Nightmare brings his mug up to sip his tea and scoffs to find it empty. Placing it back down again on the table beside his chair, he squints down at the book in his hands and runs his thumb along the paper. It brings back pleasant memories of when he was a child to sit down every now and then with a nice book in his lap. His only qualm is that his vision worsened considerably due to his corruption.
He sighs deeply, sinking further into the cushions, and brings a hand up to rub his eye. It's not unlike Nightmare to get caught up in nostalgia for the days when he and his brother were guarding their tree. While he never regrets his actions that led to his corrupted state, he still misses the times when he was so carefree under the tree with his brother.
"Y'need something boss?" Killers voice brings Nightmare out of his thoughts; he blinks once, twice, before looking up to see Killer lingering in the open doorway to his study,
"Perhaps, I'm simply reminiscing on the past," He pauses, "Its nothing to concern yourself over though, do you need anything Killer?"
He can't help but reach out to sense what the other is feeling. It's a habit he has built up over the years. So when Killer flashes a toothy grin, Nightmare can't help but smile to know and feel that it is a genuine smile and not one of the many facades Killer had put on for so long.
"Nah- just wanted to check up on you, Horror's makin' dinner so it should be ready soon- maybe make your way down so he doesn't have to go hunting you down this time?"
Horror's relationship with all things related to food is still complicated. Still, the best way Nightmare and his boys can help Horror progress towards recovery from his trauma is to make sure Horror sees that they all have plenty to eat and regularly do so. Horror is quite insistent on making sure everyone has a meal, and he has done so ever since Nightmare had taken him under his wing. Nightmare can't imagine how hard it must've been for him in his world to be so alone, with so little to eat. So, of course, Nightmare will indulge in reducing Horror's anxieties when it comes to making sure they all have enough to eat.
It was nice to have a table full of people to share a meal with, after all.
Nightmare carefully places his bookmark in the book before closing it and setting it down on the table with his mug. Yet, by the time he has looked up again, Killer is no longer lingering in the doorway. He manages to slink away silently like a lightfooted cat, even with Nightmare keeping watch with him through his emotions. Presumably, he has gone to bother one of the other two about dinner- most likely Cross.
Nightmare smiles at the thought of them before getting up from his chair and stretching, his joints popping slightly as he sighs in relief. A tentacle curls around his empty mug as another takes the book and carefully places it back on the bookshelf. He doesn't want to leave a mess after all.
A crash rings out from a nearby room.
Most likely, Cross and Killer making a mess, again.
He smiles. While he detests the mess, he always appreciates how the two no longer regularly engage intense and aggressive conflicts. Instead, their clashes have evolved into something more playful and lighthearted, as if they were siblings.
Someone yells in alarm, followed by another crash and unintelligible swearing.
However much Cross and Killer grow emotionally, their conflicts still often lead to one of Nightmare's many carefully placed decorations being smashed to pieces on the floor. He doesn't mind too much. After all, decorations can be replaced; Killer and Cross can't.
Dream couldn't be replaced either.
Nightmare shakes himself out of his thoughts. He doesn't need to dwell on the past anymore. People care about him despite his many mistakes. He has his boys- his family with him now.
Nightmare leaves his study and begins to make his way down the castle's staircase. He casts a brief glance to a smashed vase on the ground and to Cross sweeping up the shards. The former guard is scolding Killer- who sits upon the table the vase used to be on. Killer is unhelpful by giving witty remarks on Crosses sweeping technique, and Cross shoots right back with his own words with a warm grin on his face.
It fills Nightmare with warmth to see Cross more relaxed now, just as much as it does to see Killer and Cross no longer at each other's throats.
It took a lot of time for him and his ragtag group to get here, enjoying the little moments and truly living, but they made it. And nothing would take them away from all the progress they made in their lives.
Nightmare is brought back to the present once again (he has been awfully distracted today) by Horror, who is staring him down as he enters the kitchen. Horror nods at him in greeting before returning to his cooking.
Carefully lowering the empty mug he had been carrying into the sink, Nightmare casts a glance to the calendar to make sure that they didn't have any missions today he was missing. For a brief period- he is frozen- looking at the date. This one, in particular, marked the anniversary of his rebirth into his current self, the apple incident.
The day he lost his brother for good.
Nightmare quickly forced himself to look away and draw a shaky breath. It has been so so long since Nightmare had seen his brother, but the memories of Dream are still fresh in his mind. He could never forget Dream, and he has so so many regrets when it comes to what happened between them.
Perhaps he ought to pay a visit to what's left of him.
With a sigh, Nightmare moves to the door in the kitchen that leads to the courtyard. When he found and rebuilt the old castle, he felt it was only fitting to connect the kitchen and yard since they were only separated by a wall. Plus, this way, Horror had ease of access to the garden he had spent so long cultivating for fresh produce.
Weaving his way through the winding stone paths, Nightmare passes by the numerous bushes, trees, and garden beds teeming with various crops. He casts a scowl towards the singular apple tree that had only been planted recently. It had taken a long time for him to be okay with the trees around him again and even longer for him to tolerate the fruit-bearing trees. It took him nearly 500 years to allow an apple tree near him again. If it weren't for Horror's wish to have fresh fruits, he might have never let them near him again.
He finds his way towards the center of the lush courtyard. There is warm sunlight cast down on the plants and even the pleasant sounds of birds chirping and bees working away. It had taken a long time for this world- his world- to recover from Nightmare's initial corruption. Still, he's proud to have this garden show for all his efforts in healing his homeworld. There is a man-made pond in the center of it all he installed himself, the pond home to lily pads on its surface, frogs that somehow find their way into the garden, fish swimming about, and occasionally a duck or two. On a raised pedestal in the center of the pond is where Nightmare had placed Dreams statue as a sort of twisted memorial to his brother. He couldn't bring himself to leave the statute, but he couldn't bring himself to hide it like a dark secret either.
Yet when Nightmare approaches the center of the garden, he finds that the statute is gone. Dream is g o n e .
Nightmare feels himself boil with rage but forces himself to take a deep breath. One of his idiots probably moved it as a silly joke. None of them know the significance of the statue nor what it means to Nightmare. Even if they did move it, they wouldn't know how it would affect him, so he should try not to hold it against them-
There is a rustle and a sob, and it's close.
Nightmare looks around, not just with his eyes, but he extends his senses to search for emotions. He is surprised to feel something- no someone- in distress in the garden when he knows all his boys are still inside.
With caution, Nightmare approaches the trees he feels the presence by. Yet when he finds nothing there, a sob above him catches his attention, and he looks upward. He blinks, convinced his poor vision must be deceiving him.
There, curled up in the branches, is a little skeleton shrunk in on himself, as if trying to become even smaller than he already is. Dressed in yellow, with boots too big for his feet and a crown that slips off his skull every now and then, Nightmare recognizes him immediately.