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Hall of Mirrors (pt. 8)

Mark gets Amy into her own bed, full of food and all snuggled up and comfortable, and he stays with her until she falls asleep, brushing his fingers over her forehead and talking to her sweetly. He’s very careful when he gets up, not to wake her, and slips out the door. Once it’s closed quietly behind him, Mark notes the grayness that has pervaded the hallway. He walks into the little living room of the house that Kat and Amy share, grateful that Kat is out for the day, especially since Darkiplier is sitting on the couch, lounging really. Mark’s stomach turns inside him. “Oh, I wasn’t expecting you so soon.”

Dark leans his head back with a sigh. “I like my debts to be paid quickly, whether it is I who owe someone else or, as with the present case,” Dark glares at Mark through his eyelashes, “someone else owes me.”

“Can’t it wait a while longer?” Mark feels the panic gripping at his chest as he backs away from Dark, the ringing in his ears getting louder and louder.

“Would you mind if I return that demon to your sweet Liebling’s mind?” Dark says, popping each word like a knife in Mark’s heart.

Mark shakes his head. “No, no, of course not.”

Dark rises from the couch and steps nearer, and Mark has to fight every urge in his body to turn and run. “I take it you remember what happens if you try to fight this.” Dark’s aura swarms around Mark, tugging at his thoughts like plucking a bird’s feathers.

Mark swallows hard and nods, but there’s still a defiant fire in his eyes as he says, “And I take it you remember the details of our agreement. You can’t make me hurt Amy or the Egos and none of my friends. If you do…”

“Trust that I will keep my end of our bargain.” Dark’s aura latches into Mark’s brain and sinks it’s claws deep. Mark’s fear turns to despair. Dark always wanted it to end up here again ever since Mark set foot in Ego Inc. He’s been moving the chess pieces, calculating and recalculating, and here they are, at the end of the line. Right where they started. “And I will trust you to keep this our little secret.”

“Just like before,” Mark promises. Maybe it won’t be so bad. Once Dark has what he wants, what he’s always wanted all along, he’ll leave the others alone, but when Dark’s aura takes hold, Mark knows it isn’t true. Every bit of hope is sapped from his body. Dark always wants more, and he will stop at nothing to have his claws locked tightly around each of the Egos, even Amy if he could manage it.

But Mark couldn’t leave Amy trapped in her own mind with another voice fighting for control. He knows what it feels like, and he’s about to be reminded, fresh and new. He hears Dark’s cold laughter echoing in his head, over and over like a cavern closing in around him, blocking out the stars.

 

Amy wakes when she hears a strange noise coming from the living room, and she gets up, wrapping a blanket around herself, and follows the sound until she finds Mark. He’s standing alone, his back turned to her, and his shoulders are slumped forward. Amy smiles a little, sneaking up behind him and wrapping her arms around his waist. She leans her forehead on his back and nuzzles into him softly. “Mark, what’s wrong?”

He doesn’t answer right away, doesn’t even move, but when he finally turns around to face her, Amy sees the defeat in his eyes, the sadness. And part of her knows. She’s seen him like this before, and she knows that Dark would never ask for so little for saving a life, especially hers. Amy kisses his lips softly even as his eyes stare past her.

Mark feels the warmth flood through him, and he blinks down at Amy, his Liebling, looking up at him and smiling like everything will be alright. “Amy, I…”

“I know, Mark,” she whispers. “Will you do something for me?”

Mark nods. “Anything, Liebling.”

Amy rests her hand on his cheek and tilts her head to the side a bit. “Trust me?”

Mark smiles, a fresh breath filling his lungs and clearing out the smoke. “Always.”