toons of love

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So, our last voice project got a crazy good response and @lightsintheskye seemed really happy with our work, SO! WE DECIDED TO DO ANOTHER FOR FUN. This one was a little more difficult to complete, but it was worth the work! Hope you enjoy!

Warning: Gets a little loud at times and contains swearing, however, its best heard with headphones!

Voices: @taidatenshi as all Toon Links, @goat-boi-dubs as Ocarina of Time!Link and Breath of the Wild!Link, @vowgan as Twilight Princess!Link, and now introducing @actornoj as Skyward Sword!Link and A Link To The Past!Link!

Comic by: Lightsintheskye

Music Used: Aboda Village music from the Spirit Tracks Soundtrack

I’m bitter AND sticky so let’s get gooey on topic!

People just? forgot that ton of season 3 episode’s visuals are  actually amazing? I mean it could be just me but this season clearly trowed a ton of budget into some scenes an episodes! 

Super Watermelon Island got an amazing fluid fight scene between two giant women and it was as energetic as it sounds 

Gem drill, even tho it was pretty chilly on animation, had ton of detail on Steven’s faces, I find it like such a sweet detail having in mind the episode was focusing a ton on Steven and his connection with the cluster 

(this is my personal favorite)

Hit the diamond had a TON of characters on-screen at the same time, having in mind 5 of them where new characters and they had to design new clothing for 5 of them 

Even though my favorite part of this episode is the bond between Amethyst and Peridot, I think Too Short To Ride was pretty consistent, I am in love every time they put little lines under the eyes of the characters because it usually helps to remark the emotion they are feeling, is personal. 

Stevonnie’s back for Beach City Drift and the thing I like the most about this episode is the backgrounds and the color choices, they are AMAZING and pretty relaxing to watch on their own. 

Monster reunion was pretty harsh to see for me because painful scenes (aka scenes where the character is clearly in pain) make me feel incredibly bad, but I again shot out how they draw emotions and the subtle lines that make it all even better. 

More than for animation itself, I praise a lot Alone At Sea because of writing and atmosphere, and the last one really works, I felt incredibly… tense, when Jasper showed up, how she acted and the way she expressed herself, and how the colors got dark and the rain around it… just gosh

Even tho it was a pretty okay-o episode in general, I really liked Gem Hunt’s backgrounds, the whites and cold tones made a good mix with Jasper’s colors and really helped her to pop out! 

I’ve talked a lot about Bismuth, so at this point everything would feel redundant, so I’ll just say that the first and last scenes have pretty good colors, one being calm pastel tones and the other reddish dark tones #BRINGHERBACK2K17

And finally, Bubbled, which has some on the most beautiful space backgrounds i’ve seen in an animation product, is the feeling of emptiness that makes the most of the episode personally, how is literally just Steven and Eyeball and Eyeball pretty much tries to kill him, in other situations you can think about something going on, but is the fact that they are in space what makes it feel… well… empty, giving more focus to the characters that contrast the most in a sea of dark cold tones and blacks! 

Rough Around the Edges

upperstories submitted: 

Climbing up six flights of stairs was a pain.

Climbing up six flights of stairs after driving what felt like thousands of miles without stopping for anything but gas and coffee wasn’t much better.

But climbing up six flights of stairs with a bad knee, three exhausted bundles of living ink clinging to you like a lifeline, and going on nothing—no real food or water or even a bathroom break—but sheer grit? Downright impossible.

Henry Ross cleared it in half his usual time.

He didn’t care how late it was, how much he ached or how much he wanted to just curl up next to the chipped floor molding and become comatose, he was not in the mood for any of his neighbors catching him as he was. He just thanks god his doorman, a short ruddy-faced man named Patrick, had fallen asleep at his desk before he’d snuck in, like old Patty always did after 11:00 PM.

“644, 645—646,” said Henry, stopping to catch his breath.  “Here. This is it.”

He could feel Boris, Alice, and Bendy collectively sigh in relief, wilting like lilies in the hot summer sun.

Boris was fairing what seemed like the best of them; hand on Henry’s shoulder for balance, but with enough of his druthers to stand upright without help. Alice clung to Henry’s left pant leg, leaning heavily, her black eyes barely open, and not at all complaining when Henry used his free arm to help keep her steady. Bendy, for all his intents and purposes, hadn’t left Henry’s grasp since the studio, tucked against his left side with his face half buried in the old animator’s collar. Henry was pretty sure he’d fallen asleep at least 3 times on the way—he had one hell of a loud snore for a shorty. He hadn’t asked to be put down once, but Henry did not complain. It had been a long day for all of them, but Bendy had had it the roughest—which was saying something, as Henry had learnt that hard way that being turned into a living cartoon was no picnic.

“What’s the plan, Henry?” said Boris, catching Henry off guard.

“Plan is, uh,” Henry mumbled, fumbling with keeping Bendy and Alice from toppling over while he fished for his keys. They weren’t in either of his pockets… where were they?

“Get inside, go to bed. Try to sleep and…” He sighed, “I don’t know, come up with a better plan in the morning.”

“Works fer me,” Bendy muttered, not even opening his eyes.

It was then Henry noticed a small shimmer along the door’s upper frame. Bracing Alice as best he could, he reached up and ran a hand along the top of the door molding and caught something metal on the far corner. Of course. Right where he left it.

“Henr—ry?” said Boris, muffling a yawn behind the back of his hand. “That, uh, don’t seem particularly safe there, leaving yer key where someone can find it. What if someone tries breakin’ in?”

“Not to worry Boris,” said Henry, smirking to himself sardonically, “I doubt anyone would find anything of mine worth stealing…”

The lock gave a rusty clunk, and Henry shouldered it open.

The sound of a rickety radiator and the smell of old newsprint, a faint burnt wood-like scent, and cardboard greeted them along with the faint sting of old alcohol. The light of the hallway cast a thin orange glow into the otherwise pitch-black apartment. Henry couldn’t remember feeling so relieved to see color, faded and muted as it was.  He ushered everyone in and quickly shut the door behind them before trying a light switch. It flickered twice before dimly glowing weakly, barely any better than the hallway light. With a small fzzt!, it went right back out.

“Great,” Henry grumbled. It took a bit of blind stumbling, but he managed to reach a tall lamp next to the couch and switched that on instead. The bedroom was cast a pale light, giving everything a pale bluish tint. “Gonna need to replace that.”

Alice and Boris blinked in the sudden light, Bendy preferring to just keep his face buried under Henry’s chin.

“Well, uh,” Henry said, eyebrows creasing as it seemed something very apparent dawned on him. He tried his best to smile, but only managed a wince and he half-heartedly motioned to the living room. “Here we are. Home sweet home.”

The light made it easier to take stock of just how messy the man’s apartment really was. A quintessential bachelor pad, with bare walls, sealed and opened boxes alike strewn everywhere, bookshelves decorated with everything from empty whiskey and beer bottles to unfinished model ships—and pretty much everything except for books. Dirty laundry littered the floor, waste bins sat overturned in the corner. The kitchen looked almost unused, save for the stacks of pots and pans stuck to the grimy stone tops, and piles of unread junk mail and bills sat on the kitchen counter, unsorted. The couch looked about as comfortable as a sack of potatoes, the green fabric a shade greyer than when it was first bought.  One of its legs was held up by an old phone book.

A thick, sturdy easel and stool sat out of place in the corner, next to a far window, unmistakable in spite of a tarp covered it. Stacks upon stacks of blank newspaper leaned against the corner behind it, book-ended by empty sketchbooks that looked hardly handled. A stray sheet of sketch paper poked out from under the tarp, the off-white paper marred with frustrated, uninspired scribbles of charcoal.

Henry was suddenly acutely aware of Alice and Boris’s stares. He coughed.

“Sorry about the mess,” said Henry, rubbing the back of his neck and looking down, “I don’t, uh, get guests all that often.”

“S’alright Henry,” said Boris, voice no longer tired. His ears had pulled back, eyes downcast as well. “We don’t mind it.”

“S’not like we got anywhere else to be,” Bendy mumbled, peaking up. “Even if it is a pig’s sty.”

“Bendy,” said Alice, sharply.

“Any port in a storm, huh?” Henry shrugged, smirking ruefully. “Alright, alright, everybody to bed. We can worry about this mess in the morning.”

He didn’t need to tell the Toons twice. Henry herded them into the next room, which was surprisingly less musty than the den. There were still more piles of boxes strewn about, sure, but the desk next to his bed was only slightly disheveled, and bed looked well made. Almost as if Henry never really slept in it… or used his bedroom at all.

He led Boris to one end and helped him strip the covers to climb in. Afterwards, he lifted Alice up onto the mattress. Up next was Bendy.

“Alright, short stuff, time to get down,” said Henry, leaning down for Bendy to easily fall onto the mattress. Which he did not. “C’mon, I need my arm back at some point.”

“Can’t here yah, I’m asleep,” said Bendy, pretending to snore, clinging all the tighter.

It took a couple of attempts, but he finally managed to pry Bendy free from his side, his arm practically all pins and needles from the tight hold the little demon had on him. In spite of the little devil’s petulance, Henry gently set him down next to Alice and gave his arm a slow pinwheel stretch. He ignored Bendy’s pointed, pouting glare, clearly not liking being rudely stripped from his warm perch. The fact that a draft ran along Henry’s apartment didn’t improve things much either.

“It’s cold,” said Bendy.

“I know. Sorry,” said Henry. He shouldn’t feel this guilty. “It’s all we got for now.”

The apartment was small, the circumstances messy, the bed a single, and tomorrow looked big and uncertain… but it was all Henry had on such short notice. He only got color back a day ago; he could worry about living conditions later.  

Tomorrow. He could worry about it tomorrow.

He motioned to tuck them in and—stopped himself when Bendy gave him a look.

Why had he moved to do that?

He rubbed his neck and stifled a yawn with his knuckles.

“I’ll be in the den if you need me,” he mumbled, suddenly feeling very foolish.

“You’re not staying here?” Alice asked. Boris looked surprised as well, but Bendy ignored all of them and crawled under the sheets, pointedly looking away from Henry. Something about that stung, just a little.

“Not enough room for all of us on there, Angel,” said Henry. The stinging didn’t go away. He’d gotten them all out, hadn’t he? He brushed it off. “But, uh, I’ll leave the door open. You can bug me for anything.”

Alice nodded, but she looked like she wanted to say something else. Henry waited… and she just followed Bendy, tucking herself between the demon and the wolf without another word. Boris gave Henry a little wave, but didn’t say much more before his head fell back on the pillows. Within seconds, he was snoring up a storm along with Bendy, Alice silently snoozing between them.

“Thing’s’ll be better in the morning,” he said, half heartedly. He wasn’t sure if he was talking more to them or himself. “Promise.”

The Toons said nothing.

Henry trudged to the couch, every inch of him feeling almost as heavy and war-beaten as when he returned to the States from the Front. As he turned off the lamplight, he only hoped sleep would come to him as easily as it had the Toons.

In spite of a million thoughts churned in his mind, clicking like giant cogs. The studio, Bendy, Boris, Alice, Sammy, Joey, their escape, the look on Bendy’s face and the strange ache it left in his gut. Or maybe he was just tired from all the running and the fear and the coffee. Henry pushed it all down, too tired to think, and fell face first onto the lumpy, familiar couch. His arm was left dangling over the side.

Sleep fell over him like a thick, lead curtain. Like a flood of inky black.

***

Henry awoke from a nightmare, and for a moment he thought he was still dreaming it.

He couldn’t remember much, except there had been whites and grays and something about sheep—or was it the 3 little pigs and the big bad wolf?— and a big, empty black void collapsing on top of him.  A faint whine broke through the void, someone’s whine—was it his? When his eyes snapped open, all he saw was black, and his heart wouldn’t stop pounding.

He was back. He was there. Back in the studio. Escaping had just been a wonderful, hopeful dream and he was still there he was going to die there and the Toons Were In Trouble—!

But when Henry bolted upright, he felt the familiar lump fabric of his couch, heard the familiar sound of taxi’s speeding by his building in the horrible early hours following midnight. He even welcomed the musty smell of newsprint and old beer. He wasn’t in the studio. He was safe.

And the Toons—

Henry leapt to his feet and bolted for his room in two easy strides. The door was open. And in the bed.

They were there. Safe and sound. Their silhouettes were easily recognizable, even in the faint moonlight and the faraway streetlamp light

Boris was leaning halfway out of the bed, tongue poking out and lolling to the side as he snored, his feet jutting out comically from under the covers over the end board. The blanket looks uncomfortable small on him. Alice was breathing deeply, her face twitching occasionally from deep REM, but otherwise looking peacefully saint-like. Her halo was crooked and looked dangerously close to falling on her face, disturbing her sleep. Bendy was silent, facing away from Alice and…

He softly whined.

Henry was at his side in a second. Had he woken Bendy up with his frantic flailing in the next room?

No, Bendy was still fast asleep, his face scrunched up tight, hands balling up the blanket and comforter in bunches, hogging it and pulling it away from Boris. A droplet of ink dribbled from his temple, staining the large pillow they shared.

Bendy was having a nightmare.

Without thinking, Henry reached for his pocket and pulled out a grey-stained handkerchief. Praying he didn’t startle the Toon awake, he gingerly mopped the loose ink from Bendy’s forehead. Bendy flinched away, curling tighter into himself. The little devil suddenly seemed very small.

Henry quietly shushed him and continued mopping up his clammy forehead, swiping it in long, gentle strokes. Slowly but surely, Bendy’s hands began to unclench, his brow starting to dry. His face refused to give an inch, his whines only becoming more anguished.

“….mmm…jo….ey?” Bendy breathed.

Henry’s chest seized. He lost his voice, but only for a moment.

“Nah… no, half pint,” said Henry, all the gruff and bite leaving it as he spoke softly to the little devil. “S’just me.”

A pause. Bendy shifted, shut eyes seeming to relax a fraction. “….old m’n?” he muttered.

“Yeah, yeah, it’s old grouchy me,” said Henry, wanting to laugh. “Everything’s fine. Go back to sleep.”

“…stay’ere th’s time… kay?” said Bendy. His face finally relaxed.

Henry stopped mopping.

All at once, Henry faintly remembered something very striking. Something very specific. When he was a young lad, he’d become sick with pneumonia, and despite all his aching and griping and being a pain, his mother had dropped everything— work, her book club, volunteering at the library— to sit at his bedside for almost a whole three-day weekend. It had almost made up for being sick while school was out. And while he was sick, she read him stories. Treasure Island and Huck Finn. He never remembered thanking her for it, but he did remember drawing James Hawkins fighting Captain Long John Silver. She’d tacked up his drawing on the fridge with a green magnet and never took it down. She smiled for weeks on end after getting that gift.

He thought about that memory— that old smile she had where the edges of her eyes crinkled at the edges, and her teeth shown and she wheezed out a quiet laugh.

Seeing Bendy go back to slumbering peacefully, he could only wonder… Had this been how she felt while he was growing up?

A tightness settled in Henry’s chest and a whole different ache fell over on him. It wasn’t an entirely new realization, one he’d been grappling with ever since Boris had shakily asked Henry if he really meant they’d all escape with the animator. Ever since he’d found Bendy blindly running from his own solemn doppleganger. Ever since He’d told Bendy that he was his own story’s protagonist.

He was responsible for these three now.

Now, that wasn’t to say that Henry was irresponsible. He was a hard working, a dependable man of routine, and could even come handy in a pinch. 

But this was different. This was new. This was terrifying.

He was an old, bitter man. No living family left to speak of. Well on his way over the hill. Never had a thought in his mind about marriage or kids of his own, often only keeping his focus on staying alive, both during and after the war. Hell, he never even thought he’d set foot near an animation desk again before heading off to see Gabriel’s pearly gates (if he was that lucky). And yet, here he was, with three cartoons dropped in his lap. Who probably wouldn’t be able to handle living in the real world yet. Who probably shouldn’t be sharing a tiny bed in the middle of a run down apartment on the ass-end of a filthy city.

What could an angry old man with a tiny apartment and hardly anything to his name do for them?

“mmm… h’nry?” Bendy whined. Henry snapped out of his quiet, rising panic, stifling a yelp.

“S-still here,” he managed, feeling his voice crack.

“good…” Bendy relaxed against the pillow, completely at ease. Completely trusting.

The tightness in Henry’s chest finally unfurled, and his eyes felt a slight sting. He covered his mouth to muffle a deep, shaky sigh. Bendy had complete and utter trust in him. Was that a good thing? Did Henry deserve it? In spite of all that had happened these past few days, he suddenly didn’t feel so sure.

But… this was his chance right? He was supposed to figure things out now, wasn’t he? He felt so unprepared, like he’d been thrown out in No Man’s Land all over again.

But then again… this wasn’t like the war. Or the studio. Things were on his turf. If anyone should’ve felt like fish out of water, it was the Toons. He was the one with the knowledge of how the real world worked, how colors looked and how real sunlight felt on your skin.

He had to be there for them. He was going to be there for them. 

They were all he had now. 

Feeling more tired than ever, Henry stood from his seat as quietly as he could. He quickly grabbed Alice’s halo, just before it could teeter another centimeter and drop onto her nose, and after giving it a quick polish with his handkerchief, he set it on top of the bedside lamp, perfectly centered. He set to work on the blankets, adjusting it to be spread out evenly between the three of them— he left Boris’s feet sticking out, finding the silly sleeping position suited the wolf— and tucked them all in. It wasn’t the best, rough around the edges, and the blanket was lopsided. But Bendy re-curled around, snoring softly and facing Alice. Her head lolled, and she in turn nestled comfortably atop Bendy’s horns. Boris snuffled and licked his snout before settling more deeply against the pillow. They all seemed to just… fit together. Like puzzle pieces.

Henry felt that unfurling feeling return, and he quickly wiped his face.

Despite being exhausted, he hardly felt like returning to the lump couch. He returned to Bendy’s side of the bed, and took a seat. He knew his neck and back were going to kill him tomorrow, but he could worry about that later. He had more important matters to worry about.

Like making sure the other three got the best-damned night’s sleep they ever got. He wasn’t about to let their first night in the real world be a sorry one.

Tomorrow was going to be the roughest day of his life, and yet, somehow, he couldn’t find it in him to mind it.

I AM ACTUALLY SITTING HERE WIPING TEARS FROM MY EYES, GIRL

THIS IS BEAUTIFUL.  I LOVE THIS.  I LOVE THIS SO, SO MUCH; YOU HAVE A LOVELY WRITING STYLE HOLY SMOKES.

A reminder that the Animaniacs actual origin story is

that their creator was under pressure to make a bad cartoon funny and pulled an all-nighter alone

and that he in fact lost his actual sanity creating them…

and what he created was just them smashing the protagonist with wooden mallets.

4

A lil process post for the creation of the lil villain I based on that villain name generator, Maestro Peanut!

Maestro Peanut is that villain that most take as a joke more than anything. Their powers include being able to create and conduct music out of thin air as well as cause everyone in the vicinity to sing instead of speak in tune with the music Maestro is playing.

He would be the one responsible for those musical episodes on a show and oftentimes annoys both the heroes and the villains. He doesn’t mean to though of course he just wants to be a cool villain like all the other big bads. He isn’t the most successful villain when it comes to heists and such so he makes most of his income writing cool villain songs for his pals. 

Ultimately he’s not looking for a lot of power or money if anything he’d just like to be taken seriously by his peers. After all, You think he came up with the name Maestro Peanut for himself? 

Maestro is a whimsical and looney lil fellow, very toon like in behavior and speech.

I wound up running out of time tonight to do that stream I wanted to do, but here’s a sneak preview of the next thing I intend to tackle on stream.  I’m testing out that program I just treated myself to, ToonBoom Storyboard Pro!

This also happens to be the first Boris I’ve ever drawn.  He’s… he’s so much fun to draw, I-I… I never knew….

One Breakfast at a Time

upperstories submitted:

(Rough Around the Edges, pt. 2)

Previous

Summary: The following morning… 

***

Boris’s feet felt prickly.

The first thought that dredged up the wolf’s mind from the thick, murky mires of sleep was that there was a foreign, uncomfortable feeling in his toes. It wasn’t quite painful, but it was distracting. Which was a shame; quite honestly, as the rest of him felt like it was swaddled in a soft, warm cloud, like lying on a mountain of fleece. He was dreaming of sleeping on the back of a large, comfy sheep. Maybe if he moved his feet right, he could shoo the strange sensation away and get back to sinking completely into the wool.

His toes twitched, and the tingling feeling went up both his legs completely. That hurt.

“YIPE!” Boris yelped, knees hiking in alarm, eyes flying open.

The first thing that greeted him was strange visual tones and hues, blurred from the sleep in his eyes and the tingling in his feet. They were—oh, whadyacallems?—Blues. And Greens. Only lighter, greyer, faintly cast across the ceiling above him, making him squint. It followed the outline of a windowpane.

His foggy mind thought, not for the first time:

How long will it take before them colors look normal?

Motion at his side had him shaking his noggin, revealing the familiar heads of to his pals, moppy and disheveled from sleep. Alice muttered something under her breath—when had her halo hung itself up on that lamp?— and Bendy snuggled closer into the pillows, a bit of drool staining the soft cushion.

Recognition stumbled into his brain as his eyes adjusted to the dim early morning light.

He wasn’t sleeping on a bed of fleece. He was sharing a bed with Alice and Bendy, feeling mighty cozy in spite of being too long to rightly fit on the mattress length-wise, which explained why his feet weren’t under the covers. The tingling must’ve been because they’d been leaning over the end board all night.

Asleep, his feet were asleep. That’s what this feeling felt like. Except… it was much stronger than how it’d felt before, back in the world drenched in ink.

Dang, the real world felt strange.

Trying his best not to disturb the other two sleeping Toons, Boris slowly pulled his bare feet under the blankets, wincing as he flexed the tingling feeling out of them. They were cold to the touch, as were the ends of his ears and snout, a stark difference compared to the comfy warm bubble formed underneath the covers from his proximity to his friends. If he stayed still enough, curled up a ball, maybe he could go back his sweet, soft, monochromatic dreams…

The door creaked, and Boris was awake.

In the semi darkness, the wolf made out the shape of a figure entering the room, familiar in spite of his loss of Toonification. It was Henry.

Err. At least. Boris was pretty sure it was Henry.

The man had Henry’s almost square-ish head, large ears, surly set face and all, but in place of the man’s wrinkled light green shirt and brown slacks was a plaid patterned collared shirt, all blues and grays, sleeves rolled up to the elbows, and the bottom half of a dark grey jumpsuit, faded at the knees and the top half wrapped messily around his waist. His black work boots were word around the souls. It all smelled faintly of engine oil.

A change of clothes shouldn’t have been completely out of left field for the Toon (as he recalled, Bendy changed his wardrobe a number of times over a wide variety of episodes), but the old animator’s plainer duds had almost seemed glued to him. Seeing Henry in less plain-looking clothes felt like seeing a camel in a bunny onesie. Strange.

He silently watched Henry tread to the bedside table on Bendy’s side of the bed and leave a note next to the lamp. The man looked haggard, but clean. His hair was even combed.

Boris considered keeping his head down, pretending to be asleep. But then, just as it looked like he was about to leave, Henry stopped and turned around, looking back at the bed of Toons. Contemplating, eyes unfocused and glassy—from lack of sleep, perhaps?— grey circles under them. The wolf’s felt his heart clench, and he lifted his head.

“Henry?” he whispered.

Henry jumped and caught himself on the wall.

“JEEZ—” Henry breathed, forced his voice down. “Boris— scared the daylights outta me.”

“Sorry—!” Boris’s ears fell back. “Sorry.”

Henry put a hand to his chest and sighed. His eyes looked less glassy, more awake.

“Agh, I didn’t wake you up, did I?” Did Henry look guilty? Nah, it must’ve been Boris’s imagination.

“Nah,” said Boris, truthfully. “Feet fell asleep. Woke me up instead.”

The corners of Henry’s mouth twitched. If Boris didn’t know any better, he could almost mistake the man’s grimace as a smile. It almost met his eyes.

“Headin’ off somewhere?” said Boris, nodding towards the note.

“Just about,” whispered Henry.

He motioned for Boris to follow him out of the room, finger to his lips. Boris nodded, trying to be mindful of jostling the bed, so as not to rouse Alice or Bendy. The wolf was thankful for his thick coat of fur (ink?) once he was free from the blankets, as the room was fairly brisk without the protection. Boris swallowed a whine and followed after the grizzled animator.

On their way to the den, Henry grabbed a large, dark green jacket from one of the hampers in the hallway. He gave it a tentative sniff to check if it was clean, shrugged, and offered it to Boris. Boris sniffed as well. It smelled of Henry and mothballs. It would do. The sleeves came up an inch short of his wrists though.

“Gotta go plead to the powers that be that I don’t end up unemployed before the day’s end,” said Henry once they were a safe whisper-free distance from the bedroom, sighing and scratching his neck. “I, uh, took a few more vacation days than I’d originally planned.”

Boris’s stomach dropped, guiltily. The studio.

“Oh, golly… wha… that was our fault—”

“S’nobody’s fault,” said Henry, patting Boris’s shoulder. They passed the couch. It didn’t show any signs of Henry sleeping on it. “I might have to work a few extra shifts to make up for it though. My boss, Callum? Not exactly known for being forgiving, but he can be fair when he needs to be.”

Boris nodded, faint memories of his own past experiences with “unforgiving bosses” arising. His tail tucked between his legs, the wound from the harsh look on Joey’s face all those days ago in that office now fresh in his mind’s eye. When the air was thick with acetone and Henry’s open cartoon wounds. His nose twitched, feeling a little sick at the memory.

“M-Maybe I should come with ya,” said Boris, the weightlessness of Henry leaning on him ghosting along his shoulder. He gripped it. “Help explain a few things—”

“Boris,” said Henry. There was no harshness in his voice, but it was still firm. “I… I appreciate it, Pup. I really do. But… you need to stay here. All three of you. Lay low for a while.”

Boris tried his best not to look discouraged. Henry patted his shoulder again and gave it a squeeze. It felt odd, not having to look down on Henry as much as he had when the animator was still a Toon. Henry squared his shoulders, and Boris felt assured.

“It’s… too much, out there,” Henry nodded to the window. A car honked, followed by another, and across the way, some neighbors were opening windows to do laundry. A lady waved out a large red blanket, and Boris had to flinch at the brightness of the color, visible even in the dim early morning. “Too much to get used to all at once.  Besides, I know Callum. I’ll be alright.”

Boris felt like crawling into an inkwell. He knew Henry was right, but it wrung his nerves like wet laundry. He felt so… useless. He was supposed to be the helper, the best buddy. He sighed.

A kettle whistled.

“Oh, shoot—” Henry rushed to the stove and turned the knob, using one of the dangling jumpsuit sleeves to take the metal pot from the heat when he couldn’t find his oven mitt, setting it on his oven mitt so the counter wouldn’t burn— ahh. Found the mitt. Hmm. “Sheesh… I, err, tried making something quick for breakfast for you all before I left, but, well. The mess. Heh. Wasn’t able to get as much done as I was hoping…”

Boris turned to the counter while Henry prepared a quick coffee for himself, and noticed, to his surprise, that the tower of bills and mail had been cleared off, leaving room for three sets of plates, bowls, forks and spoons of varying style and size. Each plate had a couple eggs, sunny-side up, glasses of water, and steaming hot bowls of oatmeal—with walnuts and molasses, from the looks of them. Bois sniffed the air above the biggest bowl (he hoped it was his) and licked his chops. It smelled pretty dang good.

Breakfast wasn’t the only change to the den. The mess from last night seemed to have all been pushed to the side, the floor for the most part cleared of debris, if still in need of a vacuuming. Trash bags sat stacked next to the door, ready for dumping, full of the empty bottles and boxes.

…How long had Henry been up, working on all of this?

“Ya didn’t have to…” said Boris, ears flopping back. “Dunno if we really need to eat.”

“A good breakfast might liven up the mood around here,” said Henry, smirking. At least this time it reached his eyes. He quickly downed the contents of the mug, grimacing. “Aghh, love the feeling of burnt tongue in the morning.”

“Ya do?” Boris laughed.

“Nope,” Henry laughed in turn. He set his mug in the sink, which was filled with other much dirtier mugs as well as pots and pans, and put a small tin reading Express-o, Coffee on the Go away. A cast iron skillet was all that was left on the stove, which looked surprisingly well cared for, considering the state of Henry’s other kitchen items. Guess that explained the eggs. He pointed to Boris. “Tea boxes are on the counter too, should be enough hot water between all of you. Don’t let Bendy drink my coffee. I’ll call you all when I’m on my way back. Don’t answer the phone for anyone else.”

“Wha?? Buh—how-how?” said Boris, getting whiplash.

Henry pointed to the other end of the den. A black, faintly dusty dial-up phone sat on the floor, next to the far wall, with a note taped to the wall over it. It read a variety of instructions in Henry’s chicken scrawl shorthand, and a blessedly legible phone number at the bottom. It looked as if it’d been dug up from one of Henry’s old boxes.

“I’ll call three times in a row. Only answer if you get three calls within a few seconds of each other,” said Henry, grabbing a toolbox next to the couch and as many of the trash bags as he could carry. “Other than that, just let it ring.”

“Whuh- wait, Henry!” said Boris, heart leaping in his throat. “I-I’m not so sure we…”

Boris turned to the window, grabbing the sleeve of the jacket. The sun was raising more and more, the world outside of them starting to wake up. Yellows mixed with grays, turning them brown and sandy. He was sorely missing his dreams, drenched in black and white.

“Hey, hey,” said Henry. His hand was back on Boris’s shoulder.

Boris turned to him, every inch of his face dropping, expecting to get one of Henry’s signature rigid, authoritative glares, waiting to be given the hard facts of their situation. Instead, he got a tired, yet… understanding smile. It was lopsided and rough around the edges, and looked wildly unsure.

“It’s ok,” said Henry, in a voice that, despite what his face betrayed, sounded pretty dang convincing.

The wolf felt something inside him—something that he’d kept bunched together throughout the drive, the climb to Henry’s apartment, the scary few minutes this morning where he first experienced his feet falling asleep in the real world and how real the real world felt and how he wasn’t really a wolf he wasn’t real was he?— unclench and, without thinking, he leaned his head on Henry’s shoulder, sagging weightily. Henry teetered, not used to the wolf having a third dimension’s worth of weight to him, but evened out, and wrapped an arm around Boris’s back, toolbox counterbalancing him.

“This is a lot to take in,” said Henry, gruff voice a welcome sound for the poor, overwhelmed wolf. “Don’t rush yourselves through it. Thing’s’ll get easier. I just…” His grip tightened, strong, grounding. “We just gotta make some things work first.”

The wolf whined.

“I just wanna help,” said Boris, voice feeling thicker than glue. “I ain’t much of a good helper though. I couldn’t even help you or Bendy or Alice when everything came crumblin’…”

“Now now, none of that,” Henry almost laughed.

Boris almost had enough nerve to get annoyed, if not for what Henry said next.

“That’s no way to talk about the guy who saved my life. And Bendy’s and Alice’s. And then mine again.” Henry stopped, smirking when he felt Boris quietly snort. “And Bendy’s, again, about, what? Five more times?”

“Mmmh, you’re just saying that…” Boris didn’t sound completely convinced, but the knot loosened a fraction. He pushed from Henry, trying to stand his full height. His cheeks had their old stylized blush back; his ears almost perking sincerely. Almost. He let them droop, eyes downcast. Henry sighed.

“For now… none of us know what we’re doing,” said Henry. “Not even me. And I’m from here. But we’ll figure it out.”

“…one breakfast at a time?” said Boris, trying to smile. It was shaky. Oh, he felt so shaky.

“One breakfast at a time,” said Henry. He reached up and scratched Boris between the ears, and Boris relaxed. He felt his tail wag, if only just a bit.

“But seriously,” Henry added. He was grinning, almost… devilishly. “Keep. Bendy. Away from my coffee. If I come back and find him bouncing off the walls, I’m hiring an exorcist.”

Boris was so taken aback, he couldn’t help himself. The thought alone was so ridiculous, but seeing Henry actually try to crack a joke? Utterly too much to comprehend. The wolf howled a laugh right out loud.

And it felt scarily, wonderfully real. 

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAA IT’S A HAPPY HOPEFUL ENDING TO THIS FIC.  THIS IS MY WEAKNESS.

THIS IS ALL MY WEAKNESS.  I LOVE THIS SO MUCH.

3

the small shoulders of the hero of hyrule

(alt. title: young links)