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Illusion IS Reality

Chapter Text

-Reality is an illusion-

Prologue

I blink my eyes open, when had I closed them? Something was wrong. Everything felt strange. I blinked again and realized I only had one eye. What? How?

A car horn blared, the sound getting louder and closer. Their headlights blind me.

I reached my hands up to touch my face. Thin black limbs, like tubes came into view and I blink at them, stunned. These are mine? I wiggled my little fingers, they were kinda cute but what was going on?

I finally began feeling up my face and if it weren't for my ability to stay rational even during a panic attack...

I was calm even when the car was flung into the air, my side of the vehicle was crushed in.

...I'm sure I'd have been freaking the fuck out right now. Flat and smooth, it didn't feel like skin. It was harder and warm to the touch. Firm when I pressed down, none of the squishiness I expect from flesh. I felt around my head and found that there was no difference between my head and body. I found my legs, thin and black like my hands. It felt weird, knowing that my entire body seemed to be just one large head and tiny limbs.

Weightless, I was floating. As if gravity no longer was. The world outside the windshield was rotating.

I realized I was lying down on my back. Everything was flat. Why? I couldn't sit up. No leverage. A flat body lying on a flat surface. Like a piece of paper stuck to a table via some static cling along its surface area. I pushed against the ground with my arms, I wiggled and kicked my legs to try and lift myself. With more effort that it really should have taken I managed to heave myself into a sitting position.

The heavy thump as gravity reasserted itself. I hear the crunch of glass and metal.

I was on a bed. I can feel the sheets beneath me now. I scanned the room, white walls, white ceiling, white sheets. White, white and more white. Was this a hospital? No, there were no machines or medical smells. How can I smell when I have no nose?

I hung from the seatbelt. Dangling upside down from the restraints. The edge was digging into my throat.

The room was huge. Rooms have always seemed big to me. I'm small, always been smaller than everyone else. But this was even larger than usual. Where was I?

His voice is frantic as he shouts my name. He's reaching for me as he hangs suspended besides me. I tell him I'm fine. Am I fine? I think I'm in shock.

Aside from the bed I was sitting on there was a triangular(?!) door on the other side of the room, a half open closet, a set of drawers...essentially it looked like a bedroom. A very plain bedroom. Why was there no color? I tried to stand but my body felt weird and it was hard to balance on these thin limbs. Is this what it was like to be flat? All this wobbling back and forth?

He says he smells gas. There's a leak. We need to get out.

As I struggle I hear the door open and look up to see a triangle. A large orange triangle with a single eye blinking down at me. I immediately understand what was happening. I've read so many fanfics about moments like this. To confirm my theory I try to look down at my body, unconsciously stretching my frame to bend forwards.

I see yellow bricks.

Well. Fuck.

We don't get out in time. The last thing I remember is a searing heat.

-The universe is a hologram-
-End Prologue-

Chapter Text

Illusion is Reality

-Unending Shepard Tone-

Chapter 1

I'm calmly panicking. Luckily no one here notices my strange behavior (I hope). I am passive on the outside even as my thoughts race at speeds where I can barely know what I'm thinking. Ok. What do I know about my situation?

I apparently died. Car accident. And I've somehow ended up in inside Bill Cipher. At least I think I'm Bill. I'm a yellow triangle. Also I'm a baby. The orange triangle is apparently my mother?! There's a dark gray triangle I glimpsed beyond the door who I can only assume is my father...

I don't even know how male and female works with geometric shaped creatures. I just figured the orange one is my mom since she (they?) picks me up and is carrying a bottle that I assume is for me. For all I know the orange one is some kinda nanny. Also, on the topic of food...

Eating is SUPER weird. Orange holds a bottle of milk(?) up to me and carefully brushes a finger along the side of my eye. A gentle movement of up, down, up, down until I blink. Then my eye is a mouth and she puts the bottle in it for me to begin suckling. Also, I'm blind.

Fan-freaking-tastic.

How a species evolved to go blind when they eat is a mystery. They probably have no natural predators. I contemplate this as I suckle. What is this stuff? Doesn't taste like milk. It's bland and faintly tastes of...wheat? Wheat and wheat by products. I couldn't stop myself from laughing. I cough out the bottle and Orange fusses over me.

Of course I don't understand a word she's saying. Shit. Am I going to have to learn this language? Really? I finally finish coughing (choking on wheat drink eww) and I look up at Orange. She looks...fond? It's hard to tell with no face to see. Her eyes are curved like she's smiling though. She wipes around my eye with a soft cloth before bringing the bottle back up. I blink my eye into a mouth without prompting and drink more. Hopefully I won't make myself laugh from Night Vale memes this time.

Curse my thought process, I grumble mentally as "waiting for the bus in the rain" begins playing in my head.

Oh god, this was real wasn't it? I'm not dreaming, I really am in some crappy self insert fanfic as a baby Bill Cipher before he became Bill Cipher. What even is my name at this point? Do I even want to know? Apparently Bill's real name was something that can cause head explosions from just hearing it. Or does that only apply to humans? I'm not human right now. But my mind is human, I think? I am so not ready for this.

During my introspection the bottle became empty and I was startled when Orange began shaking me up and down. What? What?! WTF?!

I burped.

Orange cooed at me, put me down on the bed and draped a blanket over me. Ok. Shaking triangle babies is a-ok. Got it. I'm surprised my bed doesn't have bars. Aren't they worried I would crawl off and fall? Orange strokes my head gently and I have trouble keeping my eye open. I'm exhausted already. Barely been awake for a few minutes but geez...

I tried to stay awake but Orange's hand is gentle and my eye slips shut. If I'm lucky this'll all be a dream. I've had weirder.

---

This was NOT a dream.

A routine began over the next few days. I would wake up and try ineffectually to stand up, Orange would come get me for more feeding time or bringing me out to the living room and putting me in a playpen. I see Gray sometimes but they're usually absent. At work maybe? Now that I have more time to observe I've found that the rooms in this house have walls at weird angles and my bed was triangle shaped. I found more triangular furniture littered throughout the house. My room has a triangular door. So do most rooms in the house. There is no TV in the house. I did spy a bookshelf, scarcely filled, but BOOKS! I itched to check out the books. The kitchen was pretty basic. Counter top, stove, refrigerator and washing machine. I'm shocked it's so...normal. What caught my attention was the food dish on the ground. We have a pet?!

I haven't been to all the rooms yet. I hear the sounds of an animal behind one of the doors. That's probably the family pet. I haven't been able to see it and I am very curious what it could be. I make curious sounds at the door and wave my widdle arms at it. Orange says something I don't understand and holds up another bottle.

Still not sure what the heck I'm drinking. It's a white liquid, then again everything here is white except us. I've also found that the reason everything looks flat is because there are no shadows. Everything is white with thick black outlines. There is no depth or shades of gray. Just black and white lines that make up the shape of the world around me.

Everything was flat while still being a 3 dimensional space we can walk in and around. Anything observed will look flat from whichever angle you are seeing it from. We were flat objects, seeing Orange from the side only revealed a black line.

As Orange shook me up for another burping I found myself wondering how my anatomy worked. Do I have organs inside here? Is my body just a hard outer shell to protect some squishy inner bits? Did I have a brain? Well obviously I did or I wouldn't be thinking...right?

Do I bleed if I'm injured? What would it take to injure me? I've felt up my bricks and they feel pretty solid. Can they get cracked? Can the bricks be moved? Can stuff seep into the cracks? How does the whole eye to mouth thing even work?

How does my digestive system work? I haven't pooped in all the time I've been here. Do I have optic nerves in my eyes? Where do they go when it becomes a mouth? Did I have a stomach? So many questions. My curiosity was always pretty intense. I would spend hours watching 'How its Made' or nature documentaries. I itched to explore this new world.

But right now I can barely even stay awake for a few hours. I can't even walk yet. Being a baby sucks. Not understanding the language sucked.

"我很无聊." I muttered in Cantonese.

Orange looked at me but obviously didn't know what I said. She simply mumbled something in a fond tone and rubbed along one of my sides. It felt nice, like being pet. My mom used to stroke my head like this. Under her gentle touch I fell asleep again.

----

I got to meet the family pet today!

I was brought out to the kitchen today to hear a high pitched tapping sound and I spotted a small creature running around. It was a mix of purple and blue and resembled a dog shaped tangram puzzle. As soon as it spotted me in Orange's arms it ran over and made excited clicking noises.

It's soooo cute~

I babbled nonsense sounds and made grabby hands at it. Orange laughed and bent down to hold me closer to our 'dog'. I eagerly pet it and giggled as it wiggled its tail. I noted that it had a single eye on its head, large and round in a dark brown color. It didn't appear to have a mouth, does it turn its eye into a mouth too?

I didn't get to play with the puppy as long as I would have liked but I got to watch it after I was fed. Orange nestled me into the playpen and I watched the dog run around me happily. Orange left the room to go do something (its not like I know what she does with her time when she's not with me) and I was left alone with the family pet.

"I wonder how YOUR biology works." I said to the dog, in English this time. It probably didn't make a difference what language I used, they wouldn't understand it anyway. The dog simply tumbled along the floor while clicking happily.

I spent my play time working out my limbs to try once more to move around. I can almost crawl now.

----

I was starting to pick up words. I will assume its due to that thing infants do to learn things faster. God I was bored. I taught myself how to read in my previous life at age 4 because of how incredibly bored I was, so yeah, I have been eyeing that bookshelf for weeks now. If only I could grab one to try and decipher the words. It would give me something to do so I didn't feel like I was wasting my life just sitting here.

I suppose I could give this new body of mine a more thorough examination. I blinked between eye and mouth over and over again to try and see if I could figure out how it worked. So far no luck but I have come to the realization that I do not have vocal chords. Speech isn't something done physically. I did not use my mouth to speak. Instead it seems more likely that this species has mild telepathic powers to 'send' speech outward. How this doesn't just transmit thoughts in general is a new mystery to ponder.

I was feeling up my bricks again. It really was just a smooth surface broken up only by the lines between the different bricks. It felt sort of like rubbing at my nails, if my nails were 50 times larger and covered my body. A smooth and hard surface. Unlike with rubbing my nails as a human, this body could feel every stroke along its surface. Did I have nerves running all along inside me? Or was there a different reason for the sensation? I traced along the lines of my bricks. The seem between my bricks were especially sensitive, like the difference between rubbing the back of your hand vs the palm. A little ticklish but not in the way that triggered laughter. I tried tickling myself and the most I got was uncomfortable. Huh, no body spasms. Fancy that.

Finally my fingers explored lower. I rubbed my legs, same as my arms. Smooth all over, nearly frictionless. Doesn't seem to have a skeletal structure underneath. It had more give to it than my body. While my body was like a hard shell (that could bend and stretch somewhat along the lines between my bricks) my arms and legs were mildly squishier. Nowhere near human flesh, its more like...my body had the firmness of hard plastic (like a phone) whereas my arms and legs are like soft plastic (like a filled water bottle) if I had to describe it.

I didn't have toes. My foot being one singular rounded end. How do I stand with this thing? These limbs were so thin I find it hard to believe the species can really move with them.

At last there was only one place left to explore. I stared uncomfortably between my legs. I couldn't bend far enough to actually SEE down there so it would be touch only. I glanced up to make sure Orange was still gone. She doesn't leave me alone too long by myself.

Deciding not to risk it just yet (how embarrassing would it be if she walked in on me) I made a note to put off the full body examination until Orange put me to bed. At least then I can be certain she would leave me alone for at least a few hours.

A few minutes later my paranoia paid off as Orange walked back into the room and lifted me up for another feeding. I was feeling sleepy soon after. Curse this infant body.

Now if only I can stay awake long enough to actually do what I need to...

I drifted to sleep under Orange's soft words and snuggled into the blankets she wrapped around me.

----

We were leaving the house for the first time today! I can barely contain my excitement as I wiggled and tried to look at everything around me. Orange was laughing fondly and Gray was even smiling!

I haven't seen Gray much at all but apparently this family outing was one he had time for. I was turning this way and that while Orange held me 'Ooh' ing at everything I could see.

Shapes of all colors filled the streets. Their bricks vibrant and their shapes many. I saw triangles of all shapes and sizes, squares, hexagons, pentagons and even a few circles. There were even some pentagons with their corners stretched out to look star-like. I saw long rectangles that took up a lot of space as they trudged along.

There were no cars, the roads filled with shapes walking or running to get places. There weren't even bikes or anything with wheels. I saw some families walking their 'dogs' and some children running around.

It was busier than I thought.

We walked along leisurely and I was pointing at everything I could as I asked "what's that?". I know they don't understand what I'm saying but Orange found my antics amusing. I heard conversations all around and tried as hard as I could to figure out what they were saying.

I could only catch a few words here and there 'hungry', 'going', 'good morning' and 'dog'.

How long was it going to take me to learn this language? If this species really uses telepathic communication then maybe I could just try and glean the meaning from their minds without having to manually learn the language? Must experiment further.

Finally we arrived at what I assume is a hospital. Oh, am I getting a check up? That's pretty cool, I can see what the medical technology is like he- WAIT! Doctors? What if they realize there's something off about me? What if the doctor can tell that my mind is more developed than it has a right to be? These things communicate with psychic powers or something so they might be able to tell!

Have I blown my cover? Was I acting strangely for a newborn of this species? I don't even know how baby shapes are supposed to behave! Aaaaaaahhhh!

As per usual to my panic attacks, I appeared perfectly serene on the outside even as I screamed inside my head. Ok! Calm down Jan, you can't always just assume the worse. This is probably just an ordinary check up to see how the baby is doing after the first few weeks. That sounds logical.

"为什么这发生在我身上?" I mumbled as I laid back in Orange's arms. No point in worrying myself to death over it. What will happen, will happen.

We head inside and after a short wait we were led into an examination room with an elderly pentagon doctor. He spoke with my parents and they didn't seem worried so I guess this was just a normal check up.

I giggled as they placed me onto the soft table. It was bouncy. Weee! Wow I'm easily distracted. The doctor took out a bunch of tools and set to work measuring my sides and angles. Orange tried to hold me still when I wiggled away from the cold ruler. Every measurement was carefully written down and for the most part I think everything was going fine.

Then the doctor checked my eyesight. He checked my mouth as well. He felt around my arms and legs and wrote something down for them as well. I shuddered at the feeling when he felt along my bricks, pressing down to test their firmness and scraping a tool against my seams. I jolted and kicked his arm during that test. It hurt! Orange seemed to be apologizing to the doctor for my behavior but he waved it off with a chuckle.

Well so far so good. When are we gonna be done? I'm actually starting to get bor- hey! Where are you touching?! I squirm and make a distressed sound as the doctor reached between my legs.

Fuck! Is he seriously checking my sex?! Shouldn't they have done this back when I was born?! Noooo stop this is so weird! I struggle and kick at his hands. Orange holds me down and I just scream and try to get free. The doctor is being very gentle but it still feels weird as his fingers feel around my bottom side.

To his credit, he's being entirely clinical in his search but there's a strange feeling building up and I have an instinctual urge to rub my legs together. As I'm still being held down the most I could do was whine and pulled against Orange's hands. The doctor grips at something, pulls and then gasps and drops his clipboard.

I hear my parent's concerned and confused inquiries. Orange lets go of me and I immediately pull my legs back together and curl up. Now that there wasn't the feeling of his hands on me I felt the tingling slowly die down as I clamped my legs together and cried. What the fuck?! Seriously?! I glance down at myself and notice a small protrusion between my legs. I don't get to examine it for long as it slides back inside me. What the actual fuck?!

There are raised voices around me. I hear my parents questioning the doctor and he looks shaken by something. Shit. There really is something wrong with me. Of course I have no idea what they are saying but it must be something bad as when the doctor explains what he found in a shaking voice my parents go silent.

With no knowledge of the language I can only rely on their tone of voice to piece together what was happening. Confusion and worry. Shock and disbelief. Questioning. More questions. Accusation. Protest. Worry. Assurances. More disbelief. The doctor actually leaves the room in a rush. My parents stand there with their eyes furrowed in confusion and worry.

I wipe the tears from my eye and sit up. "What's going on?" I ask even though I know they don't understand me. Orange looks at me with a worried expression. For a creature with no face she's really expressive. I whine and she makes a soothing noise while petting my side. She doesn't seem angry with whatever the doctor said, just unsure and sad.

What was the problem?! I wish I could understand what they were saying. From what I can figure out there was something wrong with my genitals? I shuddered at the thought. I can't believe the doctor had to touch me there. Then again, there doesn't seem to be anything between my legs from just looking so weird touching was probably the only way to find out if I was male or female. Am I male? Bill is a guy right? Wait, several billion genders, I'm probably something not quite male or female.

The doctor came back, there were more doctors with him and I had to brace myself when they all began inspecting me. This was going to be an uncomfortable day.

---

Chapter Text

Illusion is Reality

Chapter 2

-Truth is simply a way for the powerful to trick you into giving them more power-

---

I think I've figured out the problem. After being thoroughly poked and prodded by numerous different shapes for HOURS I think I know why they're so upset.

That strange 'thing' was once more coaxed out of me (is that my dick?!) And I finally got a good look at it. An oval shape was extending out from between my legs. The doctors were making numerous measurements and making distressed and unhappy sounds.

I came to the realization that as a triangle I'm probably not supposed to have round genitalia. There were numerous photos I saw them bring out to compare and argue over. They seemed to all be...shape dicks. I saw long thin isosceles, rectangles, octagonal rods and more bizarre shapes.

It would be awkward to see so many dick pics but considering they were just geometric shapes...

Now I know why they're so upset. So why won't they just STOP TOUCHING ME ALREADY?! I screamed, thrashed angrily and slapped at their hands. I curl around myself to shield my body. Just leave me alone! One doctor angrily tried to grab me and I bit him.

I am done. I am sick of this. I felt the oval slide back inside me and I shuddered in relief. It was short lived as I was manhandled into the air and more fingers prodded me. This time instead of pulling my oval out they were reaching inside (I have a hole as well?!). I screamed in rage and tried to bite them but I was held firm. The hands were clinical and I heard a metallic noise as they brought up yet another measurement tool and began inserting that too.

The only mercy here is that it didn't hurt. It felt weird and intrusive but was otherwise fine. It didn't feel pleasurable either which I was grateful for. I really didn't want to have to deal with anything THAT awkward.

Finally all the measurements were apparently done and I was placed onto a soft examination bed. A lot of notes were being jotted down and the doctors continued chattering. I can see bite marks on one of them and I sneered at him. Served him right.

I was exhausted from my struggling and I slumped onto the bed. When can I go home? I just want to sleep.

Finally my parents are allowed back in. Orange is immediately fussing over me and I relax into her arms as she cradles me. I cry quietly to myself as we head home.

---

My life changed after that. No longer was I allowed to just play, eat and sleep. As soon as I was awake and fed (sometimes not even) there would be lessons. An elderly Hexagon would be here in our house. He seemed to be a tutor or teacher. I would be forced to sit through lessons where he attempted to teach me how to read. This would be great except I still didn't even know the spoken language!

I'm just a god damn baby! What were they expecting from me? I did eventually pick up both reading and comprehension of the language but that's because I've got the mind of an adult along with an infants learning curve. A real baby wouldn't be able to focus as well as I did. The Hexagon (I call him Purple-ish) didn't even look proud when I finally started speaking and reading the words. He muttered something along the lines of 'Finally. Took you long enough to get it.' And I had to resist the urge to punch his stupid smug face.

With my body still being so young I had trouble staying awake and would often drift off in the middle of a lesson. Purple-ish would slap me awake and call me 'ungrateful' whenever this happened. Dear god, if the real Bill ever went through this shit then I completely understand why he straight up murdered them all. I was seething with fury just having to go along with this.

Orange sometimes looked like she wanted to say something but Purple-ish would snap at her and she'd flinch and leave the room. Sometimes the lessons go on too long and I don't get to eat. My hate for Purple-bitch was growing day by day.

Every week I would be tested on everything I've learned so far. It was stressful and annoying. Sure I had nothing else to do with my life...but it still sucked. I know I said I wanted to learn to read but I didn't want to be taught by this condescending shit bag.

I only got a little free time for myself at night after Orange puts me to bed. I spent that time thinking of happy things. Not my old life though, thinking about the family and friends I left behind only served to make me more miserable. I thought of all the stories I've read, movies and shows I've seen. The music I loved. They were all that kept me going. I didn't want to forget them. They were my only escape from this stress filled life.

I dreamed of anime and music. It wasn't much but it comforted me enough to endure yet another day of constant derision and study. I was picking up the language quickly. Soon I could read everything Purple-asshole threw at me. He never praised my progress. I tried not to let it get to me.

After I mastered reading and comprehension a new tutor came. This time an Octagon. I called him SalmonPink (Salmon for short). He started teaching me math. This at the very least was something I could pick up more easily. The counting system was similar aside from the fact that they went by a base 8 instead of base 10. Probably because we have 8 fingers.

Even if it was easier, the fact that they had a different base system threw me off enough that I still screwed up now and then. Of course it had to be base 8. I've always had the most trouble with multiplying by 8.

This went on for a while. Tutors coming in and out. Constant tests on my progress. Constant visits to the doctor for check ups on my growth. I had to endure more embarrassing probing. At least now I knew what they were saying. Their medical terms were weird. Insertion Piece is what my oval was called. The slit that they keep poking into is a Receiver Slot. I have both a Piece and a Slot. There were different combinations, only a Slot, only a Piece, both, neither and some who have multiples of either one in different shapes. I count myself lucky to only have one of each.

A few years must have passed by now. I'm a lot larger and I can walk around by myself. I can eat solid foods at the dinner table with my family. The food is still bland and I find myself dreaming of corned beef hash and other salty foods. I hate it here. The tutors have left after I passed a few more tests and for the first time I could almost relax...then Orange informs me that I was going to be starting school soon. Fuck my life.

I try to look on the bright side. I can meet other shapes my age. Maybe I could even make a friend. I latched onto that idea and as Orange helps me prepare for my first day of school I bounce around with pent up nerves.

The first thing I notice when I enter the classroom is that I am the only triangle. Orange is talking with the teacher and hands over a lot of legal looking documents. Oh right. Triangles generally work as physical laborers and soldiers. Our shape being the most rigid and powerful meant we could take more physical abuse without snapping. I learned that with my history tutor.

In other words. Triangles don't go to school with the other shapes. They had no need for a proper education. The most they needed to know was basic level reading which they learned in a triangle only school. But because of my round Piece, it meant that I can produce round children. So they had to train me up and educate me. Because a brainless triangle would only produce a brainless child, according to them. It was stupid but I'm actually grateful for the education, even if it was annoying and stressful.

There was a huge political issue with my existence as well. A triangle producing circular children was unheard of. But if I truly can make a round child...how would that affect the hierarchy?

Frankly I'm amazed they didn't just straight out kill me.

The teacher introduced me to the class. There was a lot of whispering and judgmental looks. A triangle in school. How weird. Why does he get special treatment? He produces round pieces? That must be a lie.

I take my seat next to a pale pink square. I say hello as friendly as I could but she just scoots her chair a little farther from me.

School was..interesting. My forced education at a young age actually meant I already knew everything they were teaching in class. I was bored out of my mind. At first I raised my hand to answer the questions but the teacher (who was a rectangle) stopped calling on me and said I should let someone else try to answer. It was a fair enough point so I just stayed quiet and daydream during class.

Unconsciously I would hum songs quietly to myself. Music apparently didn't exist here since everyone thought I was just making strange noises and distracting the other students.

The fact that this society doesn't know what music is horrified me more than I cared to admit.

I tried to show them. I sang during break, I hummed different melodies in different tempos to see if I could catch their attention. Aside from many strange looks I had no such luck.

What was wrong with these children?

I couldn't make any friends. No one wanted to talk to the weird triangle who makes strange sounds. We got our first test results back and I of course aced it. Pink saw my score and accused me of cheating. A fight might have started. We were called to the principals office and no matter what I said they still made me retake the test.

I aced the retake as well.

I could tell the other kids were bitter at being beaten by a triangle. My school life just went downhill from there.

I tried you know. I tried to be nice. I offered to help them. I explained things to them when I noticed them struggling but they just angrily told me off and got more hostile as days went on. I hated school. I wasn't learning anything new and everyone hates me. Why do I even have to be here?

I finally got to look at the books at home, sadly they weren't all that interesting, just rule and law books, dictionaries and construction manuals. At least the manuals are something new. I read about architecture. Apparently my father worked as a carpenter. He built houses for a living.

Normally I would be expected to follow in his footsteps but frankly no one knew what do do with me. There was a lot of paperwork my family had to fill out every month. I still had to go to the doctors for a check up regularly. Every time they would measure my Piece and every time they were disappointed that it was still a perfect oval.

As the years went by I found more and more stuff to distract me. Since I wasn't learning anything at school I had taken to grabbing books from the library to read during class. The teacher refused to call on me so I was never bothered about not paying attention. So long as I did well on the tests and homework no one cared.

I don't always get perfect scores. Sometimes we had reading comprehension questions that truly made me realize just how different their thought process was from mine. We had a short story about a Square that refused to be a merchant like his father and instead joined the army because he wanted to fight for his country. He was brutally killed on his first mission out in the field. We were asked to explain the message of the story. I wrote that it was about devoted patriotism. Everyone else wrote that it was about how shapes shouldn't try to fit into roles not meant for them because it only leads to tragedy.

I feel most of them were thinking about me during their answer.

As we got older I noticed that my classmates were disappearing. The females squares dropped out first, followed by the males (and when I say female I meant that they only had a Slot.) This continued in progression with the number of sides.

After several years I was only going to school among Decagons and higher. It became more and more obvious that I was a triangle. That I didn't belong here.

I learned that the other shapes dropped out because they had reached the peak of what they were allowed to learn. There was no need for furthering their education and would instead devote their time to learning the profession they would be given upon adulthood. Women dropped sooner because those who can only Carry young had no reason to know more. Their job was to be matched with a mate by the government upon reaching maturity and breed.

That's what Orange was. I couldn't help but feel both unfairly angry for her sake and grateful that I was male enough to be allowed to continue my education. Also, it appeared my Slot was just as screwed up as my Piece. It was rounded on the inside as well. At least I match?

I walked in on Orange and Gray mating once (called Clicking in this society) and would have been traumatized if I wasn't so fascinated by the process. I discovered that since I was going to be sent to some other task by the government, Gray needed another child to carry on his career.

I was angry that they were replacing me but I was thrilled to be an older sibling again. Having had two younger sisters back in my first life I was excited at the prospect of helping raise my new sister/brother.

Maybe I can raise them to be more open minded. Maybe I could finally have a friend.

---

I don't think anyone was more excited for the baby than I was. Orange seemed quite happy that I was looking forward to the baby. I suspect she thought I would be angry. I was always feeling her front bricks at the slight bump underneath. We were all flat-ish after all so its not like a pregnancy would be overtly noticeable.

How long do shapes gestate? Will my new sibling be a boy or a girl? Or both like I apparently am?

Aside from my hope for the new baby, there wasn't much to look forward to in this life. School still sucked. The government was still debating on what to do with me. I don't get a chance to really explore this world like I wanted. I'm being watched constantly. The only place where I don't have to deal with government agents stalking me is at home. This doesn't help my hikikomori habits from getting worse.

I only ever leave home to go to school, the library or the hospital. Otherwise I just shut myself in my room to read or draw. I wrote down my life, my first life. Despite the pain it causes. Every little thing I could remember. The family I loved. The friends I cherished. I didn't want to forget them. I refused to forget them. It was a memory of a time when I felt loved. A world where I was free. If I ever lost that...

I don't want to be Bill Cipher.

And yet I sort of do.

I know that I probably have to play his role at some point. He's important to this world, this reality. But even if I must take his place...I want to be able to do it MY way. As much as I can. I want to keep the ME that exists now. Even if I must change down the line (a trillion years, I feel faint just thinking of it) I don't want to lose who I am.

So I write down my story. In a language no one here can understand. I reread my words. I memorize them. I know I've probably gotten a lot of it wrong. I know that not all of my life was sunshine and rainbows but for now the words gave me some proof that I was real. Zyun-Jan was a real girl. She had family and friends and her own aspirations.

I write and read and pray that I will be able to remember.

---

I have a baby sibling!

It's so smol. A bright blue color that reminds me of a sunny cloudless sky. I coo down at it. Gray built a new bedroom for them. I spend my free time gently brushing their surface with a finger and quietly talking to them. It sleeps constantly. Doesn't even wake up to eat.

Apparently this is normal. A newborn is still developing even after birth. That's why we can't check the sex until they're older.

It would also explain why I 'woke up' when I did as opposed to when I was first born. I still go check on my little baby, I name them Will in my head, everyday.

I couldn't wait for them to wake up. I gaze at the tiny triangle and a desperate twisting forms on my chest. I will protect you. This sweet innocent life that I could hold with one hand. I will protect you.

No matter what.

-End chapter 2-

Chapter Text

Illusion is Reality

Chapter 3

-Lie until you're not lying anymore-

Little Will was growing up so fast, his check up went without a hitch. He was perfectly normal. He was also solely a male.

I was always demanding to hold him, to feed him, to read to him. Orange let me take care of my little brother with a soft look. Will is such an energetic child. He babbles loudly and clings tightly to me whenever I pick him up. I fall more and more in love everyday.

It was nice to come home after a stressful day at school to play with Will. Our 'dog' loved Will too. The three of us would just sit around as I talked about my day or read books about advanced mathematics and the importance of fractals. Will understood none of it but I just liked speaking to him.

"Big brodda!"

"Will? Did you just?"

"Big brodda!" He squeaked.

It was the happiest I've ever felt in this life.

---

I wonder if my parents mind that I call him Will? I have never heard them refer to him by name so its not like I actually know what his real name is. They don't question it when I call him Will so I think its fine?

Gray takes Will with him to work sometimes. Mainly to show him what his job would be when he's older. I'm a little jealous, even if i don't want to be a carpenter, doesn't mean I'm not interested in learning it.

I tried to teach Will to sing but sadly my species seems to be literally incapable of understanding melody. I am in despair. The fact that music doesn't exist here has left me in despair!

The years go by and I'm getting older. I have been managing to pass the tests so far. Not perfectly but I do well enough. With nothing to do here BUT study I feel like I'm doing more academically than I've ever done in my first life. I miss internet. I miss fanfiction. I miss porn.

There is no porn here. People only Click for reproduction, not pleasure. I tried masturbating once because I was curious. It was a strange experience. It was vaguely pleasurable but the sensations were faint. Distant. Unimportant.

Also, my oval popped off when I peaked. Apparently thats how it worked. The Piece pokes out and after some stimulation, it ejects into the Slot. A new Piece grows after a few days. Meanwhile, the ejected Piece will incubate inside a Slot until its ready to hatch.

...could I theoretically impregnate myself with my own Piece? The idea makes me very unsettled. Disturbed even. I will not be testing that. Nope.

After my Piece popped off I panicked about what to do with it. In the end I smashed it into pieces and threw it in the trash. I was panicking okay?!

I tried to test out my slot but whenever my fingers start feeling up the edges I just couldn't bring myself to actually reach inside. I'd be gripped with a cold feeling and a sense of wrongness. So sadly, as much as I wanted to fully explore this new body, its probably not going to happen for a while.

---

There are no dates. Nothing to mark months or years. We do not have a calendar. All schedules are written as things like 'Doctors appointment 2 days from now' or 'Meet with matchmaker 57 days from now' and it made it hard to remember when the events are supposed to be happening.

For me at least.

Anyway, my point is that I have no idea how many years I've been here. I also have no idea what mine and Will's birthdays are. They don't celebrate birthdays here. But I wanted to give Will a party anyway.

He's old enough to start triangle school soon. He'll ace it I'm sure since I've already taught him to read and write. I liked teaching him. I wonder if I can ask the council to give me a teaching job? Its something I would be okay with doing.

---

Will came home today and asked me "What's a freak? Its a bad word right?" I froze.

"Where...did you hear it?"

"The other kids at school. They said that you were a Freak and that I must be one too..."

I narrowed my eye. Oh no they didn't.

"Will, you're not a freak. You're a perfectly normal and healthy triangle. Don't listen to them."

"What does it mean? That word?"

"It means...not normal. Something different."

"I don't get it." Poor Will looked so confused. I pet his top corner and tell him not to worry about it.

---

I'm graduating today. I'll also be getting my career assignment today. Part of me is upset that I don't get a choice in the matter but frankly I just cant find the energy to care anymore. As long as I can get time off to visit Will I don't care.

He's old enough to start helping Gray out on his jobs. Just small things like bringing him tools or carrying stuff. I ask him about his day whenever I'm home and he's so excited to be learning about structural foundations and what all the whirly tools do.

Oh right, my graduation is today. I'm not the top of my class and Puce (an obnoxious 15 sided shape) likes to gloat whenever he sees me. Buddy, I don't give a fuck.

But I'm doing well enough. If all goes well I'll get a good job with good pay. It's not like there's anything else I can do. If I keep my angles down and do what they say I'll be able to live peacefully. The rebellious part of me is screaming for me to fight back against this stupid governmental system but seriously, what can I even do?

I have no power. I don't even have my own money yet. Not to mention I don't want to cause any trouble for my family, don't want to make their lives more difficult. And there's also Will to think about. I have responsibilities. I have things chaining me down.

I don't want to cause trouble for the people around me. So even though my self-worth and sense of freedom were screaming at me, I grit my teeth and bare with it. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad once I actually have a job. Maybe I can just do my work and have free time to pursue my own interests?

Optimism! Or I'm just trying to make myself feel better.

Lie until you're not lying huh? I don't want to believe that's a proper response to my situation but I won't lie about it being tempting.

---

Theres no fancy ceremony for graduation. I prefer that actually. I hated the stupid robes and hat and standing around for HOURS for the damn thing to start. Its such a waste of time. This efficient system where we just go up to the evaluation booth and get our results is so much easier.

I get my slip of paper that would decide my future. I'm almost afraid to read it. I peer down anyway. Need to get this over with.

-Archivist-

That's all it says. I know what an Archivist is. We had a class explaining all the different positions of employment in our society and why they were important.

Triangles are meant for labor working. Construction, farming, sanitation and so on.

Squares are a mixed bunch. Depending on their intelligence they can become low level teachers, merchants and overseers for the Triangle work force in various fields. Some Squares can even enter the food industry. Triangles aren't trusted to prepare meals.

Pentagons can be teachers, overseers, designers or doctors. There are a couple other careers they qualify for simply because of their shape but lets just move on...

Hexagons are just the next step up, more doctors, higher level education professors, scientists, engineers and so on.

Heptagons are the next step up, blah blah blah...

Ok, what's important here is that Archivist is a surprisingly important job, while also being an undesirable one. Its a career path normally limited to Decagons and above. It consists of transcribing the laws and history of our society. Since there were no computers here, or printing press, all books are hand written.

I found it strange that the job of being a glorified copy machine was so high up. Scribes and Archivists were similar jobs, but the Scribes at least can be as low as a Heptagon to qualify. They just copy down text books on math and language.

What this meant for ME was that I had the task of spending hours just writing words over and over again. I had a quota of books I need to finish copying per 8 day cycle (so its like a week), after which the government will send someone to pick up. If I finish my quota before the 8 day cycle is done, I'm free to do whatever I want.

In other words...

FURIOUSLY WRITE NON STOP AND GET EVERYTHING DONE ON THE FIRST DAY SO I CAN JUST SLACK OFF!!

I work hard for the sake of slacking off! There are no words for how stupid that sounds in retrospect.

I slam my pen down and collapse on my desk. My hands are aching. Funnily enough, my ambidextrous nature carried over into this life so I could give one hand a break and work with the other. Hours upon hours of work lay before me. My first job was just to copy a simple Law book 10 times. That's my quota. 10 books per cycle.

I can handle that. I look over my work. Yup, neat lines, clear and legible handwriting. Certainly much better than the old text I was copying from. I even went through the effort of fixing the spelling errors present in the original text.

Ugh, mindlessly copying something was dull. I don't know if its good or bad that I've pretty much memorized this damn book by now. I glance around for the clock. It doesn't display time. Not in the way human clocks did. There was a sliding meter from left to right that showed what part of the day it currently is.

The far left is the starting point which would be the beginning of the day, its around this time that shapes begin waking up to go about their business.

There were lines placed along the meter to mark 'check point's in the day.

Wake up - 1st meal - work - break - work - 2nd meal - work - break - work - 3rd meal - sleep

Well I just worked for the whole day. My bricks ached with hunger and I groan as I trudge out to the kitchen. Upon graduation I was given my own house. A small place that was more like a glorified shed. There was only my bed/workroom and the kitchen/dining room. Its actually nice. I don't need much space right now, its small and clean. Efficient actually.

It still weirds me out how my new body doesn't produce waste like a human does. Anything I eat is broken down back into their base elements and filtered out of my body through the lines of my bricks. I feed not on the food but the molecular bonds inside their chemical make up. In other words, the more complex the chemical shape of what I eat, the longer it'll last me.

It doesn't seem to matter WHAT I eat so long as its made up of elements strung together into SOMETHING. I could eat a book and just break down the starch that makes up the paper.

That's some delicious C6H10O5 right there.

No wonder everything is bland as shit. A potato is made of starch. A book is made of starch. They taste the same to me. Its not called a potato, but it looks like a potato so I just call it that.

I tried eating a flower once to see if that changes anything. Still a Carbon based chain with Hydrogen and Oxygen. Ugh I am so sick of eating CHO.

Is everything made of that stuff!?

Well no, there's some vegetables with Ca, K, Zn, P and other assorted stuff. But the majority of food is just CHO.

There's not much in the way of meat in this world. Apparently our society doesn't really do the whole devour another sentient life thing.

I confess I have wondered what the 'dog' would taste like. I'm not going to eat my dog, but the curiosity is there. I have also considered cannibalism just to see what shapes taste like. Yes I have issues. Its not a new thing, even back in my first life I would sometimes just stare at someone and wonder what they would taste like.

My friends refused to let me watch Hannibal. Said it would give me terrible ideas. I even called dibs on eating one of them if she ever dies, half as a joke and half because I was just honestly curious about what humans would taste like.

She did give me the go ahead. I suppose me dying first means that'll never happen now. Probably a good thing. Wow I must be really hungry to be thinking about this.

I open my small fridge to see what I've got. Hm...need to go shopping soon. I only have a few assorted vegetables and a pitcher of water. I shovel the purple vegetable that resembles corn into my eye-mouth and crunch it. Doesn't make a difference if I cook it or not since it all tastes the same to me.

I sigh and rub my eyelid. I'm exhausted. But I finished my quota in just 2 days. Woo! I have to thank the torture they put me through all these years for that. At the very least its taught me how to work overtime.

I decide to go grocery shopping and stretch my frame out. I think I have a crick from bending over my desk for hours on end. I hum happily and set off.

So far, I'm enjoying adult life. Am I an adult? Technically no. I have a meeting with a matchmaker (a job only reserved for shapes of 20 sides or more) in a few days. They'll give me a full examination of my mating parts, career, social ranking and other factors to find me a 'matching' mate.

So much paperwork.

I'm sure another person would be angry at the whole arranged marriage thing but I just don't care. Its not like I have anyone I like. I doubt I'll like whoever they pair me with. The only issue I have is that I have no desire to mate. Being asexual seems to have carried over. The idea of being forced to Click with someone makes me shudder. Whoever I'm paired with will just have to deal with that fact that I'm never going to Click with them.

Ugh what is it with people constantly trying to set me up with someone? Why cant they understand I'm just not interested? I suppose it could just be that I haven't found anyone I really and truly liked...and I wasn't likely to find them here.

I make it to the grocery store. Its a small place run by a few square and triangle workers. The stuff here is cheap and I can sometimes barter the price down. Apparently I am quite the good looking triangle. So long as they don't know about the shape of my 'package' I can easily charm any Triangle I meet. I'm not really the flirting type but apparently speaking to someone politely and kindly is all it takes.

How badly are these other triangles treated that all it takes to endear me to them is being a nice person?

I bring my basket to an elderly isosceles who coos at my straight lines and perfect 60 degree angles. Being a completely equilateral shape is uncommon. Most folks are off by 1 to 2 degrees. Not enough to be noticeable at a glance but they apparently have an eye for shapes like me.

The isosceles rings up my purchases and chats good naturally with me. I'm polite as usual, I know firsthand how obnoxious it is to work in retail and things like it so I try to be nice.

While marriage is decided by the matchmaker (and thus, the government), there's apparently nothing stopping people from checking out an attractive shape.

"You look like you should be old enough to be Paired soon." She squints her old eyes as she bags my purchase.

"Yeah, my matchmaker meeting is coming up soon."

"Oh you're going to make some lucky triangle a happy one dear. I just know it. You're such a sweet lad. Why I remember my Partner. He was so stern in public but an absolute darling in the bedroom..."

"Okay! Yes! Thank you!" I say hurriedly as I pay and power walk out of there, my bricks glowing orange. I can hear her soft laughter following me out.

---

I visit home often. Will is always thrilled to see me. I bring gifts, mainly little books that I wrote myself containing stories from my first life. I give my parents a small portion of my paychecks. They keep refusing it but I want to help in any way I can. Its not like I'm using that money for anything. There's not much to buy but food, writing supplies and clothing. They don't have video games here. Or taxes. All books are non-fiction and boring. There are no movie theaters or other forms of entertainment.

Seriously, what do these people do for fun? Apparently they just work. What do circles do then? Aside from running the government I didn't really learn about what jobs a circle really has. Running the government can't be THAT time consuming. What do they do in their spare time?

What does ANYONE do with their spare time? I see children playing in the parks. I see a few adult shapes just sitting around on benches and relaxing. Is that it? They just sit and do...nothing when they're not working?

Sounds boring as fuck.

I've already gotten a bunch of paper together for the express purpose of making some art in my spare time. I doodled throughout this life and now that I can have more time to myself I was planning on drawing again. Or making origami. I'm sure the people here would appreciate origami.

I can't imagine just sitting around and doing nothing. Sleeping is fine. I can nap for hours but if I'm awake I just need to do SOMETHING. Don't these people ever get bored?

The only creative thing I've seen from these people is the weirdoes buildings and clothes. Wearing clothing that consists of hats and other accessories is literally the closest thing these people have to a 'hobby'. I despair at this world full of boredom.

The stark lack of color in this world is starting to get to me. Why does nothing have color even though we, ourselves are in color? How does that even work?

After all these years living in this world I am no closer to answering all the questions I have. Even in all the history books I read and copied, there were no explanations. Has no one in this world questioned it?!

There is no curiosity in this world. How do they function as a species. How do scientists exist? Doesn't it require curiosity to make innovation? Then again, from what I've seen the only science the shapes study and use are biology stuff for explaining how our reproductive system works or miscellaneous things for increasing crop production.

Ugh.

Well I'm going to see if introducing origami to them might yield any sort of reaction. I make it home and start putting the food away. There's a knock on my door and I look up in surprise. What?

I open the door to see Gray. Its the first time he's ever come over to my place. Actually, its the first time he's ever sought me out. Did something happen? Is Will ok?!

"Son...I know this might be a surprise visit, but may I come in?"

"Uh...sure dad..."

I awkwardly show him into my tiny kitchen. There's a small dinning table with 2 chairs and I politely pull it out for him. He sits and I stand around for a bit before getting out some cups and pouring him a cup of water. Its not like I have anything better.

"So...why are you here?"

He just hold his cup for a while. I sit down across from him and wait. Gray has almost never spoken to me. I don't know anything about him. Growing up, he's just been the always working father. I'm not sure what to expect.

"Son...you have to stop visiting us."

"What." I said flatly.

He isn't looking at me. "We have been informed by the Circles that we are not to interact with you from this point on."

"What." I repeat.

"Its not proper for a higher rank like you to spend so much time with us."

"That's bullshit! You're my family!" I stand up and slam my hands on the table.

"...I know this is upsetting for you. But its how it is. We cannot disobey an order from the circles themselves. I'm...sorry."

"What about Will?"

"You are not to make contact with your brother."

"No! They can't do that! Will is my brother! They can't stop me from-!"

"Please Son. We don't want any trouble." Gray finally looks up at me and I see the desperation and fear in his eye.

"...will you really get in trouble if I come visit? Or do you just want me gone?"

"The circles have told us that we cannot...distract you from moving up in life. They have said that we cannot keep dragging you back into...the lower caste now that you have ascended." Gray's hands are trembling around the cup.

"I don't care what the circles think. Dad, do YOU want me to stop coming over?"

"It would be best for all of us."

"But what about Will-"

"I AM thinking of your brother." Gray says a little louder, not yet yelling.

"He will inherit my craft. He cannot afford to be distracted by fanciful stories. He is normal-"

I feel cold. "Which is to say, I am not normal."

Gray twitched a little but he stares firmly at me.

"That's what this is really about isn't it? You don't want me near Will. The order from the circles is just an excuse."

"Please Son. You will only hurt your brother's chance for a good future if you continue to fill his head with nonsense."

"They're just stories! Its entertainment! It makes him happy!"

"Please stay away from your brother and from us. Son please. We've been through so much just to raise you."

"If you need money I can keep giving you my salary-"

"I don't need your PITY. Please. Don't come around anymore."

"Pity? Is that what you think?!" I shook with anger. Is there no such thing as filial piety?!

"If you keep forcing yourself into your brother's life we will suffer for it."

"That's...you..."

"You are not a child anymore. You cannot meet with us anymore."

"What does Mom think about this? What about Will? Have you even told Will?"

"Please do not contact us anymore."

"Get out. Get out of my house!"

"I need you to tell me that you understand."

"Oh I understand alright. You want me gone. You just can't stand me hanging around cause you're afraid I'll infect your NORMAL son with my freakishness!"

"...if I say yes, will you agree to never speak with us again?"

"Fuck you."

"I will take that as an affirmative."

Gray stands up still looking sad and fearful. I can't tell if he really feels bad for cutting me out or just because he doesn't want me bringing the government down on our family.

"I really am sorry...son."

"Get out."

He leaves and I slam the door behind him. As soon as I'm alone I scream in rage and throw my chair across the room. It slams into a wall leaving a small dent.

He didn't even drink the glass of water I got him.

---

I tried to visit anyway but they apparently had people watching and I was politely escorted away by some soldiers.

I kept trying to get to Will but they were really adamant about keeping me from my family. After being turned around and led away for the 5th time I realized I should probably make an actual strategy instead of just storming in.

I cancelled my matchmaker appointment. I had no desire for it anyway. I stayed home brainstorming ways to at least get a message out to my little brother. Was he doing ok? Did Gray explain anything to him? Would he understand?

Ok...I glance at the 'clock' its going to be night soon. I say night but its not like we have a sun. There's no change between day and night. It doesn't get dark out. The sun doesn't set because there is none. I can find no light source in the sky but I can still see everything clearly. It doesn't make sense.

Then again, this is a world with no color and no shadows. Lack of shadows implies a lack of a light source to cast them. How can we see without light is irrelevant right now. Night is coming.

Night is simply when all shapes go to sleep. I will need to check if there are any soldiers patrolling at night. If there are, I will need to find a way to sneak past them. If there aren't then I can break into my brothers room, he has a small window...don't know if I can fit through it but I can at least slip a letter inside the room.

At the very least I know that there are no cameras and other bugs (I have never seen a camera in my whole life here) in this world so I have privacy within the confines of my home. I peek behind the drapes on my window to see if the soldiers are gone.

The streets are emptying out now. I can see shapes of all sides and colors heading home. Where are...there! A large isosceles soldier leaning against a building across the street. He's watching my house.

I glance around to see if there are anymore of them. There's another one watching the back of my house. Crap.

Well its not like I can leave my house except through the front door anyway. The windows are square and I can't fit through them. I sigh in annoyance. Think Jan. Is there any other way to sneak past the soldiers?

Disguise? Not gonna work since I'll still be spotted leaving. Bribe the soldiers? Naw, they're not gonna go for it. I don't have nearly enough money anyway. Dig a tunnel under my house that leads to my parents house? Would take too long.

Ugh. I flop down on my bed and whine. I cant think of anything.

At least I've still got 4 days free before my next assignment cones in. I lay awake on my bed and brainstorm ideas for the rest of the night. At some point I fell asleep and dreamed of taking Will away with me as we go on the run, dodging soldiers and starting a rebel army.

Now there's an idea.

-End Chapter 3-

Chapter Text

Illusion is Reality

Chapter 4

-Pain is Hilarious-

A rebellion. Could I do that? Should I do that? Are there even enough shapes here who'd want that? I haven't really met anyone who seems particularly upset about life.

How does one start a rebellion? Ive learned about rebellions in school back in my first life but it wasn't something I was particularly interested in. I didn't really pay much attention to history. Hell, the most I know about the American Revolution was episodes of Liberty's Kids and the Hamilton musical...

What would I even do once I get Will? I can't just take him with me. I know nothing about the world outside this city. What would we do for food or shelter? I can't just TAKE him from our parents. That's selfish. I need to at least ask Will if he wants to be with me or not. Ugh. Its not like I even want to go on the run from our government. I just want to be with Will.

I've never gone around purposely breaking laws before...I'm the kind of good girl who holds the door open for strangers. I've never shoplifted before. I separate my paper and plastic for recycling. The idea of going around breaking the laws here made me uneasy. Even if they are stupid laws.

I don't want to get in trouble.

I'm upset at the unfairness of it all but what can I even do?! I don't know enough about how the government is run to really oppose them. I can't fight off the guards around me. I don't have any money or influence.

I'm too scared to go against them.

I slump against the wall in my room, blinds down and huddled in my blanket. My mind is racing with fantasies of things I could do. Running in and snatching Will, guns blazing and doing cool dodge rolls like an action movie or using awesome ninja moves to take out the guards...

None of those are things I can actually do. I don't know how to fight aside from just punching, biting and kicking. As much as I used to imitate those kung-fu movies as a child it's not like I actually have any skill. Also, Shaolin Soccer isn't really the best example of things people can do in reality.

These are nothing but silly thoughts and fantasies.

Even if I could fight, what would I even do once I knocked out the soldiers? I'll be hunted down by law enforcement. I could go to prison. Will could get in trouble for being associated with me. My parents would get in trouble. Even if I'm mad at Gray for straight out disowning me, I still don't feel right just throwing them under the bus for my own selfishness.

Uuugh. Is there really nothing I can do? I crawl over to the window to peek through the blinds again. The soldier is still there. Oh my god. Don't they have break or any-

Wait! Break! I glance at the clock. It was early morning right now. Was that soldier there all night? They have to sleep sometime. And when that happens there should be some change of guards. If there's one thing I've learned about this world, its that they take their schedules religiously.

So all I have to do is observe my guards until I learn their schedules. Once I know that I can start planning how to get around it.

Wait for me Will. Big bro's coming.

---

It took longer than I'd like to come up with a strategy for ditching the guards. A week came and went, I got my paycheck for the 10 books and had a new book to copy over. I rushed through it with a nonstop work session with no sleep or food and finished my quota on the day I received it.

Now I have 7 days to plan out my escape.

I have 3 sets of guards. The night shift guards stay up all night watching my house. They switch with the morning guards at exactly 3/4ths of the way through the 'night' cycle. I marked that on my clock. The 2nd group watches the house for the remainder of the night and into the morning. They switch with the afternoon guards during the first 'break' period of the day. The afternoon guards stay until just after 'dinnertime' ends and its officially 'night' whereupon the Night guards show up.

There's not a lot of time between the guard shift. The next set will walk up and once the current guard sees them, they leave. There's at most a minute where direct line of sight to my house is lost when the guards stand in front of each other to acknowledge the other before walking off. Not a lot of time for me to just slip out and run down the street. They'll see me for sure.

Which is where my brilliant plan comes in. It took a little while to get the supplies I needed for this. Hopefully it'll work. I'm going to take advantage of the fact that our entire world is in black and white aside from us. If they're watching for a yellow triangle, they wouldn't notice something white moving around, is my hope.

I'm exhausted and starving from my work so before any attempts at escape I need to rebuild my strength. Luckily I have 7 days to do this. I shovel more food in my mouth. Bleh. I should spend today just recuperating. My arms are sore and I can barely keep my eye open. Just eat some more and sleep. That sounds good.

Days left 6. That's plenty of time.

I wake up feeling much better. I stretch and do some exercises to ensure my limbs are all working right. I check on my supplies for tonight. Good. Everything looks in order. I eat some more.

Where's my letter to Will? Here it is. In the event where I can't fit through his window, I'm just going to slip this letter into his room. I tuck it carefully into a bag I made myself. Spent a few hours sewing it from scratch. It was nearly flat, only enough space for putting thin things like paper. It had three straps, one for each of my corners. I can't put it over my arms, it would get in the way.

I also had a large, stiff white sheet. It was big enough to cover my whole body and then some. There were hooks on the edges for attaching it to my bag straps. Once hooked it would ensure the sheet wouldn't slip off me so long as my bag stays on.

I had a map of the path to get from my house to my parent's place. I had to walk around a lot to get the exact measurements of how far it was. The good thing about being a shape is I can use my own body as a measurement tool. Sure I got a lot of strange looks for swinging myself back and forth across the streets but its paid off.

I sighed as I checked over my stuff. Ok. Everything is all set. Now I just need to wait for nightfall. Ugh, it was around 'noon' now and I still had a lot of time to kill. I could go buy some more food.

I'm just...always hungry. Am I not eating enough? I know I ate a lot back in my first life but this is a completely different body. Plus I ate a lot because I love the taste of food, but the food here is bland and unappealing so I don't know why I'm always hungry. I chomp on some more vegetables. Ooh there's some Potassium in this one.

Having cleared out my fridge from my binge yesterday and today I head out to buy more food.

The guards start following me not so subtly. At least they don't follow me inside the store. I grab various vegetables (if any of my friends saw me eating so many vegetables they'd think I'd gone mad.) and glance at a carton of 'milk'. I haven't drank any of that stuff since I moved on to solids. What even was it? I pick up a carton. Yeah, this looks like the stuff Orange gave me and Will when we were babies.

I look at the label.

C10H10O4 + H2O + 2(CH2OH)...a long stream of letters and numbers

Well that tells me NOTHING.

I grumble but put it in the basket anyway. Whatever. It has a high number of elements in it, so at least it should be more filling.

The elderly triangle wasn't here today. At least I won't have to listen to her talk about her husband again. There's an equilateral here today. Looks around my age. She/he (I still have trouble telling until I hear their 'voice) smiles and rings me up. They look at the 'milk' and blink in surprise.

"You have a child already? You're pretty young..."

"Oh no, that's for me."

"Why would you drink baby formula?" He (its a guy) asks with a confused expression.

I shrug awkwardly. "I don't know, it was kind of spur of the moment."

He quirks his eye at me like he was judging my decision to drink baby food and I flush orange in embarrassment.

Luckily he doesn't say anything else as the rest of the check out proceeds. I pay him and hurry out of the store. Why do ALL my visits result in awkward conversations?!

---

Huh. The 'milk' isn't bad. Still tastes faintly of wheat. I do feel less hungry though so maybe its got more 'nutrients' in it? Would make sense if they're supposed to be for newborns. I check the clock again. Soon.

I strap on my bag with the pocket on my front and the sheet on my back. The map is memorized and Ive practiced counting the steps in my head. I'm as ready as I'll ever be.

I cautiously peek out the window. I can see the replacement guard walking up. Right on time. I count silently in my head.

Ok....now!

I open my door as quickly and quietly as I can and close it behind me as I throw myself face down on the ground.

I wait a few seconds and when I didn't hear running footsteps of the guards realizing I was outside I relaxed somewhat.

I'm a nearly flat creature. Laying on the ground like this makes me barely perceptible. The white sheet on my back covers my distinctive color and blends in with the white ground. Now is the hard part.

I slowly crawl by wiggling my hands and feet. I can't afford to lift myself any higher above the ground without risking discovery so instead I make an awkward shuffling as I inch slowly along the ground. This is going to take forever.

Good thing I've got HOURS to do this.

---

Shit. Am I still on the right track. I can't fucking see where I'm going with my eye facing the ground like this. No. I've got this. By my calculations I should turn left here and my parent's house should be right there.

I bump into something with my top corner and wince. At least I'm not going fast enough to really hurt myself. I carefully lift my head to look up.

Yes! My parent's house! I get up and quickly flatten myself against the wall. Ok. Now to shuffle across to Will's room.

I make it to his window and carefully knock on it. As I thought I can't get inside. I could slip my letter through the crack but I wanted to see if I could actually speak to Will. I peer in and see a tent on the bed, Will has a habit of sleeping on his side so there's a very noticeable shape under the covers.

I'm about to knock again when I hear it.

Crying.

"Will?!" I whisper as I knock on the window a little louder. He's crying! What happened?! Is he hurt?! Is he having a nightmare?!

The shape on the bed shudders before the covers are falling away and I can see Will's beautiful blue bricks. His large eye is watery and he looks around confused before spotting me in the window.

"B-big brother!?"

"Yeah, its me. Will are you okay? Why're you crying?"

He quickly wipes his eye and hops off the bed to open the window.

"Big brother? Is it really you? I'm not dreaming?"

"Its really me kid." I reach a hand through the window to brush against his side. "See? I'm real. Unless you know any other yellow triangles that might visit you in the middle of the night."

Will giggles a little and grabs onto my hand.

"Now what's wrong little buddy? You were crying."

"I-its..."

"Come on. You know you can tell me anything."

Will starts tearing up again.

"D-dad said that you didn't want to see me again..."

I had the urge to punch daddy dearest right in his eye.

"He lied." I said a little more harshly than I meant to. Will flinched and I was quick to sooth him with more rubs.

"Sorry for snapping. I'm just mad that dad would lie to you like that."

"I was so afraid that you didn't like me anymore..." Will said as he teared up.

"That would never happen. I love you more than anything in all the world."

"Even more than food?" Will asked impishly as he smiled at me through his tears.

"Waaaay more than food." I roll my eye as Will giggles softly. Seriously, just 'cause I'm always hungry..

"Look Will. The government said that I'm not allowed to see you. I managed to sneak away from my guards to get here but I don't know how often I can do that before I get caught."

Will looked at me in worry. I wished I could hug him but the window was too small. I grabbed the letter out of my bag and handed it to him. "Read that, memorize it and then destroy it. I've left directions to a certain bush in the park where we can hide and exchange letters. Its the best I can do right now. I'm going to see if there's some way to get permission to see you again...but frankly I don't know what to do..." I could appeal to the council but that's about all I could think of.

"It'll be alright. You're smart. I know you'll figure it out." Will beams at me, completely confidant in my ability to find a solution. I slump halfway in the window and sigh. If only it were that easy.

I chat with Will a bit more about how he's been. He's having lots of fun with woodworking and although he still hasn't made any friends at school there was one triangle girl who sat next to him during break. It almost felt like old times when we would just sit and talk about everything after school. Finally I check the clock and bid Will a fond good bye before I begin my arduous task of crawling back home.

---

I put in a request to the council for permission to meet with my family. It was refused. Of course it was.

Maybe I could forge some documents for an order to give me permission? I'm half decent at copying stuff. If I could somehow get hold of a signature from one of the council members...

Once again the questions of how pop up. How do I do anything? I just don't know enough about how the system is run to exploit it. All the law books and history books just say "The Circles decide." Well what the fuck does that even mean?!

At least Will and I can send each other letters. I just drop by the park during 'break' time and relax on a bench. Its nice to be able to communicate with him, even if its just letters. Even now I speed through my work so I have free time to do anything else. I have gotten some art done, just as a way of working out my stress.

My house is filling up with origami animals and I'm running out of space. Help.

Do they have paper recycling here? It's not like we have much trash since we can literally eat ANYTHIN-wait. Wait one fucking minute.

We can eat ANYTHING so why do we even have trash? What the hell are we throwing out? My house has a trashcan but it's empty. The trash back at my parents place didn't have anything in it. Its like we have a trashcan just because its expected, but we don't use it. I threw out my piece into a public trashcan since they were the only ones with stuff in them that I could hide the crumbled brick with. Augh this is going to drive me crazy.

The park has a public trashcan right? What's in there? I should go check it out.

This is how far I've fallen. Digging through trash because I am literally THAT bored. Its a mystery that doesn't require too much effort to solve and it'll give me something to do other than mope around.

I'm seriously doing this.

I look at the trashcan before me. As I thought, there's barely anything in there. Just some crumpled paper. I edge around it, my germaphobia making me unwilling to actually touch it. But it looks dry and...not dirty...if it really IS just paper then its not a big deal.

I look around to see my guards. They weren't actually paying me much attention. I guess their only orders were to keep me away from my family. Anything else I do isn't important.

After making sure they really weren't paying attention to me, I quickly reach in and snag a crumpled piece of paper. Ew. Ew. Gross. Gross. I know its not actually dirty but my mind still connects trashcans to disgusting germ infested pits.

I glance once again to see my guards engaged in conversation and only vaguely paying me any mind. Well here goes. I inspect the paper I grabbed. Hang on, there's words on it.

I straighten it out somewhat and read.



Tonights
Meeting
At the
Shop

What? Tonight's meeting? Which shop?

I crumple the paper and toss it back in. Was there secret meetings happening in town? It certainly seemed like it. My mind raced.

Hiding secret messages in the trash?

I don't recall seeing anyone else digging through the trash. The only people who mess with the trash is-

The Sanitation department.

Which consists of Triangles.

Oh.

---

-Bonus picture, as an apology for the short chapter-

Chapter Text

Illusion is Reality

Chapter 5

-A time will come-

---

I start checking the trashcans around the city. I bring some origami animals with me, so I can pretend I'm throwing them out as an excuse to get close to the trash. There are crumpled paper messages that change everyday. Mostly they mention some new place where the 'meeting' will take place. Sadly I don't know which places these are.

I want to know. What meetings are these? I need to find out more. Who's running them? What are they about? Is there already a secret underground rebellion? I need to know which Triangles are on the Sanitation team in my city. I can question them.

I tried observing the trashcans from a distance to see who collects it. I found a few triangles dressed in overalls (and didn't THAT just look odd) would come to empty out the cans around halfway through the day. I subtly followed them from a distance, pretending to be folding another origami thing as i walked.

The trash is taken to a large building near the outskirts of the city. There's no way I can ditch my guards at night and crawl there. Its much too far. How can I get there? How can I talk to them? Should I just approach one of the Sanitation department and ask?

Could I just do that? It would be easier, certainly. But...

I glance as my guards. Ugh. Is there any way to ditch them? Would they just eventually go away? No way, I'm an Unnatural. A triangle with a round Piece, there's no way they'll let me walk around without observation. Shit.

I actually just walked up to one and asked. Because I'm tired. "How long are you guys going to follow me? Why do you have to do this?"

"We have orders to keep you under observation."

"Can't you just...not do that?"

"Sorry kid. Orders are orders."

"Right." I sighed. Guess I'll have to sneak out of the house at night again.

---

This is my life now.

I'm lying face down next to a trashcan a fair distance from my house. Just, lying here on the ground. Waiting for the Sanitation workers to get here.

I snuck out during the morning guard shift this time, if they don't see me leave the house they assume I'm still inside, crawled here slowly, got stepped on multiple times and I am fucking DONE.

This is my life now.

I hear foot steps and raise myself up. I hear a surprised shout and see a purple triangle with the hat and overalls that marked a Sanitation worker.

"Hello. I'm curious about the notes. Please explain." I say bluntly. I didn't have any patience left to go about this more delicately. Purple stares at me, frozen and confused. "Have...you been lying there all day?" He finally asked.

"Unfortunately I'm being stalked by guards pretty much constantly and this was the only way to sneak away from them. Now, where are these secret meetings taking place and what are they about?"

"I...I have no idea what you're talking about." Purple twitches and looks away. He's a terrible liar.

"Look dude, I just want to know what this is about. Is it a secret rebellion against the government because I am ALL for that."

"C-can you please not say that so loudly." He hisses as he glances around worriedly.

"I will if you tell me what's going on." I say more quietly.

He glances around again before sighing with a resigned look. "I'm gonna get in so much trouble. I know nothing about you. You might be a Loyalist spy for all I know."

"Look buddy, the government pretty much told me that I'm not allowed to see my own family ever again. If this is really a secret rebellion group then I want in."

Purple whimpers. "I need proof that you're not a spy."

"Would a spy be THIS blatant and unsubtle?" I gesture to the ridiculous 'floor' disguise I'm wearing.

"....you raise a fair point."

He stares at me a bit more before finally rolling his eye. "Okay, fine...here..." He pulls out a piece of paper and scribbles something down.

"If you really ARE being watched it'll be difficult for you to actually get to any of the meetings, but here's the address to one of our fronts. Its just a simple clothing store. The password is Do you have this in more than two colors." I hear him quietly muttering "Even if you ARE a spy it wouldn't have anything incriminating you can use as proof."

"Thanks dude."

"Whatever, if you get caught by the authorities you're on your own."

I wave at him cheerfully before throwing myself back on the ground to crawl home. I can feel his incredulous stare the whole time. What? I know I look ridiculous but lets see if YOU can do better!

---

The clothing store was pretty far from my house. I resolve myself to a lot of walking. I actually haven't explored the whole city before. Its huge even if there aren't any tall buildings like the cities I'm used to. It would take forever to walk everywhere.

As I get closer I notice the buildings around me are changing. Whereas my neighborhood is mainly small stores and many houses with the occasional amenities like the hospital, library and school, this area had fancier looking buildings.

I blink at the high end clothing store. As something entirely indulgent, clothing was a luxury that not many bother with. It was also pricey. But my job paid pretty well and I haven't used it for much but food. I could actually buy something if I wanted to.

Entering the store and subsequently leaving my guards outside, I look around.

So many hats. So many glorious hats. I stare longingly at a top hat. Ooooh. I went up to one and gingerly picked it up. This felt like a significant moment somehow. I placed the hat carefully on my top corner and looked at myself in the mirror.

All I needed was the bowtie. Oh god I really AM Bill Cipher. I knew this already but seeing my reflection there with the hat, it just finally hit home that I was really doing this. This is me. This is Bill. And Bill is me.

"Sir?! Sir are you alright?!"

I realize I'm hyperventilating. I'm not used to my panic attacks being strong enough to be noticeable. "Y-yeah I'm fine. Just...first time being in a clothing store. Kind of overwhelmed you know?"

The Square gave me a comforting pat. "Finally saved up enough for your first hat young man? I know its a big moment. Why I remember MY first hat."

"Mmhm. I like this one...but do you have it in more than two colors?" I ask somewhat hesitantly.

The Square pauses for just a split second, if I weren't looking for it I would have missed it.

"Why yes. I believe I may have some out back. My assistant can show you..."

A small red triangle walked up to me. "This way sir." He chirped in a high pitched cheerful voice.

Well, here's hoping that this wasn't secretly a trap for disposing of witnesses.

I followed Mini through a door marked 'Employees Only' and he was chatting cheerfully about different styles this fine store carried. Finally we got to a storage room. After we entered Mini shut and locked the door before staring at me with a serious expression.

"Who sent you?"

His voice was many octaves deeper.

"Holy shit is that your real voice?" I blurt out without thinking. It was like going from a tiny child to Samuel L. Jackson! "That's actually pretty cool. Can you do impressions too?"

Mini-SamJackson didn't seem amused. He just glared harder. "Who SENT you?"

"Well no one really. I just sort of found a note in the public trash can about secret meeting and thought it sounded cool. So I asked one of the Sanitation workers and he told me to come here."

Mini-Sam groaned and rubbed the bricks above his eye. "Of all things?! We get found out by some dumb KID digging through the trash?!"

"I'm not dumb!" I protest.

Mini-Sam just stares at me deadpan. "You came in here with no idea about what this is even all about. Do you even know how recklessly stupid this is? I could just kill you now and have the guys at Sanitation dispose of your body."

I DID think of that, thank you very much.

"I've got two soldiers outside this store who were ordered to keep me under observation. If I don't leave the store at some point they WILL come looking for me. And if I'm missing they'll probably tell the higher ups about it." I say casually.

Mini-Sam is silent as he processes what I just revealed.

"You're not as dumb as you look kid."

I stay quiet, unwilling to let him know I actually only remembered my guards just now. Keep a straight face.

"Alright. What do you want kid?" Mini settles down on a supply box and I sit as well.

"What IS this? Are you guys a secret society trying to take down the government? Because if you are, I want to help."

"Kid, you don't even know what the heck this is."

"The Circles won't allow me to see my family." I glare. "If there's any way to fight against the system I want to be a part of it. I just want to be with my brother."

"Your family...why are the Circles separating you from your family?"

"Because...my Piece is round and they said that I can't associate with lowborn..." My fists clench.

"Round?! That's you?!"

I look up and Mini is pale as he looks me up and down. Wha?

"You...know about me?"

"Oh course! A triangle with a circular piece, it caused a huge uproar and the Circles were going crazy about it! We were actually thinking about recruiting you but our spies said you didn't seem to care about rebellion."

"You guys were watching me?!"

"Of course. A Unnatural like you has never been seen before. You're more than just Irregular, you're completely new! An impossibility!"

He stops at stares at my bottom side. "Show me."

"Excuse me?!"

"I want to see the proof with my own eyes."

"Ugh. Seriously?" I start rubbing my bottom side, my fingers sliding around until I could feel the slightest bump of my Piece. I grip it and slowly pull it out, growing more orange as I flushed under the weight of his stare.

"...it really IS round..." He gasps in amazement.

"Are you done? Can I put it back now?" I whine uncomfortably.

"Right sorry. I just had to be sure."

I press myself back in and shudder. It still feels weird. But at least Mini was now looking thoughtful rather than suspicious.

"Yes...this could work. We'll have to train you up to be a proper operative. It'll be difficult if you're really under observation. But you've got a higher rank than most of us...yes. We can use this."

Mini sent me off with instructions of what to do in the following days. I bought the top hat and walked home with my heart thumping in both excitement and worry.

I've done it. I've made contact with people who can help. Or at least, point me in a direction I can go. I still have no idea what the hell I'm doing. Inside my hat was a rolled up paper with instructions to contact another member of this secret rebellion. They would help.

Oh god this was really happening.

---

The nearest agent they could send to train me was a construction worker. I had to hire him for an expansion job on my house as an excuse to call him over. It was a good cover. We would go inside my house with the blinds down and he would explain more about what exactly our organization does.

Many of our members were Unnatural or Irregular in some way. I found out that Mini-Sam was one of those Triangles with the rectangular pieces, in fact the square running the clothing store was his son.

I suspect that something about being 'different' granted us a higher need to break free from societal norms and customs. We were already misfit, so it would make sense that we would rebel right?

They were thrilled to get someone like me. Mini was able to use his son's Square status to get that clothing store and secretly run it. Mini is actually living under a false identity as a young Triangle labor worker at the store. I don't know how the hell he pulled it off but that explains the fake squeaky voice he used.

I asked about it and apparently there was something about faking his death and altering his presence, whatever the heck that means.

When I asked what they intend for me to do I was a little uneasy about it. They wanted me to do something like what Mini did. Have a child and use their shape and influence to get a spy on the inside. It didn't sit right with me to have a child simply for this purpose, not to mention the whole...getting married to a circle.

The agent I was working with, a lopsided triangle I call Slant, said that I didn't HAVE to get married to have a kid since I was effectively a hermaphrodite and could easily bear my own child. I absolutely refused. Ew. No way. Not happening.

I wasn't quite old enough to bear young yet anyway so he said its just a plan for the future. I very nicely held back my urge to punch in his stupid face for that...frankly quite exploitive and disgusting suggestion.

The ends justify the means. That was the feeling I got from him when he talked about the plans this underground secret society was working on. I was now unsure if this was the right thing to do. This wasn't right. It can't be. These guys, even if they spoke of overthrowing the Circles, I got the distinct feeling they weren't the freedom fighters I'd expected.

They just wanted power. That wasn't a bad thing in general but the way they want to go about it just rubbed me the wrong way. They weren't trying to make the world a fair place where people could be free to do as they wished. They wanted to put themselves in power and flip the system on its head.

Not gonna lie. Once I realized their true goal I was livid. No. Hell no. This is fucking bullshit. This isn't what I wanted. But I can't back out now. Even if their true goal was selfish, and completely missing the point (what's the point of changing things if you just want to keep the system the same?!) This is still the best chance I had for getting Will back.

Even if it means I have to help these asshole swap out one dictator for another.

I suppose I can't really blame them. They don't know anything BESIDES this broken system. The idea of a world where there was no hierarchy at all probably never even occurred to them. I held onto a hope that maybe I could explain the true concept of freedom to them.

Shit. This is not something I'm good at. The government back in my first life wasn't exactly perfect either. The corruption and abuse of power was just as bad as it was here while giving people the illusion of freedom. I don't know anything about how to run a government.

Even if I explained what freedom was, would they understand? I knew enough that I know simply removing the system would do nothing but cause chaos. These people don't know how to make their own decisions.

From the moment they're born they're told what their life will be. It's easy to go through life with all the answers laid out before you. Hell, I was perfectly fine with just going along with the system too. The government assigns me a job. A stable source of income.

I don't have to stress over finding a job or finding a place to live. Those were the things I struggled with back in my 1st life. I went through life day by day, working minimum wage in retail and struggling to earn a living as an artist. I was free to make my own decisions but at the same time I was struggling to earn enough to keep myself alive. If my parents didn't let me live with them there's no way I would be able to support myself.

As much as I hate my restricted freedom here in THIS world, I have a good job that I can get done quickly. I have plenty of free time to pursue my own interests. I have my own house. I make enough money to live comfortably without having to worry about making rent or affording food. By all accounts I'm living the good life here.

But if that means giving up Will, my little brother, my best friend, my ONLY friend...then fuck everything.

There's no point in having money, stability or success if it means being all alone.

As my hero Dr. Seuss once said 'To the world you may be one person; but to one person you may be the world.'

Will is my world and I'm more than willing to give up everything for him.

So even if it means helping out these people with their twisted sense of rebellion, I would do it.

---

Chapter Text

Illusion is Reality

Chapter 6

-He's a real Square-

---

Weeks went by. Will and I continue our correspondence, he writes happily about small things he gets to build and I tell him about the books I need to copy. I haven't written down anything about the organization I've joined. Can't risk it if anyone else finds our letters.


Not much has happened so far. I was taught all sorts of secret code words to be used in various places for letting other agents know I was one of them. We have people in the library, hospital, delivery services...this was a lot bigger than I thought it was.


We were almost all Triangles with a few Squares here and there, mainly the children of the Irregular and Unnatural Triangles. I asked about why we didn't have more shapes but Slant just sneered and said they can't trust any shape with more than 5 sides.


The agents at the hospital taught me about medical supplies, how to treat wounds and how to tell the medicines apart. It is possible for this species to get sick. I've just been healthy so I've never had to deal with that. They taught me in case I get injured on a mission and had to treat myself or when I finally marry a circle and needed a way to...dispose of them.


Is that what happened to Mini's mate? I feel sick.


I continue to refuse setting up a matchmaker appointment. I may be willing to do some terrible things, but not that. I'm not going to marry someone to create a child and then kill them. Slant and the others wouldn't understand. They have this hatred for the System that blinds them to the fact that the shapes they dispose of are people. They only see their deaths as a means to an end and I felt dirty just listening to the way they dismiss it.


The thought of simply grabbing Will and leaving civilization altogether was getting more palatable. I should make it a point to find out what exists outside the city. I can totally live out in the wilderness right?


---

The world outside the city is a terrible savage land of chaos and violence. This is what the books say. I know what propaganda is so I take this description with a grain of salt. I have to see it with my own eyes.


I have never left the city. I don't even know what direction to go in to reach the outside. I asked Slant if HE knew and he was just confused why I would ever want to leave the safety of the city. I tried to explain how I just wanted to know what was out there but he told me not to do anything recklessly stupid. They needed me. I was important to their future plans.


I wouldn't be able to continue refusing to be Paired. They were building whole schemes around my future children. I wanted to punch them for being just as controlling about my life as the government was. I told them so, but they said it was for the sake of their goal. That sacrifices had to be made so that they would win this secret war.


I resolve to find out more about the outside world.


---

It was incredibly difficult to get a proper map of the city. Even then it was vague and just had areas marked for important buildings. I lived in the mid-to-outer edges of the city. Further inward were the more important areas. The administration buildings. The courtroom. The council hall. The map had no distances listed but from what I remember from just getting to that clothing store...this city was HUGE.


Even just trying to walk to the ends of the city would take hours even when I'm already living somewhat close to it. Never thought a day would come when I wished there were cars. I still had nightmares about the crash that got me sent here to begin with.


Cars. Wheels. An idea was forming. They may not have cars or anything else for transportation but I could probably build something. Slant is a construction worker. I can borrow tools and supplies from him. If they're going to try to use me for their own ends, no reason why I can't return the favor.


---

It's not as difficult as you'd think, to make a wheel. The hard part was making it an even circle. I test out my crudely built scooter. It was just a plank of wood with two wheels in the back and a long handle on the front with a third wheel that can turn left and right.


Slant was absolutely fascinated by it. He'd never seen such a thing before. When I tested it out I found a lot of shapes gathering to watch. I wasn't expecting so much attention. I'd built something they've never seen before but even they could clearly see the usefulness of this contraption that allowed me to move around faster than walking.


I wasn't expecting to be approached by some high class shapes and offered a new job by the council a few days later. They were amazed by this new thing I invented and they wanted me to make more. It would make delivery jobs much easier. It would make the city run more efficiently.


Somehow I've accidentally done something amazing? I swear I didn't mean to. I just wanted to make a scooter so I could get to the city limits faster...
I was brought before some important looking shapes who questioned me about my invention. How did I come up with the idea? Can I refine it? Can I make more for different uses? It was very stressful to sit through.


Slant was thrilled. My new position meant I could enter more high class restricted areas normally barred to them. I was ordered to memorize everything I can see while inside the Research center that the council was transferring me to. I don't want any of this. How did this happen? I have even more attention on me now!


None of my plans have worked out the way I expected. Living peacefully and quietly, nope. Finding a way to overthrow the government, not happening. Running away from civilization to live wild and free, they're forcing me to move further into the city. I'm almost afraid to see what happens if I make any other plans for the future.


I left a letter to inform Will I was being forcibly transferred far away and it might be a while before we can speak again.

---

The research center was huuuuge! A gigantic square monolith with no windows and heavily fortified locked doors. Researchers and scientists were generally pretty high on the hierarchy. Because more side equals more intelligence according to them. Once again I am the only triangle here.


What really upsets me is how they claim that the only reason I'm even half way intelligent is because I'm slightly circular on the inside and that's why a triangle like me is capable of forming intelligent thoughts. Ugh, seriously? They still talk down to me as if I wouldn't understand what they're saying. It was condescending as shit.


I'm given my own research room, still under observation by soldiers and a few other researchers. They made me draw out a proper diagram for building the 'scooter' I created. I had to explain each part of it to the researchers as they took notes and made little noises of understanding.


At one point I was talking about the concept of friction and realized they had no idea what I was saying. I know physics in this world probably doesn't work the same way (the ground is entirely flat and smooth, we SHOULDN'T be able to walk without sliding, and yet we can!) But there are still some things that apply right?


I'm amazed I haven't encountered more weird physics before, or rather, I simply didn't notice. I did a few experiments by running around and riding around on my scooter in the room and jotted down my observations.


The ground felt smooth and should therefore be frictionless but putting my hands or feet on it makes me...stick? For lack of a better word. It wasn't like my feet were stuck to the ground but more like...I was grounded, anchored until I lift my foot off. I can run and stop on a dime without sliding. I can fall over though, my legs stopped in place while my body pitches forward and I tumble. So there IS some sort of momentum.


The scooter glides very smoothly. A lot smoother than if the ground had any friction to slow it down over time. It means that once I put in some energy for a kick forwards the scooter could go on forever until I stopped it. That was amazing. It meant I really could get all the way through the city without much effort. The only limit being my balance and how fast I make myself go.
Not gonna lie. I actually enjoyed experimenting and discovering new things about this world. Now if only I could have better company during it. The Shapes around me found my experiments childish and unnecessary.


Why can't they understand how revolutionary this is? Our feet have a sticking effect to the ground but other things don't so long as they're not flat. A sled wouldn't slide as well, I tested with a thin sheet of wood that just stops moving when I stop pushing. This means we can make wagons that, with just a push, can travel long distances to arrive somewhere else without having to continuously feed force and energy into it. There's no acceleration, the wagon would move at the same speed of whatever force is first given to it. I could probably add more speed by just kicking off again...


The only problem I've found is making breaks. On the scooter I put my leg back on the ground and stop my movement, though the scooter still wants to move and is only stopped by the fact that I'm holding it.


I'm guessing it would be the same if I made a wagon. The possibilities of such an efficient method of transportation were amazing to me. But no one here seems to understand just how special that is. I was actually having fun! Why couldn't they understand that?!


They didn't care to know HOW it works. They just wanted me to build more of them. It was so FRUSTRATING!


I managed to distract them with some blueprints for a wagon and snuck out of the room, claiming I was hungry. I noticed a cafeteria-like area on my way in. The soldiers were distracted trying to figure out how to use the scooter and I was quick to take advantage of this time I had unsupervised.


I have to thank the organized nature of these people. There were signs and labels everywhere, marking areas, rooms and what they're for. I go quickly through the halls and try to get a sense of what rooms are where.


I need to make a map, a layout of this building. It would make it easier to sneak around in here if I needed to. I read through the signs I passed. What sorts of Research was even happening here?


Distribution of weight for constructional architecture
Melting points of various substances
Increasing crop yield
Waste disposal
Biological studies
Record of all shapes, sides, angles and other measurements.


And many more that I probably haven't seen yet.


They all looked interesting. I peeked into the Biological Studies room and saw shelves full of...Pieces? All different shaped pieces just lining the shelves. Arranged by both color and shape. There was a 15 sided shape in the room examining a strange lopsided Piece. I quietly shut the door before they could notice me.


The Records room looked interesting. I peeked in and found the place filled with shelves upon shelves of files. All neatly marked and labeled. There were shelves for Triangles, Squares and so on. Are these the measurements that they take when we get examined at the hospital? Are my files in here too?


It didn't look like anyone was in here so I quietly went in and started looking around. Thank god these people were so organized, the Triangle shelf was sectioned off by Color so I found the Yellow part and started searching. There weren't any names, just numbers. I looked at the pictures (no photos, just really detailed drawings) of various Yellow Triangles and wondered if I would even recognize myself if I found it.


Something caught my eye as I was flipping through the files.


-Processed-


Stamped in red across the the top of the file.


What the actual fuck? I read more closely.


Yellow Triangle #4292

2 Triangular Pieces - 0 Slots

Length of sides- 39cm, 36cm, 36cm

...a whole bunch of numbers and measurements, I scanned downward to try and find anything relevant...

Profession- Soldier

Cause of Death- Injured attempting to arrest a violent Square. Suffered severe bludgeoning damage to bricks. Bled out before medical assistance could arrive.


I looked around but I couldn't find anything else. Going back to the other files I flipped through to see if there were more -Processed- marked shapes.
There was a clear pattern here. All the files marked as -Processed- also had a Cause of Death listed. Meaning anyone who isn't marked as such is still alive.
Meaning anyone who dies is....processed. Whatever that means. I had a bad feeling about it though. Suddenly feeling paranoid, I quickly put the files back and snuck out of the room.


I should actually go to the cafeteria for some food. I was starting to get hungry again. I found the place easily enough and looked around to see what they had. There was a lot of food. Wow, how long has it been since I've actually eaten a cooked meal?


Since there wasn't much variation in flavor anyway, I just stopped bothering to make proper meals. Why go through the effort? Still. There was something nice about having warm food inside me for the first time in weeks.


I bit down on something that resembled carrots and sighed at the feeling of the food breaking down inside me. There were other shapes sitting around the room, some gave me strange looks. I heard one ask the shape next to them what a Triangle was doing here. "You didn't hear about it? That's the Unnatural one."


"The one who's circular on the inside?!"


"Yeah. Super freaky right?"

I wave cheerfully at them. "Hello!" Might as well TRY to be friendly.
They jump and quickly look away. Oh come on. At least wave back or something. Grumbling, I go back to my food. Jerks.


My guards eventually noticed I was missing and stumbled into the room in a panic, calming down once they spotted me stuffing myself with a 2nd helping.
"Please don't wander off without telling us." A tall isosceles I call 'Tripod' says with a sigh.


I simply shrug. "I DID say I was going to get food. Are you guys hungry?"
"Oh we're not supposed to eat on the job..."


"Not supposed to, or not allowed to?" I asked as I scooted over to make room if they wanted to sit down.


"I...don't actually know?" Tripod says in confusion. I pat the seat next to me.


"Then go get some food and sit down."

"B-but we can't..."

"Is there a rule specifically saying you can't?"

"Well...no..."

"Great! Go grab some food and keep me company."

How desperate was I for social interaction? Very.

My guards shuffled awkwardly before grabbing some simple dishes and eating quickly, clearly uncomfortable with the idea of sitting on the job. I roll my eye at them. "Is it really that hard to just...relax a bit? You're not gonna get in trouble for this right?"

"I've never eaten while working before..." My 2nd guard, I call him Stumpy 'cause he's a very wide and short triangle, says in a surprisingly high pitched voice. Then again, my own voice is pretty high as well.


"So when DO you guys get to eat? I feel like all you ever do is stand around staring at me. Doesn't that get boring?"


"Boring? We haven't dug any holes into you. You've been very well behaved." Tripod sounds confused.

"I mean bored like...ah...how do I say this? You want to do something else? Because you're not being mentally stimulated enough?"


They just looked confused. What? Do they not get bored? That sounds...kinda awful actually.


I'm interrupted from the conversation by two new guards coming in, I guess it was time to change shifts. The guards greet each other before Tripod and Stumpy leave to go do whatever it is they do when not following me around.
"Are you finished eating?" One of the new guards, I mentally name him Bled because his color was a hideous mix of blue and red that just...doesn't become purple. It made my eye sting just looking at him. I glance over to his partner guard, a nice forest green I name Forest, and make a distressed face while discreetly pointing at Bled. Forest winced and nodded. Ok, so its not JUST me, he also realizes his partner is painful to look at.


"Y-yeah I'm done with my food..." I say while averting my eye to avoid looking directly at Bled. I kinda lost my appetite.


"Remember, a square meal a day doesn't stop you from being a proud triangle." Bled says cheerfully. I freeze.


That was one of the code phrases for the rebellion. This means...
I turn to look at Bled directly and he winks at me. He's the agent the rebellion sent to keep me informed even when I'm so far from everyone else. This means...


I'm going to HAVE to spend more time with Bled.

Fuck.

---

Chapter Text

Illusion is Reality

-A darkness approaches-

-Chapter 7-

---

I have to purposely slow down my work ethic. If I make too many innovations all at once it would give me less time here in the research center. I have to say that purposely making wrong designs is harder than you'd think. I think I confused the other researchers when I drew a giant robot and they attempted to actually build one.

To be fair, the blueprint I haphazardly drew up was very detailed. If there's one thing I've learned about mecha its that adding all sorts of gears, joints and connections make them look more feasible. It'd be cool if we really COULD build a Mortar Headd or something though.

Shit, what if I actually made a giant robot? That'd be fucking awesome! I imagine riding up to the Council in a glorious Knight of Gold and crushing them all. Then I can take Will as my Fatima and we would escape this world to explore the glories of space together...my fantasies are getting too detailed.

I shook my head and slapped my bricks lightly. Focus. No time for day dreaming right now. Since Bled is an agent as well as my guard he's able to convince the other guard to leave me to him, I'm well behaved so its not like I need to be watched by two of them ALL the time.

This means I can wander around the building with Bled without worry. I have so many rooms I want to check out. Bled isn't...bad company, even if I can't look at him without getting a headache.

I asked him about the files on deceased shapes marked as -Processed- and he didn't know what that meant either. I went back to the Records room to read more, Bled wanted to help but he's not the best at reading.

I told him to keep a look out if anyone was coming and settled down to read through the files. I'm sure of it now, dead shapes are marked -Processed- with a red stamp. Is that a way of acknowledging their passing? I found it in all the shapes. Not just triangles. Even the circles had them. So this was normal. But also a secret since Bled didn't know what it meant.

I put the files back and head out to check the other rooms. Waste Disposal sounded interesting. Is it like recycling? Or maybe the Agriculture research. I haven't seen any rainclouds or other weather patterns in this world so it would be cool to see how farming works. I only knew the basics of farming in this world. School didn't really cover it. I knew they used outdoor farms and that it involved soil, but that's about it.

The Waste Disposal room had some shapes standing around outside looking through papers so I couldn't sneak in. Guess its the Agriculture room for me.

Unfortunately one of the researchers from my room, Mechanical Engineering, found us in the hall and asked what the blueprint I drew was actually for. "Well its just an...idea for a...farming tool..." I make up off the top of my head.

"Farming? But what about these strange arms?"

"For picking the harvest."

"What about this large contraption underneath?"

"Erm- for tilling the ground!"

"What about this thing on the top labeled 'Death Canon'?"

"....its for keeping wild animals away from the crops...?"



The Mechanical Scientist squints at me suspiciously. I smile innocently.

"Yeah. That makes sense. Pesky beasts keep trampling the fields with their points. This is brilliant! But your diagrams aren't very well explained. Mind coming back in and working out the details?"

"Sure." I resolve myself to several hours of bullshitting.

---

I am surprisingly good at bullshitting.

The terrible sketch I made was re-worked multiple times into an actual farming tool. Not sure how to build it. It'll be a long term project for our group.

On the other hand, production of scooters were going along great. I even got the concept for wagons made, examined and approved by the higher ups. Good news, their approval of me was going up. Bad news, they still refused my request to see my family.

At least I got the 'OK' to be allowed to live in my old house, so I could send Will letters again. With my new scooter I could commute to work easily so they were alright with me not living in the inner city.

I still have a bit of free time to myself, which I spent talking to the agent in the Sanitation department (Purple) about what they do and what they know about the Waste Disposal department.

"Well generally we just gather up the trash from all the public trashcans in the city and dump them off into a chute near the Research Center. The Waste Disposal guys are actually Higher shapes. I think they take the waste for making fertilizer or something since I've seen them together with the guys from the Agriculture department."

"Is there really enough trash for that?"

"There are in other parts of the city."

"Huh. Seems like a waste if they throw out stuff."

"It is. But some people just don't care. The real hard work is sweeping."

"Sweeping?"

"Lots of Carbon dust starts building up over time. So we have to sweep the whole city every cycle. At least we have a lot of workers. Also that new thing you made will make our jobs much easier, so thanks."

It was one of the few times anyone in this world has ever shown me gratitude. I felt my bricks burn as I flushed a bright orange color. "O-oh yeah? Well it isn't all THAT impressive...just a thing I built because I thought of it..."

"That 'scooter' thing, and that weird sheet you were wearing that one time, did you invent that too?"

"Well I DID make it..." I felt all warm and tingly. It was a strange feeling, but I was...happy?

He laughed. "It seriously startled me when you just came up from the ground like that. Its kind of amazing when I think about it. I seriously didn't see you at all."

Purple leans in close and I'm suddenly struck by what a nice color he is. Its a deep purple with the barest hint of red and it was quite pretty. Nothing at all like Bled.

"We could definitely use things like that for our...'assignments' you know? If you could make more I'm sure we'd be able to gather more intel and sneak into restricted areas."

"That s-sounds like something I can do. If you really think it would help the cause..." I found my gaze trailing along the straight lines of his bricks. They were evenly spaced and he was perfectly symmetrical from the front.

"Um...are you okay?"

"I'm fine. Yup. Fine!" I squeak. What's wrong with me?

"Well I have to go now, more stuff to clean. See you some other time then? You're a pretty fun guy to talk to."

"Of course!" I say quickly. My bricks were warm and I felt a little light headed. Is this? Oh no. No way.

As soon as he was out of earshot I sat down on the park bench and groaned. Oh my god. I have a crush on him. Just because he thanked me and told me that the stuff I made was pretty cool. I cannot believe this is happening to me. I get a fricking crush on the garbage man just because he said a few nice things to me.

I've had stupid crushes before. There was one time when I was playing in a park as a child and a boy comes up to play with me. I didn't even know his name but he was fun to play with and he was polite. Apparently that was all it took. I never saw him again after that day. We were complete strangers.

It happened a lot to me when I was growing up. Just getting crushes on anyone who showed me any amount of attention or kindness. There was a girl I hung out with after school in elementary, one of my cousins, a boy in my Drama class during middle school, a girl I shared classes with during high school...

None of those crushes ever went anywhere and they just faded after a while. Even back then I just never even considered doing anything about my feelings. I've watched so many movies and shows about falling in love and dating but I just never felt 'right' about actually getting together with anyone. The feelings go away eventually anyway so I know it can't have been love.

The problem remained that I had just gotten a crush on a freaking triangle. Of all things. Ugh. Was I really THAT starved for affection that I latch onto the first guy who willingly talks to me? Apparently yes. I glare down at my still orange bricks and groan. Fuck my life.

---

Scooters were now a thing. They were still limited to only the shapes who had jobs requiring them to travel a lot, mail service, trash collecting, food delivery and so on, but it was becoming more common to see people riding around as they do their jobs.

The completed wagon designs were even attached to the back of modified scooters to vastly increase the amount of stuff they can carry. Efficiency was way up, they can get more done in less time and the Council was incredibly pleased. I was essentially told 'The effort we put in to educate you was not completely worthless.' Which kinda killed any happy feelings I had toward my accomplishments.

Did they have to be condescending asshats even when complimenting me? The fact that they assume they were responsible for my own original ideas really ticked me off. Whether or not they put me through a childhood of intense study wouldn't have effected my ability to make innovation. I already knew this stuff. I watch Myth Busters and How it's Made!

They also continue to refuse my requests to see my family. Their most recent response to my inquiry was 'Stop trying to associate with your lowborn family. You are better than them. They will never amount to anything whereas you are proving the superiority of the Circles. Even with your lowborn body, your inner greatness as a Circle is clear. Go get Paired and produce more superior offspring.'

I crumpled the letter and ate it.

Fuck them.

---

I chat with Purple now and then. He's nice to talk to but we don't really have a lot of shared interests. I can't rant to him about how the Violinist of Hamelin anime completely disregarded the manga or how Aigis is BEST GIRL and I will literally fight anyone who thinks otherwise.

I do get to question him about what he does for the Rebellion though. It's interesting enough. The Sanitation department generally gets the dirty jobs (I may have laughed a bit too much because I am pun-trash) for disposing of the dead bodies that the other agents 'take care' of.

It's kinda scary to think that we have actual assassins in this group but also pretty cool. Like a spy movie. This also means that dead bodies are being used as fertilizer. That is a little creepy but not all that strange if I really think about it.

I ask if anyone ever investigates the murders but Purple assures me that without a body there's no fuss. They haven't killed anyone too high in the hierarchy so a few shapes just...mysteriously vanishing doesn't raise any flags. Unless they're under special observation the Council doesn't care. And the people they stage 'accidents' for are just assumed to be accidents. They have a lot of practice in hiding their tracks.

Also, the investigation teams in this world are all idiots. The idea of slow methodically planned murders doesn't really occur to most of our populace. So unless someone literally sees a shape commit murder right in front of them there is no suspicion.

I asked how they thought up the idea to commit murder to begin with. Purple says that a long, long time ago there was an Unnatural, an equilateral triangle with 3 slots, all square in shape, who got so fed up with her Square husband constantly impregnating her that she dropped a refrigerator on him. When the authorities questioned her about it, she claimed it was an accident and they...just accepted her answer and let her go. There's no way a mother of 9 would kill her own husband after all.

She was so astounded by this fact that she began teaching other unhappy Triangles about the concept of staging 'accidents' to be rid them of unwanted partners. The idea spread and those unhappy triangles became the basis for the now long reaching underground rebellion.

Dude. That's fucking metal as shit.

Also really fucked up. Will I be expected to do that too? I don't know if I can. I told Purple that I don't feel right about actually killing anyone and he was surprisingly comforting about it. "Murder is not for everyone. I've never killed anyone either, though I have been tasked with transporting the bodies."

"I don't even WANT to be paired with anyone. I don't...like the idea of Clicking. It just seems...weird."

"What's so weird about it? You're almost an adult-" Purple brushes a hand along my side as if measuring my length. I shiver at the sensation. "Most triangles reach adulthood at 30 centimeters. You're what? 25 and a half?"

"S-something like that..." I flush and fidget as his hand presses against my bricks.

"Generally you would already be full sized by now. You're an Unnatural right? I heard that the more sides you are, the more food you need. You're a Triangle but your insides are round so maybe you're just not eating enough?"

"Is THAT why I'm always hungry?!" I gasp at him. You think one of the MANY doctors I've been to would have told me so. I remember growing up with my parents and just being hungry all the time. They didn't have the money to get more food.

Hell, I've been eating much better since living on my own despite not cooking anything. The 'milk' helped a lot. It was more expensive than just plain vegetables but the sheer amount of nutrients in it more than made up for it. I chug a carton a day and I still feel peckish. I've tried chugging two but it makes my bricks feel bloated and strange. I guess I was over loading myself with too much stuff at once.

Fuck am I just destined to always be tiny?! I was a little over 4'10"-ish at the age of 27 in my first life. A combination of tiny Asian genetics and malnutrition as a young child. Both my younger sisters were taller than me because my parents had a better idea of what is healthy to feed them. I am so SICK of being the short one!

"Have you been...starving yourself?" Purple asked incredulously.

"Not on purpose! I'm eating more now! My parents just couldn't afford so much food for both me and my brother..."

He pats me on the back. "Hey it's fine. So you're not fully grown, you're eating more now right? I'm sure you'll reach adulthood soon enough."

I pouted even as I felt all warm and fuzzy from his concern for me. "So...are you paired?" I asked.

"Ah...no actually. I'm a Blank." He says somewhat sadly.

Blanks are the Shapes that never develop either a Slot or Piece. In other words, they had no physical sex and were unable to have children. Being a Blank was seen as an unfortunate defect. Blanks would get the lower class and less desirable jobs. They didn't have families to support anyway so there wasn't a need to give them important and well paying jobs.

Blanks showed up in all Shapes from Triangles all the way to the Circles. While Blank Triangles were more or less just seen as normal, a Blank Circle was considered a tragedy. There were already very few Circles in our population, they had the longest gestation period for pregnancies and are so fragile they require constant care to ensure survival after birth. So any Circle that couldn't breed was the end of a bloodline. I actually felt sorry for Blank Circles.

Blank Triangles can still get jobs and be treated more or less normally by society. Blank Circles are forced to go through life pitied by everyone around them and their parents would immediately attempt to produce a proper heir. The Blank child would still be pampered but their only purpose is to just exist and look pretty.

That sounds like an awful way to live.

This time it was my turn to comfort Purple. "Well It's not ALL bad. Even if you're Blank...at least you've got friends right?"

He chuckles a little. "I guess, but I've always wanted to have a child."

"Can't you adopt a kid?"

"I can't get the paperwork for it." Purple says sadly. I'm not sure what to say.

"Is that why you joined the Rebellion?" I said at last, quietly.

He's quiet for a bit. I can't read his expression. "I didn't join because of that. My father was a member and I was sworn in because of it. But...whether or not this rebellion succeeds, nothing can change the fact that I'm a Blank."

I really didn't know what to say. I stepped closer and hesitantly gave him a hug. He stiffens for a bit before hugging me back lightly. It was nice, but sad. The only people I've hugged in this life are Orange and Will. Purple as well now. I wonder if I can really do this. The rebels have been around for a long time now but don't seem to be anywhere close to actually overthrowing the system.

Can I make a difference? Can I really do anything to help further their goals? Can I help this poor sad man, who suffers in a way that cannot be fixed? I don't know what to do. I really don't.

---

Chapter Text

Illusion is Reality

-Everything you care about will change-

-Chapter 8-

---

I went to my first funeral today.

One of the Hexagon doctors had an unfortunate 'accident' and took a tumble down the stairs. Three of his sides were crushed in and he died from blood loss. Slant told me about it gleefully while constructing a new room for my house. I knew that Hexagon. He was one of my many doctors.

I used this fact to get permission to attend his funeral. I felt guilty and yet content at his passing. I remember him. I bit him when he manhandled me as an infant. I hated him so much back then. It didn't mean I wanted him dead though. His wife and daughter were at the funeral along with many family friends. I felt very out of place.

Slant said that the doctor was keeping records of Unnatural shapes that he's examined. They had sent an agent to steal those files but the doctor saw them and had to be silenced.

I sat quietly through the funeral as the shapes talked about the doctor's accomplishments. Finally we got one final look at the body before the Funeral workers carried off the coffin. I was surprised. There were flowers laid out on the body covering the broken parts of his frame. He was also white, his vibrant color drained away. So shapes lose their colors when they died. That explains how no one at Waste Disposal has noticed the bodies tossed among the garbage.

The coffin was elaborate, his family had plenty of money saved up to afford the funeral costs. I watched the Funeral workers carry the coffin off. Did they bury them somewhere? I've never seen a graveyard before. Did they cremate? I felt all weird inside. Sad, guilty and unsure. Someone was dead. Killed by the people I'm working with.

I am supporting a group of fanatics and murderers. For a cause that I won't even know will pan out. Most of their plans are just information gathering and long term ideas involving our children. How many years will this take? The hopeless reality threatened to overwhelm me and I had to hurriedly leave before anyone sees me break down.

I want Will. I want to hold him. I want to hear his voice. I miss him so much. Bled was my guard right now. He wouldn't stop me from going to see him. It'll just be for a little while. No one has to know about it. I just needed to see him again. I had to see with my own eye that he's doing ok.

I walk down familiar streets towards my parents house. Bled is following behind me. "Where are you going?"

"To see my brother."

"You know you're not supposed to."

"I don't give a fuck. Are you going to stop me?" I hiss.

"If I want to keep my job, yes. You NEED me for getting around without scrutiny. I have to stop you. If the Council finds out I didn't..."

"Fuck the council. Fuck you too." I power walked down the street and I can hear Bled's hurried footsteps running after me. "Kid! Please! Think of what you're doing! We can't afford to screw up at this point!"

"The only reason I joined this group is for my brother's sake. All I want is to see him again. I don't know how long this rebellion will take. What's the point of it all if I can't even talk to him?"

"Don't be so hasty! You could ruin this for everyone!" Bled grabs my arm. "Your good behavior has already gotten the council to only require one guard on you at a time. If you act up now they'll just make it even harder for you!"

I grit my eye/mouth angrily but I can see where he's coming from. Doesn't mean I have to like it. I'm just gonna have to sneak out at night like that first time. Why is everything so STUPID?!

Bled sees me back down and sighs in relief. "Look kid. There's a lot riding on you. We can't let anything ruin all the progress you've already made for us. You have a Research position. This is huge. Its the highest level area we've EVER been able to get an agent into. Also, I hear the guys in construction were hoping you could draw them up a blueprint for some kind of weapon. I've seen some of your ideas, they could be useful."

"Yeah, yeah. I'll get some sketches for a ballista or something."

"Ballista?"

"Like a giant slingshot that can shoot arrows or boulders."

"Where do you come up with this stuff?"

I shrug, already sulkily heading back home. I need to grab my scooter and get back to work. The 'break' I received to attend the funeral was for the whole day but if I can't go visit Will then I may as well work.

---

I sigh and put down my pencil. The team of engineers I was given for my research were arguing over the blueprint. The problem here is that I can make all the drawings I want, but I don't know enough about mechanical engineering to put in all the necessary details on actually putting together a giant farming robot.

I can build a crude catapult, I can craft a working bow and there's the simple wheeled things but anything more complicated is kind of a bust. I'm an artist not an engineer. Watching Myth Busters means I know how it works but that doesn't mean I know how to build that stuff.

So far we've figured out how to make the tires into a proper shape for tilling the soil as it rolls by but we were having trouble with getting the arms to work correctly. That's not even mentioning the 'Death Ray' that I continue to insist is necessary.

"Ugh. I'm gonna go for a walk, clear my head a little so I can focus better." I tell them as I leave the room. They're not even paying attention to me. Bled isn't here today so its just me and Tripod.

I was just walking the halls randomly when I noticed it. The coffin from the funeral. What was it doing here in the Research center? I look to see which hallway we were in.

Waste Disposal

You know what? I'm not even surprised at this point. I turn to Tripod and point at it. "What's this coffin doing here?" He's just as confused as I am. "A...coffin?" I go up and grab onto his sides. "Hey. What happens to dead bodies after the funeral?"

"T-they get taken by the Funeral workers..." Tripod has turned pale as he stares at the box. "But what happens to it?" I ask.

"I...I don't know..." He seemed distressed. Fuck. I need to actually investigate the Waste Disposal rooms. Bled's not here though...but...I look up at Tripod's eye.

"Do you want to find out?"

He shudders and looks around fearfully. "B-but we can't..."

"Have you ever lost a family member?" I ask. He stares at me. "Y-yes...my mother..." He says quietly. I gesture at the coffin angrily. "Don't you want to know what they did with her?!"

He looks around the hallway and after realizing theres no one here but us he gazes at me, scared but there's a trace of firmness. "Y-yes." He says.

We both start down the hallway towards one of the doors the leads into the Waste research rooms. My heart would be racing if I had one in the conventional sense. What happens to the waste? I know its turned into fertilizer along with the bodies that the rebellion disposes of...but does this mean that ALL dead bodies are disposed of in such a way?!

And no one knew about this?! No one questioned it?! We open a door and carefully look inside. The first thing I noticed is the noise. These doors were surprisingly well sound proofed. There was a screeching, metallic grinding noise. I looked to see a lot of workers dumping stuff into a large machine.

The sound is horrendously loud. We could probably sneak into the room and no one would hear us coming. The machine grinded up the items tossed in and drops the pieces onto a conveyer belt leading to yet another grinder. I watched in horrified fascination. The grinding process went through another 3 times until everything became a powder. That powder was then deposited into a large vat of water that churned it all up, mixing everything together.

I saw workers from the Agriculture department coming by with large barrels that they filled with the liquid. There it was. The fertilizer that we used for crops. Besides me I can feel Tripod shaking in horror. He suddenly grabs me and points at the 1st grinder. I look over and feel my stomach drop (if I had one) as I see them throw in the body of my former doctor. Proof that our people were using our dead as fertilizer along with our trash, purposely. No wonder they don't question any bodies they find.

Tripod is so scared. He's shaking all over and I couldn't help but feel bad. He's not prepared for this. At least I already knew about the dead bodies that end up here. I just didn't know there had ALWAYS been dead bodies in here. I was turning to grab him and lead him back out when I spotted it. At the end of the machine with the valve the workers used to fill the barrels, they were bringing up a tray full of cartons. Very familiar cartons.

Milk cartons.

I turned to shove Tripod out of the room. I slammed the door behind us and ran, grabbing him by the hand and dragging the two of us out of that hallway. Shit. Shit. Shit. It wasn't JUST fertilizer. It was food as well.



So many letters and numbers. Long chemical chains. So many of them. Listed right on the side of the carton. I wasn't sure what to think. It should upset me more but...they're already dead so why not use them for nutrients? It's practical, even if It's fucked up. Sometimes I think I'm TOO pragmatic. My thoughts raced even as Tripod and I ran down the hall. I have to tell people. This was...this was BIG! We finally stop in the hallway for Mechanical research, panting and shaking.

"Shit." I gasp as I leaned against a wall. "Fuck." I say as I slid down the wall to slump over on the ground. If the situation wasn't so serious I wanted to shout 'Soylent green is people!' Because what other response could I have? Well I suppose I can also shout 'the dumplings are made of foetus!' But it might make Tripod more upset.

"T-that was...was that real?!" Tripod was crying and he sounded so scared. I reach out to squeeze his hand. He clings to me tightly as he cries. "They j-just threw that body in there! Like it was NOTHING!" He sobs.

Fuck. How many people knew about this? The shapes in there were from the upper echelons. Is this why the higher class shapes always get properly cooked meals?! I've been drinking milk all this time. Hell, our children are fed our trash and dead this entire time.

Tripod is starting to panic. I pat him on the back "Breathe. Just breathe."

"Nnngh-t-they really just..."

"Just breathe. In and out. You're shaking." I rubbed his back. I had to inform the rebellion.

.....also I was hungry again.

Mother fucker!

---

I stared at the carton of milk. Am I bad person if I'm gonna drink it anyway? I shrug and tip it back into my eye. They're already dead and I'm starving. I was actually more disturbed by the idea that our trash was going in here too. Ew, drinking ground up dead people is one thing, drinking trash is just gross.

I am well aware my priorities are somewhat fucked up.

Slant was pacing back and forth muttering in horror at the news I just gave him. He looks up at me in disgust. "You're still drinking that...horrid thing?!"

"Look, you drank this too when you were younger. It's gross sure, but I'm famished." At least now I knew what the files meant by -Processed- so that's one mystery crossed off my list of what the hell is going on. The remaining list is still absurdly long.

"How can you be so calm about this?! It's disgusting!" Slant frantically waves his arms around.

"Panicking doesn't help anyone. We need to think carefully about what to do with this knowledge." I say between sips. I'd like to drink until I feel full but I keep getting that tingling 'stuffed' feeling when I drink too much. Like my stomach can't hold it all and I have to wait and 'digest' a bit first. It makes sense, I'm only so big, I only have so much volume inside me. Even if I don't seem to have a stomach?

"...You're right but I still feel sick." Slant grumbles. He sits down and rubs around his eye. "We have to tell the people. I'll put out a note in the trash for it. Maybe one of the others can figure out something."

I hum in agreement while stroking my bricks. Ugh, drank too much. I feel bloated. I can feel the chemical chains inside me slowly breaking down. I hate it when I overeat. I get all uncomfortable and I have trouble moving around as my bricks strain to keep it all in. I groan as I carefully lower myself onto a chair.



"What's wrong? Are you sick? I told you not to drink that stuff!"

"No. Just drank too much. I feel like I'm gonna explode. This was not a good idea..." I moaned painfully.

He manages a bit of nervous laughter, clearly still stressed but trying to pull himself together. I rub at my bricks. I think I'm actually bulging, yeah, note to self, don't drink two cartons of milk in a row. No matter how hungry I'm feeling. Had this problem back as a human when I try to finish all my food because I was taught not to leave a single grain of rice behind. It was fine with general meals but most restaurants in America had servings not meant for someone my size. I would try to finish them anyway and just end up with stomach pains.

"Well I doubt you'll be able to move for a while. Just rest here while I spread the news. You did good today kid. This was really important information you got for us."

I groan as I slump back in my chair. "Oh yeah, can you check on my guard? I don't think he's doing ok after learning the truth." I left Tripod outside, watching my house like he always does. He seemed like he was calming down during our walk back to my house. I'm still worried though.

Slant nods and leaves, closing the door behind him. I try to stand up and walk a little, maybe some movement will help me digest faster. My bricks felt warm. Uncomfortably so. How much energy is being generated inside me right now? Human digestion produces heat as the acids break the substances apart into a liquid solution to be absorbed by the intestines. But Shapes break everything back into their base forms and feed on just the energy inherent within the bonds. The amount of energy that provides must be immense.

Bonded atoms have less energy than individuals. Meaning the longer the chain I break down, the more energy is released as it gets closer to being just base elements, which produces heat. That would explain why I feel like a furnace right now. Normally, energy must be used to break the bond between the atoms but my body just strips that bond right out, taking all the released energy for my own.

I ponder about my weirdass biology as I walk slowly around my kitchen. There's the stove I haven't used since coming here. For lack of anything to do I flick it on. It's a stovetop with a metal coil that slowly heats up. I've seen Orange cook before, the stove never goes above 100 Celsius though. It was strange to me since I'm used to cooking at much higher temperatures as a human.

Machines are pretty cool. This world doesn't have electricity in the same sense as I knew it. We don't have lights because there is no darkness. Everything's white with black outlines. Things like my refrigerator or the stove aren't powered by outlets or batteries. They're powered by me. By us. The churning energy inside us produced by our own biology can be transferred into machines to make them run. Just put my hand on the 'Power' slot and I can see the energy bar filling up. The fridge stores my power and it slowly gets used up over time so I just need to recharge it now and then to keep it working.

It's pretty frickin' cool if I do say so myself. Playing with the stove did more than just ease my boredom, it leeches off a bit of the excess energy from me over-eating. Sure this means I'll be hungry again as soon as I'm done digesting but by this point I'm used to being in a constant state of 'I could go for a snack'. Speaking of snacks, I've never seen popcorn in this world. The stoves don't heat up enough to make it.

Now that I think of it, I've never seen a fire in this world. All the stoves are 'electric' and don't heat up all that much. Even the Waste Disposal room only had grinders, no flame. They don't burn their trash, just grind it up and mix with water in a twisted gross recycling process. If I think about it more deeply I can understand why there is no fire.

It's too dangerous.

Almost all food is made of CHO. When we digest food we release Carbon, Hydrogen and Oxygen out into the air through the seams in our bricks. There's so much Carbon dust built up we need workers doing a sweep every week just to gather it up and dispose of it. If we add this fact to the sheer amount of Hydrogen there must be in the air...

Hydrogen is incredibly reactive and combustible. Oxygen may not be combustible but it's a necessary requirement for keeping a flame alive. Carbon BURNS and so long as there's any Oxygen nearby, it will continue to burn. A lack of rain means all that hydrogen and oxygen in the air ISN'T combining into water, which means that unless there's something that's absorbing those gases our atmosphere is filled with them. In other words, the stove is built to never exceed a certain temperature and no fire exists.

I shiver. What a terrifying thought. With what little chemistry I know...

A single spark might be enough to burn this world to the ground.

---

Chapter Text

Illusion is Reality

-Turn around now before you see something you might regret-

-Chapter 9-

---

As I thought, the entire rebellion was going fucking nuts over the information I've found. A lot of them refused to believe me. We ended up swearing Tripod into the group just so they could get his confirmation of what I saw. They were all uneasy and disgusted.

Me? I just went about my days as normal. (I even snuck out to visit Will, he's getting so big!) There's not much I can do about it. I started asking about how metal worked if there were no fire. Apparently that's what the Melting Point division is all about. Their room is set up with a large...oven is the best way to put it. It's the only thing I've seen that goes up to higher temperatures. In fact they somehow manage to create high heat without igniting any flames.

As much as I tried to understand how that worked, it just...worked. It made no fucking sense and I'm reminded once more that physics in this world don't work like I know them. A lot of our technology is essentially, 'it just works', and it drives me crazy.

I would have taken that to mean my doomsday fear of everything burning down was exaggerated but considering I still haven't seen any fires around...

The Melting researchers are basically in charge of making the metal parts that go in building machines. Things like stoves and washing machines. Power tools and hospital equipment. They just send molds into the 'oven' to melt down various substances into the shapes they need, no fires needed. It just raised more questions with me but no one there knew the answers either. The shape that originally designed the 'oven' was long since dead and no one bothered to know how it WORKED, only how to USE it.

I asked for a copy of the blueprints for other machines to see if maybe I could learn more about them and thus, get over my own roadblock in my work. A part of me was still considering the whole 'escape and live in the wild' route. I should go through with my plan to see what's outside the city at least.

---

Bled was my guard tonight. I informed him I was just going to ride around on my scooter because it helps me think. He accepted the excuse easily enough and I set off at night, the streets empty as all the shapes went home for curfew.

I don't know how long it was. I kept kicking at the ground to speed up until I got worried about how fast I was going and was forced to slow. The number of houses around me began to decrease in number until I was left with just empty whiteness in all directions. It was unnerving. I suddenly realized I should have bought something to mark my path with. What if I get lost and can't find my way home?

No. It's fine. I've got a good sense of direction and I can use my scooter to point me back. I've only been going straight so all I would need to do is turn around. Still, the utter void around me was creepy. White as far as my eye can see with no distinction between ground or sky. Was there even a sky?

Finally I spotted something. A faint horizontal black line. I slow down and just walk cautiously closer to it. Carefully placing my scooter on the ground, making sure it was still pointed correctly, I walked closer to that line. It was an edge. The end of the ground.

I peered over it and saw nothing. I grabbed onto the edge and leaned over. There was nothing. It was the ends of the world. Just a drop off ledge and nothingness all around. I reached down to feel underneath. Flat and smooth just like the ground I stand on. A flat world. A flat disc. There was nothing underneath when I carefully bent over to look. Not even elephants.

There was nowhere to go. I can't even escape. Not this way at least. I heard about wild animals, probably on the OTHER side of the planet, knowing my luck. I sigh and turn my scooter around to head back. I suspected, but it was still disappointing to know there was nothing out here.

---

There was a rising social unrest. All members of the rebellion were refusing to buy milk. To prevent the infants from starving they've been crushing up fruits and vegetables to make a thick pulpy mush to feed them. The negative effects weren't noticeable immediately.

The infants were overheating. All shapes heat up after eating. It was a side effect from all the energy built up inside us. Breaking down solid foods generates more heat than the children were able to handle. A lot of children were hospitalized for fevers. They simply couldn't handle non-processed foods. I can overheat from just 2 cartons of milk which is already processed for easier digestion. These children just couldn't handle even a semi solid yet.

I essentially 'invented' a strainer so they could just filter out the solids from the juice. It helped a lot. Mini-Sam actually came to thank me. I'm just glad I'm able to help. Some of the other shapes were beginning to notice this strange racial boycott of milk by a sizable population of squares and triangles.

As for me, I'm probably the only shape in the know who still drinks milk. Sadly I don't think I'm growing any bigger. I even got a doctor's appointment to check. He seemed confused because I've long since reach sexual maturity but I'm still not technically an adult. Great, yet more examples of my freakishness. Stupid malnutrition, can't really blame my parents, its really more of my tutor's faults I kept missing meals as a child. In human terms I suppose it would mean I'm stuck looking like an older teenager? Ugh, what else is new? At least its older teen and not younger teen.

The good news is that people wouldn't be able to force me to Click since they instinctively still think I'm a kid. I guess that's good. I can still be Paired though and I really don't want to. Despite all that I still have to deal with being hungry.

"Stupid non-existent stomach. Can't you just NOT?!" I shout at my belly. My belly responded by aching. I drank a carton of milk. My belly made happy feelings.

"Fuck you too."

---

Things were getting tense. I've underestimated how upset the Rebellion was over the whole 'we are feeding our children the crushed bodies of our dead'. Someone on the mail delivery team slipped notes with this information into the mailbox of every shape in our area.

From the muttering I hear around the streets on my way to work it seems even the other districts were given this information. Everywhere I go I see shapes gossiping uneasily about whether or not that strange note was true. It seems even some high class shapes were in the dark about this. Guess only the Waste and Agriculture teams were privy to this knowledge.

Inquiries were sent to the council. So many letters expressing people's need for clarification. Was this true? Why have you hidden this from us? Why are the dead being used as food? These were just a few of the more common letters and complaints being sent in to the council.

Slant told me about these letters and informed me that the Rebellion was planning on stirring up even more unrest and starting a riot. He wanted me to give him some more blueprints for weapons in preparation.

I gave him the finished ballista designs (mounted on wagons for easier transport and aiming) and told him that power tools and other construction materials were good enough for simple weapons.

I've also measured and crafted more of my 'camouflage' suits for several of our members who deal with the assassination and espionage. They've gotten a lot of work done with sneaking into restricted areas. Slant told me they have a good layout of the government buildings. He says we're going to capture the council members and execute them in front of the people during the riot.

This was really happening. We were going to finally start an uprising. I spent my time anxious and worried. Am I ready for this? Hell no. I am so worried and scared and I don't know if I can do this. How many people are going to get hurt?

I outright tell Purple not to participate in the riot. "What? But...this is all that we've been working for?"

"You could get hurt or killed. Please. Stay home that day." I beg him, the nerves of my anxiety made me light headed. I was so stressed out. I haven't been able to sleep properly. I'm sure Purple noticed just how bad I looked because he finally nodded. "Ok. If you're that worried, I'll call in sick that day."

The neighborhood, hell, the whole city was in a tizzy. There were already fights breaking out along the streets. The soldiers were deployed everywhere to arrest people and break up the brawls. The Rebellion was continuing to spread rumors of dark dealings that the Council has been doing. They used me and Tripod's descriptions of the Waste Disposal room to make the truth seem even harsher and scary.

Slant told me the riot would be tomorrow.

I visited Will that night and told him to stay home. To try and force mom and dad to stay home too. Will asked if the rumors were true. "...Yeah. I saw it myself. When I was in the Research center. They threw a body into the grinder."

Will looked absolutely terrified. I tried to hug him the best I can. "That's why I need you to stay home tomorrow. Ok? You can't go outside at all. Close the blinds, stay quiet, block the doors. Please stay safe."

"I-I'll try..." Will's eye was tearing up and he kept trembling. "A-are you going to stay home too big brother?"

"Yes." I lie.

I have to be there. I had to be there. Mini-Sam insisted on it. "This is all thanks to your work. You will have the honor of killing those wretched Circle councilmen." He sounded so proud of me. I just felt sick.

I've been stress drinking milk for a week now. I felt uncomfortable all over, my bricks itched and burned. I can't even throw up despite my anxiety because shapes aren't built to be able to do so. I just lay awake on my bed watching the 'time' slider. Tomorrow we riot. Tomorrow I'll be involved in more violence than I've ever been part of. In either this life or my first. I don't think I'll be able to kill anyone.

I'm so scared. I don't want to do this. This was a bad idea. I take another sip from the milk carton and find it empty. I toss it to the ground with all the others. My insides churned nauseously and I felt exhausted. I really need to sleep. My vision is spinning and despite the energy rumbling inside me, I just felt so...tired.

Tomorrow we riot.

---

My Writing Process

Chapter Text

Illusion is Reality

-LIGHT SOMETHING ON FIRE-

-Chapter 10-

----

I blink blearily. Wha? There's a knocking sound. Someone's at my door. I flop around with all the grace of a slice of bread longing to be toast and fall off my bed.

Ugh. I'm so tired. I want to lay down again and just forget everything...

KNOCK KNOCK

Fuck...

I groan and get up, stumbling towards the front door. "什么?" I grumble as I open the door. Bled blinks at me. "Whoa, did you sleep at ALL? You look awful."

"I'm well aware I'm hideous." I deadpan as I blink sleepily at him. God I must really be out of it if I can actually look directly at him without feeling sick.

"Its the big day. We've got the weapons made and we've stirred up quite a lot of people for this. Its time to storm the Council hall."

Right. Ugh, I don't want to do this. I turn and chug another carton of milk before putting on my top hat. "Ok, lets do this." I grumble.



"How can you drink that stuff?" Bled asks in disgust.

"You don't understand how hungry I am. Its not like I want to drink this shit." Solid food takes up more space inside me so I can't eat as much in one sitting. Maybe when this is all over we can keep the grinders for making milk and just...not put dead bodies in it. That's not so hard right?

Bled shudders "That sounds awful. Being forced to drink something like that."

I shrug and stumble out of my house, yawning loudly. I'm too tired to even stress out over the impending upheaval of our governmental system. Bled grabs me as I start tipping over. "Geez kid! I think you might be sick. I've never seen you this bad...I've never seen anyone this bad."

"Does that mean I can go home and just not deal with today?" The world looks like its tilting somewhat.

"....you're kind of an important part of this plan. You're the one who helped us get this far. The others will be expecting you."

"Uuuuugh~"

---

Mini was standing on a box and making some sort of inspiring speech. I kinda nodded off a few times. I think he was talking about me a few times.

"-or the sake of our goals we have sacrificed so much! And now at long last we are ready to take the fight to them! Those pompous circles will know our wrath. Our frustration at being forced into roles we do not want! You there! What is your grievance?"

He points at a lime-green isosceles. "I can't lift heavy things due to a weakened side from an accident as a child. Despite this, the council assigned me to a Laborer job! I am constantly in pain and barely make enough money to support my wife and daughter!"

Mini points at another shape, a lopsided square, more of a trapezoid actually. "And you?" He thunders in his loud bass voice.

"The matchmaker decided that because of how Irregular I am, I shouldn't be allowed to Pair! They said they didn't want more Freaks like me!" The trapezoid cries loudly. Oh shit, that's a girl.

I shook myself. Wake up Jan, can't fall asleep right before a riot. I blink rapidly. I look around and see that we're all gathered in the streets. Huge crowds of Triangles. Angry triangles. A few squares here and there. I even saw a few Irregular pentagons. Oh hey, its that star shaped one, wow, he's gotten old...

I'm holding a piece of paper in my hand. Wait, when was I given this? How out of it was I? The crowd was still growing larger as more and more shapes came out to listen. I glance around worriedly. I see a lot of purple shapes and curse the fact that we all look pretty similar from afar.

My heart (if I had one) drops every time I see bright blue. My worry is coming back as I wake up. Please don't be out here Will. Stay inside. Stay safe.

"-nd today is the day that changes! Today we fight back! Today we finally bring down those selfish Circles who sit up on high and don't lift a finger to help any of us. Those Circles who allow the desecration of our dead! Tricked us into feeding our children their filth and waste!"

Damn. Mini's pretty good at this.

"Who will come with us on our charge?"

"""ME!!""" The crowd screams. I wince at the noise. If I wasn't awake before, I sure as shit am now. I glance down at the paper in my hand. What was this? It was a map, the layout of the inside of the Council building. Oh right, they wanted me to be part of the charge...

Do I even have a weapon? I look around and find that most people are just carrying blocks of wood, construction tools and etc. One triangle was brandishing a rolling pin.

The crowd was chanting along with Mini's shouts now. His booming voice carried far and we began to march. I trudged along, not wanting to be here but I didn't have much of a choice. I clutched the map tightly. Where were the guards? Policemen? Shouldn't they be sent out to stop this mob?

Wait, there's Tripod and Stumpy. I guess even the guards are all for this revolution. We continue moving and the shouting was getting louder as the shapes got more and more riled up.

I heard a smashing sound and flinched. It seems that first act of destruction ignited the power keg and absolute chaos broke out. People were running around screaming, throwing things, smashing things, I saw government buildings being broken into. I saw furniture being thrown out into the streets. Oh god were they going into houses?!

"Will!" I turn and try to make my way to my parent's house, they should be fine right? This riot was breaking out closer to the inner city, they live far away enough right?! A hand grabs my arm and I turn to see Mini. "Come on kid. We're heading into the Council building."

"But-! My family!" I look frantically down the street. Please be safe. Please be safe.

"Your family will be fine. Now come on. With all this mess going on they won't notice us sneaking in."

He pulls me away. I clutch the map for a lack of anything else to do. Utter destruction is all around me. What was WRONG with these people?! The only explanation is that EVERYONE had been angry at the system and they simply suppressed their feelings all this time. And now that tension was finally released to let them do whatever they wanted with no care for the consequences.

I was terrified. A bottle flies past me, just missing my top corner and smashes against the ground. Its too dangerous here. I want to go home. I want to hide under my bed until this blows over. No one told me riots were this scary in person.

I hear crying and screaming as the rioting triangles broke into the houses of the higher class shapes. I see them drag them into the streets and beat them with their weapons. Oh god those were CHILDREN! A tiny triacontagon child screams as her sides are crushed in by a vicious blow.

Mini drags me past the chaos. Its a good thing he's holding onto me because I can't see where I'm going through my tears. We run down the streets towards the large building in the center of the city. The council hall. Where the circles were no doubt hiding.

---

It was eerie how quiet it was in here. The walls were thick and impenetrable. Our spies had found a way in somehow. We climbed in through a window with a rope hanging out of it. Luckily the circles had such large windows.

I followed along weakly, horrified tears streaming down my plane. Still don't know what they expected of me. There weren't any guards. I'm worried about the suspicious lack of security. I just felt uneasy but I wasn't sure why. "Why is it so quiet in here?" I croaked.

"Those circular cowards must be hiding somewhere." Mini sneers.

"I have a bad feeling about this..." I say quietly. None of them listened to me. I'm not sure if my paranoia was fueled by my sleep deprivation or some sort of instinct but I felt I had to get away. Somewhere high up.

There's a clicking sound. I immediately freeze. The sense of danger just shot up. "Guys we need to run." I whisper urgently. On the other end of the hallway I can see something large moving around.

"So those damn Circles have more guards than just the soldiers..." Mini growls as he readies his weapon, a heavy steel pipe nearly twice his size. I back off in fear as the large creature steps into view. Oh fuck.

A Tangram animal...but this time it wasn't a cute puppy like the one I grew up with. I stared wide eyed at the snarling dinosaur shaped creature. It was huge, their bulk nearly filling the hallway as it hissed at us.

"Get ready everyone. Kid, you stay back. You haven't been trained for this." Mini doesn't look away from the creature. I just continue backing up. The dino-shape stalks closer to us with more clicking noises. "Hsssss~"

If I wasn't so scared I probably would have thought the ensuing fight was fucking awesome. Mini charges the Dino with a yell and deftly dodges the snapping jaws. He slides along the ground on his back and strikes at it's legs with the steel pipe. The dino screeches with pain and thrashed, slamming itself into the walls and stomping the ground with its points.



The other members of our infiltration group were getting in some hits of their own. A black triangle with a crooked top corner slams a heavy hit against the dino's head when it lunged at her. She shouts for everyone to jump as the dino sweeps its tail across the ground.

I just try to stay as far back from the fight as I can. Why hasn't anyone given me a weapon?! Even if I can't fight I should at LEAST have something to defend myself with. I flinch as the hallway shakes with each of the dino's stomps. Its points are slamming into the ground hard enough to leave cracks.

If these were the types of animals that exist in this world, no wonder they didn't question my need for a Death Canon. I wince as one of the fighters was hit by a large tail and flung down the hall. I rush to his side. One of his sides is bent inward and I fret over him. "Oh my god. What do I do?!" I try to remember what I've learned about first aid.

I carefully flip him onto his uninjured side and carefully feel his bricks to see if they were cracked. He groans in pain but I think he's ok. Just badly bruised. I hear more screams and see that the others were struggling to keep up with the wildly flailing dino.

Its panic made its movements and attacks harder to predict. I hear Mini grunting as he blocks an strike with his pipe. I look around. There's a dropped weapon on the ground from the injured triangle. A large wrench. Should I....could I?

I pick it up and test the weight. I could probably swing this. But...I flinch as the Dino screeches loudly. I'm so scared. I don't know how to fight. What if I get hurt? I've never been seriously injured in this life. But I couldn't just...stand here and do NOTHING.

Is there anything I can do to help?

I looked around wildly for anything I could use. I checked one of the doors in this hallway and found a room filled with bookshelves. Thinking quickly, I grab a bunch of books, went back into the hallway and lobbed a hardcover book at the Dino-shape. My aim ran true and the book hit it in the face right on the corner. The animal gave a startled snort and the brief distraction was enough for the others to get some free hits in.

I hear a crack as Mini's strike on the dino's leg caused the edge to buckle and snap. The dino screams with pain as it collapses under its own weight. The broken leg being unable to hold it up. That didn't mean it had given up. The jaws still snapped at everyone and its tail slammed on the ground again and again.

I threw another book and hit it in the eye this time. It snarls at me and tries to crawl down the hallway to reach me but the others prove a good distraction. The black triangle (I call her Ninja in my head) leaps onto its back and smacks it hard against the head. The beast moans before finally collapsing with a thunderous crash.

In the silence that followed, broken only by our heavy breathing and the injured triangle's groans, I managed a disbelieving laugh and made the Final Fantasy victory sound. "Holy crap. Did we just..." Mini comes up to clap me on the back. "That was some good thinking there kid. Nice throw."

I'm somewhat giddy. Why wouldn't I be? I just fought a frickin' dinosaur! Wait. "Are there going to be more of these?" I ask worriedly. Mini nods. "Its very likely that they will have more beast guards. We will have to stay vigilant as we head to the inner chambers."

One of the others was checking on the injured shape. "He'll live but I doubt he'll be able to move for a while." We carefully move him into the book room and hide him the best we can. "We shall return for you later. Stay safe." He groans in response.

The group set off again, carefully and quietly. I'm worried again. Will we need to fight more dinosaurs? Good news and bad news. Good news, we didn't run into another dinosaur. Bad news, we ran into Bees.

"Not the BEES!" I wailed as I smacked them with my books. The others were struggling to hit such small and quick moving targets. Luckily, their stinger-points weren't strong enough to actually pierce through our shells but there were many of them and they were aiming for our eyes. I waved my book around with my eye closed shut and felt satisfied with every tiny thump I felt against it.

The buzzing finally died down and I carefully opened my eye to see twitching tangram insects littering the hallway. I was starting to get hungry again so before I was even thinking about how it might be a bad idea, I picked one up and ate it. I shivered as my bricks pulsed and began breaking it down. The hard outer shell was made of a pretty dense string of carbon, if what I'm tasting is correct.

Ooh, head rush. I lean heavily against the wall as the energy burns through me. Ok. Probably a bad idea. But I was hungry~ it didn't look like anyone noticed me eat one. That's good I guess.

We continue on through the halls, heading deeper into the building. Seriously how big is this place? We fought off some large attack dogs, a flock of...geese(?!) and some snakes. A heavy hard cover book was a surprisingly good weapon. I will deny it if anyone mentions I simply ran screaming away from the fight with the geese. Slander and LIES.

I'm glad there weren't anymore dinosaurs but it almost feels like the threat level was going down the further in we got. To be fair I guess the circles are afraid of keeping anything too dangerous close to them. At last we found a heavy metal door. Locked of course. For a second I wondered how we would get past it but Ninja pulled out a saw and cut AROUND the door. Well that was an obvious and yet often overlooked solution.

The door (along with most of the wall) fell away to reveal a group of circles huddling behind their desks. They weakly held up pathetic make-shift weapons (a fountain pen, a rolled up folder, etc) and tried to back away from the angry triangles advancing upon them. One got up to face us, I could tell he was afraid by the way his frame shook but he stood tall. "Please leave." He managed to say without any stutters.

"You're in no position to tell us what to do. Not anymore." Mini growled as he stepped closer, playing with his steel pipe. I was in the doorway, unsure and nervous. Fighting the animals was one thing. I'm not mentally prepared to kill another person. I've slaughter hundreds of bandits in Skyrim and other video games but...these were real people.

I winced as Mini struck the circle in the leg. I could hear it crack from back here. I could hear his cry of pain as he collapses to the ground. Mini stomps on the circle's side.

"Not so high and mighty now. Where's that superiority you're always preaching? What makes you think you're better than us?"



Even through his pain the circle still turns to stare up at Mini. "We keep things orderly. We keep you all SAFE. We know BETTER than you. You...brutes wouldn't know how to do anything without us." Mini kicks him in the eye. I whimper quietly and hide halfway behind the doorway.

"I could kill you right now. But I won't. Hey, tie them up and drag them outside. We're gonna show EVERYONE just how pathetic you all are."

The others start restraining the circles and dragging them out from under their desks. I just stayed back. I didn't want to be part of this. But I already am. This is my fault after all. I gave the Rebellion what they needed to kick start all this. Every time one of the circles struggled or tried to plead mercy, they were struck and I winced every time.

I stayed quiet as I followed them through the halls. Mini came to grab my hand. "Come on kid. You're the guest of honor here. None of this would be possible without your help. I know you're tired from working so hard. Just hold on a bit more. This'll be over soon and then we'll all be free."

I don't correct him as he drags me up front as they unlock and kick open the doors to the outside. The noise hits me immediately. The screaming and crashing. The absolute anarchy in the once orderly streets. Many eyes turn to stare at us when the doors open. I felt feverish and wasn't sure if it was due to nerves or my body still digesting that bee I ate earlier.

"Everyone! We have captured the circles! Look at them now! These shapes! These pathetic shapes were the ones in charge of everything!" Mini thunders into the crowd.

The circles were flung to the ground before us, crying out in pain as they hit the stone steps of the entrance. "Look at them! At how utterly WEAK they are. And yet, they wielded such POWER over us. Well I say NO MORE!"

Mini screamed and brought his pipe down on the head of the injured circle who'd tried to speak up against us. The circle's weak frame caved in with barely any resistance. I shrieked and jumped back at the sudden action. It was like watching an egg explode but more unsettling. Through my panic, the ever analytical part of my mind noted that yes, we do in fact have blood. A lot of it actually.

We seemed to be made almost entirely of blood actually. The broken shell of the circle's body cracking open to reveal a smashed up eye, some teeth, pulsing flesh and...so much blood. Do all shapes have such thin shells? I made distressed noises as I backed away from the quickly spreading pool of black liquid. His bricks were quickly losing their peach orange color.

I hear cheers and screams. Looking around the crowd I saw many shapes celebrating the brutal murder, but I saw a few who looked uneasy as well. They probably were dragged here by the others, forced to participate in this disgusting riot like I was. I tried to slip away, get off the top of the stairs and run home to hide but Mini grabs my arm and pulls me up to stand before the cheering crowd.

"This is the day of CHANGE! The day we can tell our children and grandchildren about how we took charge of our own lives and rejected the unfair rules we were forced to live under! And its all thanks to this brave Unnatural who gave us all the information and tools we needed to make this happen!"

All eyes were on me and I closed mine to try and escape from their gaze. No. No. Don't draw attention to me. I don't want to be here. I tried to back up, get away from their judgmental stares. My bricks were heating up the same way Zyun-Jan would get uncomfortably hot when she was forced to speak in front of a crowd. I can sing before people but public speaking was the WORST. "Come on kid. You can do the honors for the next one."

Mini puts something in my hand and I open my eye to see his pipe, still splattered with black blood. I started shaking. "N-no I...I can't do this." I drop the pipe but he just picks it back up and curls my hand around it.

"Come on kid. Keep the momentum going. This is your moment." Mini whispers to me before laughing loudly and addressing the crowd. "Ah, looks like the kid is nervous. All the excitement. Am I right?"

My hands shake. The circles are staring at me with fear. They look like they want to run, a few were already crying. The only reason they haven't moved yet is the triangles aiming the giant crossbow ballista at them, a huge arrow primed and ready to fire at any who try to make a break for it.

"I....I can't do this...I've never hurt...I've never killed anyone before..." I say weakly. There's a sense of vertigo, like the ground was lurching beneath my feet. My eye hurt, I was so tired, I just wanted to go home and sleep. I just wanted this all to end. Mini pats my side in what he probably thought would soothe my nerves.

"Hey, the first kill is always hard. But its just one. You don't have to kill the rest of them. Just one. Come on kid. Everyone's watching. You can't back down now."

"I can't. I just...can't."

"Kid?"

"I'm so scared..." I'm trembling and I nearly drop the pipe again.

"Kid. Remember why you're doing this. These...selfish shapes took you away from your family."

I blinked. Yes. That's right. That's the reason why I went through all this. Its for Will. So that we can be a family again.

"You only have to hit one of them, you don't even HAVE to kill him. Just one hit, and then you can go." Mini assures me.

Just...one hit. Just a light tap, I won't hurt them, at least I'll try not to. Then I can go home. My eye blinked rapidly as I tried to stay awake. Augh, the energy rush from that bee was running out and I was exhausted and hungry again. I slowly raised the pipe above me, the circles whimpered and flinched back with their eyes squeezed tight.

"What are you doing big brother?"



I froze. Lowering my pipe, I turn. No. No
NO. WHY?!

"Will...?"

There he was. My sweet little brother. Scared and unsure. He was clutching a small book that I recognized as one of the many storybooks I wrote for him. Why was he HERE!?

"What are you...Will I TOLD you to stay home!" I took a step towards him and he flinched back. I drop the pipe. No. No. No. "Will?"

I barely notice the rest of the crowd muttering in confusion at the interruption. "Will. Why are you here?!"

"Ah, I took the liberty of having your family brought here. Seeing as they were your motivation for joining us in the first place..." Mini says as he picks the pipe back up. What?!

I finally look away from Will to notice my parents were here. They were shuddering in fear as the tall isosceles triangle guards stood behind them. What?!

"Why would you bring them here?! It's fucking dangerous out here!" I turn to scream at Mini. He looks taken aback.

"But didn't you want them to watch your triumph? See you help create the new free world?"

"No! I wanted them SAFE!!!" I yell. "CHILDREN shouldn't be FORCED to watch shit like this!!" I point at the remains of the dead circle.

"...you don't have to be so ungrateful." Mini mutters.

Pure RAGE blazed through me. Ungrateful?! ME?! After ALL this fucking shit I've been through?! I haven't slept in like a WEEK! I didn't realize I said that out loud until Mini started patting me soothingly. "Kid. You're clearly delirious. You...should go sit down and try to calm yourself."

I was about to retort when one of the circles took his chance to try and run while we were all distracted. He makes a dash towards my family, likely hoping to hide behind them. The triangle on the ballista startled and the shot is accidentally fired. There's a sickening squelch sound and I could do nothing but watch.

My head pounds and the world lurches again. I feel numb. There's a loud screaming that I distantly realize was coming from me.

"AAAAaaaaaAaaaaaUUUUuuuuAAAAaaaaaaaGGGGGGGhhhhhh!!!!"

Everything is blurry, I blink the tears away as I scramble forwards and drop to my knees in front of...

"Will?" I croak.

He wasn't moving. Oh god. Oh no. No. No. No. No. NO. NO. NO. NO! NO!!

I sob as I reach out to hold him. He's still so small. I can still hold him in my arms. No. No. No. No. The black blood dribbles out of him, his beautiful color draining with it. (Why is our blood black? It doesn't feel like blood, feels almost like oil) No. No. No. No. This can't be happening. This can't be real. Please don't let this be real.

I think the grief was hitting me all at once. Not just from Will. My family from my first life. My friends. Everyone I ever loved. They're ALL gone. All of them. I've lost everyone. I scream and cradle Will's body. I never got to say good bye. Not to ANYONE. I never got to tell them how much I loved them.

No. No. No! No! No!! No....

The storybook I made for him was soaked with his blood, lying on the ground right next to me. I can't see enough through my tears to figure out which one it was. I can't see much of anything. I sob harder and harder.

There's a commotion around me. I hear people trying to talk to me but I can't make out their words over the pounding in my head. I feel someone grab my arm. I feel someone grab Will. WILL! NO! NO! YOU WON'T TAKE HIM FROM ME! I scream and snap at the hands. How dare they touch him?! How dare they try to take him from me?!?!?

There are more hands now. More voices shouting at me. I scream and scream and fight them off. No! Stop it! Stop trying to take him! He's MINE! There's so many hands. I can't fight them all off. I'm going to lose him again. I can't. I won't. Let. Them.

Looking back, I'm not sure if it was because I was insane from sleep deprivation. I'm not sure if it was because I was panicking with grief. Hell, maybe I was just hungry. But in that moment when I was sure I would lose Will, I fought to keep him in the only way I could think to do so.

I ate him.

He tasted faintly of wheat.

My bricks glowed blindingly with the sudden onslaught of energy, solid, non-processed food produced more heat upon digestion. I screamed in agony as my bricks burned at a temperature I'd never experienced before. It rose as each layer of the molecular chains were torn apart inside me from the temperature, the reactions chaining together into an ascending torrent of heat.

90 degrees fahrenheit

180 degrees fahrenheit

270 degrees fahrenheit

360 degrees fahrenheit

450 degrees fahrenheit

The book beside me ignited. Along with the rest of the world.

---

Chapter Text

Illusion is Reality

Chapter 11

-Gravity is a Lie-



No. No. No. No.

The world burns around me. I fucked up. Shit. Fuck. Shiiiit! How did this even happen?! I looked at my arms and the flames that continued to expel from them. It’s not even fire. It’s pure plasma. The air around my hands vibrating with pent up energy until it ignites. I'm setting the freakin' air on fire. The energy won't stop. It keeps pouring out of me, agitating all the molecules in the air until they light up and burn.

Fuck.

I didn’t mean for this to happen. Was there no way to prevent this? Was this always fated to happen? A fixed point? That’s bullshit. What...what was the point in everything I've done then?! Was everything just pointless? Will’s death… Oh god Will…I’m so sorry…

My screams are downed out by the flames.

The world continued to burn around me.

--

I tried to find people. Survivors? Anyone? No. Everyone’s long since been burned to ashes. I guess I don’t have to see dead bodies at least? I don’t remember much about what happened. Everything just…started burning. The ground, the sky, the people…there were a few screams at first but they were quickly drowned out by the roaring flames.

I walked along down the flaming streets on the flaming ground. The fire is all I can hear. It’s unnerving. I hate this sound.

“I can’t remember what happened in September~ When everything is gone, when it’s dark and I’m alone~”

The song really didn’t match my situation but I continued singing anyway. Anything to drown out that sound. It just kept going, consuming everything. Was it as hungry as I always felt? Maybe, I don’t know. I don’t even know what I’m thinking, what I’m trying to think?

“I just discovered, everyone was defeated by something really strong, it seemed very weird and wrong, it just doesn’t belong, like it came from out of this world~” I changed the lyrics so they were more appropriate. It gave me something to do.

I’m so tired.

“I just remembered what happened in September, I’m the one who killed them all, I survived after the fall…”

Why aren’t I burning along with everything else? Well, no…these flames…they’re ME aren’t they? I feel like I might be on the cusp of an epiphany. Some massive secret of the universe unfolding before my eye. And then I passed out before I fully understood.

--

I admit I felt a little better when I woke up…who the fuck knows when, later. That’s…good? I can think a little clearer. Man, being sleep deprived is awful. I walked along some more, don’t even know where I’m going, what I’m looking for. What the hell am I standing on? I try to feel the ground but there’s nothing there but more fire. Great. Wonderful. Fan-fucking-tastic.

I passed out again.

--

How long has it been? I hug my legs to my chest and sing quietly. It feels like weeks. How was the fire still going? How was I still alive?! The energy surging around my body hasn't stopped so I guess that's why the world still burns.



“Oh little ripper boy where did you go~ Where did you run when they burned your home~”

I blink up at the sky. It’s nothing but blue flickering flames, the same beautiful color of Will’s bricks. I don't even know what I'm sitting on considering there’s no ground anymore. The fire brushes against my bricks in a warm tingly feeling. How long has it been?

“What did you say when they took your soul~ Poor little ripper boy all alone~”

I raged, despaired, apologized, passed out, woke to cry non-stop until I passed out again and raged some more until I just got tired of it all and just defaulted to singing every song I knew to pass the time. The whole stages of grief. Just skip right to acceptance. I think I cried for several days straight, or something. Not like time really fuckin’ matters here. I wasn't even upset anymore. I was too weary to be. Bill Cipher will always destroy his homeworld. Even if I'm not technically him, it was gonna happen anyway. Right? It’s not like there was anything I could FUCKING do to stop it. I sob a bit more before going back to my song.

“Still in the darkness, blind in the light~ Roll up the day and turn into night~Run at the sound of the siren’s call to a watery grave where you’ll find them all~”

Irony, there is no water here. Only fire, fire and…ooh what’s that? More fire. I laughed and laughed until it devolved into screaming before I abruptly stop and calmly start singing again. I’m fine. Definitely Fiiiiine~ Yup yup. I wish Will were here. He’d listen to my jokes. He’d laugh along with me. We could just laugh together. Laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh- I passed out again.



I think I might have gone mad for a bit, luckily I seem to have gotten over it now. I think? I hope? I no longer feel the need to just laugh hysterically for no reason so I’m going to assume it’s passed.

I continue to vibrate with energy. Can't really go anywhere like this huh? If I tried to leave I'll just set another place on fire. I frown. Enough moping around. Even if I fucked this up doesn't mean I can't learn from this mistake. What's done is done. I should focus on controlling my energy output so this sort of thing wouldn't happen again.

I had no idea how to go about turning this off…you'd think getting transformed into some kinda of a nuclear power cell would come with the knowledge of how the fuck that works. Wasn't Bill supposed to be All Knowing? Well I don't know shit. I tried breathing exercises. I tried meditation, which was super hard, how am I supposed to calm my thoughts under these circumstances?! How am I even alive? How have I not burned up along with the rest of this world?

Nothing seemed to work. I just had so much energy. Where the hell was all this even coming from? Wasn't energy something that couldn't be created? I tried everything I could think of from all the shows I've watched and stories I've read but nothing worked. I know it has to stop sometime. Canon Bill obviously got this under control so I should be able to do so as well. Come on, turn off! Turn off! Turn it off, like a light switch~Just go click! It’s a cool little Mormon trick~ God dammit brain! This was NOT the time!

Maybe I was coming at the problem from the wrong angle (Ha! Shape puns! I tried to laugh but just end up sobbing instead). Instead of stopping the outflow of energy, what if I reversed it? Suck all this energy back inside myself. It wouldn't save this dimension, everyone was long since dead but it would put out the fire. I focused on feeling the energy around me and tried to...pull it back in. My breathing exercises now included the intent of sucking in the flames around me. I hummed a soft melody to help me focus. Staying well away from the Book of Mormon this time. It was really inappropriate for this situation.

Mind over matter, literally. If I believe this will work then it will work. I repeat that to myself and continued sucking in deep gasps of air (plasma?) And it might have been my imagination but it was working?

It felt like hours of just breathing despite not having a mouth or lungs but I finally felt a change. I was feeling warmer, the fire looked smaller. I was tingling all over. It felt really weird but I kept going. Breathe in and hold it. Breathe in again and hold it. The tingling feeling was getting worse. It was uncomfortable. I can't stop now. Come on! I can do this. In and out. Hold it in.

I gasped as the uncomfortable feeling devolved into nausea. I gagged and laid down but didn't stop. The fire was definitely dying down. It was working. I had to keep going. The flickering flames seeping into the seams between my bricks. My breathing was no longer a calm in and out. I was gasping, trying so hard not to throw up, I know I can’t but I just felt so sick. My body was vibrating harshly. Shit. Was I doing this wrong? Am I going to accidentally kill myself? Will I explode? Will my molecules be torn apart from each other? A part of myself realized I was glowing blindingly but most of my focus was on the sensation of more and more energy being crammed back inside my small form.

It was beginning to hurt. Stop! Stop! This was a bad idea! What the hell was I thinking?! How do I make this stop?!

I was screaming now. Twitching and spasming and screaming without a mouth. My eye watered and my tears were reduced to steam and flame the instant they formed. The heat was intense. I was burning. I saw one of my arms as I thrashed and it was buzzing and splitting apart. Dear god I was really going to die again. As much as I deserve it I was still scared, I don’t want to die like this! I’m so scared! My body continued to suck up all the energy around me. Like I had put the thing to autopilot and now it didn't know how to stop. It hurts. Please. No more. I'm sorry. I don't know what I did but I'm so sorry. Please make it stop!

And then I exploded.

--

Quarks flew around, hitting, smashing and clicking together. Protons and neutrons being built from the ground up. A cloud of electrons floating freely until they're pulled in. What would be known as Hydrogen was formed. Helium was formed. More bouncing. More connecting. More and more matter formed. Energy can be turned into mass. More mass. More energy. Bouncing and bouncing within a void.

So many particles. Bleeding off me as I floated listless in a void. How long has it been? I can't think clearly. A massive headache pounding behind my eye.

I feel each of my particles. I felt them as they sprinkled out from my body. I felt them move around until they clicked in place with each other. I felt them forming into something new as they bonded together. More protons clicked together, atomic mass was increasing. A new element formed.

They were me. They were all pieces of me. I could feel them all. Tiny parts of myself falling off myself, connecting to other parts of myself. I could feel them all. It was like if you could still feel sensations from every skin flake that you shed. I shivered. It felt strange. I was spread out, in pieces in all directions. I was everywhere.

I could feel larger clumps of me being pulled together, drawn to each other into a swirling mass. I eye the clump, still half dazed. It compressed, drawn tighter and tighter together until the energy running through it ignited. A large white flaming ball of plasma. A star. Pieces of me had become a star. I watched in fascination. It was quite pretty if I didn't think about the fact that it was literally pieces of myself burning. I suddenly realized that the reason clumps of me were drawn to each other was due to some subconscious desire to pull myself together. Dear lord, gravity's a lie.

All around were clumps of myself condensing into stars that burned and died, exploded into space dust and repeat. Over and over. I had trouble thinking clearly. How many thousands of years have gone by? So much of me being spread out in this expanding space. It was hard to keep track of time. Then I felt something that wasn't just more of me. Something different. It was moving through my space dust. Swimming through the void, brushing my particles aside as it headed in my direction.

I tried to shake myself into awareness so I could see what this entity was. My eye met with a large white and pink creature. It stared at me and I stared back.



"FINALLY! Where the hell have YOU been?!" I screamed at it.

I felt myself fully 'wake up' for the first time in what may have been eons. It was the AXOLOTL. Finally! Maybe I can get some answers outta him. The pink creature continued to silently observe me.

-You do not appear surprised to see me?-

They weren't words in any language. They weren't sounds being spoken. Instead I simply FELT the meaning of his question go through me.

"Well...I might have been under the impression that you were God or something."

-A god? Perhaps. But that concept doesn't fully encapsulate what I am.-

The creature swam around, examining me.

-We have never met. How did you come to know of me?-

"What? You don't know?"

-I only knew that the 2nd dimension had been destroyed and with its death came a great rebirth.-

"Yeah, I kinda realized that around the time the me-dust stated turning into stars and shit."

-Indeed.-

The AXOLOTL gazed at me as I swore angrily at myself. I fucked up again. Of course I shouldn't know who he was, we've never met, I have never found any writings to indicate his existence. Should I just tell him that I knew about him from a cartoon's expanded universe in another reality? That sounds stupid even thinking it.

-It does not matter how you know me. I only need you to listen.-

"Are you gonna explain what the hell happened to me?"

-You have destroyed an entire dimension and were the catalyst to the creation of a new one.-

"Well yeah, I know THAT much. What am I supposed to do now? What dimension is this now?"

Please don't let this be the nightmare realm. That would suck.

-You are free to do as you please, you birthed this new reality. As for what it is, I believe that as an evolution of the 2nd dimension, this is now the 3rd dimension.-

"Oh fuck really?! You mean...Earth and humanity will exist here someday? Wait! Earth and humanity are gonna form out of my space dust?!"

The AXOLOTL merely watched me. His salamander face giving away none of his thoughts.

"....ew...that’s kinda gross to think about..."

-You speak of Earth and humanity. Things that do not yet exist and will not come to be for many eons yet. You knew what I am despite never having learned of me…-

He leaned right up close to 'me'. I didn't exactly have a real body at the moment.

-Who are you? You are not merely a Flatlander. You know things you should have no knowledge of yet.-

"Yet? So you mean I get the All Knowing gig at some point?"

He narrowed his eyes (which, if I must say looks super funny on an axolotl) and stared through me. Oh crap, is he gonna find out...

-You...are not who you are supposed to be.- the AXOLOTL jerked back in surprise. Shoot. Busted.

"Yeah its a funny story..."

-But at the same time, you cannot be anyone BUT the one you should be.-

"It’s complicated."

-Explain?-

"Only if you help me learn to control my powers so this-" I gesture to the space dust around us with my nonexistent arms "-doesn't happen again."

-It was fated to happen. In order for the 3rd dimension to be created, another dimension would be sacrificed.-

"Really?! Who the hell decided that?"

-It was the fate laid out by the Time Giants at the dawn of creation. For what its worth. I'm sorry you had to lose your home.-

I was right! It really WAS a fixed point. Goddamit. I was angry for a bit but I couldn't keep it up. It’s been far too long and I just don’t have it in me to stay mad. I’m just…tired. And sad. Everyone died because of this. Because of me. Because I was supposed to kill them all.

"So is that going to happen to this dimension too someday? It’s gonna be destroyed so a new dimension can be created?"

-Yes.-

"Huh. Well can you teach me to control my powers so that wouldn't happen by my hand anytime soon?"

-That is fair. And in return you will explain how it is that you both ARE and AREN'T who you’re supposed to be.-

"You're shocked that I knew you, but how do you know me?"

-I have seen through many alternative realities. In all there will be a Bill Cipher in some shape or form. His existence is as inevitable as my own. Though what role he plays differs each time.-

"So what am I to you? In this dimension?"

-You were to be my counterpart. Created through fire and tragedy to be my opposite and equal in power.-

"So me knowing you throws off that plan?"

-It matters not in the end. You are still my opposite. I merely wish to know who you are for the sake of my own curiosity.-

"Guess even giant space salamanders get curious. Well sit yourself down and let me tell you a tale~"

It didn't take too long to explain my situation. He handled it pretty well all things considered. He also explained to me what it meant to be his counterpart and how to control my powers. It took a very long time to learn. Good thing I had so much of it.

--

My cosmic duties as it were, was to embody the opposite of what Ax was. Order vs Chaos. Reality vs Dreams. Wisdom vs Knowledge. Life vs Death. Creation vs Destruction. Hope vs Despair. I was afraid that the fact my personality was kinder than the Bill Cipher he was expecting would cause a few problems. There was no way I would just randomly destroy a planet (on purpose). And while I am a bit of a sadistic bitch at times, I don’t feel right hurting innocent people. When I told Ax this, he laughed and said I didn't need to. Destruction came in all forms and I don't really have to go around killing people if I didn't want to.

That was a relief.

Ax taught me how to change my projected form (the Me as I am now was nothing more than my consciousness, my physical body had been burned away to create the universe after all) and how to manipulate the physical world. Manipulating the physical world was difficult. Just cause the world is made of 'me' didn't mean I could control it at will. Ax assured me it would get easier with practice but I would never have full control over it unless I punched a hole in space time to descend back into the physical plane. I asked if I was in the Mindscape right now and he said yes. With the Mindscape would come the Nightmare Realm. I wasn't looking forward to that. Even if I would have full control while there.

He taught me how to 'open' my eye to truly see anything and everything. Omniscience would have driven me insane if I'd still been human. By some miracle I got out of that lesson perfectly fine. Ax told me it was because I was already insane. Not sure how to feel about that. In the end I just shrugged and moved on. My ‘Eye’ could see everything happening everywhere all at once but I can’t retain anything from it. It’s like watching a million videos at once, just ‘cause I can see it doesn’t mean I know what the heck I just saw. Depictions of myself actually limit my vision, narrow it down so I can finally focus on what I’m looking at.

At some point Ax took me to meet Time Baby, the last member of our little TriForce of cosmic powers. Time, Space and Energy/Matter. Or rather, Fate, Life and Death. (I am become Death, destroyer of worlds) The meeting did not go well. I might have set that part of the solar system on fire. In my defense, HE started it.

I feel bad that Ax has to put up with us.

--

 

A/N: I apologize for all the rushed exposition, I couldn't figure out an easier way to do it...if I went more slowly on it, it would take multiple chapters to just get Bill's basic powers down...

In other news, the idea came to me a while ago and I probably won’t write it because it’s stupid and horrible…but…


Book of Mormon AU

If anyone out there wants to run with this idea, please send me links. I would love to read that. I won’t be able to write it myself because I’d be in danger of imploding from holding in my laughter and then I’d die and then no one will be happy.

Full soundtrack with lyrics: www.youtube.com/watch?v=cY5NVaK0-ME

Chapter Text

Illusion is Reality

Chapter 12

-Behind the gray curtain of reality-



I poked at my bow tie and watched in fascination as it spun around. Dear lord. My bow tie was a fidget spinner. How did this even happen?

I'm embarrassed to say that I was distracted for a good few minutes just spinning my bow tie. But time is an illusion anyway so it doesn't count. What was I doing again? Oh right. I had to go introduce myself to the new sentient life in this universe. The AXOLOTL said I was free to do as I wished, I did technically create this reality after all, and I think I would like to introduce a friendly Bill Cipher into the world.



For a moment I considered going by a different name all together. I'm not the real Bill Cipher anyway. I don't HAVE to take his name. The only reason I still look like him is because his appearance was cool and I wasn't sure if changing it would vastly alter the timeline. Didn't want Time Baby getting on my angles about that again. Stupid, fat, no fun...

ANYWAY! You'd think the baby would show a bit more respect for the one who created the Big Bang itself! I lost my home for that. My entire dimension had to die and burn just to create the known universe. Did I ever get compensation for that? Nope. (Pseudo godhood doesn't count.) Time Baby even had the GALL to sass me out about destroying my own dimension. It’s not like I did it on purpose asshole! And you even said it was fated to happen in order to create the universe so fuck you! You mother fucking hypocrite! You can’t tell me that what I did was wrong then go around and say I was MEANT to do that!

No wonder Bill hated him. Pretentious jerk.

Ax is a pretty cool dude though. His holier than thou thing was kinda…eh…annoying somewhat? But it was nice of him to teach me how to control my powers. I wonder if he might have destroyed a whole dimension by accident before...

Well enough procrastinating. Time to meet the first living creature to evolve in this new universe I'd accidentally created.

--

Yeah. Shouldn't have gotten my hopes up.

The tiny single celled organism wiggled. It was really strange. All the molecules that made up this creature came from me. I could feel our connection even now. It felt really gross. All…fleshy and disgusting.

It’s going to take eons for life to evolve humans or any other sentient life. Hell, the Earth hasn’t even formed yet. I'm so bored. No wonder Ax just sleeps all the time. Y'know what? I'm gonna go visit him. It'll give me something to do. I turn and vanish with a flash.

--

-You really are different from the other Bill Ciphers. But at the same time, you're quite similar.-

"In what way? Also, when are you gonna teach me how to see into the parallel worlds?"

We floated together above a nebula. It was quite pretty and I felt a brief flash of pride about it. I had materialized a nice tea set for us to enjoy while we hung out. Molding things from my imagination was one of the first things I learned to do and it is fuckin’ AMAZING. Ax never drank any but I can see he appreciates the gesture.

-You share many mannerisms with your counter parts. Some are your own and some are fabricated by you to act more like what you believe Bill Cipher should be.-

I look down at my teacup. Yes, part of me wanted to be Bill. It was fun to act like him sometimes. It gave me an excuse to cut loose and not think about everything wrong with my situation. Like a persona I can wear to protect the real me from the outside world. So I don’t have to think about what happened…

I wasn't in denial or anything. I just wanted to not stress out. Too many things could go wrong, have already gone wrong. I'm supposed to be Bill Cipher. How much of human history did he effect? Do I have to do what he did? What if I messed up and humanity goes down a completely different path that lead to the Pines family not existing? Do they need to exist? Me being here has already thrown off canon. But that fixed point still happened regardless of anything I did. Are the birth of the twins a fixed point? I hope so. I would love to hang out with them all. If I'm a nice Bill we could all be friends. That would be nice.

-You are thinking too hard. Things will happen as they do.-

"Was I thinking out loud again?"

-Yes. Though it was more of a panicked mumbling.-

Looking to steer the subject away from my embarrassing loss of control, I changed the subject.

"So. Parallel dimensions. How to see. Tell me."

-It might not be wise. Many of your alternates are...unhinged in a negative way. So long as you do not look into them, they cannot see you. I fear they may try to harm you for being...different. Or their madness will corrupt you.-

"That's fair."

We floated in quiet together. It was nice.

---

Ax taught me how slip between dimensions. I couldn't access the parallel dimensions where my alternatives were but anything else was pretty much fair game. It’s a little hard to describe. Within this 'world' there are an infinite dimensions I can go to. Outside of this 'world' are the other 'worlds' with their own infinite dimensions where the alternate versions of 'Me' exists. Meaning I cannot travel to an alternative world to meet an alternative version of people I know in this 'world'. In the infinite dimensions in this ‘world’, there is only one Bill Cipher, AXOLOTL and Time Baby.

Ax is connected to his alternatives mentally but even he cannot physically travel to where they are. Once again, the only thing that can accomplish this feat was an inter-dimensional portal. The portal can connect all the dimensions in this world but it can also punch through into other 'worlds'. That's what made it so amazing. I knew how to build one, sort of? There’s an instinctive feeling inside me that just seems to…KNOW how to find the weak spots in the fabric of reality. Mechanically speaking I knew half of what I needed to make a gate of my own. But it would only work for me if it was built where my physical body was, in other words, the 3rd dimension. But that’s not important right now, what IS important is the existence of an infinite other dimensions for me to explore.

In all the other dimensions within my 'World' there were a multitude of alien races, planets and societies. All sorts of creatures that I can physically interact with even outside the mindscape. Only in the 3rd dimension that formed from the corpse of my own body and home was limited. In the 3rd dimension I was a non-corporeal creature without the power to truly warp reality to my will unless I use the power of a Deal. But within all the other dimensions I had near infinite power to alter the world around me.

Ax said that its because the 3rd dimension was the only one truly 'grounded' in a physical sense. Places like Dimension 52, the Nightmare Realm or Dimension XYZ were existing in a partially metaphysical state and thus I could materialize there with my near infinite power intact. They were worlds and planets formed from 'thoughts' and 'imagination' so me being a master of the mind has a stronger presence there.

The irony wasn't lost on me that the dimension I had the least power over was the one LITERALLY FORMED FROM MY OWN FLESH. I was forcibly disconnected from it, ascended into the Mindscape. I would have to possess the pieces of my body in order to have a physical form. An object or a person. Anything like that.

But whatever. There were a ton of new places for me to be and see! I phased happily to a random dimension to explore.

——

The first time I personally killed someone, I was horrified.

There was screaming. A group of primitive life forms ran from me in fear. Before me was the charred remains of what once was a member of their kind.

I was just popping in to check on the newest species to gain true sentience in the multiverse. When I finally saw them, bipedal creatures with light blue skin and wearing simple clothes made from leaves, I was thrilled. Earth still hadn't formed yet but the rest of the multiverse was coming along nicely. Plenty of alien dimensions and planets teeming with life for me to explore. And now there were beings who were aware enough to make clothing! Clothing!

I wanted to speak to them. I wanted to finally talk to someone who wasn't Ax or Time Baka. I was too hasty. I was so starved for social interaction. Luckily this wasn’t in the 3rd Dimension, I had access to my powers here. I pulled particles out of the air around me and formed a quick physical form in order to interact with them. They all jumped in surprise as I appeared before them.

"Hello! My named is Bill Cipher and I'm so happy to meet you!" I exclaimed merrily.



They stared at me in silence and shock. Finally one of them threw a rock at me. It hit me right below my eye and I fucking LOST it.

There was a sudden and unexpected rush of RAGE. How DARE they?! DON'T THEY EVEN KNOW WHO I AM?!

Before I could stop myself I had already set fire to the insolent worm that dared to strike me. His screams were lovely to hear and I grinned in satisfaction at a well done Smite-ing.

That's when the others began screaming and snapped me out of it.

Oh god what have I done? Why did...why did I do that? I-I didn't...what was wrong with me? I looked around and saw that all the creatures were fleeing for their lives. They were terrified of me. I fucked up again.

"Wait! I'm sorry! I didn't mean to-!"

I had to talk to Ax. He'll know what to do!

I blinked away from the planet, the particles I left behind coming apart with a flash of light and leaving behind nothing but a smoking corpse and a village thrown in disarray. There would be stories told later of a shining golden Beast with one eye that could throw flames from its hands and kill without mercy.

---

"-nd I really didn't mean to do it! I swear I didn't! It just...happened!" I was rambling as I floated back and forth anxiously while fiddling with my bowtie.

Before me sat the AXOLOTL in silence. His gaze was without condemnation but it was solemn. I looked up at him with tears already streaming down my eye.

-I had hoped this wouldn't happen so soon.-

"You knew I would do that? What the hell even WAS that!"

-You are a creature of Destruction. A being that embodies pure Chaos. Your powers are effected by your emotions. The instinct to destroy. I am sorry. I did not realize you would be so effected by them.-

"So this is gonna be a thing now?! I can't stop it from happening?"

-You cannot stop your instincts or your emotions. But you can learn to control them. Control your temper, stifle your powers and keep a calm head.-

"Teach me please."

Ax truly did look sorry. I was freaking out. I'd never felt so....angry before. It was unsettling. Many more years of training and meditation ensued. It was boring and frustrating. I wanted to just quit and go do something else many times (my attention span has gotten a lot shorter since I've become Bill Cipher) but if there was one thing that separated me from the real Bill, it was my diligence and patience. I hated being bored but I had enough self control to continue trying. I don't want to lose control like that again.

Ax was surprised to learn that my Origami helped with the meditation process. I started materializing paper to fiddle with. The fact that I could set them on fire afterward helped to satiate my need for destruction.

Ax told me that I would always feel the need to destroy. It was part of what I am. I was Death itself. I just needed to find a better way to channel my 'urges' if I really didn't want to go around killing people.

I don't think I can ever express how much I owe Ax for always putting up with me and my problems. He was like a mentor or older brother (I would say he was like a father but the idea of calling Ax 'dad' brought up bad memories of Zyun-Jan’s life.)

---

Chapter Text

Illusion is Reality

Chapter 13

-Grasp the unknowable-



Most of my meetings with sentient life didn't go well. No matter how I approached them, they would be frightened or wary. I even tried invisibly helping them with stuff like finding food or keeping them safe from danger to try and build a friendly relationship. Sometimes it worked...until I finally revealed myself to them.

Why does everyone hate me? I haven't killed anyone past that first one. Was I THAT scary looking?

I gazed at my reflection in a pool of water. A shining golden triangle with a single eye, bowtie and top hat. I looked adorable right? Why are they all so scared of me? Do I really have to use a different form to interact with people?

I shifted the particles around myself as I made some alterations. It was no longer my triangle form but something…different. My human form. My true human form.

I looked at my reflection. Where there was once a yellow triangle now floated a small human girl. I kept my clothes yellow, a fluffy sweater poncho long enough to cover my body. Long, straight black hair and eyes. A wide forehead partially hidden behind bangs framing a round face.



I stared for a bit. It’s been so long since I've been...myself. The girl I saw in the reflection looked weird. There was a disconnect, like the feeling of ' that can't be me' but it was...that was the real me.

It was a good thing I was alone. I'm sure my newfound instincts would have forced me to kill anyone who saw me break down and cry.

---

The reception I got for my human form helped restore a bit of my faith in the world. The people were kinder. They still found me strange looking but many of them thought I was harmless. My discrete scans of their minds was able to provide me with their language and I heard them say things like "Must have been abandoned for its hideous mutation.", "That child is so small, which tribe do you think it's from?" and "Poor thing has such fragile skin! No scales at all."

It was kind of patronizing but anything was better than abject terror.

I was able to live among the tribe I found for a few days before I decided to leave. Some of their elders were starting to get suspicious of me and I wanted to go before a confrontation occurred.

Blinking back into space I found myself in my triangle form. For a moment, just one moment, I wanted to cry. It passed and I flew off in search of another planet.

---

Sometimes I stare at my own flames and cry.

Sometimes I think about Will and try to vomit.

Sometimes I wished I could.

---

It never changed. No matter how much I tried to be nice and patient, people just…hated me. I gave them rain for their crops and they gave their thanks to another god they believed in. I healed their sick and injured and they simply shunned the ones I healed and called them ‘cursed’. I tried granting them knowledge about farming tools and crop rotation. They refused to listen to me and I had to watch as their crops failed under poor management, listen to them curse my name as their people starved.

It wasn’t my fault. I was just trying to help. Why won’t they just…listen to me? Why won’t anyone just…let me help them? It was frustrating. It was infuriating. I raged angrily in an empty corner of the multiverse, setting fires and screaming about how unfair everything was. Then I go to Ax and cry into his side. I don’t know how much of this I can take.

Ok, it’s fine. I can fix this…somehow. If people are intimidated by me just showing up before them, maybe I can just give out the knowledge for my summoning. Then only the people who WANT to see me can call me up. That way at least I know they’re more willing to listen to me, since they’re seeking me out.

I scribble down a summoning circle, Bill’s circle. I don’t really remember what order the symbols came in but it didn’t matter, it’s all about intent after all. It felt nice to have the Zodiac made. It made me feel…complete in some way. It was strange but I tried to hold onto the hope that I can finally help SOMEONE.

What’s the point of having my powers if I can’t do something good with them?



It was time. I couldn't keep putting this off. I had to go to the Nightmare Realm. It was 'my' territory. I should at least go check it out.

Sliding through time and space, my flat metaphysical form cleaving right between the dimensions, I opened my eye to see a colorful whirl of void. How a void can have color I don't think I can understand right now but regardless.

I floated there, just watching. Well this was a let down. I was expecting something more...intense. I reached out to touch the swirling colors. 'fear' 'joy' 'exhaustion' 'worry' 'bashfulness'

Oh. They were emotions.

As I inspected these swirling emotions around me I almost didn’t notice when they began seeping into me.

"Ack! What the fuck!?!" I backed away, slapping at my bricks, but just managed to get caught in another haze of color. The emotions were gravitating towards me. I frantically waved my arms but my fingers slide right through the mists of color and they continued to slide inside me. They seeped through the seams in my bricks and I giggled.

It tickled. No seriously, it did. I giggled and tried to back away. Please stop! I hate being tickled. The colors continued to slide between my seams, wriggling inside me maddeningly. "Ah haha-stop! Ha haha hahaha!!"

I flew around trying to escape the mist. "I SAID STOP!!" I screeched and blasted the area with flame. That got it to back off. The mist swirled around and settled.

As my flames touched them, they started to change. The clouds of color solidifying under the heat, compressing together and forming...land mass? I blinked in surprise at the floating patches of rock and dirt that were forming as my fire seared through the colors.

Everywhere my fire touched would turn into...stuff. The world was being created from my flames, as opposed to being destroyed by it. I watched in awe as the world, MY world spread out around me. A twisted landscape floating in a void. The land grew with no care for how land should look.

A mountain forms facing upside down. A lake with half its water turning into jellyfish that float up and away into a non-existent sky. Trees grew with unnaturally straight, right angles and leaves made of hair. A slimy pus-like substance leaked from some rocks and grew mouths and claws. A twisted tower of steel arching up impossibly high until I loose sight of the top.

This was the foam between dimensions. A weird world being created from my energy. It was...odd. I was unsure how to feel about it. I could also feel how unstable it was. It was nebulous, shifting and rotting away back into the void once my flames no longer fueled it. It could only hold its form so long as I continued to feed myself into it.

Energy to create matter and a quick progression towards entropy as my energy fans out and spreads too far. Spreads too thin. Dispersed in a way that left this world cold and barren once more. Lifeless.

It was upsetting to watch. The trees withered. The jellyfish fell from the skies and splattered upon the rocks. The mountain stayed but all life upon it dried up and crumbled into dust. The dark iron spire groaned as it swayed lightly. The half formed slime creature wheezed its last breath before collapsing and decaying. Aside from the sounds of things falling apart it was eerily quiet.



This was not a good place to be. This...lifeless mess of a world. There's no way anyone or anything would be able to live here without me constantly feeding my own energy into it. I COULD do so, but that would mean I would be stuck here. Unable to leave so long as I wished for this place to live.

I didn't want that. The idea of being trapped in this constantly rotting world made me upset in a way I didn't imagine possible. Was there some way to keep my flame burning? To stop it from dispersing into nothingness once this world devours the energy?

It didn’t have to be my fire. I've got more powers right? If I could just make an enclosed area where my power STAYED and didn't just disperse...like a....bubble or something...

I snapped my fingers. Then tried again. Looks like I'm still unable to make the snapping noise. Oh come on! Oh ALL things I had to keep from my first life it was THIS?! I ineffectually flicked my fingers over and over, trying to make that snap sound before giving up and just moving on.

I flicked my fingers and made a colorful orb appear. Well, less appear so much as I mentally grabbed onto some of the swirling emotions around me and wrapped them around my power. I created a thin bubble-like formation. It floated there, empty and hollow. I hadn't really been focused on filling this bubble with anything.

I let go of the bubble and it held. I moved a little further away. It held. I went back up to it and pushed it carefully to the side of the gelatinous lake. The bubble sank into the lake and I watched as the water began to move again. It fluttered and grew into more jellyfish. Ok. This works. I let go and floated away. Still holding.

After waiting a bit to see if this was really working I sighed in relief as the happy little jellyfish floated around without any signs of dying. Ok. So this was one solution. I noticed the bubble slowly shrinking. Oh no. I reached out to feed more of my power into it. It puffed out back to its original size but would slowly deflate over time once I let go.

So it's not a perfect solution. But it disperses much slower than just pure flame. That's good to know. So I can make a large bubble to create a real place to live. As long as I remember to drop by and recharge it every now and then it could actually work. It'll be like recharging my fridge back in the Flatlands. No biggie. I instinctively ignored the twinge of pain at the reminder of my homeland.

Actually. This wasn't all that bad. Sure I probably can't invite anyone to live here but this was MY world. My...home...

I'm unsure how to feel about that thought. I haven't had a home in so long. My Tabibito lifestyle wasn't...bad per say but it would be nice to have somewhere I can actually go home to. A place to relax and unwind. Somewhere I can personalize and store cool knick-knacks I find during my travels. Yeah. I can do this. I can build a place here. Just for me.

A place to call home.

----

A huge bubble stretched as far as the eye can see, well, MY eye anyway. Which is pretty far. I was hoping that making the bubble as large as I can would give me more time to check back in on it. So far it seems to be working. The area inside my bubble was large enough to hold an entire mountain range, a waterfall, a forest and a cosy little wooden house I've been working on for a while.

The outside was just a crude log cabin, looking more like toy bricks than a real house. But the door works and the inside looked like a real house. I can alter the rooms as I want and wasted hours just building rooms and adding furniture. The Sims music started playing at some point and I wasn't sure if I should laugh or curse the fact that my imagination altered reality around here. As I placed another chair and heard a $cha-ching$ noise I realized I had to stop. I've been spending way too much time on this.

If only the universe could see me now. The feared One Eyed Beast picking out wallpaper.

I decided on cherry blossoms like Weeb I am.

---

Chapter Text

Illusion is Reality

Chapter 14

-Be on the right side of History-



"You want me to what?"

"'THE TIMELINE MUST BE PRESERVED'" Time Baby thundered.

I was most surprised when Time Baby actually summoned me. I had no idea what he wanted from me. After a few times where I introduced simple technology to some tribes and got an earful from him about interfering with the timeline (it was a spear! Literally a sharp rock on a stick! It’s not like I invented the wheel! Again!) I had fallen back to just observing people.

Then out of nowhere the Time Baka himself calls me up and says he needs me to interfere in something. Apparently there was a tribe of creatures growing more technologically advanced than their neighbors can keep up with and unless something is done about it, they would wipe out the other tribes into extinction.

"So let me get this straight. You need me to find out who's giving that tribe the know-how to make stuff they're not supposed to...and dispose of them?"

"'THE TIMELINE MUST BE PRESERVED!"'

"You said that already! I get it. You have a hard on for your damn timeline." He just wants me to do his fucking dirty work! The nerve!

"If you want someone dead, go do it yourself!"

"THIS IS YOUR DUTY!"

"Fuck my duty!"

"IF YOU DO NOT DO THIS, IT WILL CAUSE TERRIBLE CONSEQUENCES TO ALL OF HISTORY!"

"Yeah no. I'm just going to leave now." I turn to leave and find that I can’t move. Time Baby's forehead mark was glowing and I was temporally frozen.

"SO YOU WILL SIT BACK AND ALLOW THE EXTINCTION OF HUNDREDS OF RACES? THIER DEATHS WILL BE ON YOUR HANDS BECAUSE YOU CHOSE NOT TO ACT!"

"Don't you fucking put this on ME!"

The argument went on for a while. I finally agreed to do it in exchange for a Deal from Time Baby. I didn't know what to ask for at the moment (Ax had explained long ago that bringing back the long dead was never a good idea for any reason, and after much painful soul searching, I agreed, I’m sorry Will, I’m sorry Purple. I’m sorry everyone.) so Time Baby just owes me a 'Favor' at some point. He was very upset but if he wants me to kill someone I won't do it for free.

I was already dirtying my hands deliberately. What next? I know that agreeing to do things like this will only lead to an escalation of tasks.

But what choice did I have?

---

I cannot believe this is happening right now.

I fume as the guards lead me roughly through the halls. Seriously, I get no respect. Don't these people know who I am?! I'm Bill freaking Cipher! One of the three pillars of creation.

I'm sure I could ask myself how this happened. Might as well go over this and figure out how the fuck I got into this situation. All I did was do what Time Baby asked! I went to the tribe, found the brilliant inventor that was giving his people better technology than was usual for the time period. I found the man and scanned his brain, all his knowledge and memories known to me in just a few short hours. I had a job to do, find out where he got this ahead-of-its-time knowledge from.

Imagine my surprise when I realized he wasn’t cheating. The man was brilliant. A true genius who figured out how to do this all on his own. I inform Time Baby that there was no time anomaly here.

Of course the fatass didn't care. The technology of that tribe was progressing faster than Time Baby wanted it to be and it must be fixed. I was shocked at his arrogance. Why did I have to kill true innovation?!

Regardless of my feelings on the matter I had a Deal to fulfill. It seemed like such a waste though. I took all of that man's knowledge into myself so it wouldn’t be gone forever (it’s probably a good thing that I can now store an infinite amount of knowledge with perfect memory recall) and then I plagued his dreams with nightmares until it drove him mad from sleep deprivation and he threw himself off a tower.

I felt dirty.

Without that man's contributions, the tribe floundered and ultimately were destroyed by an invading force from another country.

Apparently this was bad because it wasn't supposed to happen. Next thing I know, the fucking Time Police show up to cuff me and drag me off. I could have vaporized them and escaped, but I didn’t. I was very proud of my restraint. So here I am. Arrested for doing what Time Baby demanded for me to do. Un-FUCKIN-fair!

"Seriously? You're the one who told me to kill him."

"YOU ALTERED FATE OFF IT’S COURSE!"

"Well what did you THINK was gonna happen if I interfered?!" I scream.

"THERE WERE BETTER WAYS THAT WOULDN’T HAVE DIVERTED FATE’S PATH!" He bellows.

"News flash asshole! I can't FUCKING see the future!"

We were both flushed with anger and screaming at each other. The guards have long since left after the energy that constantly emits from me ignited the air around me into more streams of plasma. I was just...so angry that Time Baby was going to blame ME for doing what he said. I already felt sick from killing that guy. It’s such a waste. He was brilliant. He could have done so much good with that brain.

"YOU RAISE A FAIR POINT. YOU CANNOT SEE THE PATHS OF FATE."

"Well duh! Are you finally underst-"

I'm interrupted by Time Baby blasting me with his head marking. I scream in pain as the energy courses through me. Scenes flash before me. It was like opening my 'Eye' but different. My 'Eye' sees what was and is. But the things I am seeing now are possibilities of what will be.

A multitude of future paths are laid out before me. Different choices and outcomes. The scenes flash and flash and I'm crying in pain as I'm overwhelmed. There's too much information for me to process, even with my new physiology. I'm sobbing as I fall to the ground, my eye still flashing through images at lightning speed.

"NOW YOU CAN SEE AS I DO. NOW YOU CAN MAKE THE RIGHT CHOICES!"

My only response is a pained sobbing.

---

"Uuuuuwuuuu..."

-...Are you alright?-

"....noooo...."

I moan pitifully as I lay on Ax's head. The images are still flashing, slower now, Ax doesn't really do much so there's less divergence in his Timeline. It’s not much but it helps.

"Why did he do that to meeeeee...." I moan.

-Time Baby doesn't always think before he does something.-

"Uuugh...why is HE in charge of Time if he's such a prick?"

-The Time Giants are gone now. He is all that's left. Their duties have fallen on him. He is not ready for it, but needs must and he is all we have.-

"This suuuuucks..." I whine.

-You'll get the hang of it.-

"Uuugh...."

---

Having infinite time ahead of you is a daunting thing. The good part is it meant I had YEARS to figure out how to turn my Future Sight on and off. I generally keep it off. Too much of a headache. How long do I have before the Earth forms? I pop into the 3rd dimension for a quick check. Nope. Still a work in progress.

I once watched a planet form. Years and years would go by as I just stared blankly at the consolidating space dust. It was nice to just stop thinking for a bit and watch particles click together. Only at first. I got bored eventually.



So I decided to learn to dance.

What? I'm bored as shit. I have so much time that I don’t even know what to do with it. Why not try learning a skill?

I spent several centuries just learning different forms of dance. With the huge variety of alien races out there, I was never short on people and cultures I could copy from. This generally consisted of watching them while invisible and trying to mimic what they do.

I can scan minds to learn things within a few hours. But things like dance, music and how to play an instrument require actual work and practice to get good at it. I relished in the challenge. It was so satisfying to learn something myself.

I make it a habit to just scan anyone I see. Filter through their thoughts for any delicious knowledge of things I don't know yet. I feed off it. Knowledge is power and as a being of pure energy, I AM power. The more I know, the more powerful I get. My human curiosity only fueled my hunger to learn more.

I don't need to eat to sustain myself, knowledge satiates any physical need I have for sustenance. But there's an itch inside me. A gnawing hunger that I don't seem to be able to satisfy.

Time Baby set me on a few more 'jobs' and I feel sick doing them. He tells me it is for the greater good. I've seen the possible futures, sure the death of a few people here and there would prevent a larger future tragedy...but it still felt wrong.

I continued my Deals with Time Baby. Every job I do earns me a Favor that he owes me down the line. Each one. I’m keeping count. He threw the biggest tantrum and I had to push down my own fit to think back as far as I could to see how Zyun-Jan would have handled a raging toddler. I wasn't the best at handling children but I DID use to babysit. Jingling keys worked better than I expected.

The problem here is that explaining the concept of Fairness is all but impossible to a toddler. Children are selfish creatures who haven't yet learned empathy. I can't get Time Baby to realize that being unfair to me is wrong. He's just upset that I'm being ‘unfair’ to HIM with no regard for MY feelings. I fucking hate babies.

I tried to be patient. I really did. But our argument quickly devolved and I set the courtroom on fire. It burned beautifully. I did manage to get my Deal so its a victory for me. Sure it involved me creating a giant lollipop to bribe him with but I'll take what victories I can get.



---

Have you ever gotten so MAD that you just…had to smash something? Normally I would throw my pencil or flip a table if things got really bad. Well I might have forgotten about the whole…being of pure energy thing…

Time Baby and I were having one of our many arguments. I picked up a table and threw it, or at least that was what I was trying to do. I stuck my hand towards the table and a concentrated pulse of thermal energy shot out instead. The table, along with the wall, several hallways and many unfortunate Time Police were vaporized. No ashes, no remains, their molecules torn apart from the heat in an instant. It was terrifying.

“Oh shit! Oh shit! I didn’t mean to!” I fretted anxiously over the NOT EVEN smoking because there was NOTHING LEFT to produce smoke, remains of the hallway. “I’m so, SO sorry!”

Time Baby sent me to the Infinetentiary for that. As they flew me out to the satellite prison I could see the crumbling hole in the planet that my accidental attack caused. I winced and just apologized again. The guards assigned to me were shaking and pointing their guns at me the whole time.

“I really didn’t mean to do it.” I told them, my arms and legs dangling sadly. They didn’t believe me. They put me in a simple room with a single bed, chair and toilet. I could easily escape prison just by teleporting but I stayed as some twisted way to try and make myself feel less guilty. I deserve to be punished. I deserve to suffer. I’m a terrible person. Everything would be better if I wasn’t here. Everything would be better if I was dead. I’ll never amount to anything. My existence only hurts people. I don’t deserve to be happy. Everyone would be so much happier if I was dead.

The guards panicked when I began beating myself with the chair. Smashing it down onto my bricks over and over again as I screamed. They couldn’t sedate me, and they couldn’t stop me, so they just stood guard around my cell until the chair broke and I slumped over on the ground crying. They kept me in the padded solitary room. That didn’t stop me from finding ways to hurt myself. Everyone was convinced I was violent and crazy, and they’re not wrong. I took every opportunity I got to ‘punish’ myself. Anything to make this uncomfortable feeling inside me go away. I was itching and burning inside and if I could just…break myself open I would feel better. I knew I would. I knew I would deserve however much that hurt. I managed to crack my bricks a few times. My blood seeped black and oily along the walls and ground. There was a twisted sort of relief when I laid there, throbbing in pain and watching that blood spread around the room.



The guards had no idea what to do with me.

I stayed in the Infinetentiary for a few decades before I was let out because Time Baby had another job for me. He’d already forgotten why I was imprisoned in the first place. It wasn’t important to him.

I had a record now. The Federation has me listed under ‘Extremely dangerous, capable of planet-wide destruction and unstable’ which wasn’t really helping my reputation at all. How long can I keep this up? I’ve cried so many times by now I’m surprised I have tears left. I’m also grateful I still have tears to shed. Feeling sad and guilty sucked, but I’d rather have this pain than feel nothing at all.

As I mentally break another innocent soul whose only crime was upsetting Time Baby’s strict schedule, I feel my tears streaming down and devolved into hysterical laughter.


Chapter Text

Illusion is Reality

Chapter 15

-Seek my unholy knowledge-

---

It took me a few centuries to feel better again. Centuries where I was free to do what I wished with no summonings from Time Baby. I was grateful there were no jobs. It gave me time to calm down. It gave me time to pull myself together.

I was very upset at myself for losing control like that. I haven’t self harmed in so long, I thought for sure I’d gotten over that. Having cracked bricks hurt so damn much. It was awful. Just…sharp and broken. I hate pain. I hate it so much.

So I rested and recovered from my wounds. I started smiling again. Time heals all wounds right?

---

I felt a buzzing feeling in my bowtie. Oh! Oh! I'm being summoned! My first summoning that’s not from Time Baby! Oh my gosh oh my gosh! I adjusted my hat and bowtie. Need to make a good first impression. Okay Jan, you can do this. Show them that you're not some kind of violent maniac.

I tap into my powers to feel where the summoning was coming from. Dimension PΩK. Alright, I can do this. I teleport there with a burst of sparkles. Sparkles are cute right? Sparkles are harmless and pretty.

"People of PΩK! I bring you good tidings of peanuts and beer!" I say cheerfully as I appear before my summoner. Peanuts rained down upon him as a show of my sincerity.


The alien before me jerked back from the tiny little brown seeds. I eagerly sent a tendril of my mind into his to scan for his language and basic information. Name, Finth, species, Dorion sub-species from the more common Dorioth, semi-aquatic creatures that resembled a mix of frogs and fish. Language, slightly more complicated but I've got a special cheat I learned from old finny himself.

"Hello there. Name's Bill Cipher! Nice to MEET ya!" I 'said' enthusiastically. Being able to just project the 'meaning' of my words is so much easier than having to learn their language. All that same, I like actually knowing how to communicate with their tongue. It would take me a few more minutes to finish scanning the knowledge of his language so until then, cheat it is.

"What are you?!" Finth backs away and stares at me warily. I see my summoning circle crudely drawn in the sand by his fins.

"Well, YOU summoned ME. Shouldn't you have some idea?" I asked as I floated lower, trying my hardest to look non-threatening. I grabbed a few peanuts lying around and threw them in my eye just to have something to do. Ooh crunchy~

"I...I saw in the old texts that the elders keep hidden away about a one eyed beast that could grant your desires..."

"For a PRICE at least. It’s like an exchange of SERVICES get me? If you want something from me, you need to DISH out something in return." Man, this echo effect on my voice was obnoxious. Is there anything I can do about it?

Finth blinked his bulbous clear eyelids and glanced back at the circle he drew. "I didn’t think the legends were true. Can you...grant ANY request?"

"I make Deals kid. Just tell me what you want and I'll figure out a price."

He looked worried about the price. I quickly reassured him. "I'm not gonna ask for your soul or anything. Don't worry about that. Come on. Just one little Deal? Isn't there anything you want?" I probed deeper into his mind. Ooh. "Like that girl you want to marry but you don't have enough money to impress her father?" I ask slyly.

From what I could see in his head, the two liked each other but he couldn’t get her father to allow it unless he had the money to support her. Old fashioned but it was normal in their society. I felt it was unfair and dumb, if they both cared for each other, shouldn't that be enough?

"How did you know about that?!" He gasps at me.

"I know LOTS of things." I replied cheerfully. Aw man, always wanted to say that.

"C-can you grant me wealth?" He asks hopefully. Hm~could I? The monetary system their people use is Pearls. Simple enough. "Sure kid. Wanna try specifying though? I kinda need exact terms laid out." It’s how Deals worked. Like making a Genie wish I suppose.

So far the only one I've made Deals with was Time Baby. The terms of our agreement being that ‘I receive one Favor for EACH individual job he sends me on’, exact words. I've got a couple Favors saved up so far. The wording was incredibly important. It’s also why I make the effort to learn their language. The better I know the terms, the better I can find a way to twist them to benefit me.

Time Baby is still upset about those mysterious Favors he owes me. Tough luck kid. I’m a professional Destruction God.

"I...I want to have 500 pearls!" He says, his dorsal fin was wiggling in excitement.

500 pearls, short, sweet and simple terms. That's good actually. The simple terms are the hardest to mess up. Now what can I ask for in return?

Was there anything I wanted right now? Ah- there's one thing.

"No problem kid. That's easy peasy. You want 500 pearls and in exchange...I want you to write down the method for summoning me on 50 pamphlets. You can pass them out, gift them to people, I don't care. Just make 50 of them."

"Why?" He seems surprised at the suspiciously easy price. I laugh. "Making Deals is my job. If my summoning ritual is hidden away in some old dusty texts that no one gets to see then I'd be out of a job right?"

He seems to accept my answer and I hold out my hand, gentle blue fire springing up around it. "Do we have a Deal?" I ask cheerfully. He hesitates before taking my hand and we shake on it. I felt all tingly as a rush of energy travels up my arm and into me. Woo! Power rush!

I let go and just bask in the pleasant sensation of being filled with raw energy. Well, enough of that. I vibrate my bricks and reach to scoop up a handful of sand. Finth watches as I toss the sand into my eye/mouth and hum. Yeck, the taste is fine but the texture feels so gross. I hate eating sand. That grinding feeling on my teeth is just so disgusting.

I toss the grit around my mouth, my tongue licking and rolling it. I know real pearls are formed from larger pieces of stuff (sand particles are too small, it doesn't cause nearly enough irritation to actually make the oyster put in the effort to seal it in nacre when they can just spit it out) but hey, I'm not an oyster.

The gritty texture was already rounding out. I rolled them a few more times before spitting them out onto the ground. "Bleh-how many is that? Do I need to make more?" I count them quickly and grab another handful of sand, probably need to repeat this process a few more times. My hands are small ok?!



While I'm working, Finth kneels down and carefully picks up one of the pearls. "T-this is amazing! I’ve never seen a pearl grown this quickly."

"Mmhmm~" I hum as I spit the 2nd batch of pearls out. I'm a little over halfway done now. As I grab more sand, Finth begins laughing delightedly. He eagerly scoops up the pearls and washes them in the ocean. Once clean the pearls shone beautifully in the sunlight. Perfectly round and around the size of a fingernail. They had a faint golden tint to their color and an iridescent shine.

Finth snatches the next batch I spit out before they even hit the ground. "Well SOMEONE'S an eager beaver." I giggle at the look on his face. 500 pearls. I'm actually quite proud of them. So pretty. I snatch one of them out of his hands and he cries out in shock as I take the pearl from him. "That's mine!"

"The deal was 500 pearls. This little one here is an extra." I vanish the pearl to my house in the Nightmare Realm.

Finth makes a distressed noise that sounded like a whale sneezing and clutches the remaining pearls close to himself. I snort. "What? A Deal's a Deal kid. Now you better make good on your end of the bargain. I'll be watching you~"

I vanish with another burst of sparkles.

I think that went well. With some luck I'll be able to build a good reputation for myself. Or fix the bad one I currently have at any rate.

---

That jerk isn't keeping up his end of the Deal. I seethe as I watch him. Finth completed 12 pamphlets before stopping. At first I thought he was just taking a break, fair enough, I know better than most how tiring it is to copy the same thing over and over. But he...never finished his work.

I watch as he brings home my pearls, watch as he buys a nicer house, nicer clothes, I watch him strut around his village like he owns the place and I frown. I'm fine with him trying to get his affairs in order but THIS?!

I try to remain patient. He's just excited to have so much money. Once the thrill of this new experience wears off he'll go back to work. Days go by as I get increasingly annoyed with him. I thought he would go and ask for that girl's fin in marriage but I watched him splash around with multiple different girls. The one he originally liked kept trying to talk to him but he laughs her off. I watch as she swims off in tears.

"Just how much can someone truly be altered by greed~?" I sang softly. I couldn't take it anymore. This was NOT ok. That night as Finth came home after a late night spent partying with a new set of girls he "Eep!"ed in surprise to see me lounging on one of his lavish sofas.

"Why hello kid. Fancy seeing you again."

"What are you doing in my house?"

"Oh nothing~ just wondering when you were going to finished your end of our Deal like you promised you would." I poked at the seams on the sofa cushion, not even looking at him.

"I never promised I wo-"

"We had a DEAL!" I screech as my bricks swell up and I triple in size, towering over the now frightened Dorion. "WE SHOOK ON IT. DO YOU SERIOUSLY THINK I'M GOING TO LET THIS GO?!" My voice turns into a deep rumbling roar.

I grab the finished pamphlets he's already made and wave them in his face. "I count 12 here. TWELVE! Do you remember what NUMBER you agreed to?"

"F-fifteen?" He blurbles as he tries to back up but finds blue flames blocking his way out the door. Flames underwater.

"FIFTY! YOU AGREED TO 50! WHERE ARE THE OTHER 38 HUH?! OR ARE YOU INCAPABLE OF COUNTING?!"

"I...I'm sorry! I have been...busy! I'll finished them right away!" He cowers before me, green scales turning pale in fear.

"Don't even bother. As you CLEARLY don’t intend to keep your end of of the Deal, I have a right to take back MINE." I flick my fingers and my fire spreads to consume the entire house. Finth screeches in terror and runs into the center of the room, as far as he can get from my hungry flames. It consumes his house, burning everything and making the water rise to boiling temperatures.

I watch dispassionately as his belongings burn. Those nice clothes. Nice furniture. Nice house. All bought using MY pearls. Since they were bought using my pearls, I had every right to do with them as I wish along with taking back the remaining 453 pearls.

"No! No! My house!!" Finth screams and cries as he watches everything he owns melt away in the heat. I hear screaming coming from outside as the neighbors noticed the strange sight of a building burning underwater. Finth is begging me to stop. Begging for forgiveness. Promising me anything I could ever want. Anything he could give, just please stop.

I ignore his pleas as the fire finally flickers out leaving just the two of us surrounded by the twisted remains of what was once an opulent display of his newfound wealth. He sobs on his knees before me, I had shrunk back to a default 5 foot size by this point and I floated above him. Watching this pathetic display of grief before me, I couldn't help the smallest twinge of pity.

Finth flinches at the sound of multiple things falling to the ground before him. He opens his eyes to see some pearls.

"You DID finish 12 pamphlets. I'll graciously allow you to keep 12 pearls." I felt disgusted when he lunged for them and curled his body around them, like he was afraid I'd take them back. I was severely tempted to do so.

"You disgust me kid." I finally look away from him to examine the Dorion and Dorioth gathered around us. "You brought this on yourself for not upholding your end of the Deal. Let THAT be a lesson. No one cheats Bill Cipher out of a Deal.” I blink away, wanting nothing more than to wash my hands of this incident.

Oh course I should have known this would come back to bite me in the ass.

---

A/N: You have no idea how much I wanted to have Bill/Jan lounging in the house in the shape of a seahorse.



That would have been hilarious. But sadly, Finth wouldn’t have recognized him/her like that.

Chapter Text

Illusion is Reality

Chapter 16

-Defaced dollar bills-

---

There I was just peacefully selling my pearls at a marketplace. Trying to at any rate. No one wanted to buy them. I glare at the merchant and she cowers back in fear. "What do you mean you won't do business with me?"

"W-well...forgive me for saying this, your most glorious of beasts, y-your most shining of shapes...but I do not have enough credits to trade you for your..." She glances nervously at the handful of pearls I dumped onto her table. "...wares..."

"Seriously?! These things aren't THAT expensive are they?" I pick one up to squint at it. It looked like a normal pearl to me. "How about just one? Can you buy just one?"

"I am v-very sorry most patient of customers. This humble merchant simply cannot afford to-"

"Ok, please stop that. It's weirding me out. And that's saying a LOT considering who I am. Also, are you sure you really can't buy one? I have over 400 that I'm just trying to get rid of. I don't mind selling them for cheap. I just don't have any use for them."

"Oh no! This unworthy manager of wares would never dream of exchanging your most wondrous of gems for anything less than their proper price." The merchant, a rather cute looking alien with a round catlike body with a pom-pom shaped antenna (I swear it looked just like a Moogle) sweated nervously.

I groan and slap my hand over my eye. This was the 5th merchant who refused to barter with me. Word spreads and now people seem to think I have extremely high standards and would destroy someone's house if I felt I was being gyped. Ugh.

I finally leave the marketplace (to the relief of everyone there) and teleport to an entirely different planet. Obviously I can't get anything done as 'Bill'. I shifted into my human form, landed on the soft grass of Smarvis-914 and immediately jumped. Ah! Tickles!

I float slightly above the ground and formed shoes. I should really do something about my lack of shoes as a human. I lowered myself back onto the ground and shifted my clothes so I wasn't blatantly wearing Bill's colors. My yellow brick patterned poncho turned into a simple red dress with a teddy bear pattern. Checking my reflection in a nearby stream I felt I couldn’t look any less like Bill Cipher. This would work fine.


(I forgot to draw shoes, shit….)

Materializing a small backpack and a pouch to put the pearls in, I set off for the nearest source of civilization. Here's hoping I can finally pawn off this dead weight. They're pretty but I have no use for them. And it would be a waste to just throw them out. Briefly I wonder if I could register my human form under a separate identity with the Federation so I can start a bank account. Getting paid in Credits would be more useful than getting this planet's currency and needing to exchange it when I actually want to use it.

A thought for the future. Its not a bad idea. Especially if I was going to use this form more often for such purposes. I'll need to name myself something too. How about Miz? That sounds enough like a generic alien name right?

Bartering was so much easier when the merchant you're talking to wasn't absolutely terrified of you. It was also more frustrating when they offer an absurdly low price for stuff. "I may not know about gem prices but I know that I shouldn't get any less than 400 Secs for these." I pout at the pawn shop owner.

"Look kid. You don't have an ID, you refuse to give me a straight answer about where you got these gems from and you're obviously trying to get rid of them. Chances are these are stolen goods so you should be grateful I'm even offering to take them off your hands instead of calling the cops."

"...350 Secs." I pout.

"200." He replies smoothly.

"325." I cross my arms.

"250." He leans against the counter.

"300." I narrow my eyes at him.

"275." He says smugly.

My eyebrow twitches before I sigh. "Fine."

"Pleasure doing business with you." The plant-like creature says as he takes the pearls and counts up my money.

I make a show of being upset but I actually didn't care. I'm just glad I finally got rid of them. Also have some spending money now. Yay~

Should I go shopping? What even would I get? I can already materialize anything I want. Just pull together particles and move around protons and neutrons to make whatever element I wanted, combine them into molecules and literally craft what I wanted from the ground up. It took CENTURIES to learn. I had to understand what any item I wanted was actually made from.

Like building a sand castle one grain at a time.

Whatever I make stays. Unless I actively disperse it (which requires effort as well), any item I craft or change I make is permanent. That applies to any sorts of bodily modifications I force on people that annoy me. It stays until I reverse it. I remember testing my ability to cause spontaneous mutations to biological life forms on some mindless animals I found.

It might have been considered animal cruelty but I had to practice my powers somehow and its better to test them on something that wasn't a sentient, thinking creature. Biological transmutation requires more focus if I wanted to avoid killing the victim. I had to shift their flesh around in a way that didn't cause their bodies to shut down.

I spent a lot of time amassing knowledge on different alien biologies to better understand how bodies worked. Even my human form wasn't perfect. Not yet anyway. It looked human enough but on a biological level it was somewhat...off. Because I didn't know enough about the human body yet. I had all the anatomy correct, but the genetics? This form was literally just a flesh sack formed out of organs, blood and bone. It didn't have true DNA, no blueprint for cells to follow when they grow and split. It was an unchanging flesh suit, not a real living body.

I looked human without being human. On the downside, this form was empty inside. On the upside, it was durable, can survive various planets and environments that humans couldn't, can eat food and taste it (the food breaks down inside me and is phased through the pores in my skin, the same as it would in my triangle form, its just a more efficient digestion process), can feel more sensation than my triangle form is capable of and I can't get pregnant.

Not that I would ever do anything to have that happen but it was reassuring to know that if something unspeakable occurred, I was at least safe from that.

I left the pawn shop and wandered around the city. Window shopping was always fun. If I see something I want, might as well. I got a few strange looks but was otherwise ignored by people. It was nice to be able to walk around without everyone running to the opposite side of the street.

---

Making a new identity wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. Literally all I had to do was walk into a Federation license office, fill out some paperwork and hand over my money. Granted it was a LOT of money. I ended up making more gems and gold to pawn off in multiple different dimensions to get the money together for it.

If I pay enough money the Federation welcomes you with open arms. I look at my Citizen card then glance at the long line of people trying to gain citizenship. Many Federation owned areas required a citizenship to be allowed to enter. This included many buildings, planets and whole dimensions. I can just teleport so its never been a problem for me but...

I scanned the people in line. A family of refugees from Chauhiri after the star nearest to the planet died and everyone was forced to evacuate. A disowned princess from the M dimension. A father trying to get a Travel License so he could return to his family for the first time in many years.

I watched as they were turned away by the workers behind the desks. I watched as the father desperately held up what little money he had and begged. The man at the desk simply told him to get a job and earn the money needed to purchase the license. I know full well many Federation run planets don't even LET you get a job without a citizenship.

It was unfair.

"How much does he need?"

"What?"

The room went silent as I marched up to the front desk. I crossed my arms angrily and stared down the man behind the desk, a large insect-like creature. "How much does he need to get the license?" I repeat.

"A Travel License costs 2000 credits." He responded.

I turn to look at the father. "I'll pay for your license." He stares at me in shock. The man behind the desk chitters in protest. "You can't just-"

"Is there any rule against this?" I ask, knowing full well there wasn't.

"Well...no...but..."

"Then I would like to purchase a travel license for this man." I said as I held up my new card, which already had all the various currencies I'd exchanged over into credits earlier. The bug-man looked incredibly flustered. I just stared him down. It took a while but the father (name, Ultigh, species, Blue Elephesant) walked out with the travel pass and a confused look on his face. I blinked away as he turns to say something to me.

---

Why did I help him? Sure I felt bad for him but...I felt bad for the others as well. I didn't have enough money for everyone else and out of the people there I'd chosen him? Why? I growl in frustration. It was more done as a spur of the moment than any real sympathy. I was there and I could. But shouldn't I have helped the others instead?

“媽媽, 爸爸在哪裡?”
“你是什麼意思美國不會讓爸爸跟我們一起來?”
“媽媽,我什麼時候能見到爸爸?”

Sometimes I don't know what I'm thinking anymore.

What am I doing with my life? I have no purpose. Aside from dreading the eventual summoning job from Time Baby, there's nothing I really have to do. I don't have a real job. I don't need to eat, sleep or fulfill any real obligations. I've found various ways to entertain myself and waste time. I've learned to play every instrument I've found throughout the multiverse. I took up painting, sculpting and other activities. I sit and watch the Galactic TV for hours and hours until all the shows and dramas blur together and I'm just bored as shit.

It's not enough. I just feel restless and unhappy. I just want to talk to someone. I just want to be around someone. I'm so lonely. I blink to the space between spaces where Ax is and just float down to lay on his arm.

-What's wrong this time?- Ax stirs and wakes up to look at me.

"Nothing...can I just stay with you for a while?"



He rumbles and settles back down to sleep. I'm incredibly jealous that he can. I'm so tired. I can't sleep. I close my eye anyway. I lay on his soft arm, one hand curled around his finger, and just...stop thinking. I can almost pretend I'm sleeping too.

---

I get summoned again. I adjust my hat and make a smile. Keep my spirits up. I will not break. I can do this.

Maybe this Deal would turn out better. Shouldn't let the first disastrous mess put me off what may well be the ONLY purpose in my life. I should go check on the 3rd dimension again. See if Earth is any closer to existing. After one final check on my appearance I blinked away to meet my summoner.

---

I’ve gotten more used to this by now. These summonings for various Deals. Some good, some bad. I continue to try and give people a chance, I give my terms and they need to follow them. I can grant nearly anything people want. Wealth? Done. Power? If they word it correctly. Knowledge? I’ve got that in spades. Love?

“What do you mean you can’t make him fall in love with me?”

“It’s not that I can’t. It’s that I won’t.” I say simply.

“Why not?” The Multimur girl’s fur is bristling angrily.

“Because your love life isn’t important enough for me to use my powers on. Really kid. Did you seriously summon THE Bill Cipher just to make your crush pay attention to you?”

“I summoned you! You have to do what I want!”

I was starting to get annoyed. With just a thought we were surrounded by blue flames. The girl waved her many arms in panic. “I don’t have to DO anything kid. I don’t mind helping you TRY to win his heart, but I’m not going to just MAKE him love you.”

I get clients like this sometimes. People who who can’t tell the difference between love or lust. People who think the heart could be so easily manipulated to whatever they want. As a master of the mind I could easily grant what they THINK they want. But manipulation of feelings like that is disgusting and it is one line I will not cross. Never. I will never do something that horrible.

“Look kid, if you really want this guy, can’t you just…go and talk to him?”

“Then make me beautiful! Make me so beautiful that he’ll HAVE to love me!” She insists.

I roll my eye even as I consider all sorts of options for effects and prices. I’ve recently developed a taste for Karmic punishment toward clients with annoying or selfish desires. Oh, I’ll make her beautiful alright. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and everyone will behold her from now on.

“Sure kid, you’ll be the most beautiful thing anyone sees, and in exchange…” What would I like in return? Eh, why not? “…treat me to lunch.”

“What?” She stares at me in confusion as her 3 sets of ears all twitched. I shrug. “I can’t really think of anything I want at the moment. So just buy me food. You should be grateful I’m being so lenient with you.” Also, I will LITERALLY do anything to get some social interaction.

“Ok, deal.”

((((((((((Mildly lewd content)))))))))))


We shake on it and she cries out in pain as her body shifts and morphs. I’m somewhat curious what she’ll turn into with me. It was a simple Curse. I can’t make her beautiful, everyone has a different idea of what is beautiful. So I just made it so she’ll transform into what is considered beautiful to whoever is looking at her. I watch as she writhes painfully and her body mutates into a horrifying mass of flesh. Ooh…oh dear…was this due to my curse not working correctly? Or is my personal tastes in aesthetic appearances just too complicated for the curse to properly manifest?

I looked away so I could ponder this question and give her a break from her mutating cells. Wait. I think I know the problem. I have a shapeshifting fetish. So she would keep changing so long as I was enjoying it. Probably best if I made myself exempt from being part of the Curse effects. This was still a problem, I’m a good guy though, so I spend some time tweaking her curse somewhat to make it less volatile. See how nice I am? "Shit...sorry...probably should have done this more carefully..."

She groans, trembling with exhaustion from her DNA being twisted so roughly. She was also now a ‘he’…um…oops? I’d adjusted the settings so that she would stay the same species and only shift along features naturally found in her species. So…success? I backed away uncomfortably and decided to make a hasty retreat from this awful faux pas before anything happens.

“Ah…know what? I'll just give you the ability to change how you want, think of it as an apology…er…REALITY IS AN ILLUSION! LIFE IS A HOLOGRAM! BUY GOLD BYE!

(((((((((Okay safe now))))))))))


I was burning with embarrassment for days afterward. Sent her apology notes too.

Also, apparently the guy she was crushing on liked her back but preferred men, so he was thrilled by her/his new form(s) and the two had a long talk about getting together. She accepted being stuck as a male if it meant she could be with him (someone's desperate) so…happy ending?

----

 

A/N: I love biology, I love learning about mutations and other messed up things.

Most of my childhood was spent reading this book and other simple medical texts (one of my mom's friends was a doctor and she kept giving me books)

It was a book explaining all about stuff like 'How do Twins Form?' or 'How does pain work' among other things. Mom used to read what little books we had to me until she had to start working full-time, so I self-taught myself how to read simple English when I was 4 so I could read stuff on my own. I was curious and wanted to know EVERYTHING and reading was the fastest way to learn by myself.

My interest in biology evolved over the years into a strange twisted disgusting fetish that I'm partially ashamed of. It certainly wasn't helped by all the body horror movies my dad used to watch, he loved horror movies and never thought I shouldn't be allowed to watch them with him.

Chapter Text

Illusion is Reality

Chapter 17

-Tape your eyeballs open-



I crafted my first nightmare today.

I don't mean one of my 'jobs' for Time Baby either. I sat myself down and made a bubble of madness. I have the power to do so and I might as well practice it. This was a large orb of twisting chaos that I shape to my will. I've been feeling a little antsy as more of my powers developed. This itchy feeling that was unpleasant but not yet uncomfortable.

What kind of nightmare should I make? Should I start with something simple or just go all out? What do I even do with it after I'm done? I suppose I can just leave it floating somewhere in the Nightmare Realm. I could save it for use as punishment. So many possibilities.

The question remains though, what sort of nightmare should I make?

An idea comes to me and I grin wickedly. Oh yes. This should be fun.

---

In a deep dark house there was a warm soft bed. A nice soft pillow for you to lay your head. You wake up in the dark feeling a sharp strong dread. A harsh primal fear that you will soon be dead.

There stands beside you something tall and red. Its stick thin face shows it has not been fed. It whispers in your ear words that should not be said. Your eyes begin to bleed as the madness spreads.



---

I lean back to study my work. It’s a bit cringey but not bad for a first attempt. I let the bubble float away and start making another one. Lets try something that doesn't rhyme this time.

---

You stand in a pool of water. It goes up to your waist and appears to stretch infinitely in all directions. The water is dark, or is it just because everything is dark. You don't know if you are indoors or out but there is blackness all around you.

There is no sound or light, yet you can still see. You glance down to spot your reflection in the water. You move a hand and the ripples blur the image. There is a quiet splash as your hand trails along the liquid around you. The only sounds you hear are your own.

As you stand still the ripples die down and once again you see only your reflection. You sigh and look around. Where are you? Is there a way out of here?

You pick a direction and start walking. You have no idea where you're going but anything would grant more progress than just standing there. Your legs make loud splashes and you find comfort in the noise.

You walk for what feels like hours. There is no end to this. You stop to rest. The ripples fade and you are left once again with just your reflection. With nothing else to do you look down at it. It’s simply an image of you reflected in the water.

Your reflection is smiling. That's odd. Are you really smiling? You bring a hand up to your face, the movement disturbing the water once more. You are not smiling. Did you see wrong?

The water stills and you freeze. Your reflection hasn't moved. You have one hand on your face but your reflection continues to grin at you. Hands down at its side.

You back away warily. The ripples distort the image but somehow you can still see that smile. You strike at the water with a fist. Again and again you smash at the water. The sounds of splashing fill the air. It doesn't last long. You slump exhausted with your eyes closed. You don't want to see it.

You know its there. That reflection that isn't you. You know its watching you. Even with your eyes squeezed tight you can see it grinning up at you. Its eyes remain open and its watching you. Its waiting. You stand there with your eyes closed.

And your reflection is waiting.



---

I pull back and examine the Nightmare. Hm...still doesn't seem quite right. I let this one float away as well. Crafting nightmares is harder than I thought. Am I being too tame? Maybe something more violent and gory? More surreal?

I shape another bubble and try again.

---

A group of friends sit around a table eating an assortment of cakes out of a burlap sack. One of the sacks was unopened and yet the cakes were still being devoured.

A mutant rabbit is eating the cakes through the sack. Sucking the pastries through the gaps in the fibers.

A scientist takes the rabbit for study. He kills it for dissection. The lab where he works is dark and cold. Suddenly one of the boys from the lunch hall is here. How did he get in here?

The scientist questions but the boy's eyes have gone milky white. His skin is clammy and bloated. The boy opens his mouth into a wide pitch black circle.

There is a buzzing noise as insects stream from the boys mouth. The dead rabbit laughs. The scientist is pulled feet first into that mouth. There is a grinding noise as the insects buzz and tear and chop like a garbage disposal.

The scientist is flung out of the boy's mouth. His legs are gone. He lower half is a mess of blood and bone. The bottom of his spine is clearly visible.



The scientist does not scream. He is not afraid. He thought it was pleasurable. So much so that he lowers himself back into the boy's mouth to grind more of himself away.

The dead rabbit laughs.

---

Much better! Wonderfully surreal as well.

I admire my work. Short, simple and yet...disturbing.

I work for the rest of the day making bubbles and simply letting them drift off. They were quite pretty to look at so long as you didn't touch them.

A nightmare from the POV of a child riding a tricycle through the science museum as people's shadows moved in ways that did not correspond to them.

A nightmare of being lost in an underground city. Your footsteps echoing through empty streets and an impossibly high ceiling of the cave walls. You hear footsteps that are not your own, a sound of a step just a split second behind yours. But you cannot see anyone else here.

One bubble was literally just the Narwal song repeating forever.

There was an itch inside me. With each nightmare I create I can feel that itch grow weaker and weaker. I feel a sense of relief as the nightmares poured out of me. Soon the itch is gone and I feel a pleasant tingle. My bricks buzz happily and a low moan slips out before I realize it.

What was that? I slowly form another nightmare (salad forks and eyeballs) and felt a jolt pass through my bricks. "Mmmph-" Oh that feels nice. Another nightmare is formed, a rather lazy one that simply makes everything turn into meat, I'm not going for creative I just need to make one. Again I shudder. Shit this feels nice.

It would feel even better if someone was inside the bubble. Their every scream would fuel me. Feed me. I knew this instinctively and I thought of grabbing some helpless sap off the streets and just throwing them in here. Just for a little while. It’s not like it would physically hurt them.

I smack myself across the face.

Fuck. No. None of that.

How could I even consider that?! Using someone's pain just to...just to make myself feel good. But it'll feel sooo nice...NO! God no. I groan and float down so I can just lay on the ground. I suppose this is yet more proof that I really am some kind of demon-god now.

Small miracles that at least the itch isn't coming back yet. I gaze around at the dozens of bubbles floating slowly through the air. They really were quite pretty, for being such awful things. For a moment I wanted to just pop them all. Destroy them. But I decided against it. I can use them for Time Baby's next 'job'. Practical and pragmatic.

I'm just going to go vent to Ax about the latest in a long line of issues I now have to deal with. Truly he is God for the patience he shows me.

---

"So why DOES it feel so...good?" Like pouring cold water over yourself on a hot summer day. That sense of relief. Or getting a really good back scratch. I wanted to moan just imagining that feeling.

-Your powers want to be used. However it is that you use them doesn't matter but anything that results in the foundation of your Existence, that being Destruction or Chaos would feel euphoric.-

"Well fuck me." I grumble as I plop down to lie on the AXOLOTL'S head.

-Must you always come to me about this?-

"Who else am I gonna talk to? Time Baby?!"

-You raise a fair point. Counterpoint, go make some friends.-

"How? Everyone hates me."

-If you never search, you will never find.-

"Inspirational. I guess you're right. I need to continue spreading the knowledge of how to summon me anyway."

The more who know, the higher the chance someone will try summoning me, I’m doing pretty well so far. My name is known throughout several thousands of Dimensions. Not many people are brave or stupid enough to summon me, but it DOES happen, at least one summon every few years. It’s not much but it would still be social interaction. I can also just turn into my 'human' form and charm my way into someone's house hold again. It was the only way I’ve been able to receive any positive social interaction. Sadly I can’t make any long term friends because they always get suspicious of me as time goes on.

---

It doesn’t happen often in my day to day life. Certainly much less than when I was human. But having felt that incredibly nice feeling earlier made me crave it. Crave some kind of release. I’ve masturbated many times over the many billions of years I’ve existed by this point. It’s not often though. I’m still feeling somewhat off balance and I just…wanted to feel good. Let off some stress. There’s nothing wrong with that. I floated in the Nightmare Realm, formed another Madness Bubble and decided to indulge this time.

((((((((((((((((((((((NSFW self-indulgent shit, feel free to skip- WARNING: contains sexual assault by a living water creature, inflation and triangle masturbation. DO NOT READ IF YOU ARE UNDER 18, I’m talking to YOU! Yes you! I know you’re reading this!)))))))))))))))))))))))))

…..A girl sat on her couch reading a book. There’s the soothing sounds of the rain outside. A multitude of tapping along her roof and windows. The girl startles when a water droplet falls on her head. She looks up and sees the leak on her ceiling. With a sigh she puts down the book and goes to find a bucket. As she walks off she doesn’t see the drips from the ceiling come down faster and faster. A puddle forms along the ground. Instead of spreading out like water would, the puddle starts swaying and growing as more water drops come down. It wobbles like jello as it grows larger and larger.

The girl returns to the room with a bucket but drops it in shock upon seeing the growing gelatinous thing. It’s tall enough to reach her waist and it sways back and forth. The girl tries to back away before the thing notices her but she’s too late. It sees her and there’s a second of stillness before it rushes up at her. The girl tries to scream but the mass of living liquid shoves itself inside her mouth. She thrashes and tries to grab at it but the creature squishes and slips between her fingers.

The dripping from the ceiling is becoming a steady trickle. The girl tries to run but the creature holds her down. She’s pushed against the wall as the creature continues to squeeze itself inside her. The girl groans as the cold liquid settles in her stomach. It doesn’t take long for her to be stuffed full. The creature seems to realize the girl’s stomach couldn’t take anymore. The water soaks itself into her clothes and she moans as it roams around her, searching for some other way to get inside. To get out of the cold. It just wants to be warm.

The girl gasps as she feels the creature nudging at her nipples. “Wait! You can’t go in there-!” The creature doesn’t listen as it begins seeping into her nipples. The girl twists and cries out as the liquid easily gushes inside her. She shivers from the cold and watches in amazed horror as her breasts fill up with liquid. This couldn’t be real but there it was right in front of her. Her breasts shook as more and more water pours inside them. Her breathing picks up and the girl ends up moaning at the feeling of her breasts being filled. The flesh seemed to become softer and more stretchy because it didn’t hurt at all. She pants as her breasts swelled up larger and larger. Sloshing heavily with liquid.

She was so distracted by her still growing breasts, they had doubled in size already, that she nearly didn’t notice the water pooling down around her crotch. She jumped when the water entered both her front and back holes. It was cold but it felt so nice. She pulled at the water holding her wrists down and this time it let go. Her hands immediately went up to caress her heavy breasts. They sloshed at every movement she made and the sensation caused a warm feeling to spread through her.

The water had reached her womb and was steadily filling it up. She groaned and placed a hand on her stomach to feel her waistline expanding. The water sliding over her clit was driving her mad. She put one hand between her legs and rubbed furiously at the hot flesh. It felt so good. This sensation of being filled up. Her breasts had grown so large she couldn’t see past them, her shirt was stretched tight and she could hear tearing sounds. The hand on her stomach rubbed at the expanding bulge and she pulled her pants off before it got uncomfortable. Now that she calmed down somewhat, the girl was enjoying the feeling of the water pouring into her…..

I was burning as I watched the image inside the Nightmare. My Piece was extended and my hands rubbed at it furiously. “Hah~hah~” I gasped, my bricks flushing orange as I worked myself over. Definitely destroying this bubble once I was done. It was way too embarrassing to keep around. My eye squeezed shut as my hands moved faster and faster. Come on. I’m so close. So close. “Hngh! Hah~ah~” I tried to buck my hips but it didn’t really work when I was was floating. I lowered myself onto the ground and started thrusting against the rocks. They scraped along my bricks and piece with a delightful scratching sensation and I moaned loudly, my vocalizations unrestrained because there was no one around to hear.

I grind myself roughly against the rocks and whined. Dammit! Why won’t I just get off already?! I snarl as I shove myself as hard as I can along the ground and claw at my piece desperately. Finally I’m granted sweet release. My piece clicks off and shoots into the ground while I collapse in a burning, panting slump. Shit that felt good. I weakly wave at the Bubble and it pops with a thought.

((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((End)))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))

I did not expect the torrent of cold water that falls on top of me.

“AAAAAAAGH! WHAT THE FUCK?!”

---

Chapter Text

Illusion is Reality

Chapter 18

-Good terms with me-

---

The universe fears me. This is a fact that I can't deny. Even though I've tried hard to show people that I'm an okay guy. I just keep...losing my temper. I'm getting a better grip on it, I've been working as hard as I can to understand and control my powers. Sometimes it’s not even my instincts that make me lash out. I’m just so frustrated and lashing out is EASY. I don’t have to take sass from people, I don’t have to smile and bear with it when someone is rude to me. I can MAKE them shut up. I wouldn’t have to do this if they weren’t rude to me first though. Why are there so many assholes in the universe?

There was one guy I met who straight out SPIT IN MY FACE when I asked he needed help moving the many boxes he was carrying. I’ve scanned his mind, it’s not like spitting at me was his species’s way of saying hello or anything. It was a rude gesture in his culture and he did it to me simply because he didn’t like the fact that I offered to help. Not even a culture issue with accepting assistance, he just felt angry that I thought he couldn’t carry the boxes himself. It was for the sake of his PRIDE. I tore his leg off and demanded an apology. After sufficient groveling I even reattached his leg properly. See? I’m nice.

Despite that, I’ve been in a great mood recently. Time Baby hasn’t called me up for a government sanctioned assassination job for a couple thousand years now and it has been WONDERFUL.

Despite their fear, there are some who actively seek me out. Criminals who desire my power. I've been giving out the instructions to summon me for many millennia now, along with the fact that I was capable of granting knowledge and semi-wishes, for a price. I've made many Deals here and there. Some of them were incredibly stupid or destructive and I simply refused to do them. They didn’t offer me anything good enough to warrant my help.

I was thrilled when my bowtie buzzed. Social interaction! I tap my bowtie and teleport away.

Flashy entrances are fun to do. The sky darkens and I appear in a flash of fire. It is entirely unnecessary to do so but it makes people jump and my twisted half enjoys that small bit of Fear. It’s better to feed that part of myself with small things then let it starve until I snap.

I look at my summoner. With but a glance I know his name, history and the fact that he is not someone I will like. Regardless I paste a happy look on my 'face' and greet him.

"Oh hello there! What does the Baron of Jakiel's want with ME of all cosmic entities?"

The large creature before me looked like the unholy child of a sliding ladder and an armadillo. With hair. It was disgusting.

"Bill Cipher. I heard that you can grant nearly anything for a price."

"I make Deals Little Sami. You'd better have something nice to offer me in exchange for that information you want on the secret to your brother's business success."

"How did you know-"

"Oh I know LOTS of things. LOTS OF THINGS." I couldn't resist. It’s such a cool line.

Sami Jakiel shudders a little before steeling himself and offering me what his species probably considers a charming smile. I resist the urge to gag. How do their mouths extend THAT far?

"Well no sense discussing business on an empty stomach. Come, let us talk over a hearty meal."

I knew he was just trying to butter me up but who am I to refuse food? Just 'cause I don't NEED to eat doesn't mean I don't enjoy it. I am quite upset that I'll be forced to eat while in my Triangle form and won’t be able to properly taste anything. Eh, I'll just teleport the food back to my house in the Nightmare Realm for later consumption. It’s not like they'll notice.

The Baron's house was quite grand and decorated heavily in a way that upset my frugal nature. Such a waste of money spent on things that don't serve any practical purpose, nor were they pretty enough to warrant the money spent on them. There's decoration for aesthetic purposes and then there's having 5 endangered Twinga heads mounted above the doorway. They weren't even spaced apart evenly and it was driving my OCD NUTS.

I flicked my fingers and moved them just to make myself feel better.

The dining room was just as opulent but the seats were soft. I sat down and even politely took my hat off. A servant/slave was there with a pretty pillow to put my hat on. I thanked her, earning a flash of confusion from the young girl. She's never been shown gratitude.

My annoyance at the Baron only grew.

He was seated across from me at the head of the table. I stretched my size a little larger so I could better see over the table. Inwardly I wince at how wide my bottom side got. I was taking up 3 chairs of space.

More slaves were coming in with plates piled high with all sorts of food. The Cantonese part of myself was salivating at the thought of trying them all. Meat~

"Since you are already aware of my desire. The question remains, what would you want in return?"

"Oh I want lots of things." I say absently, not even paying him any attention as I stared at all the different dishes. Oh! There's roasted Quizard! And is that mashed Jelly-Potato? Oh my god there's Nebula cake! With....14 layers! I was distantly aware that my eye was turning into a drooling maw with every other blink.

"...So you are a fan of culinary delights?" Sami asks. I caught his thought of bribing me with more delicious food in order to barter down the price of this Deal.

"It’s an indulgence." I try to sound casual as I dab the saliva around my bricks with a napkin. Gosh, how embarrassing.

"Well don't let me keep you from the food. Dig in." He smiles with a feeling of victory for succeeding at putting me in a good mood.

I toss food into my mouth, teleporting it to float in stasis back in the Nightmare Realm. I can feel the fear roll off the slaves whenever my hand grabs a little close to where they were standing. Sami Jakiel just watches with smug amusement.

"So, what are the exact terms of your deal?" I dab around my eye after I've grabbed at least a little of everything on the table.

"I want to have my brother's knowledge in my own hands. He only inherited a small quarter of our family's fortune when our parents died and yet he's still making more then I am. That disgusting half-breed doesn't deserve that money." The Baron thumps his clawed fists on the table.

I observe him coldly. A racist bigot. Jealous of his brother's fortune. I know already the secret to his brother's success. Henri Jakiel has been making deals with the local mob boss. He provides them immunity from the law in his lands and in exchange the mafia puts pressure on his business partners to close a favorable deal with him.

Neither of them are good people. It was almost too easy to twist the terms of the Deal into something more vicious. I resist the dark thought. No, bad Bill. The whole point is to try and show that I can be perfectly reasonable with granting people their desires.

Even if it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

"Oh that's easy~ but what are you gonna give me in return?" I lean back in my chair(s) and wait to hear his offers. Chances are they're gonna be worthless things.

"Why rush? There's still desert if you're feeling peckish." He waves his hand and a servant leaves the room with a resigned look.

"Hm..." I shove the entire nebula cake into my eye. "Yeah, I can use a bit of a treat."

"Then let us adjourn to the courtyard. The view is pleasant and the day is fine." He walks with a sickening clacking sound as his spine extends and retracts. I'm glad I haven't actually eaten anything. I might not be able to vomit but I sure as hell can feel like it. I shrink back to my default size and float after him. Grabbing my hat on the way out.

Patience is key Bill. Just hold it in a bit longer.

I will admit his courtyard is nice. The hedges are trimmed, there is a sweet scent of flowers and the view of the city below is breathtaking.

I hear chains rattling and see the slaves dragging a struggling beast into view. They jabbed it with electro-spears and it thrashed before falling limp. I recognized it. Large purple body shaped like a bread loaf. Xanthar!

He's not making any vocalizations, no mouth, face or head to do so. But I can feel his thoughts, nothing quite in words but more a sense of emotions. 'Fear' 'Pain' ‘Dreadful anticipation’

"Ah. Found this fine specimen at an auction. It has a unique quality about it that I'm sure you would enjoy." The Baron sounds so proud I had to fight down the urge to incinerate him.

Some other slaves come out carrying a huge cleaver and I watch in horror at they begin, for lack of a better word, cutting another slice of bread from Xanthar's front. The chains rattle as he twists and even though no sound comes from him I hear clearly in my head 'PAIN!' 'AGONY!' and I scream "Stop!" Before I realize it.

Sami is looking at me in shock. Shit, quick, make up an excuse. For guys like this, if I let on how distressed I really am about it, he would use that to his advantage. Guys like this saw sympathy as something to exploit. I will not let myself be exploited.

"I don't need such a big piece. Need to watch my figure you know." I say dismissively as I rub my bricks. Sami lets out a snort of amusement, his mind going back to the entire table full of food I devoured. "Yes. Your figure."

The small bit of Xanthar's flesh is brought to me and I toss it into my eye as well. I felt uncomfortable. Not because I was eating another sentient creature, I'm fine with killing things for food. But Xanthar's still ALIVE and that's something that doesn't sit right with me.

My dad and his friends used to eat live shrimp. They'd sit there with a bucket of shrimp still jumping and just twist their heads off. They peel off the shells and dip the still twitching creature in sauce and eat them raw.

Dad offered me some but I refused. I'm fine with raw food. I'm fine with freshly killed food. But something about eating a creature while it was still alive just rubbed me the wrong way.

Regardless I had an act to keep up. I made a show of moaning at the taste of Xanthar's meat and Sami smiled so smugly. "I had a feeling you would enjoy it. It’s quite the delicacy. This species normally bleed out within minutes but this one in particular doesn't die no matter how many pieces you cut it into. Careful preparation can make it last for YEARS."

"Must have cost a lot." I make a show of appraising Xanthar's trembling form. I can feel Sami stare at me in anticipation.

"So, about the payment for the deal..."

"I want HIM!" I say excitedly as I point at Xanthar. The Baron's grin stretched wider with another clack sound.

"Done!" He says delightedly.

I reach out my hand already covered in flames, not even looking at the Baron. "So its a Deal. Your brother's knowledge in your hands in exchange for this guy."

"Deal!" The Baron says as he greedily shakes my hand.

I pull away and float to collect my prize. Behind me I hear Sami's disgusted shout as a slimy piece of meat drops into his hands.

"W-what is THIS?!"

"Your dear brother's brain of course. All his knowledge right there in your hands. As were the terms of our agreement, your exact words." I don't turn to look at him. If I do I might not be able to stop myself from killing HIM too.

I grab onto Xanthar and teleport away. The Baron's enraged scream made me smile.

---

I blink into a temple with Xanthar. There is immediate screaming around me as the temple maidens run from the sudden appearance of the bleeding hulk of Xanthar's body.

"Jheselbraum! Jessie!" I cried loudly as I spit out the piece of Xanthar from earlier and put it back carefully on his body. Another flick of my fingers has the wound healing as if it was never torn up to begin with.

I feel Xanthar's confusion as his pain was eased away by a soothing heat. I pet him gently. "It’s okay now. You're safe. I won’t let them hurt you anymore."

I hear the sounds of gemstones clinking softly against each other and see a tall woman with many eyes gliding towards me. "Why are you here Cipher?" She says, not quite hostile but certainly unhappy.

"Sorry Jessie. I had to get somewhere safe so I could heal this guy." I scratched his side lightly and felt him lean his bulk on my fingers, ‘wonder’ ‘content’ and a faint hope at the non-painful touch. The first he's felt in a long time.

"And you HAD to choose my temple." Jheselbraum deadpanned as she rubbed her face in annoyance.

"It’s a compliment. Means your place is safe."

"Not safe enough if you're here." She muttered.

Jessie and I have a complicated relationship. I’ve watched her for a long time, ever since she was first chosen to be the AXOLOTL’s high priestess. We officially met a few years back. She's one of the few creatures in the universe who knows how important my existence really is. She knows I'm the great AXOLOTL'S counterpart. A being on the same level as Time Baby. The rest of the universe only believes me to be a powerful demon-god of Chaos. They don’t realize that the god part of my title was actually God. It was better this way. I didn't want to deal with more responsibility. I carefully hid just how powerful I really was. They’re scared enough as is.

Jheselbraum doesn't like me. But she understands that I don't have much of a choice. I NEED to cause chaos. It’s like fuel for keeping me alive, not that I can really die but whatever. The universe needs me alive. I am one of the three pillars of creation. So she tolerates me.

Me on the other hand, I keep trying to get 'ol Jessie to loosen up and stop being such a stick in the primordial ooze. I can't really dislike her for trying so hard to be a good high priestess for Ax. She really does worship him deeply and wants only to please him. Like a girl with a crush trying to get Senpai to notice her. It’s adorable.

Sadly she found my comparison to be blasphemous.

The point of the matter is that her temple is a 'safe' place for me to bring Xanthar until I can find somewhere for him to be. I refuse to bring anyone into the Nightmare Realm. It’s much too dangerous. The instability is kept in check only by my own concentration. I won't risk letting people live there full time.

Maybe I should see about getting a house in a nice dimension somewhere.

I pet Xanthar and feel a sense of fondness at the way he nuzzles into my hand. So cute.

"How long are you staying here? You are frightening my shrine maidens."

"Just for a while. I need to find someplace safe for this widdle guy." I coo at Xanthar and feel his thoughts flow into a content calmness. Jheselbraum rolls her many eyes before gliding away. "Just don't let your new...Pet...make a mess."

"Yeah, yeah whatever."

I'm already flashing through images quickly making and discarding different ideas on what to do. I look over at Xanthar who has fallen asleep under my gentle touch. I think I have an idea.

---

"I'm here to cash in one of my Favors."

Time Baby frowns. "SO BE IT CIPHER."

---

"Ta dah! Here's your new home little buddy!"

Xanthar ambles around nudging the floors and walls. Through a long series of discussions that are too boring to think about, I've gotten Xanthar registered as my first official 'Friend'. And by registered I mean I've got paperwork detailing how he belongs to me and no one was allowed to touch him, hurt him or take him from me.

I then built a huge Base for him to live in. The inner dimensions of the building shifting to create more rooms as I think of them. I made a lovely garden area for him along with a kitchen and pantry I can fill with food. He can live here now. Safe and far from anyone who would hurt him.

I know I'm getting attached rather quickly but I can't help it. The poor thing was so scared and abused for so long. The strong feeling of ‘Loneliness’ that oozed from his form. But he's mine now. I lay on his back as he happily romps around the garden. His thoughts a mix of joy and curiosity.



This was nice.

And I got a friend now. Just like Ax said. I wonder if the rest of Bill's friends are out there somewhere. I admit I haven't been looking. I can let things happen as they do. If I meet them, I meet them. I don't know if I should actively search. There's so much I'm unsure about.

But this here. Right now. This is fine.

I lay down on Xanthar and simply bask in the happy feelings. My body may crave negative emotions, but my soul needs the positive ones.

It made me feel better once the realization hit that I'd just murdered a man today. Ripped his brain right from his skull. Left his drooling body slumped over his desk. It was quick, instant, with barely a thought I'd taken his life. It was EASY. I didn't cry this time but I laid on Xanthar and just listened to his happiness as I tried to tell myself that it was for a good cause.

---

I asked Xanthar for his name and apparently he had only been referred to as 'food' or 'beast' so I named him Xanthar. He liked his new name. I found that his feelings were easily hurt when I took him with me during a summoning and my summoner called him a 'beast'. The wave of sadness coming off him nearly overwhelmed me and my summoner was atomized before I even realized I had done so.

I didn't bring Xanthar to any other summonings.

It still caused issues when Xanthar and I went out together though. People would tell me to leave my 'pet' outside. They would complain of the 'creature' taking up so much space. My new found mama bear side went on a fucking rampage. To the point that Jessie actually summoned me to let me know I had to calm the FUCK down.

So I placed a Curse upon his name. Anyone who speaks badly of him, who insults him or calls him anything that upsets him will have their lips sealed shut until I felt they'd been sufficiently punished. If they can't say anything nice they shouldn't speak at all.

Sadly, even though I started the curse as a way to try and teach the universe to stop calling him mean things that hurt his feelings, the universe instead started calling him the Being Whose Name Must Not Be Said. They completely missed the point. He HAS a name. It's Xanthar. If they just called him by his ACTUAL name instead of rude terms there would be no trouble.

I can't fucking deal with idiots. I seriously can't. It’s why I got fired from one of my jobs back when I was human. I was literally fired for sassing the customers. I mean, I understand that the 'customer is always right' but that is not true. And I just...couldn't smile and bare it. It’s just gotten worse since now I had NO reason to grin and bare it.

I wasn't going to take shit from anyone.

And I wouldn't let my sweet darling little Xanthar get hurt. Never again.

I was just so happy. He was MINE. All mine. I clung to him constantly. I would have given him anything he ever wanted. I would have done everything in my power to keep him happy. But Xanthar just wanted a garden to run in. A warm place to sleep. To know that it won't hurt when he moves. I feel I might have gotten too over protective of him in those first few months. Eventually, the AXOLOTL himself told me to calm the FUCK down. My over-protective rampages were starting to be too much for even HIM to ignore.

"B-but he's my friend. My first friend. What if something happens and he gets hurt when I'm not looking? What if someone tries to take a bite out of him?!"

-....this was not what I was expecting when I asked you to get a friend...-

Ax sighed and told me that I shouldn’t worry so much. Well sorry if I've still got my god damn trauma about my only OTHER friend in this life, who I ended up EATING in a fit of sleep deprived insanity! The memory got dug up and it was still painful despite how long its been. One of the downsides to having perfect memory recall.

I clung to Xanthar's side and cried for a long time. I was so happy and yet so stressed out. I didn't want to lose him. My friend. My dear friend. I know that he was really more like a pet (as much as I hated that word being used in association with him) but I didn't care. I was just so lonely. And I killed a man for him. Two actually. I guess I haven't really gotten over that yet.

I think even Xanthar was starting to realize my clinginess wasn't healthy. He may not be able to form thoughts in proper words but he understood things a lot more than I expected. One day he simply nudged me off him and shook his 'head'.

"W-what? What's wrong Xanthar?"

'Sadness' 'understanding' 'patience' 'worry'

He nudged me with one large toe. It was a gentle touch.

'Peace'

I blinked away some forming tears. "...I...you're right...I'm sorry..."

It took a bit before I could relax enough to let Xanthar go out and about without me. I was always worried someone would kidnap him. Take him from me. But he was a lot stronger than I thought. He easily smashed some poachers who hadn’t gotten the memo that ‘no one touches Bill Cipher’s pet’.

To try and ease my fears he trained a lot, running and pulling heavy things. He wanted to be strong enough to protect himself so that I wouldn't have to worry about him. So that I wouldn't be so unhappy.

I think I loved him even more for it.

---

Chapter Text

Illusion is Reality

Chapter 19

-Test your Faith-

---

“Jessie! Can you baby-sit Xanthar for a while? I have a long term Deal that I have to deal with.” I giggled obnoxiously.

Jheselbraum tried so hard to be a beacon of patience. She really did. It’s why I loved messing with her so much. Seriously, can’t you at least smile every now and then? Even now she just sighs, her posture perfect and graceful as always.

I flick my fingers and turn her robes into a french maid outfit. Hm. She’s getting better. Aside from a few eye twitches she actually managed to keep a straight face. I flick my fingers again and now I’M wearing a french maid outfit. Ooh, I got a shudder out of her this time!

“Why are you asking ME to watch your…companion for you.” Jessie manages to not trigger my Curse, aw boo.

“I’ve told you, his name is Xanthar. Seriously, if people just used his name more often this wouldn’t be such a problem.” I roll my eye and slide down his bulk to plop onto the ground. Floating up, I approached Jessie with a wide grin. “You’re one of the few people in this damn universe I know he’ll be safe with.”


“You are trusting him to me?”

“Pfth- trust smusht! I just know that you would never deliberately harm him. Come on Jessie~ aren’t we non-hostile acquaintances?”

“To my continued dismay, we are.” She responds calmly.

“You know…I’d really like it if we could be friends you know…” I say softly as I float in front of her. She actually seems startled. “Why?”

“Because you’re not entirely a bad person. And you KNOW me. Do you know how hard it is to find someone I can just…relax around?”

“Be that as it may. I cannot be seen associating with you on friendly terms. What would my people think?”

“But you know I would never purposely hurt them.”

“Purposely, no. But you are a danger to all those around you. Your insistence on coming here, to this safe haven, is a dangerous nuisance.”

“But Jessie~” I gave her the cutest puppy dog eye I could manage. I think I get bonus meido-points!

“…I will watch over…Xanthar…until you return-“ She finally says.

“W00T!” I cheered. Fear the power of the Maid Moe!

“-but only if you allow me to read your fortune.”

I blink at her. A multitude of pros and cons flashing before my eyes before I shrugged. “Okay. Do you want to shake on that?”

“No thank you. I’d prefer not dealing with your powers being involved with my own.”

She sat me down and closed 6 of her eyes, the remaining 7th staring right into mine. “You know, you really have that cool onee-sama feel about you. Especially with the maid outfit.” I remark.

She twitches but continues her scry. Xanthar is happily splashing in the fountains. I can feel a buzz of power building up around us. The wind picks up loose grass and leaves to make them twirl around.

“When space and time are torn asunder
The Beast shall commit his blunder
His greatest triumph shall be his end
The hubris of the break he tries to mend.”

I clapped delightedly. “Woo! 10 out of 10! Nice poem! I would snap my fingers instead but I wouldn’t want anything weird to happen am I right?”

“I am trying to be serious here Cipher.”

“So what? I’m gonna die at some point. Big whoop. Everything dies. And at least I know what to look out for now.”

“You are…unworried?”

“Psh~ I already know I’m supposed to be destroyed at some point. Me and Ax worked that out AGES ago.”

My zodiac. Both to summon me, and to destroy me. I don’t know if Bill Cipher’s ‘death’ is a fixed point or not. But I DO know it is Canon. So I took steps to prepare for it.

Most people would be worried, knowing about their impending death. But I actually felt relieved. Even if I prevented it, what would I do then? Live on forever until the inevitable heat death of the universe (actually, would MY death result in the eventual heat death of the universe? If I, a being that creates energy, were to die, there would no longer be any new energy introduced into the world, thus allowing existence to fall into entropy…)? Until the 3rd dimension falls as well to create the 4th? I just…don’t want to deal with that. How long has it been by this point?

I don’t want to live forever. I’m not saying I WANT to die but…if it happens then it happens. I’m so tired. Also, Ax’ll probably have something in mind for me once I invoke his name. I KNOW he won’t allow me to simply cease to be. He needs me. Don’t know what he’s planning to do but I can deal with it when it happens.

“Well, this has been a nice chat Jessie. So I should be back in a few weeks, Galactic-Standard time. Unless something comes up.” It IS possible for me to simply re-enter a dimension at the same time I left but I don't like doing that very often. Swimming against the flow of Time is just...ANNOYING.

I give Xanthar one last hug. “Okay, be good for aunt Jessie alright Xan-Xan?”

He bumps me with his bread face and I giggle. I turn to Jheselbraum and give her a cheerful wave before blinking out of there. I made sure she was still wearing the maid outfit.



"I'm unsure if I can trust you to keep your end of the bargain. I've heard...stories..."

"I'll have you know that not ALL my clients get screwed over. There was a nice lady who just wanted to live long enough to see her grandchild be born. I kept her alive for an extra week past her due date AND I even let her hold her grandkid before she passed. See? I can do nice things too."

Never mind the fact that her body continued decaying the entire time, look there's only so much I can do. I don't have Gentle Repose. My powers are great but they're somewhat finicky to use.

My client stared at me suspiciously before consulting with her lawyer. I'm rather impressed actually. An intelligent summoner? Gasp. Made me wonder why more people don't bring a lawyer with them to negotiate Deals.

So here's the situation. My client is the queen of Iznang. Her husband, the king had died in a freak accident involving a laundry chute (I didn't realize Iznian limbs could bend that way) and she wanted to use his death as an excuse to start hostilities with the neighboring country.

"They don't even realize it, but there's is a river in their territory near our borders that contains healing water. If I could have access to it I would be able to advance my country's medical treatments. It would greatly help my people."

The queen strode elegantly over to the balcony and gazed down upon her kingdom, her magnificent wings folded carefully behind her. "I do not plan to start a war. But if I can blame my husband's death on an assassination by Trite then I can pressure them to give me a small piece of their land as compensation to prevent me from declaring war."



I could feel the queen's love for her people. Her determination to make her country greater. Her practical efficiency of using the king's death for something noteworthy. Her sadness at losing her husband.

"What exactly do you want me to do Queenie?" She didn't even twitch at my informal way of speaking with her. I couldn't help but respect her a little.

"I need you to create the evidence of an assassin from Trite. I need you to stay and help me see this through. There's every chance that even with someone to blame, Trite will deny any responsibility. I want you to ensure I get what I want."

Hence why this would be a long term Deal. "What are your exact terms?" The Queen turns to her lawyer and the two discussed quietly. I lounged on a nice chair and looked around the room. Now THIS is how you decorate. Classy, elegant and neat. Enough to show wealth without being superfluous. In fact the queen has sold off a lot of the miscellaneous decor to pay for construction of public amenities for her people. I appreciate a pragmatic ruler.

"I want you to help me complete my goal to obtain that land I want from the kingdom of Trite without resorting to violence." The queen says at last. I squint my eye into a grin. "Sure thing Queenie. And in return...I want your kingdom to be a safe place where me and my friends are free to come and go, for the duration of your rule. I'll even promise that we won't start any trouble here."

She consulted her lawyer again. "What do you mean for the duration of my rule?" She stares at me with her large compound eyes.

"You see, I actually find myself respecting you. You truly care for your people and country. But that's just you. There's no guarantee a future ruler will be like you. Also, it would be unfair if your descendants were forced to put up with me for a Deal that YOU made."

"That is...surprisingly generous of you." The queen remarks.

"I'm actually not a bad guy. If terrible things happen to my clients, they only have themselves to blame." I place a hand over my chest and sigh dramatically. "You won't believe how many people ask for things in a vague way with no explanation of what they actually want. I'm left to just GUESS what their Deal is and then THEY blame ME when I get it wrong."

The queen raises a feeler before nodding. "Understandable. Good communication is required for any negotiation. Which is why I shall ask for more clarification on what it is that YOU want."

"See this is why I like you. You're not dumb enough to just accept with no questions asked." It was nice to finally meet someone intelligent.

"There aren't a lot of places in the universe where I can hang out peacefully due to my less than stellar reputation. I just want a safe haven where I know I can bring my friends to. Somewhere they can be safe if I'm busy and cannot be by their side protecting them." Because I can't always leave Xanthar with Jessie.

The queen watches me for a while, studying me. I catch the feeling of begrudging respect from her. She nods. "Very well then. So long as you and your companions do not harm me or any of my people, I see no problem with allowing this."

"So do we have a Deal?" I hold out my burning hand. She takes it and shakes firmly, not even flinching at the fire. "Deal."

I was so thrilled to find intelligent life I was perfectly fine with completing this deal with no side effects. It would be more useful to gain the queen's favor. Friends in high places after all.

---

The Deal ended up taking me two months to complete. Not from any issues on my part but because the royal family of Trite is made up of buffoons who think their stubbornness is a better negotiation tactic than actually talking to people. I played my part well, laid out all the evidence needed to pin the assassination on them. In fact, a few of the Trite royal family had actually been considering it.

It was child's play to make them believe that one of them had accidentally ordered a hit on the king of Iznang. They KNEW they were in the wrong by this point. They simply refused to own up to it. When the queen of Iznang threatened war if she wasn't compensated for the murder of her husband, the Trite king literally plugged his hearing tube and sang "La la la I'm not listening la la la."

"Are you sure I can't just kill them?" I asked the queen as she left another negotiation meeting with nothing accomplished. "No violence." She replied calmly. I growled. "But they're just so...frustrating!"

"I know. The royal family of Trite has always been like this. It’s why my kingdom gets so many immigrants from their lands. One of the many reason why I need the expansion of my kingdom's borders."

I sighed and floated down to a chair. For obvious reasons, the queen didn't want people to know she was working with me so I spent most of my time out of sight, invisible or disguised as a butterfly. There were a lot of butterflies in this country so I could move around without notice. "Well, I don't have to get violent to get what I want. I'm going to help out the negotiations in my own way."



The queen groomed her feelers in front of her mirror. "If you can help in a way that doesn't involve their deaths or insanity, feel free to do so."

That night the people of Trite were startled awake by the loud screaming of their king and queen who had just experienced the most horrifying nightmare.

The papers were signed a few days later.

---

"Well Queenie, its been fun. Good luck on on doing what you do." I tip my hat like a dapper gentleman, the most outwardly respectful I’ve been in her presence.

"Indeed. It hasn't been an unpleasant experience working with you either." She responds, flaring her wings in their culture's version of respectful acknowledgment.

I bid her a fond farewell and blink away. I enjoyed this Deal. It was...nice. I was very eager to see Xanthar again though. I missed him so much. I hope he and Jessie got along. I was forced to go against Time in order to return to Jessie's temple a few weeks after I left instead of the months/years that would have passed due to the different passage of time between dimensions. Ugh~such a pain~

---

"Xan-Xan!" I squeal with my arms thrown wide.

Xanthar sadly couldn't return my greeting but he was bounding towards me happily. He smashed into me and we slide along the ground with me giggling hysterically. Jheselbraum sighs at the torn up garden left in our wake. I flick my fingers and fix it, its only polite to do so.

"So you've returned."

"And you sound absolutely delighted to see me~" I laugh as I pet Xanthar affectionately. I 'look' quickly and hum in approval that Jessie kept her end of the Deal to keep him happy and safe.

"Well, take him back now. It would be nice to have my gardens back." Jheselbraum inspects her garden to make sure I didn't add anything interesting to it. I've done so before, little snap dragons that nibbled on peoples toes. I don't know why she was so upset about that. It wasn't like I gave them teeth or anything.

"Xan-Xan, did you have fun with auntie Jessie?" I cooed as I squished Xanthar's bread face. He sends me happy thoughts of romping through the garden, startling the shrine maidens and sitting in the fountain. His thoughts start to slip, I catch a glimpse of him sitting alone at night, watching the sky and getting excited at every flicker of light only to realize it wasn't me. Oh.



I hugged him closely. "Sorry for being gone for so long." I pressed against him and hum, my bricks vibrating softly. He curls his hand around me and squeezed gently. Jessie was kind enough to not interrupt us.

---

Xanthar loved Iznang. I had to repair a lot of flower fields though.

Chapter Text

Illusion is Reality

Chapter 20

-The being who's name must not be spoken-

---

Sometimes, when Xanthar sleeps, I lie on top of him and watch his dreams.

Often it's simple dreams. He imagines running through a vast landscape filled with colorful flowers of all shapes and kinds. He dreams of rolling in butter-swamps and playing with jelly-fish that splatter and smear sugary fluids along his sides. He goes on exciting adventures in deep oceans filled with friendly triangles.

Sometimes though, he remembers his family. His mother, father and sister. The burning hot caves they used to live in. The younger brother who never finished baking before the poachers arrived. He remembers the fear when his family was captured. The desperate thrashing of his father when he was sold and dragged away. The horror when he watched his sister carved open. He remembers the way his mother clung to him, unwilling to let him go even as they jabbed her with electro-spears. He remembers the way she fell limp as they finally dragged her away.

He remembers being all alone.

I try to wake him before the dream goes too far. Sometimes I stop the dream altogether, steer it away from his memories. I could easily just erase those painful memories but I won't. They're all he has left and it would be wrong to take them away. Even if they cause him pain. All I can do is be there when he wakes. All I can do is hold him until he stops shaking.

Sometimes he forgets where he is. Waking from a nightmare in which I never found him. For a moment he believes he's still with the Baron. His Fear is pungent and I feel disgusted with myself for finding it delicious. Sometimes his nightmares are graphic, he imagines being torn apart, sliced into so many pieces and eaten by sneering mouths.

Sometimes he dreams that I leave and don't come back.

As the years go on the nightmares lessen but they never stop. I ask Jessie if she could do anything to help. She's a Healer after all. Even despite her best efforts, there's nothing to be done. Nightmares happen as they do. Even I cannot prevent that. I can only watch over him and stop them as they begin.

I don't like leaving him alone when I get summoned but there's not much I can do. I tried to 'See' if any of his family survived but they haven't. I hunted down all those who've hurt them, petrified them and arranged them into a (conscious but frozen) totem pole of eternal torment. I had it displayed proudly in a galactic history museum with a plaque reading "The fate of poachers", the curators of the museum were too afraid to take it down. I considered going after the Baron as well but frankly I wanted nothing to do with him.

On the underside of Xanthar's body is a marking of a small black triangle with an eye. If Xanthar is ever in danger, I will be alerted. Am I paranoid? Yes, definitely, absolutely. But I'm always afraid Time Baby might forget about his Favor to keep his grubby hands off my friend.

It was a simple Favor. Neither Time Baby nor the Federation is allowed to harm Xanthar or take him from me. Time Baby managed to put in the stipulation that the Federation is allowed to arrest him, non-lethally if Xanthar harms any innocent people. He seemed to believe I was going to use my friend as a War Beast. I have no idea where he got such a stupid idea.

From what little I can catch from Time Baby's thoughts, he feared that I was going to build an army of beasts and demons to try and overthrow the Federation. Which was stupid, I've had one terrible experience with overthrowing a government and dear god I was not doing that again.

I just try my best to take care of Xanthar the best I can. I refuse to think of him as a Pet because Zyun-Jan never had good luck with pets. Something awful always happens to them. My pet chick was accidentally crushed underfoot by my great-grandmother, my betafish accidentally tore it's own fin off and bled to death, a random seagull I was feeding crackers to was hit by a car and the list just goes on.

Xanthar is not my pet. Definitely not.

I wanted to help him get over his trauma, I just wanted him to be happy. What can I even do? After another night where I was forced to interfere and stop a nightmare I just lay on Xanthar's back and sing softly.

"Does anybody have a map~ anybody happen to know how the hell to do this~ I don't know if you can tell but this is me just pretending to know~"

I'm not a therapist. What psychology I do know is based around humans. Xanthar, for all that I love him, is not human. He doesn't think the same way a human does and I can't expect him to. All I can do is help him through his problems as they come up. In that way, I suppose we're a good pair. Both of us with our deep seated issues. Both of us needing the other for stability and comfort.

I wish Xanthar could speak in real words. I wish he could talk to me. His species cannot think in words, even if they can understand them.I feel bad for being greedy and wanting more out of him.

---

Time Baby inevitably summons me for another job. I left Xanthar in Iznang this time. Jheselbraum was giving me some irritated looks the last time I made her babysit.

I actually understand where he's coming from this time. It's not an assassination because my target shifts fate off course. It's an extermination. An entire planet infected with an insidious parasite. An entire planet that would need to be destroyed.

I wanted to see if there was anyone still healthy. If there was anyone I could save. There wasn't. They were all infected. They didn't even know. It was too late to save anyone. I questioned Time Baby if I could just go back in time and kill the first infected before it got this bad. If there was any way I could lessen the amount of Deaths I would need to cause.

He said no.

It wasn't like I could just...kill the parasites either. It was insidious because it fused itself into the host's DNA. It was only by some miracle that none of the infected had gone off planet. I jammed all the teleporters and then placed a bubble around the planet so no one could leave.

It took a lot of energy to do so. I wouldn't be able to finish this job in just one day. As I floated there in space, weakly trembling from the exhaustion of bubbling an entire planet (I couldn't even hold onto a physical form), I saw the people begin to panic. It took me a few days to recover enough energy to continue my job. By then the entire planet was in a frenzy over the 'force-field' surrounding them.

The parasites were finally beginning to manifest themselves as well. Stage one was just the initial infection as the air-born creatures began integrating themselves with their host. Stage two was when the host's skin began falling off while they still lived. I watched the people panic as those in stage two began shambling around and screaming in agony.

Is there any way for me to take out the whole planet at once? It wasn't as flammable as the 2nd dimension. Even if I sent out a thermal pulse it would just flash fry the people along the path of my attack. And the heat might not even kill the parasites. They were pretty much immune to anything.

Time Baby actually sent a few of his officers to try and stop the infection back when this organism first evolved. They tried burning, freezing, acids and everything else but the microscopic creatures just couldn't be killed. Even when the host was killed it just left the creature itself unharmed. Those officers self terminated after sending the information back to base, themselves having been infected.

I understand why Time Baby doesn't want these creatures going free. I also understand why he sent me. The question was, do I have enough power to do this?

I stretch my bricks out, pulling in loose particles and building my form larger and larger. It was taking too long. There weren't enough particles here. I could just convert my own energy into mass but then I'd be out of energy and have to wait a few MORE days for it to recover.

I turned towards the nearest star and grabbed. I'm sure it was a strange sight, the flaming edges of that star being pulled towards me like a fire whip. I felt like a black hole, just sucking in the plasma. I absorbed the mass of the star and grew my form until it towered over the planet.

Despite the loss of their star, there was still light, my bricks glowing brightly. I looked down at the planet, closed my eye and apologized for what I must do.

I opened my mouth and swallowed it whole.



Even if something is immune to physical harm, it isn't immune to my stomach. Everything breaks down in there. If it's made of matter, it will be digested. I don't even have to worry about the parasite trying to infect me.

I have no DNA for it to infect.

As my stomach tore the planet apart I groaned at the way my bricks burned. Shit. Maybe this wasn't a good idea. I was overheating fast and a quick check showed the nearest inhabited planet being 25 light years away.

Still too close.

Grunting and clutching my bricks in agony, I flew farther away. I panted with the effort it took to stop myself from going nova and simply exploding. Elements bled out of my bricks in a seemingly never ending stream. Each atom torn off from its chain releasing more and more energy exponentially.

I gasped in pain as my vision spun. Please no. I have to get away. I have to...

I screamed as everything around me ignited. Even as I burned I continued flying away from any source of life. A giant flaming comet. Shit. It's too much. Could I plane shift like this? I have to get to the Nightmare Realm. I can't hurt anyone there. It was hard to focus through the pain of feeling like I was going to burst open.

I twisted and cleaved between dimensions. Am I...? I strained to keep my eye open and glanced around. I made it. I could see the familiar twisting colors of the Nightmare Realm. With a painful exhale, I let go.

And exploded.

---

It's hard to know how much time has passed when there are no clocks. Still, simply going by my experience from the last time this has happened, I'd wager to say it took a least a few centuries for me to gain partial awareness again. Is that what it means for me to die now? Since I can't REALLY be killed I will simply be stuck in an unaware daze until I pull myself back together?

I blink slowly as I tried to remember where I was and what I was doing. Oh. Right. Ate a planet. Well that wasn't a fun experience. I groaned and wiggled my bricks. I've almost fully reformed myself. There were still a few missing chunks. I looked around the Nightmare Realm and find everything on fire. Funnily enough, the fire doesn't seem to be harming it so it's no biggie.

Wait. Where’d my house go?

---

I nearly forgot to slip into the timestream when I went to go pick up Xanthar. That would have been awful. Even if the time in Iznang flowed slower than most dimensions, I was still gone for many, many years. Time in the Nightmare Realm fluctuates. Sometimes it moves faster, sometimes slower and often it just stops altogether.

Either way, I calculated the distance and speed I had to travel in order to get to Xanthar only a few days after I dropped him off to leave on my job. Course, this also meant I turned on the tv to see the galactic news going nuts with the headline of 'Bill Cipher devours a planet'.

I sat there stunned as the multiverse lost their collective shit over the thousands of videos taken by the panicking people on the planet before they died. I may have blocked their teleporters but I hadn't thought to block communications. So many people were live streaming as the 2nd stage infected started falling apart.

No one knew about the parasites. No one knew what was happening. All they knew was that people's skin started slipping right off their bodies, all transport was halted and then I appeared. Larger than their planet itself. It was very...weird to see the videos from their point of view.

My massive eye staring down at them. My shape blocking out the sky itself. My eye becoming a giant maw full of sharp teeth, deeper and darker than anything else imaginable. I watch as my mouth closes over the planet. So that's what my insides looks like.

The real interesting thing was watching the digestion process. It was horrifying. Things just began falling apart. The only good part was that the energy released from the atomic breakdowns caused larger and larger explosions until everything was consumed in fire.

I watched as a person in the video simply had all their skin explode off them before being consumed in flames. Ugh. This is why I don't like eating people alive. It's just...gross. I felt uncomfortable watching it and changed the channel. It was the only thing being covered on multiple channels.

I shut off the tv and slumped in my couch. I could feel a headache forming and I rubbed my bricks with a sigh. I probably can't go out in public for a while.

I could try and explain why I killed everyone but I know that no one would believe me. I could try to get Time Baby to vouch for me but there's no way he'd stand up for me. I slumped further on the couch. Fuck my life.

---

It's really weird to think about how many people I've killed. An entire planet. Billions of lives. Gone. Is it bad if I can't even work up the energy to really mourn? I feel bad for it but I just...I'm too tired to really cry right now. I'm just so DONE with this.

I stay slumped on the couch for days until Xanthar pushes me off and nudges me across the ground curiously. "Stop it. I'm trying to mope." I grumble tiredly. He tries to pick me up but lying flat on the ground like this made it difficult for him to get a good grip.

He just spends the day sliding me around the house.



At one point he made a game out of flicking me by one of my corners so I start spinning. "Xaaaaanthaaaaar~stooooop~" I moaned as I spun into the wall and got a corner stuck. He just sits down and nudges me with his face.

'worry' 'confusion'

He pushes at me until I dislodge from the wall and slides me out into the garden. "Leave me alone Xanthar." I protest weakly, not making any move to really stop him.

'annoyance' 'determination'

I yelp as he drops me into the pond.

I flail around and sputter as I swam back up. "What the HELL Xanthar?!"



'annoyance' 'impatience'

I swam back to the edge of the pond and drag myself out while spitting out water. Ugh. I can't drown but it was still uncomfortable. Xanthar just sits at the edge of the pond and watches me. He still felt annoyed at me. "What?! What is it?!" I grumble as I float up into the air.

He pokes me while sending out feelings of 'exasperation' and 'disapproval'. What is he trying to tell me?

"Are you...mad at me?"

He nods.

"Are you mad because I'm moping?"

He nods again.

"Look...it's complicated. I...killed billions of people and I feel bad about it. But at the same time...I...don't? And I'm just angry and sad and...annoyed with myself for not feeling worse about this..."

Part of me is going 'well they were going to die either way once the parasite fully took over them' to explain away my lack of guilt. I granted them a more merciful death. But is it selfish of me to think so? Why am I such a terrible person?

I yelped when Xanthar pushed me into the water again. "Stop DOING that!!"

Even without a face Xanthar manages a reproachful look. I growl irritably. "Look, I'm trying to angst here."



His disapproval grows stronger and he tries to push me down into the water again. I dodge his hand. "Why do you keep doing that?!" He smacks his hand across the pond to splash me. I rub water from my eye and my bricks flicker red. "Seriously stop it!"

'determination' he puts his hand in the water in preparation for another splash.

"Ugh! Fine! If I stop beating myself up about this, will you stop doing that?"

He nods.

It takes me weeks to get over myself and awkwardly thank Xanthar for snapping me out of it. I make a note to teach him ASL so he could communicate easier.

---

A/N: In order to be safe from a supernova explosion, scientists estimate it'll need to be at LEAST 50-100 light years away. To give an idea of how far that really is, our Sun is ONLY 8-light-MINUTES away. Think about that. MINUTES. It'll take a distance of at LEAST 50-light-YEARS to be safe from an exploding star. And even then there might be radiation effects.

A supernova explosion happening 20000 light years away can still be seen by the naked eye during the DAY.

--

Notes I make for this fanfic/ideas for future events/SPOILERS?

Chapter Text

Illusion is Reality

Chapter 21

-I can always use more minions-



Found Pyronica today. I was exploring the marketplace in a shady part of DimensionCF8WK4U when one of the stalls was overturned and fire was being flung around. I watched as a pink cyclopian woman snarled and fought off a green colored male of her species. While her body was covered in white flames, the man had ice.

"Keep your hands off asshole!" She screeched and threw another fireball.



(Messing around with my tablet)

"You're the one who tried to steal one of my wares bitch!" The man shouted back angrily as he put out her fire with a blast of ice.

"It belonged to me originally! You're the one who STOLE it!"

The other vendors were huddled behind their stalls. The other customers had already run off. It didn't look like anyone was going to step in. I float lazily up to them, making myself visible as I went. "So what's happening here?"

They both look at me in surprise. "B-Bill Cipher!" The man gasps in fear.

"That's my name don't wear it out. Not that you can. If anyone tries to wear my name I'll have to sue them for copyright. And by sue I mean sew. And by sew I mean their mouths to their ass as punishment for using my name as their own." I laugh.

The man is backing away warily at the sound of my laughter. "But seriously, what's the problem here? Here I am enjoying a nice stroll through the market and a fight breaks out. At least let me get some popcorn first.”

"This bitch is a thief!" The man points at her rudely.

"Oh really now?" I say cheerfully. A quick series of blinks is all it takes for me to get the information I want. The brooch Pyronica is holding belonged to her mother. It was the last thing she had of her. Through a long series of circumstances it wound up in this merchant's possession.

The man takes another startled step back. "B-but she is clearly taking it without paying for it."

"It’s mine! Why should I pay for what already belongs to me?!" Pyronica hissed at the merchant.

"She's right you know. It does belong to her. Specifically her mother, also you were charging waaay~ too much for it considering you didn’t acquire it under legal means either.” I leaned against my cane casually.

The man looked to be at a loss, glancing back and forth at both of us before sighing in resignation. "Fine whatever. Just go." He trudged back to his stall to set it back up.

Pyronica spun on her heel and left the area. I followed and aside from a wary glance she didn't protest. As soon as we were out of earshot to the market I laughed. "Nice job with the others."

She grins sheepishly and pulls out a few necklaces and rings from hidden pockets in her robe. It was strange seeing her in clothes. "Um...thanks for the assist."

"Eh, he was over pricing all his stolen wares. And they really are ALL stolen. What a hypocrite."

She giggles before storing her haul away again. The brooch she just holds and looks at. A slight melancholy in her expression.

"You okay kid?" I ask.

"I didn't expect to find it here. I was just grabbin' stuff. But then I saw it and just...I messed up and he noticed me take it."

"It means a lot to you huh?"

"Yeah. Mom used to wear it all the time. Said that dad gave it to her as a gift before they mated and she devoured him to have me." She traces the delicate design on the brooch with a finger. A memento of both her parents.

"Well...um...thanks for earlier but I should...go..." She says awkwardly as she pins the brooch to her robe and begins walking off. "You don't want to hang out?" I ask somewhat sadly.

"Oh. Um. Look, I'm grateful for the help earlier but I didn't ask for it and I don't owe you anything...no offense..." She backs up a little. A trace of apprehension as she tugs her robe more tightly around herself.

"Wait. You think I-? Ew no! No way!" I hurriedly shake my hands at her. "That was NOT my intention at all!"

She relaxes a little and just looks confused now.

I flush orange. I can’t believe she thought I only helped her because I wanted something from her.

"So...if you didn't want ME, then why did you help me?" She asks.

"I dunno. You were there. And no one else was gonna do anything."

She squinted suspiciously at me. "You're different from what the rumors say about you. Aren't you supposed to be some kind of evil chaos demon?"

"That's just 'cause you haven't seen me angry yet. Besides, it’s my day off."

"Demons get days off?"

"What do people think I do when I'm NOT summoned for some stupid task? I have my own life too you know. Getting pulled away from watching a show I like because some idiot can't figure out how to flush a trans-dimensional toilet is bound to get them turned inside out for wasting my time."

Pyronica starts laughing "Did that really happen?" She gasps.

I roll my eye. "Twice actually. Fuck those toilets. Whoever invented them was a bigger sadist that I'll ever be."

No surprise he was finally killed by an angry mob shoving him into his own invention. Of course they realized afterward that with him dead they had no one who knows how to dismantle the toilets. The whole area had to be quarantined off for the sake of public safety. Even now there would be random sprays of fecal matter from some unknown location in the multiverse.

I shuddered. Gross.

Pyronica and I just hung out. Talking and joking back and forth. It was a great time. I bought her dinner, after bluntly telling her that this wasn't meant to be romantic in any way. I'm not interested in that, we only just met and she's not really my type. Pyronica laughed "It’s fine Bill. I get it."

"So...friends?" I asked hopefully.

"Sure. You're a lot of fun to hang out with, for a demon and all." She chews on the deep fried Mierkurk and grins at me with her mouth full.

"This has been a nice day. I don't get to just...hang out with someone. People don't normally want to be around me." I took a sip of my drink. Haven't had alcohol in a while. Interestingly enough, its one of the few things I can actually 'taste' as a triangle. There was no alcohol back in the 2nd dimension so I only discovered this fact a few centuries ago.

"That sounds lonely." Pyronica says sympathetically.

"It is. Seriously though. I know I'm a big scary demon god but I have feelings too. It’s not like I WANT to kill people. It just...kinda happens, you know?" I take another big sip, enjoying the mild burn. The drink was nicely fruity and sweet, covering up the bitterness of the ethanol.

"Mmhm." Pyronica hums as she looks around at the empty tables around us. The restaurant was too afraid to turn us away and the other customers too scared to sit near us. The waiters were tense as they took our orders. I can hear the manager frantically ordering his workers to give us the best service and not make me angry. I preened under their subservience to me just as much as I was annoyed by it.

"It’s not like I even kill my summoners…normally. There are plenty that...make it out fine." I take a few more gulps of my drink. I should ask for the recipe, this is nice.

"And it's not like it's my fault you know? People need to be more careful when they ask me for stuff. Like, like this one guy...he wanted to get with this girl see? And he calls, and he calls me up and goes like 'I want her to be with me forever' so like...I fused them into each other. 'Cause like how else am I supposed to interpret that right?" I take another long sip.

"Um..." Pyronica pushes the plate of food towards me. "Bill I think you should eat something before you drink anymore."

I toss some food into my eye-mouth and sigh. At least meat has more elements in it. I can already feel it breaking down inside me. I tip my glass back again.

"But noooo~ I'm the bad guy for, for, for granting his Deal...be-because that wasn't what he MEANT right? But like, that's what he wanted. He wanted them to be together so I put, I put them togethhhhher and like how ELSE was I gonna make her be with him huh?"

"You...could have made her fall in love with him?"

"But that would mean ALTERING her feelings! That's like SUPER awful. Li-like imagine if someone just came...came up to you and was like BAM you're in love with..." I glance around the room and point at a trembling waitress "...with that guy right there. And you're like but I don't like that guy. But I'm like well I'm gon-gonna MAKE you like them anyway. And then I mess around in your head until suddenly you think oh wow I DO like that guy! That guy is amashhhhing..."

I reach for my drink but end up pushing it over the edge of the table. The glass didn't break but I did spill it everywhere. What a waste. "Ah...shhhawwy..." I glance at the waitress. Oh hey I didn't know she had a twin.

"But yeah...jushh messin' wi' peoples heads an' shhtuff is like the worsh thing EVER and, and I dun' like dooing it right? Becashh its like...the bad thing...the baddest thing? Like...like you get me?" Everything was all shiny...like...their edges were glowing.

"Bill I think you need to go lay down..."

I giggle and it quickly devolves into sobbing. "An' people ju-jushh don't get it! Dey DON’T and I'm like...I'm like why's they so stoopid?! If theys like shhome-one deys jush t-talk to den righ'? Deys can go ups to them an' jush be like hey I li-likes yoo but dey DON’T! Deys go an' call ME to...to FORSH da outta pewrson to like den! An' it's sho' stooopid~"

Pyronica carefully picks me up and I cling to her robe sobbing. I can't see her face but I can hear her talk to the waitress.

"About the check..."

"N-no it’s fine. Just...just go..."

I feel Pyronica walk and sniffle into her robe. I can't think clearly, and everything is spinning. I slump over in her arms and feel myself enter a daze. I can't sleep but I can just...let go for a while. Just for a little bit...

---

I come back into awareness with a groan. I'm not hungry, this body no longer needs food, but mentally I still feel an emptiness inside. Fuck, what happened last night?

"Hey Bill. You feeling okay?"

Pyronica, oh right I met her yesterday. I flicker through some images quickly and flush a dark orange. Oh man. "Ugh. I can't believe I got drunk off a glass of sangria."

"No offense but it was kind of funny."

"Yeah sure, laugh at the light weight." I roll my eye and float up off the pillow I was on. I look around. A small room. Just a bed and a couch. I flicker through more images. A cheap inn. Pyronica sneaking me in under her robe. Putting me gently on a pillow.

"Thanks. For taking care of me." I twiddle my fingers. It’s been a while since I've gotten drunk. The last time it happened I apparently went on a rampage and turned half the population of the town I was in into various sea life. In a desert town. The smell would have been AWFUL and I'm incredibly thankful that I don't have a nose. By some stroke of luck my most recent bout of drunkenness was relatively harmless.

"No problem. We're friends now aren't we?"

I glow happily. "Yup!"

We hung out a few more times before Pyronica got arrested for pickpocketing a tourist who turned out to be a Federation officer. I had to bail her out by trading another Favor with Time Baby and making a proper Deal to place Ronica under my care.

---

"So...guess you're living here now? If you have anything you want specifically I can make the rooms for it. Also, you’re not stuck here or anything. You can leave whenever you want.”

"Dude this place is amazing!"

"Eh, all powerful demon god here, I can pretty much do anything." I couldn't help bragging a little. “Oh, right, I should introduce you to our other roommate…” I Blinked away to pick up Xanthar from Iznang. I found him peacefully nuzzled into some bushes.

I float up to give him a nice pat. "Hey Xan-Xan~are you doing okay by yourself? You've got enough food right?"

Xanthar doesn't really eat so much as soak his bread in sauces and other liquids. He really likes syrup. I have a special swimming pool with syrup instead of water just for him.

Xanthar leans against my hand as I pet him. I can taste his happy feelings at seeing me again. My poor baby missed me. I Blinked the two of us back to base.

"Xanthar, this is Pyronica. She'll be living here from now on. Ronica, this is Xanthar."

She loves him instantly and coos over his large form. He's happy to have someone else who treats him kindly. I'm happy that I have more friends.

---

Pyronica was a little anxious the first few days after moving in. She wandered the halls a lot and walked back to the front entrance to just look at the whirling space outside. I had a teleporter installed next to the door so she could come and go freely. Sometimes she would just sit with her feet dangling over the edge of the huge doorway.

I came up to sit beside her. “Is something wrong?” I asked quietly.



She blinked slowly, her flames flickering softly. “Why did you bail me out? Why’re you letting me live here without asking for any sort of payment?”

I look at her, she’s so much bigger than me. Even as a 5 foot triangle, she towers over me. “You’re giving me a place to live, food and even the freedom to leave whenever I want. You’re not even asking anything from me.” She gestures to herself. “You’re not doing it because you want…Me. You’re…nice. Why?”

“Because you’re my friend. One of the only ones I have.” I kick my feet over the edge of the doorway as I look out into the void. “What’s wrong with helping a friend?”

“I just…not to sound ungrateful, I don’t feel right just…accepting all this without giving you anything in return.” She fiddles with her robe.

“All I want is company…you don’t need to give me anything just ‘cause you think you should.” I sigh.

Pyronica watches me for a while. I don’t know what she’s thinking exactly, I don’t want to read her thoughts but I can still feel her emotions. If I had to describe the flavor, I’d have to say she was contemplative.

“How about a Deal?” She says suddenly. I sit up and stare at her with a wide eye. “What?!”

“A proper Deal, that’s what you do right? I’ll be your Friend in exchange for living here.”

I narrow my eye slightly. “How about you’ll be MY Friend, and I’ll be YOUR Friend.”

There’s a growing smile on her face. “That sounds fine.”

“Then it’s agreed then? From now until the end of time.” The words came out almost instinctively. I glowed golden as I held my hand out, the blue flames flickering to life around it. She grins widely, showing off all her crooked teeth. “Deal.” She grasps my hand and we shake on it. I feel the Deal settle in, the universe itself twisting to my will. She’s my Friend now, fully and truly, she’s mine.

A small marking of a black triangle with a single eye forms on the back of her neck, hidden beneath her hair, my symbol, so that I can see through it, so that I can see her, no matter where she goes. So that she’ll have my protection no matter where she is. She’s my Friend now. I won’t let her be taken from me. Not like Will was. I will keep her safe. From now until the end of time.



Pyronica came to breakfast today without her robe. I blink at her in surprise. “Why’re you naked?”

She smiles and sits to look at what I made, I’ve recently started a new hobby of learning alien forms of cooking. They were very different from Human cooking. The process involved a lot more acids and temperatures reaching the surface of a star. I’d like to think my cooking was…edible.



“I don’t have to hide myself anymore. I’m safe around you.” She says as she grabs a bowl.

I tilt slightly sideways. “I don’t get it?”

She giggles. “It’s fine if you don’t.”

I look over her form. Even if nothing was showing in the way it would for a human it was still very naked. Something was missing. Oh. “Do you wanna go shopping later? I think you’d look really cool with a cape.”

Her eye lights up. “Oooh! You are 100% correct! I would LOVE to go shopping for some nice accessories!”

After breakfast the three of us went to the Mall and had a lot of fun just browsing. Xanthar had to be pulled away from the coin fountain. Pyronica wanted to just steal the stuff she wanted but I told her there were many hard-working people in retail who would be the ones suffering for any stolen merchandise and that it was just plain mean and unfair to cause trouble for them. She looked shocked before I told her that we could simply steal money directly from the greedy rich business owners and then spend that stolen money to purchase from them. She cackled with laughter “For a second there I thought you were going to say we shouldn’t steal because it’s wrong!”

“Well stealing is only wrong if it hurts someone, taking money from people who already have too much of it is perfectly fine.” I said simply. “Think of it like…they’re donating their wealth to us for…charity.”

She just keeps laughing. The Mall Security wasn’t sure what to do about us. They were too afraid to FORCE me to leave so they simply followed us at a distance as Ronica and I cooed over pretty dresses and hats. She ended up buying several fine capes and I got a bunch of nice thigh high socks. I also tried on a bunch of pretty dresses but sadly couldn’t convince myself to buy them. As much as I liked them, I’m sure the universe would have a collective heart attack if I ever showed up like that in public.



Xanthar accidentally trampled the flower shop in his enthusiasm to smell them and I apologized profusely as I fixed everything. The workers were struck dumb and wondering if they were dreaming as I cleaned their shop and neatly rearranged the flowerpots into perfectly even rows. “Sorry again for the trouble. Have a WONDERFUL day!” I call out as I push Xanthar out of the store. He got a pretty little potted yellow flower that I decided to name Flowey. No relation to the actual Flowey.

All in all, a good day.

My socks look fabulous~



- - -

Chapter Text

Illusion is Reality

Chapter 22

-Got it going on-



I had an epiphany today. Time Baby, master of Fate and Time, is a baby. The AXOLOTL, embodiment of Life and Space, is a species of salamander that remains in it’s tadpole stage forever. Me, Bill Cipher, lord of Death and Matter, never reached adulthood before my accession. What is it with cosmic deities and being stuck as eternal children?!

Is that why the universe is so fucked up? It’s gods are ALL children?!

I wasn’t sure how to feel about this realization. Pyronica found me in the living room just banging my head against a wall. “…I don’t even want to know.” she deadpans and turned around to leave.

——

"Hey Bill, wanna come pick up guys with me?"

I looked up from a complicated compound origami sculpture I was working on to stare at her incredulously. "Excuse me?"

"Or we could pick up girls? Whichever you prefer. I'm not all that picky."

"...why?"

She sighed and flicked her hair, she's been growing it out recently. "Because I haven't gotten any in a long while and a girl's got needs ya know?"

"Oh. Oooh..." I caught on and put my scissors down. "But why do you want me there? Wouldn't that make it more difficult for you to meet anyone?"

"But don't YOU ever want to relieve some stress with a good fuck?" Pyronica asks as she sits down next to me.

"I just masturbate." I say simply. I have never felt a need to seek out another person to fulfill my needs. I just wasn't interested in people like that. Besides, the thought of doing so was gross.

"But that's so boring~ come on Bill. You're a great guy. I'm sure we can find someone willing to bang you."

"I'd appreciate NOT being banged. Thank you very much. If you want me to come along I can, but I'm really not interested in hooking up with anything or anyone."

"But it'll be fun. When's the last time you've had sex with someone?"

"Never." I was beginning to get annoyed. Why can't people just accept the fact I wasn't interested? It's always 'Jan-Jan why don't you have a boyfriend yet?' Or 'Look at this nice boy. He's rich too. I sent him a photo of you from that one time your friends put make up on you and he thinks you're very pretty. He's looking for a wife. Don't you want a rich husband?'

"N-never?! You mean...you're a virgin?" Pyronica gasps, looking truly taken aback.

"So what if I am? I'm just not interested. Its not all that important." I frown and cross my arms.

"But you're a demon." She points out, as if that would mean anything.

"You know people have been calling you a demon too? Ever since the Federation put up that warning poster about you."

A few weeks back Pyronica got her butt slapped by some jerk along the street and before I even lifted a finger to blast the asshole, she'd already eaten him. Mild panic ensued among the other people along that street. I teleported the both of us out of there as the Feds were showing up but they'd already seen her face.

Next thing I know, they're saying that Bill Cipher has corrupted an innocent Cyclopian girl into a demon. Which is ridiculously stupid. I haven't corrupted her in any way. In fact I'd say SHE'S the bad influence here. I've actually had to talk her down from her shop lifting ways.

"You're like, an actual demon. How have you not had sex yet? Were there no cute girls you liked?"

"First off, people just CALL me a demon. It fits well enough so I use the term but I'm really closer to an ethereal concept given will, sentience and form...and secondly, even if I liked someone I still have no desire to sleep with them."

"Wait, so are you...a neuter?"

"I'm a hermaphrodite." Seriously, can we just drop the subject?

"B-but how could you NOT want sex? You even have both sets of parts for it!" She sounded legitimately confused.

"I just don't okay?!" My bricks pulsed and bits of fire were springing up around me. Pyronica flinches back with a yelp. "Shit, sorry." I desperately waved my fire away. It's so annoying that my powers go out of control when I'm mad. "Look can we just not talk about this?"

She nods before slumping sadly. "I just thought it would be fun to go out to a bar and look at cute guys together."

"I'm fine with checking out some cute guys. Just don't expect me to take them home."

She perks up at that. "So we CAN go together?"

"Ugh, if you really want me there. I still think my presence would just scare them away."

"We can disguise you..." She fumbles to think of an excuse.

I thought about it. I've never gone out for something like this before. I preferred to stay home. The club scene wasn't really me and I never understood people who go out just to pick up one night stands. I have no desire to have sex, but if I really had to, I'd want it to be with someone I knew and trusted. Not some tipsy stranger.

But Pyronica looked really excited for this. And...maybe I SHOULD go. Just to make sure some jerk doesn't bother her. I know she can handle herself but as a friend, I worry. Pyronica is still trying to figure out a way to disguise my incredibly well known shape.

"Alright fine. I can just do this-" I glowed and restructured my particles. I can't go with my human form, I look too young to be in a bar. I turned myself into a Cyclopian woman like Pyronica except yellow. The flames along my arms were black along with my hair. I wobbled a little as I got used to my new form and height. "Would this work?" I asked, running my hands down my sides and making sure I got all the body parts right.

"W-what?!" She responds with her mouth gasping open. "You can shapeshift?!"

"I don't really advertise this ability. If people knew, I wouldn't be able to take a different form and just...relax around people..." My voice was different in this form.

Pyronica tilts her head to inspect me. "This is...super weird. But I think we can go with this. Do you HAVE to look like me?"

"I copied the form off you. If this feels too weird I can alter it?"

"Naw its fine, we can go for a 'twin' thing."

And that was how I began my first experience with hitting a club to pick up guys. I did not feel very confident about it.

---

Pyronica had switched out her cape for a glittery series of ribbons around her torso and arms. I was wearing actual clothing, a cute tank top and skirt combo. Xanthar stayed home, not being interested in a girl’s night out. I kept fidgeting, I've only ever been to a Club once and that was as Zyun-Jan. It was around Halloween and two of my friends had talked me into it. It wasn't a very pleasant experience.

There were so many people just dancing and grinding against each other. I saw many couples making out. The music was too loud. The bass made me nauseous. I didn't know anyone there and I lost my friends in the crowd. Everyone was so big and I nearly got stepped on so many times. It was scary and loud and I never tried to go clubbing again.

But this would be better. Or at least I tell myself that. At the very least I'll be taller than most people at the club so I don’t have to worry as much.

The music was just as loud as I expected. I didn't like the song very much. Just the same chords played over and over at a steady beat. Less music and more noise for the sake of having sound. I clung to Pyronica's arm as we entered. The bouncer didn't even check our ID's, not that we'd have one. You have to register with the Federation to get an ID card. Then again, this particular club was in a non-sanctioned area on the bad side of town.



I peered around us shyly. I felt more vulnerable in this body. I'm confident as a triangle. I can sass and joke without a care. If I had to explain it, as a triangle I can easily slip into the mannerisms of what I think of as Bill Cipher. Snarky, quirky and not someone you can mess with. But I'm not Bill right now. We'd agreed on the name Pytoria or πtoria, if we wanted to get punny.

With no guideline or mask to fall back on, I guess I was just...me. And I was uncomfortable being here. I pressed a little closer to Pyronica as one of the other patrons at the bar laughed loudly. She whispered to me "That shy act is adorable π."

Act? Yes. I can work with that. I lowered my head demurely and peeked up at one of the men sitting at a table. He looked like a shark, if you swapped its length with its width. He looked absolutely ridiculous. I ducked my head to hide a smile but I suppose to them it would just look like I was embarrassed.

I felt a little more confidant, despite behaving even more timid. Its all about my mental state. I can pretend, its something I can do. I don't have to be myself here, I'm not after any of these men or women. I just have to play my part and help Pyronica score some action. I can do that.

She led us to an empty table and started giggling. "Do you see any cuties?"

"Well I don't exactly know what your preferences are."

"Someone with a lot of meat. Juicy and bite sized~" she purred.

"Lean muscle, fatty meat or tough meat?" I ask idly, a part of me should be horrified that Pyronica was planning on eating her unfortunate date but its biologically hardwired into her and I have no right to judge her for it anyway. "Also, if you plan on eating them afterward, at least tell them so."

"Aw why? They wont accept if I do that." She whined.

"Consent is the most important thing. If you don't let them know exactly what they're in for it just...feels rude." I catch the eye of a waitress and she hands us a menu.

"But that's no fun. Their screaming is the best part..." She pouts and I roll my eye at her.

"I'm not gonna help you trick some poor sap into feeding you unless you're honest with them."

"Isn’t it hypocritical of you to be preaching honesty?"

"Hey, I don't lie during a Deal. I can't. But language is a funny thing, words can be interpreted in multiple ways. Besides, that and this are completely different."

"It still feels no fun. You're no fun Py."

"I'm ok with being no fun sometimes. Besides, I'm here tonight to make sure no one takes advantage of you."

"Pfth you know I can take care of myself."

"It doesn’t stop me from worrying about you."

"Fine~mom~" she drawls but I catch the warmth in her smile and I grin back. I don't usually get to be the mom friend, preferring to act like the child I resembled and let people dote on me. The only times I got to 'mom' someone was the kids I babysat.

We ordered some toasted ravioli (with Shmeep cheese filling) to snack on. Pyronica wasn’t sure if I should be allowed to have any alcohol but there was a mudslide on the menu (with milky way cream) and I really wanted it. "Please? It's JUST a mudslide. I haven't had one in almost FOREVER. And I'll order more food too." I batted my eyelashes at her and she laughed.

"You have no idea how weird that looks while you're wearing my face." She cackled but finally relented. She ordered a bloody Gary for herself. I stared at the eyeball floating in it. "You want the eyeball Py?" She asks as she picks it out.

"No thanks." I say as I sip my drink. The only eyes I've ever eaten were from fish. Oooh~ they might not have chocolate on this planet but the sugary sauce they used as a substitute wasn't bad.

"Make sure you eat before you drink anymore. If its anything like last time you should probably eat half the bowl first."

"I'm not THAT bad Ronica!" I pout even as I toss a handful of the ravioli into my mouth. Ooh, salty. I take this time to admire the tastebuds of the body I was in. I slowly chewed on some ravioli and contemplate the flavor.

Not bad. The cheese was creamy and it oozed out as I bit into the pasta shell. As I munched on the food a spider-like alien clattered up to us. "Hey ladies~" he chittered in an admittedly sexy voice.



"Hwey." I say with my mouth full. He looks somewhat taken aback but to his credit, he recovered quickly and pasted on a smile. I note that his legs were pretty cool looking. Ah-I wish I brought my sketchbook. I want to draw him, his anatomy was amazing. Pyronica notices my scrutiny and nudges my foot under the table with a wide grin and a waggle of her eyelid.

I roll my eye and take another sip of my drink.

"So I couldn't help but notice you two were sitting here alone." Spider-dude says casually as he leans against our table. I look at Ronica and make a questioning look with a subtle head tilt towards the man. She inspects the guy and sighs. "Well we're not alone since we came together. Just a fun girls night out ya know?"

"Well are you and your...sister having fun so far?"

"I would like to dance a bit, but..." Pyronica leans in a bit closer to the alien and mock whispers "...my sister is a bit shy and I'm afraid of leaving her alone at the table."

Dammit Ronica. The point of this evening was to set YOU up with someone! Not me! I kicked her a little under the table and she just grins and winks at me. Jerk.

"Oh, I would be more than happy to keep her company. Don't worry, we'll stay here the entire time. I promise I won't try and take your sister off anywhere." He laughs, a friendly sound. "You can go dance and have fun."

"Hm...I'm not sure...will you alright with a stranger for a little while Py?" Pyronica asks me.

"Um...it should be fine. I-if we're just gonna be sitting here..." I say while peering up at him from my long eyelashes. He smiles kindly. Somewhat suspicious, I do a surface scan of his thoughts.

'Man this gal's adorable. The shy ones are so much cuter.'

Huh? Interesting. Well he's not wrong. I like the shy type too, they're super cute and I just want to protect them. I'm still a little wary of the guy but I don't mind just hanging out while Ronica goes to dance. I caught her eyeing up a soft looking alien on the dance floor. I will admit, it looked tasty. Hopefully she'll keep my words in mind and ask before she eats him.

"Okay, you two behave while I'm gone 'kay~?" Pyronica laughs as she struts onto the dance floor swinging her hips.

The spider-dude smiles at me, open and friendly. His thoughts reflected that. Well, what do you know? I guess there ARE such things as nice guys.

"So what's your name?" He sits in Pyronica's recently vacated seat. The chairs here were mostly stools, keeping in mind most of the patrons odd body shapes. I grab another ravioli before answering. "πtoria. What's yours?"

"I'm Praxawish. It’s very nice to meet you."

We chat about simple things. I'm pleasantly surprised to find out he isn't bad to talk to. No inappropriate flirting or remarks. Just friendly conversation. It was nice. I giggle at a funny story he recalls about a dumb thing one of his 32 siblings did when they were hatch-lings.

"What about you? Any embarrassing stories you'd like to recount about siblings?" He grins conspiring with a head tilt toward the dance floor where Pyronica was grinding between two different guys. Looks like she was having fun.

"Well Ronica has always been the more out going one." I twirl my straw around my glass. The basket of ravioli had long since been emptied. I pick up the menu to see if there's anything else I might want. Praxawish got me another drink when my mudslide ran out. A fruity green martini that tasted sweet and sour.

"Once, when we were shopping, she saw a dress she wanted but we didn't have enough to buy it so she ate it."

"Seriously?" He laughs.

"Yeah. It was disgusting. She spit it out when we got home and I was forced to clean it." I giggled. I didn't even realize she'd stolen the dress until we were back and she just vomited it out onto the floor. I freaked out and made her clean the floor while I fixed the dress.

I sat both Ronica and Xanthar down for a long talk about cleanliness and how if they make a mess it's on them to clean it or I will turn them inside out for an hour as punishment. They frantically nodded and were a lot more careful when eating from then on.

"So do you have any hobbies?" He asks next.

"Well, I like singing actually." I blush lightly. God I loved music. I've already broken out in song and dance around the house and was pleasantly surprised that Pyronica didn't make fun of me for it. I know Bill's voice wasn't the nicest thing to listen to. The echo-y effect was ever present.

"Singing huh? I'd like to hear that."

"Oh...well..." I wiggled in my seat. I really wanted to. I loved performing in front of people. "I'm not very good at it..." I say quietly.

"Aw~ I'm sure you're fine. Come on? Just a little?"

I started humming a little. "I learned to slam on the breaks~before I even turn the key~before I make a mistake~before I lead with the worst of me~"

I was singing softly and it was hard to hear over the music but as I went on I got a little louder as I fell into the easy rhythm of the song.

"Give them no reason to stare~no slipping up if you slip away~so I got nothing to share~no I got nothing to say~"

I closed my eye happily, it was so much easier to sing when I didn't have to see the people around me. As much as I liked performing, the staring never failed to make me flush.

"Step out, step out of the sun~If you keep getting burned~Step out, step out of the sun~Because you've learned~ because you've learned~"

I heard some clattering and opened my eye to see a few of the people from nearby tables had turned to face me. When I faltered one of them waves and says "Don't stop. Keep going girl!"

"On the outside, always looking in~Will I ever be more than I've always been?~'Cause I'm tap, tap, tapping on the glass~"

I noticed Pyronica was coming back over, her arm wrapped around a plushy looking alien. I'm going to have to ask him (her?) If Pyronica explained what going with her entailed.

"I'm waving through a window~I try to speak, but nobody can hear~So I wait around for an answer to appear~While I'm watch, watch, watching people pass~"

This was fun. If only I could get them to sing along, have a whole chorus behind me. That would be amazing.

"I'm waving through a window, oh~Can anybody see~is anybody waving back at me?" I finished.

There is some applause and a cheer. I flush and hide my face. Its been so long since I've actually sang in front of a crowd. Pyronica comes over and coos at me. "I didn't know you could sing so nicely?"

"So you're saying my other times aren't nice?" I ask sarcastically. She giggles. I push her playfully and laugh. "So who's your new friend?" I ask as I look over the admittedly juicy looking alien she'd found. Lot of meat on this one.

"This is Bob."

"Bob?"

"Bob."

"Oh...hello Bob."

"Hi." Bob said in a high pitched squeak.

"Has my sister explained what it means to go with her?"

"Huh?"

I turned to Pyronica with an unimpressed look. She tries to look innocent. "If you don't tell him, I will."

"But Py~"

"Ooh here she comes~ watch out boys she'll chew you up~ ooh here she comes~ she's a ma~niac!" I sang and Pyronica groans and slaps a hand over my mouth. "I think letting you sing was a mistake." She grumbles.

Needless to say, Pyronica did not get any action that night. Praxawish also beat a hasty retreat once he realized my species was one that ate their partners after copulation. Really? You'd think that would sound normal to him, or is that incredibly racist of me to say so? I was a little sad since he actually seemed like a surprisingly nice guy. But I wasn't really looking for a relationship anyway.

Still, it was a very peaceful evening. I felt relaxed and content somehow.

After much sad whining from Pyronica I made a construct for her to mess around with. She was amazed I could create a soulless living body to her specifics. Once we'd made the empty shell to her tastes (literally) she took him back to her room and didn't come back out until hours later with a bulging belly.

She looked quite pleased. I just shuddered. Eating your partner after sex grossed me out. Still, at least I didn't have to watch.

---

-Pyronica intermission-

Pyronica giggled happily as she led the meaty stud to her room. She didn't know Bill could do this with his abilities. It was incredible just how much power that odd yellow creature had. Thinking about that sent a brief flash of instinctual fear through her.

She's so glad he liked her. And not even in a sexual way, she was grateful for that. The idea of something so...dangerous taking an interest in her was terrifying to imagine. Not that Bill would ever hurt her. Not on purpose at least. She understood him well enough by now to know that.

But his powers were dangerous. And sometimes his control would slip.

She's seen it. It was scary every time. She grinned and pretended it didn't bother her. Her fear would only stress him out more. Bill had a surprisingly delicate heart under all that gold. He made an effort to act like everything was fine, that he was cheerful and un-bothered by the way everyone was uncomfortable around him.

But she lives with him. She's seen the sides of Bill Cipher that no one else has. She's seen how he clings to Xanthar's side when the big guy has a traumatic flashback of the mistreatment he suffered before Bill saved him. She's seen Bill laughing with innocent delight as he watches a cartoon show about colorful talking horses.



She's watched Bill fret over 'germs!' as he cleans the house.

She's seen him cry quietly to himself in the dead of night when he thinks no one else is awake. Bill doesn't sleep. He can't sleep. The idea of such a thing made Pyronica sad for his sake. He can never sleep. He can never rest. He can never get a respite from life. Living like that sounded awful.

That's why she decided she would stay by his side. For as long as she can. So she can try to make life even just the smallest bit better for him. Bill has done so much for her. When she'd been arrested by the Federation officers she had been so scared. The Infinetentiary wasn't somewhere she ever wanted to end up.

Bill had saved her. Bailed her out and gotten her charges cleared somehow. Then he even offered her a home with food and all the comforts she could ever want. She didn't have to struggle to steal enough money to make it through life on the daily. She could relax, play and even go shopping to her hearts content. It was a dream come true. And he asked for nothing in return other than just for her to continue being his 'friend'.

How in the name of the great AXOLOTL himself did such a kind-hearted creature end up with all those horrible labels? Sure he was dangerous and his powers were unstable but Bill wasn't malicious. Pyronica couldn't understand how the universe could be so...blind and stupid to what was right in front of them.

She shook her head. No use in trying to figure out why the universe was unfair. She'd always known that. That's why she decided she would live life to its fullest and have fun whenever she could.

She giggled as she pulled the construct into her room and shut the door. Speaking of 'fullness'...

---

Bonus pic of Pyronica and Bill


Chapter Text

Illusion is Reality

Chapter 23

-My friends look like this-

---

I find all sorts of weird things in the Nightmare Realm. There were plenty of mindless creatures formed from my power inside my bubble. The jellyfish were an ever present local fauna I've found in here. There were other things forming over time too. Skittering insects, a giant light bulb with legs, rocks that look like faces and other random things.

The emotions and thoughts seeping into this world from ALL dimensions made it so things were always changing. Only the house I've made stayed somewhat static, even then I was always changing the house and adding/moving rooms. I wasn't sure why I kept coming back here despite being all alone here.

I had another house outside now. A huge floating fortress still under construction where Xanthar and Pyronica live, floating in space in a dimension outside of Federation control. A place where I wouldn't have to be alone. Yet still I came back here. Here to watch the world outside my bubble crumble and rot. Maybe this was another way for me to punish myself. Just sit at the edge of the ever shrinking bubble and watching everything crumble away. To know that in the end, that's what would happen to everything...

No. No. Dammit Bill! Resist your emo urges. Ugh, just imagining it was so cringe-worthy. Me as a triangle, dressed in ripped black clothing, heavy make up and an emo-wig...it was so stupid looking I could cry. I shook myself out of my thoughts and fed more power into the bubble to expand it back to its original size.

As I was floating back to my house I noticed the writhing shape on the ground. Curious to see what my power has formed this time, I went down to look at it. A collection of squares and rhombus folded around in a vague string-like formation. As I blink my large eye at it, an eye opened on one of the squares and blinked back. We just stared at each other for a bit.

Um...how do I deal with this? I float lower and poke at one of the squirming rhombuses. Rhombusi? Whatever. The creature squeaked and folded into a ball when I poked it. Aw~it’s adorable. I smile at it gently. I have a strange fondness for the things born from my power. I'm creating life, sort of. Does this make me a mother? Sadly, none of these creations were truly alive, they didn’t have Souls after all.

"Hey, no need to be scared. I'm not gonna hurt ya." I land on the ground and kneel down to softly pat the creature's side. It squeaked and shivered but I continued petting it soothingly and singing quietly.

"月光光~照地堂~"

It was hard to sing a lullaby with Bill's voice but I sang as softly and gently as I could. The creature slowly stopped shivering and uncoiled enough to look at me. I was surprised to see more eyes open up. They stared up at me and I felt my insides flutter. It was soooo cute~



I sang some more, the lyrics I learned from my mom, who got them from grandpa.

"买猪肚~猪肚肥~买牛皮~"

The creature had fully unraveled now and was watching me curiously. I gently picked it up to cradle to my bricks as I recited the poem.

It warbled happily as I slowly floated back to my house. I froze in surprise when I sense emotions, real emotions, not just the clouds of it that gather everywhere, coming off this creature in my arms. Was it sentient? The first sentient creature to form out of my powers. This was pretty damn important if that were true. How was it possible for my powers to create true life? Did this little guy have a soul? I'd have to ask Ax.

I started feeding my power into it, slowly, gently, a small burst of flame to see if it was truly mine. If it could handle me. It makes a happy sound and shifted, growing another block. I blinked in surprise. It really was mine. Oh my god. I'm a parent. I am SO not ready for this.



Slowly beginning to panic and giggling to myself half hysterically I blink away from the Nightmare Realm, still cradling this...thing in my arms. Ax!!!! Help!!!



-...it is...born from a mix of your powers and an amalgam of emotions from across the multiverse.-


"So this is REALLY my baby?!"

-I am not sure…you haven't exactly...birthed it...its simply a living creature formed from the emotions and consciousness of many people and a spark of your power. Also it is not a baby.-
 
"Oh thank YOU, what do you mean not a baby?"
 
This amorphous creature didn't think in words. But there was an intelligence there. I could feel it. It certainly felt sentient, and young. I gave it a bit more of my flame and it twitched as it grew larger again.


"Ah bah?" It said.


"Ohmigosh it’s talking!" I freak out.


-It was always capable of speech, it is simply too unstable to truly focus enough to do so. A side effect from being born from several million thoughts I suspect.-


"Is...is my power helping it? Stabilizing it? Giving it more power to develop individuality?" I muse as I held this weird folding shape in front of me. The creature blinks its many eyes at me.


"Bih ah nah?" It says.


-What do you plan to do with this creature Zyun-Jan?-


It’s been a very long time since Ax has called me by my true name. I glance at him in surprise. "I...guess I'm keeping it." I say at last.


-This would be good for you. You need more friends.-


"A new friend?" His words tickled something in my mind. A memory of something important...something...about this creature...it looked familiar. Why? It’s newly formed so there's no way I would have seen it before-


Wait.

"Amorphous Shape?!" I cried as I looked this creature up and down. There were much fewer blocks than I remember seeing from the show. I guess he's not fully grown yet?

At least I have a better idea of what to do now. I thank the AXOLOTL for his help and blink back to base. I need to show Pyronica and Xanthar.

--

"...So...who's the mother?"


"For the last time Pyronica! This is NOT my kid!"

Xanthar is poking the shape curiously. The amorphous shape was folding and unfolding itself into different configurations while waving its tail/arm/feelers(?) around. "Dah sah nah!" It said happily.

"I dunno Bill...you come home with a baby that apparently you created...I'd say you're a father now."

"Ugh. No. First off, it's not a baby, it’s mind is just kinda scrambled right now. Once it stabilizes it'll probably be able to speak coherently. Secondly, I didn't create it. It just...kinda formed...besides, children I bear would probably be round...maybe?"

"You don't know?"


"I've never given birth before! How the ever licking FUCK should I know?!"


"So..." Pyronica glances at the giggling shape playing with Xanthar. "How do you stabilize it?"


"Like this, hey Ammy, come here." I wave at them and the shape slowly slides over along the ground to me. I produce a small flame and it sinks into its multi-squared body. Amorphous Shape wiggled and grew a little larger, another block formed, making his chain of shapes a little longer.

"That's...good..." It said. Judging by the sound of the voice, it was probably a He, but I wouldn't be sure without asking. It was super weird to think that this creature I was singing a lullaby to wasn't actually a child.

Its voice was like a mix of multiple people speaking at once, all male voices but different, and the blocks would glow slightly as it spoke. Kinda like how my bricks flicker when I 'speak'. I held out my hand with more fire and the shape reached up to wrap its tail/hand/limb(?) around my hand.

"OooOoh~that's much beh-ter..." It sighs as more blocks grew and it floated a little off the ground. I watch it, mildly curious and somewhat confused. I know I denied parenthood, but this creature DID form out of the frothing mess of the Nightmare Realm within my bubble of stability.

Did this count as my child? I wasn't ready to be a mother so I chose to believe it WASN'T my kid. I didn't birth it. But I still had a responsibility to take care of it (him?).


"So...what's your name?" I asked it. The amorphous shape tilted a few blocks in confusion. "I...don't think I have one?" It/he said at last.

"Well I've just been calling you Amorphous Shape in my head..."

"Oh! I like that. That's a good name!" Amorphous Shape says delightedly. He (it?) wagged his tendril/tail(?!) around wildly. I sighed. "Ok, Ammy, just to clarify are you a boy or a girl?"


Amorphous Shape blinks slowly at me, all their eyes blinking separate from each other. "I...think I'm a boy? I...I don't actually know...give me a break here, I just gained enough self-awareness to even think.”

Pyronica was looking back and forth between us. "Bill are you sure..." 


"Oh my god! Ammy is NOT my son! I don't think it works like that." I pout angrily at the Cyclopian.


Amorphous Shape stares at me before turning to Pyronica with a flat look. "Yeah...no. I don't think this is my parent? I just...kinda came into existence?”

"For something only a day old you sure talk a lot." Pyronica pokes at Ammy's blocks and he folds away from her. "Don't do that. You have claws. I may not have been aware for very long but I know enough that I know you're dangerous."


"And me?" I ask, secretly amused at Pyronica's offended expression.

Ammy looks at me more closely. "You are..." He jerks back in surprise. "You are extremely dangerous. The abstract emotions that formed me are telling me you are horrifying.”


He looks a little uncomfortable. "They are telling me I should run away very far. But..." He looks around the base at the brick walls and many couches. "I also feel...safe? Your energy has given me stability. Despite what my core tells me, I feel that I belong here..."

"Well I guess...you're my responsibility now huh?"

"Indeed."


This was so weird.


---

I was worried how Amorphous Shape would fit in around the house but he adapted well and Xanthar seems to like him. Pyronica still seems to be under the impression that Ammy was my son, despite the BOTH of us denying it furiously. Ammy was a very curious creature. The emotions he was formed from seem to have all mixed up inside his very being until he was left with just a very mild personality.


Any major emotion was negated by its equal opposite and this left Ammy a pretty bland person all things considered. Pyronica called him boring. I decided to take Ammy with me to see more of the world in hopes that he would use his experiences to start building a true personality. A personality is the persona you create in response to outside stimulus after all. While I don't consider myself Ammy's mother (father?!) I do feel a certain need to help him grow.
And it wasn't just because he literally needed my Fire to grow.
"What's that?" Amorphous Shape points at something we see while floating around a random planet.

"That's a Red-backed Slizard."


"Why are they called that?" Amorphous Shape asks in confusion while floating closer to peer at the large reptilian creature.


"Because the guy who first discovered and named them was red-green color blind. And no one bothered to fix the name." I reply.


"Ah. I was wondering why it was so mistakenly described." Ammy waves his arm/tassel/limb at the green creature, it hisses at him and burrows underground. "Well that was rude." Ammy sounds so affronted I burst out laughing.


---

Pyronica is a terrible influence.


We were meandering through a craft market (Handmade pots! Quilts! Preserved embryos in jars! Eee so cute!) when Ammy saw Pyronica shop lift something off a table and tried to do the same. His technique wasn't as good as hers, she's had YEARS to hone her skills, and was startled when the stall owner began screaming 'THIEF' at him.

I floated up to the table and immediately the stall owner turned white. Literally changed colors right in front of us. Space chameleons! That's pretty cool. "Ammy, put that back." I scolded lightly.


"But Pyronica took one?"

"Pyronica is an unrepentant kleptomaniac. Please don't mimic her. It's bad enough I have to bail her out of hold-in every few weeks..."


Pyronica elbows me lightly and whispers "Ooh~using your mom voice~" I poke her horn in irritation. "I never took YOU for a law abiding citizen Bill." She says as I pull Amorphous Shape away from the still white stall owner.


"I don't give two fucks about the law but shop lifting is just plain rude." I adjusted my hat primly.


"You have the weirdest hang ups Bill."

"Oh that's hilarious coming from YOU. Wasn't there that one time you-" my comeback was interrupted by a buzzing from my bowtie. "Ugh. Seriously?"

I looked over at my friends. Pyronica was poking at Ammy's eyes as he closed and opened them on different blocks along his body. Xanthar was a few stalls behind us, snuffling at bottles of exotic tree sap. "Hey Ronica, can you watch the kids while I go to work?"


She flushed as her flames flared. "What?!"

"If you insist that I'm the father, that makes you the mom. Or vice-versa, I'm not picky." I said innocently, though my mischievous smirk probably wasn't hiding my teasing.


"Ugh. Ew. No. No way." She shudders.

I gasped dramatically. "You deny our lovely children Ronica?"


"Stop~" she whined. "Ugh, fine! I'll stop teasing you about that."

"Glad you understand." I giggled. "But seriously, can you watch Xan and Ammy while I'm gone?"


"Yeah sure. You go do your demon thing." She waves a hand dismissively at me.

"I better not find you all arrested when I get back."


"Oh please~what's the worse that can happen?"


---


"...."


"Not. One. Word."


I stared at the burning marketplace and all the screaming people running around. A nearby stall exploded. My eye twitched.




"I leave you alone for TEN MINUTES!" I screech.

"Hey, I haven't been arrested." Pyronica protests.

"But Xanthar was!" I wave my arms around frantically.

"He escaped." Pyronica shrugs.


"That's not the POINT!"


A stall collapsed and it's wares, a bunch of screaming heads, began hopping around adding to the noise around the chaotic market. I could feel a headache forming. I see Xanthar's large shape running around while being pursued by the local security team.

"Where's Ammy?" I sighed.


"Erm..."


I turn to stare at her. She shifts uncomfortably from foot to foot. "You lost Ammy." I say flatly.


"He's not LOST...I saw him at the twisted furniture booth..."

I look at the furniture booth, what was left of it at least. I take a deep breath and let it out slowly. Stay calm. Stay calm. I REALLY didn't want a repeat of Rampaging Mama Bill™ and the disapproving look that Ax would give me if I did so.

After a few billion years it was easy to open my Eye and scan through all the images of the area. I could do this with just the barest thought without trouble now. The images flashed upon my bricks and Pyronica stood quietly watching me. Finally my bricks stopped on an image of Amorphous Shape and I floated off to find him. It seems he's discovered the food stalls and was rubbing himself over all them, not eating them, just...touching them so no one else could eat them. Seriously? I'm going to have to sit him down and explain respect again.


Pyronica follows meekly.

---

Chapter Text

Illusion is Reality

Chapter 24

-My weakness-
 
---

So apparently some of Ammy's blocks had special properties. For one thing, they were detachable. Two of them link into each other, if you left one in one place, you can look through the other to see through it. You could also travel through them. I stuck my hand into a block and stared at my hand sticking out of the other block.

"Neat." I say as I wiggled my fingers.



"That tickles." Ammy shivers as I remove my hand. Well this was an interesting tidbit to learn. There was so much about Ammy I still didn't know, he was the ONLY one of his kind after all. I was excited to learn all I can. Not knowing something is a feeling I haven't had in so long.


So. Very. Long.


I shake myself out of the melancholy thoughts and start inspecting Ammy's other blocks. Not all of them had the 'portal' effect. Some of them didn't seem to do anything. The purple blocks only seemed to exist for the sake of having his arms/tendrils growing out of them.

His eyes can close and reopen on a different block. If his eye was on a block, you could no longer stick stuff through them. What worried me was the fact that he didn't seem to have any natural defenses or method of fighting to protect himself. His body looked pretty flimsy and came apart easily. I worried.


Xanthar is big. He's heavy and strong. If something happens I know he can at least defend himself long enough for me to come save him. Pyronica is quick and vicious in a fight. I don't have to worry for her too much. The only thing she has to watch out for is Federation officers and their advanced weaponry.

But Amorphous Shape doesn't seem capable of any sort of combat. It made me fret over his safety. Since my powers are what help him form his blocks, could I decide what abilities his blocks have? Could I give him something that he can use to protect himself?

Another thing to worry about is Ammy's complete lack of morals. To be fair to him, he is a young existence that formed from millions of screaming voices within a realm of chaotic nightmares and the fire that destroyed an entire dimension. I sat him down and gave him a long lecture about right and wrong. He didn't understand them on an empathetic level but he DID understand when I explained the concepts in a more practical way.


"Respect is important. Everyone should be treated with respect unless they prove themselves unworthy of it. I don't mean respect as in calling someone 'sir' or speaking to them with superfluous politeness, that's stupid. I mean that you think about their feelings and don't go out of your way to upset or hurt them."


"You and Pyronica insult each other constantly."


"That's different. We're friends, teasing and joking around is fine when its done for fun, we're not ACTUALLY trying to hurt each other. If I ever do something that hurts her, I apologize. Because I'll feel bad for upsetting her. And because an upset Pyronica is annoying to deal with."

"Ah. I see." Ammy understood how difficult it was to live with an upset Pyronica. So he could understand the need to be respectful towards her.
"It's the same for every one else you meet. General ground rules are to be respectful towards them. If they are incredibly rude towards you despite your efforts, then they have lost the right to receive your respect."

I know that's not the correct way to deal with this sort of thing but I don't give a flying fuck. I've had enough with people being rude to me and I wasn't going to spare the effort and energy needed to try and be the better man. I've tried being the better person, I've tried to turn the other cheek. I was sick of it. Why do I always have to be the one to step back? Why should I have to be the one to be patient and understanding with people who don't care about my feelings?

It was unfair and I was sick of it. I KNOW the world is unfair. I know that. But it doesn't mean I like it. It doesn't mean I can't just say "Fuck all y'alls" and just do what I want. I've stopped caring. My reputation was bad enough, so why should I go out of my way to try anymore?


"So if someone is rude to me even when I try to be nice, I'm free to be rude to them?" Ammy asks.


"Eh, try to keep it in moderation. If you just fly off the handle for every offense you'll just cause more problems."

"Like you do?" Ammy tilts a block as he stares at me.

"I have issues with my temper. It is a problem that I'm still working on. Please don't use me as an example of a healthy, rational being.” I sigh.

"...so I shouldn't emulate Pyronica either?"

"Definitely not. She's an awful person and should not be allowed around polite company."

"Don't think I can't hear you!" Pyronica calls out from the other room.

"I know! It's why I'm saying it!" I shout back.

"You're a bitch Bill!"


"And you got arrested again just yesterday!"

"Fuck you Bill!"


"Ha! In your dreams!"


I turn back to Amorphous Shape and he's just watching me. "I don't think I will ever fully understand what Respect is..." He says blandly.


---


I haven't taken Xanthar with me during a summoning for a long time. Pyronica came to a few because she was curious about my 'job' and after watching a summoner ask me to bring their dead mother back to life, in which I explained the very specific rules that raising the dead entailed, Pyronica requested not to follow me to summonings anymore.

I guess watching me mold flesh back onto a skeleton made her queasy, though it might have also been due to the corpse screaming once it formed the lungs to do so. My summoner was horrified by the malformed work in progress lump. Look dude, reviving the long dead doesn't really work. I can rebuild the body based on the memories of her mother but the soul is long gone. All I can do is create a living shell that looks like her mother. I cannot create souls. That's the AXOLOTL'S specialty.

If someone dies recently, I can grab their soul before it vanishes and just, shove it back in. But I can't find a long dead soul. Chances are they've already been reincarnated. With a bit of work I could probably find who the reincarnation is but they're a different person now. It was pointless. I wonder if I should put down a clause for my summoning that says 'does not raise the dead or force people to fall in love'.


Back to the topic at hand, I asked Ammy if he would like to watch me work. He accepted and when I finally got another summoning, I took him with me when I teleported away. I was hoping it would be a light hearted job. It was weird, my summoners are always either desperate people who were terrified of me but needed my help, or idiots who don't seem to realize how dangerous I was and call me up for stupid requests.

I prefer the people who don't know who I am. Sure, they're a lot ruder since they don't know how easily I could tear their molecules apart if they happen to anger me, but their ignorance is kind of cute. Unfortunately, today's summon was not one of those.


"Bill Cipher..." The muscular alien drawled as he looked me up and down. "Funny, with your reputation I expected someone...larger..."


"Who are you calling so short he can ride ants into battle?!" I protest while waving my arms frantically.


My client (name, Hubart. Species, Manrilla. Profession, low-level thug working for Liu-Dag, a leader of the Direncor Triads.) just tilts his head in confusion. "What?"


"Just an inside joke, don't worry your fluffy little head about it. So what do you want Hubart?"


"How do you know my name?!" The Manrilla bristles warily. Amorphous Shape is floating quietly behind me, I don't think my client has even noticed him yet. "I know lots of things." I shrug. "Like how you're not the one who wants this Deal, your boss Liu-Dag is just too scared to summon me himself."


I twirled my cane in a way that looked casually relaxed but actually took me years of practice to get right. I used to accidentally fling my cane out randomly. Sometimes it would fly off into the distance and sometimes I hit someone with it, usually me. After hitting myself in the eye with my own cane twice I devoted some time towards just learning how spin it correctly. Yes, I have THAT much time on my hands for the purpose of wasting it.

"Oh right! Um..." Hubart pulls out a crumpled note from his pouch. "Boss said I need to ask you for....ah..." He tries to read the note, his furry face scrunched up in concentration. Oh boy, this was gonna be one of THOSE Deals. I've seen it before.



The person who wants the Deal doesn't want to experience any of my...quirky side effects, nor my demanded payments, so they send a sacrifice to make the Deal for them. I will admit it's a creative work around. I'm still waiting for someone to try building a remote controlled robot to negotiate a Deal over long distance. Now THAT would be interesting.

"...just...hand note...to Cipher when...he shows up..." Hubart read slowly. "Oh, that's much easier." He smiles at me, completely unaware he's nothing more than a sacrificial lamb delivering himself right before the wolf. I gesture with my hand and the note floats towards me.

Amorphous Shape is watching curiously. He's been doing some reading to learn more about the world and had asked about all the doomsday warnings he's found written about me. Poor thing was so confused at the descriptions of me being cruel and vicious when he's seen me spend days setting up the kitchen for a song and dance number while I'm cooking. He knows I'm powerful and dangerous, but he hasn't seen me truly angry yet. He hasn't seen how sadistic I can be.


Part of me doesn't want to show him, part of me wants Ammy to live in ignorance of the fact that I'm a horrible monster. But he was gonna find out someday anyway. May as well break it to him gently by showing him how I am while on my 'job'. Also, I can use this as another lesson on the twisted morality I've been trying to teach him.


I take the note. Part of me has already 'seen' what this was about but Hubart doesn't know the exact terms so neither do I. The note was really crumbled, ugh, I hate it when people just ball up a note instead of folding it. So irritating.


To the esteemed Bill Cipher, the terms of the Deal are as follows. The enemies of Liu-Dag will surrender themselves to him, in exchange, you will have the one who summoned you in payment. Do with him as you wish.


"Huh. Well what if I don't want him?" I sigh in annoyance. Well, my Deals aren't pen and paper contracts. They are verbal agreements. So I'm going to need Hubart to say it to me himself. There's a reason I went for spoken Deals rather than written ones. So people can't pull this bullshit with me.


"So Hubart. How do you feel about your boss?" I ask with a cheerfully friendly tone. I hand the note to Ammy so he could read it as I floated up to eye level with the tall Manrilla. Even as a 5 foot triangle I'm still shorter than most people. Should I make my default size larger? No, any bigger and I'll have trouble fitting through doorways. Curse my wide bottom side. It always makes me feel fat, even though I know that's not how it works.

"The Boss? He's okay I guess. He lets me smash stuff. I like smashing stuff." Hubart says in mild confusion at my question. "So are you going to grant the Boss's wish?"

"I grant Deals, not wishes. There's a huge difference. Wishes are given for free, do I look like some charity case? I expect something in return for my services."

"Well the Boss can pay you. He's got a lot of money." Hubart says obliviously. Too dumb to realize he's been throw away? Or too trusting? "Oh Liu-Liu hasn't offered me anything as paltry as MONEY for this Deal." I flick my bowtie absently.

"Now I have read the note, sadly my Deals don't work unless you say it out loud. So I'm going to tell you the terms your boss wrote out, and you say them out loud. Can you do that for me?"

Hubart nods. So trusting. So much faith in his leader. I can see it in his head. Liu-Dag promising him rewards and praise for volunteering to do this. A gentle smile even as he handed Hubart the note that would make him an offering to the dark god Liu-Dag wants him to summon.


"So, just repeat after me. The enemies of Liu-Dag will surrender themselves before him..."


"The enemies of Liu-Dag will surrender themselves before him." Hubart repeats diligently.


"And in exchange..."

"And in exchange."


"The summoner, Hubart, will be given to Bill Cipher as payment. To do with as he sees fit."

"The summoner, Hubart will be...hey wait! What?!"

"It's what the note says." I say with a shrug. Ammy nods and hands the note back to Hubart, who's starting to look upset. "Yeah, the note clearly says that." Ammy confirms.


Hubart grabs the note and squints his beady little eyes at it. I see his mouth move as he slowly reads out the message. I can see the exact moment when he realizes he's been betrayed. The note rips under his tight grip and he's shaking. "What?!" He growls.

"Oh? You don't get it? Your dear boss wants to give you up as payment for this Deal. Personally, I'm angry too. ONE toy in exchange for ALL of Liu-boy's enemies? Doesn't sound fair at ALL." I gasp dramatically, looking quite offended.

"I do not want to be your slave-toy!" Hubart says angrily.

"Well, that was the Deal your boss wanted. Now hurry up and say the rest of the sentence so we can get this done already." I tap my foot impatiently.


"No! Change of plans! New deal! I become boss and HE becomes your slave!" Hubart shouts angrily, impulsively. My smile turns malicious. "Oooh~I can do that." I rumble with sadistic joy. My hand is covered in blue fire as I reach out to him. "You become your boss and your boss will become mine to do with as I see fit. Do we have a Deal?"

He takes my hand almost before I even finish speaking. The fire flares up and I hold back an ecstatic moan at the sheer pleasure coursing through my bricks, its been a while since I've had a Deal that managed to hit that sweet spot inside me. Something that can satisfy that craving I have for cruel chaos. My power swells and I laugh as reality twists before me. My bricks pulse a blinding flash of light.


As the light fades and I'm left reeling in the aftermath of what feels like a cosmic orgasm, 'Hubart' is blinking spots out of his eyes in confusion. "What? Where am I?" He rubs his eyes and looks startled at his hairy arms. I watch his confusion quietly, still pulling myself together after my power surge. Shit that felt nice, a gal could get addicted to that feeling.

"Hello Liu-Dag." I greet him cheerfully. He looks at me, his vision finally clear, and pales. "Bill Cipher."

"What IS it with people just saying my name? It's like they can't think of anything witty and think my name constitutes a whole sentence." I complain to Ammy as he stares in fascination at 'Hubart' who was now beginning to panic as he feels himself up and twists around to look at his own body.

"What's going on?! Why am I-?!"


"Ah well, dear little Hubart didn't like the terms you wrote out so he made his own Deal with me." I explain simply. Ammy has already caught on to what I did and looked quite impressed. "You switched them? How?" He asks me. "I didn't believe such a thing was possible."

"I'm a Master of the Mind. Switching them around is child's play." I gloat. I can't help it, despite my nonchalant behavior, it actually took years of practice to pull this feat off. You have to grab onto every part of someone's mind and soul and pull them out without killing them. I worked hard to get good enough to make the switch near instant AND appear effortless.

It's a good thing Deals granted me a power boost. Warping reality took a lot of energy. I keep this fact a tightly guarded secret but Deals that effect Time and Space, such as pulling the minds of two people out of their bodies and swapping them over a long distance in a short amount of time, take massive amounts of power to pull off. Not enough to tire me out but I'd probably only be able to do 5 Deals of that nature in a row before I had to rest and recharge.

"What have you done?!" Liu-Dag screams as he rubs at his hairy muscular arms. He's clearly distressed by his sudden change in species. "Well you see, Hubart decided he wanted to take your place and have YOU be my payment." I nudge Ammy with an elbow. "I guess we have a toy now. Do you think he can be taught to do chores?"

"Wouldn't slave be a more appropriate term? Toy implies he would have fun, or a choice in the matter."


"I don't really like the idea of owning a slave, too many bad connotations...oh! How about Minion? That sounds better."

"Minion seems appropriate. Though, I have to ask. If this creature is considered a minion, what am I to you? What are the others to you?"


"You, Xanthar and Pyronica are my friends."

"Why are we your friends? What have we done to receive such an honor? I know you received Xanthar as payment for a Deal, much like this man here, so what makes this different?"

"Well...I asked for Xanthar because I wanted him, I wanted to take him away from his abusive owner. Liu-boy is mine as punishment for trying to cheat me. I don't actually want him. I'm just taking him."


"And what of Pyronica or myself?"


"Pyronica is fun to be around. I wanted to be friends and she went out of her way to make it Official. You though...you were created by me, therefore you're my responsibility."

"And yet, you are kind and fair to me. Despite the fact that you technically own me, you do not think of me as a minion like you do him?" Amorphous Shape continued to ask. "I simply cannot understand what the difference is, between him, Xanthar and I. What makes someone a Friend as opposed to a Minion or Toy?"

"I guess...it would be how much I like them." We were both just ignoring Liu-Dag as he rages about Hubart's betrayal and swears vengeance upon "that ungrateful idiotic ape."

"So you liked me? Even when you knew nothing about me?"

"I wasn't sure how to feel about you at first. But I gave you some time around the rest of us and you fit in well. Xanthar likes you. Pyronica likes you. And I like you. Therefore we are friends."


"Is it really that simple? Then if you start to like that man, will he also become our friend?"


I haven't thought about that. "Perhaps. It will depend on whether or not we enjoy his company." From what I've 'seen' so far, such a thing was unlikely. "Regardless, according to my Deal, I am free to do with him as I wish. So, do you want to head back to base?"


Ammy looks at my newest acquisition and nods. "I am curious to know how he fares living together with us. If his current behavior is any indication, he will not last long."


I don't disagree and with a wave of my hand we blink away back to the house.

---

Chapter Text

Illusion is Reality

Chapter 25

-Of course you aren't-

---


As Ammy thought, Liu-Dag doesn't last long.

I'm not exactly nice to him, but I'm not mean either. I set him up with his own room and assign him a few cleaning duties around the house. It's not like I haven't forced Pyronica to clean up the living room a few times. Really, despite the fact that I now OWN him, I'm being incredibly lenient. He has a place to live, I feed him, cloth him and all I ask in return is he sweep the floor, bring us snacks and wash the dishes.

Sure I put him in a maid outfit but it's not like it was an indecent one.


But he complains CONSTANTLY. Raging about the indignity of it all. Whining about how a great lord like himself is reduced to a mere slave. Muttering about how he'll find a way to escape and take revenge upon Hubart. He can't even be bothered to do his job correctly. I twitch in irritation as he just sweeps the same spot over and over, making NO progress at all.


"Ok that's IT!" I fume as I slam my scissors into the table. Liu-Dag jumps and stares at me with wide eyes as I float menacingly towards him. I can hear Pyronica going "Ooh~you're in for it now~" in the background. She didn't really like Liu-Dag, probably because he keeps referring to her as 'woman' and the only thing that kept him from being fried and eaten was the fact that he was MY toy and I'm in charge of his punishments.


"I have been NOTHING but patient with you! And how do you repay my kindness? By being a complete DICK about EVERYTHING! I OWN YOU. Do you even know what that MEANS?!"

He can't even answer, he's just cowering on the ground. "It means I can do WHATEVER I want to you. I could rip you open and play with your entrails. I could shave you naked and sell you to a brothel in Dimension S3X! I could rearrange the functions of every hole in your body so you eat through your asshole and spew shit from your EYES!"


"Finally! Augh, I was getting sick of having this guy around. He is not a good toy." Pyronica remarks as she settles on a couch to watch the show. Ammy hands her a bowl of chips from the kitchen through his blocks and the two munch on the snacks while I terrorize my minion.

"Really though! What did you THINK would happen if you sent someone else to make your Deal FOR you? Did you think he would happily be sacrificed for your sake? He made me a Deal and offered YOU as payment. I'm starting to think HE got the better end of the bargain here because you are just...AWFUL!"

I flick my fingers and Liu-Dag cries in surprise as he's suddenly seated in a chair. "Talk to me kid. How do you think I'm supposed to deal with you? What do you think I should DO with you? Clearly you don't enjoy being allowed to have your own room, being allowed to eat the food that I painstakingly cook for everyone, being allowed to walk around and use the many nice amenities in this household, don't think I haven't noticed you playing with the Jacuzzi. So what do you WANT? Do you want me to lock you in a dungeon and have my wicked way with you? Is that what you want, you UNGRATEFUL waste of space?!"

"I..."

"Well? Speak up kid."


"I am a lord of the Triads! Not some servant! It is beneath me to perform such labor!"

"Well I love to break it to you kid. I don't give one flipping fuck who you are. But if you're really so unhappy here, the door is that way." I gesture to the giant arching front door leading out into the void of space.

"I don't want to leave, I want my body back! That buffoon is in my body and he is going to ruin EVERYTHING I have been working for! My empire will be destroyed under his rule!" Liu-Dag protests. "I want you to switch us back!"


"No can do unless Hubart decides to call off our Deal." I say with a careless shrug. "Also, he's doing quite the fine job in your place. He's actually signed multiple treaties with the other leaders, taken your fiancée out on a few dates, treated her well, even confessed the truth of who he really is...she’s fine with it, likes HIM a whole lot better than she ever liked YOU. Also, half the reason he's doing so well is because he's been listening to her advice, which YOU never bothered to."

Liu-Dag's eyes are growing wide "You lie!"

"You wanna see?" I ask, creating a screen displaying the images seen through one of my many 'eyes' scattered throughout the universe. On it, Hubart (now in Liu-Dag's slender reptilian body) was sitting beside a female of the species, her scales a beautiful shimmering opal color. They were bent over some paperwork and she was helping him read through them as they discussed various financial decisions. Hubart looked very happy and I coo as Frei-Sha (the fiancée) twirled her tail around his affectionately.




A Deal with a happy ending always made me feel all fuzzy inside. I'm not sure if it's because I'm happy or suffering indigestion. However, the outraged despair coming off Liu-Dag was delicious and I eagerly absorbed it. Mm~I can almost taste his tears~

"You have no place to return to. Everyone likes Hubart better. So you can either suck it up and be my minion properly, or you can leave and try to make a new life for yourself. I'll grant you at LEAST the chance to choose." I'm too merciful, I know that, but at the same time, Liu-Dag hasn't really gone out of his way to piss me off, he's just a lazy asshole.

He left.

I burned my mark onto him as a reminder, because the Deal was still on. He still belonged to me. I've simply left him to his own devices.

"So he wasn't Friend material?" Ammy asks in that straightforward way he does. "Naw, I couldn't stand him and neither could Ronica. What? Did you like him?"

"No, I can't say that I do. He was incredibly dull."

"Then there's no problem with him leaving." I turn to float towards the bedroom areas so I could trash his room but Pyronica waves to get my attention. "What's up Ronica?"

"Why didn't you destroy him? I've seen you do much worse to others just for looking at you wrong."


I contemplate her question. "Because he belonged to me. I don't want to lose my toys, even if I don't play with them." I respond at last. Because what other reason could there be? I think I'm developing a possessive streak. I already realized that when Xanthar first moved in. He was mine. Mine, and mine alone.


This was probably an unhealthy mentality.

Part of me was sad that Liu-Dag didn't want to be my friend. Are Bill's henchmaniacs the only creatures capable of being my friends? Were the powers of Canon that strong? I resolved to not give up hope. There had to be more people out in the multiverse who would be willing to be my friend.

I hoped I could find them.

---

I decided to introduce everyone to Jheselbraum. It...seemed like a good idea at the time. Besides, Xanthar missed his auntie Jessie.

"So...is she your girlfriend?" Pyronica asks as she stares at the elegant woman wrapped in flowing robes. Said woman actually gives us a disgusted look. "Most certainly not." Jheselbraum says.

"Ew, no, Jessie's like...my cousin or sister…or niece?”

"I find this description of our unfortunate acquaintance just as abhorrent as the previous one."

"Oh sure, tell me how you REALLY feel huh Jessie?" I roll my eye. Pyronica just looks confused.

"Cousin?"

"She's the high priestess of someone who's kinda like family to me..."

Jheselbraum twitches. "Please stop claiming familial relations with the Great One."

"Oh PLEASE~Ax practically raised me. What am I supposed to think of him as?"

"High priestess? Ax? Wait...are you talking about the AXOLOTL?!" Pyronica gasps at me wide eyed.

"Yeah. Big finny guy? Sleeps constantly?"

"Such disrespect-!" Jheselbraum stands up angrily.

"Hey! I have nothing BUT respect for Ax! I owe him more than I can ever repay! And for your information, he LIKES it when I call him by nicknames!"

"I will never understand the concept of respect..." Ammy sighs.


"Wait! Wait! The AXOLOTL himself raised you?!" Pyronica's eye was wide as she pales.

"Well, yeah? He took me in after my homeworld was destroyed."

"Because YOU destroyed it." Jheselbraum says with the barest hint of contempt in her calm voice.

"That was an accident and you know it." I hissed at her as my bricks flickered red for a second.

"Intent does not excuse action." She says.


I'm trembling. What the hell? What the actual hell?! She knows how much this upsets me! Why does she have to bring it up?! Right here and now?! In front of my friends?!

"Destroyed?" Pyronica asks as she stares at me disbelievingly. I can feel my panic rising. No, no I don't want Pyronica to know about that!

"Is this that thing where someone doesn't respect you even though you're nice to them?" Ammy speaks up.


I blink and look at Ammy who's glancing at me and Jessie. There’s a cold feeling inside me.


"Jheselbraum. Is that true?" This wasn't even about respect, it was about what Jessie really thought about me. This can't be true right? I know she doesn't like me but Jessie KNOWS me. She knows who, what I am. She knows how important I am. She knows how much I hurt inside.

"I hold no respect nor affection for you. Why should I give you any regard when you clearly cannot do the same?"

"I have always respected you. I’ve always cared about you.” I say quietly.


"You are incapable of such things. You can't even understand the concept."

"Are you still mad about the maid outfit?! It was a joke!"

"That is always how it is with you. A joke. A mockery."

"I thought we were friends. That's just how I am! You KNOW this!"

"I know that you are a child who wastes his time playing around, incapable of any serious thought to the consequences of his actions."


"I'm OLDER than you!" I fume. Quick bursts of flame leaking out from my seams as the burning rage within me threatens to escape.

"And yet. You are the one throwing this tantrum over simply stated facts."

"You KNOW I have problems controlling my emotions and powers! You KNOW why I am the way I am!"

"You use that as an excuse each time and yet you do nothing to improve yourself."

"You don't even understand HALF the shit I have to go through! You don't even know how hard I'm trying!" I'm breathing harshly as I try so hard not to blow up. I'm burning inside. It hurts. It hurts so much. Like having hot coals shoved inside your stomach. "I expect this shit from Time Baby! Not you! I thought you were smarter than that." I growl. "But apparently you're just as stupid as HE is!"

I can't stay here. I was so angry. Despite how much she's hurt me, I still loved Jessie and I won't allow myself to lose it here. Not here. I turned angrily and snarled. "We're leaving. Come on Xanthar."

Xanthar sadly climbs out of the fountain and walks over to the rest of us. I'm gathering my power to teleport home. I couldn't leave without knowing why though. "Why? Why are you going out of your way to hurt me? To drive me away?" I ask.

"I am the Oracle. The high priestess of the Great One. I cannot continue associating myself with the likes of you."

I laugh at her. Loud, cackling and hysterical. She takes a step back. "What is so amusing?"

"Ahahaha! D-do you even know WHY you're Ax's high priestess?" I gasp, clutching my bricks tightly.

"I was chosen by him. Out of all the shrine maidens brought before the altar. He chose me."

"Bzzzt! Wrong!"

She blinks at me in offended confusion.

"I remember that day. I was there. Sitting together with Ax in that space between spaces and watching the ceremony. When you were all brought before the altar and they all prayed for a sign from him to chose one of you...hahaha...do you know what Ax said?"

"What?" Jheselbraum was beginning to look uneasy.

"He said -It doesn’t matter, just pick someone for me- and then he went back to sleep!" I laughed uproariously. This was hilarious. Fucking hilarious.


Jheselbraum had gone pale. "No. Lies. You're lying!" 

"Oh Jessie. You KNOW me. You know I don't lie about things like this. Why would I lie to you? When the TRUTH causes you so much more pain~" I sneer. I remember the look on her face when the clouds parted and the light shone down on her. That joy she felt for being personally chosen by the Great One himself. It was so cute.

She collapses to her knees, eyes wide in horror. I laugh viciously. "Don't worry so much Jessie. No one knows except us. And who am I going to tell? It's not like anyone would believe me. The universe is full of idiots who think I need to LIE to get what I want."

I float up and squint my eye into a wide grin. "You of all people should know me well enough to know that the TRUTH causes more chaos and destruction than any lie I could make up..."

With that last parting comment, I teleport me and my friends back to the base. Pyronica is watching me cautiously. Quietly contemplative in a way I don't normally see. "Are you alright Bill?"

My rage has died down. The pain I've caused Jessie by revealing the truth I've hidden for so long did wonders for feeding and satisfying my desires. I felt great. But also...

"I'm not alright." I say honestly. "But I will be. Just...I just need to be alone for a while..." I blink away back to the Nightmare Realm where I'm free to rage and destroy to my heart's content. Here, I can't hurt anyone. Here I can easily fix anything I break.

Here I can forget that anything I break out there isn't so easily fixed. I won't be allowed back in Jessie's temple from now on. I know her. I know her better than anyone, even Ax. Because Ax doesn't care, he cannot ALLOW himself to care. He cannot involve himself in the world outside, keeps himself sealed in the space between spaces and doesn't bother.

I look around the Nightmare Realm. A space between spaces. Made just for me. A place where I could just stay and ignore the outside world. I angrily blast a hole through the upside-down mountain. Fuck that. I'm not Ax. I'm ME. And I'm not going to just hide myself away because I don't want to deal with the world.

I don't blame Ax for doing so. The world is stupid and unfair and painful. But I've see the good that exists out there as well. Few and far between but it's there. Pyronica's laughter. Xanthar's soft fur. Ammy's endless questions about the most inane things. Ax's quiet patience.

I'm not giving up on the world yet.

---

"So...the AXOLOTL raised you?" Pyronica asks quietly when she finds me later that night sitting at the edge of the front entrance. Is this just the place to go for late night heart to hearts?

"Pretty much. I still visit him often. I'm the only visitor he gets. Not many people are capable of reaching the space between spaces."

"What's he like? In person? Even on my planet we've heard stories about him. The Great One. A being of infinite mercy and wisdom. The most powerful creature in all of existence." She sits down next to me as I kick my legs back and forth.

"Well I'm not sure if his reputation hasn't been exaggerated but...Ax is very nice. He's patient with me. He's always there when I need to talk to him, mostly I just complain about my day.” I kinda feel bad about that.

“He never judges me for the many horrible things I do, the many mistakes I make. Just accepts me for who I am. He gives good advice when I ask for it. I know he cares for me, in his own way." If I'm a Chaotic Neutral then Time Baby is Lawful Neutral and Ax is a True Neutral. That's a good way to explain it.

"But...I have never once heard of the great AXOLOTL actively helping anyone. He's known as He Who Sleeps Eternally. They say that a sign of his mercy is that he won't interfere with the lives of mortals. So why would he take you in? Even if you..." Pyronica is frowning as she tries to puzzle out what made me so special that I could sit at the side of the Great One himself and speak so casually about him.

"Bill, just who ARE you?" She asks at last.

I don't respond for a long time. I just look out at the many galaxies swirling around us, billions of light years away, I remember when that star system formed. I remember pointing at it in delight and nudging Ax to make him look at it too. He humors me, indulges me. Mentor, big brother, father, there were so many words I could use. None of them were truly accurate to describe our relationship.



The AXOLOTL was someone precious to me. A lone light within the darkness. The spot of hope I know will always be there. Unchanging and unmoving. As much as I needed his reassuring presence to ground me, he needed me to be his equal and opposite. The Time Giants had been the only things in this world as old as him. They died and left him alone with just Time Baby who is always busy. How lonely must Ax have been? I was born for HIS sake. So that he would have a partner. Someone to exist by his side so he would no longer be alone.

Someone who would exist forever just like he would. I'm barely 31 billion years old by this point and I'm already so...tired. How must he have felt? The knowledge from his alternatives informing him that I would be born someday. How long had he waited to meet me? Even with the knowledge of the other Bill Ciphers, their insanity, their violence, he still sought me out. Swimming through space to find me at the center of an explosion strong enough to create the universe.


"I'm just Bill Cipher." I say at last. Because that's the truth. I may not have been the intended Bill Cipher, but I AM Bill Cipher. The counterpart of the AXOLOTL.

First the first time, I was happy to be Bill. I was happy that I exist. Here and now. I am Bill Cipher and I exist so that Ax will not be alone anymore.

---

A/N: Part of me wants to make a Domestic AU of my Bill/Jan, the AXOLOTL and Time Baby living together in a dysfunctional family.



Chapter Text

illusion is reality

Chapter 25.5

-I'm hip to the jive-

---

So like...what if I found a planet and just...reshape it into a penis? That sounds like a fun idea. That sounds like a great idea.

Penises are hilarious! All...squishy and floppy and...what was I doing again? Oh right. Penis Planet™ was going to be a thing. I feel like this was a revolutionary idea. Cause like...Penis Planets and...like...they could fuck another planet and then a new planet will be born!

Is that how planets work? Fuck if I know...I never made a planet before...shit.

I should make a planet. Like...how cool would that be? Just make a planet...shaped like a penis. That sounds like a wonderful idea! And...and if I made the planet then...then...um...what was I doing again?

Right. Penis Planet™ will be my planet and Time Bitch won't be able to stop me from doing whatever I want with it...because...um...because it's MY planet and I made it all by myself! Yeah. That's it.

Shit this actually sounds like a great idea. A planet made by me with all the rules I get to choose...wait...fuck the rules! I'm Bill Cipher and I do what I want!

They can say "Oh no~you can't make a planet shaped like a penis! Its unstable and the gravitational forces will be unstable and-" sssshut up! Gravity is a fuckin' lie! Who's the person who said that? Im'ma turn 'em into a...a...shit...what's that word again? 鱼? 金鱼? Goldfish! Yes. That is the word.

Heh. Gold. Heheh. See it's funny because I'm gold and like...

Nevermind you don't get it.

What was I doing again...?

Right. Penis planet™ goddamit I really need to focus. So like...makin' my own planet. That's something I can do right? Aw...but can I make life on it? Uwu~maybe I can ask Ax for help! I mean...he'll support my idea right?

---

Well Ax is just making weird noises and covering his face. Um...oh! That must mean he approves! Hot day~!

Penis planet™ is go!

Wait Ax why are you turning away? Ax come back~

Wow. In all my years I have never seen Ax swim that quickly. I can barely even see him in the distance now. Bye Ax~

I wonder what was so important he actually got up to go to it? Well, whatever. Dude where should I build this Penis planet™? I could build it here...I wonder if Ax would mind? He's got plenty of Space here.

Heheheh. Space.

See it's funny because Space.

Oh my gosh! I should TOTALLY build my Penis planet™ here! It'll be great. There'll be an amazing landmark in this drab, cloudy place...

 Oh hey. Ax is swimming back now. Hi Ax~

Eh? Wait. What are you doing Ax? Ax? Why're you grabbing me? Wait! Wait! What are you-?!

---

He...THREW ME! HE FUCKING THREW ME!

He threw me through like...358 different dimensions! It was...

 IT WAS TOTALLY AWESOME!

Dude.

What a rush. Better than any roller coaster I've ever been on. That speed! That velocity! I think I broke the light barrier, I was travelling so fast. Holy fuck.

I never knew Ax has such a good throwing arm. Who knew, that under that soft and squishy pink skin was some SWOL ass muscles? Where have I ended up?

Oh. Yeah. This is a good place to build. Cool. Thanks Ax~

---

Ok. So making a planet penis shaped is easy enough.

Making it STAY penis shaped is harder.

No. No. No! Stop curling in on yourself! Stop crumbling and being pulled back into a ball! Stupid lopsided oval thing. I snarl in frustration and reach out to pull at the planet again. Wait, what if I just...

Madness Bubbles everywhere.

Yes! That actually helps the Penis planet™ hold its shape rather well. Yay! Another victory for me! I high five myself and then feel utterly sad and alone. But it's ok. I still have YOU giant penis shaped planet!

And...if I just leave it alone for a while it'll form life! What kind of life will form from a planet shaped like a penis? Oh? It looks like the combination of my Madness Bubbles has caused life to form more quickly?

What did I put in those bubbles again?

Oh right. Porn.

Erm...

Well...it looks like my Penis planet™ has formed...humans? Not really. They just look like humans. They were created from the illusionary forms I placed inside the bubbles after all. Hm...their society is much like what Earth would have been in the modern 2017's.

Just...with porn physics.

The entire planet is a porno. Huh. Why did this happen? Oh woe is me~I just cannot understand why an innocent planet (shaped like an errect cock and balls) and given life through the lewd Nightmares I've collected over the centuries could become a porn planet. How could such a thing happen?

I couldn't help jerking off to some of the things happening on the planet though. Dude. I should videotape this shit and sell porn on the Void markets. Apparently porn is illegal to buy so it can only be found in various underground circles.

I could make millions from this shit. This is GOLD right here. Sexy, erotic gold.

I absently sent a tiny madness bubble, modified into a recording bubble, down into the planet to follow around whoever seemed to have the most interesting lives. It was weird because they've all only existed for like...a few hours, and yet the people living on Penis planet™ have false memories and histories and backstories.

That's cool I guess.

Man. I'm tired. Creating my own planet really took it out of me. I droop exhuastedly and Blink my way home.

---

"Bill! Where the hell have you BEEN?!"

"Hey Roni~"

Pyronica picks me up by my leg and I dangle in her claws while giggling. Wee~

"Dammit Bill! You drank several bottles of alcohol and then just disappear! What the hell have you been up to?!"

"I don't see him on any of the major news channels aside from several reported cases of seeing him flying past a planet at high speeds." Amorphous Shape remarks as he flips through the channels on TV.

"Bill, you're not allowed to get drunk without us around. Okay?" Pyronica shakes me and I flop around gracelessly.

"Oh hey Roni. When did you get here?" I asked her blearily.

She groans in frustration and drops me into a couch. "Just..lie there until this works it's way out of your system."

"Okay~" I cuddle into a pillow and relaxed. As my vision faded in and out I hear Ammy remark "Found it. Scientists are horrified to discover a new planet seemingly formed within hours. Many are questioning life as they know it due to the impossible configuration of this new world they have tentatively named "Phallus" and will be sending exploration ships to attempt contact with the natives."

I hear a slapping sound and Pyronica's muffled voice going "Dammit Bill."

----

Chapter Text

Illusion is Reality

 Chapter 26

-I've never enjoyed your suffering-

---

Pyronica keeps giving me weird looks. She also hid all our alcohol inside one of Ammy's blocks. Weird. Did something happen? I'd try to 'look it up' but I'm not in the mood to flicker through images of the multiverse.

It can't have been that important. Right?

---

I took us all out to a restaurant. As much as I enjoy cooking, I was tired of cleaning the kitchen afterwards. I know I can just wave my hand and lift up or disperse the mess but it was still annoying. Besides, I love visiting restaurants. In truth I want to go out to eat more often but it's always so...awkward with me, Pyronica and Xanthar sitting around as people cowered.

But now that Ammy's here we have more people! When me and Pyronica go out together everyone just...assumes we're an item. Even with Xanthar there I can hear people whispering "There's Bill Cipher with his woman and his Pet beast." Then those people would activate my Xanthar-Curse, their lips would seal up with stitches and they start mumble-screaming and clawing at their mouths. It was hilarious but made for an unpleasant mealtime experience.


And people wonder why I'm so grumpy. I don't appreciate all the gossip. It's rude to talk about me behind my back. It's even ruder if I'm forced to listen to them. But now that Ammy is here people should stop shipping me with Ronica. Right? We’re just a group of friends going out to eat.

Xanthar was happy to go outside, I found a nice restaurant next to a beach with lots of room for Xanthar to run around in. Pyronica loved the view. Ammy was questioning everything as per usual.

"Why are we eating at a place where we must pay money?"

"Because it's fun to eat out every now and then. I can see what other people's cooking is like." I respond as we walk/float down the beach towards the large, colorful building with a sign saying The Pizsta Palace. When I say huge I mean HUGE. The door alone was bigger than Xanthar. Think about that for a second. Bigger than Xanthar!

"But wouldn't it be cheaper to just order take out or-" Ammy starts to ask before Pyronica covers one of his eyes. He doesn't have a mouth so that was the best she could do.


"Shhh- Bill's been feeling a little down lately, we're going out to eat because it makes him happy." She whispered to him.

Of course I've been feeling down. I miss Jessie. Even if she's never cared about me, I still miss her. Is it stupid of me to do so? I enjoyed being around her. I had thought...that deep down maybe she liked me too. I guess I was wrong. Part of me wanted to be angry but mostly I was just sad. I pushed my feelings away for now, I can be sad later, right now we have to get these restaurant doors open.

I chose this place because during my 'search' for a place to eat out at I found a place that serves HUGE portions of food. Seeing the size of this place, I suspect the size is due to the fact that most of their patrons are giants.


I flick my fingers and the doors swing open before us. I feel like Jack in the giant's house. Everything was huge. The ground rumbled with the heavy footsteps of both patrons and the serving staff. I float us up to the front desk. This place was a casual beach side diner so we didn’t have to deal with reservations, just announce our party size and wait to be seated.

For a second I thought I was looking at a human. A giant human. But my scans showed that the person I was looking at was actually made up of over 15 different creatures. A symbiotic colony made up of separate parts so closely clinging together it looked like a singular organism. Much like a Portuguese Man of War. Except these creatures came together to form something that looked disturbingly like a giant human.


"Hello, how many are dining in today?" The 'mouth' creature asked. "Four please." I say simply. The 'eyes' squinted down at us before going wide. I see the eyes start swiveling in panic. The 'hair' rustled in confusion and the mouth makes a startled sound. "Um, please excuse me dear customers, something has come up. Please take a seat while I sort this out."

I sigh. "It's fine. We'll wait. Please resolve it soon, I'm hungry." I wasn't hungry, technically speaking, but I DID want to try the food here, as per usual I would 'eat' the food and teleport it back to my house in the Nightmare Realm for later consumption in a form that had proper taste buds.

I floated my group over to one of the oversized chairs in the waiting room. Pyronica groans. "Is this gonna happen every time we go out? Seriously Bill we need to disguise you."

"I don't want to be you again. That was a strange experience." I mumble as I settle down on Xanthar's head and run my fingers through his fur. "Besides, hiding myself doesn't help at all. In fact I should make MORE public appearances. Just to let people know that I can be perfectly rational and non-violent too."


"Why DOES the universe hold such fear of you?" Ammy asks.

"You and Ronica haven't seen me really lose my temper yet. I used to accidentally destroy planets when my powers went out of control. I haven't had that happen for a few million years now though. Ax says my control is getting better." I say before my brain catches up with my (metaphysical) mouth.


"Destroy...planets?" Pyronica says slowly. “I know you ate one once but I thought that was a one time deal?”

Shit. Curse my honesty.

"They were all accidents! I've never purposely destroyed a planet! Except the one I ate, but I had a really good reason for doing so.” I try to explain. Amorphous Shape is staring at me wide eyed. "The fact that they were accidents is actually scarier. Exactly how powerful are you?" His voice has an edge of worry to it.

"Eh...I'm...pretty strong I guess..." I twiddle my thumbs and flush orange. Pyronica is furrowing her brow at me "You once called yourself an All Powerful Demon-God." She points out.

"I was...exaggerating..." I protest weakly.

"I'm starting to think you're selling yourself short. You really, truly ARE an all powerful God aren't you?" Pyronica stares at me in awe. Nooo don't do that! I don't want you to treat me any differently! "It's not important okay?! How powerful I am have nothing to do with anything."

"I'd beg to differ." Ammy mutters quietly. I ignore his comment. "Look, we're just here to get some food and then we'll go play on the beach, that sound okay to everyone?"


"Sure Bill." Pyronica gives me a crooked smile. I can feel her mild apprehension before it quickly fades and she just smiles at me more naturally. "Bill, even if you are some kind of God, it doesn't change the fact that we're friends."

I don't know if she realized just how much those words mean to me. I quickly blink away the forming tears. I did not want to start crying in the waiting room of a restaurant. "Thanks Ronica..." I mumble as I wiggled happily.

"So...what kind of food does this place serve anyway?" Pyronica luckily changes the subject.


"They make Pizsta here." I say, eagerly thinking about it. A fusion of Pizza and Pasta. It sounded amazing and I wanted to try it. My mouth was watering again and I quickly materialize a napkin to soak it up.

"....I can't tell if you're crying or drooling..." Ammy tilts his blocks to stare at me. I squeak and bury my face in the napkin. "S-shut up! It's a reflex ok!? And it's embarrassing!" I moan into the napkin. Xanthar reaches a hand up to poke me reassuringly. Oh Xanthar, you're the best. You never tease me like the others do.


"Ah...dear customers? T-there is a table for you..." The usher only stammers a little bit as they come to show us to our seats. "Thank you." I say politely as I float my party with me to follow them.

We get a nice table all things considered. We were besides a window looking out over the ocean. It was quite pretty. I took my hat off as the menus were placed before us. I eagerly looked through it.


They had the basic Pizsta which was a cheese pizza made into the shape and texture of spaghetti. You can customize with toppings like mushrooms, sausages made from mindless non-sentient species of animals, fish, various spices and herbs, mashed potato-jelly, legally acquired souls, this planet's version of pepperoni and...pineapples.

I start giggling and Pyronica looks at where I'm staring on the menu and pales. "No Bill! We are NOT getting pineapple Pizsta!"

"Oh come on Ronica! It's not THAT bad." I whine. She continues to shake her head. "I like living dangerously as much as the next crazed maniac, but even I'm not suicidal!" She growls.

"What's wrong with this...Pineapple substance?" Ammy asks in confusion.

"I can't believe they even have the legal rights to serve that stuff here!" Pyronica continues to complain. She shudders in fear and stares at me as I wave a waiter over to order a Pineapple Pizsta fettuccine for myself, with a side of mushroom gnocchi.

"Ah...are you sure you want the Pineapple sir?" The waiter asks, nearly dropping his pen as he hears my order.

"Yup. I would also like some fried calamari as an appetizer, get Xanthar here a bowl of molten marinara sauce and green cheese dressing please. Oh! And can I have a glass of limonade as well?"

"I-if you are sure sir..." The waiter stammers as he jots down my order. He looks at Pyronica and Amorphous Shape for their orders. Pyronica gets a sausage pizsta shell with a side of roasted grubs and zapapple juice. Ammy orders the plain cheese pizsta without any sides or drinks. He doesn't eat much.

"Can someone please explain what's wrong with pineapple?" Ammy asks as soon as the waiter places down several cups of sulfuric acid and a bread basket before leaving with our orders.  Pyronica sips her glass of sulfuric acid and grumbles. "It's one of the most dangerous food items this side of the Federation. That shit breaks down protein. It frickin' digests you as you try to eat it."

I just laugh as Ammy stares at me like I'm insane, which I am (it’s not as big of a deal as people make it out to be), and asks "Why would you do that to yourself?" A few other customers, a large group of Dorioth surfer-bros, jumped at the sound of my laugh. It made quite a mess, frogs THAT big all jumping in panic at once. I absently flicked my fingers and fixed their table.


"Because it's delicious." I give Xanthar my glass of sulfuric acid, I didn't like the taste and kind of wished they could just give me water instead.

"Are you a masochist?" Pyronica asks as she squints at me suspiciously. I roll my eye at her. "No. I just happen to enjoy pineapples. They’re sweet and sour and yellow.”

"Who even puts pineapple on pizsta?" Pyronica complains as she thumps her face on the table.


We chat about random topics while waiting for our food. I notice that we are once more given a lot of space as the other patrons look to have been hurriedly moved to farther tables. A Jabber couple were cowering as far from us as they could while slapping each other across the face. I resist the urge to sigh. As I wipe some acid off Xanthar's chin I do a quick 'look' to make sure I'll have enough of this planet's currency. Or at least anything else that they'll accept as payment.

Oh, they DO accept Gold as payment. That's good. If they wanted Credits I'd have to use Miz's card and I'm sure the Federation would be able to track that purchase. I stretch a hand out the window to grab some sand to transmute into gold. Sand, the most useful substance for transforming into other stuff. I'm reminded of my very first Deal (Time Baby doesn't count) and feel a wave of nostalgia. How long has it been?

I mold the gold coins underwater as I wiggle my hand around before teleporting them back to base. I'll pull them out when its time to pay. No sense in just carrying it around.

Our appetizer comes out first, along with our drinks and I drool at the breaded, deep fried entire squids. Just a huge bowl full of squids. None of that chopped into tiny rings bullshit. Just, entire squids. I crunch into it happily. Every other squid I ate was actually teleported. Those that I DID eat were broken down as per usual and my bricks warmed pleasantly.

Pyronica was chewing with her mouth open. "Ronica, just 'cause its seafood doesn't mean I want to see food." I scold her lightly. She groans. "Fuck your puns Bill."

"Then don't chew with your mouth open."

"Yes Mom."

The main dishes finally arrived and I slurped my noodles happily. Sadly, my Triangle form wasn't made of proteins and I couldn't experience the sharp tingle of the pineapples until later. I loved the texture of the pasta though. All in all, I'd say I enjoyed this experience. Pyronica kept giving me disturbed looks the whole time.



My bricks were incredibly warm and I patted them with a sigh. I wanted desert but I'd probably catch fire if I ate anymore. As it was, I was already sticking a hand out the window again to burn off some energy. A waiter came up to us, nervous and asked if we wanted desert menus. Well~if I don't ACTUALLY eat it we should be fine...


If I were a real demon, I'm certain my sin would be gluttony.


I gazed longingly at all the deserts. Truthfully I wanted all of them but I can tell the workers wanted us to leave. I can just order one thing now and come back here some other time. Maybe I can even come here as Miz so I don't have to deal with frightened workers. Pyronica turned down desert because she was full. Xanthar wanted a milky way shake. Amorphous Shape ordered some sugar beetle cookies and I got a lock lime pie.

The anxious waiter delivered the desert and in his rush to get away from our table the 'legs' tripped and they took a pretty bad fall, a few body parts were knocked loose. I get up from my chair and look over worriedly. "Geez, are you guys okay?"


"W-we're fine, ow..." I could tell from my scans that the mouth was injured. He tries to hide a wince. "I could heal you..." I offer.

"No! That's fine!" The body parts pull themselves together and quickly scramble away. The restaurant had gone quiet when he fell, the other patrons watching us fearfully. I sigh and went back to my seat. After a while the chattering of conversation started back up.

Pyronica noticed my mood "Don't worry about it. I'm sure he's fine."

"I know, it's just...I haven't even DONE anything even vaguely threatening today right?"

Pyronica hesitantly pats my side. "Well they're just stupid." I hum in agreement before shoving the whole pie into my eye to store for later. Ammy lets us share his cookies and I helped feed Xanthar his shake. Fussing over him like this really made me feel like a parent. It was a strange feeling but not necessarily bad. As much as I denied being Ammy's mother/father, I enjoyed taking care of him, of all of them. I just wasn't ready to acknowledge myself as a parent.


Plus, if I ever do decide that Xan-Xan and Ammy were my kids, what would that make Pyronica? She's pretty much my best friend/sister(?) but people keep assuming we're together. If I ever call Ammy 'son' then people will definitely assume Ronica's the mom. I don't think I can handle that kind of embarrassment.

The thoughts I'm picking up around the restaurant was relief from the other patrons when the waiter comes back out to give us the check. I notice immediately that the 'person' has switched out their mouth for a different one. I guess the 1st mouth was hurt more badly then he let on.

"Are you guys all done eating?" The new mouth asked. I nodded. "Yes, we're ready for the check, please."

There was a pause before the mouth blurted loudly "I'd give you the Bill but you've already got one." The ‘Hands’ immediately slapped themselves around the ‘mouth’.

The entire building went silent. The Eyes were staring down at the mouth in horror. Every part of the body was stiff with fear. The other patrons were frozen as they stared as us wide eyed. There was a thick tension in the air.

"Pfth!" I laughed. "Ahaha! Omigosh! Haha! Hey, Ronica! You get it? Hahaha! Bill! Cause, cause it's my NAME and-"

Pyronica groaned in actual pain as she thumped her head onto the table. "YES I get it Bill. Ugh!" She rubbed around her eye in annoyance as I continued to lose my shit because I am pun-trash. "It's not even that funny!" She complains.




"I beg to differ!" I say before bursting out into laughter, thumping the table with a tiny fist. Pulling myself together, I grin up at the mouth. "But seriously kid, how much do I owe you?"


The Hands quickly put the check down. The Eyes were still wide and the Skin was pale. The Mouth opened up, to the horror of the rest of the body and spoke again. "You'd have to check the check. We also accept cheques.”

It was awful and stupid but I couldn't stop laughing. This Mouth was joking with me. I preferred this over that terrified forced respectfulness. It felt really nice to just laugh. I glanced at the total before shrugging, eh, why not? Gold coins rained gently around our table. They clinked along the surfaces they hit as I mentally create more from the sand outside and teleported them all in here. The eyes were staring at the rain of gold with awe. I haven't just paid off the check, this would be enough gold for them to renovate this whole building several times over.

"Thanks for making my day. Keep the change AND the tip." I pop my hat back on and tip it at the mouth. I felt a lot better.

"What's your name kid?" I should make a note to request him as my waiter when I come back again.

"Oh, um...people just call me Teeth." The Mouth says. I grin at him. "Well It's very nice to meet you. The name's Bill Cipher but I'm guessing you already knew that?"

I bid him a fond farewell and a promise that I'll be back to try more of their food sometime in the future. I hear the owner of the restaurant both dreading and anticipating my patronage. On one hand, GOLD, on the other hand, he'll need to make sure I'm given the best service. I hear his relieved thoughts of "Thank the Great One, Teeth's stupid remarks didn't piss him off..."

We leave the restaurant, me in high spirits, Pyronica with a headache, Xanthar already running across the beach to play in the water and Amorphous Shape confused about what just happened.

---

Chapter Text

Illusion is Reality

Chapter 27

-Just the good stuff-

---

I was floating in front of a mirror examining myself. "Hey Ronica?"

"Wazzup Bill?" Pyronica asks from where she was lounging on a couch reading through a fashion magazine. She has been planning to style her hair again and was trying to see which stuff appealed to her.

"Am I cute?"

There's the sound of Pyronica dropping the magazine. "Excuse me?!?"

I trail a small hand down my side. My bricks felt as smooth as always. The only real texture being the lines between my bricks. "I'm cute right? Like...I'm...not hideous right?" I'm a little embarrassed but I had to ask for her opinion.

I hear the clicking of her heels as Pyronica strolls up to me. "Bill, what's wrong now?" She sighs.

There was that one time she caught me putting on make up in front of a mirror. We both agreed to pretend that never happened and my current comments were bringing up her carefully suppressed memories.



"Nothing's wrong just..." I look at my reflection. I tilt this way and that. Have I gained weight? No, that is literally impossible. "I was grocery shopping today and the cashier saw me and started foaming at the mouth..."

Pyronica groaned and rolled her eye. "People are just stupid Bill. You know how scared people are of you."

"They're scared of my reputation yes. But I wasn't even doing anything threatening. And those warning posters the Federation insists on posting everywhere clearly says 'Dangerous when provoked' and it wasn't like I was provoked. Hell, I think I was more 'provoked' by the other shoppers screaming at me and running from the store."

"People are stupid Bill." She repeats.


"I know. But...they just...faint when they see me? Am I...scary looking?"

"When you make yourself bigger and change color you're sort of scary." Pyronica shrugs. "Why is this bothering you so much?"

I sighed in frustration. "I don't know. I'm just...sick of it? I don't know?" I spun my bowtie absently. "Do you think I'm cute? I don't mean attractiveness, just…I’m not BAD looking right?”

"You're very cute Bill." Pyronica says with a soft smile.

"That's good...I think?" I sighed and drooped sadly. Pyronica rolls her eye. "Do you wanna go hit a club again?"

I stare at her flatly. "You've already eaten a construct just last week." I inform her. She groans. "I don't mean for picking up guys. I mean just going out and having fun. Dance a little? I know you like dancing. Maybe we could find a karaoke bar and you can sing to your heart's content?"

I perk up at the mention of karaoke. I fuckin' LOVE karaoke.

"I don't want to disguise as you again." I inform her. It was fun but it wasn't really me. She grins. "We could invite the whole gang, I'm sure Teeth would LOVE a chance to be as loud and obnoxious as he can."

That DID sound like it would be fun. I've sort of become a regular at the Pizsta Palace and requested Teeth every time. Often times I went there alone since Pyronica and the others had their own stuff they wanted to do. I just chatted and joked around with Teeth while slowly working my way through their whole menu. It was nice. I asked one day if Teeth would like to be my friend and to my absolute delight he said 'Sure'.

I was thrilled to have a new friend. I didn't even put two and two together to realize Teeth was TEETH until our third meeting. To be fair, I couldn't really see him under the Lips that covered him so I didn't recognize him. Not that it was a real excuse because his name was TEETH for crying out loud!

Give me a break, it's been billions of years, even with perfect memory recall I won't remember something unless I actively search through my own mind for it!

I teleport to Teeth's apartment so I could invite him to hang out. Floating in front of that huge door, I marveled at how human looking it all was. Just, giant sized. Teeth lived here with his colony and a few other roommates. Their society was uncannily human-like. The only major difference being the fact that each 'person' was actually a colony of multiple people. Sometimes the Eyes weren't even the same color as each other.

Basically the different body parts start pairing up with the ones they're friendly with, then finding other parts they need and working out whether they'll be able to work together. There are many cases of certain parts being switched out or exchanged for various reasons. I found their species incredibly interesting.

I rang the doorbell and contemplated if I should invite Teeth's colony too. There's the heavy thumping of 'feet' and the door opens. It takes the Symbiote a few seconds before the Eyes spot me. The colony shudders and the door is slammed in my face.

Rude.

I press the doorbell again. The door opens a tiny crack. "W-why are you here sir?" I hear the Mouth ask.

"Is Teeth here? Tell him his friend Bill Cipher is looking for him."

"Ah...Teeth...um...moved out yesterday..."

I blinked before flickering through the images. Once I found the information I wanted I narrowed my eye angrily. "He didn't move out. You guys threw him out."

The Symbiote 'eeped' and tried to close the door but I flung it open and floated into the house. From what I've seen, both Teeth's colony and roommates were sick of his constant chattering, I get it, I really do. Sometimes that would get annoying. But instead of asking him to quiet down, they decided to just switch him out for a new Mouth. Because that's just how it is.

If a Part is defective or unwanted, there were plenty more Parts out there looking for a colony. Why bother trying to work out any issues you have with each other when you can kick out an unwanted one?

"Y-you can't just come in here and-"

"Where's Teeth's stuff?" I interrupt them.

"W-what?"

"I know for a fact he had a lot of gold. You guys didn't let him keep it when you tossed him out." I fume as I float through the giant house. I tip a lot and Teeth, being amazingly generous in a way I hadn't expected, always split his money between the colony hosting him at work. The 'waiter' body at work wasn't Teeth's actual colony. They normally worked in the backroom washing dishes. Teeth split his tips with them too. Despite dividing the gold so much, Teeth has built up a good amount of personal funds.

He told me once during our chats that he actually wanted to become an actor. He would act out parts verbally by himself constantly. He confessed that his colony didn't share his dream and he was planning on moving to a new one once he's saved up enough money. Then these assholes threw him out without even letting him take his money. I was severely tempted to make them all suffer.

"Where. Is. Teeth's. Stuff." I growl out, my bricks pushing red with each word. The Symbiote flinched and led me to their room and pointed me to a shelf. "H-his shelf is the o-one there..."

I quickly find his things, the shelf wasn't just a place to store his stuff, it was his 'room'. A toothbrush, floss, multiple different flavors of toothpaste, posters with images of wide smiles, many books containing the scripts for various plays, a lot of chewing gum, a bed with incredibly fluffy sheets, various knick-knacks, some video games and the handheld system they played on.

But none of his money. They've probably already taken it. Stolen it. I grab all his belongings into a bubble. I had to find Teeth. Poor guy was thrown out yesterday. I flickered through my images and found him sleeping on a chair at the Pizsta Palace. His boss was kind enough to let him stay there for the night. Partly because he was grateful for all the money Teeth got from me whenever I came by the restaurant.

I turn to glare at the Symbiote. "I have half the mind to do something awful to you all for just kicking my friend out into the streets AND stealing his money." They whimpered and started babbling apologies.

"Shut up." I snap. The Hands quickly clamped over the Mouth. "The only reason this whole building isn't currently on fire is because Teeth would be upset if you all died." I blinked out of there with a blinding flash of light, purposely throwing all the items in the apartment into disarray as I went.

---

"Teeth? Hey?" I softly nudged him, having teleported inside the restaurant. It was still a few hours before opening time so the only people in the building were the prep-chefs and us. Teeth didn't have eyes and thus was incapable of shedding tears but I could feel the sadness pouring out of him. "Oh...hi Bill...the restaurant's not open yet...I've heard of people lining up to get in first but this is ridiculous." He tries to joke.



"I'm not here to eat. I came to find you. I...got your stuff. From your apartment." I held up the bubble with his belongings. Teeth sat up and smiled more genuinely this time.

"Oh thank floss! Thanks Bill! I didn't think I would get my stuff back..."

I was suddenly struck with a vision. A different possible timeline lay before me. In another world, in another time, Teeth never met Bill Cipher in the restaurant. He was kicked out by his colony, had no one to turn to, his boss had no reason to help him, Teeth wanders the streets cold and  without a single coin to his name. He loses his job at the restaurant because he wasn't the Mouth for his colony anymore. He searches for a new colony but no one takes him in. He cannot GET a job without a colony. He grows more desperate as time goes on. He grows hungry and cold. He finally steals some food. He starts stealing more things. Blankets to keep him warm at night. Food so he doesn't starve. The thefts escalate until he starts using his acting talents to pull cons. Eventually he gets caught and arrested, the long list of crimes landing him a prison sentence.

I blink the images away and refocused my gaze on the still innocent Teeth before me. He wasn't a criminal. Not yet. Hopefully he never will be. This Teeth was still full of hope and love for the world around him. Nothing like the broken mess from the other timeline. I have diverted fate. Luckily it was a small insignificant thing. Time Baby wouldn't notice something like this. More importantly, my actions have resulted in a divergence. Hope swelled within me. I changed Canon. It was possible for me to change Canon.

I don't realize I'm crying until Teeth worriedly asks me if I'm okay. I wipe my tears and tell him that I'm simply glad he's alright. "Hey Teeth?"

"Yeah?"

"Have you...ever thought about leaving this planet?"

It takes him a bit before he realizes what I'm offering him. I can take him away from here. I can give him a place to live where he doesn't have to pay rent or worry about his next meal. He'll be free to come and go as he pleases. He can pursue his dream of being an actor throughout the multiverse. He can do what he wants without NEEDING his colony to go along with it. He can be free. And all he has to do is shake my hand. Make a Deal. Agree to be my Friend. From now until the end of time.

His grip is firm and steady.

---

"-And this will be your room. If you want to make any alterations to it, make it bigger, add another floor, get some specific furniture or whatever, just tell me and I can make it happen." I proudly show Teeth his new living quarters. He's gazing around in awe. "This will be mine? I don't have to share with anyone?"

"Not unless you want to. This is YOUR room. Now the kitchens, living room and other stuff is a shared communal area, there's also a shared bathing area but if you're uncomfortable with that I can easily make you a personal bathroom."

"This is so cool!" Teeth gushes as he runs to look out the large triangular window at the swirling lights of the galaxies around us. The base wasn't stationary. I could move it with just a thought and it was currently caught in a slow orbit around the nearest star.

"I still need to tell Pyronica and the others that you'll be living here now. I probably should have given them a heads up first."

Then again, they were used to my spontaneous decisions by now. Like when I decided I wanted to change the walls from black bricks to pastel pink for a few days. I only changed it back because Pyronica said it was nauseating to look at, also Xanthar kept running into the walls thinking they were flowers. Ammy thought it was hilarious.

Teeth was chattering excitedly as he started arranging his belongings around the place. "And...you're sure I don’t have to pay rent or anything?"

"Nope. Same Deal as everyone else here, you be my Friend and I'll be yours. And I happen to take good care of my friends."

I've made the official Deal with Ammy a while back. Xanthar agreed to his not long after I rescued him. I gushed to Ax about my new friends. He seemed happy for me. I suspect he was glad I was talking about nice things for once.

I should go update him on Teeth's new living situation later.

"Come on, I'll show you where the kitchen is."

---

"Where have you BEEN?! It shouldn't have taken you so long to grab Teeth." Pyronica complains when she spots me.

"Oh...well...a couple of things happened and um..."

"Hey yo my new roomies!!!" Teeth shouts cheerfully.

Pyronica stares blankly for a few seconds. I think even her fire was frozen. She woodenly turns her head to face me. "He's living here now?" She says with no expression on her face. I wince and cower slightly. "Um...if I say yes, will you get mad?"

"Oh I'm not mad." She continues to speak with no inflection or emotion in her voice.

"Really?" I perk up hopefully.

"I am livid."

I shrunk down into my true size under the weight of her glare. "You couldn’t have at LEAST given the rest of us a heads up?" She growls.

"...you didn’t have a problem with Ammy moving in..."

"Ammy's your KID, of course he would live with us."

"I thought we established that we have not confirmed any familial relations between Bill and I." Amorphous Shape spoke up from the couch he was lounging on. The TV was set to a Globnar challenge. I sneered at Time Baby. Ugh, I can't even stand looking at him.

"That's not the point here. Bill, I know this is your house and you're free to invite whoever you want. But we should at least have a chance to give our say." Pyronica says irritably.

"But Teeth got thrown out. He has no where else to go..." I whimper. Teeth is standing quietly, biting himself anxiously as his emotions flipped between hope and disappointment.

Pyronica's gaze softened. "Oh Bill..." She comes up and cups me in her hands. My true size was small enough she could hold me with just one hand if she wanted. "Sometimes I think it's a good thing the universe thinks you're evil. If people knew how much of a softie you are they'd all take advantage of you..." She whispers so quietly the only reason I heard her was because I could hear thoughts.



"Roni?" I asked quietly as my tiny hand wrapped around one of her fingers. She sighs before smiling at me. "Fine. He can stay, but he better not be as annoying as the LAST guy we were forced to live with."

"Ugh no. I wouldn't invite someone I didn’t like unless I had no other choice. Bleh."

We both laughed and Teeth chattered in relief that he'd somehow been accepted. I float out of Pyronica's hands and grew back to my larger size. "So! Does everyone want to go out to karaoke today?"

---

I managed to find an ACTUAL karaoke place. With private sound proofed rooms and everything. Not a bar full of strangers all waiting for their turn at mike. Pyronica was a little disappointed that she couldn't try and pair me with someone.

She keeps trying to convince me to get laid. "Just for fun! Come on. How about you make a construct for yourself? Eh?" She would elbow me while waggling her eyebrow as I sighed. I know she means well but geez. I materialize a martini for myself. Gonna need ta get drunk for this.



"What exactly is a Karaoke?" Amorphous Shape asks as he picks up a mic and tilts it around in confusion. Teeth is already messing with the machine and looking at what songs they had. Xanthar opted to stay home. He didn’t like loud noises.

"Oh! They've got T't tear't yi infant't by the Cr@wling Chaos!" He remarks as he swipes through the pages.

"Ugh. No way. Those posers think they're all edgy just 'cause they feast on the front row audience during their concerts." Pyronica complains as she picks up the drinks menu.

"How about Chauke avhe agon by Uru-Kai?"

"If we do a scremo song first off we won't have voices left for others." Pyronica shoots down his suggestion again.

"Do they have Naed zes khihg by Underlord?" I pipe up.

"That's...a lullaby..." Teeth says slowly.

"I happen to LIKE that song.!" I turn orange for a little before fading back to yellow.

"What about M̒̓ͣͫ͂ā͔͑ͥ̊̈̏ͬr̭̪̭̥͎͍͍ͥ̌̎͑͗ͭy̘̮̬̘̥ͣͯ͢ͅ ̰̹̤̭̓̿̎ͤͤ̚͡h̝͍͐̊͊̋͊ͅå̬̞̀ͩd̨̟͓̰͚̲̔̔ͨ̋̿ ̿͌͏̭̙̭̙̳a͍͊̚ ̖͔̠͛̅͂̓̃̽l̼͉͚̫̳̓̿̈ͤ̄͐̐i̡̓̓̀t͍̔̅̃ͧͮͣ͂t͙̭̗ͤl̼ͥ̃ͨ̀ͧ͒͆e̫̱ ̰͎̙̼̰͇̣̿̓̓̽̚͢B̺̳̝̮̣̖̃ͨͧ͋̀ĩͮ͑͐͗̃t̢͙̯͕̠̱̟̒c͌ͮ͐̇͐̒ͣ͏͔̥ḣ̨ͩ͒̃ͯ̐?" Teeth sighs as he just clicks the Random song option.

"I don't know that one." Pyronica shrugs.

"I have no opinion on that." Ammy says.

"That song is rude, offensive and mean spirited."  I've heard the song of course. Scouring the multiverse for any and all music I could find. There were some nice songs here and there but nothing that really caught my passion quite like the music that humanity made.

"Look how about we just do this one and then we can take turns choosing songs for ourselves?" Teeth groans. We all agree and he puts on the song. I sigh.

M̥̲͈̙̰̊a̦̺̘̾̌̀̽ͮ̌ṙ͈̜͔̞͓̇̽y ̱̞̼̩̱͘h̝͗ͯ̋͐̇ͧ͠ȁ͉̫̱̥̖̗͂̋̎ḓ̽̽́͞ ͖̝̮̫̘̀̅á̶̻̮͕̘̥̫ͨ́̽̾ͭ̇ͅ ̯̻̺̖̲͒̈͊̒L͎̯̫̔͊͗̆̈̈͛͠í̴̲̄ͬͩ͑ͩͫt͗̀҉̳̼̟t͇̺̃̌ͫ̃̋l͖̤̣͚̦̈ͬ̌ͬͯͯ̒͝e̝ͨ̅ͯ̓̓͊ ͎̠͕̻̎̿ͩ͊̑̚B̜̯̠i̗̞̻̯t̙̩̯ͯ̿ͦͨ̿c̜̟͕̾̓̔̚h̯͎̾̆̿̄̌ͭ!͖̠̤͐ͧ̆̆ͭ͞ͅͅ
̫͖̭̘̑̽
̶̖̮̱̼̤̙͔̉̎ͧ̓̅ͪT̳̦͛h͋ͅa̫͇̻̯̰̟̐ͯ̓t̮̳͈̻͖̬̼͐͛̀̉̏͆ ̰͔̗͖͚̜̬͂ͫ͋̄̍ͮ̿w͚͕̺̗͖͉͎̓ͧh͓̎͂͂̓̀o͗̌͒ͨͧͦr̝͕̀ḛ͈̇̃͟ ̰̥̗̜͔̟̲́̽̌̍͐̆͊́w̵̺̬͙̗̮ā̷̻̝̦̦̹̭̭̍͋̑͒s̭̞̬͡ ͖̼̍t̹͐ͩ̚ĥ̝͙́ͨͭ̋̅i̳ͭͭç̴̱͖̩̲ͅc̪̜͙͚̻͈̑͋̔̇̐ͬ͗͡ ̬͒̚á̗̗̞͓̟͔̿̄̊̚s̤͚͚̼̳̤̼̔ͣ̆ͯͪͤ̚ ̮̗̹́ͤ̐ͦ̍h̵͖̲̩͛eͪ̿͑̍̂̾̚l͉̜͍͇̰͍̇l̫̇̑̎́̍ͅ!̜̲̠͗̂̓̋ͧ
͙̬̝̟̗͎̋
̯͍̖͎̋͒͒A̪̣̝̤̎̄͒n͒ͩͯ̿ͧ͟d͋͌ͤͥͣ̌̚͏͎̬͓͕ ̳͖̠̖͗̉̈ͭę̖̟̔͗ͥ̈́͛v̰̦̣̩̻͎ͪ̆e̪ṛ͔̲̰͕͒̿ͨ͐̏̽ͪy̯̼̝͎͋̽͂̓̈́̕w͇̭̩͚̱̹̜ͮ̎͆ͣh̬̓̍̓͗e̍̏́r̛̯̱̗̀̈̌̉̽̓ͮͅē̴͉̞̳ ͎̜̥̮̣͖̺͋̂̓͐͆͞ť̠̟̪͂́h̴͇̩̮̋a̡͗̇͆͒͗ͥt̗̻̫͓̘ͫ̽͜ ̰͚̬̦̠͉͓ͦ͆̆̄ͫͮͬM̶̮̮̳͕͊ͯ̽ͩa͔̪̱̟̬̠ͤ̊̋̑͒̋r͓̙ͩ͋̉͡ỹ̫̭̱͓̪̮ ̧͐͂̃̏ͯ̚w̸̖͓͔ͮ̔ͦ̌̉ͥͩe̘̖̺̙̦n̛̻̂̄ͦͯ̊̅ͭt̠̘͋ͭ̉̎̅̾̕
̥̹ͩ́̂̈̍͋̑
̧̱̫̮̖͎̣̣ͭ͌T̟̥̲̗̗̯ͤͫ̎ͅh̰ͪ̇̎a̢͔̾t̰̪̗̲̫͘ ̰̫̩̝͈̪̽̽̆ͫ̎̚w̶͙̪ͫ͊ͦ͛̒̐h̭̹̊̑̑õ̝̳͈͙̤̤ͥ͛ͤr̪̫̣̘̗̂͐͑ͪͪ̐e̙̫͙̮̻͕͎̒̆͋͒ͯ ͉ͮͩ̅̋f̺́͑o̐͏̟̻̙͚l̢̥̖̰̭̜͍͐͊͌͛ͨ̈̈́ĺ̡̘̩̼̱̹̭̓͊ͧo̧̹̠̘̱͓̬̞ẇ̡͕̗͚̙̺͉̖͐̐̑͆̀ͤe̤̲͐͋̈́d͉͍̙͜ ̫̙̦̫̩͓ͮ̎h̨̘͍̔è̺̙̗̼̦͈ͥͬ̆̒r͉̹̊̽̎ͪ̔ ̗̣̣͇͖͇͐̇̚ş͈̱̝̘́̑ͧ̾͒́m̪̫̤͓̝̳̾̓e̛̙̻̺͑ͅl̅͂ḷ͍͆̍ͯ́̒͘!̣ͪͦ̉̇̑͌
̨̥͇̪̺̹̊̃̋ͦ
̤͖̱̫̞͒̈͋̿͑͆͝Sͬͯḣ̩̖̫̱̙̗ͪ̂ͪ̋͑͜é̛̪̩̝̘͛ ̲͇̳̑ͫͨͯf̮͚͈̣ͭ͂̃ͯ͗ͦ̚u̢̹ͯ̔̇̄͂c̲̜͈̩͂̌ͩ̑͋ͩͅk͎͗͋ē̉̌͜d͚̖ͮ̈́̂̿͗̒̚͟ ̧͈͖̓̉̓̋ͭͬh̪̪̖̻͓̣̯e̼̰͎̣̩̦ͧͭͦ̋r̫͈͙̄ ̺ͨ́̑́ͣ͡o̫ñͭ ̢t̥̖͍̜̙͔͑̆̇̄͗ͭ̚h͉͈̞̋̔̐ͤe̠̎͌ͯͣͨ̓ ̪̫͆ͣ̏͆̚͟w̢̬͖̗̝̳̭ͯͮ͒ͯǎ͖̹̯̿͠y̞͈̩͕͍̮͆̏ͮ̚ ͍ͬͥ̌̽̊̉tȏ͚͇̰̮̫̗͜ ̡ͯͭͣ̇s̫̫͈̫ͪ͝c̴̋̇ͭ̎̅̉h͕̝͉̪̞́̾̕oo̖̗͉̜͖͍̙͒͛l͈͘
͖̳̙͚̎̓ͅ
̬̣̼̥̘̥̩͆S̹̹͈̜ͦ͂͋ͣͅh͉͇̘̏ͮ͌e̺̳͚̳͇͝ ̫͚̘̹͎͐͆͆ͬͅf̵͎̟̖̖̱̖̯ͣ̑̈̎͒u̢̻ͥ͋cͭ̂k̓̎͆̀͏̗̗̥e̗̗̫ď̢ ͑ͨ͒̔͏̩̣̦h͙̘̩͉̣̼̖ͭ͆̊̀ͪe̦̪̜̞̺͎͉̔́̐ͮ̃ͧr̩̫͈͍͇ͧ͐ ͉̫̮͍͙͈ͨ̓ͫ̆ͅĩ͖̬̱̗͉ͤ͒̕ͅñ͋́̀͗͂̈́ ̭͜th̘̭͙̲͎̑e̢̗̰̟̺̩ ͕͎̑ͅh̩̺̲̠̮̝̆͊͆̏ả̫͔̦͕͙̒ḷ̳͓̮͚͍̰l̵̯͇̹̱̺̫͊̐̉ͯ́ͥ̿s̝͚ͩͥ͛͛ͧ
̧ͪͥ̿ͦ
̘̝̩͎̓͌̃̈ͮS̥ͬ́h̉ͦ̎͐̆ẹ̗̪͔̽ͨ̏̅ͮ͐͘ ̮̑̌ͧ̎͐ͭ̈́͡f̧͙̤̟̠̙ͪ̔ͩͬͯͮu͕̘ͣ̎́c̝̤̊̍̿̅̃k̸͎͚̱̝͔̜͑̄̍̚ed̪͓̒̓͒́ ̯̭̮̰̰̓ͬ͗h̺͇̤̳̏̈̾͛͑̽̈e̹͆͡r̴̙͊̿ ̌̃̂̽s̓̃o̗̬̯̙ͪ̓̓̅̇̃ͯ͝ ̯̟̀̽̐h̴͑ͥ͐ͯͮͬa̷̭ͫ̇̓̓̃̍ͅŗ̹͖̥ͅd̯̙͍̬͕̲͆ͥ̃͒͊͆̆ ̤̰͇̜̘̾̂ṱ͖͓͎̝͎̎͞ͅh̬̼̦̘̺̀͆̌ͮ̉̚a̛͕͖̗̞̮̱̰͗̆ͨ̆t̸̤̳̟͖̻ͯ ̢͙͙̯̖ͅs͍̞͛̋̂̑̏̈̚h̼̰̱̱͂͛̍͒̌e̼͇ͯ
̢̖̠͚ͩ̌̇͊
͉̦̣̉ͩ̍̅̍ͭ̚S̥͒ͯ̈́ͨp̠̺͎͙͇͎̙ͮͣ̽͝l̠̭̭̱͈͟a͎̖̿̂ͦ̇́ͩͪt̢̙̩̯̙̑ͨ̈́ͯ͒̚t̛͉̤͈͔̙͎͔ẹ̗͓͈̫̓́ͅr̰̥̈͂̒͋̐̆e͇͉͔̦̾̐dͥ̃͂ͬ ̭̯̥̼̹ͥͤͬͨh̻̘̫͔̖̥ę͚̣̲͙ͥ͗ͬ̎̅r̡̦̮̩̥̟͎̱̄̽ͮͧͪ̈́ ̸̍ͯ̊̒b̩̥̥̤̳͋͊̾͂r̗̬̼͔̳̰͖ͫ̅͗̏̌ḁ̖͊̊͌̏͝i̠ͥ͐ͣ̀ͅn͂̂ͬ҉̜͇̬͓̳̼ͅs̫ͪͭ̾͢ ̫̲̲͌̃ͫ̆̆ͭǒ̶̳̭̝̼̞ͩ̈́͗̓̋̓n̑̀̋̆ ̀t͎̻̳̫̫̲ͦ̅ͫȟ̥͍͇ẽ͈͚̓ͭ͋ͨ ͉̝͔ͥ̓̏̏w̱̳͍ͨ͑̍̄́͒͋a̢͇͉̿͗̑lͯ͌ͬ͠l͖̓̆ͯ͛̍̿
̿


My eye twitched. Ugh. It's not like the tune was any good. The lyrics were bland and uninspired as well as offensive. Sadly. Bland yet offensive seemed to be what was popular with the kids nowadays. Luckily no one saw my minor melt down when I realized I seriously pulled a 'kids these days' complaint. I'm not THAT old am I!?!

While I was busy having an existential crisis, Pyronica went up to put in a song. "Seriously? They don't have How to Scoop a Whale but they have SeaMammal Ice Cream?"

"What?! The frickin' Cover-ripoff is on there but the original isn't?!" Teeth snarls as he goes up beside Pyronica to check. The two looked up in unison at each other and a bond was formed. A friendship born from the indignation of crappy modern remixes of classic songs.

"Oh my god I really AM that old..." I whimper to myself as I rocked back and forth. I summon a bottle of spiced rum from my stash at home and popped the cork to chug it right then and there. I cannot handle this bullshit mid-life crisis while sober.

"I'M JUST A SMALL TIME GIRL~LIVING IN THE LONELY WORLD~"

"What song is that?" Pyronica asks while I screech off tune.

We all started singing our own stuff even if it wasn't on the machine. It was great fun and I was having a blast.

Sadly I think we have a lifetime ban due to the lot of us getting roaring drunk and escaping our booth halfway through our 17th song. I hogged the mike and Teeth tried to steal one from another booth.

"WHO LET THE DOGS OUT?!?!"

""WHO! WHO! WHO!" They picked up on some of my song lyrics pretty quickly.

I don't remember much personally but my Scan showed that Pyronica had eaten one of the customers in the booth next to us and Teeth had somehow started an improv stand up comedy routine in the lobby.



Ammy stole all the snacks by shoving them through his blocks and I had gone up to complain drunkenly about the lack of Vocaloid songs. When the terrified owner told me he had no idea what Vocaloid was I transmogrified all the staff into cyborgs by fusing the karaoke machines and speakers into them.



I went back to fix them and apologize once I was sober. Unfortunately that didn't lift our lifetime ban. All in all. It was a fun evening.

---

Chapter Text

Illusion is Reality

Chapter 28

-There’s always the next generation-

---

After escaping from Pyronica during another attempt to talk me into at least giving Dating a try I just floated out in space thinking to myself. Specifically, on the subject of my form and body. The 'human' form I take is pretty much based on me from my first life. It's all well and good but...isn't that kind of boring? I can literally create any form I want after all. Why stick to Miz's tiny little girl appearance?

Why haven't I tried making an actual HumanBill form yet? It seemed obvious. It might even be fun. I create a mirror and just look at myself. What would Bill look like as a human? I've seen so many fanarts with other people's interpretations of a human Bill Cipher. Heck, I've seen Alex Hirsch's glorious abomination of a Human Bill. But what do I think Bill would look like? What if I just reshape this triangle into a human shape and add skin and hair? That would be the most accurate yes?

Slowly my triangular body began morphing. It grew and shifted until there was a clear distinction between my head and torso. My arms and legs fleshed out into actual limbs instead of noodles. I sprouted hair, ears and a mouth. My ears grew a little too much since I was distracted trying to form my mouth. I wiggled them, long and sort of pointed? I decided I liked them well enough so I let them be. I blinked rapidly and wiggled my limbs. This felt weird. Transforming so slowly. My torso continued to stretch out and I formed a pelvis. My sides pushed out to form shoulders.

A head, neck, shoulders, arms, chest, stomach, hips, legs...watching myself change in front of the mirror was so erotic. Curse my weird fetish. It didn't help that I was naked. It was odd seeing my Piece as a fleshed out creature. I was humanoid but CLEARLY not human. I still only had one eye and my skin still had some bricks jutting out of it here and there. I held up my hand to look at my four fingers, long, thin and weird.

The parts of my skin that were 'flesh' was a much paler yellow than my bright golden bricks, my legs kept some of my black color though. It felt soft and squishy just like real human skin. I didn't have nipples or a belly button. Running my hands down my new form I inspected myself curiously. I still had both my Piece and Slot. No butthole, which made sense considering I've never had one as a triangle and I've kept my genitals the same. My Piece wasn't a flat oval anymore. It was 3 dimensional now, like the rest of this fleshy body. It kept its ability to extend and retract inside me too.

(((((((((((((NSFW-Things get a bit TOO detailed from this point on, also, masturbation.)))))))))))))))))))

I played with it a little. Pulling it out slowly and pushing it back in, it was cylindrical now, smooth to the touch and looked nothing like a human penis. Perfectly smooth with no bumps or openings. Like an oval rod or an elongated egg, which was technically what my Piece actually IS so...yeah? It was stiff but squishy to the touch. Oh my god, I just realized my Piece looks like a featureless dildo. I was pretty turned on just playing with myself. Good thing I was floating in a completely empty part of space. No one around for billions of light years.

https://78.media.tumblr.com/55e8456b725cc4165833c145710e6e41/tumblr_p4ud0iTHbO1x2rcv1o3_250.png

(Not gonna put the image directly here because nudity)


I sure hoped no one could see me…

My Slot was essentially the shape of my Piece but reversed. I could probably fit an actual dick in there now. The thought of it made me uncomfortable. My Slot extended inside me. The flesh around the edges could sort of close around my opening. I traced my fingers along the edges, floating closer to the mirror and tilting my crotch up to inspect it. Well it looked nothing like a vagina aside from being my equivalent there of. I gently pressed my skin apart to see a narrow circular hole. It looked too thin to fit my Piece's girth and I frowned at it. Perhaps it stretched wider during clicking?

I rub my finger in circles around my entrance. I have never put anything inside me. Even when masturbating, I've never once inserted anything inside myself. The thought of doing so, even if it was done by me just felt...wrong. While I was curious about the functions of my slot, I just couldn't bring myself to explore fully.

This body was more sensitive than my triangle form though. Even just tracing the entrance of my slot without inserting anything already sent pleasant tingles along my skin. My Piece extended fully, calling for attention. I wrapped a hand around it, my long fingers easily encircling it and began to jerk myself off. Ooh~ definitely more sensitive. I panted softly as every stroke of my Piece made my bricks burn with heat. My free hand traced the bricks along my chest. "Ahh!" I cried out at the unexpected pleasure.

Most of this body was fleshy but I had some bricks along my wrists, thigh and chest. They were glowing as the heat within me rose. I rubbed my hand along the hot bricks on my chest. "S-shit~that's...really nice~" I gasp breathlessly. I gave my Piece a long, drawn out stroke and mewled desperately. I was burning up all over and it just felt so freakin' good.

I spend a good amount of time just teasing myself. Stroking to bring myself close to the edge and then slowing down before I can actually peak. It was an oddly pleasant way to torture myself. I started talking dirty to my reflection.

"Hah~you jus-just want to get off d-don't you?" I gasp at my reflection. My bricks were glowing like the sun itself even as my skin flushed orange. "Y-you're just burning up inside hah~ an...and you just want to let it aaaaall~ out don't you?" I moaned as my fingers continued to tease my Piece.

Edging wasn't too bad of an experience. Sure it was agonizing to be so close to an orgasm only to be denied that one final stroke to tip me over, but it felt so good to tease myself. I mewled pathetically and bucked my new hips into my hand. Did this count as sadism or masochism? I was torturing myself and getting off on it.

My eye started tearing up as my moans grew more and more desperate. Please. Please. Just let me get off. Oh god please! I started sobbing as my hand continued to play with my Piece cruelly. How fucked up do I have to be to do this to myself? I sobbed as my hips rocked faster and faster, every part of me was burning and it felt so good but it also hurt so much. I couldn't take it anymore. I thrust my Piece into my hand as fast as I could. Both hands were on my Piece now, squeezing tightly in a way that should be painful but I didn't care.

My cries were getting louder as I sobbed and screamed. Begging, pleading and desperate. Finally I came.

((((((((((((((((((((((((((((Ok, we're done here))))))))))))))))))))))))))))

My whole body shuddered as my Piece clicked off. It flew forwards to hit the mirror, bounced off and then smacked me in the face.

"₩§&?!!@%$§θ¥?!?!?"

I screamed incoherently and clenched my hands around my eye. Fuck! Fuuuuuck! Ffffffffffuck! That fuckin' hurt! God fucking dammit! Why the EYE?! It's gonna take so long to regenerate that!

As I screamed expletives out into the void of space I decided I probably shouldn't try masturbating again for a while. At least not in a form where I can shoot projectiles. It's probably unsafe for everyone involved.

https://78.media.tumblr.com/aa9771bf5e8e613dd4e9206ac772020f/tumblr_p4ud03mGEk1x2rcv1o10_250.png

(Full body naked pic with the Piece retracted)

---

Once I sufficiently healed myself, I put clothes on this body and examined myself properly.



Well...I'm cute right? The elf ears were kind of ridiculous and using my true form as a base made for some strange anatomy but...yeah? I'd say this is kind of like a human Bill Cipher? It was certainly cute in a strange Cyclops sort of way. For a moment I considered showing this form to my friends but ultimately decided not to.

It still felt a little too personal. But...maybe someday...

---

"Ow!"

I immediately blink to Pyronica's side, already fussing over her. "Are you alright? Are you hurt?"

"I'm fine Bill~" she rolls her eye at me, there’s a biscuit on the ground besides her, looks like she’s been attempting to cook again. "One of my teeth just fell out." She shows me the large misshapen bone.

"Oh. Well was it from the bottom of your mouth or the top?"

She looks at me strangely. "The...bottom?"

I nod (or rather, I tilt forward and back) before holding out my hand. "Gimme."

Incredibly bemused with a hint of apprehension, Pyronica handed me her tooth. I inspect it for a bit before floating up and stabbing it into the ceiling. None of the doors in this place had frames and our roof was triangular so this was the best I could do.

"What...are you doing?" Pyronica stares at her tooth stuck to the ceiling.

"If you lose a tooth from the bottom it needs to be put up high. If it’s from the top it needs to be put down low." I say matter of factly.

Pyronica didn’t get it but allowed me to place her fallen teeth around the house whenever she lost them. Having all the teeth around strangely made me feel at home. It wasn’t much, but it was something. And then Teeth lost a few teeth when he and Xanthar played a little too roughly.

“It’s…very noticeable…” Pyronica notes as she watches me bury one of Teeth’s giant teeth in the garden. I had decided to use them to make a little path through the garden, like stepping stones. Except teeth.

“It’s fine.” I reply as I carefully pat the dirt around the tooth. There. It actually looks quite nice. I can hear Amorphous Shape questioning Pyronica about what the heck I was doing. She just shrugs “Bill just DOES stuff sometimes.”

“Indeed.”

I pretend not to hear them with the ease of long practice.



Teeth and Pyronica had a strange relationship. On one hand they got along well enough, talking about food and music. On the other hand she couldn't stand it when Teeth and I had pun-offs. Teeth thought her mouth was hideous, cringing whenever he saw her crooked teeth. The two ended up butting heads more often than not.

Xanthar likes anyone who isn't mean to him. Ammy didn't really care enough to actively dislike anyone. Pyronica is a very headstrong person and that makes a lot of conflict with Teeth's similar nature. They were both stubborn. They both felt very strongly about their opinions.

Teeth was a huge dental hygiene advocate and since me, Ammy and Xanthar didn't have teeth (most of the time), he poured all his attention onto Pyronica. She didn't appreciate it. She liked her mouth just the way it was, thank you very much. If her teeth were crooked or chipped, that was her own business.

"Bill~" she whined. I rolled my eye and flipped through another channel on TV. Wasn't there anything good on? You'd think with infinite channels there'd be SOMETHING. "What did Teeth do this time?"

She slumps dramatically next to me, the back of her hand pressed to her head and moaning loudly. "He says I need braces. BRACES!"

"Ah huh?"

She pouts at me. "Make him stop."

"Kay. Oi Teeth. Leave Ronica's teeth alone."

Teeth, sitting at my other side on the couch, grumbles and crosses his arms. "Well, can you tell Pyronica that she'll have to ask me HERSELF instead of going to you?"

"Kay. Oi Ronica-"

Pyronica growls. "Yes I know. I heard him. Well can you tell Teeth that I went to you because he doesn't LISTEN when I tell him stuff?"

"Kay. Oi Tee-"

"I heard her!" Teeth snaps.

Amorphous Shape was on another couch taking notes about their behavior with a little notebook. "So what is THIS called?" He asks me.

"This is what experts refer to as a 'rough patch' in a Friendship. It's where they will be incredibly passive aggressive, refuse to talk to each other despite speaking out loud and intending for the other to hear and making everyone else suffer as well." I respond simply. Oh! Literal Hell's Kitchen is on. Man those demon chefs were hilarious.

"Truly. Friendship is one of the great mysteries of the universe." Ammy muses as he jots down more notes.

"Eh. They're gonna be all snippy with each other for a while, find something that reminds them why they're friends, make up and get over it."

""We can hear you."" Teeth and Pyronica grumbled at the same time.

"I know." I leaned back and turned up the volume on the TV. Ammy just continues writing his notes and observations.

---

My most recent instinct driven rampage was miraculously less destructive than usual. I was just floating around Time Baby's courtroom after a particularly distressing job, trying to calm down after the stupid baby gave me a scolding for apparently taking too long to finish the job.

"Stupid...I'll take as long as I want..." I grumbled angrily.

As wound up as I was, I didn't notice the Time Police group marching down the hall until they ran into me. I felt my feelings spill over as my instincts screamed for an outlet for my anger. I screamed incoherently and turned them all into cactus just so I could place them all around Time Baby's crib.

See how you like THAT asshole!

When my rage finally subsided enough for me to think clearly I couldn't help laughing at the sight of Time Baby's entire bedroom covered with cactus. I changed them back eventually but not before Time Baby got several of the unfortunate cacti stuck to his fat legs. Even when I changed them back to normal I had to pulled each police member out of the time tyrant's fat folds.

It was actually pretty therapeutic.

Disgusting, but therapeutic.

---

"What are demons normally like?"

Teeth asked that out of the blue after lunch one day. I was teaching Ammy how to wash the dishes. I blinked in confusion.

"How would I know?" I respond simply.

"But...you're a demon right? You don't really act like one though. So are all demons secretly nice guys or are you just different?"

"I've...actually never bothered to meet up with other demons. So I don't personally know."

"Wait. Wait. So you're like...super old but you're a virgin and you've never met others of your own kind?" Pyronica asks while looking through the fridge for more snacks.

"Roni~" I whine as Teeth looks startled at the reveal of my sex life, or lack thereof. "Look, there are billions of different types of demons throughout the multiverse. They're all Demons in their own ways. There's no REAL behavioral pattern that ALL demons fall under. So I really don't know."

"We should go meet some demons!" Pyronica suggests more cheerfully than she has any right to. I stare at her in numb horror. "Why would you want to do that?"

"But Bill~aren't you supposed to be All Knowing? Aren't you embarrassed that you don't know THIS?"

"Well..." Truthfully it just never crossed my mind to seek out other demons. Part of me was afraid to meet them. Despite all the terrible things I've done, a part of me wanted to pretend I was a good person and I didn't really want to...associate myself with the legions of the damned. Which was kind of racist. I shouldn't judge them before meeting them at least.

"Field trip! Field trip!" Pyronica starts chanting. Teeth joins in. Like I predicted, they made up from their fight and were as buddy-buddy as usual within just a few days.

"Field trip! Field trip!"

Ammy had joined in chanting now. I sigh in resignation.

"Ok fine! I guess we're all going to Hell."

"""Yay!""" They all cheered.

"Wait what?" Teeth asks as my words finally catch up to him.

---

It was more difficult than I thought, going to Hell that is. For one thing there were multiple different Hells. Each one had their own travel laws and required permits. A few needed you to have Sinned in some major way before they even opened the gates for you. So I went for the easiest Hell to get into, the one that had a front desk.



"Look, we're not moving here or anything. This is just a visit because my friends got it into their heads to try meeting some demons."

I was negotiating with the demon at the check in desk. Most people come to him to negotiate for the release of one of the Souls they have. He didn't know how to handle people wanting to get IN. He was gazing at me in awe though, which made me somewhat nervous.

"T-this is an honor! That the esteemed Bill Cipher himself wishes to meet with us." He gushed. Dear lord please tell me I don't have FANS. Demon fans?!

"Ah huh? So is it possible to just come in to look around? Take a tour and meet the locals? If it's not too much trouble-"

"It's no trouble at all Mr. Cipher! I just need to inform the boss that you wished to see how we do things here."

"Well, it's not really me so much as my friends but-"

"I do hope we are able to match your standards. I assure you all our demons are diligent and merciless when torturing the souls of sinners..."

"Ah...that's...good?" I wasn't sure if this was a good idea anymore. Scratch that, this was never a good idea to begin with.

"Not that I'm saying your methods aren't fine the way they are! We really admire your induced madness approach. Very artfully done. All the anguish without any physical injuries. Well, when you aren't just straight up killing them of course."

"O-okay...?" Yeah, definitely feeling uncomfortable now.

"Though the times you HAVE gone for physical torture were quite inspired as well. We still show our newbies the tapes of what you did to that Jerptian Nobleman."

"Well he was a rapist and deserved every-Wait! You've got TAPES?!"

"Well...you DID assault him on live television during his speech announcing his engagement to his sister..."

Oh right. I remember that now. I was so angry I didn't really bother waiting until he was alone. Man, I definitely went overboard that day.

"I actually use his screams as my ringtone." The demon shows me his phone, it lets out a hoarse scream. You can faintly hear my voice screaming "頂你個肺!!!" In the background.

I can feel my bricks heating up in embarrassment. "O-okay?"

"Wow. I didn't know you were famous among demons..." Pyronica said as she looked at the gushing demon.

"Neither did I..."

We were given an exclusive tour. It was as sickening as it was interesting. So much screaming. Teeth actually looked a little worried. "Is this what normal demons do?" He whispers to me.

"Well these are Punishment Demons. Their job is to make sinners suffer for the crimes they committed. Once the Souls have been punished enough they're set free to return to the cycle of rebirth." This Dimension automatically sorted the Souls of the dead to where they needed to go. That sounded quite efficient actually.

"This guy here. A mass murderer who only targeted children." Our tour guide says as he shows us to a Lepidogoat strung out on a rack. The demons stationed here were slowly stretching him out, he couldn't even scream so much as gasp breathlessly in pain.

"Do you do this kind of thing Bill?" Teeth asks.

"I'm not that kind of demon. I just make Deals." I mutter as the demons waved happily at me. Figures the only people in the multiverse who actually LIKE me would be demons.

I say demon but they weren't part of any religion. Demon is more of...a title if you get right down to it. Different dimensions have different rules for what a demon is. In this particular dimension the demons are all regular creatures who sign up for the job and gain mild powers from the corruption they undergo. They get their paychecks by torturing the souls of sinners and when they die, they end up on the racks as well if they derived too much joy out of it. Not that the poor bastards realize it.

It was a very circular economic system. There are some demons here who simply do their job without being bad people so their souls simply move on to reincarnation. There IS a Heaven to go along with Hell in this dimension but it’s boring as shit and most people who end up there just opt for reincarnation anyway.

There are other dimensions where a demon is simply a horrible monster. In some places a demon is a supernatural creature with magical powers. There's a couple dimensions where demons are pretty much low level deities. I'm...something different. I use the term demon just because it's not inaccurate but it's still not entirely correct.

My friends were starting to get uncomfortable with all the gore. The tour guide walks us through another 'exhibit'. "What do you do with your Damned Souls Mr. Cipher?"

"I don't have any. I don't need them." I respond.

He jerks in surprise. "N-no souls? But...then how do you get paid?"

"I don't get paid. I don't have a Job so much as a Purpose. The most I get is the payments I demand during a Deal."

"B-but what do you do for money?" He sounds quite confused.

"I can create gold or any other material from scratch."

His eyes go wide and he's salivating. I don't need to be an empath to feel the Greed pouring out of him. Pyronica tenses beside me, watching the demon carefully.

"Say Mr. Cipher...are you...hiring? You seem to only have 3 employees...surely you could use more help?"

He gestures to Teeth, Pyronica and Amorphous Shape. Xanthar once more stayed home, he didn't want to see Hell. Pyronica narrows her eye at the man. Teeth shifts nervously.

"They aren't my employees. They're my friends. I had a minion once but he was a disappointment and left."

"So they are your henchmen?" He sounds so confused.

"They are my friends." I insist.

"...putting that aside, are you hiring?"

"Even if I was, I don't think you have what it takes to be my minion. No offense."

He sputters a little. "I beg your pardon sir. But you don't even know me."

"Name, Deniek. Age, 137 galactic years. Species, Grunk. Signed up for this job because you tried and failed at pretty much everything else. No real skills, not even any creativity for torture. The higher ups simply gave up and assigned you to check up duty. You've spent the last 25 years of this job just walking around and making sure the other demons were doing their jobs. Only thing of note is a huge gambling debt you're trying to pay off." I recited dully.

He got progressively paler as I spoke. "How did you know-"

"I'm not called the All Seeing Eye for nothing kid." I roll my eye. I was so bored right now. Pyronica starts laughing at him. "Anyone else just want to go home?" I asked my friends while our Tour Guide tries to come up with something to say. "I think this trip has been a waste of time."

"Not entirely. We know that these demons are nowhere near your level. I'm disappointed. No one here can even match the tiniest fraction of your power." Pyronica sighs. I shrug. "There are more powerful demons in other dimensions. Maybe we can meet them someday." Speaking of more powerful demons...

"I bet you could beat up everyone here." I grin as I nudge her. She cackles loudly. "I want to meet a real demon! Someone like you Bill." Teeth whines.

"There's no one else like me. There are some that are similar but I'm the last of my kind."

I said it in an offhand way but Pyronica and Amorphous Shape tense up slightly. They still remember what Jessie said about me destroying my homeworld. Teeth, not knowing any better, asks "Really? Wow that sucks. What happened to them?"

"I killed them all."

Everything goes quiet. The demons around us stopping their work to stare wide eyed and terrified. Teeth's mouth dropped open. Pyronica and Amorphous Shape winced. "Bill..." Pyronica reaches out to me but hesitates a little.

"It was an accident. But Jessie's right. Even if it wasn't my intent to kill everyone, I still did it." That's why it upset me so much. She was right after all. I sigh sadly, missing her and feeling sorry for myself.

"Bill that's not..." Pyronica grabs my hand gently.

"That's the difference between me and these losers." I gesture to the shell-shocked 'demons' around us. "They became Demons by their own will. I wasn't given a choice. Never even had the chance to refuse." I gripped Pyronica's fingers a little tighter. The fire on her skin felt soothing.

I closed my eye and sighed. By the time I opened it again I'd already gotten over my melancholy. Pushing my feelings to the far back of my mind to deal with later. "So guys. Since this trip was such a snore-fest, whaddaya say we crash the film set for Actual Hell's Kitchen and see if those Demons are any more fun to hang with?" I chipped happily. Teeth seemed confused by my sudden mood change.

Having known me longer, Pyronica and Amorphous Shape immediately latch onto the new, fun idea. Anything to distract me. Ammy grabs onto Pyronica and Teeth, who was still processing what he'd just learned about me, and I teleport all of us out of the literal hell-hole.

Of course the news that Bill Cipher became a demon by killing his entire species was the newest rumor to be spread around the multiverse.

---

Chapter Text

Illusion is Reality

Chapter 29

-Trade their blood and livestock-

---

I don't know why I told Teeth (and a roomful of strangers as well) but part of me just wanted to confess. It felt good to get it off my chest. Teeth was quiet for a few weeks, very unlike him. I caught him talking with Ammy and Pyronica when they thought I wasn't around.

I wanted to eavesdrop but I also wanted to give them their privacy so I purposely blinked away. What little I heard of their conversation was Teeth asking Pyronica about what she knew of my past. Which wasn't much.

---

I was cooking breakfast when Teeth came up to me and asked me what sorts of things I liked. I turned to him in confusion as the breakfast started preparing itself without my supervision. "What do you mean 'like'?"

"Favorite foods? Games? Is there anything that you particularly want right now?"

"Um...I like Ramen..." I respond hesitantly. What was Teeth on about?

"Ok thanks Bill! Rᴀᴡ ᴍᴇɴ?" Teeth mutters as he leaves the kitchen. I float there for a bit before shrugging and going back to cooking. At least Teeth is talking to me again.

---

"Hey Bill. How do you feel about putting on a blindfold and getting in the teleporter?"

I stare incredulously at Pyronica. "ExCUSE me?!"

"Ok look, Teeth wanted to do something to cheer you up, he felt kinda guilty for what happened and well...we've all decided to take you out somewhere fun~but it has so be a surprise."

"I'm MORE suspicious now."

"Oh come on! Don't be like that please~? We've been planning this for a while. And Teeth feels really bad about bringing up your past..."

She gives me her best sad pupper-snup impression. Wide, slightly teary eyes, wobbling lower lip and a dead bird held in her mouth. I caved in just a few seconds. "Fine."

She spits the bird out and cheers. "HEY TEETH!" She shouts across the house.

"WHAT?" I hear Teeth shout back.

"BILL SAID YES!"

"SWEET! OPERATION RAW MEN IS GO!"

I have a growing feeling of dread.

---

It was weird to be blindfolded. I'm not used to being so...vulnerable. Pyronica was holding my hand as I floated along in my small size. I was tense and jumpy. "So where are we going?"

"It's a surprise Bill."

Pyronica's idea for a blindfold was putting a sack over me so I'm sure I resemble an odd lumpy balloon. I can feel amused confusion from the people around me. I'm beginning to suspect Pyronica covered me with the sack so people didn't realize who I was while she and Teeth led me to where we had to be.



Teeth was ineffectually stifling his laughter as I bobbed along in the air. Ammy would poke me randomly just to watch me jump and hiss at him. "Quit that before I get annoyed."

I hear loud music playing. Have they taken me to another club?

"Do you have ID's?" A gruff voice asks.

"Pfth- who needs ID's?" Pyronica giggles. "Oh come on~we're not even from this planet~" the tone of voice she's using lets me know she's doing that thing with her eyelashes. That cute fluttering thing when she's trying to charm someone into doing what she wants.

"...And...what's in the bag?"

"Nothing important." She says quickly. I inwardly wince. Pyronica is not good at bullshitting. Note to self. Sit everyone down and teach them how to bullshit.

"Lady, open the bag."

"It would be better if I didn't..."

There's the sound of cracking knuckles. "Lady, you got 5 standard galactic seconds before I do my job and toss you all out."

I sigh and take the bag off myself. I can tell the instant the people around me realized who I was. The bouncer goes pale. All conversation stops. The music plays on through the door as the people inside don't know I'm here yet.

"You guys took me to a club?" I ask with a sigh. Sure the last time I went wasn't all that bad but still.

"Well...not entirely."

I hear some cheering hoots and laughter coming from inside. A few flickers of images later and..."You brought me to a STRIP CLUB?!"

"Raw men?" Teeth says hesitantly.

I blink at them slowly before face palming so hard my hat fell off. I was going to just head home but seeing Teeth's hopeful expression (though I use the term expression lightly) made me pause. Teeth did this for me. Because he wanted to cheer me up. I sighed.

"I guess we're going to a strip club tonight."

Teeth chatters happily. Pyronica sighs in relief. Ammy questions what a Strip Club is. Xanthar was dragged along to this outing and was mostly just curious about the cheering coming from inside. "Xan should not be here." I tell Pyronica simply.

"But...he's always sitting out from our trips." Pyronica pouts.

"Xanthar sits out because he is a delicate cinnamon loaf who must be protected." I flew up to hug Xanthar's bread face. "Places like this are inappropriate for him to be."

Also, a Strip Club would only upset him. I quietly ask Xanthar if he'd like to go home or hang out in Iznang and he responds with images of flower fields covered in butterflies. Iznang it is. I blink him away before FINALLY turning to address the Bouncer.

"So. Are my companions and I allowed inside?"

"D-do you have an ID?" He tries fearfully to make an excuse to turn us away.

I roll my eye and my ID appears in a flash of blue flame. It wasn't exactly a Federation standard ID. It was more like a business card. I started making them to pass out once I figured out how to Copy and Paste things into the world. It was similar to my ability to create stuff from loose particles of matter but instead of building things from scratch I can set my powers to automatically create the object by using another as a base.

My card had my picture complete with the zodiac surrounding me, my name, occupation (All Seeing Eye), age (Old Enough) and other miscellaneous information.

"Does this count? For many obvious reasons I can't just walk into a Federation office to get my picture taken." Or CAN I? Maybe try that and see what happens? At the very least I might get a kick out of it.

"Um...I'm not sure that..." He glances up to see me tapping my foot in irritation as I stare unblinkingly at him. He cowers a little. "Please don't kill me. I haven't even found a Mate yet." He squeaks. I cross my arms and sigh. "Look kid, so long as no one messes with us, I won't have any reason to hurt anyone. Got it?" He nods quickly and my group was allowed inside.

It wasn't as crowded as I thought. There were plenty of people though, all different races from across the galaxy, crowding around the stage where the performers were dancing. There was the scent of cooking meat coming from many grills. One of the dancers made a wide sweeping lunge, to loud hooting from the audience, and one of the crowd holds up a wad of cash. "I want that leg!"

The chef for that stage grins widely and takes the cash. The dancer laughs as she thrusts her thick meaty leg out. The chef raises his cleaver and easily hacks her leg off. She moans in ecstasy and arches her spine back, showing off all the dotted lines drawn over her flesh labeling the different parts for purchase. On the next stage over was another girl posing while her chest cavity was clamped open.



This was a Strip Club. A place where people go to eat the dancers. As they performed, the customers dish out money for which 'strip' of flesh they wanted. Dinner and a show. It was really fucked up. All the dancers were Sine-Dolorians. A species that feels all sensation as intense pleasure. They die a few days after mating so some business savvy members of their race started up this profession.

If they were going to die anyway, why not let them go out in a way that makes them feel good and earns money to support the orphanages? Since all the parents die, orphanages were the norm for their species. Each mating produces multiple eggs so at the very least their species wouldn't die out anytime soon.

It's a really fucked up way of life but it makes them happy and I won't judge. Even if it makes me somewhat uncomfortable. I see a male dancer on another stage shudder with bliss as a chunk of his side is carefully sliced away.

No one sees anything wrong with this. All the participants are consenting adults and happy. I can understand why some people see the appeal. Pyronica already eats people so she has no problem. Teeth worked at a restaurant that serves PINEAPPLE so it's not like he hasn't seen some masochistic people before. Ammy is watching in curious fascination as a dancer loses her arm to an enthusiastic customer.

It's a good thing I managed to send Xanthar away before he saw this.

A few people noticed me and some of the sound dies down. I sigh. Raw men huh? I didn't know if I should laugh or cry at the misunderstanding. I wasn't feeling up to eating any of the people here but my twisted interest for gore had me wanting to at least stay to let Teeth think he's managed to cheer me up. Plus, I could see bones sticking out of one dancer and it was pretty cool looking.

"B-Bill Cipher?" One of the workers asks as he approached our party. "Yes?" I ask as politely as I could.

"Are you...here as a customer?"

"I suppose I am."

He gives me a hesitant/terrified smile. "Please keep in mind that only our dancers are for eating. We don't want any trouble..."

I wave him off. "It's fine. Don't worry. I'm not gonna cause any trouble if no one starts trouble with me or my friends."

Sheesh, I devour a planet ONE time and no one ever lets me live it down. Great, now I'm upset again.

A few of the others relax and everyone quickly gets back into the swing of things. I float over to one of the tables that has a good view of the stages. Teeth looks at me hesitantly as he takes a seat as well. "Is this...good?" He asks.

"It's not quite what I meant by Ramen, but I appreciate your efforts."

"Ooh~that gal's got some MEAT on her~" Pyronica purrs at a particularly voluptuous dancer sliding down her pole jiggling with fat and muscle.

I scanned to see what currency was accepted on this planet. They accept multiple types, an alliance with the Federation meant they had exchange offices for changing out one for another. The Federation uses this planet as a food supply. There were many contracts and agreements made for this planet to have Federation protection in exchange for giving them some of their people. I broke out of my Scan, the images on my bricks fading away.

I don't actually have Credits or any type of paper money. I can't create them either since counterfeiting bills is illegal and I don't have any Credits to Bill's name due to a lack of a Federation ID. This is why I always search for places that'll accept precious metals and other raw materials as currency. They accept Rhodium as payment here, which is good to know. A little more difficult to make than Gold but perfectly do-able.

I make a small slab of Rhodium, around the size of a playing card and a centimeter thick. Copy-pasting it a few times I hand then out to my friends. "Go have fun and don't spend it all in one place." Oh my god, I feel like a parent.

They cheer and go off to enjoy themselves. Ammy follows Pyronica to see what she does, learning by observation.

I lean back in my chair and wonder how my life came to this. This place is an atrocity. It's disgusting and exploitative but it's also perfectly legal and accepted by the society here. There are so many things in the multiverse that would have revolted me as a human. I was still unhappy about some of the things I've seen but this is 'normal' for them. Their species has lived like this, evolved for the purpose of living like this and that's just how things worked.

I try to keep an open mind. They're happy. They aren't really hurting anyone. Even if it makes me mildly sick. Then again. The twisted part of myself loved watching as bits of flesh and meat were carefully cut off them. A Sine-Dolorian woman practically orgasms as her front is peeled away to expose her ribs and pulsating organs. There's another one at a stage branding themselves with a waffle-iron. Apparently the many ridged texture it leaves their skin is considered an attractive modification. "I'm already half cooked~" I hear a cute male dancer coo at a customer as he shows off the waffle burns along his leg.

I'm not exactly disgusted by their culture or anything but I'm not going to eat them either. That's still...something I cannot bring myself to do. If they killed them first I might, but once again, eating something while they're still alive was too much even for me unless there was an emergency. There's the sound of meat sizzling along with more excited hooting from the customers.

While I'm lost in thought another group of customers enters the establishment. I recognize them as the the Literatura familia. A long reaching Mafia family with several dimensions under their influence. I've actually done many Deals with their Dons over the centuries. They change leadership every 50 standard galactic years and each Don ran the family differently. Many of them called me up for information on various things.

I haven't personally met the current leader but I knew his grandfather and ancestors. He was a surprisingly decent man, despite being a merciless criminal. He was honorable and believed in sticking to a promise. Pretty much the type of Client I enjoyed working with. Sadly, the current leader inherited nothing from his nonno except his ruthlessness.

I watched as the current head, Jorgio Literatura Don #28, strut around like he owned the place and has his men shove some other customers away from a stage with a particularly pretty woman with waffle burns all down her back. She is spinning gracefully around a pole. He leers at her and licks his 3 lips.

"I want this one." Jorgio says to the chef beside the table. "Which part of me would you like sir?" The girl asks with a cute fluttering of her secondary eyes. Jorgio slaps a huge wad of cash onto the the counter. "All of her." He says, still speaking to the chef. The chef blinks and looks at the girl. "All at once sir? We don't have a grill large enough for-"

"Not to eat. I want HER." Jorgio rakes his eyes up and down her form with a completely different kind of hunger. The chef frowns. "I'm sorry sir. This is not that kind of establishment."

Jorgio snaps his fingers and one of his men grabbed the chef. I'd seen enough. I flicked my fingers (secretly jealous that I couldn't get that sharp snapping sound that Jorgio managed so easily) and the chef is teleported safely onto the stage next to the scared dancer girl.

"Oi. No violence in here please. With my luck I'll be the one blamed for it." I float up to them twirling my cane. Don Literatura looks at me and grins in surprised recognition. "Ah. Bill Cipher. Fancy meeting you here."



Because of the long history of Deals I've done with the Literatura family, many of which didn't turn out horribly for my summoners because they were courteous and kept their end of the Deal easily enough, I suppose this would mean we are on friendly terms. This was helped along by the fact that I pretty much helped them get the power they had now. It would be a shame if the current generation ruined all his family's centuries of carefully built rapport.

"Fancy seeing you too. How's the familia? I haven't really gotten to see any of you since Don Tonio stepped down."

"Ah, honorable Nonno, tis a shame you didn't get to see him before he passed."

"It IS a shame. Old Tonio was a good man." Entropy marches on. He lived to quite the old age too. I felt a little guilty for not visiting more often but Toni's son was always wary of me. Would explain why he never summoned me once during his rule.

I was going to say more but Pyronica runs over waving a spiced roasted leg happily. "Bill! Teeth and I have a huge haul of food! Those weird metal sheets you gave us were apparently REALLY valuable!"

I know the instant Jorgio notices Pyronica. The feeling of 'lust' and 'greed' coming off him made my bricks burn unpleasantly. I twitched but managed to hold myself back from anything rash. He hasn't done anything yet. He's just looking. There's nothing wrong with looking.

"If you really bought that much food you better eat it all." I don't like wasting food. I suppose it's even more important in a place like this.

"You're not having any? But you love food?" Pyronica looked incredibly confused. I sighed. It still felt really weird...but it's consensual so there really shouldn't be anything inherently wrong with it...

"Just not in the mood for it right now."

"You have the weirdest hang ups Bill." Pyronica knows me well enough to tell when I refuse something because of various emotional reasons.

Jorgio pipes in "Hello there. Not to interrupt but mind introducing me to your lovely acquaintance here?" He gives Pyronica three charming smiles.

"Of course. Jorgio, this is my friend Pyronica. Ronica, this is Don Jorgio Literatura." I debate if I should introduce Jorgio's men as well. "Jorgio's grandfather was a good client of mine." Tonio summoned me surprisingly often. I still remember the last Deal we made right before he stepped down to let his son take over...

"Would you mind terribly if I were to share a table with you? I wish to speak with signore Cipher and catch up. I have heard many stories from my Nonno but haven't had the honor of meeting him in person."

"Ah...if Bill says it’s ok?" Pyronica glances at me. I shrug. "It would be nice to talk. I'd like to hear how Tonio spent his final years."

So we head over to the table where Teeth and Ammy were desperately trying to balance the platters of meat they bought. I flick my fingers and levitate the food safely onto the table. "Hey Bill, who're these guys?" Teeth asked.

"This is the grandson of one of my old clients. Do you mind if they sat with us so we could talk?"

"Sure?"

"Are they friends?" Ammy asked, already taking out a notepad from his blocks (we've recently discovered that I CAN in fact sort of decide what abilities his blocks have while I feed him my flames, sadly they all have to revolve around transport or storage-sub-space, I was quite disappointed I couldn't give him a Death Canon).

"Not really. I'm sort of allied with his familia but as we haven't done any Deals in 2 generations, I'm not sure if they still need me."

"Of course we are still allies. We just haven't had a real pressing issue that needed your help, didn't want to bother you signore Cipher." Jorgio hastily said. He knows better than most how important it was to keep me on his side.

We sit around the table, Jorgio's men standing behind him and I take this time to really look at them. All different kinds of species, only two of them were the same type as Jorgio (Kmuont, a humanoid creature with 3 mouths, smooth dark skin and a tendency to spit acid when angry), there was a large lobster-like creature (Crabavores), some Manrillas, a Jabber, a robot cleverly disguised as a Manrilla...wait what?

I did a double take and scanned the robot more closely. No, not robot, there was someone inside there. I blinked at it and jolted in surprise when I spotted a square-like shape. For a wild second I thought it was a miraculously surviving Flatlander but there were no bricks, just strange tick marks and lines. It took me a few seconds to recognize the buck teeth and the compass design. KRYPTOS?!

I was getting feelings of 'unhappiness' 'stress' and 'pain' coming off him. What the heck was he doing here. I was going to look it up but Jorgio was talking to me and I refocused back to the present.

"Sorry, I was checking something, what did you say?" I asked, my friends were used to me just spacing out for hours at a time. They just assume its due to me being an All Knowing creature watching some important event happening across the multiverse. In reality I'm just an air-head who gets lost in thought all the time.

"I asked if you and your companions would like to come to my estate after this?" Jorgio repeated. I looked over at my friends.

"Sure. Can I bring Xanthar too?"

"Your pet-?" Jorgio tried to say before my Curse took effect and all three of his mouths were stitched over. He panicked before I flicked my fingers and freed him. "Sorry 'bout that. It happens whenever someone disrespects him."

We finish our meal and head off to the teleporters. I'm still curious about what Kryptos was doing here. Plus, the Literatura estates had some lovely gardens. I know I helped the 3rd Don plant and grow the vineyard. They didn't have grapes but instead Krapes, fruits that were similar in shape and made some really delicious wine.

But it's not like I just agreed to go with Jorgio because I wanted Alcohol! I'm just going to figure out why Kryptos was here. Getting some wine was just a bonus I swear!

---

I made a quick blink to Iznang to pick up Xanthar. To my surprise the Queen was with him. She was gently petting him and feeding him some nectar. She looks up at me and sighs.

"Hello again Bill Cipher. We need to talk." She looks...not upset but mildly unhappy and unsure about something.

"What is it your majesty?" I'm warily being a little more polite.

"Why am I still alive?" She asks bluntly.

It takes me a few seconds to understand what she meant. Iznang moves at a different pace in terms of temporal progression than many of the Federation owned/run dimensions. Technically, all dimensions naturally run at different time speeds from each other but if the Federation takes over a whole dimension Time Baby can force that dimension to synch up with the others.

Iznang and the world it exists in, has not surrendered to Time Baby's despotic rule yet, nor does this dimension hold any value for Time Baby to bother taking it. Also, as a 'safe haven' for me and my friends, as per my Deal with the Queen, Time Baby cannot touch them for political reasons. The issue at hand right now is that this dimension runs slower than the ones I've been hanging out it.

So, from my perspective, it has been many millions of years since my Deal with the Queen. On her end, while her time may run slower, it has still been at least a century since she's last seen me. Therein lies her question. Why was she still alive? I glance at the Queen and note that she hasn't changed at all since I last saw her. Which shouldn't be happening. She should be super old or died of old age by this point but there she was, as young as the day I left her.

"I know it is your doing. I am...unsure how to feel about this. I have been able to hide my condition from my people and have already stepped down from the throne. My son runs the kingdom now. He is already grooming my granddaughter to take the throne.”

She looks a little melancholy. "I have not been able to see my family. I faked my own death once it became apparent I could no longer hide my body." She gestures to a small cottage I can see hidden partially behind tall flower beds. "I set up a place for myself to live here. It is peaceful and calming. I appreciate this one's company." She gives Xanthar a fond pat. "But now that I have managed to find you before you leave with him, I need to know why my body is like this."

I winced. "I...didn't realize my Deal would have this side effect. I'm really sorry..." To be honest it didn't even cross my mind to wonder at how the Queen was still alive. I knew Iznang ran at a slower time and I just lost track of the years. "Would you like me to...break off the Deal?"

"No, it is fine. Who am I to turn down immortality? Most people would give their very souls for such a boon." She still looks a little sad though.

"Are you sure? Immortality isn't really all that great."

She gazes at me with understanding. "I know. Here I am, having barely lived more than two centuries and already the weariness is setting in. How much have you suffered Bill Cipher? You, who are said to be older than the stars themselves?"

"It's...hard sometimes." I admit. "Well, your case is different. You do not age but you can still die if your body is destroyed, if you are killed. I cannot grant true immortality even by accident."

She breathes deeply, a tension in her form relaxing. "That is good to know. If I ever tire of this life, I will have a way out. I take it that you do not have the same luxury?"

"No. Even if my body is destroyed down to my atoms, I will live on and reform within a few centuries. I will be conscious the whole time."

She shudders "That sounds truly awful. I pity you. What pains you must have gone through. I think I can understand better now, the reason you act the way you do." She sighs and leans against Xanthar's side.

"Are you going to be okay?" I ask her, still feeling guilty for the pain I have inflicted on her unintentionally. She gives me a small smile. "I will be fine. I may be forced to live in isolation for now but in a few more decades I will be able to walk amongst my people once more. When no one alive remembers who I was."

She presses a thin hand on Xanthar and smiles more genuinely. "Besides. I am not lonely. This one keeps me company. He is very sweet."

"Xanthar's the sweetest." I agree as I float up to hug him. The Queen watches how Xanthar lovingly nuzzles me with his bread face. "The rumors about you are dirty lies. You are a kind man." She remarks.

"I'm really not. I'm dangerous. I'm selfish. And I keep hurting people. I'm just nice to those I like. I've killed millions of innocent people." Xanthar pokes me with 'irritation' and 'stern protectiveness' leaking from his form. He doesn't like it when I bad mouth myself.

"You are hard on yourself." The Queen sighs. "Well, I'm sure you must be going now. Feel free to visit whenever."

An idea strikes me. "Would you like to come with us? Leave this world and explore the universe?" Be my Friend officially?

She is quiet. Contemplative. "No. I will not leave my people. I love my country. I will stay to make sure they will grow and prosper."

"Oh." I say as disappointment weighs on me. The Queen smiles though. "I will not come with you. But I would like to call you 'friend’. Would that be acceptable?"



I light up at her words. Relief, joy and hope making my bricks glow. "I would love that!" She laughs. "Alright then. Be sure to come visit again soon."

I wave good bye and blink away, still glowing happily. A friend. A non-canon friend. It was possible for me to have friends. I felt giddy even as I took Xanthar into a brachistochrone curve through time to end up at the Don's estate with everyone else mere seconds after their arrival instead of the months that would have passed if I'd just gone straight there.

That's what happens with dimensions that run at different speeds. It's a thing I need to keep in mind whenever I travel through time and space.

---

Chapter Text

Illusion is Reality

Chapter 30

-Bags of meat-

---

The Don's estate was just as beautiful as I remembered. I was in an incredibly good mood and giggled delightfully as I spun around in the air. The Don and his men looked very confused at my behavior. Ammy poked Pyronica and asked if she knew what was going on. She shrugged but seemed glad that I was feeling better. Xanthar ambled up to nuzzle her. "Hey Xanthar~what were you and Bill up to?"

As per always Xanthar didn't respond but he did lay down and roll on the grass. Despite my attempts to teach him ASL he just couldn't fully wrap his mind around the idea. He knew a few basic signs but generally preferred to just not bother.

"I made a friend while I was picking Xanthar up!" I squealed happily.

"Oh? Are we getting a new roommate again?" Pyronica sighs fondly. My joy calms but my smile is as wide as ever. "No actually, she has her own home and doesn't have any pressing concerns that would force her to leave. But she said she wants to be friends!" I was absolutely giddy.

"Oh~she~?" Pyronica drawls with a knowing waggle of her eyebrow. I sputter while she laughs. Don Jorgio just looks confused. "Look, enough about me, hey Don, is that water slide still here?"

Jorgio quickly collects himself and tries to look elegant and suave. "If you mean the fountain, yes, it is still in the side garden."

"Woo! Race you guys to the water slide!" I flew off cackling madly. I heard my friends hooting loudly as they ran after me. Don Jorgio was trying in vain to keep up with us, poor man just didn't know how to deal with our energetic chaos. Xanthar knocks over some bushes.

As I flew I continued flickering through images. Kryptos being shoved into the robot. Some of the Don's scientists trying to develop a way to use people as batteries. Remote controlled robots. Using living creatures as a power source allowed the robots to pass through many types of detection scanners.

Kryptos being given to the Don as a sacrifice/payment for his family's debt.

There it was. I frowned even as I blinked the image away. So I know why he's here now. How do I save him? Even if Jorgio is a brat, I didn't want to lose my alliance with his family. I've invested so many years of Deals with them. I didn't know enough yet. Best to just sit back and watch for now. Wait for an opportunity or make one myself once I learn more about the situation.

I get to the fountain which was large enough I could use it as a water slide. I make a show of playing on it as everyone else comes over. Act like a total weirdo. It makes people unsure what my thought process is, it makes it hard for them to read me, it makes them afraid to try anything against me. It was a very odd intimidation tactic but that's what makes it so effective.

Also, despite what Ax says, I'm not insane. Not right now at least. I tried out the insanity thing for a few million years, got bored. I'm gonna be sane for a while until I get sick of it and just decide to go nuts again. Ax says that the fact I can apparently do this is proof that I'm crazy. I refuse to believe he is correct, he hasn't gone insane before so what would he know?

"Weeee~!" I cheer as I slide down the fountain.

Some of Jorgio's men were quietly asking him if I was all there in the head. (How rude! I'm gonna turn their bath water into jelly the next time they shower.) He slapped one upside the head and growled. "Of course he's nuts. Everyone knows that. Why do you think he is so dangerous?"

"But I thought he was dangerous because he is a demon?" One of them asked stupidly.

"Even demons can be reasoned with. Nonno has often told me when I was a child that Bill Cipher cannot be reasoned with. Or at the very least, his reasoning cannot be fully understood. Bargaining with him is a dangerous gamble.”

"Why are you inviting him into your home then?"

"My Nonno dealt with signore Cipher for many years. He taught me many of the ways to handle him. So long as none of you do anything to offend him or his companions, we will be fine."

It's great how people don't realize I'm spying on them when it looks like I'm busy with something else. I mastered the art of multi-tasking back in my first life! You cannot hide anything from me-ooh is that a blue crested Snipe? I got easily distracted chasing the large bird around. Xanthar was already in the fountain splashing happily. Ammy was stealing random flowers, shoving them right into his blocks (this is definitely Pyronica's fault) and Teeth was right alongside me chasing the birds. A few guards (who appeared to be Scorpapups) chased Pyronica up a fruit tree, yodeling and waving their tail arms around when she tried to set fire of the rose bushes.

"Signore Cipher?" Jorgio asks, trying hard not to show his irritation at our antics.

"Yeah?" I ask while cuddling the fluffy bird to my bricks. As~so soft~

"May we adjourn to my study to speak privately on a matter? My men will be tasked with keeping your companions entertained."

"Hm...will you guys be alright on your own?"

""We can take care of ourselves Bill."" Teeth and Pyronica said, Pyronica had a hint of exasperation at my protectiveness. I gave her a glance and she tilted her head to point her horns towards Xanthar and Ammy. I flick my bowtie and Pyronica gives me a 'wink'. Ok, she got my message. Keep Xan and Ammy safe, keep the men distracted. I turn back to Jorgio.

"Sure, lead the way." I float down to plop onto the shoulders of one of the Manrillas, just so happening to chose the one Kryptos was in. "Full speed ahead!" I cheered, kicking my legs childishly. I heard Jorgio mutter "Nonno wasn't exaggerating how childishly playful Cipher gets when he's happy…”

---

The decor hasn't changed much in two generations. With how traditional this Familia is, I wasn't surprised. Jorgio led us to his lounge with the comfy chairs and a servant already waiting with some drinks and snacks. Looks like Tonio made sure to explain my love for food.

I felt somewhat nostalgic as I sat on a chair and munched on a little pizza-bite. Used to do this with Tonio a lot. Just sitting together after a Deal. He liked to talk to me. Sometimes I think he trusted me with things he never even told his own family despite his strict adherence to omertà.

I miss him.

"You may go." Jorgio told the robot. It walked away. Not once in all this time has it spoken. "Quiet guy huh?" I asked nonchalantly. Jorgio's poker face was rather impressive when he tries since he didn't even hesitate before responding "He's mute."

Kryptos was half conscious in there. Seems it's sound proofed. The metal actually made it somewhat difficult for me to 'see' inside as well. He didn't seem to have any control over the robot, being used as nothing more than a battery. If I have to compare it to something, it's like Eggman's robots filled with woodland creatures from the original Sonic games.



And wasn't that a strange thought. Why would Jorgio create things like this? I couldn't just flicker right in front of him so I would have to look it up later. I tossed more snacks into my eye, as per usual, I sent half of them into stasis to eat later. Jorgio motioned for the servant to get more food.
"So how has everything been? I know you've managed to get one more planet under your influence since you took over the familia." I ask casually as I took a sip of tea.

"It's been good. The only real issue being those wretched Federation agents. Always poking their noses into everything. Always getting in my way."

"That's just what the Feds do." I shrug. Mostly they leave me alone and vice-versa. "They generally look the other way when bribed. That's what your family has done for generations."

Jorgio snarls. "Well I say that's ridiculous. Having to pay those pests just for some peace. Would a farmer pay the craw-birds to leave his crops alone? No."

I felt 'annoyance' and 'outrage' from him. Jorgio literally considered the galactic law enforcement to be pests trying to invade his farm. I mean, I don't like them either but that's a bit much. The one I hate is their boss, not them specifically. They're just doing their jobs, I can respect and pity that.

"Signore Cipher, can I ask for a favor?" Jorgio asks with a calm expression. I frown "I don't normally do things for free." I deliberately ignore the fact that I often did many things for my friends free of charge. That's different. They're my friends. Jorgio chuckles. "So you say, but Nonno told me you sometimes granted him small boons in exchange for things without having to make a Deal."

"...fair enough, what do you want?"

"About your companions...the cute one..."

"Who? Xanthar?"

"No, the shapely one."

"....Ammy?"

"No! The fiery one with the gorgeous body! The female one!"

"Oh, Pyronica? What about her?

"Is she your woman?"

"The only thing Ronica IS is my friend. Please don't refer to her like that. It's rude."

"My apologies. So she is not your...partner?"

"No. She's just my friend." How long do I have to play dumb? It's pretty obvious what Jorgio wants.

"So you wouldn't mind if I...got to know her?"

"That's entirely up to her. Just go talk to her. If she says yes then I have no issue." I roll my eye. It might be problematic if Ronica eats him though. "Is that seriously why you called me here?" I folded my arms and sighed.

"It is not the only reason. Recently there have been more Federation dogs sniffing around my establishments.”

"What? You want me to get rid of them? I'll tell you now that you can't sic me on your enemies. I don't do that kind of thing. It’s too annoying.”

"No, I just want some information. Tell me about the Federation agents. How do they chose their members?"

"Are you trying to sneak your own agents into the Fed's Police Force? Good luck with that, they make thorough background checks. Hell, most members of the law enforcement were literally raised from birth to become a Federation dog."

That always upset me. Generation after generation raised within the brainwashing to serve loyally. All free will and individuality stripped from them. It was a miracle they retained any personality at all. If they wanted mindless loyal drones they they should have just gotten robots (oh hey, irony). It irritated me that the Federation would just take living, thinking creatures and strip them of their free will.

And the multiverse calls ME a monster.

I have never messed with someone's mind in such a way. Sure I can trick people or manipulate them but I've always allowed for them to make their own choices. Free will is a big thing for me. I want to believe it exists. It's why I can understand Ax's stance on neutrality. Even if I can't do the same. I like interaction with others. I can't just sit back and ignore the world like he does.

"So they clearly know who every member is..." Jorgio muses to himself. "Do you know who they are?" He asks. "Do you know what they look like, their mannerisms? Their voices?"

"I do know but what're you gonna trade for that information?" I lean back in my chair.

"I've got some of the best chefs this side of the galaxy in my employ." He responds.

I wipe my drool quickly. "So you have no problem bribing ME?”

"You are not a pest. And it is in the familia's best interest to keep you happy."

He's not wrong I guess. Still, I had the weirdest feeling of being a pet given treats in exchange for performing some tricks. Also, why did he go immediately to food as a bribe? Sure I like to eat but that's not my ONLY interest...am I really that 1-dimensional?

Jorgio startles when I suddenly laugh like a maniac. "AHAHAHA! ONE DIMENSIONAL! AHAHAHA! OH MAN! HAHAHA! Ah shit I should write that one down...heh heh..." At his mildly disturbed look I tried to reassure him "Sorry, I just thought of a really funny joke."

"O-okay?"

"It's not important. So. Is there any Agent in particular you want to know about?" I collect myself and take a calm sip of tea, acting as if I hadn't just fallen off the chair in a fit of hysterical laughter.

"There is one man who's been hanging around the establishments I own. Particularly a casino on Ghlop-6."

Oh. So that was his plan. Jorgio's thoughts were pretty clear. He wanted to replace the Agent with one of his robots. Infiltrate the Federation itself. And even if the robot got found out, the Federation would only find the helpless battery inside. The poor victim would be the one blamed for anything the robot did.

What can I do with this information?

First off, I'll need to actually talk to Kryptos. How do I create the situation to let me 'realize' that Manrilla was a robot with a person inside? I pondered that even as I negotiated for a nice dinner with Jorgio tomorrow. Of course my friends were invited as well.

I have an idea...

---

I can tell it was taking all of Jorgio's self control not to start screaming when we went outside to find the garden around his estate looking like a giant centibeetle had gone rampaging through it. I winced as a tree toppled over and the water level was rising to ankle-height. I really can't leave the guys alone can I? A guard-Scorpapup floats by, whimpering loudly.

Not that we were any less destructive even with me there to chaperone but still...

"...I can fix it." I tell Jorgio while giving him a comforting pat on his shoulder-esque body part.

A flick has my friends bubbled and floating above us. Another flick has everything around us seeming to move in reverse as all the damage repaired itself. My eye twitched as a few of Jorgio's men were lifted out of the ground gasping for breath. How the fuck did they get buried beneath the flower bushes?

"Guys. What have I told you about common courtesy?" I lower my friends back to the ground and pop their bubbles.

Pyronica pouts. "We were just having fun. Why is it fine when YOU do it but you always get so picky about what WE do?"

"I didn't flood the entire lawn."

"I distinctly remember that time you flooded a whole city..." Amorphous Shape blinks at me lazily.

"I fixed it." I say even as my bricks flickered orange.

"And you fixed this. So, no harm no foul?" Pyronica grins.

I point at the traumatized mafia soldiers crying like children as they rocked back and forth on the lawn. One of them screaming for his mother in Jibberish. I don't even say anything, just stare unblinkingly at the Cyclopian until she looks away sheepishly.

"That was Teeth's fault..." She mumbles.

"Ah! You said you wouldn't tell him?!" Teeth gasps dramatically "Betrayed! Sold out by someone I trusted!"

"Teeth also broke the fountain." Ammy adds delightedly.

“Et tu Am?!" Teeth wails.

He squeaks when I'm suddenly looming over him. "Oh Teeth. What am I always telling you guys? Don't break anything you can't fix."

"But that's not fair! We don't have magical fixing powers!" He pouts at me.

"Then you should be more careful." I patted Teeth's top "Though I will say I'm impressed you managed to traumatize some big bad mob goons in just a half hour." So proud of them.

I turned to Jorgio. "I think you need better minions. If they can't even handle a half hour alone with my friends, there's no way they can survive in the mafia world."

Jorgio's eyes twitched. "They were raised in the underbelly of the mafia world."

I blinked. "Well they need to step up their game. If they can't even handle an accidental mock execution they're not gonna last long."

Jorgio growls at his men. They whimpered, the Jabber continuing to cry for his mother. "Clearly." He barked at them to get over themselves. "You are all a disgrace!" He sneers and turns to me, seeking sympathy.

"You see what I have to deal with? These soldiers are pathetic. Tell me Signore Cipher, where did you find your companions? How to I build my familia strong like yours?" I just shrug. It's not like I chose my Friends for any strength inherent within them.

Jorgio considers for a bit. His next words shock me. “Be my Advisor. Join my Familia. Help me as you've helped my Nonno."

"Whoa whoa! I'm definitely not advisor material. Especially not in an official capacity. I can give some advice now and then but I'm not gonna swear loyalty to you or join the Literatura. The only side I'm on is my own." Tonio also tried many times to get me to join him. He often told me that if I became his Advisor he'd be able to take over all the known galaxy. I told him he was exaggerating.

Jorgio wasn't backing down though. "I haven't found my right hand man yet. Signore Cipher you have already helped my family for so many generations. Why not simply join?"

He was looking over his lawn as he spoke. I could feel his amazement at seeing my power first hand. I could feel his NEED to have someone like me on his side. To have my power at his command. Despite all that, I also felt a twinge of sadness and understanding from him. I saw it then, a memory from Jorgio's childhood.

A young Jorgio sat on his grandfather's lap. Tonio was telling him more stories about me. "Signore Cipher is more than just a demon. I am sure he is a god. It is only by his mercy and whim that we all live. If I could have gotten him on my side I would have been able to accomplish anything."



"But father says that Bill Cipher is too dangerous to have near our familia."

"He is not wrong. Cipher's power is great and terrible. He is a fickle god. But he is also lonely. If I could have gotten him to join me, if I could have helped to alleviate his loneliness...he would have been the greatest partner." He smiles as he gazes off into the distance, lost in his fond memories.

"Nonno? Why do you look so sad?"

"Ah nipote..." Tonio's smile was melancholy. "I wanted Cipher to join the familia only partly because I wanted to strengthen the Literatura. Mostly, I wanted an excuse to keep him around."

"Why?"

Tonio's smiles were fond even as his eyes were sad. "Because I liked being with him. Often I wished I'd met him earlier in my life. Back when I was young. Back before I married..."

"What does Nonna have to do with it?" Little Jorgio looked confused. His grandfather laughed and pet his head. "It is unimportant."

I blink out of that memory.

Oh.

I...never realized.

I should have visited more. I felt incredibly guilty for some reason. I should have at least gone to see him before he died...why didn't he summon me?! Dammit! Why didn't he ever TELL me?! How did I not realize it? Even if I never actively read his thoughts you'd think I would have noticed right?!

"Sorry Don Jorgio. I'm not gonna join your familia and I never will. It's not personal or anything. I just like my freedom."

He turns to look at me, disappointment and a hint of annoyance. "That is unfortunate Signore Cipher. It would have made my Nonno very happy if you did."

"I will not be bound to any organization. If you want my advice, just summon me like everyone else does." I was irritated and sad inside. I hated feeling like this.

Everyone else was quiet as they watched the two of us stare each other down. I will not let him guilt me into this. No matter how bad I felt. I didn't even know for sure what I was feeling right now.

"We can talk more about this tomorrow." Jorgio says at last. "Arrivederci signore Cipher."

I nod politely and blinked my friends back home.

---

"Are you ok Bill?" Pyronica asks once we land back at home. Teeth looked worried as well. Ammy looked oblivious as to what she was talking about. Xanthar rubbed his bread-face along my side, realizing I was feeling sad and not knowing why.

"Hey Ronica...what do you do when you realize someone was secretly in love with you for years and died without ever telling you?"

She just stares at me. "I'm gonna need some context here." Teeth looks confused. "Wait, who died?"

---

"Bill, you can't blame yourself for someone else choosing to love you. That was his decision, just as it was his decision to not tell you." Pyronica tilted her glass of space-tequila back for a small sip.

"But...he should have!"

"Well did you like him back?"

"...No...?"

"Then why are you so upset? You told me yourself, you weren't into him and he was married with a kid. Plus he's dead now so it's not like it even matters anymore."

"But I feel bad. If he'd just...told me then maybe we could have talked about it. Tonio wouldn't have had to die without closure." I finished my own glass. This wasn't the sort of thing I wanted to talk about while sober. I put the cup down and sighed. I wanted another but I also didn't want to actually get drunk.

"And how do you know he didn't have closure? You said he had YEARS without summoning you before he died. How do you know that wasn't the reason? Maybe he got over his feelings for you and didn't summon you again because of it."

"Maybe...but...still..." I fiddled with some paper, tiny nimble fingers easily turning the square into a rabbit. Pyronica sighed. "Are you sure you didn't like him back? 'cause from where I'm sitting it sounds like you might have did."

I shook my head. I wasn't into Tonio that way. I'm sure of it. Even ignoring the biological differences between us, his career of crime and murder wasn't something I would be able to overlook in a potential partner. "I liked him but not in that way. I guess...I feel upset because he always told me everything ya know? But something this important he never told me. I feel like I was unintentionally hurting him."

Pyronica groaned as she flops down over the side of the couch. "Of course the problems you have trouble dealing with would be shit like this."

"I just wish I'd known sooner."

"If he confessed to you, he would only have his heart broken you idiot. I bet he didn't want to go through your rejection. Also, you know, he was married."

"I know. I'm just being stupid..." I groaned as I resisted the urge to summon another drink.

"Look, it's fine if you need to vent about this sort of thing. I'm just glad I can actually help YOU with something for once." Pyronica grins crookedly at me. I slide down to lay flat on the couch. "I just feel bad for not noticing. I'm like...over 30 billion years old! How am I still so terrible at life!"

"Everyone has something they're bad at." Pyronica shrugs. "Getting off this topic though..." She turns to lie on her belly, facing me "What about Jorgio? Do you like him?"

"Ugh. No. He's nothing like Tonio, that kid has NONE of the good points that I actually liked about Tonio. I actually respected Tonio. Jorgio is just...a brat. Also, he's lusting after you."

"Really? Well...he IS a little cute..."

"It'll cause a lot of political problems if you ate him." I point out and she slumps in disappointment.

"That's no fun."

"Have you ever considered just...NOT eating your partner?"

Pyronica gives me a look like I had said something incomprehensible. "But..." She pauses. "I...never actually thought of that..."

"What if you find someone that you actually really like? And you want to be able to spend time with them? If you ate them then they'll be gone and you'll be alone." I felt somewhat hypocritical seeing as I ate someone I loved. To be fair, mine was an accident and he was already dead.

"I never thought about...keeping a mate..." Pyronica rolls over. "I know other species can keep their mates and live together but that's just...never been something I thought I could do too..."

"Well why not try? You keep trying to get ME to hook up with someone, do you want to try too? If you don't eat them you can have them for longer. I won't have to keep making constructs every few months."

"....can you still make the constructs? They're pretty delicious."

"I will never understand your preferences." I respond, mildly grossed out.

"So wait, are you telling me I should date the Don?" Pyronica scrunches up her face.

"You don't have to, but he DOES want to get to know you. To be honest I know he's not good enough for you. But if you choose to get with him I don't really have a right to stop you. Unless he hurts you. Then I get to tear him apart.”

We sat there in quiet companionship and just thought about the various revelations we had today. Finally I sighed and flicked my fingers, sending Teeth and Amorphous Shape soaring into the room with surprised yelps. "If you guys are gonna eavesdrop, at least be more subtle about it." I mutter tiredly.

That might be a good idea actually. We still had a whole day before we had to go have dinner with the Don...I could always use some help with my plans to get to Kryptos and any other prisoners that the Don might have locked away.

"Hey guys. Wanna learn how to spy on people?"

---

Is it favoritism if I'm going out of my way to invade Don Jorgio Literatura's stuff just to meet Kryptos? Probably.

We were on a mission. I called it a Heist because I wanted to pretend we were secret agents. Teeth thought it was a cool idea and kept asking if we could get code names and communication devices. Ammy wanted to know what a secret agent was so I made everyone sit down to watch Kingsman.

Being able to pull movies from the future using the Future-Sight that Time Baby forced on me was one of the few benefits I've found from that power. Seriously though. Every movie that was, is and will be can be accessed. It was awesome. There's an alternate future where Atlantis the Lost Empire was a horror film. Damn that was a cool movie.

Teeth demanded to be called Galahad for the duration of our Heist. I claimed Merlin myself. Pyronica made me list off more knights of the round until she decided on Bedivere. Ammy chose Percival and Xanthar seemed to like Kay.

We had Ammy leave one of his blocks at home so we could transport stuff quickly. His job was to track down any important looking papers or evidence, take a photo with the camera hidden in his 'storage' block and don't get caught. We didn't have communication devices but I linked us all up mentally. Simply 'think' about sending a message to one of the others and I'll pass the thoughts around.

Pyronica's job is to distract the Don. The plan was to go to dinner at his estate and wander off after eating. Teeth's job is talking to all the Don's men. They already partially fear him and I'm counting on Teeth to get some Intel off them.

Xanthar is just going to wander 'randomly' because if people are going to assume he's just a mindless animal we were going to use that to our advantage. His task would be exploring and mapping out all of the estate. If he can find any hidden areas that'd be great. Jorgio had scientists in charge of making and controlling those robots. I could tell their labs were hidden somewhere on the estate but the metal shielding made it difficult for me to see it clearly.

Certain metals interfered with my powers for some reason. Funny enough, they were the same type of metal used for blocking transmission and scanners. Perhaps my telepathic powers worked similarly to them? Thoughts are created by electrons moving around inside a brain right? It's not entirely incorrect to say that thoughts are formed from small electric pulses inside your head. So if there was a metal that disrupted electricity...

Or, if you wanted to put it another way, metals that can block radio waves. Those can sometimes disrupt my ability to 'see' certain things. In other words, tinfoil hats actually make it microscopically more difficult for me to read thoughts. It won't stop me but they're a mild annoyance, like trying to see through glasses with finger print smudges. Thick sheets of metal though? That's like trying to see through glasses with the wrong prescription that have been tinted in weird colors. An interesting handicap despite my otherwise near-infinite power.

The metal will make communications a bit more difficult but I think we can do this. I was pretty giddy about the whole thing, me and Teeth just squee-ing about potential future heists with secret gadgets and stuff. I should make everyone suits. That'd be frickin' cool.

...we're all dorks...

---

It's a fancy dinner so I forced everyone to dress up, which means I got the chance to put everyone into suits. Or...just bowties. Fitting suits onto their anatomy is hard.

"Ah Signore Cipher. I'm so glad you can make it."

We exchanged pleasantries and sat down for an admittedly nice dinner. Jorgio had some wine brought out. Dinner conversation was pleasant. Jorgio flirted lightly with Pyronica. I had to stop myself from drinking because getting drunk right now wasn't advisable for our plans tonight.

After dinner, me, Jorgio and Pyronica went off to his sitting room so I can discuss the information he wanted from me. He tried a few more times to talk me into joining the Literatura but I politely declined each time. After he got the information he wanted, Pyronica asked to have some time alone with the Don to chat more so I left them alone. "Well I'm gonna go play on the water slide. You kids better not do anything I wouldn't do."

Pyronica laughs. "Sure mom~" I wave and float away. Jorgio's confused "Mom?!" Was the last thing I heard before closing the door.

Don Jorgio is now out of the way. A mental check showed Xanthar already romping through the gardens. Teeth was chatting with some trembling mob goons. Ammy sneakily sliding under door frames to get into locked and blocked areas.

Now I just need to do my part. I go out into the garden and play mindlessly in the fountains while flickering through images rapidly. I was also looking through my Eye on each of my friends to follow their progress. I even sent a part of my consciousness inside Jorgio's mind. I don't normally invade someone's mind but I didn't like what Jorgio was doing and I needed to know more.

He wants to take down the Federation from the inside. As much as I don't like the Federation, disagree with their methods and beliefs, I know more than anyone that you simply cannot take down such a long reaching governmental organization without terrible consequences.

For all that the Federation is restrictive and controlling, it's not evil. They help protect a lot smaller and less developed planets. They spread technology, medical advancements, education and more. I wouldn't mind sending in infiltrators to try and improve the way they run things from the inside, but taking them down? Nope.

You know...I could probably infiltrate the Federation if I really wanted to. Wouldn't even need the robots. Just go and tempt some high up council member with anything they want and strike a Deal. Sadly, they're too wary of me to accept anything like that but I could still do it.

Part of me considers making a new form and pretending to be an entirely different wish-granting cosmic entity but that could have weird consequences that I don't want to deal with. Even as my thoughts drifted I was holding the mental channel open for my friends to talk back and forth about things they've found. I notice a few men keeping watch over me. Of course. Jorgio wasn't stupid enough to let me wander around without supervision.

Already some men were freaking out over losing track of Ammy. I see one of the men ask Teeth where he went and Teeth shrugs and says that Ammy likes to explore because he's curious about everything. I giggle at the panicking mobsters. Splashing down in the fountain again, I take this time to scan for any robots aside from the one Kryptos was in. There's a chance Jorgio has more.

Aside from the Manrilla shaped one Kryptos was in, there was a pretty maid and another low level soldier that were secretly robots. Surprisingly enough, Jorgio's other men didn't know about the robots. Looks like only his team of scientists knew about the infiltration experiment.

Well. Time to do my part.

---

"Hey you. Where's the Don keeping his liquor?"

I grin wickedly as the robot maid was unable to answer in words. She was completely blank faced. Guess the 'bots weren't sophisticated enough to emulate true expressions. The guards not-so-subtly following me looked uneasy.

"S-should we stop him?"

"Do YOU want to be the one telling Bill Cipher he can't have alcohol?"

"We should tell the Don..."

Oh come on~ I pouted at the guards. I helped plant the orchard, I helped bottle the wine. In my mind, that means the wine belongs as much to me as it does the Don.

.....I am NOT an alcoholic.

Just...saying that now. I don't even like wine all that much. Rum and chocolate liquors are better. I like martinis. Mojitos are pretty good. I guess I like piña coladas as well...I AM NOT AN ALCOHOLIC! I just like tasting things!

I wasn't really going to drink it anyway. Just pretend to get drunk so I can wander more haphazardly without suspicion. From Pyronica's side, she had the Don figuratively eating out her hands...actually make that literally. I shuddered at the sight of the two of them curled together, Pyronica shoving cheese and bread in his mouth.

-We went over this Ronica! You can't eat the Don. Stop fattening him up.- I grumbled over the mental link.

-I'm not- Pyronica manages to convey a pout over the link.

-I found some blueprints.- Ammy chimes in. -Both schematics for the robots and what I believe is the layout of the grounds and where the hidden lab is.-

-Where are you?- I asked even as I found the wine. The guards were trying futilely to stop me as I tugged the cork off.

-East wing of the estate. A study room. According to this nap, the labs are near the basement. Entrance seems to be in the master bathroom? There's another entrance in the vineyard.-

-Don't enter it yet. I'm gonna check that out myself. Good job everyone.- I 'chug' the wine as the lobster-like alien panicked.

I float around the estate with a faked tipsy act. Jorgio and Pyronica show up when the Don's men inform him of my inebriated state. "S-Signore Cipher what are you-?"

"Hey Jorgio..." I slurred slightly. "Hope you don't mind me grabbin' this...it's the ones me ah'm Toni bottled together...I thought...I thought I should go visit him..."

Jorgio's expression softens. "Ah...I see..." He waves off the guards and I float out to the grounds behind the mansion. This should buy me plenty of time and if I get more 'drunk' later, they won't question it.

---

I floated there in front of Tonio's grave. I had some flowers from Iznang, even now after all these years I haven't found any other dimension with prettier flowers than Iznang.

"Hey Toni." I say to the grave. My voice is soft and quiet. I felt like something was lodged in my throat. Which was physically impossible. I knelt down and pressed my hand to the tree. It's been a tradition in the Literatura to plant trees over the graves of their Dons. They even have which type of tree they want listed as part of their will.

Tonio had chosen his planet's version of birch. I'm not even surprised. Just another reminder of how he felt about me. That idiot. I planted my flowers in the dirt around his tree. "You're an idiot. You know that?" I tell his grave. "I can't believe you hid this from me for so long. I can't believe you didn't tell me."



The tree stands silent.

"You should have told me stupid! Even if I don't return your feelings we could have...we could have been friends. I would have liked that you know?" I sighed. I know he can't hear me. I was just talking to myself, but that's nothing new.

"I'm glad we had the times together just to laugh and sing a song, seems like we just got started and then before you know it, the times we had together were gone." I quoted sadly.

Patting at the soil I sent a bit of energy down into the flowers to ensure they would survive long enough to take root. I suppose I feel better now that I've said my piece. I pat the tree and smile.

"Bye Tonio." I whispered softly.

It wasn't much but I felt like I had gotten some sort of closure. That was enough for me.

---

Wandering the house 'drunk and grieving' was a fun experience. Jorgio gave me my space and aside from having a few guards to make sure I didn't do anything harmful while drunk, left me alone to my own devices. It was surprisingly thoughtful of him.

I could still feel his thoughts roaming around ideas of how to convince me to join his familia. His goals towards Pyronica had shifted from simply lusting after her to wanting her to join him. He was hoping that if he managed to charm her towards his side, he would be able to get me as well.

Pyronica informed us over the mental link that Jorgio was actually quite the good conversationalist once he stopped staring at her chest and actually spoke to her like a person and not a piece of meat. I suppose that means there's hope for the Literatura to remain for another generation at least.



Though if Jorgio really thinks he can get with Ronica, we're going to have some problems. I tell her not to lead him on too much. -Wouldn't want him to seriously fall for you. It would break his heart and that would make my Deals with his family awkward...-

-Well apparently unrequited love runs in the family...- Pyronica teased.

-Can you two stop messing with each other? I thought we were here for a Heist! I'm running out of topics to distract people with!- Teeth cries in exasperation.

-Ammy, do you have the photos of everything?-

-Yes. I even snapped a few of the bathroom. I haven't figured out how to open the secret door yet though.-

-That's fine. Everyone start regrouping. I'm gonna be drunk and you guys'll need to take me home for tonight.-

I felt everyone give their affirmations. Xanthar had wandered through most of the grounds and I would be looking through his memories later to see what I can find.

I took an actual swig from the bottle now. Ugh, still prefer something sweeter but whatever...I floated lazily in a way that seemed random but continued to bring me closer to the robot that Kryptos was trapped in.

"Heeeey~" I greeted the false-Manrilla. I clumsily bumped into it and just clung to its arm, giggling. "Oh wow~you're like...really soft..."

As I coo'ed over it out loud, mentally I was carefully extending my mind through the metal to reach the Compass inside. Name, Kryptos (I already knew that), species, Polytool, a species made up of various measuring creatures. There were compasses, rulers, protractors...

I brushed that information aside for later. Right now I had a frightened Compass to talk to.

-Hello? Can you hear me?-

"W-who said that?!" Kryptos jumped and looked around but couldn't see anything but the dark confines of his metal cage.

-Hi there! Name's Bill. Interesting situation you're in. Care to tell me what's up?-

"Who are you? Is this one of those scientists again? Please no more! I want to leave!"

-Geez kid, I'm here to help, if you want me to that is.-

"You can help me?! Wait! No! You can't go against the Don! He's got people everywhere! He won't allow anyone to get in his way...you'll get hurt..."

-It's cute how you worry about me kid. But seriously. What do you know about this? I've seen one other robot wandering around. Do you know how many of you there are? How many people need to be rescued?-

"I...I don't know."

-Well I guess I'll just have to find out myself.-

I pet the robot's synthetic fur as Jorgio and Pyronica found me. Pyronica makes a loud, exasperated groan. "Dammit Bill not again! You know you're a light weight..." She reaches out to pick me up and I giggle drunkenly at her.

"Hey Roni~did you-did you know that I helped b-bottle dis wine? Me an' Toni did it togetheeer~"

"Come on Bill, lets get you home..." She cradles me in her arm and carefully pulls the wine bottle from my grip. I make confused whining sounds even as I slumped into her arms.

"You are all welcome to stay the night? We have plenty of rooms." Jorgio offers.

"Oh we can't trouble you like that." Pyronica says but Jorgio waves her off. "It's no trouble. Signore Cipher is in no shape to travel."

I start giggling for real. "H-he said shape!"

Pyronica groans. "No Bill. Stop it."

"I...can-can still get ush home yeah?" I blink blearily. Pyronica immediately shoots the idea down. "Bill, you can't drink and teleport." She says firmly.

I make a show of grumbling before going limp in her arms, my eye closed. I can hear and feel the others arriving and Teeth laughs quietly. "No matter how many times it happens, seeing Bill drunk never gets old."

"Is he...asleep?" Jorgio asks cautiously. I can feel his thoughts swirl towards ideas that alcohol is my weakness (which it IS, I'm not gonna deny that) and how best to use this to his advantage in future negotiations.

Pyronica was going to respond but I sent her a quick message to stay quiet. She gives a careless laugh out loud. "Probably. I guess this means we're staying the night."

"Woo! Sleepover!" Teeth cheers.

"What is a sleepover?" Ammy asks as he curled up on top of Xanthar's head. As Teeth attempts to explain it, Pyronica was asking Jorgio for room placements. He tried to ask if Pyronica wanted to spend the night in his room and she politely turned him down.

They put me and Xanthar in the same room under my mental direction so I could review his memories of everything he's seen. Also, now that I've connected with Kryptos once I'll be able to talk to him again without TOO much trouble.

---

-So what now Bill?- Teeth asks once I've finished scanning Xanthar's memories. The room arrangements were Xanthar and I, Teeth with Ammy and Pyronica gets her own room.

-You guys stay. I'm going to look over the papers Ammy found and sneak into the lab itself.-

-How will you get in unnoticed?- Teeth asks in confusion.

-I'm gonna ditch my body.-

-Wait, you can do that?-

-Yes? You didn't know?-

-I don't know half of what you can do Bill...-

-Oh. Well. I don't actually have a physical body. The form you see is actually a construct I built and possessed so people can see and hear me.-

-What?-

-Never mind...just don't give the Don any reason to be suspicious of you while I'm gone.-

I slipped out of my body, the bricks fading into a dull gray as Xanthar pokes it worriedly. I was gonna try something different this time. I've seen Bill do it on the the show once (twice if you count a deleted scene) and I've been meaning to test it out for a while now.

I split myself into two pieces. I blinked at the me across from me. We just stared at each other for a bit. "Whoa, are my bricks really that thick?" I ask as I inspect the other me.

"I dunno, but your voice sounds the same out loud as it does in my head..."

"Well it's not like I talk using vocal chords or hear sounds through vibrations in my head so that should be a given?"

"How DO we hear? I doubt we have ears."

"Good question, bad time, we have one night to get this shit done."

"Right. I'll go back to the house to check on the photos Ammy sent there, you can start messing around with the labs."

"Which one of us is the original?"

"We're the same entity, so...both of us are just as real?"

This was so weird.

---

Being in two places doing two different things and still being aware of it all was...an odd experience. It was like multi-tasking but worse. I looked through the images Ammy took of the schematics and blueprints. Interesting, I understood them and could already think of three different ways to improve on the design. I was also sliding myself in between the gaps in the metal around Jorgio's bathroom searching for the secret entrance.

I found a place where I couldn't get through easily. This must be it. With a bit of power I managed to bend the metal microscopically and slipped through. Looking around the tunnel I prepared myself for the long night ahead of me. I mean that literally, nights on this planet last 14 hours.

As I flew down the tunnel to where the laboratory hopefully was, I looked through the robot designs to try and figure out why the living batteries were so important.

So aside from getting the bots through certain scans, it also allowed for a second experiment they were working on. Actually turning people into batteries. They were conducting experiments to force their subjects bodies to produce electricity. Every living thing produces energy in some way. I produce heat and light. Pyronica makes fire, the males of her species produce ice by absorbing the heat. It's why the females of her species eat their mates. The coldness from the male will dim the female's fire for the duration of her pregnancy because otherwise a female's natural heat would be harmful for the baby. I have no idea why their species evolved in such a way.

Ammy produces light energy. Xanthar and Teeth both produce body heat like most living creatures. So the Don's scientists are simply trying to change the type of energy a creature produces from Heat to Electricity. It was a fascinating study to be sure. I know humans actually DO make small bursts of electricity, it's what makes their brain work, what makes their nerves send signals. It's why doctors use an electric pulse to stimulate hearts to beat.

While producing electricity is normal for a human, even they can't create enough power to run a robot. Neither can most creatures. There are some aliens I have met that are capable of producing mass amounts of electricity but Kryptos is not one if them.

The bio-engineering required to turn Kryptos into a battery was...ingenious actually. It was also awful and I frowned darkly at the papers. Some subjects have already died in the course of their experiments. Which means I really WILL have to stop them.

I reached the end of the tunnel and easily slide right through the door. I take in the room and start working. A dozen subjects in cages with 3 scientists opening up the robot maid and pulling out a round fluffy creature. It looked like a cotton ball but green and covered in crying eyes. It's fur was sticking up in all directions as electricity crackles around it.

The poor thing looked singed. It was placed in one of the cages next to a banana-like creature I recognized as being from the Sentient Fruit dimension. The scientists were jotting down notes in their clipboards and muttering about failures. I made and discarded various plans for freeing the test subjects.

This would be so much easier if I wasn't trying to remain allies with the Literatura family. What if I helped the test subjects stage a prison break? It might free them but what's to stop the Don from finding more? Plus, from what I can see, Jorgio acquired these people 'legally' through payments and collected debts. Even if they got free, they wouldn't be able to go home.

There was one solution that would free them, ensure more subjects weren't taken in the future and allow me to keep my alliance.

Make a Deal with Jorgio for them.

But I'll have to phrase it right, along with putting on an act so he doesn't know the real reason why I want this Deal. I can't afford to show emotional weakness here. Sympathy is something I cannot let show. Plus I'll need to offer Jorgio something really good to entice him to accept my offer. I had an idea in mind.

I telepathically connected with the test subjects and started planning.

---

"I apologize for my unsightly behavior yesterday." I adjusted my bowtie and glowed with an orange tint.

"Do not worry. I can understand the need to have a drink." The Don gives me three reassuring smiles.

"Regardless, thank you for your hospitality. Feel free to summon me when you need help with something."

"Do you wish to stay for breakfast?" Jorgio asks, I can see in his mind that he's hoping to get more free information out of me, along with more attempts at convincing me to join him.

"Hm..." I hum to myself before looking at my friends. "What do you guys think?"

"I'd like to talk to that one cute maid again." Teeth grins. "What?" He asks when Pyronica giggles as him. "She was really cute. Nice pearly whites."

"Well I don't mind staying a bit longer." Pyronica gives Jorgio a flirtatious wink.

"I don't mind." Ammy shrugs.

Xanthar just shuffles up to me and gives a thumbs up. "Ok, guess we're staying." I twirl my cane and nod to the Don. He barely hides his satisfaction as he leads us back to the dining hall.

I told my friends the plan last night, we had plenty of time to set up. I was still somewhat worried but all we can do now is make it through this.

---

It happened partway through breakfast. I had to make it seem random and unrelated to me after all. The building shook with an explosion. Teeth screams and jumps to grab onto Xanthar. "Aaaah!!"

"What was THAT?" Pyronica gasps. "Bill can you see what just happened?"

"Checking right now." I say as I begin flickering through images.

"Wait! You don’t have to-!" Jorgio tries to say but even he knows it's too late. The images flash across my bricks and I giggle.

"Oh that's adorable~Jorgio's got a secret lab and it looks like the test subjects have all escaped~"

"WHAT?!" Jorgio gasps, flinging his chair down as he roars at one of his men. He pulls out a communicator and starts shouting into it. "What the HELL happened?! How did the subjects get loose?!"

"I'm sorry sir. They...they all combined their electricity together and destroyed our machines, just overloaded our systems!" A frantic, fearful voice responds.

"Sounds like you've got a problem. Want some help?" I asked lightly.

"....I...can handle this..." He grits out. More explosions rock the building. The lights start flickering. I can hear Jorgio's men running around and screaming. They weren't very well trained at all. I see Jorgio scowl heavily. "Those...incompetent-!"

"Are you sure you don't need my help?" I munch on some scrambled eggs. "I think your men are having some trouble."

Jorgio frowns before looking at me. "How much do you know?"

"I know lots of things." I grin cheerfully. "I also know that your plan isn't going to work. Using live creatures might trick the sensors the first time but there's no way your robots will fool Federation staff. It's a cute idea but you're going about this the wrong way."

"Then what would you suggest I do?" He looks at me imploringly and I realize that for all his pompous confidence, he's still quite young. The human equivalent of 19 or so. He'd looked up to his grandfather all his life, having heard whispers that Tonio was the closest in their long family history to being able to 'Figure out how Bill Cipher ticks' and always aspiring to surpass him.

To make Bill Cipher join him, the one thing his grandfather couldn't do.

Jorgio was so young. His father died suddenly in a Federation shoot out and he became Don much too early. He's lost on what to do and hides his uncertainty behind an arrogant swagger. He IS a self entitled brat but he's also scared. And he's looking to me for help. His pride doesn't want to admit it but having grown up on stories of me, he can't help but value my opinion.

Well, I understand better now why his robot infiltration plan seemed so convoluted and stupid. He's just a kid making it up as he goes. I couldn’t help but feel sympathetic. Well if he's looking to me for help...maybe I could teach him to be a better person?

I sighed and relaxed. I think I know what to do. I reached out and patted Jorgio's head, the way Tonio always did to him as a child. He looks at me in surprise even as he unconsciously leans into the touch. "Just let me handle this. I won't even make it a Deal, consider this...a freebie, you're Tonio's grandkid after all...I suppose I owe you at least one."

As my friends all stared at me in surprise I held up my hand. "BUT, you'll have to stop this ridiculous experiment thing you've got going. It's a waste of resources when there's a much easier solution to your problem."

Jorgio looks somewhat offended but as another explosion rang out and the lights shut off, leaving us all in complete darkness aside from my warm glowing bricks, I see him bite all three lips and nod. "Alright..." There is a barely audible waver in his voice, not caused from three mouth speaking at once but by his stress finally surfacing.

It doesn't take me long to round up the escapees. I knocked them all out and bubbled them. "Hey, can I keep these? You don't need them anymore right?"

"...they belong to me." Jorgio says stubbornly.

"Trade you?" I ask as I create a soulless construct. Jorgio stares at it in surprise. "This little guy here will obey your orders and never go against you~I can even modify it to your specifications..."

He stares at me in awe, once more craving to have my power on his side. He envisions a huge army of loyal monsters at his beck and call, a force strong enough to destroy the Federation that took his father from him- "How many can I get? One to one trade-"

"My construct is worth 10 of these things." I shake the bubbled test subjects lightly. Jorgio hastily backs down. "Yes, ten for one, sounds great."

I hold out my hand with some flickering flames. "Deal?" He hesitates a little before nodding and taking my hand firmly.

He ends up with 4 constructs and I agree to help him send in 2 of them to infiltrate the Federation. I warned him that it's not advisable to take down all of the Federation but I can help him at least find out which officer killed his father. What he chooses to do after that is his own choice.

Infiltration is scarily easy if I put any effort into it. I simply scanned the mind of the Federation agent hanging around the Literatura owned casino, made a copy of his mind/memories/mannerisms and implanted them inside the construct that I altered to be identical to him, turned the real agent into a frog and sent the construct to replace him.

Jorgio was thrilled. He now had a plant in the Federation and there would be no way to tell. The only difference between my construct and the real thing was the lack of a soul. It's not like they can check for that. It was rather insidious and I couldn't help but relish in it. I felt so good inside and to my secret shame and horror, I didn't even feel all that bad for turning the real agent into a frog. He was living in one of the ponds on the Don's estate now.

The scientists were upset that all their research was for naught. I suggested they go do something productive with their talents, like augmenting the Don's rather pathetic men.

"You can biologically engineer creatures to produce electricity. Give these idiots super powers. Lord knows they can't possibly get any more pathetic than they are now." I fumed at them as Jorgio face palms at never thinking of this himself.

"Are you sure you cannot join me?" He asks once more.

"...if you need my help or advice, just summon me. It's what your family has always done."

I took my friends and the bubble of unconscious test subjects with me as I Blinked away. There are probably long reaching consequences from my actions today, already I could see many future paths branching out. I didn't really care anymore though. What will happen will happen. I'm...too mentally exhausted to really worry about that.

---

I set the test subjects free on a Neutral planet. "So, I sort of own you all now but frankly I don't give a shit. If you want to be my Friend and come with me, that's great. If you wish to leave and find your way home or make a new life for yourself, that's also great. The choice is yours."

One by one the terrified aliens left. Pyronica and the others stood behind me silently and watched as each of the people I saved turned and ran off. Finally only Kryptos stood there, trembling, sparking with small bolts of static as he looks up at me.



"You're the one who spoke to me..."

"Yes."

"You're the one who helped us escape..."

"Yes."

He trembled harder, hugging himself. "You're...the demon, Bill Cipher..."

"Yes."

"Why did you help us?" He looks at me then at Xanthar and the others.

"Because I didn't like what they were doing to you."

"But...why help us? Why do you even care?"

"...I don't know really. It was more of a selfish whim than anything else. I saw you and decided I wanted to help you." I answered truthfully.

As Kryptos continues staring at me in incomprehension I sigh and roll my eye. "If you want to leave I won't stop you. Don't you have a family to go back to?"

Kryptos growls. "My...FAMILY-" He spat "-put me in this situation to begin with." He kicks the ground and clenches his fists tightly as more jolts of miniature lightning crackle around him. "There's no way I'm going back to THEM."

He glances up at my friends again. "You said...that I could...be your Friend. What does that mean?"

"Exactly as it sounds. You'll be my Friend. Just like the others." I gesture to the group behind me. "That's Xanthar, Pyronica, Amorphous Shape and Teeth."

Kryptos looks over at them again. "Are you demons too? Did Bill turn you into demons?"

Pyronica laughs. "Oh please~I've been doing terrible things since LONG before Bill found me. If I wasn't a demon then, I doubt I am one now."

"From my research on the topic, I am led to believe the term demon is more of a title than a real indication of species." Amorphous Shape says mildly.

"Eh, I don't know what you mean by demon. I'm a Mouth." Teeth shrugs.

Xanthar just flops on the ground and rolls onto his back. I give him a tummy rub. "Xanthar here is just a big 'ol sweetie. I don't know why anyone would think he's a demon."

"I thought you were the last of your kind. This fellow looks somewhat similar to you?" Ammy remarks as he floats up to look at Kryptos from all angles.

"He's not my species. His people just happen to look similar." I shrug.

Kryptos watches the interaction between us with a furrowed brow. I can tell he's thinking this over. I can't help but be impressed. He's not going to just make some snap decision to join me. Pyronica glances at me and ambled over to whisper "So you've got your eye on this guy huh?"

"Eh, sorry for not asking first, are you alright with him? If he DOES say yes?" I ask.

Pyronica looks over at the compass then at me. I catch a brief flash of 'sympathy' from her. "If you like him, I don't mind. At least we've met him first." She gives me a gentle, somewhat sad smile.

What was that about? As I ponder over what the emotions I sensed from her could mean, Kryptos clears his throat and looks right at me.

"Alright. I'll be yo-your Friend. But I'm not going to do any...demon things like killing people or eating souls."

Teeth laughs. "We've never eaten souls. Roni eats people but that's just her thing, Bill actually has to stop her from killing people."

Kryptos looks relieved and yet terrified, staring at the Cyclopian with more fear than he's shown even ME. I couldn't help the giggles bubbling up from inside me. Someone fearing Pyronica more than me. Hilarious.

"Sure kid. You and me, Friends from now until the end of time. No soul eating, no problem." I giggle as I hold my hand out and he shakes it. I yelp when he accidentally zaps me. It didn't hurt, just startled me. "Geez kid, warn a gal next time, that tickled."

Kryptos was already freaking out over accidentally 'attacking' me and apologizing over and over. I squeal at how cute he looked when embarrassed.

"Woo! New friend!" Teeth shouts loudly as he jumps up and down. "Hey, we should have a party!"

"Party?" Pyronica grins and the two begin discussing plans right then and there. I blink, considered it and laughed. "You know what. Sure. Let's have a party back at the base in celebration of our newest roommate!"

A party, I never even thought of it. Sure the clean up would drive me nuts but still, decorations, music, food...it's been far too long since I've gone to a real party. Why the fuck not?

Kryptos yelps as I pull him and the others with me into a spinning teleport, I'm laughing the whole time. A new friend. A party in the works. What could be better?

---

Chapter Text

Illusion is a Dance Party

Chapter 30.5

---

I waved my hands and colorful decorations spread out everywhere. I materialized snack foods and punch. I created a few small madness bubbles that I filled with music instead of nightmares and essentially created floating 'speakers'. I created balls of light that flashed different colors. I laughed as I spent my energy to create things, twisting reality to my whims.

The music bubbles weren't on yet. I create a boombox and click 'Play'

 __TTTTTTT__

||

(Song is from here www.youtube.com/watch?v=f-KN8tcHxh4, I just couldn't actually get it to embed properly unless I put it into soundcloud, ugh why is html so hard?!)

There was an ulterior motive for me making this party. I had just turned a man into a frog and sent a soulless copy to replace him. I felt incredibly guilty not because I've essentially ruined his life, but because I...didn't actually care that I ruined his life. I just...didn't care that he was going to live out his life as a frog now. He was still alive, I haven't killed him and I found myself not really caring what I did otherwise. If I didn't kill him then it's fine.

I knew this was wrong. I knew this way of thinking was wrong. It HAS to be wrong. And yet I just...couldn't feel bad about doing it. I thought it was...funny. Oh god what is wrong with me? I...shouldn't be so nonchalant about this right? I hid my most recent emotional meltdown in a glass of Mudslide with extra cream liquor and just...let go. I chugged it all in one go and refilled my glass. How about a Strawberry Daiquiri this time?

My friends were thrilled by the amazing party I made. Yup. All me. Damn I'm good. Who makes the best parties? This guy! I chug my 2nd glass of liquor and swayed a little. Shit, maybe I shouldn't go so fast...

I giggled drunkenly at Kryptos's delighted look. He was gazing at the colorful lights and decorations with an absolutely adorable smile.



"This is amazing! Atomic manipulation! I've never seen someone capable of materializing so many items so quickly! The amount of focus that must take!" He gushed at the food table. “You even made a roasted xeno-iguana! How?! That would require re-creating the animal on an atomic level and then vibrating it's molecules to simulate the cooking process!"

Oh my god. He's a NEEEEEERD~!!!

That's so fucking cute!!!

I squeal as I grab onto him and nuzzle into his side. He cries out in surprised embarrassment as I rub myself against him. "Help!" He wails. Pyronica was on the ground laughing her ass off. "Oh my god Bill! The party JUST started and you're already fucking drunk!"

"H-he's not going to do anything to me right?!" Kryptos shoves at me, trying to get away as I grow more arms and giggle at him. “Get off me please!” To his relief I let go.

"Don't worry. Bill has no interest in anything fun like that. Your chastity is safe." Pyronica shrugs and grabs a martini from the snack table. "Hm...didn't know he could create pre-cooked food. I guess Bill just enjoys cooking."

In my inebriated state, I MIGHT have told Kryptos he was the cutest girl I've ever seen...I am aware this was not a healthy way to deal with my issue but I just got a new friend, at least let me party and forget about my problems for now. I laugh, eat, drink and forget. For a while at least.

I distinctly remember making Kryptos a pair of gloves and boots after he accidentally zapped Teeth. Seems the experiments left his powers over electricity somewhat unstable. I'm sure he'll be able to control them in time.



Maybe once I'm sober I can see about helping him with that. I squee'd when he tried to figure out what the gloves were made of. "Plain rubber would just melt under constant heat from the electric charges, this has some kind of metal in it? But it doesn't heat up?"

"Neeeerd~!" I hug him and laugh. The music changes and I lose myself to the beat.

 __TTTTTTT__

||

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FzkU7vD5RKY)

I dance like an idiot when I'm not trying.

 

To be fair to me, I was drunk. I think it was a pretty fun party, at least I had fun. Pyronica danced with me, laughing loudly and throwing fire everywhere. Eventually everyone else joined in. Even Kryptos finally let loose and just enjoyed himself.

 

My memories get blurry after that.

Chapter Text

Illusion is Reality

Chapter 31

-Alright kids-

---

It finally hit me all at once the next day. This time it was set off from seeing a piece of confetti shaped like a sky blue triangle. Will's death, all the terrible things I've done. I freeze in the hallway in the middle of sweeping up the remains of the party, staring blankly as my mind replays Will's body being impaled and killed by the weapon I created. It was my fault. All my fault.

So lost was I in the unwanted flashback that I didn't consciously notice Ammy trying to get my attention. I was aware of it, in a vague sort of way but I couldn't respond as I hung there, eye wide and flickering rapidly.

My memories flashed across my bricks too quickly for anyone to really see what was happening. Scenes depicting all my atrocities condensed down into single images that came and went faster than thought. All the lives I've taken. All the lives I've destroyed. All the people I've tortured. I was leaking tears until there was a puddle beneath me.

My fault. All my fault. Everything.

Ammy was calling my name louder now. He looked worried, a new expression for him. He's not usually the type to worry about anything. All these things I noted in the back of my mind, it's not like I've become blind to the events around me after all, I was simply trapped in a flickering loop as my bricks continued to display every regret I've had over these many billions of years.

Ammy was looking more frantic as I remained unresponsive. He hesitantly poked me but I didn't even budge. I absently note how he flies off screaming for Pyronica. My bricks were beginning to heat up as the images continued flickering.

I hear voices as my friends return. Pyronica swears loudly as small bits of flame start trickling out from my seams.

"Shit shit shit! Everyone get to the teleporters NOW!"

"What's happening? What's wrong with Bill?"

"Explain later, run NOW!"

Distantly I felt my friends evacuate the house. As soon as I was sure they were gone I let go. My flames surged out of me, devouring everything in it’s path. The entire house was consumed, everything burning away into ash and dust.

After some time I blinked slowly and came back into awareness. Oh. It happened again. I panicked briefly because the house was GONE and where was everyone?! Wait, they're fine. Pyronica got them all out in time. Where are they? No, more importantly, I need to fix the house.

Even as I angrily screamed at myself for losing control again, I reconstructed the entire house and all it's contents back to the way it was before. It took a while, my energy levels weren't all that good after my...episode...

It took a few days to fix everything. In that time I smacked myself a few times in frustrated anger, not hard enough to crack a brick but enough for it to sting painfully, goddamit why did this happen again?! I thought I'd moved past this! I'm like...50 billion years old now! I should have gotten over this already!

After rebuilding the house, restoring all the furniture and other items, I finally set to finding my friends. Should have done this first to be honest but I wasn't thinking clearly, just tunnel visioned into 'fix what I burned' mode. Blinking a few times I easily looked through the marks I placed on my friends and located them.

They stayed together. Good. Pyronica took charge and kept them safe. The place she teleported them to was a jungle planet that dealt with a lot of off world trade. On other words, lots of merchants with wares from all over the galaxy to steal from.

It's a miracle none of them have been caught yet. My lesson in stealth must be helping. Teeth would provide a distraction by asking nonstop questions while Pyronica and Ammy stole the food and supplies they needed. Xanthar was left behind in a makeshift shelter protecting Kryptos. They managed to hunt down some food when wild animals wandered near them, Kryptos taking off his gloves to zap and paralyze them.

I'm glad they're doing ok. I'll need to thank Pyronica for her quick thinking. I also need to apologize to everyone for losing control like a FUCKING idiot. Stupid! Stupid! I can't believe I still do that!

I Blink to where they are and Xanthar immediately tackles me in a hug. "Whoa! Xan-Xan calm down! Geez..." His 'worry' and 'relief' were almost as heavy as he was.

"B-Bill! You're back!" Kryptos squeaks. He pulls his gloves back on and floats over. "Are you...alright?"

"I'm fine. I'm always fine." I wave him off. "I just...ah...had a little...thing I had to deal with, no biggie."

He looks skeptical but let it slide. "Pyronica didn't really explain what was going on. She just started screaming that we had to leave. Amorphous Shape didn't really tell me what was happening either."

"Oh. Well...um...I might have sort of set the whole house on fire...good thing Ronica got you all out in time right?"

"You did WHAT?! Why?!" The compass stares at me in horror. "It just happens sometimes. I already fixed the house. Everything's fine." I reassure him.

Kryptos stares at me before a look of realization crosses his face. "Do you lose control of your fire like I do with my electricity?" He really is a smart one. I flush orange. "It happens sometimes. And unlike you, I can't just put on a pair of gloves."

"Well, plasma in any form is hard to control but electricity like mine is weak compared to your flame. Not to mention electric currents are more easily contained and redirected whereas fire is wild and unpredictable..."

"Yes, I know this." I cut off his rant before he starts getting into how the electrons behave under our separate elemental affinities. He blushes purple-ish. "S-sorry..." He mumbles.

"It's fine, I just need you to pack up so we can go find the others."

"Well they left to steal more food a few hours ago. They should be back soon."

"Pack up anything you want to keep, we're going to meet them." The sooner I get everyone back together, the sooner we can go home and I can apologize for being a fucking screw up.

"It's not your fault you know. If your fire is really like my electricity, it must be hard to keep it contained constantly."

Krypros really is the smart one. I'm not sure how I feel about being read so easily. I turn to look at him and the compass flinched before licking his teeth nervously. "N-not that I'm saying you're incapable of controlling your powers! You're so m-much stronger and better and-"

"It's fine." I sigh. "You're right. I don't have full control over my own powers." I help him pack up some stuff, just bubble-ing them to float beside us. Xanthar is snuffling along trying to help but mostly just pushing stuff around. "It's pathetic you know? I'm older than all the galaxies and yet I can't even get my own body in order..."

Kryptos glances at me from where he was crouched over grabbing some blankets. "Well...with how much power you have, it's probably harder for you to contain it...and I heard that the older a creature is, the more powerful they get...so you're just..."

He goes quiet and we silently work to break down the camp site. I know he's right, but my problem is more than just trying to hold in my power. It's my damn emotions driving me nuts. My own feelings ramped up to painful levels. I really should go see a therapist about this.

Does Ax count? He listens and helps but this isn't something he knows how to deal with.

But it's not like there's any therapist in the universe I can go to. Even if I book an appointment in some other form, there's no way I'll be able to talk about what my real problems are unless they know who/what I am.

We meet up with Ronica and the others to go home. Ronica and Kryptos both keep sending me worried looks. Teeth and Ammy don't seem to understand what's wrong. Xanthar just presses against my side comfortingly. Blinking back to the house was easy enough and Pyronica looks around in wonder.

"It's like it wasn't even set on fire." She smiles.

"Fire? What?" Teeth asks obliviously.

""Nothing."" Kryptos and Ronica said at once.

I sighed as I float away to the kitchen. Cooking sounded like a good idea right now. Something calming to do.

---

"Hey Ax...should I get a therapist?"

The big guy sent me the most incredulous expression I've ever seen from a salamander. -A...therapist?-

"You know, a Mind Healer. Can I even heal my mind?"

-You're insane. Your mind is shattered beyond reasoning. It might be dangerous for any Telepath to enter it.-

"I don't mean psychically healing me. I mean...talking to someone about my problems and working through them?"

-The idea of healing a mind through such methods is something that humans came up with due to their lack of Telepaths being a viable option.-

"Seriously?! Ugh~" I knew he was right. Most races, especially once they've been pulled into the Federation's sphere of influence, can just sign up for a mind-healing session. Just have a Telepath-doctor go inside them and remove the problematic parts. Easy.

I found it horrifying.

Jheselbraum is the closest I know to being a non-invasive Healer for both Body and Mind. But in her case, she simply provides people with her peaceful safe Dimension to relax and meditate in. Her methods involve a lot of self discovery through deep introspection. It's not really the kind of therapy I was hoping for.

-Your desire to mend your mind is a commendable one. I am sorry I cannot do more to help.- the AXOLOTL really did look sad he couldn’t help. I snuggled into the crook of his arm and rubbed his face.

"You help just by putting up with me. I'm just sorry I always complain to you about everything."

-I do not mind. Your talks have been more positive lately. I am glad your friends are good to you.-

"They're the best!" I gushed happily. I leaned against Ax's huge face and sighed. "Do you ever want friends?"

-...I had friends. A long time ago...-

"The Time Giants right?"

-...Yes...-

I wanted to ask him what happened but at the same time I didn't want to force him to tell me. If he wished to let me know, he would tell me himself. I gave him a soft hug. "I'm sorry." I whispered.

-It's not your fault. It was mine.-

"I'm still sorry for bringing it up."

-...Perhaps I too, require this 'Therapist' you speak of...- he rumbles.

"Well I guess we both need to wait for humanity to form and develop enough for that. Or maybe I'll try to put the idea for such a thing in the works for other species?" A thought forms.

"I know the Feds have people who know how to brainwash children. That is a type of mental manipulation without using any psychic powers so they must have someone who knows how minds work?"

I'd hate to ask them for help. Plus I cannot trust any of them.

"Or we could...just talk things out with each other? I know a good amount of psychology. It's not enough for me to be a true Healer but it might help?" I offered. “Actually, I normally do pretty well. I just have…bad days…” What causes my mood to swing between extremes? Is it just a ME thing or does it have to do with what I am?

-I am led to believe these 'Therapists' simply talk to people and that is what helps them...I do not mind talking to you.-

"So we just...talk to each other and hope for the best?"

-There is no rush. We have time.-

I couldn't refute that. If there's one thing we have, it's time.

---

Pyronica came up with an entirely different solution to my current phase of self deprecating depression.

"Spa day?" I asked as she held up the flyer for an incredibly fancy looking place in Dimension Lotus.

She nods with a wide grin. "You've been so tense lately. Come on Bill, just relax and be pampered. I've been thinking about this for a while now. Had a really nice dream about it a while back..."

It did sound kind of nice. A massage would be heavenly. Though does my physiology even allow for such a thing?

"Come on Bill~ a fancy spa day for everyone~ please~?"

"Is this just a you thing or is anyone else up for it?" I looked at the others.

"Well...I've never been to a spa before..." Kryptos fidgets in his seat before smiling hesitantly. "But I've always had a strange longing to try it out?"

I squealed at how adorable his widdle smile was and the poor compass had to deal with me cooing at him while invading his personal space.

"Bill~why?!" Kryptos moans as he ineffectually bats at me.

"You're just sooo cute~" I gushed. "Your widdle teeth and widdle face~"

I have a thing for shy nerds. They're frickin' adorable~ I flick my fingers and put Kryptos in a maid outfit.



"Bill!!!!" He wailed. Despite his protests, I could tell he didn't mind as much as he said he did. As I giggled, Pyronica and the others were whispering to each other, how have they not realized I can hear them?

"Is this that teasing thing that friends do to each other?" Amorphous Shape asks.

"Actually, do you think this is the teasing thing kids do to bully the one they like?" Teeth wonders.

"No, I doubt Bill's into Kryptos that way. It feels more like he's playing with a cute new toy..." Pyronica says.

"Look! Now we match!" I squealed as I spun around wearing a maid outfit too. Kryptos had turned such a dark indigo color from embarrassment he was nearly black.

"Actually...now that I look at it, it really feels like Bill is just excited to get a little sister to dote on..." Pyronica says sagely. She nods to herself, absolutely sure she's figured out the reasoning behind my behavior.

""Oh~"" Teeth and Ammy applauded her brilliant deduction.

Xanthar just slumps over, completely done with our idiocy. He reaches out to grab me when I float past him while chasing Kryptos. "Urk!" I squeak as he encloses me easily in his large hand.

"Ok, enough of this. So do we all agree to the spa day or not?" Pyronica asks as she snatches me from Xanthar's grip. "You can play dress up with your little sister later."

"I'm not a girl!" Kryptos wails. Ammy gave him a comforting pat. "I'm sure Bill will stop messing with you once the novelty of having a sister wears off."

"I'm not a girl!!!"

Long story short, we all decide to go to the spa.

---

I thank every god that exists the spa was nothing like the strip club.

There was a steam room, massage rooms, places for pedicures, manicures and other grooming...it actually looked pretty nice. The steam rooms came in different types. There was Water steam, Mercury steam, Methane steam, Fluorine steam, Chlorine steam...

Erm...probably gonna stick with water. But...I can't even sweat...so...it probably wouldn't do anything for me. I was eyeing up the massage sessions though. How would that even feel?

The lady at the front desk was staring at us in fear. Correction, staring at ME in fear. "D-do you have a reservation?"

I blink at her, raise a finger up "Wait just a sec-" Blinked out of the dimension and entered again at a different moment along the time stream. I startled the man at the counter. "Hello, I'd like to make a reservation for a party of...6 beings of varying sizes and species."

The man cowers slightly. "U-um...when for?"

"A week from today, galactic standard time."

"F-for what treatments and what time sir?" He trembled as he writes down my appointment.

I once again hold up a finger and tell him to wait a sec. Blinking out of the dimension once more, I pop back to Pyronica's room late at night on one of the times when I was gone for a job (I cannot travel to a time where another Me is already present) and whisper to the half asleep Pyronica "Hey Roni, if you could go to a spa, what treatments would you like?"

"Mmmph..." She mumbles as she rolls over on her bed. I scan her thoughts, nudged into the dreams of Spas by my inquiry and nod. "Ok, got it. Thanks Ronica." I gently pull her blankets up from where they were half kicked off the bed and tuck her in.

I go ask Teeth, Ammy and Xanthar as well before Blinking out of there and heading off to find Kryptos.

I appeared in the underground lab (opening the metal and making a note to close that hole afterward) and found Kryptos shivering in his cage. For a second I wanted to take him out of here, free him, but I didn't want to cause a Time Paradox. Having the cops on my angles would completely ruin the spa trip after all.

"Psst. If you could escape from here and go to a Spa, which treatments would you like?" I whispered.

"Hm...ngh..." He moaned. I sent a small burst of soothing heat into all the cages and his tense expression relaxes as he settles into a more peaceful slumber.

"Ok, thanks dude." I whisper before Blinking back in front of the man at the sign in desk.

"Ok, so put us down for..."

---

I pop back into the 'present' (I use that term loosely, Time is an illusion anyway) and leaned against the desk. "Yes, we have a reservation under 'Dapper Friends'."

She looks through her database and blinks in surprise. "Oh. You are here..." She mutters "I was wondering who that ridiculous name was for..."

Since we had a reservation and I've already paid them (in gold no less) the lady hands out a health questionnaire to fill out in case of allergies or health issues their staff needed to be aware of. We filled them out, I wrote Xanthar's for him and the lady handed us our schedules.

"Your guide will be along shortly." The lady says nervously as she collects our paperwork. "There are changing rooms there f-for you..." She looks at our party, most of us already naked and Xanthar much too big for any of their bathrobes.

"Thank you miss." I tip my hat at her politely. We head off to grab robes and slippers from the changing room, Amorphous Shape loudly wondering what the point of putting on clothes even was. Pyronica nudges me with an elbow. "How'd you get reservations? I totally forgot we were supposed to do that first."

"I have my ways." I shrug as I tried to find a robe that would actually fit Xanthar. Maybe I should just get him a towel instead? Feeling very much like a parent I fussed over him as we got ready for our first Spa day together.

I floated around wrapped in a fluffy white robe. I wasn't sure what to do. I tried out the water steam room but my inability to sweat made it pointless. Xanthar and Teeth were playing in the swimming pool, once more with several pools filled with different liquids. Ammy was messing around in the gym trying to figure out how exercise worked. Kryptos and Pyronica were in the steam rooms. Pyronica released a lot of smoke. Kryptos's species sweated numbers. Literally (which meant his sweat was figurative) sweated numbers. I spotted a dining area and couldn't help going to check it out.

I had a half hour before my body scrub with Xanthar and Kryptos, then a pedi/manicure (I have no idea how that's going to work with me) with Pyronica and Xanthar, followed by Ammy, Teeth and I getting back massages together, Pyronica and I were going to get facials afterward. Once again, I have no idea how this is supposed to work but if Kryptos can use these treatments, it's not all THAT different for me right?

I shrug and decide not to worry about it. Today was about relaxing in a less self-destructive way than I normally do. I drool at the foods. They have fish~

---

Never had a body scrub before. I was a little nervous. I'm not used to people touching me, don't enjoy it all that much to be honest but I have gotten a professional massage once as Zyun-Jan and it was nice. If somewhat ticklish.

"Hello, I am Handsy and I will be your attendant today." An alien made up almost entirely of hands (their species were literally just called Manyhand) said to me as I floated into the room. Xanthar was shuffling around the bed in confusion. It was much too small for him. His attendant, a female hand-alien just directed him to lie on the ground on top of many towels.

Kryptos was delightedly flopping face down on his bed. He kept his gloves on, having written his 'condition' down earlier on our health evaluations. Another Manyhand was slowly sprinkling salt along his body.

I floated to my bed and took off my robe. "So...I've never actually done this before..."

"It's very simple sir." Handsy says gently. I abruptly realize he has no idea who I am. People couldn't recognize me without my hat and bowtie. That was...irritating. What OTHER yellow triangles were there?! I've certainly never seen another.

"Just pick out which oils you'd like and lay down." Handsy holds up a tray of various bottles. I read the labels to see they're all different scents. I chose 'CitrusBerry' because it sounded nice. I laid on my belly and tried to relax. Part of me was still nervous. There's a 'fsssh' sound as he pours the salt along me and finally begins rubbing it along my back.

I sighed as the salt crystals scraped along my bricks. Ooh...this was actually really nice. "Your skin is already so smooth sir." Handsy comments as he spreads the salt across my back. I could feel the salt trickling into my seams. I wiggled a little, it felt gritty.

He placed his hands on my back and started rubbing the salt onto each of my bricks individually. I went limp and sighed happily. Ooh~ He started rubbing my arms and legs too and I twitched a bit. It didn't tickle but it felt strange. Being face down with my eye closed was weird, I couldn't see with my own eye so I found the nearest depiction of me (my marks on Xan and Kryptos and 'looked' around.

Xanthar's scrub needed a whole team of people climbing over him. The workers actually looked like they were having fun. Kryptos was moaning happily on his bed. Well it's nice to know they're doing ok. I check on Ammy and found him taking a mud bath, with the mud sinking into his blocks and being stored or oozing out another block.

I resist the urge to groan when he gets out and trails mud everywhere. Goddamit.

Teeth was getting his mouth cleaned. He lay stretched wide open as tiny bird-like creatures flew into his mouth to pick out anything stuck between his teeth and gums. There was another worker making up a toothpaste mixture with a giant hand/teeth brush.

Pyronica was taking a magma bath. She sighs happily as she rubs the molten rock along her arms. I guess they really do have everything here.

My awareness clicked back to my body when Handsy says "Ok, now I do your front." He helps me flip onto my back and poured more salt along my lower bricks. I moaned a bit as he begins rubbing my front. Nngh...shit...ooh~

"Feels good no?" Handsy grins at me, the hands around his 'face' bending their fingers to form a smile. I moan in response, my eye lidding in relaxation. The tiny salt crystals scraped my bricks pleasantly. I was distantly aware of my bricks heating up as I loosened my control over the immense amount of energy I was constantly suppressing. Handsy grunts a little before moving from my bottom bricks and heading up. "Sir, your temperature is rising."

I blinked lazily. "Oh...sorry..." I forced the heat back down. Silly reflexes. He carefully rubbed around my eye and along my top. Hm~

"It is not a problem, many of our patrons heat up. It is why all our rooms have multiple fire extinguishers."

I felt the room shake when Xanthar rolled over to get his tummy scrubbed. He was letting out plenty of 'happy' feelings. I resist the urge to coo at him.

"Alright, there is a shower over there for you to rinse off before we use the oils." Handsy informs me. I sigh and float up to head there. Kryptos was already washing himself. "You having fun Kryptos?" I ask as I float beside him under a gentle spray of warm water.

"Yeah~Is this what your Friends get to do all the time?" He sighs happily into the spray of warm liquid.

"This is our first time at a spa, but we've gone to restaurants together. And bars. I've taken the gang on space walks before. Just floating around through the milky way counting planets and dancing pass the stars."

"That sounds...really nice..." He smiles as he imagines it. "I'm guessing you use your powers to protect us in the void of space?”

"Pretty much." I turn to shower my back as Xanthar lumbers towards us. I help him wash off.

"Your powers are amazing." Kryptos sighs. "How did you get them?”

"I accidentally destroyed my own dimension and killed everyone."

There's complete silence for a while. The pitter patter of the shower head being the only source of noise. I internally curse my habit of ‘speaking’ whatever was on my mind. Being a telepath was annoying sometimes.

"Oh." Kryptos croaked weakly.

He glanced at me nervously. "Um...would it be rude to ask how that happened?"

"Sorta. But I feel like I need to get this off my chest. I've recently realized it's not exactly healthy to keep it all bottled up. I can talk to Ax about it but there shouldn't be anything wrong with talking to others." I ran my fingers through Xanthar's fur as he rubs against me affectionately. "Just...you shouldn't tell anyone what you learn. This is some pretty personal information right here."

He nods nervously. I switched to 'private speech' mode as we leave the showers to dry off. Xanthar just shakes himself and flings water everywhere.

“So my dimension's atmosphere was extremely flammable...and I sort of raised my heat enough to catch fire and everything started burning."

"But...HOW did that get you powers?" Kryptos asks as we got the oils rubbed into us.

-Don't speak out loud, just think your response.-

'Like this?'

-Yeah. So anyway, I don't entirely understand what happened but even as everyone and everything else burned up, I remained. I tried to stop the fire by absorbing it back inside myself and...exploded.-

'.....exploded?'

-Like a super nova. It was awful. Heck, my most recent explosion was nowhere near as bad and it STILL vaporized the house-

'Do you...explode often?' He asks worriedly.

I was gonna respond but Handsy rubs the oil in ~just~ right and I arch back with a low moan. "Oooh~"

-Sorry 'bout that. I wouldn't say I explode often, just...every now and then. My body just can't handle the sheer amount of energy I produce or absorb and it just...comes out uncontrollably...-

'But HOW? How are you capable of producing that much energy?! And how does that lead to your powers?'

-I sort of naturally gained the ability to manipulate matter on an atomic level after my first explosion. At the very least, Ax taught me how to control it. It took a few billion years to just form a physical body. Even now I'm still learning new ways to use my powers.-

'How old even ARE you Bill?'

-It's pretty rude to just ask a woman her age you know- I joked.

'?!?!?!'

-I'm kidding. Or not. But anyway, I'm over 50 billion years old.-

'T-that's older than existence! Geez, I knew you said you were old but I didn’t think you were THAT old.’

-In your dimension maybe. Time travel kinda makes it so I've existed for longer than most worlds have been around. That's not even adding in the fact that dimensions run at different speeds unless Time Baby takes them into his rule.-

'Why are you telling me all this? I'm...pretty much just a stranger...how can you just trust me with this?'

-Because you asked. Because I felt like sharing.-

Because even if he knows, there's nothing he can really do with this knowledge. Even if he betrays my confidence and tells someone, all they would know is that Bill Cipher is older than existence, is prone to super nova levels of destructive explosions, can time travel and alter the fabric of reality to his will.

There is literally nothing they can use against me. All these facts will only serve to highlight how incredibly powerful I am. There were no mentions of weaknesses after all. I'm not dumb enough to give out info like THAT. I'm just the sort who dishes out weird personal information to anyone who bothers to ask. My friends in my first life have told me I don't have a filter...come to think of it, Ax has told me the same thing.

'Who is Ax? You mentioned he taught you how to control your powers?'

-Ax is the one who raised me. The one who I respect more than anything. The oldest living creature in all of Creation...-

'Who?'

-Eh, just ask Pyronica, I wanna actually enjoy myself right now...-

I sighed in content as Handsy rubbed each of my bricks individually. Oh yes~that's good~ the oil was soaking into my seams and I felt my insides breaking down the Carbon and Hydrogen chains. I will have to keep my temperature down, ignition of the oils would be terrible.

The only hiccup to an otherwise quiet session was when Handsy rubbed my seams and I yelped loudly. “Ah, sorry dear customer. I did not realize you were ticklish.” Handsy apologizes. Tickles? Is that what that is? I wasn’t aware I was ticklish as a triangle (then again, tickling yourself doesn't always work which would explain why I haven't found this out when exploring my own body). Well, that’s good to know?

Our scrub session ended and I waved bye to Kryptos as I headed to my mani/pedicure session. I was very curious what they were going to do. Xanthar was excited for it and I barely managed to keep him from bowling over several other patrons in the hallways.

"Who let that animal in here?!" A slug-like alien asked snottily before her mouth was stitched shut. I ignored her frantic screams and hurried Xanthar to the next hallway. It's fine. Just ignore them. Today is all about relaxation. Besides, they can just cut the stitches off.

---

"How're you doing Bill?" Pyronica asks as I settle down on the seat besides her. Her hair was wrapped up in a towel and her ever present high heels were off. I'm surprised to see her toes. It was hard to see under her white fire but they were there.

"I'm doing great actually. This has been nice so far." I place my feet into the hot water basin under my chair as Pyronica had propanol under hers. Her basin caught fire as she sunk her feet in. Seriously, I'm more worried about Pyronica burning this place down than me.

There were basins beside the arm rests as well and I plopped my hands in and wiggled them. Warm~

Xanthar was standing in a pool of hot water, I giggled when he just flops down into it, snuggling into the liquid contentedly.

As we sat there soaking our hands and feet I quickly got bored and started looking around the room. There were other patrons here and there. I'm...both relieved and somewhat insulted no one recognized me without my clothes on. Does that mean I really COULD have just worn a pretty dress everywhere and people would have just...ignored me?

For some reason the fact that I was essentially being ignored made me upset. I KNOW I should be happy. I'm being treated normally by the people around me. No one was screaming or running away. But at the same time I just...felt so insulted.

As I pondered whether my feelings were due once more to my human and monster sides conflicting on a subject, another Manyhand came up to me. She formed a smile and showed me a whole catalogue of different nail polish colors and designs. I leaned forward eagerly. They were sooo pretty!

I asked them to make mine look like my bricks. They had the colors for it. As they gave me a hand massage before painting I checked up on the others.

Amorphous Shape was flinging mud everywhere. I sigh. The poor workers were running after him trying to get him to go to the shower room. A few other patrons slipped on the mud and were angrily yelling at him. I quickly look away. Nope. Don't want to deal with that today. I'm just gonna relax...

I ignore the quiet screams in the distance.

Just...relax...

There's a small explosion, the rushing sound of water and the faint chattering of Teeth's laughter.

Relax...

---

As I got to the room for my massage session, I spotted Ammy and Teeth covered in mud and bruises. Well, Teeth was bruised. Ammy was missing a few blocks. "I'm surprised the staff haven't thrown you both out." I comment lightly even as I cross my arms and stare at them unblinkingly.

"Eh...I was just so excited I might have played around too hard..." Teeth wiggled uncomfortably under my stare.

"I make no apologies." Ammy states simply. "This was supposed to be a trip to have fun, so I'll have fun in whatever way I choose." and somewhere deep inside me, I felt incredibly, PROUD of him for some stupid reason.

I start laughing. Just losing my shit right then and there. The rational, moral part of me wanted to scold them, such behavior was unacceptable! The idea of causing trouble for all the people here was just so
embarrassing! But the other part of myself just kept on laughing. Fuck it. Who wants some calm (boring) orderly spa trip? I'm the mother fuckin' god of CHAOS!

I came here today to have fun and relax.

Well what better way to relax than by letting loose and just being myself? My laughter turns into insane cackling as I let go of my constant self imposed inhibitions. "You know what Ammy? You're right~I should just have fun~"

Teeth gives Amorphous Shape a worried look. "Hey Ammy…I feel like you've just unleashed something awful." Ammy stares at me glowing vibrantly as things around the room begin levitating and winced. "Oh dear."

---

"BILL!!! WHY ARE ALL THE SHOWERS SPEWING OUT SOFT SERVE ICE CREAM?!" Pyronica shrieks the instant she sees me snowboard into the room on a wave of frozen dairy product. I giggle and materialize a waffle cone to scoop up a generous helping of ice cream.

"Are you mad 'cause you were in the shower or because it wasn't a flavor you liked?" I ask while licking at my cookies and cream cone. She just groans loudly. "I've got it in my hair!"

"Easily fixed." I flick my fingers and she's cleaned. Aside from the oils and stuff from her spa treatments at least. She pats her hair down to check for sticky spots, finds none and just sighs.

"What brought this on? I thought you wanted to behave in public so people wouldn't get all worked up over seeing you?"

"Well I realized that there's no point in getting the public to accept me if I'm not even being me. I'm Bill Cipher. I'm weird, I'm random and I do what I want." I flicked my fingers and all the workers suddenly found themselves transformed into the opposite sex. "Besides, no one's seriously hurt and I'll fix it before we leave." It felt good to let loose. Holding in my chaos constantly was tiring.

My massage session went pretty great. Handsy was my assigned attendant again and he...somehow still didn't catch on to who I was, or if he did, he didn't seem to care. I got a very nice back rub and brick thumping from him. I yelped loudly when he touched my seams again and he wisely apologized and kept his hands away from them. My powers leaked out due to me relaxing my constant restraints over them.

This led to some people and objects being randomly transformed as my energy pulses essentially became small Weirdness Waves. It was still better than things catching fire. And it felt so much nicer when I didn't have to suppress my own powers. If I had to put it crude but relatable terms, it was like releasing a fart instead of holding it in. I'm here to relax after all. Having to forcibly contain my powers wasn't relaxing at all.

So I let go, with the only restraint being that my powers do not hurt anyone. I mean, the oil bottles came to life and moaned suggestively whenever the workers squeezed them but I doubt that's an issue. One person I passed in the hall suddenly grew hair all over his body until he looked like cousin It. A few Manyhands grew more hands, a few became feet and some had their limbs fall off and run around on their own.

Despite all these wacky alterations, the workers could still do their jobs properly. I was approached by the owner who questioned the state of her establishment. I assured her I would fix it afterward, bribed her with a shower of money (oddly enough, her species accepts cheese as currency) and then grabbed onto a passing orca whale to escape on a wave of soft serve ice cream.

I recount Pyronica with all that's happened as we laid in our chairs getting our faces rubbed down and cleaned. "Sounds like you're having fun." Pyronica grins at me, already forgiving me for unintentionally covering her in ice cream. "So all this-" she gestures to the chaos around us "-you've been holding it in all this time?"

"I guess...I just enjoy not having to keep my powers suppressed constantly..." Though I have found that the emotions of panic coming off the other patrons at the spa just feed me more, which causes another Weirdness Pulse when it builds up enough energy and repeat. I should at least direct my power a little more...

A lady getting a facial in the room with us turns into a tree. Um...that wasn't what I meant...

I'm surprised the workers don't even pause in their work. The Manyhand attending to the tree simply turns to get some clippers instead. Clearly, a true professional. I have to close my eye when they put the spacumber slice over it.



Looking through my mark on Pyronica, I see how the workers calmly cleaned up the ice cream (a few of them even ate some) and didn't even seem upset. I catch one of them thinking 'This is still better than when Chernabog visited. At least no one's dead.'

Well there you go.

I'm aware there are other gods besides me. I've even met a bunch of them. I've fought a couple. I gotta say, divine turf wars are a thing and I wish someone made a reality show about it because it is hilarious. I reminisce fondly over a war god who confronted me about 'stealing' his worshippers. Dude got jealous because one of his worshippers summoned me and asked me to end the war in his favor with the least amount of deaths. I did so and the War god felt cheated out of all the sacrifices he would have gotten. Everyone who's killed in battle will have their Souls fed to him for power after all.

I laughed in his face over the fact that his so called worshippers went to me instead. He challenged me to a fight, I turned him into a rabbit. He kept his powers, he's just a rabbit now. It made it somewhat difficult for him to get any respect from his worshippers. I say he got what he deserves for eating Souls.

I really don't understand the other gods and demon's obsession with Souls. I could eat a Soul if I really wanted to for a power boost (contrary to popular belief, eating a whole person does not actually get you their Soul, you need to make an agreement to obtain it from them, worshipping a god is 'technically' consent to take a Soul) but I can get the same result from devouring a small star. So, I just didn't see the point. The star gave waaay more power than a mere mortal soul anyway.

As my thoughts jumped around to different topics I heard Pyronica ask if we could do this again someday. "Sure, there's this body wrap thing I saw on their menu that I'm curious about."

We chatted and joked until the timer went off and we could go wash ourselves off. I changed the showers back to normal and started fixing everything as I floated under the spray of warm water. It didn't take long. I felt the other people at the spa letting out sighs of relief when they were changed back, I even kept their salon treatments.

Feeling refreshed I met up with my friends at the lobby. "So. How's everyone feeling?" I absently grab some bottles of lotion and shampoo out of Ammy's storage blocks and send them back to where he stole them from. This was definitely Pyronica's fault.

"My gums feel AMAZING!" Teeth moans as he rubs his mouth. "They even picked out all the tiny bits of food I can't reach."

"It would be nice to do this again someday..." Kryptos sighs. "Thank you so much Bill. Wow...I can't believe people think you're a terrible person..."

"I know right?" Pyronica laughs. She lowers her voice to hiss "Just don't let people know or else they're gonna try and take advantage of his generosity."

As they nod in agreement I just roll my eye. "What generosity? This was as much for ME as it was for you all." I fold my arms and try to hide my blush. Amorphous Shape peers at me and remarks "This is that thing called...Tsun-Tsun?"

I sputter as the others stare at Ammy in confusion. "W-where did you learn that word?!"

"You were ranting about it once when you were drunk." He blinks lazily at me.

"What?! When?!"

"Wait, I think I remember this...it was when we all went to that LiquorPark and you fell into one of the rides because you slipped out of the seatbelt."

I thought back. Yes, we DID go to that amusement park. A water park where all the water was instead Alcohol. The rides were fun but I fell into a vodka lake when I slipped out of the roller coaster. Shit, I only remember waking up to find Xanthar and Pyronica dragging me away from sucking on a canoe that I'd turned into caramel.

In fact I turned most of the park rides and attractions into various food items and had eaten most of them. It took a while to fix it all. We were also given a lifetime ban from yet another place.

Ah...memories...

"Wait, you actually listened to Bill's rant? I couldn't even understand half of it. I thought he was just speaking nonsense while drunk." Pyronica gasps.

Ammy shrugs. "I listened. Much of it didn't make sense. I still don't quite understand the difference between a Dandere and a Kuudere..."

"This was before I joined right?" Teeth groans. "No fair, I would have loved to see that..."

"So what is a Tsun-Tsun?" Kryptos asks.

"Well according to Bill it's-" I quickly cover Ammy's eyes by sprouting multiple hands and slapping his blocks. "It's not important!" I cried desperately.

I kept shooting down the topic when they tried to ask and teleported us all home. Kryptos kept asking until my embarrassment turned to annoyance and I turned him into a sofa before floating away, fuming.

Teeth thought it was hilarious to sit on him until Kryptos electrocuted the Mouth in retaliation. I had to fix and heal both of them afterward.

Also, they were both grounded.

I -asked- demanded Ammy to never mention it again on pain of molecular reconfiguration. He nodded quickly as his blocks turned pale. Pyronica and the others seemed to believe Tsun-Tsun was some sort of insult in my native language. I was too embarrassed to correct them.

---

Chapter Text

Illusion is Reality

Chapter 32

-Made enough mistakes-

---

I still visit Jorgio. He’s gotten easier to talk to once I laid down a few ground rules for my advice. I’m not working for him. I’m not affiliated with him. I’m just going to give him pointers. I deflected his every attempt to recruit me. Never gonna happen kid.

Speaking of things that should never happen…

---

I know it was a bad idea. I know I shouldn't have done it. I went back to Jheselbraum’s temple. I'm not dumb though, I didn't go as myself. I went as 'myself'. Miz's short little form dashed quickly around the temple and hid behind a pillar. I was like a ninja! I peeked out to look at Jessie.



As someone who knows a bit of how my powers work, Jessie makes it a point to not have any triangles with eyes in her dimension. It means that I'll have to ACTUALLY come here in person if I wanted to check up on her. I liked seeing how she was doing.

As much as I was upset at how she forcibly broke off our contact with each other, I still felt like she was my responsibility. I DID choose her after all. I have to make sure she's doing her duty as Ax's High Priestess correctly. Also, I had to make sure the Curse I placed around her dimension was still in effect.

I say Curse but it's just a simple scanner that checks and redirects anyone with ill intents. Dimension 52 is a place of peace. If anyone with malevolent intentions tries to enter this dimension (like the many assassins I was forced to destroy back when Jessie first came into power) my Curse would make it so they literally cannot enter the dimension. They would either be bounced back to where they came from or be disintegrated along my Curse's edge of effect depending on the severity of their malevolence.

After all, even if I'm mad at Jessie, there were many innocent people who come here seeking shelter and safety and I won't let my own feelings stop me from keeping them safe.

Making up excuses to myself, I crept around and followed her as she went about her day. No I'm not stalking her. I'm just checking up on her because I was worried that the devastating truth would make her neglect her duties. So far it seems she's fine. She's going about her day as per usual.

I watched her heal any injured who came into her dimension. I watched her greet any visitors who sought out her wisdom. I watched her take in some refugees and just give them a place where they can live until they find a true home and life for themselves.

I smiled to myself. She seemed to be doing well. I duck behind the pillar and do a quick mental check on my Curse. It was still going strong. An invisible and undetectable barrier surrounding the entire dimension.

Curses were interesting. They were kinda like lines of programming that take in some sort of input and output an effect. I simply 'program' the effect parameters and my powers will put them into effect even when I'm not physically there to consciously create the effect. Curses were me reaching into the Source Code of reality and re-writing it.

Example, Xanthar's curse made it so that...

If: Someone calls Xanthar by some term that upsets him within hearing distance...
Then: Their mouth will be stitched up.
-If: Parameter [Mouth] is not present...
--Then: Stitch up some other orifice or body part.

At any time I can go in to 'edit' the specifics of a Curse. They were incredibly useful for allowing continuous long term effects that weren't constantly active. That Multimur girl I Cursed lived out her life happily with the boy she liked (though she was stuck as a male because of his preferences) and she would just transform into whatever he currently wanted in a partner. It did keep things interesting in the bedroom for them.

Not that I was watching.

Or taking notes.

Or keeping the memory of it saved in a Madness Bubble for entertainment.

Definitely not.

"And who might you be?"

I jumped. "I TOTALLY WASN'T THINKING ABOUT MULTIMUR PORN!" I squeaked.

Jheselbraum stood before me with a gobsmacked look on her face. "Excuse me, what?!" It took her a few seconds to school her expression back into calm serenity. Sadly I couldn't say the same as I blushed bright red and hid my face in my hands with a groan.

Shiiiiiit~

"Um...just...nothing! It was nothing!" I manage to stammer out. Jheselbraum in her mercy accepted my words and pretended as if she heard nothing. "Ah, who might you be child?" She asks instead.

"U-um...I'm Miz..." I mumble, still averting my eyes in embarrassment.

"What are you doing here child?" Jheselbraum asks serenely. I can't help but be impressed by how much her poker face has improved over the centuries. She wasn't even blushing.

"Erm..." Quick, make up an excuse! "I'm an...artist and I came here to get away from...the fast pace of modern society so I can devote my time to my work..." Bullshit hard Jan! Bullshit like you've never bullshit before!

"Your...art..." Jheselbraum says in a strained voice. I quickly catch on to what she was thinking of and immediately shake my head in the negative.

"It's NOT porn I SWEAR!" I plead at her with wide eyes.



She stares at me and I laugh nervously. "An artist you say? May I see your work?" She asks as she folds her arms and looks for all the world like a school teacher who caught me sleeping in her class.

"Um...I didn't bring my stuff with me..." I start to say and I wince as suspicion enters her eyes "-but if you give me some paper I can draw something!"

"And will this drawing be of an...explicit nature?" She asks.

"No! Definitely not!" I say hurriedly.

She is still watching me suspiciously as she gestures for me to follow her. I trudge along sheepishly. She gives me some paper and a pen while I wilt nervously under her 7 eyed gaze. I pick up the pen and draw the first thing that comes to mind.

It WASN'T porn.

Even after so many years I reflexively drew out an OC from the comic I drew a whole lifetime ago. A comic I always wanted to publish but just never found the time to finish it properly to do so.



"H-here..." I mumble as I give her the paper. Her eyes go wide as she looks at it. "Oh. It's lovely."

As she smiles at me gently I shuffled my feet bashfully. "Yeah, well It's just a quick doodle...I can do better if I have more time..."

"It's quite adorable nonetheless. So Miz, you came here so you could draw without interruption?"

"Well I heard that you take care of people and well...I wanted to be able to draw without having to worry about working to earn money for rent and food."

"So you wish to live here because of the free accommodations?" Jheselbraum raised an eyebrow at me and I ducked my head. "Sorry, it...sounds pretty selfish of me, now that I say it out loud."

"Shouldn't your parents be caring for your living quarters and food?"

"I...don't have parents."

"Oh you poor child..." I stiffen in shock as she embraces me in a gentle hug. "It is alright. You may stay as long as you wish." She says softly. I could feel her compassion. It wasn't faked. She really wanted me to stay. I'm reminded once again of why I still loved Jessie. For all her forced elegance and nobility, she truly had a kind heart.

"Thank you..." I mumble as I relax into her arms. They felt so warm. Why couldn't she be this nice to me when I'm Bill?

---

Ok, I admit I might have fucked up.

I got a small room in the temple. Most people who come here seeking shelter got rooms in the temple. The place was large enough to house several million people. It was constantly being expanded after all. The places were built with Dimension 52's natural landscape in mind, often times the hallways and rooms had open roofs as the building was built around the trees and flower fields.

The weather here was quite mild. The worst it ever got were sun showers, the rain feeling refreshing instead of dreary. The whole dimension was lush, the crops grew quickly and easily. More than enough food to feed everyone.

I couldn't leave. Just up and leaving right after I got her permission to stay was both incredibly rude and suspicious. I was also expected to work on my 'art' like I said I had come here for. I sat in my room and sighed at how I got myself into this situation.

Luckily I could split myself in two and send 'Bill' home to my friends so they won't worry about me being gone. Being in two places at once for long amounts of time was...actually not too bad. Sure it led to one half of me spacing out for periods of time but considering I already do that on a day to day basis, no one back home noticed a difference.

Either way. I couldn't leave the temple until I finished a comic. It would just make me feel bad if I did. Especially when Jheselbraum gave me a pretty nice room. It was simple, like all the rooms here, but I had a small desk and chair with plenty of paper, pens, and a small desk lamp-fly for whenever I wanted to work at night.

It was really nice of her to give me all this stuff. It would be nice to work on my comic again. Maybe this time, in this life, I could actually finish something for publication? It was a nice thought. Half of me here to work on just drawing and story writing. The other half of me having fun with my friends. My multitasking skills were good. I can definitely do this.

I sat at my desk and stared at the blank sheet of paper.

What the fuck do I do now?

---

No.

A page is tossed onto the floor.

No.

Another page scrapped.

No.

I scribble over what I just wrote and sighed. I don't know what to do. I had millions of ideas and no idea which one to use. I glance down at a few pages of work.



Ugh. This was the problem I had before as well. I couldn't stick with a single plot. I had so many ideas and even if I picked one I liked, I would just get bored of it and want to switch stories. Maybe I really should just make an anthology of multiple short stories. 

I left my room to get some fresh air. Maybe I just need to clear my head. There's the meditation pools I guess. It would allow me to focus on being Bill for a bit. I settle down next to a few shrine maidens, who coo'ed at me, and closed my eyes.

I was tidying the living room absently. Teeth challenged Pyronica to a pillow fight earlier. Kryptos was dragged in, to his dismay, and Ammy learned he could fire items out of his storage blocks. They don't go very fast, nowhere near enough to hurt anyone but they made for great pillow launchers. Kryptos hid under Xanthar to try and hide from the war zone our living room had become. It was a brutal fight.

It ended when Teeth broke the TV. I stuck him to the ceiling as punishment. Pyronica was sitting in the time out corner, pouting. Ammy was forced to help me clean up, I need to teach him discipline properly. Xanthar and Kryptos, being the good boys they were, got strawberry pudding.

I can see Kryptos smugly eating his pudding in front of where Teeth was hanging. "Mm~it's sooo yummy~" he says cheerfully. Teeth whines. "Dammit Kryptos! Quit being such a cavity!"

"Heh heh~" Kryptos taunted him. I flick his top edge as I float pass. "Don't be a jerk. Teeth's already being punished."

Pyronica whines from her corner. "How long do I have to sit here? I'm hungry~"

"Well I woooould~be making lunch right now if I wasn't cleaning this mess~"

"Dammit Bill we all know you can just wave your hand and fix this!" She fumes, the fire along her arms and legs flaring up in annoyance.

"Oh no~I think my powers are vanishing~" I cry as I lower myself to the ground and start walking really slowly towards the next pillow on the ground. "So weak~why it might even take me HOURS to finish my work! Oh woe is me~"

Kryptos fell over laughing as Pyronica shrieks angrily. "Bill you absolute piece of sediment!!!" Teeth couldn't help a few guffaws even as he moaned dizzily from the blood pooling at the top of his mouth.

"Isn't Bill losing his powers a bad thing? Why are you laughing?" Ammy asks. I poke Kryptos as I walk past him. "Kryptos, you're in charge of explaining sarcasm to him."

"What? Why me?"

"Because I'm busy and I can't trust Teeth or Ronica to do so."

As the compass tried ineffectually to explain things to the ever more confused Amorphous Shape, I hear one of the shrine maidens calling me.

"Wha?" I opened my eyes and see one of the maidens (Tina) standing before me. "Little Miz, it is time for afternoon meal. Are you coming?"

"Oh yeah, sorry I just got really into my focus." I get up and wobble a little. Damn legs were half asleep. That's what I get for kneeling. Tina giggles. "I know what you mean. I once meditated right past the evening meal. My sisters found me the next morning, turns out I fell asleep."

We laugh together as we walk to the dining hall.

"Hey Bill, are you gonna fix the TV? DemonBaby Fights is gonna be on soon." Teeth asks.

I put another pillow back in its place and roll my eye at him. "Well since you broke the TV, I think missing your show will be a good punishment. Think of it as...karma."

I enter the dining hall and move to grab a plate. I hope they have sliced guavocado today. I was really craving some. Tina moves up next to me. "What was your meditation about Miz? It must have been quite engaging."

"I was trying to figure out what to make my comic about."

"But it's a really good show! Please Bill? I'm really, really sorry! I won't do it again?"

"Are you having trouble coming up with a story?"

"No, it's the opposite. I have too many ideas. I want to do them all but that's not going to work."

"Well Teeth, if I DO fix the TV you'll have to give me something better than just a silly promise."
 
"Why wouldn't it work Miz?" Tina tilts her head in mild concern.

"The way you say that makes me worry." Teeth sighs.

"Because then it'll be different stories being told at the same time-"

"Don't worry your pretty pearly whites about it. I'm not going to ask for a Deal or anything."

"-and that could get confusing for my readers."

"All I need is some help fixing all the couches and pillows."

"I can see why that might be a problem. Can you not simply make separate stories?"

"But what if the stories are different but happening at the same time?"

I scoop up some minced meat and this dimension's version of rice. I placed another couch cushion back in place. Tina is pondering my dilemma. Teeth is trying very hard to nod.

"I can help clean! Just please, please fix the TV."

"I'll hold you to that." I flick my fingers and Teeth yelps as he falls from the ceiling, I catch him on a few floating pillows and lower him to the ground. "Start tidying."

"No fair, can I get out of time out yet?" Pyronica asks.

"Then can you not simply draw them happening side by side?"

"Well, I COULD let you out...if you do clean up for lunch today..."

I opened my mouth to tell her that doing the stories side by side was ridiculous. No one can follow such a narrative. Thought about it. Closed my mouth and went "Actually that's not a half bad idea...thanks Tina."

Pyronica groans. "Fine~what IS lunch today anyway?" Tina smiles brightly, glad that she could help me out. Most of Jessie's shrine maidens are nice people. She raised them well.

"I'm making sushi sandwiches." I say as I turn my attention to fixing the TV. I sit down with my food and start eating. Mm ~meat~ The TV didn't take long to fix so I could go start on lunch while Pyronica wondered what the hell a sushi sandwich was.

Tina asked me what the different story ideas I had were and I explained the multiple characters and world building I was going for. I materialized a makisu to start placing the rice on. "So I've got all these characters and they have different stories that they're part of, but they all exist together and are going through their stories all at the same time..."

I've never actually made a sushi sandwich before. I've seen it made in my first life, it can't be any harder than rolling maki...which I've also never done but it can't be THAT hard. I've been watching my dad, cousins and uncles make sushi for years. I can do it too. I shake off my homesickness, missing 爸爸's handmade sushi wasn't something I really wanted to get into right now.

"And so all their stories kind of intersect at random points, because no one's story exists in isolation. So many stories only focus on the main characters and it's like the supporting cast or the world around them exists ONLY for the main character and that's just unrealistic!"

I carefully sliced the avocado into thin strips and laid them out on top of the rice. The salmon was mixed with the spicy mayo and ground up. I added some tempura flakes for crunchiness. I carefully spread the fish paste over the sandwich.

"It's the idea that everyone is the main character of their own story and I want to be able to express that."

I put another layer of rice on top and carefully use the makisu to press it down firmly but gently. I carefully lift up the bamboo mat and pray that the rice doesn't get stuck. To my relief it turned out more or less ok. The edges were oozing out but I just psychically pushed it back in. I know I'm cheating but whatever. I sprinkle some sesame seeds and fish eggs on top.

"The main problem is I have so many characters and I want to do ALL their stories."

I use a knife to cut the 'sandwich' into triangles and then copy-pasted it a few times so there's enough food for everyone.


(Sushi sandwich made by my real life grunkle Bill)

"Maybe just pick and choose which character's stories blend the best together for this first book you're working on? You can always make more books."

"HEY GUYS! LUNCH IS READY!" I yell in the direction of the living room as I levitate and plate all the sandwiches.

"That's...actually a good idea. Thanks Tina." I scoop another spoonful of food into my mouth. Tina fusses over me, wiping around my cheeks with a napkin. Why does everyone always treat me like a child?

Pyronica rushes into the kitchen/dining room quickly. I see Teeth just a few steps behind. "Woo! I win again!" Pyronica cheers as Teeth screams that it's unfair because she was so much taller than him. I roll my eye as I set the table. Ammy pulls himself through a block he left in the kitchen because he's recently realized that it takes less effort to just warp through himself than floating through all the hallways.

I whine and bat Tina's hand away as she laughs. "Shtop et ktina~" I say with my mouth full. I pout and resolutely ignore her as she continues laughing and babying me.

I put the plates on the table and liquidate a few sushi sandwiches into a large bowl for Xanthar. He comes in with Kryptos clinging to his side. "Ooh~what ARE those?" Kryptos asks as he looks at the triangle shaped food.

"Sushi sandwiches. Just like my great uncle Bill used to make."

"You had a great uncle? Were you named after him?" Pyronica asks as she sits down to grab one of the sandwiches. "Naw, it's just a coincidence really."

I finish my lunch and sigh happily. Biding Tina farewell, I return to my room to start working. I had a better idea for what to do now. And once I finished I can go home without feeling like a lying dick.

Also, existing in two places at once for such a long time was starting to wear on me.

I watched my friends eat and 'ate' my sandwich as well, teleporting in front of me back in Dimension 52. I grin and bite into it. Mm~so much better with proper tastebuds. Thanks Bill. No problem Miz.

Is it weird that it feels perfectly normal to talk to myself?

I sit at my table, nibbling on the sushi while jotting down my ideas for my comic. I joked with my friends as we enjoyed lunch. Teeth drags me to go watch DemonBaby Fights with him. I figure why not? I start sketching out the plot points I need to hit. I couldn’t help but get distracted by the show I was watching though.

It was actually pretty good. Looks like me and Teeth will have an activity to do together every week. Intense baby fights.

---

"Jessie! Lookie! Lookie!" I run up to her holding my drafts. She gets up from where she was tending to the garden and smiles gently at me. "Oh? What is it little one?"

"I finished my book!" I gushed excitedly as I showed her my papers. She pats me on the head fondly. "I'm glad. You've been working very hard on it."

"Wanna see?" I ask eagerly.

 


"Sure."

I read out my work to her, doing all the voices as I went. I end up scooting closer and closer to her until I'm pressed against her side so I can hold my drawings up to her as I chatter happily about the story I made.

"So each chapter has a different main character so we can see what they were doing that made them forget or lose their homework."

"So the story is about a class of students who all forget to bring in their homework?"

"Yeah, and there's 18 kids in this class so I only had 10 pages per chapter to tell their story, which was an interesting limitation to work with." I bounced in my seat excitedly.

"I'm glad. I'm sure people will love your story. It's very delightful."

"And once I mail this out to an editor and publishing company I'll be done and I can leave and..." My smile fades. And when I'm done I'll have to leave huh? I know I wanted to leave but...

I was pressed to Jessie's side, I could feel the softness of her robes. The warmth. The peaceful way we sat together. She never let me come this close when I was Bill.

"Are you alright little one?"

"It's nothing...just..." I was just me today. Bill and I recombined earlier because we were starting to get a headache. I left some pre-made food in the fridge for everyone. Hopefully they can handle themselves without me for a while. I'm going to have to teach them how to take care of themselves huh?

I sighed as I leaned against Jessie. "I'm going to miss living here..."

"You're welcome to stay. I have plenty of room and the other girls like you." Jheselbraum says gently. I shake my head sadly.

"I can't stay. I shouldn't have stayed this long to begin with." I can't stay, the longer I do, the greater the chance would be that Jessie figures out who I am. Frankly I'm surprised she hasn't found out already. The only difference between me and Bill is that he gets to use his powers willy nilly. I laugh the same way, even if my voice is different. I still call her Jessie. I suppose Miz doesn't tease her like Bill does but other than that...

I still barge in on her demanding attention, I still run around her gardens and play in her fountains. Except now, she and the other maidens find my antics cute instead of annoying. Why was it so different? Nothing about me has changed except my external appearance.

"What's wrong little one? You're crying."

I just shake my head and continue crying. There's nothing I can say to this. Jheselbraum looks somewhat frantic as she asks me what's wrong. I just keep sobbing, my pages of work sitting beside me on the bench. It's not fair that they'll only care about me when I'm someone else. It feels like I'm lying to them. Like my deception is the only reason they'll like me.

I just felt so weary now. So tired of this. I'm not acting all that different from the 'me' that exists as Bill, but at the same time, I am. I'm pretending to be someone else. And I'm sick of it. I just want to be loved for being ME. Not for any facade I put on. But what even is ME?! Bill is me. Miz is also me. Zyun-Jan is me. I know WHO I am on the inside. But who am I supposed to be on the outside?

The human girl or the triangular god?

To be honest, neither of them are even the REAL me. They're both just constructs I wear to have a physical form. Shells. Masks. Costumes. So what am I? What am I supposed to be? I sobbed into my knees, burying my face into them as I pull my legs up to my chest. Why does everything have to be so stupid?!

Jessie rubs my back soothingly. She doesn't know what's wrong but I can feel her concern for me. It just made me feel worse. If Jessie knew who I was, she wouldn't be so kind. It was so stupid. I couldn't take it.

"S-sorry I just...I ne-need to..." I wipe at my eyes, pick up my papers and ran back to my room. I shouldn't have stayed so long. I really shouldn't have.

---

I skipped dinner. I've never missed a meal before. Tina and a few of the other shrine maidens (Quillia, Blue-Rose and Hutie) gathered outside my room in worry.

"Miz? Are you alright?" Blue-Rose asks. The rock-like protrusions along her hands scraped at the door as she knocked on it.

"We brought you some food." Quillia, a Cyclopian like Pyronica but with a pastel red coloration and pink flames, held up a plate of food. "There's fish. Your favorite."

"...just leave it by the door..."

"I told you food would work." Quillia nudges Hutie with a grin. Hutie sighs and reaches around Blue-Rose to knock at the door too. "Miz please tell us what's wrong?"

Tina goes closer to the door too. "The Oracle said that you were going to be leaving soon. You know you can stay if you want? We don't mind if you wish to stay."

"..."

"Please tell us what distressed you so?"

"..."

"We are all worried."

"...I'm sorry..."


"Don't be, we only worry because we care. Please talk to us. Tell us what's wrong."

I flicked my fingers and the papers swirling around my room inked themselves into a final draft. It was so much easier to just do this with my powers. I groaned and flopped onto the bed which I moved near the door so I didn't have to get up.

"Please leave me alone." I cried like a drama queen.



I hear them sigh. "I'm going to leave your food here okay?" Their footsteps grew fainter and after a few minutes I opened the door just wide enough to slip the tray in. I eat my food moodily and wonder just what the hell is wrong with me.

Ugh~why am I making this more complicated than it has to be? I cried a bit, thought about it rationally and now I'm just moping for the sake of my own pettiness. I'm just angry at people for once again, hating me as Bill just because I'm Bill. I was so frustrated. Irritated. Part of me was staying in my room so I didn't just snap and reveal myself to everyone here.

That would make everything worse.

Even if I was sick of lying to everyone about who/what I am.

I didn't want to lose this. I'm so done with losing things. Losing connections. Losing people. I can still come visit. As long as they never find out who I am. But I won't allow myself to live here anymore. Aside from the fact that I don't have an excuse anymore, existing in two places at once would never work out in the long run.

I sigh as I get my thoughts in order. Mail out my draft to the editor. Try to get my book published. If no publishing company is willing to pick it up, I can self publish. I have the money for it.

Once again I marvel at how many things in life can be solved by throwing money at it. I couldn’t help but feel offended. They say you can't buy happiness but apparently you can buy things that make you happy.

Well, enough melodrama. I can't just sit here in self pity any longer. I should probably go tell the girls I'm doing okay now. I wave my hand and gather up the finished pages (copy and pasting the whole stack to have a back up available in case of accidents) to put in an envelope. Time to go face the music, rather, time to weather through all the temple maidens's well meaning fussing as they try to find out why I'm so upset.

I don't mind being babied every now and then but this was ridiculous. Just because I'm the smallest person here does not mean I'm a child. I am a grown ass woman! I pout childishly and face palm at how terrible I am at actually acting like an adult.

You know what, yeah, I can't blame them for thinking of me as a kid...shit.

I leave my room to bring my tray and bowl back to the dining area. Hopefully I can make up some bullshit about why I'm so sad...

---

As I thought, everyone wanted to know what made me so upset. I didn't really have a response so I just mumbled and tried to dodge them. The temple had a mail system so I was able to send my package off. I went around to say good bye to everyone.

"Do you really have to leave? You can always stay and become a shrine maiden too. You're a skilled healer." Tina says sadly, thinking of that one time I couldn't help but use my powers to heal a sick patient who was brought to the temple.

I shook my head sadly. "I can come visit....sometimes...but I can't stay any longer. Truthfully, having a peaceful place to draw was just an excuse. I don't feel right staying any longer than I need to..."

"But we want you to stay. You make us laugh. We all enjoy having you around."

"You say that..." I mutter bitterly. "...but I know you only care about me because you all think I'm a child."

"Are you not?" Tina looks confused. "Even if we do not know your species, you do not seem like you have reached maturity. The Oracle has said that you 'feel' like you are not an adult."

"I'm older than Jessie..." I pout. "I just...never aged properly..."

"Older than the Oracle?!" Tina gasps in shock. "But you behave like...a child..."

"That's just how I am! I can't help being the way I am...I could try to act more mature but it feels weird when I do that. Also, people aren't going to believe I'm an adult no matter WHAT I do so I've just gotten used to it."

Tina looked confused. "So...are you an adult?"

"Technically...I stopped aging before reaching full adulthood but I have been alive for so long I doubt it matters."

"You're an immortal?"

I shrug. "It's not really that important. Does me being immortal change anything?"

"I guess not?" She looked deep in thought as I bid her goodbye.

I've already packed up my stuff, not that I had much, so all that's left is saying bye to Jessie. Geez, I really didn't want to. It's gonna be so awkward facing her after I ran off like that.

Jheselbraum is kneeling among her flowers. A while back I (as Bill) had planted a few that I found from Iznang, Jessie was quite angry that I was putting strange plants in her garden. She quickly realized these flowers had healing properties and started cultivating them properly. She never thanked me for my thoughtful gift. Probably never even realized they WERE a gift.

I felt another stab of irritation. Really, after everything I've done for her. She still had the gall to push me away. I have every right to hate her. I've destroyed others for far less severe grievances. But she's too important. Dimension 52 is a neutral haven that exists to grant sanctuary. Jheselbraum runs it that way. If anything happened to her, the thousands of people here will no longer have a place to go.

More than that, I didn't want to hurt her. I can't bring myself to do it. I didn't want any sort of revenge for the way she hurt me. I just wanted us to be friends. Or at least non-hostile acquaintances. Lost in my thoughts, I jumped when I felt her pat my head.

"You look so sad little one."

I huff at her "I keep telling you I'm older than you."

"And yet, you are still a child. Why won't you tell me what distressed you?"

I bit my lip and considered my options. Part of me wanted to come clean and just tell her. Part of me wanted to lie. Lie so I can keep her affection. Lie so I can still have a place here. Lie so people will continue to like me. I hate lying.

"I didn't actually come here to work on my art. I'm very glad I DID, but it wasn't my original intention." I confessed.

"Yes, I already knew that."

I blink in surprise. "You did?!"

"Of course. It was quite obvious you were making an excuse. The fact that you did indeed work on your art was a pleasant surprise."

I flushed and fiddled with my fingers. Well this was embarrassing. Jessie smiles faintly. "It is alright. You had your reasons for wanting to be here. I am fine with you staying even without your excuse."

I groaned and sat in a nearby bench. "You say that...but I know you'll take it back."

"Why ever would you think that?"

"Because you don't know me. I thought you did but you don't. And once you do, you'll demand me to leave..."

"I...do not understand?"

"It's fine if you don't. Not many people do." I kicked my legs back and forth. Of course my feet don't reach the ground. "That's why I have to leave. I like it when you're nice to me. So I have to leave before you become mean."

"Why do you think so poorly of me?"

"I don't. You're a really good person Jessie. You just don't understand." I sighed. "I'm just here to say good bye. I'm definitely going to visit again, but I can't stay here anymore."

"Why not? Why won't you tell me what's wrong?"

I groaned in frustration. "If I tell you, you'll never let me come back. That's what's wrong."

She just continues to look confused. I roll my eyes. "For someone with seven eyes, you're pretty blind to things right in front of you." She reels back, mildly offended. "What do you mean?"

"It's better if I don't tell you. Good bye Jessie." I give her a faint smile before Blinking away. I appeared in my house in the Nightmare Realm and sighed as I placed the copy of my manuscript on my desk. I really shouldn't have stayed so long. Even if I enjoyed working on my comic for the first time in millennia.

Should I go complain to Ax about this? No. This is between me and Jessie. I turn back into a triangle and sighed. I don't know how to deal with social situations like this. I'm still stuck on wanting Jessie to know who I am. I want her to figure it out. I want her to realize her own stupidity. Or maybe what I really wanted was for her to realize that SHE of all people should know better than to judge me based on my awful reputation.

I hated lying to people. I really did. It's why I often deal in half truths and misdirection. Outright pretending to be a different person like this wore on me. But, isn't being Bill all the time also a lie? I'm not the real Bill Cipher. But I'm not Zyun-Jan anymore either.

After all, she died eons ago. I'm...just me. And no matter who I choose to be, I will always be lying in some way, shape or form. Maybe I should just stop caring so much. The only thing causing me so much pain is my insistence on caring. Why haven't I just let go already?

There's no reason for me to hold onto my past. It's over and done with. All the people I knew and loved were gone. I had no reason to keep doing this to myself...

I could let go of Zyun-Jan and just become Bill.

It would be so much easier.

It would make me so much happier.

I floated there and knew that if I let go, there would be no turning back. The me as a human would be gone and I would just be Bill. It was my human side that caused me so much pain. It was my human morals that held me back from doing whatever I wanted. If Zyun-Jan was gone, I could finally be happy...

No.

No. No. No. No. No!

I broke down again. Screaming and raging. Fuck this! Fuck all of this! I. AM. ME.

And I won't let go of ANY part of myself. No matter what. I was so angry and upset and frustrated and before I knew it, I was slamming myself into the wall.

Over and over again.

I raged at the unfairness and stupidity of the world. At how I could even consider that I should be the one to change, that I was the problem. They are the issue. Not me.

My bricks cracked and I fell to the ground with a thump while whimpering in pain. "Uwuu~" why do I do this to myself? I moped for a pretty long time. Then I just rolled around feeling embarrassed and ashamed for giving in to my ANGST and being stupid. No! Not the Emo! Noooo!

---

Good news, my manuscript was accepted and the editor wanted to meet Miz for some changes and corrections. So...that's good?

Oh shit I was gonna publish a comic book.

What the hell was wrong with me?

---

"Bill! You're back!" Kryptos greets me cheerfully. I was going to respond but Teeth runs up crying and screaming. "THANK DENTIST YOU'RE BACK!!" He falls to his knees sobbing at my feet.

Wordlessly I stare down at him and then over at Kryptos. The compass sighs. "We ran out of cooked food last week. Pyronica tried to cook...." Teeth whimpers "...and Teeth got food poisoning..." Kryptos winced.

"Right. Teach you all to cook. Got it." I sighed and floated to the kitchen. I haven't been home in like...a month and I forgot to take that swerve through time to get back, was too distracted by all the meetings with my editor. The publishing process was actually a lot more complicated and time consuming than I thought. I couldn't just send it in and leave it at that.

There was a lot of revisions I had to go through, rewrites of the story to streamline it and make it more understandable. My editor was very insistent on fixing the dialogue and pacing of the story. I still have to go meet with her again in a few days. I just managed to remember that I had to go home to check on everyone.

Good thing I remembered.

Teeth was following behind me crying and thanking me as I waved my hand to fix up some food quickly. Teeth digs in the second the food fully forms and I can't help but laugh fondly and pet him. I created more food and got a big bowl of soup for Xanthar as well. I need to go see my sweet baby~

Xanthar tackled me the instant he noticed me and I hugged him tightly. "I'm so sorry I was gone Xan-Xan. Something came up and I lost track of time."

He snuffles on me and I relax into his fur. Oh man...I can just feel myself soothed on his softness. I missed him so much. You know what? What the hell was I doing, moping off by myself. I should have just gone to sit on Xanthar instead.

It would have saved me so much time I wasted from just sitting around feeling sorry for myself. I really needed to do something about my emotional instability. This cannot be healthy. These extreme high and lows. These random moments of self doubt.

The house was a mess. I felt my eye twitch as I saw the take out boxes strewn across the living room. Looks like everyone needs another lesson on cleanliness. My friends would soon learn just how deeply I felt about it. The universe fears me for bullshit, mostly untrue reasons. My friends learned to fear me for very real reasons.

---

Chapter Text

Illusion is Reality

Chapter 33

-Hey look what I can do-

---

Ok. So there's a Potato dimension.

Correction. There are two Potato dimensions.

One of them is pronounced Po-Tay-To and the other is Po-Tah-To. As you can guess, most people get them confused with each other. This wouldn't normally be such a big deal if it weren't for the fact that the natives are...shall we say...easily offended.

I ducked a thrown shovel as the native Potahtians (Potaytians?) attacked me with everything they've got on hand (mostly farm tools).



Teeth screamed in panic and ran around, waving his arms. Kryptos was nowhere to be seen, having been dragged off by a group of natives chanting "Blood for the Spud god!!!"



To understand what's happening we'll have to go back to earlier today...

"So you need to peel the vegetables before you can use them for cooking." I explained as I demonstrated the method of doing so. Not to brag but I've been cooking for billions of years and I'd like to say I've gotten pretty dang good at it. Space cooking anyway. My human cooking is pretty good but I cannot for the life of me figure out baking.

Damn those exact measurements.

Anyway, I've decided that my friends need to learn to cook. Also they were being punished for letting the house become a mess in my absence and were currently half turned to stone. Their arms and head were free so they could see what I'm doing and follow along but their legs were petrified.

Teeth and Kryptos were whimpering. I had them on stools so they could reach the table and they wobbled precariously with each movement. "Um...Bill?" Kryptos asks fearfully.



"Yeah?" I peel the carrot equivalent carefully.

"We...won't shatter if we fall right?"

I slowly turn my eye to stare unblinkingly at him.

The seconds tic by. Kryptos sweats nervously. I remain silent and staring. Teeth gives a scared whine as his stool wobbles a little when he peels off another piece of the carrot.

"So after you peel the vegetable you can cut it into the size and shape that you need." I continue cheerfully.

Pyronica sighed as she went along with my punishment without complaint. "Really you two, you should be glad Bill didn't turn us inside out."

Xanthar and Ammy were exempt from punishment because they actually tried to clean up. Failed, but it's the thought that counts. They were still part of the cooking lesson though. Xanthar was struggling and crushing his vegetables. Ammy was actually doing quite well.

Pyronica's slices were too big and her carrot-esque vegetable was misshapen and lumpy. Teeth was having trouble because his arms were so far apart. Kryptos would be doing well if he wasn't so afraid of falling off his stool.

"Actually, what did you guys do for food before I started feeding you?" I asked.

"I stole it." Pyronica shrugs. "Sometimes I roast things. I only know how to roast things." She was thinking of her life on the streets after her mother died.

"My mama always made me food until I reached adulthood. Then there was an Eye in my colony that did a lot of the cooking." Teeth sighed, remembering how his colony kicked him out.

"Same I guess. There were five of us so mom used to just make a huge bunch of stuff..." Kryptos frowned with the bittersweet memories of the family that sold him off.

Xanthar's thoughts spiraled into a mix of the happier times with his parents in the lavapits and the cold times in the Baron's dungeon having some water splashed on him every few days.

Oh.

"I don't think I NEED to eat." Ammy remarks, completely missing the heavy atmosphere in the room.



I make a coughing sound and look back at my 'carrot'. "Well learning to be self sufficient is always useful."

I sighed and un-petrified Kryptos, Teeth and Pyronica. "I would feel much better if I knew you guys would be able to take care of yourselves when I'm gone."

"You never leave for THAT long Bill." Teeth says as he slumps in relief on his stool, wiggling his toes. I close my eye for a moment, wondering if I should tell them.

"I'd rather be safe than sorry. Sometimes I'll get busy with something and I lose track of that social construct Time Baby enforces. I want to know that you guys will still be alive when I get back..."

That's not the real reason. I was worried about what would happen to them when I inevitably die. Once again, I don't know if my death at the end of Gravity Falls is a fixed point or not. I have found it's possible to shift 'Canon' but the amount of divergence is probably limited.

I worry so much. I don't want Xanthar to stay up late into the night watching the skies for my return. I don't want Teeth or Pyronica going hungry. I don't want Ammy to have no one to teach him right from wrong. I don't want Kryptos questioning whether or not he's worth anything. I don't want them to feel as alone as I had been before I found them.

I look over at my friends each struggling in their own way to properly prepare a vegetable for cooking. Teeth is frustrated at his lack of progress. Pyronica straight up doesn't care enough to put in any effort ("Ugh~this is so not fun."). Xanthar had started just mashing the vegetable into a pulp. Kryptos and Amorphous Shape were the only ones actually trying to follow my directions.

"You know what. I can tell you guys are getting bored of just peeling and chopping stuff. Lets go and learn out in the field instead!" I suggest.

"What the heck does that even mean?" Pyronica groans. "Can't we just order out?"

"And how are you planning to pay for the food if you eat out all the time?" Kryptos mutters. I'm glad that SOMEONE in this household understands how expensive that'd be. I don't want to create too much precious metals or materials in case of causing inflation. It's why we don't go out ALL the time.

"I can steal it." Pyronica replies with no shame whatsoever. I give her a sharp flick to her arm. "No. Bad girl. You can't steal EVERYTHING you want."

"Can't you...get a job?" Teeth asks. Pyronica's constant disregard for the law sometimes made him uncomfortable. He understood it was just how she was but that didn't mean he wasn't just as exasperated as I was about having to constantly bail her out of trouble.

"A...job?" The Cyclopian blinked in confusion. "Me?"

"Have you never considered that before?" Kryptos asks incredulously.

"Well...no. What would I even do? I have literally no credentials. I've never been to school, never worked anywhere else before..." She frowned at Teeth. "But like, you don't have a job either." She turns to point at the others "And neither do any of you."

"At least I'm trying to find work." Kryptos mutters. He goes out often to apply to places. Sadly, his random electrical discharges make it somewhat difficult. People ask him to take his gloves off and it doesn't end well. I make a mental note to get him a proper doctor's appointment so he can have an official medical reason for wearing gloves. That should help out on his application papers.

"I'm still auditioning for things!" Teeth protests. I hear him practicing in his room every night. He's done a few street performance stand up comedy routines here and there but hasn't found any gigs for proper roles. I know he keeps a jar full of the small change he's earned over time. I make another note to myself, check to make sure he isn't being turned down from the roles for reasons beyond his control.

"I hadn't even considered a job. What sorts of things would I even be able to do?" Ammy muses as he continues methodically chopping his vegetable into perfectly even pieces. "But why should I bother when Bill already pays for everything?"

Everyone turns to look at me. I roll my eye. "Even if I'm literally made of money, it doesn't mean you guys can just mooch off me."

"Oh right, you don't get paid to do your job." Pyronica realizes.

"What...exactly IS your job?" Kryptos asks. "I've heard stories about you for years. The Federation has PSAs about you. Everything I've seen and read says that you're an insane psychopath. And yet, people keep summoning you anyway?"

I cackle. "People are stupid. At least it means I still have something to do. Technically speaking, my only REAL job is doing Time Baby's dirty work. The jerk doesn't pay me, he just owes me Favors in exchange for my services."

"Wait. You work for Time Baby?" Teeth gasps.

"Ew no! I do NOT work for that selfish little bitch! He summons me and asks for a Deal. That's all it is!" I fume angrily. I see Kryptos flinch back when my bricks turn red.

"He just happens to be my most frequent and obnoxious customer. Terrible manners. No respect for me or my craft. Demands things I'm uncomfortable with doing and then acts like I'M the one being problematic when I say I don't want to do it!" I rant in irritation, my bricks glowing even brighter red as my eye turns black with fury just thinking about it.

"Bill? Bill! I-it's ok! Just...calm down?" Pyronica says quickly as she tries to grab my arm but pulls back quickly at the heat. "Time Baby is a bad client! Got it!" She nods frantically. "Yup. Definitely. Ri-right guys?"

Everyone else nods as they try to cut me off from my rant. I blink slowly before deflating back to my usual yellow self. "That jerk just doesn't understand that I'm a person with feelings TOO!" I huff and cross my arms.

"S-so...um...cooking in the field!" Teeth squeaks. "Lets go do that! Sounds like fun right?" He looks at Pyronica and Kryptos and they nod with tight, strained smiles.

"The MOST fun yes! Boy, I sure do love cooking! Let's go do some cooking Bill!" Pyronica says loudly as she grabs my leg and tugs me along behind her like a balloon.



"I was unaware you were all so passionate about this subject matter. I was led to believe you found Bill's lessons tedious." Amorphous Shape remarks in mild confusion as he follows us to the teleporters.

Pyronica wraps her hand around Ammy's 'neck' and grins widely. "What? Nooo~" she says in an overly cheerful voice.

Ammy leans back in apprehension. "Why are you doing that with your voice? It is disturbing. Please stop."

Kryptos quickly whispers something to the ever sifting creature. Ammy's eyes widen. "Oh. So this is that sarcasm thing? I thought it involved a different sort of tonality?"

"Hey! Yes! Cooking! Where are we going Bill?" Pyronica says loudly as she pulls me faster down the hall.

"Well, there's this planet called Potato that has wonderful fruits and vegetables. I figured we could go down and gather some fresh kills ourselves." I was content to just let my friend pull me along. It means I didn't have to put in the effort to move.

"Ronica, you're an active type of person so I think standing around in the kitchen is not the best way to teach you. Going out in the field and fighting off hungry plant monsters would be much more your style."

"Oh." Pyronica blinks at me before her smile turns more genuine. "I didn't realize you changed your plans for my sake."

"You and Teeth seem to have the most trouble with staying still." I shrug.

"Wait, what do you mean fighting plant monsters?" Teeth asks worriedly.

---

So...yeah...things didn't go...as smoothly or simply as I'd hoped. You know how I said there were two potato dimensions? One of them was populated by vegetable monsters. Despite the name, they weren't all that dangerous (aside from some of the gourds being good at bludgeoning) and I was thinking we would just have a jolly good time chopping them up and bringing home the carcasses for food.

The problem is the OTHER potato planet.

This one was populated by angry Potato natives who kill anything and anyone who was not a Potato. All would be sacrificed in the name of their Many Eyed God of Spuds. To the best of my knowledge, their Lord Spud doesn't actually exist. I haven't ever seen any god hanging around the planet so I wasn't sure if he was real or not.

Either way. I should probably save Kryptos before they sacrifice him. Pyronica was already setting fire to the Potatoes attacking her. The resulting baked potatoes actually looked quite delicious. Xanthar was stomping any that came near him, mashed potato guts flung all over the place.

Normally I'd be very against the idea of murdering the natives but they attacked first so this is just self defense. Besides, these things weren't...technically alive.

Ammy grabbed Teeth in a brilliant display of camaraderie and the two sat on top of Xanthar far from the danger. I wave my arm to make an earth wall rise around us before folding down towards our attackers and trapping them in soil. "Alright, which way did they bring Kryptos?"

"Cooking is awesome!" Pyronica laughs as she pops a roasted Potato in her mouth.

"I ALWAYS get these two dimensions mixed up." I grumble as I start scanning for where Kryptos was. According to my symbol sneakily placed on his top point, he was...that way. "Come on, lets go find Kryptos before they peel him or something.

---

I'm not even surprised to find Kryptos screaming as he dangled over a bunch of Potah/taytians with pitchforks like some pointy version of a Pinata. He was screaming the whole time as he shook himself back and forth to dodge the pitchforks.




I flicked my fingers and teleported him besides us. He collapsed to the ground wheezing and clutching onto Ammy's blocks. "Gah! Hah! Ngh!" I turned my gaze to the confused natives wondering where their sacrifice went. "Excuse me. I'd appreciate if you didn't sacrifice my friend to your non-existent god."

"How dare you spout such blasphemy?!"

"Look. I'm all for worshipping whoever and whatever you want as long as it doesn't harm anyone. But this-" I gesture to the trembling compass beside me "-is definitely hurting people."

"All who are not spud must be destroyed!" One of the natives began screaming. The others all began yelling as well. They waved their farm tools around in the air.

"Blood for spud! Blood for spud!" They chanted.

"So...how is this supposed to teach us cooking?" Ammy asks lazily.

I materialize an oversized vegetable peeler. "For potatoes, you have to shave off all the brown parts." A large peeler forms in from of each of my friends as well. "Think you guys can handle that?"

Pyronica cackles wickedly as she grabs her peeler. "Ooh~now THIS looks fun~"

"Wait, are we killing them?" Teeth asks uncertainty.

"Don't worry about it. Hunting for food is what creatures have done since the beginning of Time. Literally."

"I don't think I can stomach killing another living creature." Kryptos whimpers.

"They're not alive. Sort of. All these guys you see are just drones. They're a hive mind of bodies all controlled by one huge consciousness hidden somewhere on the planet." I shrug as the crowd of natives before us gasps in fear.

"H-how did you know?!" One of them takes a step back.

"Oh I know lots of things~" I grin as I lift my peeler. The light glinted off the blade's sharp edge. "Lot of things..."

---

"So...we're eating these things?" Ammy asks as we start piling up bodies in a pile to bring home. I nod as the survivors run away screaming. They put up a good fight but ultimately couldn't stand a chance against us. "I wanted to get some broccoli-type of vegetables but I suppose potatoes are better anyway. I know a lot more recipes that use them."

"This is so messed up, Bill." Kryptos shudders as he nudges one of the bodies with his foot. I scoff. "Messed up is Strip Clubs. This is just hunting down food."

I levitate the pile of bodies into the air. "Besides. They tried to kill us so we get to eat them. It's simple logic."

"That's not how logic works..." Kryptos moans.

"Sure it is! You just ne-" I'm interrupted by one of the bodies twitching. "Oops, we got a live one here."

"Y-you...monsters...killing my bodies...for...food..." The potato groaned.

"Yeah well, one, you can grow more, two, you've killed plenty of innocent people, those explorers that first discovered this place, the scientists that wanted to study this world...tourists..." I list off. "Frankly you're the bigger monster here. We're just hungry."

I lean up close to the peeled potato. "I have a question. Are YOU the Lord Spud you make your puppet bodies sacrifice people for? 'Cause if so, worshiping yourself is just...sad."

"No...I am not Lord Spud. He is far greater than anything you could ever know. His power is unbound, his many eyes see all and he will never die!" The potato laughs in a half mad way.

"And he demands live sacrifices?" I ask skeptically. The potato shakes. "Well...not really...the sacrifices are just...kinda...fun..." It says sheepishly. I flicker red.

"You mean to tell me...that you've killed 4882 people...for FUN?!"

"Oh dear..." Pyronica winced as she gestures for everyone to get back. "This is gonna be messy."

"How did you know the exact number of-"

It couldn't finish talking because I had wrapped a hand around it's 'neck'. "I know LOTS of things." I sneered.



My hand clenched harder, the edges of it's face creaking as I slowly crushed it in. The thing made muffled protests as it's hands desperately pulled at mine to try and get me off. It's cries grow more pained and frantic right before it explodes in a mess of starch fibers.

I drop the body and snarl. "If you can hear me. I'm coming for the real you. Better pray to your Lord for mercy because you won't get any from me." My flames spread along the ground and filled the area with its flickering blue light.

"It's ok Bill. Calm down..." Pyronica says.

"I AM CALM!"

I mime a few deep breaths before waving my fire away. "I hate it when people purposely kill others just for FUN." I growl. "If you're going to take a life, you need a reason! For food, for vengeance, for self defense, for punishment, for a cause you believe in....not because you're BORED!" I lift up the pile of bodies telepathically and teleport them to the pantry back at the house.

"You can't just kill someone because you're bored! That is an absolute waste of time, energy and life!  There are so many more productive things you could be doing!" I continued ranting as I floated off in the direction of where the Potato's main body was.

Xanthar shuffled up and nudged me with his face. I sank into the soft fur and sighed. His soothing waves of 'Tranquility' did wonders for cooling my head. I pat him in thanks.



"Right. Calm. I'm calm..." I sighed. My bricks slowly fade back into yellow and I can hear Kryptos and the others heave a sigh of relief. "Right. So, do you guys want to go home or watch me tear apart a murderous religious zealot?"

"There isn't going to be blood right?" Kryptos whimpers. "Do you really have to kill him?"

"Well I don't think an unashamed murderer should be allowed free to continue hurting innocent people." I reply simply.

I can feel that Kryptos really wanted to say something but couldn't bring himself to do so. He probably wanted to point out that I was a murderer too. That's fine. I'm kind of a hypocrite sometimes.

"Well, I guess it would be bad to let someone go around sacrificing people? So we should at least stop them right?" Teeth says as he trots along below me while Kryptos floats beside him. I float lower to the ground and grin at them.

"Even if I don't kill 'em I will have to do something about them. Any suggestions if you'd rather I let them live?" I could tell Kryptos was uneasy at the idea of murder so I was hoping that letting him come up with an alternate solution would help. Even now, he was somewhat skittish around me, especially after watching me casually crush someone's skull in.

A tiny part of me says that I shouldn't be so nonchalant about crushing someone's skull in. It was just a small thing. A small blip of guilt. Barely noticeable. The larger part of me didn't care. It wasn't a real person. None of these things we've killed were real people. There was only one true sentient creature here and it was going to be punished for all the real lives it has taken.

I 'felt' the true body at the bottom of a rocky ravine over a boiling...gravy pit? I peer over the edge as Xanthar has to be held back from diving in. He was quite excited about it. Teeth gags. "What IS that stuff?"

"He who falls in is covered in sin!" I respond.

"What does that even mean?!"

I just laugh as I levitate my friends and float us over the gravy. It was bubbling and I realized this gravy was made from all the people sacrificed on this planet. Disturbingly enough, I could feel Souls in there.

Thousands of screaming voices from the people killed and dumped there. They were trapped. I growled. The one behind this really had to be stopped. To think I wouldn't have known to scan this planet if I hadn't gone here by mistake. I wouldn't have found out about this situation.

I felt somewhat ashamed, as a self proclaimed god of Knowledge. I have been slacking off. Ever since my friends came I had been spending more time just having fun with them instead of gathering information. I've been allowing myself to grow complacent. Lazy.

Weak.

I couldn't afford to keep doing that. I can't let myself waste time like this. I can't forget what I wanted. I wanted to be able to help people. That's what my powers were for. At least, that is what I've decided. Even if I'm Death, I can't just sit back and allow something like this.

Something of my thoughts must have shown on my face because Pyronica nudges me lightly. "Bill? What's wrong?"

"There's a lot of trapped Souls down there. Their screaming is rather loud." I answer honestly. They really were. The tortured cries growing to near deafening levels as we got closer and closer to the source. I winced and we wavered a little in the air. Focus. I can't drop us now.

"S-souls?" Teeth whispers fearfully. Kryptos looks grim as he gazes at the bubbling reddish-brown liquid. "It's the sacrifices isn’t it?" He caught on first.

I gaze downward, my mind reaching out to prod at the voices. -Can you please quiet down. It's very distracting-

H̴̫̽̍elp̶̺̾ us̸͓̄

I̶̠͊̈́ẗ̷̞̲́ ̴̢̓͂ȟ̶̙̣u̴̩͑̆r̴̥̅t̵̙̔s̷͍̻̈ ̸̯̅̋i̸͕̤̒t̷̮̿̑ ̸̯̎h̶̩̓ů̵̪͠r̵̺̦͒t̵͖͋ś̷͎̆

-I will, just...please shut up for a bit. I can't help with you all screaming at me- I spotted the entrance to a temple-like structure and directed us down to land softly on the stone floor.

B͈̹͍̠͡e̖͎̮͟w̡̤ą̣̤͍̘͈r̻̤̖̖͕̝e̻̖̗͍͇ ̶͎̞t̢̼̝̬͎̭͈̟ẖ̠e̟̭̻̮̞͢ ̛̬͓͇͍̘̪̼è͔̱̲y̵̟e̥͓s̰̺̫̘̞̲͢ ̩̘͠t̙̦͙ͅh̰̱̗̺̳̀a̷̞̜t̛͓͍̖͇͓͚̮ ̮̫̟p̭̬i͠e̤̤r̞̳̻̺ͅc͏̠̣̟͎e̢͉̠̯̣͙̜ͅ ͎̠̜̕and̟͔͖̝̖ͅ ̭t̗̠̣͍̯ͅḫ̙͔̗̤͡e̖̘̻ ̴̻̰̪͈̼̻ͅb̸̲̭̤u͞dș̦̣̭̣̀ ͚̖̩̩̟̺͞ṭ̳h͎̺͝a̜̖̝͘t̨ ̰̥͇͖̝͡g͠r̠̥̣o̷͚͔̞̦ͅw̡͉̼̝̤̠͇

I staggered, pressing a hand to the side of my eye. "Ffffffff-! Shit..."

"Bill?" Pyronica and Xanthar step forward to grab me if I fell. "They just keep screaming..." I whimper.

T̀h͎̹̟̬̞͎͘e̼ ̝̖͝e̢y̢̜͚͍ḛ͇̗̮̘̙͟ͅs͙͙̫ͅ ͏t͕̖̝͍͞h͖̦͈͎̲͕a̻̺͍͖͟t ̛͍͓̦̰ͅs͈̞̮̫̙̮̘p̯ŗ͙ou̧͔ͅt̶̺̜̦͔̘̟ͅ
̛͚̻̫T̛̺h̷͓̞̗̺̭̭̳ȩ̥̱̺̱̠̰ ̬v̥̘͙̤͉͟i͚n͙̦e̸̳̬̳ş̞̠͉̗̹̞ ͓̥͙̹̻̝t̩͎͍̱̼̗͞h̵̟͔̳̲ą͖̖t̪͚͚̣ ̩̫̙̤ͅḅ͓͕̜͈̹͞in̨̥͉͖̤͍̲d̤̩̱͙͈
̗͈̰͎͕P͚͉̗̹l̯͔̩̳e͎a̧s͈e ͜s͍̻͉̞͇͓͢a̵̩̣̫v̫͇̫͚̥̤͇e̖̯̪ ͔̱̪̗ưs̜

"Goddamit! Shut up! We're here to free you! You don't have to keep asking!" I growled. My head hurt and I don't know how these Souls were expecting me to help them when I can't even see straight.

"Is Bill alright?" Teeth asks worriedly as I shake and hover unsteadily.

"He's probably hearing the voices of the thousands of people that were killed here. That...cannot be a pleasant experience..." Kryptos winces in sympathy.

They're lucky they cannot hear this. I collapse to the ground and Xanthar picks me up carefully. "Can you block them out Bill?" Pyronica asks as she fusses over me. I blink painfully. The screaming hasn't stopped. "Yeah, but I'm gonna need you guys to be my eyes for a while..."

"What does that mean-" Ammy starts to ask before my form dispersed into nothingness and suddenly my friends all felt me settle inside them. "What the Void?!" Kryptos shudders as he feels me move around to get more comfortable. I sigh with relief. It's so much quieter in here.

-Sorry 'bout this. Don't worry, it's not gonna harm you guys at all.-

"Bill...are you...inside my head?!" Pyronica gasps.

-I'm in all of your heads. I'll explain later, for now, we should get inside that temple and find the asshole behind all this.-

"This is so weird..." Teeth chatters before walking up to the temple walls. "How do we get in?" He asks.

He squeaks in surprise as my power flows into him. "Holy dentist!" He gasps as he quadruples in size. "This is so cool!"

-Just smash this place open and destroy the main body. Then I can free everyone-

Teeth laughs and easily punches the wall down. "This is just like a level of Rampage!" He says in delight. Ammy stares in wonder. "Can I do that?" He asks. I make a mental shrug. -You don't exactly have any combat oriented skills. Sorry Ammy-

"It's fine." He floats through the hole Teeth made. The others follow along. I imbue them with a fraction of my power as well. Kryptos yelps as he grows larger. Pyronica is laughing like Teeth as she immediately begins destroying everything in her path.

Xanthar was massive. He happily knocked down walls as Ammy (larger but sadly still unable to really do much) floated along behind him.

-Try not to destroy ALL the walls. It would be annoying if you brought the temple down on us- I groan. Teeth and Pyronica apologize sheepishly.

"So where is the guy we're after?" Teeth asks. I point them towards where I felt the main body was earlier. I peeked put every now and then, wincing as the screaming came back, but I also felt the main body's panic as we got closer to where it was.

"What in the name of floss is THAT?!" Teeth screams as we enter a large room filled with a large pulsating mass. "Ew! Is that the guy?!"

Correction, the room wasn't filled with the creature. The room WAS the creature. The stone floors melted into brown starchy flesh. A million eyes opened and stared at us from all around the room. Pyronica screams and flings a fireball at them.

The creature screeches in pain. I see roots threading out along the ground and dipping into openings in the floor where the gravy was. Was it using the dead as nourishment? I couldn't fault it for that but why were the Souls trapped here? Did this potato feed on them as well?

I slipped out of my friend's minds carefully, shuddering as the screams slammed into me once again. I had to find the anchor point that was trapping them here. Xanthar was stomping on the roots, cutting them off from the main body. Pyronica was letting loose a steady stream of fire at one of the larger lumps of starch-flesh. Teeth looked too disturbed by the creature to try biting it so he just kicked at it instead. Kryptos had taken off a glove and was sending bolts of lighting into the screaming, pulsing mass.

I shook myself and tried to focus. I could hear the potato screeching for mercy. Looks like it was a Telepath as well, makes sense considering it had to use it's mind to control all those puppet bodies. I wondered how it could stand all the screaming.

-Please stop! Mercy! I beg of you!-

-Give me one good reason why I should call off my friends? You've killed so many people. Do you even know how many Souls are here right now?! Did you even NEED to kill all those people? Was it really just for fun or do you actually need to eat people?-

-It...was definitely because I needed food!- the potato lied unconvincingly.

-Well thank you for clarifying- I said cheerfully before reaching in and clawing at his mind viciously. The scream shook the room we were in. It drowned out the Souls and my friends covered their ears and staggered. I didn't let up my attack, digging deeper and deeper into his mind, tearing pieces off and crushing them.

He tried to fight back but his attacks barely scratched me as I tore his mind to shreds. Come on. Where is it? I reached inside him and found the anchor. He was holding onto the Souls to keep himself alive.  I might be able to forgive a mortal creature's desperate attempt at immortality. I cannot forgive using Souls to do so. Besides...

"You only needed ONE soul idiot. Having so many just bloats you up and kills more people." I snarl as I crush the pathetic thing beneath me and it's screams cut off. There was absolute silence. Even the Souls had gone quiet.

The others paused in their destruction of the potato creature. They could tell something had changed. "Is it dead?" Kryptos whispers.

There was an explosion of ethereal light as thousands of Souls shot out from the ground and up through the ceiling. Teeth screamed and jumped to grab onto Pyronica's leg as they passed through him in their escape. My boost had run out and everyone was back to their normal size. Kryptos kept hopping back and forth to try and dodge the Souls.

Ammy was staring at them in wonder and fascination. Xanthar was similarly enthralled. I admit. It was a beautiful yet haunting sight. I gasped when one of the Souls flew through me. Their memories and emotions flooded my senses. All that knowledge was automatically collected and saved within me. I groaned as more and more knowledge was absorbed whenever another Soul flew through my form. Too much all at once.

Too many people.

I trembled, flew over to the far wall and tried to stay out of the way of the Souls. My bricks were pulsing a strange mix of pleasant and unpleasant. On one hand, I was buzzing with energy and it felt great, on the other, I wanted to throw up. At least I wasn't eating the Souls. I thanked Ax that copying memories didn't harm the person I was scanning.

If I ever accidentally ate a Soul I would be quite upset at myself. All Souls were created by the AXOLOTL and I felt angry for His sake whenever I saw innocent ones being mistreated like this. Even the Souls of sinners being tortured made me uncomfortable. I'm all for punishing bad people but seriously, they're already dead, just let them reincarnate and try to be a better person in their next life.

Finally the flood of Souls ended and I sighed in relief as they entered the cycle of reincarnation. That's one less thing to worry about. Scratch that. There is still one thing to worry about.

The Soul of the potato creature was still here. It clung to it's corpse pathetically. Now that it was freed from its disgustingly bloated body, it had returned to it's original tiny potato form. Most souls just pass on within a few minutes but this guy was refusing to leave. I sent my pent up energy to burn up its body. The Soul cried and I floated over to glare at it.

"Dude. You're dead. Just go."

-No...I don't want to...- it wailed. As mad as I was about the terrible things it did, I managed a bit of sympathy. "Look, you're scared right? I get that. I really do. But staying here isn't going to help you."

-I don't want to die...-

"You're already dead."

-What's going to happen to me?-

"Don't you have a god you believe in? Generally your god deals with you after death right? Don't tell me that after all that shit you pulled about killing people in the name of your god, you don't even believe in them?"

-...Lord Spud will never accept me after the crimes I've committed...- the Soul muttered morosely. I rolled my eye.

"Look, even if this Lord Spud doesn't accept you. I know someone who will."

-R-really?- the potato looks up at me with it's many eyes. It looked so small and helpless.

"Yeah. And he's a really nice dude as well. He accepts everyone. Hell, he accepted ME. Just let go. Ok?"

The potato looks at me hesitantly before sniffling and fading away. I couldn't feel it anymore. It's moved on.

"Were you talking to it?" Kryptos asked me. I can tell he couldn't see the Potato's soul. Heck, the only reason my friends could see the other Souls was because there were so many of them gathered together. "Yeah. Dumb thing refused to pass on."

Everyone was kind of quiet. Mostly still awed from the mass exodus of Souls they'd just witnessed. "So...those were Souls huh?" Kryptos says at last. "Do they normally look like that?"

"Pretty much. They look like themselves but glowy and transparent."

"That...did we just...kill a boss monster and free thousands of people?" Teeth asks. I nod at him and the mouth gave a loud "Whoo!" before jumping around excitedly. "Do we get any prizes? Have I gained a level?" He asks.

"Hm..."

I clap my hands and a treasure chest drops onto the ground. It's not much but it makes Teeth happy. He opens it excitedly to release music and glowing golden light.

Doo Doo Dee Doooo~

Teeth found a Traveler's Sword

He laughed with childish delight and swung it around. Ammy looked mildly affronted when a swing came a little too close for comfort. I shake my head fondly at their antics and teleport the lot of us home. Right before we left I heard a small voice.

~Thank you for freeing my misled child~

I felt it, the aura of another god. Before I could respond the world twirled around us as my powers took hold and we warped out of there. As we reappeared back at home I couldn’t help but gaze out at the swirling galaxy outside.

Huh.

Guess there really WAS a lord Spud.

Cooking with Bill!

That was the banner proudly displayed above the kitchen, the edges had blinking lights. For maximum effect, I had the banner swoop down and flash proudly. "Hey kids! It's me Bill Cipher and welcome to Cooking with Bill!" There's the sound of applause.

"I'm your host Bill Cipher and this is my co-host for today...Teeth!"

More applause and cheers sound out. Teeth looks around wildly. "Where is that coming from?!"

"Today we will be showing you how to prepare stuffed baked potatoes!" I continue cheerfully.

"Where are we Bill? This isn't our kitchen!"

"This is a simple recipe that anyone can make with just a bit of time, dedication and LOVE!" I make a 'teehee' sound and wink at the camera, a little cartoon ❤ coming out along with a twinkling sound effect.

"Ok I'm starting to get freaked out now..." Teeth whimpers.

I pull out one of the potatoes we killed earlier. A bunch of other ingredients appeared as well. "All you need for this is a fresh potato, sour cream, ground meat (I enjoy beef but you can use boof or biif as well), salt/pepper, olive oil, cheese and some scallions."

"Bill? What's happening right now? Who are you talking to?"

 "Now the first part of ANY cooking process is cleanliness. Remember to wash your hands kids." I stretch my hands out towards the left of the screen and they reappear from the right until they reach the sink in front of Teeth. He stares at my elongated arms and then at me sitting right next to him. "Wouldn't it have been easier to just..." He starts to ask.

"Now my co-host will show you the proper way to wash your hands."

"I am?"

"First you turn on the faucet to a nice temperature that's not too cold or hot."

"Well...here goes I guess?" Teeth turns the knobs and tests the temperature. "This feels fine." He starts rubbing his hands under the stream of water.

"Of course, if your hands are dirty then you'll need more than just water."

"Where's the soap?" Teeth wonders, looking around the empty tabletop.

"That's why you need...SOLID ANIMAL FAT!" I cheer as I held up a bar of soap. Teeth stares at my hand holding the soap and then at the two hands still floating in the air above the sink in front of him, the arms stretching off screen to the right. "Wait...but your hands are-"

"Here you go Teeth. One bar of animal fat! For all your cleaning needs!" I stretch my hand up in the air until it leaves the frame and Teeth jumps as my hand with the soap appears from beside him, sliding up from behind the counter. "Bill seriously what the fu-"

The screen fades out of focus as a logo pops up with a picture of a bar of soap with big cartoon eyes. A narrator voice reads out "Solid Animal Fat! For all your cleaning needs! Buy it now at a Hellmart near YOU!" A short jingle plays as the narrator voice says quietly and quickly "SolidAnimalFatisonlyforcleaning.Itisnotmeantforeating,wateringyourgarden,sexytimesorthehostiletakeoverofyouroppressivegovernment.WeatHellmartarenotresponsibleforanydeaths,internalbleedingorwidespreadanarchycausedbymisuseofourproduct.

The screen fades back in.

"-uck is going on right now?!" Teeth wails.

"So! While my co-host is cleaning himself, I can start explaining what we need to do. First off, the potato needs to be washed as well. Unlike with HANDS though, you do not need soap. Simply scrub the potato lightly under running water." I wash the potato in the sink in front of me.

"That sink wasn't there before!!!" Teeth screeches even as he uses the soap. There were three of my hands around him even as I used the two 'normal' hands attached to my body to wash the potato. Teeth gives the soap back to the hand beside him and bats at the ones above him. "Back off. This is weird."

"Now your potato is all clean." I hold up the potato and very obvious sparkles surround it along with a disembodied voice going "WOW~"

I hand the potato to Teeth, this time without sending a hand off screen, he seems grateful for that. "You now need to dry the potato. Simply pat it down with a paper towel." Taking his cue without complaint, Teeth grabs the potato and looks around for said paper towel.

"Where did my sink go?!" He gasps as there was a smooth counter space in front of him with a roll of paper towels beside him. He follows my instructions despite his confusion and drys the potato.

"Now we cut a slit in the potato lengthwise. We're not cutting it in half, just making an opening so it doesn't explode when we put it in the oven to bake. Most people just stab it with a fork but we're out of forks." I gesture to the beautiful sculpture shaped like myself, made entirely of forks. I set the oven to 425 degrees, I didn't need to wait for it to heat up, it just BECOMES whatever temperature I want. Teeth doesn't even question the oven suddenly beside me.

"I didn't know potatoes explode..." He says as he picks up the small knife that magically appeared on the counter to make an incision along the potato like I instructed. He hands the potato to me and I pour some olive oil on it. "Now you rub some oil on and around the potato, make sure you really soak it in there. Then you just stick it in the oven to bake for about...45 standard galactic minutes." I toss the potato into the oven before frowning at the camera. "Blame Time Baby for forcing us all to WAIT for our delicious food."

Smiling brightly I proceed with the rest of the instructions. "While we're waiting for the potato to finish cooking, we can start preparing the meat. Just heat up some oil on a pan and start adding that thermal energy to the ground up animal FLESH." I start cooking on the stove top in front of me, spatula in hand and a large pan in the other.

"Bill, are you okay? Are you going through something? You know you can always come to us for help?"

"Add some salt and pepper for flavor and cook until the meat browns. If you're so inclined, you can add some onions. I hate cutting onions though so this won't have any. Here Teeth, take over for me." I push the stove top and it slides across the counter to rest in front of Teeth. The whole room shifts to the side along with it. Teeth sighs and mimics what I was doing, stirring the meat around in the pan.

"So while he's doing that I can talk to you about the other ingredients. The sour cream acts as a glue to stick everything together, the chives are for color and the cheese is just nice to have because cheese is delicious." The oven 'Dings' beside me. "Ooh! It looks like the potato is done baking!"

"But it hasn't been 45 minutes yet..." Teeth points out.

I pull the oven open and a stream of ✧ ✧ ✧ ✧ ✧ flew out with more twinkling sounds. The potato seems to glow with a heavenly light as I held it up. A choir sings "Ahhhh~" behind me.

I place the potato down and widen the slit until it opens up and a bunch of steam comes rushing out of the potato. "So now you can take the meat, mix it into a bowl with the sour cream, chives and cheese and slather it on top of your potato." Teeth carefully scoops the meat out of the pan and into a large bowl. The three hands around him are putting in the other ingredients and stirring it. He doesn't even question it anymore.

"My dear co-host, would you like to do the honors?" I place the plate with the potato in front of him. He scoops a large spoonful of the meat/sour cream mixture and dumps it on top of the potato. "This was weird. But it was kinda nice." He says as he puts on a little more of the mixture.

"Aaaaaand~you're done! Ta-Da! Delicious baked potato with filling!"

 

"Thank you all for being with us today for another episode of Cooking with Bill Cipher! I love all of you! Remember kids, reality is an illusion, life is a hologram BUY GOLD BYE!"

The screen fades to black as cheers and applause sound out.

A narrator voice says "Cooking with Bill Cipher is brought to you by Chaos. Chaos, you too can now embrace the screaming insanity of living within an uncaring universe."

A logo fades into view. "And by contributions from viewers like you, thank you."

---

My friends blink slowly as we sit around in the kitchen with plates of baked potato in front of us. "What...the fuck just happened?" Pyronica asks. Kryptos was looking around himself, jumpy and confused.

"Well I for one, find that cooking lesson to be quite educational." Ammy says calmly as he starts eating his meal. Teeth shakes his head and frowns at me. "Bill, I don't know what you're smoking...but I want some."

I laugh long and hard.

Chapter Text

Illusion is Reality

Chapter 34

-It’s all that I want and I've waited for so long-

---

Miz’s book published without much fanfare. It felt really nice to hold that book in my hands. I’ve published a book. Actually published a book. Even if it wasn’t a big hit, I was elated. I was so proud of myself. It was strange and wonderful and I was giggly for a long time. Kryptos gave me funny looks when I floated around the house giggling to myself and reading through a copy of my own book.

I might have forced everyone to read it and asked for their opinions.

They all thought I had found an author I liked.

My editor and I worked on a few other books. All set within the same universe with the same cast of characters but with different plots and stories. It was fun. To avoid abandoning my friends to starve I was forced to keep a careful schedule with multiple reminders of ‘when’ I should be. I did most of my work in my Nightmare Realm house. It was the only place I could work without distraction. I missed being able to ask the shrine maidens for their opinions. I debated asking my friends but couldn’t bring myself to explain that I was secretly the girl pictured on the back of the books.



I asked Ax for his opinion and he looked…sadly nostalgic at the idea that I wrote a story. There was something there, he mentioned that the Time Giants used to make up stories to tell him. I gave him a hug and stayed with him for a few days.

My book series never made it big but in the years that followed I discovered I had a small cult following. I also doubled down on my book's usefulness by having depictions of me hidden within my drawings. In this way I could see more of the universe. I keep a lookout for anything that needed my interference. So far nothing majority fucked up like the potato-incident has happened but I'm not going to ignore the world anymore.

I have my self-given purpose to do.

---

Earth had finally formed. Sure it’s just a ball of super hot rocks but it’s progress. I check up on the planet every now and then, waiting for sentient life. How many billions of years is this gonna take? Who the hell knows? I can wait.

I stare down at the molten orb. This was so cool. I'm literally watching the formation of my planet! I've watched other planets and stars form but there was something about this that just made it more...personal.

I know it’s not MY Earth, far from it, but still. Earth. With it’s blue skies and lush forests. With cats, dogs and other adorable critters. Earth is so very special. So many different life forms. So many different species. Most of the alien worlds I've been to only contain a few hundred different species per planet. Both sentient and non-sentient.

I reach out my hand, at this distance I could pretend I was holding the Earth in my fingers. Soon. The Earth will exist. Soon. Life will begin to form. Soon. Life will evolve and grow. Soon. Humanity will come to be. I can barely wait.

Soon.

---

The wait was agonizing. Watching the smoldering rock and knowing that it'll take billions of years more before anything changes significantly. To take my mind off it, I hung out with my friends. Pyronica realized she wasn't aging. We swung by her homeworld and she was confused by how much everything had changed since the last time she'd been there.

She never bothered to go here often, no reason to when there were so many better worlds out there. But when I asked everyone where they wanted to go for today's field trip, she mentioned wanting to check on her old home. That's why we're here now.

Xanthar and Ammy ran off somewhere to play in the desert outside the city. Teeth and the Kryptos had already gone off to wreak havoc in their own ways. Ronica, dressed up nicely for our little outing, was staring with a blank expression at the city she grew up in. The buildings had changed. The people had changed. Everything was different. I reach out to nudge her arm lightly. "Ronica? Are you...okay?"

"Bill..." She says quietly. "...how long has it been since I first met you?"

I wince and fold inward a little. "Nearly 3 thousand galactic years now." For her at least, with all my time-swerving and dimension hopping, I’m nearing 40 billion years old now…

She's silent. I can feel a maddening swirl of emotions from her. None of them stay for long, swapping and twisting and curling around. I can feel disbelief, shock, confusion, sadness, fear and dread.

"Ronica? Are you okay? I ask again.

"What were the terms of our Deal?"

"....that we would be friends...from now until the end of time..." I say meekly.

Pyronica doesn't respond. I fret. She's mad. I just know it. "I'm sorry!" I say quickly. "I probably should have told you! I just...well...I don't actually know what to say. I'm just...so sorry..." I materialized some paper to fiddle with. "I just...I was so happy that you wanted to be my friend and I...well..." I can already feel my eye tearing up. "I didn't want to lose you so I just…”

I jump when she suddenly laughs. I blink at her as she just cackles and wipes a tear from her eye. "Ronica?"

"It’s fine Bill. Geez, like, this is COOL! So I'm like...immortal now or something?"



"Well you won't age, but you can still get hurt or killed."

"Seriously Bill, this is fine. Don't worry so much. Wow. 3 thousand years already? I guess time really does rush like a flash fire when you're having fun." She grins at me widely. I can still feel some apprehension trickling out of her but she's trying so hard to reassure me.

"I'm still sorry Ronica. I should have told you."

"Hey. It’s fine. You silly hypocrite." She pokes my hat. "You're the one always talking about ME telling people I'm gonna eat them before I ask them out. And your cute little self can't even tell me I'm immortal? Talk about double standards."

"Hey, I make you tell people because you end up killing your dates. This is like, the OPPOSITE of killing." I pout and Pyronica giggles. "Hypocrite~" she teases.

We banter lightly. She's still secretly upset and I'm still guilty but I don't think she's mad at me? We will move past this. I know we will. We have to. She has to. She's my precious friend. Mine.

---

I was surprised when Jessie summoned me. I completely expected her to cut ties with me completely. I was sure she would never want to see me again. And yet, here I was, floating in my summoning circle in Jessie's private chambers. She always summoned me here the few times she's bothered to. It was the only place where no one was allowed to enter except her. Where she could speak with me without worrying about other people watching.

“Hello…Miz…”

Oh. I guess she finally figured it out. It’s been a few years since ‘Miz’ left the temple from her point of view. It’s been a few centuries for me though.  I’ve had plenty of time to get over myself. I was actually relieved that she found out. I didn’t have to lie anymore.

"Hello Jheselbraum."

"Why?" She asks, watching me calmly. It was one of the reasons I liked her. She wasn't afraid of me at all. She wasn't afraid to tell me to my face that she didn't like me. In all the millions of years I've known her, she has never gone out of her way to try and get on my good side. She always made it clear she'll tolerate me and nothing else.

I just never realized how much she truly disliked me.

"Why what? Why did I disguise myself as a little girl? Why I drew and published comic books? You're gonna have to be more specific. You know I don't read your mind."

"This is precisely what I mean. Why do you continue to be this way? I have made it clear that I neither respect you nor like you. You have killed billions for less than that. And yet you have not harmed me in any way."

"I crushed your world view about your position." I point out.

"You enlightened me to the truth! It may have hurt but I'd rather know the truth than live on in ignorance! Even now you have not melted my face off or eaten my shrine maidens in rage for my betrayal of you. You LIVED with us while we were ignorant of who you were. You could have easily destroyed us all. I ask again. Why?"

She looks legitimately confused why I continue to grant her mercy. I can understand why she feels this way. I don't have a reputation of patience for those who've betrayed me. My feelings are easily hurt and I've burned down entire villages for a slight against me. 'Miraculously' no innocent people were ever killed or seriously harmed when that happens. They chalk it up to divine protection from the AXOLOTL, never realizing that I simply used all my self control to prevent my flames from killing innocent people.

I sighed. How does she not realize it? Even after all these years? "Because I love you." I still did, even after all this time. I couldn’t help myself.

She steps back as if struck. There's an odd expression on her face, like she's unsure if she should be disgusted or sympathetic. “That is incredibly unfortunate.” She says with a noticeable waver in her voice.

"I don't mean sexually, that's disgusting. Geez, you're like a little sister or something. God, you and Pyronica both just keep ASSUMING-"

"Oh...well if you do not...desire me...then why?"

"What part of 'you're like a sister to me' are you incapable of understanding?! Ugh. Seriously. I know you're not that stupid Jheselbraum!"

She gets a look of dawning understanding. "Oh. I...never realized your regard for me ran that deep. I thought it was merely another of your...jokes."

"Why would I joke about that? I lost my family. My entire homeworld. Everything I knew, gone! You KNOW this! How have you not realized that Family is the most important thing to me? That having a Family again was all I've EVER wanted?"

For the first time in our conversation her expression breaks from it's calm mask. I can clearly see her guilt as she finally understands what I’m saying, what I mean. "I have been a fool. A stupid blind fool..." She says sadly. "Please forgive me. For all that I am praised as an Oracle, I have been pathetically blind to what lay before my own eyes…you were right.“ In a cracking voice she whispers "I am unfit to be His Priestess..."

"Hey! None of that! You are Ax's Priestess. You are worthy. Definitely worthy."

"But He didn't choose me."

"Dammit Jessie! Do you know WHY I chose you? Out of all the maidens brought before His altar, I picked YOU. It wasn't from some eenie meenie miney moe bullshit either. I specifically chose YOU."

She blinks her many eyes at me. A few were already leaking. I gently wiped away her tears. "I picked you because you were the best. Ax deserves nothing BUT the best. When he told me to chose for him, do you have any idea how stressed I was?"



I manage a weak laugh. "I wanted to make sure I didn't mess THIS up. Not like I've messed up everything else I've ever done. This wasn't just about me, it was for Ax's sake."

I held her face gently in my hands. She's watching me intently. Paying full attention to my words. "So I looked at all of you. So many maidens lined up, all of you praying and hoping to be chosen. I scanned each and every one of you. I had to know everything about you. Your past, your present, your hopes and desires." I stared at her intently.

"Do you know what I found?"

"What?" She asks quietly, her expression the most open I've seen since the day she was first chosen.

"Around 80% of the maidens there didn't even give a shit about Ax. They came because they wanted the power, prestige and immortality that would come with the position. Most of them didn't even believe Ax was real. They were taught to worship him but his lack of presence made them believe he was nothing more than myth.” I sneered.

"Of the remaining 20% around half were brainless puppets who had taken on the teachings so thoroughly that they can't even think for themselves. Some were timid and wouldn't be able to stand up to the duties they would have to perform. Some were just unskilled in divination and healing. And then I found you."

I gave her the kindest smile I could manage without a face. "You were everything I'd hoped for. You were strong, independent and utterly devoted to a God you have never seen or heard from. You are Jheselbraum the Unswerving. Your belief never wavered in all the years you've lived."

Her eyes were wide and wet with tears but there was that gleam of joy, the same one I saw all those millennia ago when the light at the altar had shone down on her.

"More than that. You were kind and fair. Do you know how many religious zealots I've met over the years? People who would discriminate or kill others 'in the name of the AXOLOTL'? I hated those people. Hypocritical idiots who push for their own selfish agendas while using Ax's name to build followers."

"I remember hearing of the destruction of one of their Temples. You razed them all to the ground. Everyone thought...I thought that you were simply killing HIS worshippers for fun." She frowns.

"Pfth- you should know I don't do things like that without reason."

"Yes, I probably should have realized. I can't believe I've been so stupid all this time." She slumps slightly.

"You're still young. You haven't even reached 1 billion years old yet." I poke her cheek lightly.

"Somehow I feel like you're patronizing me." Jessie mutters as I laugh.

"There's the grumpy Jessie I know and love!"

"Yes, well..." She wipes her eyes. "This has...been an enlightening talk."

I sigh. "Look. You can't be seen with me for the sake of your reputation. I get that. But I still want us to be friends. I know you don't like me and I can't blame you. I don't like myself either."

“Miz…Bill...I cannot allow you to be here. It was difficult enough to explain Xanthar's stays. Luckily, your protective nature over your 'companion' is well known and I was able to truthfully tell people that you leave him here because I am known for taking in any who seek sanctuary."

She frowns at me. "But you cannot bring your other companions here. I cannot excuse their presence."

"That's fair." I flicked my bowtie a few times. "So...are we good?"

"If you mean to ask if we are friends, I...don't think I am quite ready for that."

"So...mutually non-hostile acquaintances?" I ask hopefully.

She actually smiles. "I am alright with that. The girls miss Miz. I do as well…”

I sighed. “So I can only come when I’m disguised as a little girl then?”

She laughs lightly. It wasn’t the resolution I wanted but…Jessie was willing to let me back in her temple, knowingly. That was a start.

---

“Seriously, what’s up with you? Are you sick?” Teeth asks when I didn’t respond to him despite the mouth poking me multiple times. “Like…you space out a lot but you normally come back when I call you a few times.” He frowns at me while the TV blared the newest round of Demon Baby Fights.

“Seriously, you haven’t even been paying attention to the show. DiaperRash just got his arm ripped off and you didn’t even cheer.”


“Sorry. There’s been a lot on my mind…” I slap my bricks a few times. Focus, idiot.

“What’s so important that you can’t even watch the children of the infernal legions tear each other apart?” Teeth grumbles. I resist the urge to correct him about how all the 'Babies' were actually an adult species of demon that just LOOKED like infants. I sigh. “Jessie and I made up from our…misunderstanding.”

“I don’t know who that is. But this is a good thing right?”

“It’s very good! I’m glad she’s not…hating me…but it’s just…” I frown, thinking about how I can put this into words. “Because of our positions in society, I can’t hang out with her like I do with you guys. Even ignoring the fact that for all intents and purposes, I’m not allowed into Dimension 52, if I’m seen around her and she ISN’T treating me like she can barely stand me, she could get in a lot of trouble.”

“Wait, who is this girl? Is she your secret girlfriend or something?” Teeth gasps at the potential drama. I quickly correct him.

“No! Jessie’s like…my adopted little sister…sort of? It’s really complicated…”

“You have a sister?!”

I feel like Teeth was just getting more confused as this conversation wore on. “Okay so…after my family…died…” I had to pause a bit and collect myself. “…I was taken in by this guy who pretty much raised me for the next many billion years or so. I guess he’s technically STILL raising me considering I go to him whenever I need help…”

“Wait, YOU, needing help? With what?! You can do ANYTHING.” Teeth looks like he can’t even fathom the idea that I would need help with anything. It certainly made my ego feel nice.

“It’s mostly just me complaining about my ‘feelings’ and ‘issues’ to him. That’s not important right now.” I wave him off. Teeth scoffs. "So you go to that other guy to talk about your feelings but not us?

"I'm talking to you right now aren't I?"

Teeth pauses before smiling softly. "Yes. You are." I continue where I left off.

“Basically, Jessie is his High Priestess and I suppose in a really weird way that makes her adoptive family? I don’t know, what do you think the relationship between a god and their high priest or priestess to be? Like…parent and child?”

“….I have no idea what you’re saying…” Teeth says slowly. I groan.

“Too long didn’t listen, Jessie is like family, so no, I am NOT dating her.”

“So…what was the problem again?”

I face palm with both hands. Ax grant me patience.

“I’m sad that I can’t spend more time with my sister.” I state plainly. Kryptos, who was walking by to get to the kitchen, stops to stare at us in surprise. “You have a sister?!”

I groan and bury my face in a couch cushion.


Chapter Text

Illusion is Reality

Chapter 35

-Well well well-

---

I've noticed that Kryptos had a habit of trying to analyze how my powers worked. Ever since our first conversation about it I found him not too subtly trying to get more information out of me on the mechanics. He knew what I was DOING with them but not HOW I was able to do it.

"So...you somehow grab onto free floating protons and just...stick them together, building up their atomic mass until it turns into the element that you want...and you repeat the process for all the others atoms until they turn into something?"

"Pretty much." I said as I slurped up lunch. Ammy cooked today. It was just potato soup but I appreciate how he tried. It was pretty bland, and not just because all I could taste were the carbon based chains of the starch. Ammy hasn't learned how to add flavors yet. But we had SO many potatoes in the pantry that we needed to use up.

"That sounds so hard..." Teeth moans. Kryptos on the other angle was going nuts. "But! But! How exactly do you do that?! How is it possible for you to be able to freely control the very building blocks of reality?! It just doesn't make sense!"

His arms were waving wildly. I laughed at his incredulous frustration.

"Honestly I don't know HOW it works. Just that it does." I raise a hand beside me and twirl it around. "I can feel them here. Floating molecules of Oxygen, Nitrogen and so on." I clenched my hand into a fist. "Now I've fused their atomic mass together to make Phosphorus. You can't see it since I've only done that to two atoms." I spread my fingers and make a grasping motion. "And now I've combined a Nitrogen and Oxygen atom to make Nitric Oxide."



"But HOW?! People can't just...touch and manipulate atoms that easily!"

I shrug. "I just...feel them. I can grab onto them with my mind. It almost feels like being able to just look at an object and make it move." I proceeded to do just that. Pyronica yelps as her chair is lifted off the ground. "Bill! Not when I'm trying to eat!" Not that she was eating much anyway, I can see her making faces at her soup.

I giggle as I put her chair back down. "I suspect my powers have something to do with my psychic abilities. Just...super charged and way stronger than most people can achieve within their lifetime."

"Speaking of lifetime...is it true that we're immortal now?" Kryptos asks.

I look over to Pyronica. "You told them?"

"Duh! It's not like you were gonna do it." She flips her hair dismissively. I conceded to her point. "Well, you guys won't die of old age, just don't get killed and you'll be fine."

"So...theoretically I could live long enough to gain powers? I have my electricity right now. That's pretty much just a manipulation of electrons. If I can gain a better control over it I might be able to do what you do." The compass babbles excitedly.

"Ooh! I could teach you!" I gush happily. I'm sure any other god might feel threatened if someone tried to gain powers similar to them, but I was just happy to have someone I can discuss SCIENCE with.

"Your flames are blue right? Normally that indicates a flame with high oxygen content or copper. Do you create Oxygen around you with your powers to make your flame deliberately that color?" Kryptos asks.

"Actually...it might just be due to the fact that I naturally produce a bunch of elements whenever I eat stuff. Most commonly it's Oxygen, Hydrogen and Carbon..." All the essential ingredients for making a fire hotter, stronger and burn for longer.

""Neeeeeerd~"" Pyronica and Teeth teased.

"How is it that you can choose whether or not to burn people with your fire? Oxygen rich blue flame is incredibly hot and I've seen you shake hands with people without killing them."

"Well the funny thing is that while I can break down chemical bonds to get energy, sparking a flame causes elements to bond together and that actually produces MORE energy. That's why fire is hot, it's the thermal energy created from the oxygen, hydrogen and carbon binding together to make carbon dioxide and water-"

"Oh my void do you two have to talk about this while we're eating?!" Pyronica groans. "It's almost as bad as you and Teeth having a pun-off."

"-but the thing is, since it's a flame that I created, I can still absorb energy from it. So even though the flame produces both Light and Heat, I can choose to absorb the heat into myself and thus, have a burning flame without harming anyone." I continued speaking.

Have I mentioned how nice it is to have Kryptos around? No one else was willing to sit and listen to me ramble about SCIENCE for hours on end. Kryptos stares at me in awe.

"That's amazing! So...even when you use your power to produce a spark to ignite yourself, you can just take in the energy created from the natural chemical reaction and just...get even more powerful?"

"It's not as nice as it sounds if you're trying to get stronger. If I absorb too much too quickly I explode. I prefer the slow and steady approach. It gives my body time to adjust to holding larger amounts of energy without it leaking out."

My bricks develop an orange tint. "Also, too much at once sometimes has other...more embarrassing side effects..."

"Like what?" Kryptos leaned forward in his stool, eager as always to learn more about me. I glance between my friends, weighing my options.

"...promise you guys won't laugh?"

"Oh. Now I'm interested." Pyronica has a wide grin as she suddenly pays attention. Her food was pushed away, she wasn't really eating it anyway, and she peers at me in anticipation.

"Now I definitely don't want to tell you." I pout.

"Aw, don't be like that Bill. You know Ronica's just yanking your bow." Teeth nudges me with a grin.

"I don't think that means what you think it means." I pout harder.

"What WOULD happen if we yank your bow?" Ammy questions. His words cause a spark of mischief around the table from my other friends. I immediately shake my head.

"Nope. No way. You guys are NOT trying that."

"Oh reeeeeeally~?" Pyronica grins slyly as she inches closer to me. I lean back. "No...don't you dare..." Her hand grabs at me quickly and I dodge while letting out a frantic squeak. "Hey! Stop it!" She laughs as she leaps over the dining table and reaches for me.

Teeth laughs and blocks me from floating away and Xanthar tries to move out of the way when I get herded toward him but his bulk pretty much stopped me in my tracks.



"Seriously guys. I think you should stop..." Kryptos interjects weakly as Teeth, Ammy and Pyronica advance upon me. Xanthar finally grabs me and stuffs me underneath himself. I would thank him for getting me out of the way but he was kind of sitting on me.

I hear Pyronica whine over not being able to mess with me some more. "Why do you even WANT to mess with him?" Kryptos cries anxiously. Then in a quieter voice, whispering "What if you make him mad?"

"Bill won't hurt us." Pyronica says firmly. "Even if he gets mad the most that'll happen is weird punishments."

Kryptos makes a distressed sound. I caught a few quick flashes of his memories of being turned into a sofa. I didn't realize it affected him this much. Then again, full body transmutation from a living creature to an inanimate object while still miraculously being both alive and sentient might be traumatic for some people.

I push at Xanthar's belly. Oof, he's gotten pretty heavy. Might have to cut down on his syrup intake. Give him water or fruit juice instead. That would be healthier for him. Of course, he would just give me that blank faced sad look and I'd cave instantly.

My friends really are my weakness.

Pyronica is still trying to move Xanthar off me. Kryptos tries ineffectually to stop her, Teeth and Ammy were cheering her on and I just laugh at the silliness of it all. I yelp when Xanthar shifts and I'm pressed hard against the ground. "Aaaaaah!!!" I flail my arms and legs frantically.

It was only later that I remembered I could have just Blinked out of there or levitated the loaf off me but at the moment I was panicking. Mild claustrophobia and discomfort superseding my rational thoughts. Good news is, my resulting hysterical tantrum made everyone forget the question that started the whole mess to begin with.

---

As an apology for upsetting me, Pyronica and the others did a few odd jobs on various planets to pull enough money together to invite a masseuse over for a day. I was rather touched that they actually earned their own money just to try and do something nice for me. It was a relief to not be the one paying for everything.

"Mmph..." I moaned as Handsy kneads my bricks firmly. Funnily enough, even after he found out who I am, the Manyhand masseuse still wanted to come and work on me.

"Your skin is so...beautifully smooth. It is an honor to be allowed to touch something so perfect..." He gazes at my body in awe.



"So...you don't care about who I am? What I am?" I sighed sleepily as his hands roamed along my back. The oil he poured over me smelled really nice.

"Why should I? I am a masseuse. All I care for is bodies. And yours is...absolutely lovely..." I can feel his worshipful gaze as he caresses each of my bricks lovingly. I turned bright orange.

"O-oh?"

"If you ever wish to hire me again, I'll give a 30% discount." He smiles and brushes a large palm down my back. I shiver a bit. His interest in my body is...disturbing...but this feels really nice so I'll allow it. I mean...I can't really blame the guy for his...fetish? It's not like my voyeurism is any less creepy.

As long as his conduct remains professional I don't have a reason to be upset right?

"So...you having fun Bill?" Teeth asks.

"Yeah. It was real nice of you guys to do this for me."

"So you feel better now?" Kryptos asks.

"Much-oooh~much better yes." I moaned.

"So you are not angry at us anymore?" Ammy asks.

"Yeah, I guess you are forgiven." I sink into the soft table with a sigh.

"So...will you turn us back to normal now?" Pyronica asks.

The four of them looked at me hopefully, I hummed thoughtfully. "Well...I don't know...this back massage is great and all...but is it enough to make up for the horrid trauma you put me through?"

"Oh come ON Bill!" Pyronica (who I'd turned into a llama) snorted angrily. "You're just being a real bastard right now."



"I'll have you know my parents were Paired when they had me." I say mildly as Handsy begins stroking my arms and gushing over their near frictionless texture. I wiggled as he gently massages my legs. This feels weird, pleasant but weird.

"Bill~We're really sorry~" Kryptos pleads as he tugs on the rabbit ears that now grew out from his upper sides.



"At least punish Xanthar too!" Teeth whines as he sadly brushes the thick woolen fur I'd grown all over his body.



"I did punish Xanthar. He can't have syrup for the foreseeable future."

"To be fair. That IS a pretty good punishment, since Bill can see the future and all." Ammy says calmly, having already gotten used to being turned into a penguin.



Xanthar snuffles in a way I'd come to recognize as 'pouting' so I stretched out my arm across the room to pet him. "Aw...I'm sorry Xan-Xan but you need to lose weight. You're getting puffy."

"It's not fair~Bill always goes easy on Xanthar..." Teeth mutters quietly.

"Well he's Bill's first friend. He's got a soft spot for him." Pyronica sighs fondly.

The others make sounds of understanding and agreement. I grin and decide to turn them back to normal after Handsy leaves. For now I'm content to just relax and let the Manyhand press against my bricks so pleasantly.

---

Earth has developed water!

Eeeeeeeee!!!

Part of me wanted to watch the changes the planet will go through after this new development but I only lasted a few days before I got bored and went home. As amazing as the slow build of the planet was, I just didn't have the patience for it.

I updated Ax on the state of the Earth and he was very supportive of my joy. I kind of wish I could convince him to come and hang out with me outside of his realm. Aside from that time he came into the third dimension to find me, he hasn't left the Space between Spaces.

And I thought MY hikkikomori tendencies were bad. Actually I think I might have been cured of my shut in nature when I became a god. Or at least, having the power to go anywhere I want at anytime has given me incentive to go out instead of spending all my time on my computer.

Huh.

I don't have a computer.

I should probably go get one. Teeth has his video games and I know plenty of alien species have already developed 'internet' (aside from the MAIN interwebular service created, run and monitored by the Federation) so...clearly there has to be an online community. More importantly-

An anonymous online community. So long as I can have my IP encrypted.

Forums where I can chat with hundreds of strangers who won't know who I am? Video sharing sites? I might even find (dare I even dream?) a fanfiction website? Even if those types of online services don't exist yet, I can pull some strings to make them come to be.

And by strings I mean Deals.

I resolve to get computers for the house. Maybe get everyone their own personal laptop or desktop. I was excited just thinking of it.

---

Good news and bad news.

Good news, the internet exists and connects throughout the multiverse. Bad news, the best, high speed one was created and run by the Federation. I may have been able to hack into the signals to get the TV showing every channel but hacking into the internet would be harder. More so due to the fact that the Federation seems to be the only service providers available. Other companies were quickly bullied into merging with them or crushed. Also, even if I can get a working connection it'll have the side effect of allowing the Feds to see our online activity.

And people get upset that I spy in them? At least I'm not looking through their internet search history (well I COULD but why would I bother?) So I can't get our household computers and internet until I can figure out a way to hide our signals from people.

In other words, I need a hacker.

I COULD try to learn this stuff myself but there is one issue. I don't like to bother learning things that bored me. Proper coding, hacking and stuff is just...so obnoxious. I know a little HTML and I can just scan someone to learn all other types of script but it doesn't mean I'll be able to use it properly. That's the difference between KNOWING all vs UNDERSTANDING all.

In order for me to learn how to properly sit down in front of a computer and hack, I would need to manually learn it. It's like learning to play an instrument, the difference is that I don't have the patience to learn coding because it's boring as shit. At least playing an instrument is still fun. To me at least.

I only bother to truly learn things that interest me. Luckily I have a wide array of interests. Unluckily, coding isn’t one of them. So it's back to square one.

I need to get a hacker.

It shouldn't be that difficult. Find some talented hacker in the multiverse, offer to grant them a Deal in exchange for services. Easy right? As for the actual physical computers...I can copy-paste real models sold in Federation-owned stores so I can craft my own without having to buy them.

Damn my powers were useful sometimes.

---

I'm not sure what I was expecting. I just flew around the multiverse scanning every mind I passed for any info on 'Hackers' and getting many mixed results. Also, a pounding headache from going through so many minds at once. Ugh...it’s like there's fireworks going off inside my brain. Flashes of colors, emotions, names, information...

With the new info came a rush of energy as my body greedily absorbed everything I could scan. I learned a few new languages that happened to include the word Hacker. Apparently one Federation officer was caught engaging in misconduct by hacking off Slothpoke tails to sell on the Void market. I discovered the location of many high end hair salons...geez, looks like my Search needs to be more specific.

I pressed a hand against my eye and groaned. My bricks were overheating fast and I was glowing so brightly I'm sure the people down on the planet I'm floating over could see it with their naked eyes. Damn, I shouldn't have tried scanning multiple dimensions at once.

My usual flickering as I scanned for info just grabbed from the planet or dimension I was currently in. It was still a lot of info but I've practiced until I could do that without trouble. Trying to grab info from multiple dimensions at once seemed like a good way to save time but it was not worth this headache.

As I painfully sorted through everything I've seen for anything USEFUL, I notice a wanted poster on some Federation sites. A hacker that has been embezzling funds out of Federation accounts and causing all sorts of trouble for them. A hacker they were hunting down viciously.

A hacker named Hectorgon.

---

It didn't take long to track down Hectorgon. He was on the run and hiding from the Federation. But even if he can erase his tracks, he can't hide from the All Seeing Eye. I watched him through any triangular shaped peep-holes throughout the multiverse. I saw his (bad) attempts to disguise himself to stay safe.

Hm. How should I do this?

Hectorgon is a LITERAL criminal. The Federation is actively after him. Even if I used a Favor, Time Baby only has so much power with the Federation. He can make them leave me and my friends alone because for the most part we don't actively go out and harm people. Time Baby's jobs notwithstanding. I get the occasional Federation officer attempt to arrest me but they're easily dealt with.

I even go out of my way to make it non-lethal when I retaliate. And then I go and cause chaos in that idiot's office branch as a show of 'Don't fuck with me' so others will think twice before trying what that foolish officer did.

I fondly remember one guy who tried to shoot me with a plasma rifle while I was grocery shopping. It was very unprofessional of him. Opening fire while in a public area full of innocent civilians. That's why I disintegrated his weapon and armor before leaving him tied up naked outside the police station with a note admonishing him for his actions. I also filled his office with sea foam.

Back to the point, Hectorgon has committed real crimes against the Federation. While I can help him, it would break my neutral stance in the Federation's eyes. They will have a 'real' crime to persecute me for. Aiding and abetting a known criminal. I have another option, get Hectorgon's crimes pardoned. That...might work but from what I've Seen the higher ups are very angry at how much money they've lost because of his actions.

Speaking of...

The money he embezzled were being sent into various different bank accounts under different names. None of which corresponded with a real person. Some were used for investing in Stocks, some were donated to various groups and charities and a few just seemed to be sitting untouched. I won't know more until I met the man himself and scanned him. Even if he was Bill's friend in another world, I know nothing about this man. For all I know, he might be a terrible person.

After all, as much as I love my friends...

Xanthar is sweet and I love him dearly. Despite that, I can't really say he's a safe person to be around. Sure, he's not malicious and there isn't a single mean bone in his body but he's oblivious to his own size and power. Whenever he go out together he gets distracted by something that interests him and has a bad tendency to destroy everything without meaning to. He can trample or injure people without noticing. Like a Great Dane who just doesn’t realize how big they are.

This makes him dangerous. Even though I know he's the gentlest loaf of bread around, I can't deny that he is dangerous. Left on his own, he could cause massive damage and injuries to everyone around him.

Then there's Pyronica who doesn't give a shit about stealing from anyone. She has no concept of guilt over taking what she wants, she doesn't care about the feelings of the people she steals from and she regularly eats people. Even if her species devour their mates, most of them do not just eat any random person they meet. Pyronica straight up doesn't care for the lives of others if they aren't her friends or people she knows on a personal level. A selfishness born from years of surviving on her own without any true affection or assistance from those around her. A survival-tactic she developed on the streets, fighting to stay alive. She doesn't trust other people. She hates authority figures, seeing the police in her hometown as nothing more than enemies who would try and take away her freedom.

It's why she goes along with me. Even if I technically have custody (and thus power) over her, I made it clear on the very first day I brought her home that she was free to come and go as she pleases. The teleporter placed right next to the front door a reminder that I will not restrict her freedom. Even if I deal out punishments for misbehavior, I have never taken away her independence.

The only thing she's truly dependent on me for is this house, food and money. Things that she's never had growing up. They're great and she loves having them, but even if I took them away she would be able to survive on her own in the way she always has. Stealing whatever she needs.

Pyronica isn't what you'd call a morally upstanding person. But despite her disregard for the lives and belongings of others, she's sweet, intuitive and patient. She feels a need to show me her appreciation of my care and kindness. If someone is genuinely nice to her, she can tell and she tries to return their kindness.

Her years of observing people to differentiate friend from foe has made her good at reading people on an emotional level. Even me, with my telepathic and empathetic powers, can't always understand what people are like. I can Feel their emotions but it takes me time (and a full history scan) to understand them. Pyronica can tell when I'm upset and she always tries to make me feel better. She's not really a good person, but she's not a bad person either.

Amorphous Shape's issue are clear. He doesn't have any sort of moral compass. I have to manually teach him everything about right or wrong. He can only understand these lessons on an intellectual level. I can easily see how his blatant disregard for the feelings of others could turn into something horrible if he isn't taught properly. Heck, he's already picked up some terrible behavior from Pyronica.

At the same time, Ammy is willing to learn. He WANTS to try and understand Feelings and Others. He makes an effort to try and learn what it means to be good to others. I'm happy for that. It gives me hope that I can raise him right.

Teeth is a kind person. He cares a lot about people. He's also really good at making up stories. As his acting improves, so too does his ability to improvise and bullshit. So far he's only used this ability for his auditions and the occasional fib when he's done something wrong and he doesn't want me to find out. There's one more though, he lies in another way, a way that I worry for. He puts on an act of being cheerful, of being the funny guy who takes life in stride and doesn't have any problems. He hides his resentment and pain over the colony that threw him out.

I've seen the future that could have been. Under the wrong circumstances Teeth would be able to use his ability to deceive people for something more malicious. I will do all in my power to prevent that.

Finally there's Kryptos. He's adorkable, curious and studious with pretty much the most book smarts out of my friends. Although he's generally quiet and sweet, I've felt a deep loathing within him. He hates his family for abandoning him. He hates Jorgio and the scientists for altering him. He hates being powerless.

There's a hunger inside him that I've felt twinges of whenever he sees me assert my power over someone. He longs to be like me. To be strong enough that no one could ever hurt him again. He's so afraid of the world. Afraid that he would be exploited and betrayed. He clings to me for protection. For the protection that comes with being Friends with Bill Cipher.

Frankly I worry for him.

Long story short, all my friends had their own...issues that made them problematic. And the Federation hated problematic people. Even if they couldn't touch me, I know they would find any excuse they could to prosecute my friends. Sadly they were too idiotic to realize trying to take my friends would bring me down on them more viciously.

What I'm getting at is that if I do meet with and take in Hectorgon, I'll have to deal with the Federation actively going against me. I don't want to risk the safety of my current friends just for a potential friend that I may or may not even like. If I am going to meet with Hectorgon, I'm going to have to actually get to know him before I can allow him into my circle.

It's not even JUST because Hectorgon is a known criminal. He's also an adult. A full grown adult. Pyronica and Teeth are the oldest of my friends in terms of their own species. Pyronica being somewhere around the human equivalent of her mid-twenties when I first met her and Teeth being much the same. Kryptos is an older teenager and Xanthar still wasn't fully grown for his species when I met him. Ammy...is the way that he is. Even if he's not a child, he's not yet a mature adult either.

Hectorgon is a full grown adult.

I don't know how that would change the dynamic around the house. If I do meet with Hectorgon, I will seriously need to have my other friends meet him too before he's allowed to stay. Ugh. Why is my life always so complicated?

"Hey Jessie..."

"What is it Miz?" Jheselbraum asks while I'm helping her tend to the garden. She keeps a few eyes on me ever since she realized I was actually Bill. Part of me was a little upset at the lack of trust but it got her to spend more time with me so I'll take it.

"What's your advice on befriending an interdimensional criminal?" I asked. Her response was immediate.

"Don't."

"...."

Yeah~I should have expected that.

---

"Hey Ax..."

-What is it Bill?- the AXOLOTL asks while I snuggle into his side, shapeshifted into a yellow Axolotl so I could squish myself under his arm.

"What's your advice on befriending an interdimensional criminal?" I asked. His response was to stare at me with resigned patience.

-....why do you do this....-

That was pretty much what I was expecting too. Sigh. Maybe I should stop asking my morally upright friends for advice.

---

"Hey Queen..."

"What is it Bill Cipher?" The Queen asks while we sit on top of a lush grassy hill overlooking the kingdom. Enough time has passed that she can now travel freely without causing a panic. In fact she's begun to explore the rest of her planet.

 "What's your advice on befriending an interdimensional criminal?" I asked. She giggles sweetly.

"So long as you enjoy their company, such things should not matter now should it?"

When she puts it like that it sounds so simple. Should I be weirded out by Queen's complete lack of fucks given to the law? Then again she WAS the one who asked me to help her frame another kingdom for murder.

I knew there was a reason I liked her.

---

Chapter Text

Illusion is Reality

Chapter 36

-Draw me on your hand-

---

I should probably bring up the topic of computers and the need for a hacker to my friends. The sooner I have them thinking about it, the sooner I can get their opinions on it. Getting in trouble with the Federation would be annoying but since I have a somewhat working relationship with Time Baby, the Federation leaves me and mine alone so long as we don't cause major trouble. It’s a tenuous truce upheld only by the ‘Favors' that I cash in from the Time Dictator. It allowed my gang to live out in the open without being immediately under attack by Federation law enforcement. Never mind that we lived in a moving fortress, a floating black pyramid that doubled as a spaceship. I did NOT name it the Fearamid. That's silly. I named it the Death Star, because that was sillier. No one gets the reference sadly.

"-on't stop the rain from pouring down~ " I sang as I floated around the kitchen making breakfast. It was an unspoken rule that cooking time is music time. I wanted to encourage singing around the house.

"So why does this keep on happening~we're crashing down with the lightning~"

Even as I pondered the Hectorgon problem I danced through the air singing loudly and terribly. Distantly I can hear Pyronica shriek "Dammit Bill!!! It's too early in the morning for this!"

"It's your fault for staying up all night!" I shout back.

She responds with some angry expletives in her native language. I laugh and turn my music-bubble louder. Wow. I'm a real bitch sometimes.

---

"So. I have my eye on getting computers and internet connection for this house." I remark as everyone sits down for breakfast. I made Ramlettes today. After the whole Raw Men fiasco, I decided to introduce Ramen to my friends. As my favorite food (along with Sushi and Yi Mein) I really wanted more people to know about it. The Ramlette on the other hand was literally a ramen omelette and this would be their first experience with this particular dish. A dish that my little sister Zyun-Kei and I created together...

God I missed her.

"Computers! Internet?! YES!" Teeth cheers loudly. "I can finally try out online gaming!"

Kryptos poked at the food.


(A Ramlette I made with some string beans and meat)

"What IS this?"

"It's a Ramlette. Try it. It's good." I grin at his skeptical look. "If you never did you should. These things are fun and fun is good."

Kryptos hesitantly take a bite and as he chews I can see his eye growing wide. "Ish sho good!" He squees.

"You've gotten pretty good at cooking Bill." Pyronica grins as she chews on her own meal. "I remember when you first started. It was just plain melted meals and things roasted so hot it burned through the plates."

"Yes. Well. I don't actually need to eat and Xanthar just drinks stuff so I didn’t have to cook until you moved in." Also, I didn’t have a proper oven and other kitchen amenities back then. I cannot create anything that I don't know and the intricate mechanics of the appliances weren't something I could just make off the top of my head. Pretty much I had to wait until I found an oven in some dimension to copy and learn from.

Most cooking in the alien societies I've found were just variations of roasting and heating ingredients. The idea of grain plants that could be ground up into flour and made into things like bread and pasta were put in place by ME. I didn't know how to make bread though (once again, baking is not my forte) and I simply put the idea into the minds of others and let them experiment to create it.

It took them thousands of years to do so. I couldn't help but feel let down by how long they took. I know for a fact that humans would have taken less time to make the same technological advancement.

Yes, I do consider the concept of baking to be technological advancement. Food is important. Different methods for cooking food, of looking at something like a poisonous plant and figuring out a safe way to eat it, is brilliant. I can't wait for humanity to form. If only so I could finally learn how to bake cupcakes.

"What is a computer?" Ammy asked, dragging my attention back to the original subject.

"It's something the Federation created to help them store information. The galactic inter-webs was made for them to transfer information back and forth between dimensions. A few centuries back, in my dimension at least, they released that technology for the general public and it has led to the creation of various information sharing Screens that everyone can access." Kryptos says excitedly.

Everyone stares at him. The Polytool blushes and sinks back in his seat. I grin widely. "Awww~someone's a computer otaku~"

"What does that even mean?!" He wails.

"Don't worry. It just means you love computers. So I'm guessing you're okay with the idea of setting up computers here?"

"Hm...what exactly are computers for?" Pyronica asks. Her planet didn't have them. They were pretty basic on the technological level. She didn't even know what a TV was until she started living with me.

"You can do almost everything with them. Communication, shopping, searching for information, learning..." Kryptos lists off. I can tell Pyronica's interest was piqued by 'shopping' and I sigh fondly.

"Really Ronica? I don't think you need MORE stuff." I should probably stop spoiling her so much. Though even if I don't take her shopping I'm sure she steals stuff on her own...she owns too many shoes that I don't remember getting her.

"You don't even USE half the stuff you own. In fact, we should do a thorough cleaning on the house today. Look through your stuff to see what you need or want to keep." Is that hypocritical of me to say when I was a notorious hoarder in my first life?

"We're not throwing out my stuff." Pyronica protests.

"We're not throwing it out. Stuff you want to keep but aren't using will go in storage. Stuff you don't want will be donated." I reply patiently. She blinks before thinking about it and nodding. "Ok, yeah that's fair."

"So we're getting a computer? What brand?" Kryptos asks excitedly.

"I was actually thinking that each of us can have our own personal one. That way we can pick out which model we want."

Teeth nearly faints from joy. I catch his thoughts about a high speed gaming PC he saw in a store. Well, at least I know which one he wants.

"Um...not to be a downer but...computers are expensive. I know you can just...create money but won't that cause terrible inflation?" Kryptos asks quietly.

"Yes it does. That's why I'm just gonna scan and build the PCs from scratch. The only problem will be the software. I can't actually create that myself." And now to reveal what I've been steering this whole conversation towards.

"So we're gonna need a programmer or hacker to actually get the computers working and connected to the galactic-interwebs." Because there’s no way I’m going to buy a proper OS software from the Federation.

Ammy questioned what a hacker was so I explained their skill set and why we needed one. "-nd I really don't want the Federation to be able to track us down through our signals. So I was thinking I should look into getting a hacker Friend."

Pyronica picks up on what I mean first. "A new Friend? Do you have someone in mind?"

"Well...sort of. He's a pretty impressive programmer but I haven't met him yet. I'm planning to go do that after this. Even if I want someone with his skill set, I have no desire to allow someone I don't like to be my Friend. Minion maaaaybe, but not friend."

"Well I'm glad you actually asked us first this time." Pyronica grins at me.

"Yeah well, you're right that I need to have your opinions before making certain decisions."

"So who is this guy?" Teeth asks.

"Well he's a wanted criminal running from the Federation for crimes of embezzling credits from them."

Pyronica laughs. "I like him already." Kryptos looked worried. "It'll be dangerous to take him in with the law out to get him. We could get in trouble for aiding and abetting."

This is why I like having Kryptos around. He GETS it. "That's the other reason I'm bringing this up. Do you guys think it's worth the effort?"

"...I really, REALLY want a good gaming PC with a fast connection." Teeth admits.

"I want to be able to download books online and look up information." Kryptos sighs.

"I want to see what this 'internet' is all about." Ammy says. Pyronica nods. "Same."

I look over at Xanthar who just shrugs. I make a note to myself to make his PC much larger than usual so he could actually use it. I wonder if he could type words?

"So...are we coming with you to meet this guy?" Kryptos asks.

"Ooh! It's another heist right?"

"""Heist! Heist! Heist!""" They chanted. I laughed. "Sure why not?"

I tracked down which dimension, planet and city Hectorgon was in. The mission this time was to make it seem inconspicuous and natural when we bump into him. Don't let on to the Federation officers that I was specifically trying to recruit Hectorgon. After the way I met and instantly clicked with Teeth so publicly, I was hoping to set up a coincidental meeting with Hectorgon the same way.

On one hand, it would make his reactions and behavior towards me more natural. On the other, if he DOES do something that impresses me, I will have a legitimate reason to help him out. Even if the law enforcement try to stop me at that point I can use the literally age old excuse of "I'm Bill Cipher and I do what I want!"

I'll be in trouble with the Federation for a while but a few Deals here and there will fix that up.

Pyronica didn’t understand the need to do this in such a round about way. Kryptos and I explained to her the politics behind it. "If I just 'happen' to meet Hectorgon and decide to help him, it means it was a spur of the moment thing. If I outright help him then the police will know it was a premeditated act of aiding a known criminal."

"Yeah, there's a big difference between purposely opposing the Federation versus 'Bill Cipher just starts messing with people on a whim.' and the second option will allow Bill more freedom to act without getting in as MUCH trouble." Kryptos explained.

"Ugh. I don't get politics. The direct to the point approach is so much simpler."

"So what are our jobs this time?" Teeth asks.

"It's a snow planet. We're just going there to play and have a good time. A vacation as it were. Snowball fights, ice skating and drinking plenty of hot bean juice. Spread out, cover ground, make a mess. Start a snowball war that escalates to include all the other tourists and locals."

Ammy's blocks brighten. "So, in other words...cause a chaotic mess."

"Exactly."

I laugh maniacally and my friends all join in.

---

The air was cold and my friends huddled closer to me and Pyronica for warmth. Xanthar had grabbed me out of the air to press my bricks directly to his face. "Ok. I'm guessing you guys need winter clothes?"

""Y-y-yes"" they shivered.

I materialized some scarves, snow boots and knitted hats. Each of the items were 'Cursed' to make the wearer feel warm and protect them from cold damage. I helped Xanthar into his colorful booties, Kryptos and Ammy wrapped the scarves around themselves and Teeth pull the hat over practically his whole body.







"I usually have Lips and Skin to keep me warm..." Teeth sighs sadly.

Oh right. Mouths like him don't normally wear clothing because they were sheltered inside their colony. Frankly, Teeth has been adapting well to being...exposed like this. Most Symbiotes have trouble adjusting without their hosts. Though, it might explain why Teeth requested me to alter his room to have warm, flesh-like walls.

Pyronica was already rolling around in the snow, steam everywhere as everything she touched melted into slush. I shuddered at how messy it looked. "Ronica! You're gonna get your clothes dirty!"

"So what? We can just wash them later!" She laughs as she's absolutely covered in slush and mud. I resist the urge to clean her off right then and there. Then the others start rolling around in the snow as well. I sigh at their antics before Xanthar bodyslams me into the snow.

"Aaaaaah!!"

"Come on Bill! You're the one who wanted to come play with snow." Pyronica laughs at my startled expression.



I scoffed and fixed my hat. "Snow is fine. I don't like slush. It gets into my seams and it feels gross."

Pyronica responds by flinging slush at me and then pouting when the mess hit a barrier around me. "Dammit Bill that's cheating!"

I calmly begin scooping up snow to make a ball. "Nope, cheating is...THIS!" I threw the ball at her and flick my fingers to multiply it by ten. She shrieks as the projectiles rained down on her. "Grrrr...ok, that's it! This means WAR!"

"Bring it!" I cheered as I scooped up more snow.

The other people around us were already giving us a wide distance but at those words they began backing up more rapidly. I easily spot the undercover Federation Agent frowning and debating whether to step in or not. A simple snowball fight seemed innocent enough and he didn't want to risk drawing my attention.

"Gah! How the fuck do you do this?!" Pyronica snarls in frustration as she tries to make a snowball, only to have it melt in her hands. I point and laugh at her. "AHAHAHAHAHA!"

"Dammit guys! Team up with me!" Pyronica looks at the others. Kryptos fidgets nervously. "I don't want to be involved?" He says meekly.

"Hah! I can take you ALL on!" I boast loudly. "In fact, lets make a bet on it! Losing side has to clean the house for the next WEEK."

I levitate multiple snowballs into the air. "And it HAS to be CLEAN. None of that shoving the trash under the couch and hope Bill doesn't notice."

Teeth winced. "I TOLD you he'd find out!"

"What are the terms of victory?" Pyronica asks boldly, striding up to stand opposite me. The wind blows and I felt we made for a pretty dramatic scene.

I gesture and a huge scoreboard appears floating above the city. Bright glowing lines of light shaped into a counter for both teams.

Bill | Maniacs
   0 | 0

"From now until sundown. Each direct hit will add a point. Whoever gets the most points wins."

"You're not allowed to use a force field." Pyronica crosses her arms.

"Fine."

"U-um...excuse me?"

We all turn to look at a trembling local. Give the man props for having the balls to actually talk to us. Not that his species has balls but whatever. The alien looked like a keychain. His arms and legs were the charms dangling off from the center ring. They looked like square shaped spoons. The species were called ⌇☊⍜⍜⌿⟒⍀ specifically he's a subspecies called a ☊⎍⏚⟒. If I were to put that into English they'd be called Scoopers.



I generally translate everything I hear into an approximation of English. It makes life easier for me.

The Scooper shivers under our gaze but still continues pleading. "Um...not to spoil your fun but...could I request that this...snowball fight leave us out of the crossfire?" He trembled with a clunking sound as his limbs hit against each other.

I narrow my eye at him and I feel all the people around us take a collective nervous breath. The undercover agent fingers his gun. I let out a giggle. "Well how about this? If any attacks hit anyone who's NOT playing, you'll lose a point."

"Awww~no fun~" Teeth whined.

I grin at the Scooper. "Is this arrangement fine? I promise to repair any damages to the buildings after the fight is over."

He mouths the words 'damages to buildings?!' incredulously but otherwise gives me a shaky consent. Before I could say anything more, I had to tilt my body to dodge a snowball that sails just past me and lands on the ground a few feet away. I slowly turn to see Teeth attempting to look innocent. His acting was getting better because I almost believed it.

"You didn't think it'd be that easy huh?" I asked, amusement oozing from every syllable. "I'm the All Seeing Eye kid. You're gonna have to try harder."

Teeth grinned widely and scooped up another handful of snow.

Game on!

---

I hid behind a building and flickered through more images. I'm getting closer to where Hectorgon was hiding. As I brush some snow off my bricks I take a glance at the scoreboard.

  Bill  | Maniacs
    24 | 19

Yeah...they managed to corner me a few times. This was actually a good training exercise to teach them hit and run tactics, teamwork, stealth and etc. Note to self. Bring them to a Laser Tag arena sometime.

While I'm here, I should probably look into the thing that confused me about all this. Why was Hectorgon on THIS planet in particular? As someone on the run he should be hiding out somewhere more...hospitable right? Not a winter wonderland where he might freeze to death.

If you were on the run you'd want to be somewhere that would have survival options available if you were forced to flee from the cities and hide out in the wilderness right? Outside the city where the Federation has less control, less surveillance. But the snow, ice and COLD is even worse outside the city. If he were forced to flee out there, he wouldn't survive long.

So why come HERE?

I reached out to try and find him. Shifting through minds rapidly as I searched. I know he's somewhere in this area...despite my distraction I managed to dodge a snowball. Hooray for being able to sense hostile intent.

I grinned at Ammy. "Close but no cigar~"

"You don't even smoke." Ammy grumbled as he stuck one end of his body into the snow and tensed up. Oh no.

I was forced to flee as snow started spraying out of one of his blocks at me like a machine gun. His firing speed is getting faster. I heard a passerby yelp as they are mowed down by snow fire. His aim still needs work though.

I laugh as I flung a snowball at one of Ammy's eyes and fled even closer to where Hectorgon was. I was slowly narrowing down his location. There was an unfortunate side effect of drawing the Officer closer as well. He was following me at a distance. I can't blame him for wanting to keep an eye on me.

-Guys. I need a distraction on the south side of town. The uninvited guest is getting too close.-

'On it.' Pyronica responded.

There was a rumbling sound and the officer cried out in alarm as Xanthar raced past him, knocking him over with a wave of snow. Pyronica rode on his back screaming out a war cry. Since she couldn't actually make snowballs her role was mainly shooting down any attack I sent at them. Even now she was flinging fireballs around.

We did a fly by at each other, Xanthar sweeping waves of snow with his large hands and me throwing rapid fire snowballs with the dozens of hands I'd grown. Both sides got a bunch of hits in before we were running off in different directions.

It was enough time for me to give the officer the slip while he dug himself out of his snow pile, irritated but unharmed. I found myself heading farther into the outskirts of the city.

Funny enough, after the people noticed no one was being hurt, just covered in snow, a crowd of spectators had formed and were cheering at our antics. I heard them taking bets with each other too. There weren't many spectators following ME but Pyronica seems to have gained quite the fan club.

I spotted a flash of red. Hectorgon was rushing through an alleyway carrying a briefcase. I nonchalantly flew around flinging snow at Teeth who was trying to hide behind a building and fled closer to the alleyway when Kryptos actually dive bombs me from a rooftop with an armful of snow. I yelp and tumble backward, spinning through the air and just so happen to hit the red Anglesphere, sending both of us into a snow bank.

"Oof! Ow. Sorry 'bout that." I untangle my limbs from him as the scoreboard above us makes a buzzing noise, glows red and subtracts a point from my score. "Oh come on! This didn't even count!" I shake my hand angrily at it.

"Watch where you're going kid!" The Anglesphere shakes his head and fumbles around in the snow for his briefcase. He looks up at me and freezes.

There was recognition there but not the kind I was used to. It wasn't the fear of 'OMG it's Bill Cipher!' But a sad recognition. I realize he's mistaken me for someone else. I'm half buried in snow and wrapped in winter clothes which hid enough of my shape and eye that he thought I was something other than a triangle.

His memory hits me like a freight train going off the rails down a cliff side. An orangish yellow hexagon happily bounces at his side, laughing merrily at him. He laughs back, picking her up and tossing her up and down in the air.

I shake myself out of his memory. He's already realized he's got the wrong person. He opens his mouth to say something when I'm hit by a snowball. The scoreboard adds a point accordingly. "That one doesn't count!" I shout at Ammy who's looking incredibly smug.

I felt the Federation officer spot us. Shit, what to do now? I'd gotten distracted being pulled into Hectorgon's flashback. As my mind raced, I felt a burst of malicious intent and instinctively turned to dodge. Apparently Hectorgon noticed the danger as well and threw himself to the ground to hide in the snow.

Ammy had no such instincts.

A Bzzt sound rings out as the officer fired at Hectorgon but missed when he dodged the attack. The shot hits Ammy and he screams in pain. It's the first time I've ever heard such a sound from him. It's the first time he's ever been hurt in his life.

NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NONO NO NO NO NO NO NO!!!!

I saw Will again. Lying limp on the ground as his blood spilled everywhere. I can't do this. Not again. I can't do this again. I don't want to deal with this again.

My rational mind retreated and I let the other part of me take over.

Everything turns red.

I screech in outrage and grow to the size of a house, my bricks darkened into a vivid red and opened up to reveal multiple rows of teeth. Many arms grow out and I snatch the terrified officer up.



He tried to shoot at me but I rip the gun from his hands (actually I think I ripped off his hands) and toss it into one of my new mouths. I was too angry for words, just screeching at the bleeding man with sounds beyond mortal comprehension. I should kill him. I could easily kill him. Just squeeze him until he popped. Twist his head off. Eat him. The only reason he wasn't already dead was because I couldn't decide HOW to kill him. Which method would satisfy me most.

I could just revive him so I could kill him again.

That sounded like a WONDERFUL idea!

I tore his limbs off and ate them. As an insect/mammalian crossbred creature, he had plenty for me to rip off. I forced my power into him to make those limbs grow back just so I could tear them off again. I squeezed him until his ribs cracked and punctured his own organs and then healed him. I screeched the whole time. "YOU KILLED HIM YOU KILLED HIM YOU KILLED HIM-"

"-op! Please stop! Kid! It's ok! Your...your friend is alive! B-but he needs medical attention!"

I distantly heard a voice shouting at me. It was hard to think through all this red in my vision but I twisted some bricks around to look down at a terrified Hectorgon cradling a twitching Ammy. Ammy! He's still alive! I forced my way past my rage, my worry overriding my need for vengeance.

I should have checked on him first. I should have healed him first. I make a distressed noise and reach down with a finger as large as telephone pole towards the shifting amorphous shape in Hectorgon's arms.

"Ammy?" I growl out, my voice distorted as I blinked down at him. A small blue flame flickers at the end of my finger and Ammy weakly reaches out his arm to wrap around it. He shudders and absorbs my flame, his blocks glowing as my power heals him. His breathing gets easier and I attempt a soothing rumble as I watched the color return to him.



There's a sizzling sound as my tears rolled down my body to land in the snow around me. I was steaming, the heat coming off me melting the snow and making the air distort. "Ammy?" I say a little more softly, crying and praying and hoping-

"I'm...fine..." Amorphous Shape says weakly. His hand curls a little tighter around my finger. He's so small like this. So fragile looking. I sob in relief and slowly shrink back to normal.

The officer makes a terrified noise and unfortunately draws my attention back to him. I turn red again. He wheezed when I tightened my hold on him. "Yoooou..." I start growling. There's a lot of blood running down my hand from all the wounds I've inflicted and healed over.

"Bill! Stop!" Pyronica and Xanthar run up, the loaf pressing himself against me and sends out feelings of 'worry' 'calm' as Pyronica carefully tried to talk me down. "You can put him down now...it's okay...Ammy's okay..."

"No he's NOT! This...asshole shot him!" Now that my worry calmed, the anger from earlier was seeping back in. The rational part of myself was trying desperately to calm down but I just couldn't. I wanted this man to SUFFER.

"Yes he did. And he is an asshole. But just put him down. He's very sorry for what he did. Right?" Pyronica glares at the officer who nodded frantically. "Come on Bill, he's not worth the effort. Just let him go." Normally my friends didn't care who I killed (whether on accident or not) but this was a Federation officer. Killing him would cause issues. I had taught them that myself. A distant part of me was glad they took my words to heart, enough to stand up and tell me 'No'.

I growl and stare at the man gripped in my hand. She's right, just let him go. No! He needs to SUFFER! This won't make me feel better. Yes it will! If I kill him the Federation will be pissed. I don't fucking care.

If I keep him alive I can hold him as leverage against the Federation.

I froze and contemplated that thought. Opening fire upon a suspect in broad daylight in a city. Hitting an innocent pedestrian. I didn't even NEED to kill him. He was going to be in enough trouble with his superiors once word of this got out. Best case scenario, he's suspended for an indefinite amount of time. Worst case, Infinitetentiary.

The fact is, this guy (Alseph, what kind of name is that?) fired upon and injured one of my friends. To attack my friends without provocation is to launch an attack upon ME. He broke the non-aggression treaty I had put in place with the Federation. By all rights I was allowed full retaliation against them.

I'm sure they wouldn't want that. In fact, they may be willing to negotiate for my forgiveness because of this. If I know those old coots (and I sure as hell DO) they'll be open to bargaining for mercy. They wouldn’t hesitate to sacrifice poor Alseph to sate my anger.

I can use this.

It's always best to go into a bargain from a position of power. I could kill this man for his crime against me but the Federation would take that as an acceptable sacrifice while hypocritically demanding me to compensate them. But if I let him LIVE...I get to make the demands.

I slowly lower my hand to the ground and let go of the trembling agent. I can feel the 'Relief' pouring out of everyone around me. The hand holding Alseph morphs into ropes binding him together as it detached from my body. The rest of me has turned back into my default form, bowtie and all.

Xanthar nudges me, I sigh tiredly and press myself onto him. Pyronica looked relieved. I keep quiet about the fact that my mercy was based on practical reasons. I give Xanthar a quick hug before turning to Hectorgon. "Is Ammy alright?"

He nods carefully, hopping closer and holding out my friend in his arms. The Amorphous Shape is shifting and folding with calm, smooth movements. His blocks were vivid bright colors. I slump in relief. I hold out my hands and Hectorgon deposits my friend (son?) into my arms.

"Hey Ammy, how're you feeling?"

"Better. I did not realize getting hurt would feel so...painful."

"Yeah well, that tends to happen when you get shot." I joke softly as one hand gently brushes his blocks. I haven't held him like this since the day I first found him. I felt nostalgic thinking about how much he's grown.

Hectorgon stands around awkwardly, unsure if he was allowed to leave. He knew it was HIS fault (partially) that Ammy got shot. I could feel his thoughts of anxiety over whether or not I'll realize Ammy only got hit because he ducked the shot. Of course I realize that but I'm not going to hold it against him.

Not that he knows. Once again my practical, scheming side looked at this situation and said 'I can use this.' I glance at the Anglesphere and he shivers. Even if he didn't know who I was before, he sure as hell does now.

"You and him-" I point at the hogtied officer "-are not going anywhere until you’ve earned my forgiveness.”

Hectorgon swallows nervously "Y-yes, that is understandable."

"Wait! That man is a wanted criminal! I'm here to apprehend him!" Alseph says from his position slumped over in the snow. He's covered in blood and shivering. I absently levitate him and Curse his clothes warmer. Can't have him dying on me before I can use him.

"I don't give a flying fuck nugget who this man is. You shot at him and hit my FRIEND. You're BOTH going to stay right here until I get a proper apology." I sneered.

"I'm...sorry?" Alseph says nervously.

At the sight of my glower he knew he's fucked up. As I'm about to go off on him I hear Hectorgon's deep baritone "I'm truly sorry. I never meant for anyone else to get hurt because of me."

He meant it too. Wholeheartedly. Unlike Alseph's empty words, I could FEEL the red alien's regret and guilt. Looks like I didn't have to worry about not liking him. With just two simple sentences he's already won me over.

I can tell from Pyronica's face that she understood too. More than any sort of special skills or an interesting personality, the types of Friends I wanted were the ones who were capable of compassion. Pyronica showed me that when she looked after me while I was drunk. There was Teeth's unconditional love for his colony when he willingly shared his tips with them. Even Kryptos had been worried for my safety when I told him I would help him escape from Jorgio.

I sighed and closed my eye. "Apology accepted. Thank you for checking on Ammy for me. And for helping me realize he needed healing. I..." I felt a little heavy. "...I don't know what I would do if he'd died because I was too stupid to see that he needed help.”

Alseph was staring in a dawning horrified realization as I turned to Hectorgon and tipped my hat to him. "Thank you for that. I owe you. And I hate owing people so if there's something you need help with, I'm willing to hear you out."

"Y-you can't help him! He's a criminal! The Federation will hear of th-!"

"The Federation-!" I growl at him "-will do NOTHING because YOU fucked up and if they don't want me to bust down their door and incinerate them all for this breech of our Terms and Agreements then you shut your mouth before I REMOVE it from you!"

Alseph wisely clamps his mouth shut, eyes wide as he suddenly realized just how badly he'd screwed up today. I hear a terrified thought of 'My superiors are going to be SO mad when they hear about this...'

I turn to Hectorgon who's deep in thought and awed by the fact that he'd gotten a FREE Favor from Bill Cipher. Most creatures in the multiverse would give up their own first-borns for such an opportunity. "What are the terms?" He asks carefully.

"Similar to my general Deals except you don't have to give me anything in return. No invasion of free will, no raising the long dead, no mass executions and I have a right to refuse anything that I don't WANT to do."

He mulls over my words as the townsfolk around us curiously watch on from a distance. Many of them were filming this whole incident. I let them, I needed the Federation to know what happened here today. Finally Hectorgon looks up with a grin "I think I know what I'd like."

---

"So the Federation actually has a Server Farm hidden on this planet?" Kryptos asks in amazement. We're all sitting around a tavern with cups of hot bean juice. Hectorgon had just finished explaining what he wanted for his Favor.

"It makes sense. The natural cold of this planet would keep the machines from overheating, in fact the cold might make them run BETTER." I muse as I sip on my juice.

"And with how inhospitable the out lands are, there's no chance of anyone just happening across them. They wouldn't even NEED to place as many security measures. Less man-power needed to run the place. Cheaper." I continue.

"So you just need Bill to help you get to where the farm is located so you can hack in." Kryptos summarizes. He was bouncing in his seat, excited for the prospect of being able to SEE a Federation server farm in person.

"You can't do this! The Federation will come down on ALL of you!" Alseph protests loudly from his position levitating in the air beside our table. I spin him with a wave of my hand and he makes distressed sounds.

"How odd. I could have sworn I heard someone try to speak to me." I say as I otherwise ignore him. He makes gagging sounds as the dizziness starts getting to him. I stop the spinning and take another calm sip of my cup.

"So what do you need access to the servers for? Are you going to crash their systems? Steal top secret information from the government?" Kryptos asks.

"Nothing quite that simple. Crashing their system will do more harm than good.  I can get most secrets I want, no, what I'm after needs me to physically get into the server." Hectorgon rumbles.

"Y-you...hah...will be...urg....stopped! Y-you fiend!"

"Damn, this guy just does NOT shut up." Teeth stares at our prisoner.

"He's been brainwashed since the moment he hatched to obey Federation law." I shrug. "Most Federation soldiers can't even think for themselves."

Teeth actually looks sympathetic. "That sounds awful. Isn't there some way to...free them?"

"Free a Fed- and they'll be hunted down by the others. Their masters don't allow dissenters."

Pyronica growls. "Fuck the Federation."

"Why haven't you taken them down Bill?" Ammy asks innocently, to Alseph's horror.

"Because despite how awful they are, everyone's lives would actually be WORSE without them. Trust me. You can't destroy a system of government without a new one willing to step in and take over. I might like chaos but not the kind that could get trillions of lives killed."

My friends paled, even Kryptos, who already understood the delicate multiversal ecosystem of governmental politics didn't actually realize how far spread the Federation's reach went.

"See?! The Federation is LAW! So stop this treasonous-!" I gagged Alseph with some more rope.

"Of course, these issues only apply for the dimensions that the Federation has INVADED and TAKEN. The worlds where they stamp out the original governments in order to impose their rule upon them. To be fair, there are many worlds in which the Federation's government actually helped the native people but lets not get into that right now."

"Yes. Please change the subject, I have a headache." Pyronica groans as she slumps over the table.

"Getting back to the topic, I don't mind helping you get to and from the server farm safely. It sounds like fun."

"""Woo! Arctic adventure!""" My friends cheered.

"Mmphmm!!!" Alseph said angrily.

---

Chapter Text


Illusion is Reality

Chapter 37

-You’ll owe me a Favor-

---

We all wrapped up in cozy warm clothing and set off into the billowing snow. The wind was much harsher outside the city limits. Luckily I had a shield several meters in all directions so we were walking through the snow with the swirling flakes outside our safe bubble.

Like a reverse snow globe.

It was quite pretty actually. My friends were running around and looking at the scenery in delight and even Hectorgon seemed to be enjoying himself in this romp through the mountains. Alseph was still gagged and floating beside me. His running commentary on how we were all going to pay once the Federation finds out was getting old. At least come up with something NEW.

"So where is this farm thing supposed to be?" Pyronica asks while melting a path through the snow. It certainly made it easier for Teeth and Hectorgon to waddle along behind her. Kryptos just rode on Xanthar's back.

Ammy was still held in my arms. I had refused to let go of him. He seemed more or less resigned to my over-protective fussing for what would be the next month or so. None of my other friends commented on it, knowing that after the scare I just had there would be no way I was letting the Amorphous Shape leave my side or sight.

"Well I've got a map to the location I stole off their system...but navigation isn't really my thing." Hectorgon says sheepishly as he holds out a printed map. Everyone gathered around to glance at it.

"Is that a mountain?" Teeth wonders.

"No that's clearly meant to represent a river." Pyronica squints at the page.

"Isn't there a legend or something?" Kryptos asks as he tries to figure out if we were even looking at it right side up.

The group turns to me and I roll my eye. "Alright, let me see that." Hectorgon passes me the page and I grew another arm to hold the map up to my eye. Well it was certainly difficult to read. Whoever designed this map clearly didn't want anyone finding out how it was to be understood. Surprisingly smart of the Federation to hide their information in such a way.

Or they're just shit at drawing maps.

"Well it says that the location is in a valley? Either way, it's somewhere underground. There's a dip downward here, there's no scale to show how FAR down it goes."

With me in the lead with the map, our merry band of adventurers continued our journey. An hour into our trek Teeth complained he was tired and hungry. We took a quick lunch break. I introduced them to S'mores. I was even nice enough to let Alseph have one.

He loudly proclaimed I was trying poison him so I just shoved it in his mouth to shut him up. Ungrateful little...

The others quickly got into it. Pyronica would just melt the marshmallows with her hands while Hectorgon carefully and meticulously heated his marshmallows over the fire I made.


It was surprisingly nostalgic. Reminded me of when one of my friends built a campfire in my backyard and we roasted marshmallows. She found out that both my other friend's little sister and mine had never tried S'mores before and felt that such an injustice must be rectified.

So we spent the evening setting things on fire.

It was great.

I fed Ammy by sliding the graham cracker treat into one of his 'stomach' blocks. He grumbled about how he wasn't a baby. "You'll always be MY baby..." I coo'ed as I snuggled him. He had the gall to roll his eyes at me. Alseph was coughing up his S'more and I merely flicked my hand to make the pieces fly back up to his mouth. No wasting food.

I tried modifying my eye mouth be an eye AND a mouth at the same time. It was a pretty freaky sensation. Being able to see the food as I munched on it was weird. Pyronica just stares into my mouth.
 


"How deep does that go? You and Kryptos are both FLAT!"

The compass and I glanced at each other. I shrugged. Hell if I know. Pyronica and Teeth lean closer to me. "I always wondered about that..." She says as she peers into my mouth. I just open my mouth wider and lean back a little, my eye still staring up at her.

"Can I..." She reaches out a hand for permission to inspect more closely. I shrug. "Sure I guess?" I yelp as she shoves her whole arm into my mouth and wiggled around inside me. I drop Ammy in shock. "W-what the HELL?!?"


"It's pretty roomy in here..." Pyronica comments mildly, seeing no problem with her entire arm being buried up to her shoulder inside me. I make confused sounds and wave my arms around. "Ronica!!! What?!"

"Sorry, I just wanted to know how deep this is....it's pretty cool. I don't feel a bottom...though I can feel your sides..." She brushes her hand against the walls of my throat and I writhe at the feeling. "Guweh! Uuuuggh!"

"U-um...are you sure that's...safe?" Teeth asks hesitantly as he watches Pyronica stick her tongue out in concentration as she tries to probe deeper. "I mean...Bill ate a planet once right? So...it's gotta be pretty big in there?"

Alseph makes a whimpering sound at the reminder. I'm surprised people still remember that. It's been CENTURIES! More than that even! Now that I've gotten over my surprise I was embarrassed to find out that my insides were apparently quite sensitive.

Also, the only reason my stomach hadn't devoured Pyronica's arm was because I was trying very hard not to acknowledge her as 'Food'. The weird feeling of her wiggling inside me was pretty distracting though. "Uwuh..." I moaned as her claw scratched lightly at my inner walls.

"It's...actually quite soft in here. Warm, and...not wet at all..." Pyronica observes in fascination.

"You're insane! Just....putting your arm right in there!" Kryptos frets but his curiosity had him leaning closer. "So...where does his saliva come from? Does Bill have any organs?"

I whined as my insides were thoroughly explored. This felt so....weird! Like....it didn't hurt or anything...but..."Uuuunnnngh..." It kinda tickled, in an itchy way.

"Oh. It's kind of...heating up in here? Ow!" She hisses in pain as she quickly pulls her hand out, the tips of her fingers were burnt. Which was saying a lot considering her own fire doesn't harm her. I coughed out a bit of fire. "Ugh, that...was unpleasant..."

"Sorry, did I hurt you?" Pyronica asks worriedly.

"I should be the one saying that. I burnt you? Is your hand alright?" I panted out more fire and stuck my tongue in the snow. "Bleh." There was steam and flames spewing from my mouth now.

"Eh, I did this to myself. Seriously Bill, how deep is your stomach?"

"Is this why he eats so much?" Ammy wonders.

"I am very much disturbed by what has just occurred here." Hectorgon speaks up.

"Do you think we could lower a camera down into Bill's mouth to see what's in there?" Kryptos wonders. I give him an unimpressed look.

"I feel like a camera wouldn't survive long enough to film anything noteworthy." I spit out a stream of flame. Ugh. New thing to learn about myself, having my insides stimulated makes me produce fire. I notice Alseph attempting to wiggle away like an inchworm while I was distracted and levitated him back to us. Didn't think it would be THAT easy now did ya?

Xanthar came over and sat on Alseph to keep him from escaping again. I laugh and blink my mouth back into an eye. "Well, that was an experience I never want to repeat."

As we finished eating and continue on our way I had the realization that we were quite lucky Pyronica only got a little burnt. It could have easily been much worse. I could have accidentally started digesting her arm for one thing. I could heal her afterward but that would still have been awful. "Ronica, you're not allowed to stick any of your appendages inside me ever again."

Hectorgon makes a choking noise. We look over at him but he's blushing hard and looking away. "What's wrong with him?" Ammy asks and I shrug. Hectorgon stares at us as we start hiking through the snow again. "D-did none of you realize how that sounded...?"

"What? Am I missing something?" Kryptos asks.

Hectorgon makes some distressed sounds. "You don't get it? He said...oh never mind..." He sighs and hops along blushing and looking embarrassed.

The rest of us look at each other and shrug. For some reason Alseph was blushing too. Huh. Weird.

 

---

Our journey through the snow was peaceful aside from a few fights with some local wildlife that thought we would be great food. Of course, with two fire-types in our party we dealt with the ice-mooses (meese?) easily enough. They looked like transparent (I could see all their muscles and organs, it was wicked cool) grey moose but with crystalline antlers, hooves and jagged sharp teeth. These things were carnivorous.
 


Kryptos actually attempted a maniacal laugh when he managed to paralyze one with some electric shocks. It was a cute attempt but not very intimidating. We didn't kill them, just made it clear we were not an easy meal and sent them running with hoots and cheers.

Teeth wanted to keep one as a pet but Pyronica shot down the idea. As they started their usual bickering, dragging me into it as each side tried to convince me they were right, Hectorgon just stared at us in awe. "You're quite...close." He says at last. "From what I've read about you I thought you guys were just Bill's henchmen. The Federation seems to think so at least."

I frown. "They're my Friends. I've clearly stated that many times."

"I know, but I guess...I didn’t really realize you guys were so...casual with each other." Hectorgon rubs his chin. "I realized you really care about them when Amorphous Shape was shot but..."

Alseph sneers. "There's no way a monster can truly care for others! Cipher is just using you all! Help me escape and I can have the Federation reward you handsomely."

"Is this guy seriously attempting to convince us to mutiny while Bill is RIGHT HERE listening to it?" Kryptos gasps. "I knew he was dumb but this is just..."

I drop Alseph unceremoniously into the snow. Taking the end of his rope, I hand it to Xanthar. "Well. I think this calls for some discipline. Xan-Xan, be a dear and drag him along behind us for the next few miles."

Xanthar's 'amusement' was strong as he pulled Alseph along the ground. We all heard him loudly protesting his treatment as he hit against rocks and got snow/dirt in his face. Kryptos giggled.

"By the way. How far are we? We seem to have been journeying for quite a while. Wouldn’t it be faster if we simply teleported or flew there?" Ammy asks while I shift him in my arms to a more comfortable position.

"Well it's more fun this way." I grin. "A good hike through the mountains is great exercise.”

"But you don't exercise at all Bill." Teeth points out. They all looked at how I was floating above the ground. I sigh and lowered myself so I could...WALK.

"There. Happy?"

I can hear them stifle their laughter. Kryptos sheepishly lands to walk with his own two feet as well. Ammy looks down and states the obvious. "I do not have legs."

"Neither does Hec." The Polysphere looks surprised at the nickname before smiling shyly. "Well my people don't tend to have feet. We just hop."

"I have never tried this...hop you speak of. Is it difficult?" Ammy asks as he flexes his blocks to see if he could mimic the red being's movements. We spent the next mile teaching Ammy to 'hop'.

We stopped to eat lunch and then dinner after a few more hours.

---

"Are we there yet?" Teeth groans. He drags his legs through the snow. "I'm tired..."

"Hah! Weak!" Pyronica taunts him as she hides her own wobbling steps. Feeling sorry for them, I levitate everyone and just carry them. "Well we're getting close, should be there by tomorrow. As a treat for making it this far, I'll let each one of you pick out a restaurant to go to after we're done here. Not all at once of course, we'll start with Teeth and the next day we'll go with Ronica and so on."

They cheer before slumping, exhausted. It's been a long day and the sun was already going down. Normally this would be when we set up camp because walking through dark snow was dangerous but I was glowing brightly and keeping a lookout for danger. "Can I go to sleep?" Teeth whines. I laugh fondly. "Sure, I'll wake you all when we get there."

I feel them all settle into sleep. I carefully let go of Ammy to enclose him and the others in protective bubbles. Xanthar was already dreaming about meeting a fluffy muffin-like creature and was chasing her happily through a field of butter-flies. Kryptos was dreaming about becoming a rich billionaire and returning home to lord his new wealth and status over his family. Ammy's dreams were always just endlessly growing fractal patterns flashing through a multitude of colors beyond the visible human spectrum.

Teeth was dreaming of his colony turning into Mouths like him until they were a chattering mass of Mouths, screaming and screaming. I nudged his dream into more pleasant territories.

Pyronica was dreaming of a dark cave. Its edges seemed to flicker, as if they weren't real. She's exploring it quietly. There was something important in here. Something precious that she needs to find.

Hectorgon wasn't dreaming quite yet, hovering between the waking world and sleep. He wasn't able to trust me enough to simply sleep in the hold of my powers like my friends do. I've found that my friends subconsciously relaxed when they felt my power surrounding them. Kryptos was still on the fence but he was warming up to it.

Alseph wasn't sleeping at all.

I glanced at him as I continued walking through the snow while everyone floated in a protective bubble. "Aren't you going to rest too?"

"As if I would DARE to sleep around you!" He sneers. I dump him in a snowbank in irritation before lifting him back up, sputtering and coughing. "You know, for a prisoner you're quite mouthy. More than Teeth even." I giggle quietly to myself.

Alseph frowns at me. "Why are you even keeping me alive? This torture is unbearable."

"You think THIS is torture? Well I shudder to think what you thought me ripping off and eating your arms was supposed to be." I mutter. Part of me felt really gross for doing that. "Like ick! That was...awful..."

"Your sick mind games won't work on me!"

"Whatever man. It's gonna be hours before the sun rises again so if you want to stay up all night, be my guest." I turn to glance at the map again. It would have been easy to just teleport there by this point. We were close enough.

But I like snow. I wanted an excuse to spend more time here with my friends. Walking and chatting was fun. It was peaceful. It was also a good excuse to show Hectorgon more sides of both me and my friends. It helps us get to know him as well.

If I wanted Hectorgon to join us I wanted this to be a group decision. I felt this was a better way of getting to know him before he moves in. Kryptos and the others never really got a chance to get to know me before I pulled them into my sphere of influence. I would prefer if new roommates were a group decision as opposed to me just throwing my will around and getting my way because no one can oppose my decisions.

Pyronica might make a show of defying me and questioning me to feel like she has a say but I know she would just go along with my choices regardless. When it comes down to it, she cannot TRULY go against me and she knows this. I go out of my way to give my friends levity and freedom of choice but at the end of the day, my word is law.

That makes me depressed. I like getting my way but I don't like that the reason for it is because my friends are afraid of going against me. They may not acknowledge this feeling, might not even realize they are doing so but I can tell. There is a Fear of me buried deep down inside them. Not of ME but of what I could DO.

I'm powerful, dangerous and unstable. They have a firm understanding of the threat I pose if I were ever to lose myself. The way I raged against Alseph only served as another reminder of how easy it would be to tip me over the edge and trigger my violence.

I tremble lightly.

My destructive urges have never gone away. I go about my life with the constant intrusive thoughts of violence and bloodshed. I look at a random person on the street and have the thought and urge to rip them in half 'just because'. I discard that thought before going back to what I was doing. I can be cooking and have a thought of ' It would be so easy to stab someone's eyes out with this knife.'

I would be talking to a client and think 'Wouldn’t it be fun if I took off his head and kept him alive through it?' Or 'If I squished his children into a pie, would he eat it?' and it always disturbs me how easily these thoughts come to me. I know they must be from my darker half. The writhing mass of chaos that formed the core of my existence. It is CONSTANTLY sending me these urges. Every moment I'm not focusing on what I'm doing will have my thoughts sliding into darker territories.

I'm used to it. I've been living like this for billions of years now. But just because it's 'normal' for me to have these thoughts constantly doesn't mean I don't get annoyed at them. It's tiring to get these urges all the time. It's tiring to have to tell myself over and over "No. Bad Jan. You can't do that!" And having my other half respond "Why can't I? It would be fun~"

"No Bill. It would not be fun and this is why..."

These were the sorts of internal conversations I have with myself. Every day. Every few minutes in fact. When I get upset it becomes more difficult to resist these thoughts, to rationalize that those thoughts are NOT what I WANT to do. This is another reason why I think I need a proper therapist.

As my thoughts swirled around, I continue trudging through the snow. It was so quiet out here now that my friends were all asleep. There's still Alseph trying to stay awake. I see his eyelids drooping and he's slowly nodding off. He's stubbornly fighting against his own exhaustion. For a guy who did absolutely no walking today he was still tired.

I start quietly singing just to fill the silence.

"They have sent you a letter~to come back home to play~but to your dismay this isn't your day~for the happy fun time has begun to fade~" I sang and bounced a little to the beat playing inside my head.

"Watch as we reanimated our corpses you abandoned~we're dismantled and mishandled~but we won't be skipped and swayed~"

"This song is awful. You're awful for singing it." Alseph complains.

I roll my eye even as I switch songs.

"Early morning yesterday it finally occurred to me~just like a puzzle where I have placed every single piece~and now I don't know what to do now that I've seen what we're both moving to~is this the point in time where we both prayed and hoped we'd be~"

"I hate this one too." Alseph complains just to be a dick. I should be annoyed but it was funny how hard he was trying to ruin my fun. I grin and switch songs again.

Placing a sound dampening effect around my friends so they wouldn't be disturbed, I materialized a door in front of my path. Lifting a leg, I kicked it open while belting out "SomeBODY once told me~"

Alseph begins screaming.

---

"Disorder~disorder~disoooooor~ooorder~"

"....how many songs do you know?" Alseph moans as he slumps in the air. His eyes were closed, much too tired to keep then open.

"Kid, I'm over 100 billion years old. I can literally do this until you die of old age and still wouldn't be done with my playlist." The officer whimpers and I can feel him wanting to fall asleep just to get away from my singing. Rude. I switch songs again with a giggle.

"I am hanging in the bathroom~at the biggest party of the fall~"

"Just kill me. I'm going to go insane at this rate..."

"You wouldn't go nuts if you just go to sleep. I'll stop bothering you when you do."

"Never!!!"

"Suit yourself."

Despite Alseph's best efforts he finally succumbs to sleep a few songs later. I had gone with lullabies by that point and he slips away in the middle of Sleepytime Junction. As promised, I sound proofed him so he could sleep undisturbed as I continued walking and singing to myself.

It was going to be a long night alone with my own thoughts and voice.

---

"Hello snow drift." I greeted a large pile of snow as I walked past it.

"Hi Bill!" I say as I pitch my voice lower.

"How are you doing this fine evening?" I tip my hat to the pile, walking backward to keep it in my sights.

"Oh just the same as always." The 'snowdrift' responds.

"Well THAT'S boring. Don't you have any hobbies mister snow drift?"

"Did you just ASSUME my gender?!"

"Oh! I'm so sorry! I didn't mean it like that!"

"Sure you didn't! You asshole!"

I narrowed my eye at the pile of snow that was steadily getting farther away as I walked. "Well that's uncalled for. I made an honest mistake and I jus-"

"Fuck you asshole! I don't want to talk to you anymore!"

I scoff, insulted. "Well that makes TWO of us, ya jerk!"

The 'snowdrift' cusses me out and I flip him (sorry, HER) off as she fades from view. What a bitch.

"Oh good evening rock." I say happily as I see a large rocky mountain.

"Howdy Bill." The rock's voice was a thick southern drawl.

"And how are YOU doing this fine evening?"

"Oh it's jus' been awful! Mah wife left me ya see?"

"Oh that's terrible. What happened?"

"She's been seeing the stable boy behind mah back! Now ain't that jus' the worse ho-hickory nonsense ya ever heard?!"

I nod in sympathy. "Truly awful. To be betrayed in such a way."

"She broke mah heart is what she did! Ground it up jus' like the grains in our windmills! Why I reckon I might never love again!" The mountain cries.

"Don't give up hope! Even if your wife was a traitorous jerk doesn't mean you should never trust again! You can always find love again! You're a great rock. Solid, firm and unyielding! I'm sure there are plenty of stones that'd appreciate you."

"Why that's the nicest dang thing anyone's ever said ta me. You're a great guy Bill."

"Yes well, I try..." I mumble as I rub my bricks in embarrassment. "You know it's just...if your wife couldn't see your good points, that's HER problem, not yours. You're a great guy Rock."

"Aw shucks ma'am, you're a real sweetie pie yourself."

I blush and flutter my eyelashes. "R-really?"

"Yeah, in fact, would yah do me this honor of accompanin' me ta breakfast? I've been told I cook a mean scrambled eggs and bacon sizzle."

"Oh my! We've just met Rock~" I giggle and wave my arm at the mountain.

"Is that a no?"

"Well...it'll depend on just how good your bacon is~" I waggle my eye teasingly at the mountain.

"Would ya like a...taste test?" The mountain flirts back. I giggle stupidly with my hands pressed to the sides of my face.

"Bill, what are you doing?"

"AAAAAAAAHHH!" I jump and swing my gaze up to see Pyronica staring at me with a mildly disturbed expression on her half asleep face.

"N-n-nothing! You're still dreaming!" I scream before flicking my fingers. I watch as her eye rolls up and she collapses back asleep.

There's silence for a bit aside from my heavy, panicked breathing.

I check the time, another 3 hours before sunrise. Well. I can probably stay quiet for that long. I'm flushed dark orange and just walk quietly trying not to combust from embarrassment. The snow hisses and melts around me.

---

"Rise and shine everyone! Who's ready for breakfast?" I cheer as my friends begin yawning and stretching. I'm stirring a large pot full of stew.  Having gotten bored, I decided to hunt down an ice-moose and had spent the rest of the night preparing the food.

Stew is meant for cooking for long hours after all. The meat should be nice and tender by this point, the fat melting off and enriching the flavor of the soup. I check on it and see that the carrots and potatoes have gotten nice and soft. Perfect.

Skinning and slicing up the moose meat was quite messy and I'm glad I can just flick clean myself. If my friends had woken to see me covered in blood and viscera...well it was a good thing I can clean myself.

Alseph groans and rolls over in his sleep, his body tilting around in the air.

"Ooh~that smells really good Bill." Teeth salivates hungrily. He wiggled and I floated him down to the ground where he immediately waddles over to the pot and looks at it. "What're you making?"

"Meat and vegetable stew." I stir the pot again before scooping out a portion into a bowl for Teeth. He makes appreciative noises as he drinks.

The others gathered around and in a few minutes we were all sitting in a circle around the pot, enjoying the food. Alseph woke up at some point, having smelled the delicious food and realizing he hadn't eaten much the previous day. I can hear his stomach grumble but he stubbornly refused to eat any.

"You're gonna starve." I narrow my eye at him, bowl in one hand and spoon in the other. He refuses to look at me (or the food) curling in on himself as his stomach cried. I sigh before sprouting more hands to grab him and hold his mouth open.

"Here comes the food train! Choo! Choo!" I slowly bring the spoonful of soup and vegetables up to his mouth. Despite his protests I continue to feed him like an infant. Hectorgon is very amused by this.

"I used to do that with my daughter." He reminisced. "But in her case I was driving a helipod of food."

"You have a kid?" Teeth asks bluntly. I hide a wince. Not the most tactful Mouth.

"Had." Hectorgon says quietly.

My friends all wince. Teeth looks devastated. "I'm sorry! I didn't mean to-"

Hectorgon waves him off. "It's fine kid. You didn't know. Besides..." He takes a another bite of his food. "...it was a long time ago."

The mood was a little subdued after that. Even Alseph didn't complain as much, eating his meal quietly. Hectorgon cleared his throat. "So how close are we to the server farm?"

"Oh we're right on top of it." I remark as I wipe some soup off Alseph's chin with a napkin. His eyes go wide. "The Federation will-!" I shove another spoonful in his mouth to shut him up.

"We're here?!" Hectorgon looks around searching for the machines. He could find nothing though.

"I said we're on top of it." I correct him. I stretch out a hand to point at the sheer drop of a ravine a few yards from us. "The facility is down there. At the veeeery bottom."

Hectorgon hops over to look. "Careful not to fall in." I remark.

"My word. I can't even see the bottom." He pales and quickly hops away from the ledge.

"So I was thinking we could climb down on a rope after breakfast, or I could float you all down."

"I wanna try climbing it!" Teeth says. "You can catch us if we fall right?"

"Naturally. I won't allow any of you to fall." I assure them. Pyronica seems all for this idea. Xanthar and Ammy would have to be floated down since they weren't exactly built for climbing. Kryptos looks terrified at the idea. "I-I can just fl-float down please?"

"That is private Federation property-!" I shove another spoonful into Alseph's mouth.

"Well eat up. No sense in wasting good food."

We settle down to chat and eat. I give Alseph more food whenever he tries to protest our invasion of Federation property. Maybe I should gag him instead, he's looking pretty full. I created bathrooms for my friends to freshen up, even let Alseph have his own stall too, and thanked Ax that I don't defecate. Waste production is gross and this was one of the few things I loved about my weirdass alien biology.

It was finally time to descend into the unknown. I created a rope for anyone who wanted to climb and floated the rest of them with me.

 

Alseph kept wiggling and making muffled protests. I gagged him with marshmallows. If he focused more on eating them than yelling at us he'd probably make better progress. Pyronica and Teeth tried to race each other down but since they were on one rope that was pretty much a no go. They begged me for a second rope but I adamantly refused.

"If you two fall from your own competitive stupidity I'm not catching you."

Hectorgon laughs. "You guys are a riot."

"Is that a good thing?" Ammy asks me. I shrug. "It means we're fun people."

I had a bubble around us just in case anyone fell, I kept my gaze on my friends climbing down, I had glanced below me once and the world spun for a bit. Stupid vertigo. I loved high places, I loved climbing, but the instant I look down...

It wasn't as bad as it had been when I was human, now I can fly. So it was reassuring to know I won't fall. A few minutes in had Teeth trembling with exhaustion. These last two days were more exercise than he's had in years.

All of us floated the rest of the way down. I gave an impromptu lesson about ice formations. "-nd this glacier we're currently descending into is millions of years old. It's been around for so long that the ice at the bottom is pretty much solid as stone from the pressure."

"Wouldn't the heat from the machines melt it from the inside and cause structural instability?" Kryptos asks.

"Why do you think this opening is here? You can't feel it because of the bubble but this place here allows the heat to escape upward and thus keep the bottom cool."

I gaze down, mentally reminding myself that I can fly and I was in no danger of falling "There's a lot of metal down there that was placed to build the servers on top of. It keeps the machines from actually touching the ice and allows for a more careful dispersal of heat. It gets redirected here so the ice below doesn't develop issues."

 

We could see a large metal building now. I adjusted my bubble to bend light around us, thus achieving invisibility in case there was security down here. My paranoia proved fruitful when I spotted security cameras and laser guns slowly scanning around. Hectorgon pales as he sees the guns.

"There's no way I would have been able to get down here by myself." He says softly as our group floats right pass the guns and cameras. "We...won't be shot right?"

"So long as you all stay inside the bubble you're safe."

We make it past the security and float over a wall to find...

"Whoa!" Kryptos gasps.
 


The server farm stretched before us. It was huge. I saw machines going off into the distance. Hectorgon fumbled with his briefcase. I lower us to the ground and the Anglesphere pulls out his laptop. He had some tools as well which he used to open up the nearest machine and start messing with the wire inside.

"So what ARE you doing with this?" Kryptos asked eagerly.

"I'm going to deconstruct the Federation's surveillance within the server." He responds. I can tell that wasn't the whole reason. There was too much anger and pain coming off him for such a simple reason. Once more I catch a memory of a little girl.

I'm going to assume that girl was Hec's daughter. I wanted to know what happened but I didn't want to just ask him. Clearly though, something about this had to do with her. Alseph struggles harder. He makes mumbled angry noises.

We all ignore him and just watch Hectorgon type away. I got bored pretty quick and decided to bother Alseph to amuse myself. "So. How've you been doing? I'm sure you want to go home. Well, when we're done here I'll return you to your masters once I get a proper apology from them."

I leaned closer to him and blinked my eye into a mouth to grin at him with sharp teeth. "Frankly, I'm being rather merciful considering you nearly killed my friend."

He shivers.

As I terrified Alseph I hear Kryptos comment "That's a lot of files. What are you searching for?"

"..."

Seeing that he didn't trust us enough to say yet, I tell Kryptos to leave him alone. "A guy's allowed his secrets Kryptos. Don't be nosey, you don't even have a nose."

Kryptos pouts at me even as Hectorgon gives me a grateful look. With nothing much to do, my other friends are quickly bored and we ended up gathering around Alseph to bother him.

"So like, why do you even work for the Federation? Do they really pay that well?" Pyronica asks.

"Naw, officers and other foot soldiers are considered expendable. The coots in charge only need them for their numbers and loyalty. The officers like this guy are paid in food and shelter."

"So...he doesn’t actually make any money?" Teeth seemed horrified by the prospect.

"Naw. He gets a roof over his head from living in the Federation dormitories and free meals from the sanctioned rations and cafeterias."

"That sounds awful. Why would you WANT to live like that? I know Bill said you were brainwashed but seriously?"

I remove his gag so he could at least respond to us if he wanted. "You mock me for my lifestyle! But you're just the same! You're nothing more than toys to the demon!" He hisses.

"Correction. They're my friends. A toy would be Liu-Dag."

"How IS he doing by the way?" Ammy wonders.

"Died of old age centuries ago. Kept attacking the triad he used to lead claiming that he was the 'real' boss. Funny thing is, everyone knew. No one cared. Hubart was just a much nicer boss to work under so all his former minions simply kicked him out. He tried for many more years before finally giving up and attempting to start his own criminal organization. Did pretty well in the crime part, not so well on the organization. Had multiple betrayals by his men when they couldn't stand him anymore..."

Pyronica stares at me incredulously. "You kept track of what he was doing?"

"Course I did. Even if he was a terrible excuse for a minion, he was still MINE. So after a few more years of losing everything, living on the streets and finally collapsing in an alleyway, he gets found by this nice lady who nurses him back to health. Cliche as it was, Liu-Dag actually ended up falling for her and settled down nicely. He had 2 kids and 7 grandchildren."

"That's...surprisingly domestic of him." Pyronica looked amazed.

"Well he got older, grew and changed." I shrugged. That's how mortal creatures were. They changed. Year after year they were always learning, evolving and changing. Unlike beings like Time Baby or the AXOLOTL. Unlike me. Sure I have changed but not all that much considering how old I was. In the past billion years I haven't grown at all as a person. I'm the same now as I was then.

Sometimes I blocked my own memories just so I can 'discover' something new and have that thrill of learning. Immortal creatures take much longer to learn stuff. It was just how things ended up. Ax hasn't changed much, the most personal growth he's had was from interacting with me. He's more casual now, less formal and distant.

It took over 40 billion years to get him to this point.

Time Baby though, hasn't grown at ALL as a person. The same selfish, self centered brat I met all those eons ago. I KNOW Time Baby is around my age, older? Younger? Doesn't matter. You'd think he would have more growth considering he's a baby but...I shake my head. No use getting mad about it. If he refuses to learn, that's HIS issue. Frankly, I should just be glad he hasn't gotten any WORSE.

Alseph was just glaring angrily as we all ignored him. "Why can't you see that this beast is a monster?! You saw what he became! Those teeth and mouths! Has he truly stolen your Souls?!"

"I don't steal Souls, that's rude, I manipulate minds and even then I don't change people's free will or personality." I say patiently. "And do you REALLY need to call me a beast? It's very hurtful. You hurt my feelings." I pout. Teeth guffaws in the background at the gobsmacked look on Alseph's face. "I hurt your feelings?!" He chokes out.

"Yes. I happen to be self conscious about my spontaneous bodily mutations." I huff. "I know it's not very pretty but I can't really do much about it. My body is effected by my emotions and all that."

Alseph sneers. "So you admit that you hide your true monstrous form b