Ib wanders around the art gallery grasping Mary’s stem. For some reason, the small wilted stem makes her feel safe. In her left pocket, she carries three yellow rose petals, having found each while roaming. One was under the couch in the room where she ate and slept, another wedged into a slit between two walls in the right hallway (she got it after what seemed like an hour), the last stuck to the ceiling in another corridor, she moved a chair and a bookcase so she could reach it. 'The last two are in the Toybox, it is the place that Mary...'
She hates to think about that. Honestly, she was horrified that she was capable of killing a sentient being. When she grabbed Garry’s lighter, creating the single flame that burned the tangled green vines, stepping into the room and looking at the portrait that housed her friend, she never expected to....
Ib sat on the floor and closed her eyes. She still saw the shock on the tall blonde girl’s face transform into rage and hear her shrieks of anger and pain. Deep down, Ib knew she just wanted to avenge him. But...
‘Why had she done it?’
Ib didn't know who the question was directed for, Mary or herself.
Opening her eyes, she gazes at a painting across from her, it depicts a group of multicolored bunnies in a lush meadow. Ib begins to relax. She loved rabbits and had always wanted one as a pet. Her parents finally agreed to let her have one after a lot of persuasion and tomorrow they were going to-
‘I’ll be out soon, I need to stay positive.’
For a while though, she watches the rabbits. ‘They look like... like the ones in that room.’ She thinks with a smile. ‘I should go back there, that room was soothing, I think...’ For right now, she feels content letting her guard down and watching the bunnies hop about under the bright blue sky, nibbling on grass and clover. For some reason, she keeps lingering on a small group sleeping around-
“Wait. Is- is that-?”
Springing up and nearly running into the painting, Ib grins at the small yellow rose petal. When she reaches towards the painting, her hand presses against canvas. Now, how was she going to get it if she can’t just reach in?
Garry reached for her in his painting... so maybe she could get his help...
She feels herself stiffen at that idea, but she'd rather not be surprised by him again, plus she'd be able to study him for a bit. Maybe she'd figure out whats causing his strange behavior.
“Garry? C- Could you help me?” She half whispers, surprised at how fearful she sounds.
Butterflies fly in her stomach as her heartbeat increases. How did he get to her so quickly?!
“Is there something you need from me?” He asks politely.
Ib mumbles something barely audible to the young man, avoiding eye contact.
“Please speak up, my dear.” He coos, bending forward.
She signals the picture, mouth dry.
“Could you get the-“
She gasps as he curls his right hand around her left gently. He smiles, guides their hands to the painting and slips them through.
‘It... feels like I’m really outside, I can feel sunlight. And the bunnies look so cute! I wonder if I could pet one...’
Just before she musters the courage to ask, their hands curl around the petal and snatch it back, several bunnies waking and hopping after them. Ib watches in horror as the bunnies crowd around the painting, obscuring the pretty meadow with sharp teeth, claws and piercing red eyes. She barely notices the petal in her hand, slipping it in her pocket after a minute. She starts to turn away but Garry catches her attention.
“Would you like to pet one, dear?”
Ib opens her mouth to tell him no, but he captures her hand and begins to guide it back to the painting, narrowing his eyes at the rabbits. He quickly slides it in to the waiting mass of bunnies. Ib is rigid with shock, her face pale.
The bunnies immediately stop their previous actions once her hand peeks through and begin to sniff the girl’s hand before gently nibbling and/or rubbing their faces against it. Ib cautiously pats the closest. The pink bunny hops closer, and Ib strokes its head.
“See? This wasn’t as bad as you thought...” He says cheerfully.
‘Right, nothing can hurt me...’
Instead of hurrying away once he helped her, Garry trails after the young girl. His actions are reminiscent of their previous time together, but it isn’t the same. He isn't the same. He would have been chatty and warm, holding her hand or asking her questions. Now, he was like a panther, slowly stalking its prey.
She stares at a couple paintings, one a still life of various fruits, “Ib, are you hungry?”, Garry asks, pulling out an orange. Other paintings showed the beach or towns far away, “Isn’t this pretty?”
Since she's old enough to read a lot of words on her own, Ib ends up halfheartedly responding to his attempts at conversation. ‘Its nice to have company though.’ Still, she can’t stop feeling shy, he's just so different...
While she muses about him, Garry contentedly watches his little friend wander around, making a few observations of his own. She's older, she definitely hadn’t been that tall, previously reaching his waist, she now is closer to the middle of his chest. He figured time passed, apparently, it was not as much as he originally thought. She's still the little girl he knew, from her dainty walk to her quiet speech and calm demeanor.
He clears his throat.
“Ib, I can’t help but notice that you’ve gotten bigger.”
“Yes, I- I did...”
“How old are you?”
“Thats what I thought.” Garry says, more to himself than to her. ‘Oh well. At least she’s here.’
Yet, she was more talkative when she was nine. He senses that she was a little nervous around him (though he couldn’t fathom why) but she has had time to adjust. He probably shouldn't have chased her down, but she could have gotten hurt if she had slipped back into the gallery in another way and, well, he had been more than a little excited to see her. ’She’s afraid.’ Hating the feeling that thought gave him, Garry shrugs off that idea and returns to watching Ib.
About an hour passes before he recognizes the area she’s heading to. ‘No, it couldn’t be...’
Now, this place looks familiar! Ib's certain that this area was close to, or the entrance to the Sketchbook. Especially because Garry blocked her path. “I don't think you should go down here, it- it may be dangerous. I wouldn't want you to get hurt when theres many other places that are more suitable.”
'There has to be another reason why he won’t let me go.’ She keeps her face blank. ‘I need to trick him and go when he's not looking. I hate to deceive him, but I need to do it to help Mary and him. But how do I-’
Suddenly, the girl yawned, feeling drowsy.
In the middle of his rambling, Garry’s attention snaps back to the brunette. “Are you tired?”
“Mhmmm.” She nods, making her scarlet eyes droop. Garry suddenly picks her up and carries her back down the hall. Ib yelps in surprise and wraps her arms around his neck instinctively, hearing him chuckle and feeling her face grow hot. Quickly, she focuses on the route he took in order to retrace her steps. After a long time, she notices a black leather couch that looked out of place in the blue tinted area.
‘I’m... pretty sure that wasn’t there before.’
Settling down, Ib rests her head on his chest. He smiles, though it feels smug instead of kind. She still accepts it with a soft smile of her own.
Ib's original plan involved waiting for him to fall asleep first, but to her shock, she ends up sleeping herself. She awoke half expecting to see that odd smirk, exhaling in relief as Garry lay fast asleep, breathing deeply. If he wasn't cuddling her like a teddy bear, she would be able to get away. Not knowing what to do, she relaxes, feeling safe and comfortable. Her eyelids nearly droop shut.
“...If you need me. I’ll come running...” His weakened voice echoes in her mind, jolting her back awake as memories assault her.
She can recall, crystal clear, the exact moment when he grew still. She had shook him, felt his cold, pale cheek, listened for a heartbeat that she knew she wouldn’t hear, stared at him with tears streaming down her face, pleading for him to live, to smile at her. She bites her lip to hold back tears.
Maybe she should leave something with him. If anything, to convince her that he would be there to return it.
At that moment, Garry stretches. Ib carefully slides out of his arms and on to the floor, fumbling in her pockets while he rolls over, mumbling something. Vaguely, she can make out a few words. “-Won't leave me...never leave...” He sighs, scowling slightly before relaxing back on the couch.
She backs away. He would probably be upset at her disappearance, maybe having something of hers will make him feel better. She pulls out her handkerchief and places it carefully in his pocket before sneaking away.
Walking through the Sketchbook, Ib yawns, shaking herself to wake up a bit more. 'Now is not the time for another nap.' Especially because the area seems darker than before, the bright colors dulled, the fake sun behind grey crayon clouds. ‘Its because Mary’s gone.’ She thinks, picking up her pace. Even though she's going to change that, she doesn't want to stay here for long...
Peering into the abyss of the chest, she remembers when she and Garry originally stumbled across it... and the way they got inside. “I need a way to get in and out safely. I'm not going down that way again.”
Half an hour later, Ib manages to find several lengths of crayon fabric while searching through the houses, creating a fairly long rope. She returns to the Toybox and finds a sturdy looking part of the wall to tie the fabric to. After testing the rope a few times, she threw it into the box and climbed down. It was a little short, but she could drop without getting seriously injured and get back up without much effort.
After wandering through the Toybox, Ib knew she was on the right track after spotting a faded and wrinkled blue rose petal. Scooping it up and placing it in her right pocket, Ib finds one after another until she reaches Mary’s room. Instead of going in, she turns around and heads to the first spot she left Garry ‘sleeping’ at, Mary’s words echoing in her mind.
“Maybe, maybe this is a fake Garry, I mean, the real one wouldn’t be here.”
This whole time, was she tricked by a clone? No, he seems real to her. Even though he isn't behaving in the same way, he feels genuine, but... “I shouldn’t believe that, it was just a lie.” She says, reason calming her paranoia.
‘Then who tried to stop you from leaving? Who was that man?’ She shivered but ignored the thought.
When Ib reaches the spot, she sighs in relief at the sight of a large stem. Picking it up, she carefully takes the blue petals from her pocket, counting nine out of ten before attaching them to the rose...
Ib stares at Mary’s door like its the gateway to hell. Grasping the handle in her sweaty hand, she takes a deep breath and turns the knob. Piles of books and crayon stained paper litter the floor, several jagged red lines embedded in the ground, and a pile of ashes lie on the floor. Looking around, Ib slowly approaches the ashes, guilt blooming in her heart. Spotting a hint of yellow in the pile, she takes another deep breath, reaching towards the ashes...
“Let me out!”
Garry rolls his eyes at himself. Or, more appropriately, a representation of his conscious. Fittingly enough, in the form of a painting, struggling to get away from the vines wrapped around most of his body and face. Garry was thoroughly unimpressed. This influenced their personality for so long?
“Why do you have to make things so difficult!?” He sneers at the painting, who glares in return.
“Why?! You’re making her hate us! Look at her! She doesn’t want to be here, she feels trapped, and rightfully so! You took her from everything she cared about and you don’t plan on letting her go!” the painting cries, glaring at his doppelgänger.”She knows what you should be like. She doesn't like who you are now!”
“We would be wasting away if I wasn't who I am now.” Garry spat.
“And making her waste away with you is better?! This place has made you selfish and evil.” It snarled.
“No. I'm keeping her safe from everything that can hurt her.” He corrected.
“You really think that this is right, don't you? Do you really want to live like this?!”
“You led us to our demise. You're the reason we're trapped here.” Garry responded quietly.
“S-Shut up! I won't let you guilt me into submission!”
“No? Then, lets see how tight these bonds can get to shut you up.”
The painting Garry crumpled, the vines wrapping tighter around him before he collapsed, hanging his head in submission as the vines covered him completely. Garry chuckled.
'Ib... forgive me, I tried to fight temptation-'
“Thats better.... Now, lets check on our little dear, shall we?”
‘WHERE. IS. SHE?!’
Garry was in a panic after waking up alone. Why did she leave?! He didn’t do anything wrong! He was being the perfect gentleman! Why was he alone again?!
His eyes roam the area, ravenously searching for some semblance of her, until he sees the handkerchief tucked in his pocket. Noticing the embroidered name, he pulls it out with a grin, anger already fading. He should probably return it to her, but, since she left without his permission, he would keep it. He slid the handkerchief back in his pocket.
‘Now, where could she have gone?’
He had an idea already...
Garry’s influence over the museum extended to having eyes and ears everywhere, nothing could escape his sight. The Sketchbook and Toybox were different, he had little power in those areas, though he knew he could gain control over one thing there...
...In a dark corner of the Toybox, a tiny blue ragdoll sprang to life, bright red eyes darting around the room.
Standing on small plush legs, it quickly shuffles away...
Her fingers may be covered in ash, but Ib has all five petals now, as well as most of Garry's. She feels pride surge in her chest, her plan is coming along perfectly and if her good luck continues, they would all be out before lunch! That is, if time even passes outside here.
She wipes the ash off her hand and reconnects the petals to the stem, gazing at the limp flower. Remembering a vase filled with water outside of the room, Ib reaches for the door.
The sight of a small, scary blue ragdoll in a pink dress with a very creepy grin both surprised Ib and made her feel unsettled. Three words form on the wall in blue ink.
‘I found you!’
She slid past it and quickly walked towards the vase, hearing the doll shamble after her. Once she held the vase safely, Ib ran back into the room, careful not to spill any water, slamming the door before the doll could get in. Ignoring the faint scuffling noises outside, Ib walks towards the end of the room, stopping right in front of where the painting once hung.
”That must be where the path outside will open.” She sets the vase down, places the yellow rose in the water and watches the limp rose become healthy with a smile.
Her peace lasts only for a second. In the next, red cracks climb the walls and the room shakes furiously, threatening to make Ib fall. The painting and rose blaze an angry yellow while the portrait rebuilds itself, dust shifting back into wood and paint stained canvas.
“Wheres the exit!?” she shouts in a panic, wobbling as the room cracks and bends. Ib stops to stare in horror at the re-formed Mary. She expected anger, but she didn’t expect to see her rushing forward with the most hostile look she has ever seen...