with Linda?” Wally teased. The whole group aside from Norman and Sammy wanted Henry to date Linda. They wanted it for his happiness, but it was annoying only two people saw Henry's point of view. Maybe, in another time and place, he could have married her, but their hearts were in different places.

“It’s not going to be like that. With either of them."

“Fine. I still don't see why you don't just get official with Linda. If you were living up stairs with her it’d temporarily fix your space problem.”

“Why don't you ‘get official’ with Shawn?” Henry asked, relishing in how Wally’s checks reddened.

“Well, I’m outta here.” Wally stood up from the couch, and it really seemed like he was prepared to walk out the front door.

“This is your own home.”

“Oh, right. I’d forgotten.” Wally sat back down. “And I'm not getting official with Shawn because there’s nothing but friendship with a little bit of light play between us.”

“Exactly.” Henry smirked. “What's between Linda and I is for Boris’s benefit.”

Wally’s eyes lit up at the mention of Boris.

“How is the good boy? I haven’t seen him in ages.”

“Very good.” Henry’s face softened. He’d always rather talk about Boris. “I really can't believe he’s not even done growing! I think he’s trying to out grow Norman.”

“Yikes”

“It’s fine.”

“At this rate, you might just be able to attach a saddle to him and ride him like a horse.” Wally said, excitedly.

“That would hurt him.”

“Yeah….it would. But the mental picture. Gosh. The neighbours would freak.” Wally laughed. “Anyway, you’re here for a reason. Gift stuff. Shawn left this all here!” Wally indicated first to a homemade stuffed rabbit toy among the rest. “There are also some necklaces Mom found while dumpster diving, and Shawn repaired them. Although it’s a kid, so…..who’s the kid anyways?”

“Ben Drew.” Henry paused for effect. “Joey’s son.” Henry admitted, expecting the reaction he received.

“Joey’s back?!” Wally ran his fingers through his hair as panic started to rise in his eyes. “You could have mentioned that before.”

“Please don't tell anyone else.” Henry pleaded. All Wally would do was worry. But Sammy? Susie? Pretty much everyone who was a part of their group eight years ago had beef with Joey, and not just for what he did to Henry.

“What, is he asking you to help him with another brilliant scheme? You know how that’ll end. I’d say it’s nice you’d be in your right mind this time, but you’re clearly not.”

“Yes, but…”

“And who the hell in their right mind let Joey adopt?! That's just plain madness.” Henry finally got a sentence in.

“Ben seems to be his biological child.”

Wally’s brain stopped working. When it finally rebooted, he muttered a quiet “...what?” and still looked nonfunctional.

“I was a little surprised too.”

“Joey was gay the entire time I knew him. Not like you. Not like Sammy, who apparently flirted with a tree yesterday. Gay. Not bi or pan. I even remember that speech he gave that one girl when she tried asking him out.” Wally grimaced. “So if you say the child is biologically his, did he consort with demons or did he talk a doctor into it?”

“I don't know.” He wanted to know. Joey had never talked about wanting kids. Seemed to loathe them despite being such a good entertainer. There were so many things off about this whole situation.

“Well, fuck.”

Awkwardness filled the room, as neither spoke up. Seconds passed without a word, but before they reached the first minute, Wally spoke again.

“Did he at least raise a decent kid?” Wally held up the rabbit toy.

Henry nodded.

“I think so. Boris thinks so.”

Wally handed over the toy.

“I’m willing to give the kid a chance. Kids don't always turn out like their parents. I didn’t. You didn’t.”

This sweet little moment was ruined by the sound of a notification from Henry's phone. He kept the group chat muted, but the private messages he didn't, in case of emergencies. He was regretting that now as he read the interrupting message.

 

 

SammyJamandToast: merray

Henry wasn't even going to dignify that with a response.

Then, before he could put away his phone and continue talking to Wally, he received a direct message from Susie.

 

 

SusieCampbellsSoup: Jingle bells Norman smells We all failed to get laid Sammy slashed three of Murray Hill’s tires And I’m too hungover to rhyme

Susie then sent a selfie of a good majority of the group. Henry’s friends looked happy, aside from Grant. Even Sammy, who never learnt to smile as a child, was grinning as he hung off both Susie and Norman. The reason Grant might not have been smiling was because Sammy appeared to be using Grant to balance himself with Norman and Susie's conflicting heights.

Then a text unrelated to the failed song arrived from Susie.

 

 

SusieCampbellsSoup: So how’s Alice this fine morning?

Chapter Text

Joey was awoken an hour and a half after falling asleep, not by Bendy, but by a text notification, and he groggily opened the message from his mother.

 

ThatBitchThatBirthedMe: Are you planning to be home soon?

With what money? Henry was letting him stick around anyways.

That conscious thought hit Joey like a truck. Henry. He was in Henry's apartment, had ate his food, and they'd actually talked some things through. Joey hadn’t missed the distrust in Henry's eyes, but he’d let Joey stay, so that counted for something.

Joey placed the phone, without replying, wherever his hand landed, and went back to sleep for probably only ten minutes before something wet touched his face.

Joey opened one eye, and saw Henry's dog staring down at him, tongue sticking out. Joey hadn’t been surprised by Henry's choice in animal. Having a dog that towered over even its owner was exactly a Henry thing, even if Joey was unaware of it occurring before.

Not that Henry was very tall to begin with, rounding off just short of five and a half feet, but still a very Henry thing. Henry always found a way to terrify people he didn't like in spite of his height and cute face….

Joey had eyes. He’d always though Henry was good to look at. Ever since they were children, Joey had found Henry cute.

But that meant nothing, because he’d also used to look up to Sammy Lawrence, because when Joey was six, the aloof and moody twelve year old Sammy had seemed so impossibly old. Sammy could read and write without an adult helping him along, and he could go anywhere he wanted without an adult.

Joey would realize later that Sammy wasn't the impossible thing he seemed. Sure, he hung out with him and Henry, and he taught them many things, but it was because his peers rejected him for his fixations and his hyperactive anger and all the little things that frustrated and distracted him.

Sammy could read and write, but Joey never knew at six the combined hours Sammy spent crying because while the words and symbols would be there on the page, clear as day, he could never look at them long enough before his attention span would wane, and it didn't matter if he’d been in love with the world or music he was reading. He could rarely bounce back once distracted.

Sammy was always out without an adult because his parents never paid enough attention to him. He could have left the house and never came back, and they’d be none the kinder.

Realizing Sammy wasn't impossible had been one of Joey’s first lessons in lying. If he could convince himself from the presented facts that Sammy knew the world better, he could convince anyone of anything.

Those lies used to be dreams and wishful thinking. Henry it doesn't matter what they say! We’ll make it in this world even if they think we have no right being here.

But they turned ugly. This will all work out Henry. You’ll see.

Joey might cry, but he couldn't cry. Bendy was standing beside the dog, rubbing his eyes and clutching a piece of paper. Joey had never cried around Bendy.

And maybe, just maybe, that was the greatest lie Joey had ever told.

Bendy was now waving the paper in Joey’s face, taking him out of his sleepy misery trance.

“Joey, I found this. Can you read it?”

Joey took the paper, scanned it, and then rested his head back on the couch pillow, groaning but smiling.

“Turns out, I can't.”

“Why not?”

“I’ve never been able to read Henry's printing. Eight years hasn't helped that at all.” Then Joey laughed. A madman’s laugh, broken. “Henry, I don't know what this says, but you're a nut.”

No response came. It was a small enough place. Henry should have heard him laughing and come around in curiosity.

Certainly odd.

Maybe he stepped out for a smoke? Had Henry started smoking? Eight years, anything could happen. Joey had a son, even though he couldn't adopt with his record, and had never laid with a woman, but there Benjamim Drew stood.

Joey almost wished he’d acquired Bendy in one of his attempted summonings. It would mean he never got the pitying looks.

He hated those looks.

Stupid Allison.

Allison, and her need for a child. Then she left the kid with Joey to raise alone. Not that it was her choice, but it was her fault. If it had been a dream of hers to be a mother, Joey could have forgiven her, but a simple desire for a child to use as a fashion accessory wasn't something he could understand now.

The little darling himself was waiting patiently for Joey to come back to the real world. When Joey refocused, Bendy immediately spoke.

“Henry wasn't here when I woke up.” Bendy said. “I guess he’s gone”

“Oh.”

Well, he did just accept two extra people into his home. Maybe he went shopping?

Henry was too good. Henry had many edges to him, but Henry was kind. Considering how quick he accepted Joey, he probably never really hated Joey for…

For….

“Ben, how about I try and figure out Henry's kitchen and I make breakfast? You never got any of what Henry made.”

Bendy seemed pleased at this suggestion, and bounced a little as Joey stood up from the couch, head rushing and sleep trying to set back in. He pushed those feelings aside, and started the walk to the kitchen.

The kitchen had two entrances, and Joey took the route he’d only taken dead on his feet. A little more clear headed now, Joey saw it.

Boris stopped dead in his tracks when he noticed Joey had spotted the cage. The blanket was still in place, and the bird was still asleep, but if Joey didn't just ignore it, that might not last long.

Boris whined loudly.

“What is it, Bor?” Bendy asked, too late.

Joey didn't know Henry had a bird. But it was clearly a birdcage. Joey made the mistake of lifting up the blanket to get a look, letting the slightest bit of light in.

Alice Angel, the incorrectly named devil bird, was awake immediately, and she started screeching and batting against the cage.

Susie didn't believe anyone when they called her bird a menace. The scars Sammy had from when Alice tried to claw out his eyes was just Sammy provoking her. Of course. Alice was an angel with Susie, but no one had enough knowledge of birds to realize why.

So Alice screeched, Boris whined even louder, and things only go worse from there.


 

Henry was on his way back home, the stuffed bunny in a box Wally had provided, when he received another text. Hoping it wasn't Sammy, he stopped on a corner, and looked. It turned out to be a separate message from Norman.

 

NormanYolk: What's this about Joey being back in town?

Then the group chat blew up.

 

SammyJamandToast: What h fuc   

SusieCampbellsSoup: Henry.

GrantCrackers: Why

ThomasConnermel: Son of a bitch

Shawn Flynn Doesn’t Deserve A Food Pun: is he gonna etg added to the chat? who ever you guys are ranting about.

SammyJamandToast: mmmm

SammyJamandToast added Joey Drew to the chat.

Henryebread made the nickname for Joey Drew JoeyStrudel

Shawn Flynn Doesn’t Deserve A Food Pun: why does he get one ybu not me

Henryebread: You know what you did.

JoeyStrudel: What is this

SammyJamandToast: Ner unfriendly you

JoeyStrudel: What

Henry laughed. Maybe not the way he wanted it to go, and he’d have a strongly worded text for Wally soon, but at least they weren't ready with pitchforks.

 

SammyJamandToast: so how drunk do we in to made.

NormanYolk: With my fists.

Oh, the trials of the drunk, Henry thought with a smile.

 

SusieCampbellSoup: Now men, I am sober now. Let me do the thinking.

SammyJamandToast: Praise

JoeyStrudel: This isn’t how I wanted it to be.

Shawn Flynn Doesn't Deserve A Food Pun: Who as you.

SusieCampbellsSoup: Pitchforks, men.

JoeyStrudel: You don't know where I am

Everyone but Shawn automatically sent ‘Henry's’ as a response, or some drunk variant. By this time, Henry had gotten home, and was bolting the door shut as Joey raced into the room.

“First the bird and now this? Gah!”

“Why’d you wake the bird?”

“That, my dear Henry, is my biggest regret.” Joey’s voice was laced with shame and regret. As much as he’d been showing for his actions of years past.

“Please tell me you at least tried to feed her so she wouldn't break out. Please.”

Henry shouldn't have had that much faith. He found Alice perching on top of the fridge, Boris making a valid attempt to hide despite the obvious size problem, and Bendy circling the fridge, half growling and half crying.

Bendy turned around when he heard Henry approach.

“This is a evil bird!” Bendy whimpered. There appeared to be scratches on his hands, backing up his statement.

“You don't say.” Henry locked eyes with Alice, and then shook his head. “Leave her. We need to treat those scratches.” Henry then turned to Joey. “Why was your child near the devil bird?”

“He tried petting her while I left to grab a broom when she was still in the living room. Bad call on my part. She didn't appreciate it.”

“No shit.” Henry replied. At both Joey and Bendy’s non-reaction to the swear, Henry guessed Joey had never made swearing a taboo issue.

Henry got Bendy to sit at the table while he went to get medical supplies. Joey tried to follow, but Henry pushed him back with a stern ‘no.’

When he returned to the kitchen with the supplies, Joey and Bendy were chatting a little, Bendy looking much happier then he had been before. Boris was at his side, half listening to the sound of the conversation. Boris barked happily when he saw Henry.

Alice was nowhere to be seen. That was why.

As Henry got to work disinfecting and wrapping Bendy's hands, reassuring him even as it strung, Joey had taken to looking at his phone. Henry was annoyed at the action, but the look on Joey’s face told fear.

“Don't worry. They’re in Canada so Shawn can legally drink.”  It could only be the group chat putting that unease in his eyes. “You’re safe for now.”

“Who’s Shawn, exactly?” Oh, right. Joey wouldn’t know Shawn.

“The baby of the group. Norman honorarily adopted him into the group shortly after you buggered off back to your parents.”

“Oh, good. That's why he doesn't want me dead.”

Henry nodded, as he wrapped the last bandage onto Bendy's hands.

“Better?” Henry asked.

“Much better.” Bendy responded. “Joey, are you going to die?”

“They really wouldn't take it that far!” Henry quickly assured Bendy. “They just really don't like your dad for something he did before you were born.”

“That’s a very long time ago.”

“Yes, yes it is.”

And they really were just taking a joke too far. Trying to scare Joey off before, in their mind, he hurt Henry once again.

Chapter Text

 

Henryebread: Wally

Henryebread: Wally

Henryebread: Wally

Henryebread: Wally

Henryebread: Wally

Henryebread: Wally

Henryebread: Wally

Henryebread: Wally

Henryebread: Wally

Henryebread: Wally

Henryebread: Wally

Henryebread: Wally

Henryebread: Wally

Henryebread: Wally

Henryebread: Wally

Henryebread: Wally

Henryebread: Wally

Henryebread: Wally

Henryebread: Wally

Henryebread: Why are you reading these but not replying?

Henryebread: Wally

Henryebread: Wally

Henryebread: Wally

Henryebread: Wally

Henryebread: Wally

Henryebread: Wally

Henryebread: Wally

Henryebread: Wally

Henryebread: Wally

Henryebread: Wally

Henryebread: Wally

Henryebread: Wally

Henryebread: Wally

Henryebread: Wally

Henryebread: Wally

Henryebread: Wally

Henryebread: Wally

Henryebread: Do you really like seeing your name this much?

Henryebread: Wally

Henryebread: Wally

Henryebread: Wally

Henryebread: Wally

Henryebread: Wally

Henryebread: Fine.

Henryebread: 10 Packs of Bacon, 1 Bottle of creme liquor, 1 Carton of cream, 5 Cups cheese, Pinch of salt, Shake of seasoning salt, Various Spices

Franksandbeans: no. I don't need to be reminded what's in your bacon soup. No.

Henryebread: then answer em as to why you told Norman about Joey.

Henryebread: Just to show you I mean business.

Henryebread cleared the nickname for Wally Franks

Henryebread cleared his nickname

Henrik Bentsen-Ross made his nickname Henry Ross.

Wally Franks: Okay. Well here we go.

Wally Franks: The last I remember of Joey Drew is a raving lunatic. That's already scary. But I was also twelve and twelve year olds already are generally scared shitless. I thought at least Dad should know he was in town and I guess he told everyone. If Dad thinks its right to do, it obviously is.

Henry Ross: Sammy is going to kill him.

Henry Ross: Measured as worse than what he did to that teacher who kept calling you a girl.

Wally Franks: she was only in a coma to three months. That was the doctor's fault anyway. last I heard she was doing fine.

Henry Ross: Are you going to take responsibility for his son.

Henry Ross: Hopefully not because Ben is mine to raise if Sammy kills Joey

Wally Franks: You're weird, Hen.

Henry Ross: Yes.

Henry Ross: Joey never did anything to you. Why are you so hurt?

Wally Franks: You were in the hospital. I mean, that wasn't Joey's fault, but you discharged yourself and we didn't know where you were because neither you, Joey, or Sammy were answering phone calls or texts, and I was scared and then suddenly Dad's telling us you and Joey are in police custody. How does that not freak me out? You almost went to prison because of him! He would have gone to prison if his parents hadn't flashed their money. I told it to Dad because i'm scared of what he could do to you again.

Wally Franks: You have a life Henry. Who's going to look after Boris if you actually get sent to the slammer? I mean everyone would offer, but they couldn't look after Boris like you do! You do it best.

Henry Ross: Boris is important. Yes. But maybe Joey deserves a second chance. Maybe. I mean I don't trust him, but i'm willing to try.

Henry Ross: Why aren't you?

Chapter Text

Immediate enough action would have to be taken on their food problem. Henry had enough for himself and Boris, but two extra mouths to feed would mean a trip to the store was ideal.

Henry usually spent about 25 dollars a week on food for himself. He had to add up, decide when he could afford to spend more money on perishables, because he had enough canned and boxed food from previous weeks.

This time though, he emptied his can of paper money and spare change and put it all in his wallet. Kids ate a lot, so he’d need food for Bendy, and Joey looked like he could do with a few proper meals. His skin was pale, and he went into coughing fits at inconvenient times, and his hand was often at his stomach, breathing off as he tried to calm the reaction.

Henry also thought of asking Linda prepare some meals for the fami-

Reunited friends and child.

Intrusive childhood fantasies were just mixing badly with the harsh reality, is all.

Henry had just finished preparing the second breakfast meal of that day, eggs and toast that were never made during the first.

“Not yuck! Thanks, Henry!” Bendy had said when Henry had placed a plate of buttered toast and unburnt eggs in front of the child.

Bendy smiled before attacking his plate.

Bendy’s smile was just like Joey’s smile, all teeth.

Joey’s uncorrupted smile. The smile of a dreamer, and not a liar.

“He barely knows you and he already favours you.” Joey noticed as he pushed his eggs around.

“Seems so. You burnt his eggs all his life, so it’s understandable.” Henry hummed. “Bendy, did your father ever tell you about a sleepover we had when we were younger, and our friend Sammy's parents weren't home?”

“I don't think so.” Bendy answered, egg hanging from the corner of his mouth. His eyes were wide in anticipation to know.

Joey’s head hung in mock shame. Henry took this as his go ahead to continue.

“I was eight, and your dad was nine, and your dad thought he was old enough to decide when he had his own sleepovers. Since Sammy's parents were gone, he dragged me to Sammy's house with only notes to our parents saying where we’d gone. That’s a whole other story, but the story I’m going to tell you relates to eggs.” Henry sat down with his own food just as he finished his speech and paused for Bendy.

“How?”

“Well, we had the sleepover. Sammy was surprised, but I think he was super lonely before we showed up. I mean, he was fifteen and his only friends were little kids. We played video games and read. Mostly us cause Sammy has trouble reading. And it was perfect. Until morning when Joey decided to make breakfast for everyone.”

“He burnt the eggs, didn't he?” Bendy predicted. Bendy gigged at this, and Joey’s head hung lower.

“Yes.”

Bendy’s giggles turned into very enthusiastic laughter. Henry didn't need to say anything more. That was the only punchline the kid needed.

Burnt eggs aside, suddenly, Henry’s step father of the time had burst into the house. Even if that man hadn’t been a huge jerk, this would already be scary. Apparently while Joey’s parents seemed to agree that their son could plan his own sleepovers, Henry's mother hadn’t found the note and was frantic and when Henry's stepfather found it, he was pissed.

Because the marriage was recent, Sammy hadn't recognized the man as being anything but a stranger to the either of the boys, and the eggs fell onto the floor as Sammy swung the frying pan at the man's face. Several times. Each swing more vicious.

When everything was cleared up, Henry’s stepfather had explained his ruined face off to Henry's mother as falling onto a rock in a ditch, not wanting to admit he was beat up by a fifteen year old in sheep pajamas.

But Bendy didn't need to know that.

No need to put a fear of Sammy in the kid before he got to meet him in person. Sammy's reputation tended to be the only opinion some people held of him.

Henry pulled out his phone to send a text to him.

 

Henryebread: how do you intended to kill joy?

Henryebread: *Joey

SammyJamandToast: Magic?

Henryebread: Well

Henryebread: Have fun then. You know where to find him.

Henry then texted Norman.

 

Henryebread: Are you guys coming back to beat up joey?

NormanYolk: Not right now.

That was comforting enough. Joey still looked to be on edge, even though the group chat had switched to pictures of cats.

Did they know about Bendy? Wally might not have told Norman. Sammy was able to easily add Joey to the chat so he might know about Bendy through any of Joey’s posts, but considering Sammy knew all about child abandonment, if he knew Joey had a son he probably would have been more open about it and wouldn't be wanting to harm him.

So, Henry snapped a picture of Bendy and sent it to Norman

 

Henryebread: Congratulations, Dad. You're a grandfather.

The use of ‘Dad’ would show the sincerity of the message. Only Wally actively used the parental titles when talking about the three, if he so chose to. The others kept them for very special occasions.

Henry turned off his phone just as Norman saw the message. He would deal with that later.

Everyone ate in comfortable silence, because Henry actually knew how to cook eggs.

“Can you teach Joey how to cook, Henry?” This comment snapped both Henry and Joey to attention.

“Okay, you little devil. If you think my eggs are that bad I won’t make them anymore.” Joey said, sounding firm but also fond.

“That’s fine. Henry can make me eggs until we leave and then I’ll never have eggs ever again!”

“Well then. I guess we better get shopping then.” Henry said, just as Joey’s jaw dropped slightly. Henry reached over and pushed it back up.

“My own son would rather not eat a food ever again then for me to make it. So dramatic.” Joey then shook his head and grinned. “Pretty sure he go that from me.”

“You know it!” Bendy replied.

After plates were cleaned of food and while faces were being washed, Henry went to talk to Linda, whistling for Boris and keeping an eye out for Alice.

Henry knew Linda before she was his landlord. She was his previous landlord's granddaughter, frequented the house, and when that woman died, Linda moved into the house and took him on too. Henry very much preferred her, since she didn't talk down to him like her grandmother had. That woman was always talking about how lucky Henry was to have someone who ‘understood he was special’.

Linda, to state it plainly, didn't give a fuck, even if there was something different about him.

After walking up the stairs, each creaking, Henry knocked on the door to Linda’s part of the house, and waited to see if she’d come. By the time the doorknob turned, Boris was waiting lower down the stairs.

“What's up, Henry?” She asked, looking rather uncomfortable and sick.

“Could you watch Boris? Alice is loose.”

Linda nodded in understanding. She’d been down the day before and hadn’t any success with discovering Alice’s nice side either.

“Figured that's what the screaming was about.” She laughed. “Wouldn't have known you had guests otherwise.”

“An old friend showed up early this morning. He and his kid. They’ll be staying here a bit.” Boris padded up beside Henry, and Henry gave him a quick pat on the back. “We need to go shopping for more food. Also, what's the thing around rent if they stay longer than two weeks?”

Linda smirked.

“If you're up to it, we could try out my birthday present from you.”

Henry would be up to that. He nodded.

“Then it’s settled. Go have fun spending money. Go amaze the cashiers with your excessive talking for once. Be free.” Linda waved at Boris. “Boris, buddy! Hello.” Boris walked through the door, and Linda closed the door behind him.

Henry hadn't even made it to the stair landing before Bendy shot out of nowhere, and only a short, excited squeal allowed Henry to catch the boy in time.  

“Why?” Henry asked simply of the grinning little Bendy.

“I wanted to see if you would catch me.”

“Now you know the answer is yes.”

Bendy laughed again, and then got comfortable in Henry's arms. Seems the intent was also to avoid having to ask to be picked up.

“I left Joey at the door.” Bendy said. “He’s waiting.”

“Well, let’s not take long to walk into the next room.”

When they did, Henry spotted Joey checking his phone. He would have told him off for obsessing over the group chat or that balloon game Henry had spotted from the corner of his eye, but then Henry spotted Alice perching on the lamp nearby. Joey was actively not looking at her.

Henry had refilled her food, and changed her water, so when she felt like returning to her cage she would. Henry hoped.

“I just realized that I don't have Bendy's car seat.” Joey said, putting away his phone as the duo approached.

“Wouldn't fit on my bike anyways.” Henry countered, offhandedly.

“....bike?”

“Yes.” Henry opened the front door, and gestured to the motorcycle sitting in the driveway. “You probably didn’t see it this morning but it’s my only form of transportation.” Bendy looked excited but didn't say anything, while Joey looked ill. More than he already had before, that is.

After a quick run to the shed to grab two of the extra helmets Henry kept, Henry tried to get Joey on the bike. Joey wasn't even trying to play the concerned parent card like most would.

“I could fall off!”

Henry shook his head.

“Then that's on you. I’ll be driving slow anyways. I haven’t slept much these past few days. Bendy,” Henry handed the helmet to the boy. “You can ride in the sidecar until the ride back.”

Joey suddenly stopped, and then laughed, as he realized a solution to the growing pit of fear in his chest.

“How are we getting anything back here?”

“I usually put everything in the side….wait. I’m buying more food this time. Oh.”

“Exactly.”

“Oh..” Bendy echoed. “I wanted to ride.”

“Guess we’ll have to call a taxi. Or, does the bus route still go through here?” As Joey listed off more possibilities, Henry realized something.

“There’s nothing saying we can't ride to the store, shop, and then you can ride a taxi back with our groceries.” Henry beamed.

“No.”

“Yes.”

“Henry, no.”

“Henry, yes.


 The ride to the store was smoother than Joey expected, but the only reason he wasn't screeching in terror every turn or wobble, only some, was because Bendy was really enjoying himself. At least someone was having fun.

Joey was never happier to see a far off familiar, run down store. He was off the bike as soon as Henry had slowed into a parking spot. His legs were shaking.

Joey didn't like speed. Not open speed. At least most vehicles protected you. All Joey had was a helmet.

“That was awesome!” Bendy said as he climbed out of the sidecar.

“Speak for yourself.” Joey countered.

The store smelled like old memories and fresh food. They bypassed it all, after Henry's quick words of ‘frozen, not fresh’

Bendy rode in the cart, grabbing things off shelves at Henry’s direction. Joey was pushing the cart along, and scanning a list Henry had made up. Quickly, Henry became obsolete as Joey and Bendy took over the shopping.

Henry turned his phone back on. Time to see if he’d made the right choice. He may have either saved Joey from bodily harm, or done nothing at all.

There was only one text from Norman.

 

NormanYolk: How many birthdays have I missed?

Henryebread: Six.

NormanYolk: Six gifts it is then.

The group chat gave no sign that Norman announced this news. But then a text arrived from Susie.

 

SusieCampbellsSoup: I’m a grandmother?

Henryebread: Yes.

SusieCampbellsSoup: This is that happiest day of my life. Joey is no longer disowned.

Then a text came from Sammy.

 

SammyJamandToast: Me? A grand-padre?

Either Sammy's spell check was working double time or Sammy was sobering up a little.

 

Henryebread: Yes. Congratulations.

Henryebread: Are you still going to kill Joey?

SammyJamandToast: Probably.

Since no other messages arrived, Henry guessed Norman had only told his lovers, which made sense.

Susie was incapable of having children due to an accident she was in as a child, so she, Norman, and Sammy had all honorarily adopted the other members of their friend group to compensate. They were acting parents when everyone’s real parents didn't quite measure up where they needed to.

Sammy happened to have been looking out for Henry and Joey ever since he met them. Eventually, he'd officially introduced them to Norman, but it was clear they'd been friends for some time. Norman had taken to caring for Joey and Henry as Sammy had been, and a few years later when they met Susie, she did the same. As they had for everyone else who became a part of their group. Even before they entered into their romantic relationship when they were all in their twenties.

Henry's adoptive parents split when he was two years old, and he’d had a string of step parents, and the three had been the only older adults in his life that had stayed together, and even though Henry himself didn't really consider them parents like Wally did, he still loved the warmth of it.

It was all pretty singular, anyways, what everyone considered them. Despite sharing acting parents, none of the group considered each other siblings by default. Deep friendship abound, but Henry and Grant used to date, and Shawn and Wally were probably putting off a relationship out of fear and nothing else, or so said Norman once. The emotional connection was already there.

Judging by the pleasant reactions by the parents of the group, Henry decided to take a picture of Joey and Bendy arguing over what the list said despite Henry printing that list down and his handwriting being a non-issue here.

Henry sent it to the group chat

 

Henryebread: Our family is coming back together. With a little extra.

Chapter Text

The moment they all got home from the store, and entered the house, Joey wandered to the couch, and passed out there, leaving Henry and Bendy to put away the groceries. Bendy was an enthusiastic helper, but that didn't make up for Joey not at least putting off dying until after he did something to help.

I thought he was going to sleep in the cart.” Bendy said, as he and Henry stared down at Joey’s still form. “It was already funny that he put himself in the cart! I’m supposed to be in the cart!”

It had been rather hilarious. Henry pushing the cart, Bendy in front of him ‘helping’, and most of their purchases piled on top of Joey, who was not lacking in the height department. Not to the heights of Norman, who stood proudly at 6’11, but he had some height to him. Henry just couldn't remember the exact height. Not only that, Joey had bulked up a bit since he was twenty...

Off topic, Henry. Henry needed to focus more on what to do now that it was just him and Bendy, and less on what his eyes were telling him.

Henry hadn't heavily interacted with children since Wally and Shawn were kids, which was a shame since he adored children now that he was an adult. Usually he'd been the one to distract and find products for the children who shopped at his former retail job, but even those moments were far and between compared to scheming and rude adults, and an entitled boss.

And that had turned out well, hadn't it? A resignation letter in the form of a panic attack so bad his friends thought a trip to the hospital was needed. It was why he was required to express more of his frustrations, instead of letting them all sit.

While he was very willing to give Joey a second chance, he was still frustrated that Joey had chosen that day to pull his bullshit. He hoped that would be on Joey's list of apologies if they ever decided to sit down and talk about them.

For now, he'd let Joey sleep. Lucky bastard.

"You look scared, Henry." Bendy said, looking up at him curiously.

"No, just offended."

Bendy crossed his arms and nodded in agreement.

"Yeah! I like you, Henry, but I don't really know you. It's weird with Joey asleep." Bendy put his hands in the pockets of his jacket, and swayed a little. "But you're not a stranger either."

"It is a bit confusing." So what to do? See what Bendy wanted, obviously. Why would they do anything else? "Since Joey's asleep, what do you want to do?"

Bendy grinned and his eyes glinted mischievously.

"Well, there's one show that Joey doesn't like me watching, but it's awesome! I really like it and it's really colourful, and..." Bendy went on as Henry smirked. Maybe this was a little petty, but the best thing Sammy had ever done for Henry was do the exact opposite of what Henry's mother suggested.

"Your wish is granted."

Henry directed Bendy to the recliner while he got the show started. From the moment the opening played on the TV, Henry regretted. Henry would say it could wake the dead if Joey hadn't only shifted, and groaned, before falling back into a dead sleep.

The show itself was terrible, but Bendy was happy, giggling and laughing at the jokes, and after some consideration and lowered standards, Henry was laughing a little too. This was a start. If Bendy grew bored of this cartoon, Henry considered showing him some of the cartoons he watched.

After some time, Henry figured it was time for a change. Even he could only take so much. Henry was about to put on another show, much to Bendy's audible disappointment, when he thought of something else.

"Do you like to draw?" Henry asked.

"My last name is Drew, isn't it?" Bendy replied, pouting a little now that he wasn't getting his way.

Henry snorted. Joey used to always say that when they were younger.

"Want to play around with my drawing tablet?"

This turned out to be a much better idea. Once Henry explained how to use it, Bendy was on it like honey, only needing Henry to title the files and save them.

"Joey has a tablet for drawing but yours is way better!" Bendy said, scribbling away.

"It was a gift from my dad." Henry turned away so Bendy wouldn't see him frown. Three years ago, a man had shown up at Henry's current place of work. He spoke with a heavy accent and said he was looking for his son, who he'd unknowingly fathered at a company party. If he had known, he would have gladly raised Henry, who had instead been put up for adoption. Felix Nylund had been dying, and Henry's biological mother had taken pity on the man. When she’d revealed Henry's existence, Felix had tracked him down.

The short time Henry knew his father was good and happy and even though he didn't have a fortune to leave Henry, he spoiled Henry with material items, acted like the father Henry always wished he had, and through a video chat had introduced Henry to his family. Henry's grandmother never failed to send him gifts and treats, even now with Felix long gone.

"That's cool." Bendy said, smiling as he made a rainbow across the screen. Henry smiled too, but his eyes were a little sad.

After thirty-four versions of Bendy's Awesome Drawing, Bendy grew bored. Henry didn't have much to entertain children with, and he wasn't going to leave the house without Joey's permission, and if the hell show couldn't awaken him, nothing would.

Getting Boris back from Linda was a no go, since Alice was still AWOL, and his dog, descended from mighty wolves, was afraid of a less than one ounce canary. The fact that Henry, a grown man, was also afraid of the bird didn't mean anything.

Coincidentally, Henry was pretty sure he knew bird talk for 'servant' and 'fuck you'.

Henry couldn't wait until Susie was back and could take her bird home. Speaking of, Henry opened the group chat. No doubt it had blown up.

 

ThomasConnermel: Holy fucking hell.

GrantCrackers: Nope.

FranksandBeans: At least the kid is cute? We have that going for us.

GrantCrackers: Clearly it's just a trick to make us trust him. Like how babies are cute so we don't abandon them at birth.

It went on, but it was mostly just walls of panic and the assumption Bendy was a demon, but he was a damn cute demon. By the most recent texts, everyone was gushing over how cute he was, for a demon's spawn.

Henry got a private message from Wally.

Wally Franks: Did you give the kid the rabbit?

Henry Ross: Oh, right.

"Since you're bored with that, I got something for you." Before Bendy could question it, Henry rushed over, and brought the box from where he'd left it beside the door. He handed it to Bendy, who assessed it before opening it.

"Hai!" Bendy screeched. "It's so cute!" He laughed as he pulled the hand stitched rabbit out of the box. "Thanks, Henry!"

"Consider it a late or early birthday gift." Henry replied as he took a picture, sending it to Wally. "Say, when is your birthday?"

"February 10th."

"Early and late then."

"Yup!"

"You're already almost seven. Interesting."

"I don't want to be seven. Joey said that's when things start to suck." This was a rather haunting phrase, but true. For Joey at least.

"Being seven wasn't bad for me. Hopefully it's just a Joey thing."

"Yeah, hopefully." Bendy stared at his new toy, then hugged it. "He says his name is Coel"

"That's a good name. I remember a cat toy I used to know before your father stole it."

"Akette?"

"Yes? How do you know that?" Henry asked, very confused.

It was Bendy's turn to rush off, after placing Coel the bunny on the recliner. He dug through his bag of items, until he pulled out a long gone familiar stuffed cat. He excitedly presented it to Henry. "Since you gave me Coel you can have Akette!"

Henry took the toy in an instant, hugging it just like Bendy had hugged Coel. "I missed this! Sammy gave this to me when I was a little kid but Joey took it." Akette was slightly worn, and her nose was missing, but it was his old toy. "Thank you, Bendy."

"You're welcome." Bendy's brow knotted in consideration. “You talked about Sammy before and Joey has said stuff before about Sammy. What's Sammy like?"

Henry chuckled. That was a loaded question.

“Sammy's…decent. He’s not really all that bad until you anger him or scare him. Or call him Samuel.” As too many teachers who dealt with him had apparently complained about at parent-teacher interviews.

“Like I don't like being called Benjamim?”

“Kinda. His main first name actually is Sammy. He’s Sammy James. But people think Samuel is his first name, and Sammy's just a nickname. And they think James is his middle name.” The last part was more understandable since Sammy didn't have a proper middle name. Just an initial.

“Do they always try and claim they’re right, but they're so wrong?" Bendy rolled his eyes, and stuck out his tongue.

“Yes!" Why strangers thought they had a choice in others' names was the greatest mystery. "It's so annoying, right?”

“I’m Bendy or Ben. Not Benjamim! Grandpa always calls me Benjamin. I’m not Benjamin. But I'm not Benjamim either.”

“And I’m only Henrik when it means something. Otherwise I’m Henry.”

Then Bendy dropped a bombshell.

“My middle name is Henry, ya know?”

“Oh?”

Ben being named as such, when Henry's other last name was Bentsen, could be brushed off as a coincidence, but this was way too blatant. Joey had named his son after Henry, in two ways. It was a little overwhelming.

Henry wasn't crying. Certainly not.

“I didn't even know why until Joey said your name when I met you. Then I forgot to tell you my middle name was Henry until now.” Bendy bounced, seeming to be either looking for acceptance, or something more.

"I guess that does make you my kid. I have my name on you." Henry would think this through later. For now he would just smile, and be thankful he had this.

Chapter Text

Henry and Ben spent another hour or so finding tasks to take up their time, and in all that, Henry became dead on his feet. Eventually they switched back to watching cartoons, and Henry allowed for more episodes of the hellish show, but the crude interpretation of superheroes couldn't keep Henry's eyes open for long.

Henry wasn't going to leave Bendy the only one awake, aside from Alice and her mystery location, but he really needed some rest. Bendy didn't seem against the idea, as he'd already found and draped a blanket over Henry. Henry suspected Bendy just wanted full control of Henry's streaming services. Considering he'd been eying some adult animation Henry had in his recently watched, it would be unwise to let him freely choose.

But Henry really needed to sleep.

Badly.

There's only so much coffee can do after three days. Or had it been four?

Henry decided to text Linda. Maybe she could help.

 

Henry Ross: Could you watch this kid for me?

Linda Sierra: No.

Henry Ross: Could you keep watching Boris then? I'm back from the store, but Alice is still AWOL.

Linda Sierra: Sure! It's nice having Boris. We've been watching old movies together.

Henry Ross: Do you have to stop by your restaurant today?

Linda Sierra: No. I got a new chef who seems to know what she's doing. I decided to take a sick day.

Henry Ross: Flu? That's going around.

Linda Sierra: Probably. I hope.

Henry Ross: What else could it be?

Linda Sierra: Um. I'll tell you later when i know for sure. I'm going to wait a more couple weeks before I go to a doctor.

Linda Sierra: Go find Alice for all our sakes.

Henry Ross: Okay. Feel better.

Henry was a little concerned for his friend, but he was more concerned by how tired he was. Linda didn't like to be worried over anyways, and didn't need to be. She had her shit together more than Henry ever would.

Henry wasn't going to last much longer, thanks to his terrible sleeping habits, so he texted the only other nearby person. It was both a blessing and a curse that most of the group was out of country.

 

Henry Ross: I know I saw you just hours ago, but how would you like to come over and meet Ben?

Wally Franks: Let me guess. You and the jerk both need sleep. Hopefully separately.

Wally Franks: But sure! I'll watch him. He looked so cute. Must take after his mother.

Henry Ross: Wally just because you hate the man doesn't mean you can't have eyes. At least I can admit he looks good.

Wally Franks: I have eyes and I bet I’ll see a rat.

Wally Franks: I'm guessing you see the results of fine genetics.

Henry Ross: :(

"Who ya talking to Henry?" Bendy suddenly asked, having crawled onto the recliner so he could look at Henry's phone screen. "Don't worry. I don't read much." The way Bendy's eyes glinted said that he at least recognized some of the words though.

"Your uncle Wally wants to meet you."

"I have an uncle?"

"He might as well be."

Joey had certainly treated Wally like a little brother. So it was a little sad that they'd reached this point.

It had actually been Joey who introduced Wally to the range of hairstyles Wally still tended to use. Short and manageable, but long enough that Wally had something to pull and bite at when nervous.

It was because Joey had accidentally burnt off most of Wally's hair. Wally was more comfortable presenting as male when he didn't have hair flowing down his back, since his mother would have never let him cut it at the time. That, along with Joey being the first to decide Wally's dead name didn't fit him and insisting on at least calling him Mar, had later allowed Wally to be more honest in who he was.

Wally would probably deny all this now. Any good thing Joey did for anyone seemed tainted.

 

Wally Franks: I'll be over soon. I will be raiding your chocolate.

Henry Ross: <3

"So is uncle Wally nice?" Bendy asked, now firmly perched like a cat on the recliner armrest despite the many times Henry had told him not to.

"You can be the judge of that, but I think he's nice."

"Well you seem to know things so he must be nice!" Bendy smiled, and that was that.

While they waited for Wally to show up, Bendy stayed glued to the screen, as Henry texted his co-workers to make them aware that he might not be into work for the next few days. Groans about, but they adored him, so quickly they scrambled to take over his work.

It was five minutes later when there was a knock on the door. Bendy bolted to the sound, and opened the door in excitement.

"Hello!"

"Hi." Wally replied, waving. He hadn't expected the child to answer the door, but it was absolutely adorable. "You're even cuter in person."

"Correct answer." Bendy said, nodding in approval of Wally. Wally raised an eyebrow.

"Pretty sure that really makes you Joey's kid." Wally snorted. "Am I allowed in?" Wally asked of both Henry and Bendy.

"Yes, you'll do." Bendy said, while Henry gestured, holding back a laugh.

Wally was all smiles until he spotted Joey on the couch, still passed out. He stomped over, frowning, and stood over Joey.

"The devil himself." Wally studied Joey's face. "Fine, Henry. I'll give you this. He finally grew into his features." Wally grumbled. "Shawn's still way better looking. Grant too."

"You'd have better luck with Shawn."

"Yeah, I guess you'd know that best."

"I would." Despite how it ended, the fallout of his and Grant's relationship was not a sore spot for Henry. They just realized they had conflicting needs and desires, or lack of, in Grant's case. They still occasionally went out or stayed at one another's houses, but the romance was gone, and it really never existed in the first place.

"So....what's Joey's ploy? Another sacrifice? Money?" Wally turned to Bendy. "Who's your mom?"

"Don't know. She's gone." Bendy answered.

"Gone how?"

"Wally." Henry cut in sharply. "You're here to bond with him, not upset him."

"But I don't care." Bendy said, a little bit confused by the ongoing events.

"We're dropping it." Henry yawned. "I'm going to pass out right here. Any issues, try and wake me up, okay? I really hate to do this, but..."

"It's fine, Hen." Wally crouched down and ruffled Bendy's hair. Bendy scowled and flattened his hair back down. "We'll be cool."

Henry looked to Bendy for confirmation, and Bendy nodded. So Henry pushed the recliner back as far as it would go, and turned over onto his side. Wally was pretty sure Henry went out like a light. Henry seriously needed to sleep more.

Wally looked back to Joey, and decided it really wouldn't be worth it to kill him in his sleep.

“Should have known his guest was Joey. Henry only talked this much, consistently, when Joey was still around.” Wally said, more to himself.

"Huh? What do you mean?" Bendy asked.

"Well, Henry doesn't usually talk, at all. When Boris is around, he tends to, but I remember that aside from swearing we didn't hear a word from him for five years! It's freaky when he speaks."

"I don't see why."

"Imagine if a rock suddenly started talking."

Bendy hummed in consideration at this, then nodded.

"I would be surprised because a rock was talking but then I'd love it."

"That's...reasonable." Wally said. Bendy nodded.

"Yes."

"So....your name is Ben." Wally scratched the back his head. In his excitement he forgot he knew little about this child. "Is it short for something?"

"Bendy."

"Why?"

Bendy gave Wally a thousand year stare.

"Because I'm Ben Drew. Ben D. Bendy. Don't forget."

"Oh-kay." This was for sure Joey's kid. No doubt about that. Wally would bet his favourite hat that Bendy was sucking up to Henry like Joey used to, or else Wally might have heard a few complaints from Henry.

"So what do you want to know about me? Since you're my uncle and all."

Now that was sweet. Wally felt a sense of pride. He must have heard it from Henry, but it still meant Wally had just been called uncle.

“Does your hair naturally do that?” Wally gestured to the way Bendy's hair curled upwards starting at his ears, and because Bendy’s bangs and the top of his hair was mostly flat and neat, and the bottom and back of his hair, while messy and curled, stayed down, it looked like the child had horns. A devil’s mullet.

"I think so. It always goes like this."

"I wish my hair looked that awesome."

"Your hair is fine."

"But yours is better."

"Yes."

Some higher power must be laughing at Wally right now.

"Now that we have that out of the way, want to raid Henry's chocolate?"

"Henry has chocolate? Why didn't he tell me?" Bendy pouted, but nodded. "We're going to eat all his chocolate."

So Bendy followed Wally to the kitchen, as Wally noticed something.

"Hey, where's Boris?"

"I think Henry put him somewhere so the evil bird couldn't hurt him."

Wally stopped, and Bendy crashed into him.

"Alice is loose?"

"She's somewhere. Don't know where. Watch out. That's what Henry said. Now, chocolate."

"Honestly, mood." Wally replied, opening the pantry. The Alice problem could wait. Heaven awaited in Henry's pantry. "He has them sorted by country. If I didn't consider him a brother I'd marry this man."

"Why?" Bendy asked as he held his hands out for some of the chocolate Wally had grabbed. Wally handed him the entire box.

"It's just an expression. I wouldn't really marry him for anything."

"Okay." Bendy was staring wide at the unopened box of chocolate, just for him. He sat down right there and ripped the packaging off. He took a handful of the chocolate. "Yum."

"I like your style." Wally sat down beside Bendy with his own box of chocolate.

Wally was halfway through his box, Bendy vibrating a little beside him, when Wally's cell started playing rock music. His text ring for Shawn.

 

Shawn: Can I ask you somethig about this whole Joey thing?

Wally: Yeah?

Shawn: what thee hell happens? Never one is saying Henry is a precious boy he idd nothing wrong but Henry is evil.

Wally: Henry was not at fault. Joey attacked him first.

Shawn: How?

Wally: Joey assaulted Henry for a stupid ritual, Henry attempted to kill Joey in retaliation.

Shawn: That simple?

Wally: Yes.

Wally: Which is why I can’t believe that Henry is just….accepting this and thinking Joey deserves a second chance.

Wally: Wait. What did Henry do that's so evil?

Shawn: He cast that What's New Pussycat and Its Not Unusual video onto my TV. Evil.

Wally: that's not that much.

Shawn: one Every week for the last six months.

Shawn: So what's joey like?

Wally: On my ninth birthday he set my carpet on fire using my mother's hairspray and my dad's blowtorch. Think that, but on a larger scale.

"What's your opinion on fire, Ben?"

"It's cool! Well. Hot."

Shitty.

 

Wally: Joey and Henry shared a love of fire. And setting things on fire.

Shawn: Yikes

Shawn: Was fire involvewith this great incident?

Wally: I'm not sure, but probably.

Shawn: Evryond is bejing really quite while also complaining

Wally: Well, you did show up after Joey left.

Shawn: Would I have liked Joey?

What honest answer was there? For anyone else, Wally would have said no, but Wally could rarely be dishonest with Shawn.

Wally: Yes. If he'd been with me and Dad when we found you, he would have broke your door down and punched your parents for not letting you inside.

Shawn: Then what's so bad about him now?

Wally was about to go on a rant when something occurred to him.

 

Wally: I really can't say now, but before, he lied. He did terrible things. So now, I am untrusting of anything he could possibly do.

 

Chapter Text

When Joey awoke, he was groggy, confused, and it was still light out. How little he'd thought before passing out assumed it'd be night when he woke.

Something wasn't right.

At some point, his shirt had hiked up, and he had a mouthful of fabric. But that wasn’t it. Spitting out the fabric, he also wiped off water dripping down his face. Water? Yes, that was the issue. Vision coming into focus, he spotted the source of the mysterious water.

Someone, smirking, had a dripping water gun. Some who was....

Quite short, but threatening, taking so much from Henry. Why, with their similar eye colors and shared wavy curls, all too many in the past had mistaken them for actually being related. That was how Joey knew immediately who this person was.

"Mar?" Joey sleepily grinned, waving.

"It's...it's Wally now." Wally seemed a little taken aback. "I...." Whatever Wally had been expecting, it wasn't this.

Wally could accept Joey's presence, but he hadn't expected a twinkle and an aura of honesty that Henry only told legends of.

"Wally. Yes. That's a perfect name." Even as the twinkle disappeared, the aura of honesty remained. "I can't even begin to describe how sorry I am for everything I put you through."

"Really? You're really sorry?" Somehow, Wally could believe that. "You didn't seem all that apologetic last I saw you."

"I was a different man then. Broken, I want to say, but it doesn't excuse my actions."

"No way." Wally muttered in disbelief.

"Yes."

"I expected to catch you in a lie. Yet you might actually be honest."

"Yes. I can see where you might get that. Now," Joey stretched out his limbs. "May I ask how you've been these last eight years and why you're in Henry's home?"

Wally gestured to the chair, where Henry was sprawled, breathing lightly. Cute. What was cuter was that Bendy was passed out across Henry's stomach.

"Henry invited me over to watch your kid." But Wally outright avoided Joey's first question.

"Do you like him?"

"He's a good kid."

"Why is he asleep? He got a full night and he stopped taking naps when he was four." As Joey's mother complained about far too much.

"Chocolate crash. He tried passing out beside you but you're a big man on a small couch and that wasn't quite working for him." Wally's eyes danced with amusement,

"You let him have chocolate? Why?"

"I'm taking my role as his new fun uncle very seriously."

Joey paused, thoughtful. Wally deserved this, yes. But it would be Joey looking after the boy's sugar hangover.

"Can I hug you?" Joey asked, sitting up.

Wally looked startled, but nodded after a few seconds.

"Sure, but my wallet's not on me, so don't go looking to pickpocket."

"I can agree to those terms."

Instead of Joey standing up to hug Wally, Wally sort of fell onto Joey, hugging his long lost older brother type figure instead of the other way round.

"I can't forgive you like Henry has, but I'd be cool with being a little distrustful but working towards something. I want to be an uncle, and you seem kinda chill now." Wally said kindly, but then his tone sharpened. "But if you do anything to hurt Henry again, I'll stab you in the back deeper than you did to all of us eight years ago. Got it?"

Joey nodded, and then returned the hug. Wally pulled away and stood back up quickly afterwards.

"Now that we got that out of the way," Wally tossed the water gun beside Joey. "Henry passed out before I could ask, but what did you tell Henry to get him to like you again?"

"I apologized. Although I don't think he's really fully forgiven me." Joey frowned. "We haven't actually talked it all over anyways. Not that I expect him to forgive me even with a full explanation."

Was there more than just what Sammy had told everyone? Sammy was too bluntly honest to keep out details, especially about something so terrible. But Joey's face said the entire truth wasn't as known as everyone thought.

"You...you haven't had a serious talk?"

"We've had a serious talk. Just not in depth..."

"He's been defending the hell out of you and he doesn't even-" Wally was pretty sure Henry wasn't thinking with his brain. For sure, his heart. Maybe something else too. "Wake him up. Whatever the hell really happened, you tell him."

"I don't think Ben needs to hear this." Joey said, shaking his head. He just wanted to keep avoiding it.

"I'll take him to Henry's bedroom and show him my phone if he wakes up. Better yet," Wally made a point of dramatically walking to the sleeping child, and scooping him up."I'm holding Bendy hostage until you two idiots talk."

Joey considered making a fuss as Wally stalked out of the room, but Wally was right.

Taking a breath to calm his growing nerves, Joey got off the couch, and went to stand beside Henry. He stood there for some time actually, contemplating his choices. Henry snoozed on the entire time.

Well, it was really now or never.

"Wake up, Sleeping Beauty~!" Joey leaned in for a kiss, and Henry's opened one eye.

"No."

"Not sleeping then."

Henry blinked a few times, looking like death should have taken him in his sleep, but so did Joey. They did tend to have similar sleeping patterns, and while Joey cleaned up his act once Bendy slept through the night, it wouldn't be too much to think Henry hadn't changed.

"No. Joey, what the hell?" Henry groaned. "When did you grow a beard- right. This is now." Henry sighed as he wiped the sleep from his eyes.

"Yes. It's now."

"Does it have to be?" Henry asked, not fully there in the world of the waking.

"Unfortunately."

"Where's Wally? He's here."

"He's holding Ben hostage in your room until we have a longer talk about what happened eight years ago." These words forced Henry through the vale, and even though it was only a few hours sleep he got, it was much more then he'd gotten in a while, so he was thinking just a little more rationally.

"Okay, where do we start? What haven't we covered?"

"So much, Henry."

"Look, Joey." Henry pulled his chair up. "It was shitty what you did, and you seriously hurt not just me, but everyone. I want to move on. But...I guess...there's something." Henry grabbed for a cup of coffee that wasn't there. Frowning slightly, he still continued on. "You weren't supposed to come back. I remember telling you that. So what really was the spark of a dream that finally told you come back?"

This wasn't something even Joey was aware of. It was certainly hard to describe.

"It...was a feeling. A silly vision, a true dream. That maybe if I had your forgiveness I could fully move on."

"Move on from what?"

"The terrible person I had become." That was the best he could put together, but it ran deeper.

Henry laughed a little, bitterly.

"I guess one thing everyone could agree on was that you were a terrible person by the end." A fault of circumstances, and far too many unacknowledged problems. "I'm glad you're not him anymore.

"I'm very glad of that as well. The liar got his due." In a wake up call no one should have to go through, in love or not. Then in the eyes of a trusting little baby.

"That day," Henry started, but then faltered briefly. "You said everything would work out..look at us now. That was your biggest lie."

"Yes, it was."

There was a noticeable pit of anger growing in Henry's chest. He didn't want to let it release, when the atmosphere was only calm, but it needed to be said?

"Joey, you tried to summon a fucking demon sober and look, fuck, I don't care about that. It's that you hurt me when I was vulnerable, and that if Sammy hadn't been there you'd be dead, because I panicked!" Henry yelled, and Joey shrunk back, but he looked resigned. "But if I'm being honest, I have no idea what actually happened."

"Huh?"

"Sammy gave me the gist of it, but I was in such panic mode that my clearest memory of the day is telling you to leave."

Joey's eyes widened at Henry's words.

"That would explain a bit."

"Look," Henry pulled down the front of his shirt, pointing to a barely visible scar across the left side of his chest. "They make it out like you terribly assaulted me -mentally, you did, a bit more than I'd like- but that's the only injury I noticed."

"The blood of a heart. The actual ritual called for an actual heart, but I figured the general area would count. Probably why the ritual failed." Joey paused. "That day, I don't know what the hell I was thinking. I do still believe in magic and the spirits, but I'd be foolish to think I'm capable of controlling it."

"Josephine Allen Drew!"  Henry snapped.

"Henrik Elliott Bentsen-Ross. Yes, I can say names too."

"That's not what I meant. Look me directly in the eyes and tell me that you would have been able to take my heart out." Henry requested.

"Never yours." Joey said, not breaking eye contact. "Others maybe, then, but not now."

"Then maybe you weren't as bad a person as you think you were if you were thinking of me. "

"Still pretty shitty."

"Oh certainly. No denying that. But Sammy probably heavily exaggerated what you did." Henry admitted. "I mean, I don't really remember it, but I guess I never fully believed Sammy's version of events."

Joey was silent for a moment, sad consideration crossing his face.

"I wasn't trying to summon a demon. Not really."

"Uh?"

"Some foolish part of me really believed I could bring her back...."

Henry couldn't believe what he'd just heard.

"...no. That's not what that was really about. No way."

When Joey was seven, his grandmother had died. Joey nodded, confirming the unfortunate truth.

"Why didn't you tell anyone?"

"It was already so long before, and I also believed that I'd be called foolish. If it was just me and you, I would have said something, but Sammy was there, and-"

Among so many things that happened around the death, Sammy had said the wrong things, unable to really comprehend being sad over losing someone to death at the time. Henry knew know that Sammy certainly would have been devastated had something happened to Henry or Joey as children, and now he had a much better concept of empathy and expressing his own sorrow.

But then, when Joey had tearfully revealed what happened, Sammy, who never had a relative he liked, had plainly asked Joey why he was so upset.

It was clear that Joey never truly forgave Sammy for that. They remained friends, but Joey stopped idolizing Sammy. He started finding out all of Sammy's flaws, and making sure Henry knew them all.

Joey certainly wouldn't trust Sammy with such precious information.

"My god...Joey" This changed almost everything.

Henry didn't blame Joey for breaking down then, lowering to his knees and crying. Henry certainly hoped Ben wasn't hearing this.

Henry was quick out of his chair, and just as quick beside Joey, who pulled Henry into a side hug, crying into the top of Henry's head.

Maybe, just maybe, it would be best for them both to just stay here, and let out all the tears.

Chapter Text

Truly, what had it been like standing out in the cold, not knowing if the door would be slammed on potential? If Henry had closed the door, would there have been another chance for him and Joey?

Henry didn’t want to think about it too much, but he pitied the version who turned his back. Even not knowing the death of Joey’s namesake had been the nagging factor, Henry had chosen to let him in.

Here they were now, Joey resting his head on Henry’s. Softly, Henry sang a song, distressed at how vacant Joey’s eyes were. The song did nothing to help Joey, but helped Henry settle his own feelings.

They were in it for the long run, weren’t they? Together again, but saddened and held down by what had been done, and what had happened. At least they could brace it together.

When Joey dozed off, Henry didn’t dare move from his spot, but he did take out his phone.

Henry had a text from Timmy telling him that all his work until the end of the year would be covered. He knew it was a lot to ask of his co-workers, especially with Ollie on parental leave, but even if he went to work at a time like this, he wouldn’t be able to concentrate.

He texted his thanks, glancing up at Joey. He was worth a few missed paying days.

Joey only slept for about five minutes before his eyes blinked open once more. The nap, however short, had helped, as there was a little more life in Joey’s eyes.

“Are you feeling a little better now?” Henry asked as Joey looked around in mild confusion.

“Yeah. For now.” Joey said, looking down at his lap. "So how long am I allowed to stay now that we've resolved that...issue?"

"I think it depends on your commitments." Henry hoped that there was none to speak of. Now that he truly had his friend back, he didn’t want to lose him again. "Joey, do you have a wife?"

Joey choked on his breath.

"God, no."

"Then…how does Ben exist?”

“Artificial insemination.” Joey frowned, looking both annoyed and sad. “I still don't want to talk about his mother."

“I can deal with that.” That made sense, and Henry figured if Joey hadn’t been close with the mother, she might not be involved in Ben’s life.

“Should we tell Wally that we’ve had our talk?” Joey asked, just as there was a sniffle from nearby.

Bendy was standing at the entrance, Wally behind him, peering around the corner. Clearly, there was no need to alert Wally, as he now knew. The matter at hand was Ben, who was rather distressed by the tears in his father’s eyes.

“Joey, why are you crying?” Instead of waiting for answer, Bendy raced to his father and hugged him. “You only do that in your sleep.”

Oh.

“Do I really?”

“Only sometimes, but you do.”

Joey looked at Henry expectantly.

“Joey didn’t cry when I saw him sleeping.” Henry pointed out.

“I did say only sometimes” Bendy said. “But I think it’s because you make Joey happy. Too bad we’re leaving.”

“Were are?” Joey asked, a little bit of amusement creeping into his misery. “That’s news to me.”

"We're really staying?"

Joey ruffled Bendy’s hair, and Bendy did not rush to fix it.

"Yes, for as long as Henry let's us."

Bendy smiled, and launched himself at Henry.

“Thanks, Henry!” Bendy hugged Henry, which Henry returned. Joey wrapped his arms around the both of them, and then looked at Wally, who looked like felt out of place, but he really wasn’t.

“You too, Wally.”

Wally grinned, and ran to join the group hug.

“Shame Boris isn’t here.” Wally said, a bit of his disappointment clear in his voice.

“Probably for the best. Look at who’s on Joey’s head.”

The little yellow canary, damnation on earth, was nestled in Joey’s hair, acting like she hadn’t tried killing each of them on separate occasions. Alice made a few sounds, as if to acknowledge she was queen and she should have been noticed earlier.

“Does she like Joey, or is she innocently getting close to his throat for the kill?” Wally wondered.

“Stop.” Bendy said with a ‘are you serious’ look on his face.

This got laughs from everyone else, even Wally.

Finally, they could say they found peace, and that the cold was no more.