I ignored the kicks at first, as I was doing the Underland radio. When he starts to sing, welllllll... When I realized who it was, I cautiously approached the door.

He had Thomas' throat encircled with the sickle, held close as a human shield should I open fire by the time he arrived at the door. The silence doesn't last terribly long before Gallows kicks at the door. A solid thud, followed by another and another to simulate knocking.

My head turned slightly towards the door, silently acknowledging the visitor to Tagalong, waving him towards the weapons. Tag plays along, saying “Speak of the Devil, I think we have a guest.”

I copied him, silently loading my sidearm and talking into the mic broadcasting the Underland Radio. 

“I think we’ll have to cut it short here. Thank you listeners for tuning into Underland Radio.”

I reached down to flip the switch to cut the feed, motioning my walking towards the door towards Tag. I took up a position catty-corner to the front door, and waited.

Cue another solid knock followed by some soft shuffling as Gallows readjusted his position snugly behind the guard. "Gonna make ya wet with this diddy, Thomas, but just remember it ain't for ya." 

He whispered sweetly to his prisoner before looking past towards the door. 

Graves stands at the base of the stairs, their weapons in each hand and your average dead look in her gaze.
There's no changes made when he raises his voice and starts (not terribly but not quite wonderfully) serenading, 

"I used to think maybe ya loved me, now I know that it's true And I don't want to spend my whole life, just waiting for ya Now I don't want ya back for the weekend Not back for a day, no no NO I said baby I just want ya back And I want ya to stay -" 
"-this would be better with a boom box, Graves-"

I rolled my eyes as I realized who it is, relaxing my position and grip on my weapon.

 "Shut the fuck up, Nick! I told your ass not to follow me!!"

"Ah, SUNSHINE! There ya are." Gallows chirped cheerfully at the door, giving another kick against it. 

"Your boy out 'ere ain't light, come on n' open on up. I'm here now, ain't no sense moaning over it."

I sighed petulantly and holstered my sidearm, motioning towards Tag. I mouthed silently "Go to Overland. I'll be fine." Tagalong teleported out, and I run a nervous hand over my hair, brushing it out of my face and squaring my shoulders.

 'You can do this. He's just an ex. Talk to him, and tell him to leave. That simple.

"Have you tried the DOORKNOB, asshole? It's been unlocked the whole time."

"My hands are full, sue me." Heavy steps bounded up the stairs without hesitation. Graves took hold of the door handle and twisted, wrenching it open while sidestepping out of the way. 

"Thomas, m'boy, ya remember how to walk? It's just like without having a blade at yer throat, so pretend their ain't one there fucko." Gallows nudged the back of the guard's to move forward. "There ya go."

I suppressed a giggle behind one of my hands, ducking my head so Thomas wouldn't see. My attempt failed, and Thomas glared at me mightily as he brushed past me to take up residence in one of the upper floors. 

"Graves, Nick, come on in. I'd have locked the door if I didn't want company." 

I turns on my heel without sparing them another glance, leaving the door ajar. I sauntered into the kitchen, opening cupboards to retrieve glasses for myself and my guests, grabbing a bottle of J.D. on my way back to the living room. I plopped my ass down on the couch adjacent to the door Gallows just walked through, staring at him expectantly.


Gallows releases Thomas without any hesitation; no need for an unwanted hostage, after-all. He focused instead of the intended destination, Graves following into the living room as she continued playing pack mule for him. 

"Gonna need it since you're still being a bitch." 

He grinned cheekily at me, finding a seat across from mine. For once he is without the face mask, the paint or even the pinned back hair. Bare-faced just for this special occasion. 

"Oh... yes and," Gallows pulled the trash bag over, proceeding to tip it upside down and pour the contents out in the space between them. "Gonna need it for all this shit."

I got lost in my mind for a moment, as I am want to do when I reunite with lovers from my various timelines. His sitting before me as he was, sans makeup and pinned hair, he looked exactly like my Nicholas: a still raw part of my heart, repressed as deeply as it would go.

 Images of their pasts through the timelines pass by in my mind's eye, settling on the first moment he ever kissed me. Shaking my head with a rueful smile, I knocked myself back to reality. 

 "Oh Nick, baby, who told you you could go through my shit? So rude of you."

"I'm a rude fuckin' guy, babe. Dontcha remember the things I'd do to ya late a night?" 

Gallows winked. He isn't even trying to hide the edge to his tone when I call him that; it's irritating but seeing me again surely puts him in a good mood - a better mood than he could have predicted. He figures it'll matter shortly so why rush it? They got plenty to discuss as it is.

"There was a naked blonde bitch in yer hidey-hole back home. Y'know, this one." Gallows turned a picture around and slid it over. "Gots lots of similarities but ain't none of them spot on to the girl I know."

"I did try to tell you, ya'know. That I wasn't crazy. Or at least.. That crazy. But you jumped the gun and assumed. It was easier to think I was crazy than to face how much you fucked up."

I picked up the snapshot, my gaze thoughtful. 

"That's Lilith. Or Red, as Tag likes to call her. She's the version of me from the universe where she was supposed to be the happiest. That Gallows never came back for her like my Gallows did. It drove her a bit insane. She's the original author of Be Wary. I'm surprised you didn't recognize her. That's the Dia that most people got to meet."

"It ain't about it being easier, sweetie. It's about the lack of evidence ya can provide a person over the web." 

Gallows pulled the picture back and took another look at it. "Keep tellin' ya I ain't got no problem sayin' when I done fucked up. Ya keep insisting, maybe this repetition is why I got to also thinking you're being a bit crazy." 

He cocked an eyebrow over the picture at me before he resumed looking it over.

"I ain't saying she don't look familiar, I'm saying she still ain't right. Ya gotta make up yer mind, girlie. Either I'm smart and know what you're talkin' about and lying to ya, or I'm ignorant on the subject and you're being a cunt over it. Either way, ya gotta pick which gimmick ya wanna go with if we're gonna do this right."

"Can't it be both? I never said you were lying, love. Just that it hurt me that you never noticed, in the four years since Sacramento, that you never asked yourself why I was so strange. Why you had a corpse next to you at night. Why I never complained when you had to leave, despite never wanting you to go."

 "I'm not trying to be a cunt. I'm your ex girlfriend, technically fiancee, trying to explain who I am and you aren't listening. Or weren't. It hurt, I lashed out, we fought about it, and now we're here." I smiled bitterly to myself. 

"Just add in some talking, blood, and fucking, and that's pretty much our relationship in a nutshell."

I began meticulously organizing the heap of scrapbooks, leases, and paperwork that had amassed on my coffee table. On and on I go, humming to myself in an offkey ditty that I likely picked up from Gallows the night we first met. Finally, several stacks lie in front of me. Each organized by colored sticky notes, by date, and by timeline.  

"Let me ask you a question. Before we continue fighting: Where did we first meet?"

The killer slouched back in the chair, arms draping over the back as he made himself comfortable while listening. Half of what I said didn't make any sense to him. Ex fiance? Ex in general. Also what did that have to do with having a catch up conversation?

 Gallows wasn't someone who understood relationships and what they meant to those familiar with them. He didn't know there were RULES that came with this shit outside of movies.

" The fuck? "Ya talkin' about face to face or the web, babe? Gotta be a bit more specific."

 "Either. Both would help. But let's make it simple: in person."

"First time in person was at Advy's explosive party. Met ya with that wanna detective bitch. Me and Graves had little Josie with us. Ended up having an after party at yer place for... Oh, a good while."

I tapped my fingers against my chin thoughtfully, gazing down at the stacks in front of me. After a minute of double checking, I removed three smaller chunks of paperwork from the stacks and set them to the side. 


"Well. That knocks out a few timelines. In one, we really did meet on the street. In another, you were a corpse in the ground before I met Shady. And in that third one? You came into my room, pretended to be another lover, fucked me silly, and then slit my throat." 

I removed a 4x6" crime scene photo from one of the scrapbooks, clearly one of my alternates arranged artisticly in a puddle of her own blood, throat slit with Gallow's sickle placed lovingly in one hand, and handed the photograph to Nick. 

"That was the third one. I mean, at least you gave her a good fuck before she went. Death by snusnu, and all that."

"Compliments to the golden vag, babe." He watched her move aside the photos, interested to learn more about them at a later date. For now it was about focusing on what the fuck the rest was all about.

 "Still don't change the fact ya got all these alts and ya be claiming I do, too. Pretty sure that shit don't just appear."

I smirked, and reached out to take his hand with the one wearing my ring. 

"You'll understand in a minute. I promise. You remember this?" "Humor me for a minute. Tell me the story of how you gave it to me. And try not to be an asshole about it."

A puff of air left his mouth as he glanced down to their joined hands; dark amber gaze tracing over the ring before he glanced over into Graves' direction briefly.  

"I had to fix my darlin',"  

He jerked a thumb into the direction of the scythe Graves held. 

"Its head was loose from all the slicin' and dicin'. Meant a lot of work and adjustments had to be done to reinforce the wood, too. Needed a lot of new parts which meant I had lots of old parts leftover, not all of it full of sweet tetanus. So in the process of fixin' my girl up I fixed my other girl a little somethin' somethin'. Figured, y'know, this babe already autographed my scythe so I always gots a piece of her wherever I go, it's only fair to do something similar." 

There's a wink, "I'm just that sentimental. Anyways, did some smithing, fixed my scythe and out came a ring for ya. It ain't the prettiest thing in the junkyard but you and I ain't pretty people. Well we are, but y'know what I mean."

"Came back to ya afterwards. Y'know, cause it was during my time in-cog-nito n'all. So I came back for another date night. Found ya all dressed up and pretty, prettier than usual. And as I watched ya I thought to myself, y'know Gallows - I wonder if we can get that smile any bigger. Lo and behold I could.

We shared a diddy, smashing some humming tunes together to make almost a complete song and I slipped that thing right on ya during it with these sly fingers. Course ya took notice pretty quick so I guess they ain't that sly, but ya fuckin' glowed, babe. "

"We didn't end up goin' out that night, not that I complained, had your pretty self to myself all night. I remember watching that ring catch in the moonlight while ya slept. Ya always did look great in blue, better in red but real good in blue, too."

I reluctantly let go of his hand to scrutinize the stacks in front of me, removing roughly half of the remaining paperwork that were color coordinated snow white, rot green, and bruise purple. 

 "Only a few questions left. When you came to visit me after I ran, what were you happy to find missing from my room?"

"That heart I drew up in blood. Took it away with ya." 

Gallows returned to his reclined position.

I paused for a moment, eyes widening slightly. For a brief moment, my heart had skipped a beat. There were only three timelines that I took the heart with me. My home timeline, the timeline they met in the street and he told me who he was immediately, and Lilith's timeline. 

For a brief moment...I let myself feel hope. Then squashed it mentally like a bug beneath my heel. Hope was pointless for someone from my timeline. With hands shaking, I wordlessly removed all but three stacks of paperwork, shoving them all back in the garbage bag. 

I picked up the largest black scrapbook, inscribed 'Nicholas' on the side in red flowing script. It was overfull, a leather strap added after its purchase to bind the sides together. Still mute, I handed the photo album to Gallows and pointed to the three stacks. 

"Read. Look. Let me know when you're done." 

With that, I picked up my empty glass and walked into the kitchen, toeing off my boots in order to pad through the rooms barefoot. The physical sensation of the tile and carpets a relieving distraction to the events in my head. 

I refilled my glass with a double dose, no ice, and began to wander aimlessly through the house, lost in memories both of my Nicholas and of my dead family.

He flipped through the scrapbook, eying over all the different hers and hims. The initial response of how fucking ridiculous this all is was quieted down. He was born to two intelligent people who raised him smartly, he retained plenty of those said smarts. 

While all this supernatural hocus pocus bullshit wasn't something that really interested him, the people in these pictures did - in the smallest fraction, they did. They were meat, with feels and thoughts at the end of it; all things he understood well. The scrapbook is dropped as he pushed himself to a stand and paced after where my footfalls led, motioning Graves to stand put. 


 "Ya think I need that book to know what is what, girlie? YOU need it. Not me."

Gallows rounded a corner and caught sight of me.

"That Lilith girl, pretty one ain't she? Not mine." He lengthened his stride to catch up to her quickly, "YOU, ya jaded fuck, you're MY girl. Like hell I wouldn't recognize you and if ya want confirmation, there ya go, I read your fuckin' book. I don't know about all em' other girlies, I don't know about em' other me's. There's only me, so they can all fuck off. You're my girl. If those girls are you too, they're all my girls. But you're the heart of it, babe. You're the start of it and it's why I'm here."

I turned and looked up into his amber eyes, absentmindedly setting my glass down on the nearby baby piano as I did so. 

"All of those girls are me. All of those guys are you. Just different versions of us in different versions of the world, that are different because of choices we made. The problem with this is, I remember all of their lives. Nasty little trick from the eldritch bastards. You say I'm your Dia, but how am I supposed to know you're my Gallows? There's only one event that would stand out to him more than the others, and guess what? If I tell you what it is, it defeats the point."

"I have loved you in every timeline I have ever met you. Even when you killed me or we died together. So, honestly, it doesn't really matter which one you are. It hasn't bothered me since Sacramento. I was just happy to see you when I could. But please.. Don't stand there and pretend to be my Gallows. 

My Gallows has been missing for six months, with no cell, no email, no postcards. I can't believe my Gallows would do that to me twice. I can't imagine why he would. So.. Just. Please. Tell me the truth and tell me which one you are so I can go to bed in peace, and you can go home." 

With that, I closed my eyes and leaned against his chest, hand curled up in his shirt like I would all the times we would cuddle before bed. Tears quietly rolling down my face to soak his shirt. 

In that moment, I stopped caring which Gallows was in front of me. I only wanted to know which one he was to get closure at this point. I was happy just to be holding a Gallows that, at the very least, had loved her back.

"Babe, babe, babe."

 Gallows cooed as he lifted his hands to take hold of each side of my head; fingers threading through my hair as he let me cry against him. 

"It ain't doing you no good to not be listenin' now to me. You're asking questions I already began giving ya answers to that you, my darlin', didn't wanna hear."

There's a sigh in his voice as he slid a leg forward, purposely to nudge my back against the nearby wall. Less chances I had to get away, the less he had to distract himself. With a slow inhale he pried up face to look up at him leaning over me. 

"So listen here. I don't give a fuck about the other me's. Clearly they weren't as successful... or good lookin'. All those other yous are a bit more important, not quite as important as yourself, though. You're the heart of it, girlie. 

I recognized it immediately and I went for ya just as quickly as I fuckin' could. Through all them other lovely faces, I look at you and I hear it. The war drums. I wanted that heart from the start, ya think I'd forget how it sounds the moment I got hold of it? Yer fuckin' mistaken. Ya think I WANTED to go? There definitely coulda been better ways but I didn't see em'. 

Didn't think I'd be gone that long. Kept me alive, kept YOU alive. Even kept yer fuckin' friends alive. Ya didn't lose me in this... this timeline, pretty sure I ended up losing ya, girlie. That Bleeding Tree bullshit I came to help ya with, don't even get me started on that hole of confusion - but ya needed it. 

Needed that way more than anythin' I coulda provided for ya it woulda seemed at that time. If ya think you're just gonna go and have a nice lie down after this chat - oh no. No, no, no. We are far from through. I came to this bullshit place for ya and I ain't goin' back to a home I don't got without ya there. Ya hear me?"

I blinked slowly up at him, lashes still wet with my tears. I reached up to rub them away, seemingly lost in place, not sure what to do with myself. That bit of anger I'd been holding onto, the belief that I was alone, all got washed away in the past few minutes. 

There was nothing holding me up emotionally, not anymore, and so I leaned back against the wall behind me, pulling Gallows as close to me as I could.

 "...babe? Are you fucking with me right now? Last chance to have someone jump out and yell SURPRISE and tell me this was all a joke. I can't handle it if you aren't telling me the truth."
There's a smile that curls on his lips, teeth unveiling bit by bit as he looked down at that tear stained face and listened to my words.

 "Sweetie, I'm about real fuckin' close to puttin' these hands 'round yer neck if ya accuse me of one more filthy lie." 

He wouldn't kill me, that's for sure, but there are plenty of other things he could cook up if I pushed it any further. The only reason hesitation came into play was from the warmth he felt when i pulled him against me - that soothed his buzzing brain just a dash. 

"I showed ya how to string em' up nice and pretty. I told ya about my tree back home, even. Showed ya how to tie a noose, how to really sacrifice something with your hands. I dream of ya in red, y'know? Plenty of times."

I laughed at his choice of words, a silly and girlish laugh that surprised even her. I had finally, somehow, lucked into having the one I loved most come back to me. Theirs was never a stable, or even normal relationship. 

They had always traveled in their own individual lives; his eluding the Creevey thing, me hunting down relics and paperwork in an attempt to analyze the pattern of fear attacks. It didn't matter. 

The few times a year we reunited, it was heaven to me. Sure, we screwed like people that hated each other, fought frequently (sometimes with weapons..), and talked to each other in a fucked up dialect all our own, but.. we were each other's. Had been for a long time. 

What seemed abusive and terrible to the outside world was the only real shelter I had in the storm. He. He had always been the one I ran to, from the moment we met at Advy's party to my  mental breakdown over my first sacrifice to the Bleeding Tree, all the way to this moment. Lonely, confused, and bitter at the world.. he still came for me. 

Dealt with my bullshit, listened to my crazy life shit, and still held onto me as if he was afraid I would fly away. Most of all.. my Gallows had never lied to me. Not once. Not in the entirety of our relationship. He never tried to hide or obscure how fucked up he was, and never so much as blinked when I had a panic attack or fell into a murderous rage in the midst of a mental breakdown. 

He genuinely, truly loved me in all my fucked up wonder and glory, and if I was being honest with myself.. O loved the man Gallows just as much as I had loved him when he walked around as Nicholas. 

 "I prefer blue. Red was always Lilith's color, and yours." She smiled to herself after a moment's thought. "Why don't you be you, and I'll be me." "I only ask you let me call you Nick, my Nick, and you at least try to text me from a burner phone every once in a while. Okay?"

 With that,I stood up on my tiptoes and kissed Gallows.

"You and blue have always be true, eheheh. I'm still fond of red, why I like painting ya. We can play with blues too sometime." Maybe something even blue blooded? Was that a thing? Now he wondered... FOR LATER. Now there was her. And him. Gallows smoothed back her hair from her face, expression alight and full of energy at her response. He liked this plan. 

Being him, her being her. Fuck all else. Still he wondered just what it meant for getting the two of them outta this place. The thought doesn't fade even with her very distracting lips on his own. His body acts on its own accord, pulling her closer and returning the kiss he has spent far too long to share. But. BUT... 

He pulls back before he loses his train of thought. "I ain't gonna be leaving ya like that anytime soon. I gots me a real fun plan, I think. So what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna try real hard. Real. Fuckin'. Hard. to listen to you say Nick till ya remember Gallows is the right one, aight? And what you're gonna do is get outta this place with me."

"I only ask that you stay here with me a while before we have to leave. I don't care what we do. Play monopoly, dance, screw like rabbits. I don't care. I just.. want some time with you, before we have to go back."

 "Oh, and learn how to buy burner phones and text me every once in a while!" "I will track your fucking ass down if you go a month straight without talking to me after this. Don't think I won't."


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