Ib didn't talk anymore.

Not that she talked much before, but at least she'd say something once in awhile. Answer a question, crack a smile, laugh in that odd, soft way of hers. Like the refined ladies she'd read about in some of her books.

Despite her quiet attitude, Mary absolutely loved her new found friend. She listened, she cared, she was everything the blond painting had been hoping for all her lonely years in the fabricated world. They'd only known each other a short while, and already she'd planned for so much.

They'd see the snow together, they'd play, and have candy together. The world would be theirs to explore.

Everything was perfect, except for him. Garry. Ib preferred him over her, she could see it in her eyes. The strange red orbs would positively sparkle whenever he so much as spoke to her. If she really thought about it, Mary supposed she couldn't blame either of them. Ib had simply known Garry longer, they'd been through more, she knew that the gallery wasn't exactly the safest place for the flesh and blood unless they had one of the stronger paintings at their side.

Despite knowing this, she'd hated the man. Even looking at him filed her with rage that, after being trapped there for so, so long, she couldn't bottle it up anymore.

When she'd seen the opportunity to take his rose from him, to hold such a fragile life in her hands, she'd taken it. Gleefully, she'd unraveled him, piece by piece, only thinking of how much fun she'd have with Ib now that he was out of the way. Can't take anything from anyone if you can't even move, right?

But...

Ib wasn't moving, either. Ib wasn't doing anything. It had taken a couple hours for Mary to find the girl, having thought she'd attempt to return to the other art gallery now that no one was slowing her down. Mary'd even hoped that maybe they could meet along the way, and they could jump through the painting together.

Instead, when she finally found her, Ib was laying down with Garry. She was alive, her rose, though it was missing a couple of petals, was intact. She just didn't move anymore.

Mary tried talking to her, tried tickling her, and as a last resort, had tried cutting her. The girl fingers twitched at that, but Mary didn't dare try anything worse considering the shape her flower was in.

She couldn't just leave her best friend behind. It said so in a book she'd read. So, she stayed with her, told her stories, threw her a party, but nothing ever changed. Ib didn't move, didn't talk...though, she did cry. Sometimes, weak little sobs that interrupted her otherwise normal breath. When she didn't wipe the tears away, Mary was always more than happy to, even if it made her sleeve all wet. That was supposed to make things better, take the sad away, and yet it didn't seem to change anything.

Had Ib really been that attached to him?

Frustrated, Mary took the body and threw it in the trash, thinking perhaps that getting him out of sight would snap her out of it. It worked, a little. Ib did move, only to curl up in a corner. The doll suggested that her friend was broken beyond all repair, that she should just leave her and go to the real world.

Mary refused such a thing, and for lack of any other ideas, made herself a replacement for Garry's body. With some work, she'd managed to push herself between the girl and her corner, forcing her to lay against Mary instead. If this meant anything at all to Ib she didn't show it.

The tears would come and go, and Mary would wipe them away every time. She was patent. Humans didn't age there, there was no need for food or liquid, or anything else. She would stay with Ib, and she would wait. She had to get bored of sitting there someday. When that day came, when she was ready to live again, Mary would take her out of the painted world.