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The Lost Memories

Chapter Text

Feet stumbled just a bit as the door swung shut behind them. Blue eyes lifted to look around the room, identifying it immediately. His head was spinning, his lungs struggling to catch their breath. The man shook his head with a grimace, locking the door behind him before he headed over to the corner and shoved the bookcase out of the way. “Let’s see if it’s different…” he murmured under his breath, even though he really didn’t need to check. Quickly entering in a four-digit code, he could see that it was indeed changed.

“...Dammit,” he hissed, letting his head drop, his hands pressed against the wall in an effort of support..

“Up here already?” an amused voice asked. “What? Trying to do a speed run this time?”

He didn’t even need to turn around to see who the voice belonged to. Well, actually, no. In all honesty, he didn’t want to. The voice was eerie, but not just in the sense that it was still slightly distorted on occasion. No, that wasn’t it. What unnerved him about it was that it sounded so much like his own-and it was becoming more and more identical every time.

So was the speaker’s appearance, for that matter. Every time he saw him, the speaker’s form would still occasionally lose features, become nothing more than a shadow with substance, but it wasn’t happening nearly as much anymore. No, now the speaker was starting to look like him too, and over the course of the past few cycles, it’d scarcely done much more than glitch here and there.

He didn’t want to see what it looked like now.

He didn’t want to acknowledge the reality that now its appearance and form was more stable.

“I’m always trying for a speed run,” Jack shot back, although the bite that he’d normally throw into such a quip was dulled by exhaustion. “After all, speed is key, isn’t it?”

The speaker chuckled-practically more so with malice than with actual humor. “Well now that’s a shame, isn’t it?” he taunted.

Jack could hear footsteps- god, it had footsteps now -approach him, stopping only when they reached right behind him. He could sense the figure lean forward, just over his shoulder to whisper into his ear. “Because you’re slowing , Jack. I can see it. You can see it-”

“H-hey, back off!” Jack snapped, whipping around only to have his flung fist pass through nothing. Nothing solid , anyway, but a patch of thick warming air and a face that matched his own. That was also something that made his stomach drop: this thing used to be as cold as the icy dead, but now it...it was-

The speaker stared back at him, green eyes narrowing. “That wasn’t very nice,” he hissed. But the anger quickly melted away to be replaced by a smug smirk as the doppelganger stepped back, looking him over with an expression that made the Irishman feel positively uncomfortable. “Ah well. Doesn’t matter,” he relented. “You can do whatever you wish. It doesn’t change the truth. If anything, all it really changes is my wrath.” He cast a glance toward the clock on the bookshelf. “Speaking of which, I forget. Isn’t Mark about to have a run-in with my little Phillipe?”

His grin widened when he saw the Irishman’s wide eyes glance up toward the clock and his face pale.

Jack was tied to his strings and he knew it. He was in far too deep, and while each memory brought him one step further to helping out his friends ( did it? Did it though? ), they were also becoming ever-tightening shackles that bound him to the book, to the house, to their owner and the cycles overall.

But all he could do was keep running.

Chapter Text

The clang of the door slamming shut cut through Cry's thoughts, yanking attention from the clue they (at least thought they found) and causing him (as well as everybody else) to whip around in alarm. The sight that greeted them was...unexpected...to say the least.

“Jack, what the fuck?!” Felix demanded, crossing the few feet of space in no time at all to stare out at the Irishman. Stare, because there really wasn’t much else he could do when a set of thick iron bars separated the green-haired man from everybody else.

“Jack?” Mark questioned, less aggressive but certainly concerned, being the next to make it over to the bars.

“I’m sorry everyone,” Jack said, looking at each of them in turn. A soft smile was on his face but the expression was far from reassuring-on the contrary, it was an alarming mix of relief, fear, sadness and hopelessness. One look at his eyes and there was hardly any joy there at all, just…

Dead.

They were dead.

“I didn’t mean to deceive you, just...this was the best thing I could come up with. The only thing I could come up with.”

“Jack, you’re not making any sense-” Bryan started.

“I know I’m not. Right now…” He chuckled softly to himself, but it was void of any real humor. “Probably never. But yer going to- we’re going to be okay now. Everybody’s going to be okay. All ye fellas have to do is sit tight and good ol’ Jackaboy is going to take care of everything.”

“Jack?” Matthias said evenly, walking up to join the two. “Jack, c’mon, let us out-”

“I’m afraid I can’t do that,” Jack replied, smile still plastered to his features. It was never a convincing one to begin with, but it remained fixed in place. “Ye’ll just fuck everything up.”

“Fuck what up?! Jack!” Mark began, worry beginning to creep into his voice. “What the hell are you planning to do-”

“I’ll explain later. Or...maybe not. If ye all really knew...” Jack’s words trailed off into ambiguity for a long, tense moment, a visible struggle on his face for a brief flicker in maintaining his smile. So instead he glanced down at the floor for a moment as his hand slid down the back of his neck, looking rather self-conscious and guilty. “I realize that this is a really shitty thing to do-in fact-most of what I’ve been doing up to this point has been…” He paused, then shook his head. “And for that I’m sorry.” He looked back up at them, a look that was just...lost. Lost and alone and deprived of almost all hope.

“But I’ll make it all of this right. I promise.”


 

“Maybe if we just-yeah, like that,” Cry muttered, wiggling the pin a bit more in the lock. “Just gotta angle it a little-”

“I can’t believe he would do this,” Mark muttered anxiously, unable to sit still. “What the hell is he even thinking? What’s he planning?”

“We can ask him when we’re out of here,” Tyler assured, trying to be a calming presence for his friend.

“Yeah, but I mean, we can’t if he’s-” Mark’s words fell short when the door to the room suddenly swung open and Jack walked inside. The Irishman stopped before the door, blinking a few times with-

What was that expression? Almost unreadable. Almost surprise, but almost mischief. Then regret-but almost fake?

What the hell was going on with him?

“Ye fellas haven’t made it out yet? ” Jack asked, mild surprise lacing his voice.

“Fuck you, of course we haven’t,” Felix snapped, perhaps a bit harsher than intended. “We don’t have a fucking key or anything-”

“Yeah, uh, I suppose-” Jack replied. He rubbed the back of his neck and looked away, finally letting out a sigh. “Shit. Alright, fine. I guess- fine .” He ran his hands back through his hair as he turned away, then turned back to them. “I’ve thought about it. I’m gonna let you all out and tell you the truth. I think it’s about time you all deserve to know.”

The Irishman approached the cell door, pausing in front of Cry to look him in the eyes. “Cry? If you could remove the pin?”

Cry blinked, staring back at him. Something seemed off. Really off, he wasn’t liking it. Then again, this guy did just lock them all in a cell, so something was telling him his sense of judgement might be a bit biased. “Uh-yeah, uh, sure,” he replied, removing the pin and taking a step back.

Jack reached into his jacket pocket, seeming to search for a moment before removing a key and unlocking it. He pulled the cell door open, backing away with the movement and to allow everyone to filter out.

“You mind explaining just what the heck that was all about?” Ken demanded.

Jack blinked again, almost lazily, then turned his gaze to the door he just came in through. It was at this point Cry realized what was bothering him: Jack’s eyes. They weren’t...blue for some reason, they were green. “Well I could,” he replied, a sadistically mischievous grin playing at his lips. “But I figured ye’d want those last moments for saying your prayers instead.”

Cry looked back in the direction everyone else was and froze. The monster was standing in the doorway, towering over them.

Blocking them in.

A chill ran up his spine as he heard Jack’s sudden giggle.

Have fun, boys.”

Chapter Text

“Where the hell could they even be?” Cry wondered as they wandered the first floor.

Jack shook his head. “Got me,” he sighed. “Ah, fuck. We still have a bunch of floors upstairs to check too.”

“Yeah. Man...this house is way too big,” Cry agreed, watching as Jack wandered over to the door at the back of the entrance hall. “Uh-we checked that one already, remember? It’s locked. And we don’t have a key.”

“There is still a chance that Tyler and Ethan found one. God-there’s so many opportunities they could’ve just passed us by and we wouldn’t even fuckin’ know,” Jack pointed out, reaching over to try the door. To their surprise, the door swung open but…

Noises.

Noises of badness.

The two exchanged uncertain glances but then a strangled cry reached their ears. Sounded like-

“Tyler?” Jack called, hurrying forward without hesitation. Cry was close behind, practically on his heels when his companion yanked the shouji door open to some sort of dojo room.

The sight that greeted their eyes…

Ethan sprawled out across the floor, a thick red puddle of blood pooling out around him and only growing larger every second. Cry started to take a step forward, but was stopped by Jack’s arm in front of him. Right as a demand of ‘what the hell’ was about to slip his lips, his words dropped off at the sound of a heavy creak nearby. He took a step closer to the center of the door, seeing what the paper door had blocked from his view: the monster-no. A monster several feet from Ethan. A monster, because this one was different, slender and lithe with curved, wiry limbs, fingers long and curved and sharp like scythes.

And on one of those scythe-like fingers was Tyler.

Pierced through and hanging by his throat.

Jack’s voice-quiet, low, and unusually calm-is what broke him out of his shock.

“Run.”

Cry looked over at him and stared for a second. The look on his face wasn’t shock or horror, no. It wasn’t hysteria or even panic. It was-

Crushed.

If he’d ever seen a look of total disappointment and despair…

Cry shook his head. “Jack, we’ve gotta do something-”

The Irishman was stiff, almost frozen, but then a hard look came over his face. The moment he snapped out of his trance, he grabbed Cry’s arm and pulled him back behind the paper wall next to the door. “We can’t,” he said shortly, voice remaining quiet but unusually harsh. “Look, Cry, it might not even matter at this point but I don’t want it getting you too. I don’t want to have to watch that-” But then he fell silent, becoming almost uncomfortable with the pair of eyes on him. Finally he made a face and looked away, swallowing hard. “Fuck.” He blinked hard a few times, silent before finally looking over at Cry. Finally, “...I might still be able to save Ethan.”

His voice was strained with reluctance and doubt. Cry wasn’t even sure what the hell he meant -how the hell was he going to save him? But hey, this place was weird and-why not? He’d take whatever ‘saving’ they could get.

“Okay. What do we have to do?”

“You. What do you have to do,” Jack corrected. He inhaled, but the exhale came out shaky and he blinked hard a couple times. “...I need you to draw it away.”

What?!

“I need you to get it to chase you. Look, I get it if you don’t want to, but- I mean-” Jack glanced back at the door. “It’s either this or Ethan dies. I can’t get to him otherwise-” He then shook his head, clearly losing his nerve. “You know, actually, nevermind. It’s a stupid plan-”

Cry found himself moving past Jack and to the doorway of the dojo before he himself even knew what he was doing. Trying his best not to look at his fallen friends and think hey, this could be me in five minutes , he instead focused in on the monster.

“HEY!”

The monster whipped around to face him, letting Tyler slide limply to the ground with a dull, sickening ‘thud’.

“YOU WANT SOME OF THIS?”

The monster took a step towards him, to which Cry took a step back in almost complete synchronicity.

“FINE! THEN COME AND GET ME!”

Chapter Text

“Seriously, that’s the last time I leave them alone,” Matthias grumbled as they headed into the room. “They can’t stay put for longer than two minutes -”

“In fairness, it probably has been longer than two min-”

As Cry stepped into the room, he froze just a couple steps inside the doorway, eyes wide, face paling. Matthias gave him a curious look, stepping in behind him before his expression matched. Worse even, it was far more intense, wrought with panic and grief and shock.

“Joey!” he exclaimed, pushing past Cry to rush to J-Fred’s side, kneeling down next to the prone body. Seeing another body nearby, he muttered, “Bryan-” He shook his head, pressing his hand to his mouth as his eyes filled with tears, checking frantically for a pulse-but considering the way the head was bashed in and bleeding, the angle the neck was twisted at- “Oh god…” His voice broke with a sob. “Nonononono- Joey, c’mon. C’mon! Wake up!

Cry swallowed hard, moving past Matthias to check on Bryan, checking for a pulse but-no, he could call this one already too. Considering the gaping, bleeding hole through his middle-

He was quiet for a while, reluctant to break the news as sobs filled the room, the sound of it twisting his insides. Instead he looked down, hesitantly reaching out with trembling fingers to brush Bryan’s eyes closed. “I’m sorry,” he whispered. “I’m sorry we weren’t able to get to you guys in time.”

Rising numbly to his feet, he finally turned to look at Matthias, who was clutching his younger brother in his arms, then over at the open door. He knew Matthias wasn’t going to want to leave their sides any time soon. And considering the situation, he wasn’t going to force him. At the same time though, they were sitting ducks while the door was still standing open.

So he made his way over to the door and pulled it shut, twisting the lock. He leaned back against the door, squeezing his eyes shut as he let out a shaky breath. His chest felt tight. He wasn’t even all that close to these guys, didn’t know them all too well, but still-

They’d lost another two.

He wasn’t sure how long he lingered in that one spot, listening to Matthias’s sobs as he meanwhile tried to process his own shock. But he couldn’t stay still, he had to do something , keep his mind occupied in some way.

So he quietly made his way across the room to pull the blanket and sheets from the bed.

“There’s nothing-?” Matthias began, voice rough and broken. “We can’t-? And-and Bryan-him too-?”

Cry was silent for a moment, reluctant to confirm the other’s fears, but finally, honestly he replied in a quiet voice, “Yeah. Him too.” He frowned behind the mask, giving the fabric a firm yank; the covers finally came free of the bed. “I’m sorry man. They’re gone and...and there’s nothing we can do.” He made his way back over, pulling the sheet from the pile. “But…” he added with a hard swallow. “I really... really wish we could…” He flicked up the sheet, straightening it out in the air and letting it softly settle upon the fallen. He made no move to cover Joey over just yet, not while he was in his older brother’s arms.

“I…” Matthias swallowed hard as well, sniffling as he clutched the body. “Sorry Cry, I just-I-I’m gonna need another minute-”

Cry straightened as he looked over at Matthias with a frown, his heart weighing heavy. He wasn’t an only child; he could only imagine the pain the other was feeling. He couldn’t even fathom if he were to lose those in his family-not the ones he held most precious, anyway, nobody like a sibling.

Yeah.

They really needed to find the others, but he’d definitely give him his time.

He made his way over to the door to stand guard-not much he could do if anything came up on the door regardless, and hopefully the locked door would be enough to keep them safe.

But at least it felt like something he could do, some way he could still be helpful.

“Take all the time you need,” he whispered.

Chapter Text

“C’mon-c’mon, Jack, stay with us!” Mark begged, pressing a sheet to what could only be presumed to be a gut wound. “I’m not going to lose you too-!” The look on his face was frantic as he looked up at them, reflecting the general sentiment of the room. Jack himself was unconscious, his face ashen and breathing shallow. There was blood around his middle, blood pouring from his forehead, blood...everywhere. Judging from that and how thoroughly saturated Jack’s clothes and the sheet were with red, all the blood he’d probably lost by that point-

“Oh god, I think he’s going into shock-” Felix pointed out, moving to grab the pillowcase from the nearby bed for a fresh compress.

“We’re losing him,” Bryan warned.

“Well what can we do? ” Mark demanded. “There’s gotta be something-!”

Bryan looked around. “Stitches, maybe? If we could find something to do a blood transfusion also but-”

Cry shook his head helplessly, at a loss for ideas. “I-I’m honestly not sure if there’s anything we can -” But he stopped when something caught his eye. He reached down, grabbing the notebook from Jack’s hand and tugging it away. Opening it, he began flipping through the pages.

Seriously, what the hell was this book anyway?!

What the hell was all this written in here, almost a third of it looked to be in Italian, for crying out loud-

But he’d seen it happen. Jack...healing them. Healing them through magical means. Jack said the book helped him do it, which meant that if he could figure it out-

He could do this. He didn’t have a whole lot of time, but if he could just figure it out-

Flip to the back of a book-he wasn’t entirely sure what he was expecting. A glossary, perhaps? But no, all he saw was a large clock on the inside of the back cover with moveable clock hands that were-

That were caked in blood.

He swallowed and tried to ignore it, don’t dwell on it, no time. He flipped to the front in hopes of maybe finding a table of contents, but once again, nothing of the sort. Almost the same thing, in fact-there was a smaller clock on the inner cover of the front, also with moveable hands, but-

But this was telling him nothing!

“Oh, dammit, come on! ” he whispered, about to thumb through the pages when he noticed a tiny footnote scrawled in the corner, written in Jack’s handwriting. He almost missed it, actually-it was so messy and small and hard to read, almost as if Jack had written it while in a serious rush-

Or as if it’d been written while one was only half of mind, from grief or distraction or who only knew what.

‘Blood of user+condensed focus=small-scale reversal!’

“What the-reversal?” Cry whispered, thumbing through the pages to try and find more elaboration. “That doesn’t tell me anything!”

Catching snatches of ‘time flow’ and ‘resurrections’ from the pages-that’s when it hit him.

“He was never healing-” he whispered. “He was reversing the injury, in which case-!”

He flipped back to the front of the book, staring at the small clock. If the small clock worked in the way he thought it did-

Oh god, everything was starting to make sense now. Everything.

But he couldn’t focus on it right now, no time. Reaching down, he swiftly turned the hands on the clock counter-clockwise until they reached twelve again.

Nothing.

He glanced down at the footnote again and made a face. It required blood. Some of his blood. His eyes swept the room-what could he use to draw-

Ah, fuck it. There was no time-

Fighting his reluctance, he reached up, ripping off his mask and brushing his fingers across an open cut on his forehead. A hit to the face from an earlier battle; the mask was surprisingly decent protection, but it was also the point where the edge of the mask had pressed in hard enough to cut across his skin slightly mid-battle.

He hoped it would be enough.

Staining his fingertips with his own blood, he reached down to turn the hands of the clock back again. Now time lit up beneath his fingertips-quite literally-as a blue light began to flow out and blossom into an intricate circle design. “What-” he whispered.

His actions had already caught the attention of Felix, who stood on the other side of Jack and stared. “Cry, what the hell?” he began softly, taking a step forward, eyes wide. This had drawn the attention of the others. “What is that?”

“I’m not-” But Cry looked back down at Jack’s prone figure and he took a couple quick steps forward. Mark frowned.

“Cry, what are you doing?” he asked warily.

“Saving his life,” Cry replied, trying to sound more certain than he felt. His eyes fell back to the circle of light, noticing how unstable and shaky it looked. And indeed, it was a struggle: if he focused, thought with all his might about what he wanted to do-no, needed to do-he was able to get it to steady, but take his attention away even a little bit-

“Okay Jack. Let’s do this!”

As Mark reluctantly pulled the pillowcase away (it was soaked through anyway), Cry brought his hand down on Jack’s gut. Nothing. Nothing, but gradually the bleeding was stopping-no.

No, it was reversing , as much as it could, anyway. Whatever was left on his body and not pooled onto the floor or saturated the fabric of clothes and compresses was flowing back in-

The tense silence was broken by a sudden gasp for breath. The Irishman’s chest heaved, his eyes shooting open as he let out a sudden piercing shriek of pain.

“Cry, stop it, you’re hurting him-!” Mark exclaimed, moving forward.

Felix put a hand down on Mark’s shoulder to hold him back. “No, I think he’s healing him. Look!” He pointed to the injury and it’s odd absorption of blood back into the wound, but Mark wasn’t wrong-Jack looked to be in intense pain.

Cry cringed as he watched the man writhe and spasm before him. “Sorry-I’m sorry-” he muttered, but tried to remain focused. He couldn’t stop now. He couldn’t have any second thoughts, any doubts. Maybe this hurt, but doing nothing would result in Jack being dead . And they just couldn’t let that happen.

He watched as all the blood drained back down into the gut wound and gradually sealed up, then back up at Jack, watching the headwound start sealing up as well. A sudden pang in his own head caused the circle to flicker. It didn’t hurt too much, just-the abruptness of it really caught him off guard. He shoved it away, writing it off as reminiscent pain from that hit to the face, from the cut on his head, and continued to focus on the spell as the pain gradually ebbed out of the Irishman’s features and awareness returned to his eyes.

When Jack’s pained squirming finally ceased and he was staring back at Cry with wide eyes, the formerly-masked man breathed a sigh of relief, letting the magic flicker out and his hand drop.

“Welcome back.”

Chapter Text

The silence was deafening. The Irishman sat huddled in the corner of the cell, resting his cheek against the cool wall to take what bare minimum of solace he could from it. His head hurt, his eyes were puffy with the damp, rough feeling of trails down the face and ragged breaths came from a raw throat. Hearing soft footsteps approach, he stirred, straightening up a little before reaching a hand out to brace himself against the wall and tiredly pull himself up to his feet. There was a quick flash of something through his mind, in his heart, in his features, like a spark popped off by a lighter, but it was quickly extinguished by the cold dark of disappointment.

The owner of the footsteps wasn’t any of his friends, of course it wasn’t. No, it was the shad-no. Anti . That was his name now, the name he took, and he wore it well. His features mirrored him almost perfectly, right down to the clothes, right down to the hue of his hair and even his tattoo. The glasses were a thing he’d done without though, for the time being at least. Or maybe it was just an eye thing-after all, the eyes were about the only thing that didn’t reflect him with the sclera a dark gray and the pupils an acidic green color.

“You know, I never will understand it,” Anti remarked, striding over to the cell door. His steps were slow and deliberate, taking his time, enjoying and savoring the moment. “Why you keep on and keep on.”

As he opened his mouth to speak, Anti held up a hand to cut him off. “I mean, don’t stop on my account. We still have a game to play, after all,” the doppelganger continued. “Just…” He stopped, tilting his head and furrowing his brow as if trying to solve an intense puzzle. “I mean, I guess just the one thing that confuses me is why they didn’t do this sooner . Or why they don’t do this more often.”

“They’re my friends,” Jack shot back, his voice rough and raw. “Why would they?”

At these words, Anti’s face suddenly split into a wide grin as he leaned in close to the bars. “ Are they, though? ” he asked. He gestured to the bars. “ Are they? Do friends lock up their own? ” Chuckling as he watched his counterpart’s resolve falter, he continued, “Face it, Jackaboy. They wouldn’t have come back for you. They don’t trust you. And why would they? So much of this is your fault, after all.”

Jack shook his head, eyes scrunching almost shut in the intensity of his frown but unable to help taking a step back as if he’d just been slapped. “That’s not true. I’m trying to save them-” His voice caught when a pitched giggle came from the other.

Save them? ” Anti repeated. He waved toward the door, unable to keep the amused look off his face. “Does any of this look like saving them? Oh sure, you’ve been bringing them back. Over and over again, I might add. But into what sort of existence?” He leaned in close to the bars again, this time to the point where his forehead nearly touched the bars. “One full of fear, pain, loss and death.” He shook his head, chuckling. “And to think-you threw away Mark’s sacrifice for this . I wonder how he’d react if he knew?”

“If I succeed, he won’t have to die,” Jack argued. “None of them will-”

“That’s a very big ‘if’.” Anti gave him an almost pitying smile. “Your track record so far isn’t exactly showing so great. And now you can top it all off with being imprisoned by your friends-an all-time low, I imagine. I guess I can just appreciate the irony that you’ve unintentionally become the warden of the eternal hell you’ve damned them all to.” He shook his head. “But even going back to before the little deal you struck up with me, it was always your fault. Remember? Who froze up by the door?” Noticing Jack stiffen, he continued, “ Who did Mark give his life to save because the other was too much of a coward to do it himself? To just simply move ? ” His grin only seemed to grow as he watched his counterpart practically shrink before him. “For that matter, who was the one who even found this place and suggested it to begin with?”

“So what then?!” Jack finally burst out. “ What, Anti?! You want me to just...give up? What is it that you want from me?!”

“Oh, don’t get me wrong, I still want you to play the game,” Anti replied, the now-toothy grin finally beginning to subside just a little. “But that doesn’t mean I can’t take pleasure in reminding you of your own failures, just to watch you squirm.” Stepping back from the bars, he reached into his jacket pocket-and with a sickening feeling, Jack suddenly realized he couldn’t feel his left hand. The sensation of pins and needles that phased in and out of not feeling anything there at all, and he certainly couldn’t move it. So focused on this with a rising panic that he didn’t even realize that Anti had fished out a key until he heard a click in the lock and the creak of the door swinging open.

Anti held up the key with a smirk. “Got this off of Mark,” he explained. “Or what was left of him, anyway.”

Mark had the key. Mark had chosen to just leave him in here after all. And now he was dead... again -

Anti tossed him the key, which Jack reflexively caught with his right hand, and suddenly he noticed he could feel his left again. Looking back up at Anti’s look, his smug-ass look , his own wide blue eyes couldn’t keep the conflict from creeping in. The hopelessness, the betrayal, the despair .

“Everyone is scattered throughout the compound,” Anti continued. “Some of them in pieces, but none of them breathing anymore. And if any are , well...let’s just say that they know you did this. You did just stand by and watch, after all. Even drew the monsters right to them in some cases!” He shrugged. “But if you still want to save them-” He emphasized ‘save’ with a note of mockery, using air quotes. “For whatever reason, I’d recommend you start moving. My dear pets are already converging on your location; they’ll be here in minutes.” He turned and started for the door, but then paused to glance back at him with a grin. “I’ll be looking forward to the next time I see you in a cage.”

In the blink of an eye, without even opening the door, he was suddenly gone.

And the silence was ripped through by a cross between a choked sob and a frustrated scream.

Chapter Text

“I’m fine, I’m fine, I’m just-” Jack let out a hiss as he tried moving to his feet, cringing.

Felix frowned, shaking his head. “Yeah, that’s kinda the definition of not fine.” He quickly moved to Jack’s side, helping support the Irishman as Mark and Tyler kept watch, looking around. A baseball bat in Mark’s hand, katana in Tyler’s-a weapon with some range would’ve been nice, but the closest they had to that was Felix’s ‘flamethrower’, and even then…

“Yeah, c’mon, let’s get you to a room,” Mark muttered, eyes searching the hallway. “You can patch yourself up in there.”

“Sorry,” Jack muttered, limping to the next room with Felix’s help, trying to ignore the blood pouring down his leg.

“Hey, happens to all of us,” Mark assured.

“Yeah, let’s just make sure we’re not caught out here,” Tyler agreed.

As they made their way down one of the corridors, they suddenly froze when they heard heavy footsteps making their way toward them.

Mark made a face, cursing softly and exchanging a look with Tyler. A brief moment of silent communication seemed to pass between them, which was finally broken by Tyler.

“You guys need to pick up the pace.”

Felix and Jack turned their attention toward the two behind them, caught by surprise.

“What?” Felix asked.

“You heard him,” Mark seconded. “Felix, I want you to hurry up and get Jack out of here-”

Jack’s eyes widened. “What? No-!”

“Jack-” Mark’s expression softened a bit. “There’s no one else left but us. You were planning on turning back time again anyway, weren’t you?”

Jack froze, then swallowed thickly and looked away, blinking rapidly a few times. “That-that doesn’t mean-I don’t want you to-”

“Can’t turn back time if you’re dead,” Tyler pointed out.

“Go. Get out of here,” Mark urged. “We’ll handle this. And hopefully things will go better in the next round, alright?”

“What?” Jack shook his head. “ No -” Seeing the sturdier monster round the corner and begin to approach the other two, coming up behind him, he attempted to take a step towards them. “Mark, Tyler-”

“Felix-!” Mark began as Tyler turned to face the monster.

“Got it,” Felix replied with a nod, hesitant and frowning. “...You guys try and get back to us alive, alright?”

“Just keep him alive until reset,” Mark instructed, noticeably evading his request. Sparing a final glance to Jack, he gave a tiny smile to the Irishman. “Don’t worry,” he said softly. “We’ll see you again on the other side.” Jack’s mouth opened to argue, but Mark raised his voice again. “GO!”

Felix quickly started down the corridor again, making his way to the corridor as Jack squirmed, frantically trying to argue, frantically trying to convince him to go back, the others needed help-

Unmet demands that soon dissolved into sobs.

Chapter Text

When he reached the room, the first thing that hit him was the stench of blood.

He hesitated, waiting outside the door for a long time in spite of the danger of being out in the open as he steadily braced himself for whatever he was about to walk in on.

A sudden sob from inside the room caught him off guard, making him freeze at first. But the voice behind that sob sounded familiar, and after a moment of gathering his courage, he stepped inside. Standing in the doorway, the sight before him caught his breath. There was blood pooling on the hardwood floor underneath a prone body, a gaping hole in Mark’s chest. Kneeling next to him was Jack, shoulders hunched and shaking with tears. The Irishman didn’t even notice him, so focused on the open book in his lap that nothing outside a three-foot radius even existed within his world.

A flash of crimson flowing from one of his fingers, he moved his hand to the inner front cover of the book, drawing it left and downwards in a circular motion. Immediately a green light flickered, then spread out over his fingertips in a round, circular pattern. The air around his hand shimmered in a sort of large bubble, charged with whatever the green light was on his hand. He quickly brought it down over Mark’s wound, staring intently through his tears.

“C’mon, Mark…” he whispered. “C’mon. Come back to me. Please come back to me…”

To the watcher’s shock, there was a sudden sickening noise, the sound of flesh and bone snapping into place and coming back together, the sight of blood starting to draw back into the body. Soon the light had flickered out, and the Irishman slowly withdrew a trembling hand and stared with bated breath.

And continued to stare when the body remained motionless, not drawing a single breath, heart not producing a single beat.

The sound of an anguished whimper from the Irishman snapped the watcher out of his spell. Whatever seemed to be holding up Jack at that point had vanished, the man practically doubling over with arms around himself like the wind had been knocked out of him.

Why can’t I save you?!” he sobbed. “ Please. Don’t make me have to go back again, don’t make me-I can’t do this again, please Mark, just breath again, please-”

At which point Cry took a step forward, causing the floorboard to creak underneath his foot. Jack’s eyes snapped towards him, unmoving as he stared at him for a long moment, almost daring him to judge him, to make any sort of accusation or assumption. Almost daring him, and yet with a helpless look in his eyes. Vulnerability came with his lack of caring about appearances, exposed like a raw nerve.

For a second, Cry lingered by the doorway, an equally helpless look on his hidden face as he stood with a loss of words and actions. But finally he was the one to break their gaze, moving forward and tentatively reaching forward to grasp Jack’s shoulder and give it a squeeze, hoping it would be any source of comfort whatsoever.

Jack tensed at first, as if expecting a blow, but then all the energy seemed to drain right out of him, his head dropping with breaths shaky and ragged.

“He should’ve locked the damn door,” Jack mumbled, his voice thick. “I couldn’t get away fast enough, I couldn’t lead it away-”

“Jack, this isn’t your fault-”

“It is , though,” Jack replied. “He had a bunch of questions for me, I fucked up too many times and he caught on and-”

It isn’t your fault, ” Cry repeated more firmly. “Were you the one who stabbed him?”

A long silence, only broken by a shaky breath. Finally a response that came out unconvinced but almost timid. “No.”

“Did you tell those monsters to go after him?”

Another long silence before Jack let out a long shaky breath. “ No -”

“Then this isn’t your fault, Jack. You-” Cry frowned, pursing his lips for a moment before shaking his head. “I’m not gonna lie, you’ve been doing some pretty questionable shit while we’ve been here. But maybe it just looks that way because we don’t...we don’t understand what it is you’re doing. If you would just talk to us-”

Jack fiercely shook his head at this. “No,” he replied. “No. Because if I did…” He didn’t even bother to finish his words, merely shaking his head again, this time more fiercely.

Another long, uncomfortable silence settled over the area again, finally broken by Cry, who waved at Mark’s body. “That uh, light-” He immediately felt Jack tense under his hand, but he continued. “You healed him. Didn’t you?”

Silence. “Yes,” Jack finally replied in a voice that was hoarse and worn and completely and utterly exhausted. “I guess you could say that. For what little fucking good it actually did.” Before Cry could really come up with a decent response, the Irishman heaved a defeated sigh.

“I...I have to go back.” His voice was filled with finality, but also intense reluctance. And other than that...dead. His tone was dead with defeat, completely numb. “I can’t just leave it here. I can’t accept this. I have to go back.”

And then he looked up at Cry with eyes that looked worse than sadness. Worse than despair.

His expression was as dead as his voice, broken beyond all feeling.