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Nightmare's Gang of Wranglers

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There was an odd thing about healing that Blue was always secretly happy about: the communication. Blue could feel a little bit of someone else when he was healing, just like they could feel him. It wasn't words, exactly, or emotions. It was both deeper and shallower than that. It was safe, but yet made him feel known. He liked feeling like someone knew him, even if only for a moment. He had a feeling that might be why Stretch had tried to stop him from healing. He didn't seem to like it when Blue's happiness was someone else's fault.

Right now, Blue was healing Nightmare, and so he could feel a bit of him fairly well. Nightmare was a protective, scarred mother bear inside; he'd loved and lost, but he was more than willing to fight for what he loved again. Blue could tell Nightmare was feeling his fear, although he had no idea how. This fear wasn't for himself.

Nervously, Blue began to talk about what was scaring him so much, "Dream was weird when he first showed up, you know. Not bad! Not bad at all! He was just soul-numbed by something he wouldn't let anyone know about. It could have just been a manifestation of his PTSD, but-"

"You didn't know that, did you?" Blue chirped when he felt the protective side of Nightmare stir with surprise and anger, "He has it. It's very strong, but he won't take medicine for his symptoms, no matter how much I can tell he wants to. He never has. Now that I know about the marrow thing... That might have been why, but I'm not sure. I hope it is. I hope we can get him to take something now. He really hates his dissociation, and there's a few anti-depressants and some anti-psychotics that might help. I can only do so much when he won't let me see his soul."

Blue looked down at Nightmare's chest for a moment. "Your soul is relatively healthy, you know. My specialty is soul surgery, and I've seen worse. Geno and Error are both much worse."

That was another surprising burst of protectiveness and love. "They're twins, you know. Well, two of three triplets. I worked with all three of them, them and Fresh, in school. They were nice... At least, the other two. Error was scary at first, but he's nicer than he looks. His soul is in a horrible state, but it's more stable than Geno's... Or my brother's. Error tried to kidnap me, once. I think he just wanted a friend. He only kept me over the weekend, and we just hung out and watched Undernovela. I taught him how to knit and he let me talk. I needed to do that. I... I'd not had someone that I felt safe enough to vent to in a long, long time." 

Blue paused for a moment, remembering when Error made him let his anger out. "He left the trial when he gave me back to my brother. I wish he hadn't left. My brother wasn't happy that I'd been gone that long. I think Error would have let me cry on him afterwards... or taken me to the hospital. Most likely just the crying thing, though, and just next to him. Touch isn't good for his soul, and I was sticky and gross."

"Dream hates being sticky and gross," Blue added absently, "Not with magic, though. He said last night he likes how your corruption feels. I know what he means. It's protective of those you love. No, it's not that kind of thing he dislikes... Its the things where he steals Ink's shower or mine... Or should be in the hospital. He wouldn't let me take him after he saw what Stretch does... Did... When I went the first time. That was when he first showed up. He was covered in other people's magic and muck. He still won't use his own shower. The landlord won't change the apple wallpaper. I wish he would. It makes Dream throw up."

Finally, Blue looked Nightmare in the eyes. He was still very out of it, being on so many pain drugs, and Blue wasn't sure he'd caught everything. He didn't seem to do mornings very well. He hoped he'd caught enough. Those two needed to make up.

#

"So, my radical brother Error, who's the one who gets y'all out of trouble and who-" The colorful one introduced to Ink as Fresh said.

"Ink is hell, trouble incarcerated in monster form. I cannot get him out of trouble, I can only prevent his fucking trouble from killing him and every little shit around him," Error said simply. It was true, although way more poetic than Ink thought he usually went for. At least there was swearing. Ink was pretty sure he needed the swearing.

"That's true!" Ink said cheerfully.

"Well, at least you can agree," Reaper, the one who seemed to be married to the brother named Geno, said jokingly. At least, Ink thought that he was a brother, and that he was joking. 

"Yeah! It's  nice to be able to agree with your crush!"

Silence swirled around Ink like molasses in a flood through the streets of Boston.

"You have a crush on me?" Error asked incredulously. Ink was sure about that. His face painted a classic picture of it. 

"YUP!" Ink just about shouted, he was so excited. Error was the best! He took care of him when he had no paints! "No idea what kind, though."

Error grumbled, "Kind? There's more than one kind?"

It was one of the little ones, Goth maybe, who ended up explaining, "There's at least three: platonic, romantic, and sexual! You can have more than one of them, or even all of them at once!"

"Hmm..." Error said, his mind clearly wandering off in thought.

Geno watched him for a moment, then sighed. "Well, while my brother goes off in his skull and does... Whatever he does when we'd be thinking... How about the rest of us get back to eating?"

"Yup!" Ink said distractedly. He was watching Error think and wondering if anyone would mind if he got out his sketchbook. The afternoon light was that perfect shade of gold, and the way it picked up the red, blue, and yellow undertones in Error's bones was intensely interesting. He wanted to try and capture it with his pastels. If he used the oils he could...

"Geno brah, I don't think he's chewing on anything in that noggin of his that wouldn't make us trippy either," A voice barely registered in his brain. He didn't hear the response. He was too busy pulling out his art supplies.

#

"-and then he fainted on me, which totally ruined the joke I was going to make on him. Wanna hear the joke?"

Killer looked down at his lover. Nightmare looked just about done with him, which was an expression of Nightmare's that Killer was very familiar with. The boss was frequently exasperated with Killer's antics outside of work. Even during work, Killer was a barely constrained bundle of chaos and humor. His sense of humor didn't help matters. He could be very... Nonchalant about things that he had no right at all to care that little about.

He decided to tell Nightmare the joke anyway. "So I get out my knife, right? Daisy, of course, not Peach. Peach would be totally wrong for this, even if she is my favorite. I'd have needed something small for this. Anyway, knife - I flash her around in front of him. Show off every skill I have. Then? When he gives me a stupid bit of lip? I stab her -Stab!- Right between his stupidly fat fingers. Well, I thought they'd be fat. He was skinny as fuck. Didn't like the look in his eyes - foggy and out of it. Probably doing some... Sampling of his company's products on the side. That had to be why he fainted. Then again, those Fell Asgores can be weak and skittish. Their people aren't always that strong. These ones were sketchy and sleazy, like Crossy said; not strong in the least."

Killer took a look back at his mate's eye light. Nightmare was looking good actually. Unlike those stupid henchmen he'd waltzed past yesterday, Nightmare was strong. He'd make it through this. Hell, he was almost back to normal! The doctors were saying they'd let him out before the end of the week. They were so excited to start working with Dr. Blue. He was clearly a powerhouse.

"Oh, uh..." Killer wasn't looking forward to talking about this bit, but he'd drawn the short straw, so he had no choice, "Dream's... Kinda had a breakdown. Cross is with him right now, and they're staying in the hotel with Blue and Dust, but... You two need to talk, Blue says. He told them his side of your attempt. Boss... He gave up when you were gone. He said so himself. He said he basically turned to stone. He won't say why or to what, though. I mean, what he gave up to. He said he was stumbling around when he got home. He was fucking terrified to lose you, and... And Dust thinks we might lose him if you can't get him to talk. None of us can. Sorry, Boss."

"Typical," Nightmare's voice croaked into the breath Killer took. It was the first word he'd said since he woke up. Killer grinned. At least it wasn't something scary like 'thanks' or 'lover'. Boss wasn't big on either of those words. He'd mean them with every ounce of his soul, but they'd never leave his lips. Not for them, anyway. He cared too much to say them.

#

<Dream.>

The voice was quiet. It was so quiet that, at first, Dream didn't think it was real. Why would it be? He hadn't spoken like this to his twin in a very long time.

<I am real and I want to talk, Dream. Talk to me.>

<Nightmare?> Dream thought back tentatively. He wasn't sure it would go through. A few times, many years ago, he'd tried to speak to his brother like this. It hadn't worked. He had just wanted to wish him a happy birthday and say sorry.

This time his twin didn't hesitate before saying, <I love you. I'm sorry.>

<Okay, Nighty,> Dream said back automatically, his childhood response coming through. He'd never wanted to pressure his brother. He'd never wanted him to think he was trapped.

<Alright, that's enough... Please. Dream. Tell me what happened to you when I left. Tell me why you were stumbling that day. Tell me why you are afraid to eat in the morning. Tell me why you sometimes seem to turn to stone. I won't judge. Not you. Unless it's to say, "No, that's not actually a bad thing. It's weird, Dream, but not a bad thing," like the time you ate the worm on a dare and started crying.>

<... You won't like it.>

<I'm sure. Tell me anyway, Dream,> Nightmare insisted.

Dream hesitated for a long time. Then he told him. He told him how, the day that Nightmare had tried to die, he'd left to go to a tea party that the other people in the town said would help him pay off the farm's debt. He'd been naive to think they'd be that nice. Instead, he guiltily enjoyed talking to them... Up until the drugs in the tea overwhelmed his magic. They'd drugged him for a reason. They'd always thought he was the pretty one, they'd said as they raped him. Everyone used him for so long they had to force him to drink more of the drugged tea. Then, when they were done, they left him covered in magic, marrow, and gook. Oh, and 5G so they didn't break their promise. It was his first time.

He'd had to clean himself up and walk home, still under the effect of the near overdose of the drugs, naked and bleeding everywhere. He'd forced himself to shower and get dressed so Nightmare wouldn't see him like that. Then he'd staggered downstairs, still drugged, and found Nightmare with his skull bashed in. 

At first he'd thought it was a hallucination. He'd had a few of those that day, mostly ones his own mind came up with to try and keep him from losing hope. When he realized it wasn't one, he'd done everything he could to help his brother. He didn't realize he'd grabbed one of the special apples. It had saved Nightmare, though... But when he'd woken up from the coma? When he'd attacked Dream for selling the farm and run away? Dream gave up.

He let himself be used. He let himself be hurt. He let it all happen, none of it feeling real until the drugs finally wore off. Then he'd run until his feet were raw. He'd run into Ink in the city and been dragged into his life. Ink had been oblivious that he was the only reason Dream hadn't killed himself like Nightmare had tried to.

<Dream?>

He flinched, sure his brother now hated him and only spoke to him to tell him so, but, feeling he deserved it, he answered, <Yes?>

<I love you. I'm never letting that happen to you again, okay? You're going to come home with us... Please? I can't... I can't believe that... That you suffered through all of that alone. You were so strong, Dream, but you don't have to be alone anymore.>

It wasn't as though Dream hadn't cried a lot the last few days. This time, though, it felt like it was doing good.