In the silent heart of Bellbridge's clock tower, red boots touched stone, and Reala stepped forward. He couldn't keep the smile off of his face, sick on victory as he was, and even emitted a low chuckle as he reached up to stroke his sedated twin's cheek, rubbing his thumb over the soft skin. "Soon, NiGHTS... Everything will be as it once was."

"Nnn..." NiGHTS's head lolled, and Reala recoiled a half-step, drawing back his hand as NiGHTS's indigo eyes fluttered, struggling to focus. With hefty effort, he raised his head and, squinting, managed to meet his twin's suspicious, glacial gaze. "Re... Reala..?"

Reala relaxed, allowing his smile to return. "Ah, NiGHTS. How are you feeling?"

"I'm... ugh..." NiGHTS's head fell again as he sought an answer to that very question and struggled to regain his bearings, the slight pulls of his hands sending shutters through the chains, but as soon as he did, all grogginess vanished in the span of a few blinks: His eyes widened, and his head shot up; in a panic, in vain, he struggled against the golden links. "Will! Helen!" Like magic, the very sound of their names turned Reala's smile into a frown, and he crossed his arms as NiGHTS turned on him with a snarl. "Reala! Where are Will and Helen?!"

Carved of stone, Reala didn't so much as sniff. He sounded almost bored as he answered, "Still worried about the Visitors, are you, even in your predicament?" A small smirk pulled at the corners of his lips. "I wouldn't worry about them. Master Wizeman and I took good care of them." His smirk grew and threatened to become a grin as he watched the shades of shock, horror, fear, and fury pass in rapid succession over NiGHTS's face. In the end, his twin could only sputter, "Y-you're lying!"

Unable to hold back any longer, Reala's face split into a grin. "I'm lying, am I?" He shook his head. "Oh, NiGHTS... If only you had been there to see it. The girl fell first, and all Master Wizeman had to do was shut off the lights..." He chuckled into his hand, eyes aglow with wickedness. "Despite her weakness, she was given quite the honor: Master Wizeman took her Ideya himself. As for the boy... He saw her fall and very near went after her, but just as he was about to act, he froze. He failed. He could not bring himself to dive into the darkness. I took his Ideya as penance." He placed a proud hand on his chest, and his aura of triumph far outshone the faint red glow that signaled his possession of Will's Ideya; however, it was the faint glow that broke NiGHTS's heart. His eyes misted over with tears, and his voice became cracked and broken. "Will... Helen... No... I never meant..." His head dropped—he refused to give Reala the pleasure of his agony—and he choked back sobs.

For his part, Reala allowed NiGHTS his moment of mourning uninterrupted, his own smile fading as his arms crossed again. As NiGHTS swallowed his grief, his voice rose, faint and cold. "But wait... That means... Wizeman is coming." The realization stole his breath. He was in no place to fight his Master now. Fear struck his face as he turned it back upon Reala. "You have to help me! Reala, please, let me out of these chains!"

He snorted in disbelief, shaking his head. "After everything that's happened, you expect me to just let you go? Just like that?"

"I... I... Yes!" NiGHTS's voice dropped, and he slumped as well as his chains would allow. "I had hoped..." Looking up again, he pleaded, "Brother, please. I know we've been through a lot, but surely you're not so far gone that you'll just stand by and let me die, will you?"

"I don't intend to." His next words squashed any hope that might have bloomed on NiGHTS's face, replacing it with incredulity. "Fortunately, Master Wizeman has no intention of killing you. He's going to fix you." When he smiled, confident, eyes at peace, NiGHTS's jaw hit the floor.

"You... You really believe that." Shaking his head, his eyes blazed with new fury, giving Reala a small start. "Is that all I am to you?! A thing to be fixed? Like some kind of toy? I have news for you: You're wrong." He strained against his chains, getting as close to his twin as his bonds allowed. "I heard Wizeman's threat: Replace my consciousness with a new, more obedient one. Do you even know what that means? It means—"

"—It means I'll be getting my partner back," Reala interjected, voice firm and lips tight. "It means that you're coming home, finally." The hard lines of his eyes softened as he took a small step forward, leaving just inches between NiGHTS's straining form and his own, and he touched a finger underneath his twin's chin. "It will be over soon. Don't be afraid."

NiGHTS looked up into those snowy eyes, searching, probing their depths, and with a great sigh, released his anger. There was no point to it. He swung back as his limbs went limp and released a weak chuckle. "Oh Reala... You're so stupid." Even as Reala opened his mouth to snap a comeback, NiGHTS continued, lolling his head to the side, "You've never understood; you still don't understand; and as long as you go on like this, you never will be able to understand. Once Wizeman replaces my consciousness, you'll have my body, but I won't be me anymore. Can't you see that?"

"Hmph." Reala glanced away quickly, his eyes again hardening into shards of ice as he focused back on NiGHTS. "Of course I can. You is not the person I want home. The rebel before me has caused nothing but trouble and stress for every life he's touched, and I relish his disappearance. All you are is the shallow, broken shell of the great Nightmaren my brother once was, and I for one am sick and tired of seeing you tarnish his name and face!"

NiGHTS laughed. "You're delusional! For once in your life, Reala, think for yourself! Stop trying to justify every order you're given. It's ok to disagree."

"I..." Reala hesitated, and in that moment, hope creased NiGHTS's eyes at the edges. "No." He shook his head, eyes laden with resignation, voice almost apologetic. "I can't help you. Until next time... Good bye, NiGHTS." He turned, and flew away. He didn't hear NiGHTS's sigh, nor the slight jangle of chains as his twin grasped the metal and readied himself to meet his maker.

(R&R, please and thanks~ Want to see more? Join the RP that inspired this fic: gaiaonline dot com /forum/series-related-miscellaneous-role-play/ig-i-y-i-i/t.76780039_1/ )