Anti Hero (pt. 8)
It’s a dream or maybe some sick ploy by the Author. Whatever it is, it can’t be real. This can’t be Oliver, not his Oliver. But Anti doesn’t care. He throws his arms around Ollie’s torso and buries his face in the crook of his neck, squeezing him tight even as he feels like he might pass out. After a moment, Oliver hugs him back, supporting Anti’s weight as the glitch sags into him, completely spent.
“Yer alive… yer alive…” Anti cries into Ollie’s neck over and over as if they’re magic words that can make it true.
“Yeah, buddy. I’m alright,” Oliver whispers reassuringly as he brushes a hand over Anti’s hair. “I’m here now, and everything is going to be alright. I promise.”
Anti shakes his head without moving from Ollie’s embrace. “But how? The Author made me stab your core. It… it should’ve killed you.”
Ollie grins and tugs down the collar of Red’s t-shirt, revealing the wound on his chest. “You missed, you little devil, by a whole two millimeters.” Oliver chuckles nervously. “Try not to cut it quite so close next time, just for my sake.”
Anti stares at the wound. He was too close, far too close to Oliver to have missed on accident. Which means that even under the Author’s influence, Anti had been able to make the choice to save his friend despite thinking that he had failed. Oliver puts his shirt back into place and smiles, but Anti is still confused. “But how are you here?”
“The Host, once he saw that you missed my core on purpose, he was sure the Author was controlling you, so after my brothers finished my repairs, he convinced everyone that you really had killed me.” Ollie looks off into the corner of the attic with a sigh. “He had to make sure that the Author wouldn’t suspect anything when the Host sent me here to save you.”
Anti takes a step back away from Oliver. “Your brothers think you’re dead?”
Ollie looks back at Anti and nods sadly before his face quickly changes to a smile. “B-but once we make sure that everyone is safe, Host will put things right again.” He frowns again. “I hope they’ll be alright…”
Anti shakes his head. “You shouldn’t have done this. The Author could come back at any moment and find you here, and if he does…” Anti flinches when Oliver reaches for him and places a hand on his arm.
“Host has it taken care of. All we have to do is warn the other Septic Egos and get you home.” Oliver stresses the last word, hoping that it’ll spark a little of the old light in Anti’s eyes, but there’s none of that there now. Anti looks wounded still, hollowed out, and at the mention of speaking to the other Septic Egos, he seems to retreat even further into himself.
“You go talk to them. I-I can’t.” He pulls himself out of Oliver’s grasp again and goes to sit on his old bed. “They won’t want to talk to me.”
“But they’re like your family, and you’ve just been through something traumatic. Don’t you want to see them?” Oliver is already walking towards the door to the rest of the house when Anti shakes his head slowly.
“You don’t get it, Ollie. It’s not the same here. I hurt them.” Anti’s voice breaks. He hurts everyone, even when he tries not to. “You go talk to them. I’ll-I’ll wait here.”
Oliver hesitates a moment longer before nodding. “Alright, Anti. Whatever you say.” He offers Anti another small smile. “Don’t go anywhere. I’ll be right back.”
Anti doesn’t smile. He just curls up and listens to the door swing open and then closed.