It's so dark...so very dark. He knows for sure he's dead, but he can still hear the beating of his concrete heart against his steel ribs, taut skin stretched across metal framework.
She's not here. The darkness slides away as he blinks with non-existent eyelids and sucks in a breath with quicksand-filled lungs.
This world is empty. There is no Ivonne waiting for him with open arms and a warm smile. Nothing but blankness, miles and miles of empty, empty loneliness.
It's too much.
The realization that he is forever trapped in a cage of his own design- he can only watch numbly as he sinks to his iron knees, acidic tears burning holes into his eyes, his hands.
Over the endless decades, he gets accustomed to it. Watching as his artwork takes on a life of its own, devouring people, spitting them back out if they are indigestible.
Behind carnivorous, candy-colored bars consisting of mannequins and lady fingers, he can only dream pointlessly.
Until they arrive. A tiny, crimson-eyed girl and a tall, young, pale-haired man, lanky in his newfound adulthood.
They cry and laugh, they run and stop, and when one falls behind and sleeps, the other found the strength to climb out, back into the world of macarons and laughter.
But he's shocked when the tiny girl comes back.
Not because of the fact that she willingly sacrificed her happiness for someone she barely knew, someone she only remembered in what seemed like a distant dream.
It was something Ivonne would have done.
So that was what Ib and Ivonne both shared. The ability to face their greatest fears, just to save one person. Some call it courage, others call it love.
But who's to say it's not both?
Perhaps, he thinks to himself, there is a chance he will break free.
It's up to you, Ib. This is what you have. You're almost there.
Don't give up on us.
WIth a gasp, Ib was unceremoniously hurled out of the black painting. She caught a flash of a startled Fake Garry and a- green mannequin? before she fainted.
Oh. Fake Garry. Mannequin. This was not a good situation- wait. Where am I?
Creaking her bleary eyes open, Ib winced as she sat up. No sight of Fake Garry and green mannequin. She let out a sigh of relief and observed her surroundings.
Ib's eyes widened. Garry's rose...she had left him leaning against the wall here! Her heart hammering away, she dashed down the childish hallway, ignoring the still-fresh rose petals beneath her feet.
Slumped against the wall, Garry's body was still and quiet. Ib bit her lip to keep from crying as her eyes roamed over his navy jacket, his pale, ruffled hair.
Tentatively, she reached out.
Dammit. Fake Garry scowled in frustration.
The two of them had not been prepared to see Ib flying out like some devastating angel from the dark mist. They had only a few seconds to see her sailing past them, her ruby eyes immense, and then she disappeared again.
After that, a small squabble followed. Fingers pointed, words of blame; in the end he had abandoned the demented green mannequin and stalked away in the opposite direction.
Wait. His head snapped up as he sensed something abnormal. Something was touching the lifeless, abandoned shell once known as Garry. The real Garry.
With a sudden grin, he closed his eyes and allowed himself to be reabsorbed into the nearly-tangible material that gave malicious life to Guertena's pieces. Besides, it saved him time from walking all the way over there.
He knows for sure it's Ib.
Quietly, rain-like tears fell down as Ib caressed Garry's soft, pale hair. His face was cold, bloodless lips slightly parted. She knew she was wasting time, but...
How am I going to help you? Are you really gone? Or are you still here?
With one last glance, she turns away, taking two steps in the velvety softness of the black crayon floor.
"Guertena! He's going to-" Garry paled as the doppelganger smoothly slid out from the wall, taking on a solid shape again. "L-Let me help her!" Guertena sighed.
"Garry. At this point, a message isn't going to help. Trust her, she will figure out what to do."
"There is much more to her than you think." Guertena turned away, smiling. "After all, although she looks vulnerable, Ib is much stronger than you think."
Just like her..
"Ib..." Ib whirled around in horror. Even without seeing him, she knew it was not Garry, but the other..thing. It greeted her with a horrible parody of his comforting smile. "You can't run from me Ib, we belong here, together forever..." Sinuous arms wrapped around her as she stood there frozen, the tangled fluff of a torn jacket pressing against her face.
Stand your ground. You need him. Ivonne's voice echoed and died away in Ib's ears. She looked up and stared into the glinting depths of quicksilver eyes; was that a flash of red behind them?
"Ib," he crooned, "There's nothing to worry about. I'll take care of you, I promised you that before. What's the matter?" She had lowered her eyes to his neck, her fists tightening in the folds of the navy coat. The doppelganger peered down at her in the perfect imitation of concern.
Exhaling, Ib composed herself, and then wrapped her arms around his waist. Fake Garry was stunned.
"You aren't him. Not the true, complete version of him." What was she doing? A spike of cold fear pierced through Fake Garry's mind. "I understand now, where you come from. You were born from his fear of being alone, being by yourself in the darkness. You've always lived on the side, scared of being rejected, scared of standing there in solitude-"
"STOP! IB, PLEASE!" The doppelganger howled in pain as he detached himself from her embrace, his eyes wide. "Don't!" She raised her voice over his cries, her arms stretched out as she advanced towards him.
"You're everything he didn't want to show; his anger, his sadness. Garry is that type of person, the person who doesn't want to lie, but he doesn't want others to worry about him too. But it's alright, you're still part of him." Fake Garry was now on his knees, his face streaked with streams of terror, pain...and relief?
"It's alright. I'll accept you, because I can love him, both the good and the bad." The doppelganger's eyes were huge, looking down at the pale, long-fingered hands. With a crack, a rip, the Fake Garry disintegrated.
Ib gasped and fell to the ground, breathing heavily as a few pieces of sheet music fluttered to the ground. With a trembling hand, she pulled the first sheet of yellowed paper towards her. Although the title and annotations were in German, she smiled as she thought about how music was another universal language that transcended time; at another place and moment, Ivonne was busily writing away and humming to herself. Ib gathered the sheets with a quiet reverence and smiled to herself.
Garry gaped at the easel in shock while Guertena smirked and leaned against the paint-stained stool behind him.
"Yes, and if you were capable of hearing what she said, I suppose you'd be even more shell-shocked." Guertena drily noted. "Whatever it was, I'm not sharing it with you." Garry looked at him, round-eyed.
"Because it's something you'll discover on your own." And with that, Guertena slipped from his position against the stool, landing on the floor with several wet palettes on his head. "...I have yet to discover the ability to manage that." He scowled as he lifted a now-green and sticky strand of hair away from his face.
Garry stared at him in mute sympathy.
"Don't worry. I've done worse." Silence reigned for only a few seconds before the two burst out laughing.