Dust scrambled around the corner, his wide eyes bright with mirth as he sprinted down the hall. Horror’s loud footsteps echoed behind him, gaining with every passing second. Grinning, Dust stopped abruptly and spun around, leaping over Horror as the larger barreled forward. “AH-!” Horror faceplanted with a grunt, huffing as Dust sped away. He lurched to his feet, jogging down the hall, expression determined.
“Hey, Horror!” He paused midstep, turning to Cross. “Yeah?” Cross took Horror’s hand, “I wanna show you something.” There was no mistaking the eager, mischievous lilt to Cross’s tone. Horror gave a low chuff, already knowing what was going to happen, but, unable to resist Cross, he allowed himself to be pulled to a suspiciously nearly-closed door.
A classic, with no huge risks. “It’s in there,” Cross told him, failing to hide his excitement. Horror glanced at the door, “In here?” Cross nodded vehemently, “Yes, yes, go in!” Horror stepped up to the door, nudging it open and-
Water cascaded down from a bucket, soaking Horror to the bone and filling his skull. The bucket clattered down onto his head, covering his face. He grabbed the end, peeking out at Cross with a frown. Cross wheezed, bursting into joyful laughter at his success.
It was prank week in the castle, something Nightmare allowed them to do every Halloween without fail. It was only the second day, but already, Horror had: run into a wall made of magic, had a toothpaste tube explode in his hands, gotten a face full of pancake mix, woken up with drawings on his face, and now, he’s been drenched with water. Though, that’s only to name a few.
Horror wrung the front of his shirt out, still faking a displeased frown. He didn’t have to let Cross come out victorious, but he enjoyed the way Cross lit up every time his pranks ‘worked’. He didn’t even have to ask the others about it. Killer and Dust were both doing the same, Horror learned after he caught a flash of a grin from Dust when he found his pillows stuffed full of rice.
Nightmare didn’t ever really participate, but there was always one prank that easily topped all the rest. And even though they expected it, it always took them off guard when it happened.
Cross snickered, producing a set of dry clothes. “Here, you can change in my bathroom if you like.” Horror took the clothes, sniffing them. Cross’s grin softened a bit at that, “I didn’t do anything to them.” Horror ducked his head, rumbling out a thanks and trudging down the hall.
Another thing about prank week that Nightmare was adamant about: The prankster couldn’t pull two pranks back to back on the same person. There had to be time for recovery, which normally Horror didn’t really enjoy, but he was glad the rule was in place. If it wasn’t, Killer would’ve gone trigger-happy and completely destroyed the castle with his unchecked pranking.
He paused halfway to Cross’s room, hearing faint talking. He quietly took in a breath, backtracking to a door he’d just passed. It was Killer and Dust. Horror tapped on the doorframe, Killer answering near instantly. “Come on in! I was just about to get you.” He slipped into the room, eyelight adjusting quickly to the darkness. Killer was sprawled on the floor, grinning up at him with Dust sitting at his side. “What’s goin on?”
“Dusty here was just telling me about how cute you and Cross are.” Dust’s dark purple blush lit up the room, the hooded monster smacking Killer on the head. “Shut up!” Horror chuckled, sitting down across from the two. “Yer both cute, too.” Killer shamelessly posed, purring, “I know I am.” Dust just huffed and mumbled swears under his breath.
Killer relaxed again, humming. “By the way, where is Crossy?” The door creaked in response, a set of glowing eyelights peeking into the room. “I’m here.” Killer perked up, reaching out with a coo. “C'mere and give me cuddles.” Cross rolled his eyelights, shutting the door and quickly settling at Killer’s side, submitting himself to Killer’s hugs. Dust joined in, moving to sit on Cross’s other side and leaning against the monochrome.
Horror was showering when it happened. A scream filled the castle, startling him out of his mindless haze. Horror hurriedly stepped out of the shower, throwing a towel on haphazardly, and rushed out to see what had happened.
He found Nightmare in Cross’s room half dressed and panicked, kneeling on the floor and trying to calm Cross. Killer stumbled in after Horror, a knife summoned, his soul flashing erratically. Dust was the last one to show up, appearing with a burst of magic. “Night?? What happened??” The boss shook his head, lifting Cross and sitting on the bed. “Cross? Cross, can you tell me what’s wrong?”
Cross continued to wail, clinging to Nightmare desperately. Killer let his knife fade, scratching his arms anxiously as Cross seemed to sink further into his panic. Horror snagged his hands, pulling him to his chest and holding him there. Dust had his eyes shut, his mouth set in a grimace, his hand gripping his scarf tightly. He ambled over to Horror, grabbing onto him silently.
Nightmare’s tendrils curled in dismay, the king at a loss for what to do. Cross choked on his own breath, coughing raggedly and struggling to breathe, his eyelights flickering. Nightmare’s distress grew, and he gave a weak apology before he began to siphon Cross’s emotions. Slowly, the soldier’s cries went quiet, and his body limp. His sockets fluttered closed, and he fell completely silent.
Nightmare let out a breath, releasing Cross’s emotions. He gently set Cross in bed, stepping away to face the others. Horror stared back, shaking his head when Nightmare asked if he knew what happened. Dust was babbling to himself, whispering words that blended together.
Killer offered a quiet suggestion, “What if it was one of his bad pranks..?” Nightmare shook his head, “No, he was feeling too many negative emotions for that to be the case. Something set him off, and it wasn’t a night terror.”
Killer shifted in Horror’s arms, glancing around the room. His gaze landed on something and he blinked. “What about that?” Nightmare followed his gaze, spotting a crumpled paper on the floor. Curious, he took it with a tendril, holding it up to glance over it. Fury lit up in his corrupted soul, a scowl on his face as he flipped the paper.
Happy Prank Week, Bitch. -Ink
Nightmare’s vision blurred with anger, the paper crinkling in his tightening grasp. “You three, go get dressed. We need to pay a certain artist a visit.”
Cross’s sockets felt sore when he opened them, his thoughts hazy. He rubbed his eyesockets with his fists, squinting into the dark room. “N..night..?” A bright cyan eyelight appeared to his left, Nightmare’s low voice answered, his tone heavy with sleep.
“Good afternoon, lilac.” Cross’s face lit up with a weak purple blush that soon faded as he sat up. “It’s afternoon? Why didn’t you wake me?” Nightmare’s eyelight flicked to the side, dipping beneath the edge of his eyesocket, before it darted back to Cross. “I wanted to let you rest.”
Cross’s rebuttal was shut down by the underlying worry in Nightmare’s voice. He tipped his head back instead, sinking down into his plush pillows with a soft sigh. He closed his eyes, quietly murmuring, “What happened?”
“…You were… upset last night.” Cross’s eyes shot open, his mind suddenly clear. He tensed, tears pricking his eyes, that horrid drawing resurfacing in his memory. “I’m sorr-” Nightmare cut him off sternly, “It was not your fault, don’t you dare apologize.”
Cross deflated, curling in on himself. Nightmare’s eyelight fizzled a bit, and Cross jumped as something curled around his shoulders. “I was upset too. That drawing was awful.”
Cross set a hand on the solid darkness that was curling around his arm loosely, running his hand down it. “…will you lay down with me?” Nightmare’s response was instantaneous, “I don’t think there’s enough room for me.”
Cross blinked, “What do you mean? My bed should at least fit four people.” This time, Nightmare was amused. “And it proves that.” It was then that Cross heard Killer’s quiet snoring. He shifted to glance at the sound, spotting the dimmed red glow of Killer’s soul through the blanket.
Cross held up a hand, a tiny ball of purple lighting up his fingers, and he found himself staring at Horror, Dust, and Killer. All three had snuggled up together and were sleeping contently. Cross smiled fondly, biting back a laugh as he spotted Horror nibbling on Killer’s arm. He let his magic disperse, turning back to Nightmare.
“I think you’ll fit.” Nightmare chuckled quietly, “Oh? And how would I do that?” Cross slipped free of his blankets, blindly fumbling for Nightmare, gripping his hand when Nightmare caught him. He pulled on him lightly, “Here, come lay down.”
“Cross, I don’t think-” Cross pouted, knowing full well Nightmare could see perfectly. “Please, Moonbeam?” Nightmare’s blush lit up his face, and Cross could finally see him. He smiled, “Humor me, just this once.” Nightmare gave in, taking Cross’s place and glancing up at him unsurely. “And now, I just…”
Nightmare grunted as Cross crawled on top of him, more out of surprise than anything. Cross winced, “Ah, am I too heavy-” Nightmare wrapped his arms around the monochrome, pressing a kiss to his forehead. “Not at all, love.”
Horror woke up with Killer snoring against his skull, Dust muttering into his shoulder, Nightmare’s arm in his mouth, and Cross’s skull on his chest. He blinked at the glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling, his frazzled mind slowly piecing itself together again.
It took a few minutes, but once he could form a coherent thought, Horror freed his arm from beneath Killer and carefully took Nightmare’s from his mouth. Dust’s murmuring grew louder before quieting again, the hooded skeleton shifting to hug Nightmare.
He painstakingly peeled himself from the pile, halfway over Killer when Killer’s eyesockets opened wide. Horror froze, staring down at Killer tensely. Gradually, an amused grin spread across Killer’s face. “Why hello there,” he nearly purred.
Horror smiled awkwardly, uttering a soft 'hi’ while trying to figure out how to escape. His plans were foiled as Killer stretched beneath him, casually draping his arms around Horror’s neck. “Where ya goin, big boy?”
“um. breakfast..?” Killer’s grin grew, “You know, if you’re hungry-” Horror was saved by Nightmare’s tentacle flopping over Killer’s face. “You just woke up, you horny bastard.” Killer let Horror go, grabbing at Nightmare with a whine, his voice muffled. “Bossss, whyyyy.”
Nightmare scoffed, moving the tendril to lift Horror and set him on his feet. “Because, Dust and Cross are still sleeping, and it’s too early to fuck.” Killer groaned, rolling over with his back facing Nightmare. “You’re no fun.” Nightmare snagged Killer, pulling him close enough to lightly pat his skull, snickering at his harrumph. “You’ll be fine.”
Dust woke not too long after, stretching his arms out and going limp for a few moments. “Morning, Duster.” Dust muttered incoherently at Killer’s greeting, burying his face into his pillow. Nightmare nudged him, “Horror’s in the kitchen.”
Dust shifted, silent. Then he vanished in a flash of magic, leaving room for Nightmare to carefully move Cross to lay between him and Killer. He finally was able to sit up and stretch properly, his tendrils spiking as he did so. His back popped and he relaxed, sighing heavily.
He hung his legs over the edge of the bed, taking a moment to collect himself before he stood up. “Cross should be waking up soon.” Killer hummed, having latched onto the sleeping guard. “I’ll bring 'em when he wakes.” Nightmare nodded and dropped into the shadows, re-emerging in the kitchen. Dust blinked as Nightmare’s form slipped out from beneath the fridge. “Heya.”
Nightmare tipped his head in greeting, turning to rummage through the fridge. Killer walked in while he did so, grinning at Dust and making his way over to annoy him. Cross shuffled in after him, sleepily greeting the others.
He patted Nightmare’s back as he passed, moving to Horror so he could ask for his daily cup of hot chocolate. Nightmare stood up from the fridge, offering Cross an affectionate greeting. Cross yawned, murmuring something in response.
Nightmare ducked back into the fridge and grabbed the orange juice bottle, pulling it out, and grabbing a cup. Cross’s aura changed mid-pour, Nightmare pausing as he sensed it.
He stopped pouring the juice, staring at the bottle cautiously, his mouth twisting as he tried to discern what prompted the change. Seeing nothing wrong, he resumed pouring. He capped the bottle, putting it aside and taking his cup. Leaning against the counter, he took a long sip-
His eye widened, his body reflexively attempting to spit out the liquid. Horror burst into laughter, Killer snorting and grinning at the table as Nightmare gagged. Juice squirted through his teeth and leaked from his nose, burning nastily and agitating the magic there.
Nightmare coughed, wiping his mouth and wincing in disgust. Horror passed him a cup of water, which Nightmare downed immediately. “What..” He cleared his throat, “What the hell was that??” Dust snickered, “Boss, you’ve just made Cross’s day.”
Nightmare spun around to face said soldier, his mouth open with shock. Cross’s eyelights had turned into stars, a wide grin on his face. He clapped his hands rapidly, drumming his hands on Horror’s arm. “Dude, did you see that!? I did it!!”
Horror was still wheezing, a hand on his face as he laughed. Nightmare put his empty cup down, grabbing the 'orange juice.’ He held it out to Cross, demanding answers. “What the fuck is in this?” Cross had broken down into laughter as well, his face flushed with it. Killer waltzed over, draping an arm around Nightmare’s shoulders.
“Boss, have you ever heard of Mac'n'Cheese?” Cross was beaming with pride, repeatedly saying, “I pranked Night!” as Killer explained what the liquid was. Cross bounced over, grabbing onto Killer and cutting him off mid-explanation. “Killer! I pranked Nightmare!! Me! I did that!!” Killer snorted, patting Cross’s skull. “Yeah you did.” He glanced up, grinning as he bragged to the others, “Cross learned from the best.”
—-In some other AU—-
Ink woke up with his entire body submerged in cement. Everything but his skull was trapped in the concrete, and if he focused, he could feel his bones broken in multiple places. He couldn’t feel his arms. He stared at the ceiling, utterly lost. “Ow.”