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Swapping Musical Notes for Ink Pots

Chapter Text

When Sammy Lawrence first arrived at the rather modest studio which hosted children's beloved Bendy cartoons, he regarded it as little more than a stepping-stone for greater heights in his career. He was unimpressed with the sparse decor and recording studio the building had to offer, as well as his fellow musical staff whose talents he found to be lacking. Indeed, when Sammy entered his makeshift office with only basic supplies, a desk, and a wooden chair waiting for him, he knew he wouldn't be staying long.

Or so he thought, anyway.

As time went on, against his better judgement, Sammy settled into his new workspace. He added some light improvements to his office, including in a radio he could use for inspiration while writing new songs for Bendy & co's cartoon.

He never quite grew what he would call respect for his co-workers, but he did appreciate the fact that they were quick to accept he wanted no part in their after-hours drinks or break room small talk. They left him alone unless a discussion was needed on a particular composition, which Sammy didn't mind, as he was keen to produce good music - even if that music was to be used for a kids' show he didn't particularly care for.

However, given time, even Sammy's opinion on Bendy himself too began to change. He slowly developed a fondness for the little demon, who would often dance animatedly to the tunes he produced, with that ever-present large trademark grin on his face. There was just something unorthodox about a literal devil being animated for children’s cartoons which he found rather humorous.

Still, he regularly reassured himself, his placement at Joey Drew Studios was only a temporary necessity until his work gained more recognition. A time to practice different genres of music and a spot on his resume for future employers. That was all.

For Sammy was someone who privately hungered for greatness. He envisioned himself one day conducting a professional orchestra playing a song he wrote, the end of their performance met with a thunderous applause by a crowd of aristocrats. Yes indeed, he knew himself to be a talented composer and song-writer, Sammy just needed the opportunity to prove it.

Though not quite as glamorous as his fantasy, for the moment Joey Drew helped satisfy these desires of his. Mr. Drew was very generous with the praise he gave out for Sammy's work, commending the man for his efforts.

"Why, with your new music," Mr. Drew once commented, beaming at Sammy excitedly, "even parents will want to get up and shake a leg or two!"

Mr. Drew was clearly very keen to have Sammy recruited to the team, relieved to have a decent music director at last. Though rather eccentric, it was obvious to anyone working there that no one was more passionate about making Bendy a success than Mr. Drew. And, as everyone knew, one of the keys to success with any medium on TV since the advent of sound was a good soundtrack.

This led to Sammy getting on quite well with his boss, as he could appreciate a fellow man dedicated to his work.

Well… at least that was the case, until Mr. Drew started to become a nuisance.

For reasons initially unfathomable to Sammy, over time Mr. Drew experienced a drastic change in character. Before he was absolutely focused on efficiency, motivating his workers to finish good quality cartoons as quickly as possible; the man was a busy body, always rushing around the studio to keep up with every department there. In line with what would be expected of someone in his position, of course.

However, Sammy gradually saw less and less of Mr. Drew. Daily visits turned to weekly visits, weekly visits turned into fortnightly visits, until Sammy was the one who had to go looking for him and ask for prompts on what type of music he was expected to produce next.

“Mr. Drew?” He remembered calling from outside his superior's office, having traversed up multiple rows of stairs just to get there. It was ridiculous how poorly designed the studio was, with multiple departments being so far from each other for no good reason.

“No…” Was the only verbal response he received, followed by a groan.

Sammy rolled his eyes, quite fed up with this childish behaviour and already irritated by the distance he had traveled just to reach the blasted place.

Without even bothering to wait for permission, he swung the door open, turning to frown at his superior pointedly.

Mr. Drew, for his part, blinked in confusion at Sammy, almost as if he didn’t recognise him. After a few moments, he seemed to come to his senses, and shakily stood up from his chair.

“Oh… Hello Sammy,” Mr. Drew greeted with a yawn, looking as if he hadn’t had a good sleep in months. “What is it?”

“Mr. Drew.” Sammy began with a deep breath, trying to control his temper which the other’s appearance only worsened. He was sure the man had succumbed to the likes of Wally Franks’ lazy nonsense, staying up late drinking with friends and coming to work the next day hungover. “You haven’t told me what concepts have been drawn up for Bendy's next episode. I need to know in order to start writing new songs for it.”

“Heheh, oh right, Bendy…” Mr. Drew laughed under his breath, as if he knew something Sammy didn’t. Rather than perturbing the music director, this reaction only served to annoy him further. “Yeah, m’afraid I haven’t quite got to that yet.”

“You… Haven’t got to that yet.” Sammy repeated, eyes widening a fraction. As if he couldn’t quite believe how unashamedly apathetic his once workaholic boss was being. “With all due respect, Mr. Drew, it’s been three weeks.”

“Now, now, don’t you worry yourself none.” He replied, walking up to Sammy to rest his hand on the other man’s shoulder, who stiffened in response. “I’m working on something much better than another animation.”

Sammy raised an eyebrow incredulously, wanting to brush Mr. Drew’s hand off but forcing himself to refrain. “And what do you expect me to do while you’re working on this… superior project?”

Though Sammy’s tone was dripping with sarcasm, Mr. Drew’s tired eyes brightened, “superior project! Yes, I suppose that’s one way to phrase it.” Letting out a short hearty laugh, he went on, “just wait and see Sammy,” and winked at him.

And that was the end of their encounter. Sammy didn’t actually receive the concepts for the next episode until a week later and, when he did, they were obviously rushed and not the usual detailed works his boss pushed himself and the writing staff to produce. It was then Sammy knew there was something very serious going on with Mr. Drew.

Chapter Text

The situation only worsened as Joey Drew’s inattentiveness with visiting departments turned into visiting them far too much for the wrong reasons. Namely, his newfound obsession with ink of all things. Sammy would’ve expected the guy to be downright sick of it considering how often drawing staff had to work with the strong-smelling stuff.

But Mr. Drew proved Sammy dead wrong by pouring money into ‘renovating’ the building by adorning it with multiple pipes, designed to transfer ink from a machine he installed directly above the music department. The studio needed plenty of renovations, that much was definitely true, but a ridiculous number of ink pipes was not one of them.

Especially when they kept leaking and impeding everyone’s progress.

“Progress!? Never mind that, I can’t even get outta here ‘n go home!” Wally Franks once snapped at him, distraught at the prospect of – in Sammy’s view – having to do more work and missing out on his booze back home.

Though, loathe to admit it, Sammy had to acknowledge that Wally had a point. The ink had completely flooded the stairwell, they were all trapped there until the mess was cleaned up.

This happened over and over until everyone got fed up and pushed Mr. Drew to finally fix the problem. His solution? An ugly pump switch smack dab in the middle of Sammy’s office, people in and out all day.

The music director felt his teeth clenching every time someone came in to adjust the damn thing – he hated interruptions. The one thing Sammy liked about his office was the fact that he tended to be left alone in it, unless someone wanted to discuss something relevant to his work. Of course he had to have that ruined for him too.

Mr. Drew was going to drive the company into the ground, he was sure of it. Many people had already left, sick of his antics.

On that note, at first, Sammy viewed the rumours circling about the reasons behind Mr. Drew’s behaviour as nothing more than childish gossip, particularly when he heard them coming out of Wally’s mouth. In Sammy's view, his superior probably had something going on with his home life that was clouding his judgement; perhaps his wife was pursuing a divorce, his son was circling the drain, or maybe Mr. Drew didn’t even have a family and was just becoming disillusioned with cartoons. Hell if Sammy knew, he didn’t have the time to keep up with the intimate details of others' personal lives.

But what he did know, or was at least fairly convinced of, was that it was not some of the utterly ridiculous ideas his co-workers were coming up with. One outrageous example being that Mr. Drew had gone completely insane and joined the Church of Scientology in order to somehow use Bendy and get their message across to children.

Or at least… Sammy was pretty certain that wasn’t the case until Mr. Drew arrived unexpectedly at his office one day, asking Sammy to bring a record and join him in the break room. There, he was met with a number of newly placed pedestals, as well as some very confused staff members carrying their own artefacts. Mr. Drew wasn’t satisfied until he had everyone place their items on the pedestals ‘to appease the gods’, as he’d put it.

After that little incident, Sammy knew Joey Drew Studios was a sinking ship and he began preparing to get out as soon as possible before it capsized.

Or, as Wally more simply put it, “if one more of these pipes burst, I’m outta here!”

Well. No one, not even Sammy, could really argue with that.

It happened to be stormy day when the music director finally steeled himself to quit the place, loud booms of thunder rumbling through the building’s wooden boards. He’d done his ‘work’ for the day, i.e. sitting with his head in his hands because he had nothing to work with and no idea what he was expected to compose.

Though he knew many of his co-workers were actually happy less was being asked of them, Sammy hated it. He was a man who liked to get things done, even if Mr. Drew was determined to cause trouble at every turn. Even dealing with annoying interruptions every minute was better than having nothing to do period.

With a long sigh, he stood up from his chair. Today was the day he’d receive his pay check, at any rate. The perfect time to leave. That is, if Mr. Drew even remembered, or if he had the money at all. Neither would surprise Sammy, personally it baffled him the studio hadn’t gone bankrupt already, what with how few cartoons had been released as of late.

He turned to glance at his desk, staring at a music sheet littered with Bendy doodles. He wasn’t quite sure what possessed him to draw the little fellow, for even as bored as he was, Sammy wasn’t the drawing type. The doodles showed this, with Bendy’s face being rather asymmetrical no matter how many times he tried to sketch it.

In truth, Sammy was feeling unusually sad about leaving. Though he hadn’t planned to stay long at all, his time there hadn’t been entirely unpleasant; while a bit ashamed to admit it, he had begun to really gain an appreciation for the final product of his combined efforts with other staff. He could understand Bendy’s popularity, the art department did an excellent job of animating the iconic character, not to mention the catchy music the series contained – if he did say so himself.

They had also managed to recruit a fair number of more talented musical production staff since he joined, for example Susie Campbell, whose singing was so above par he wasn’t entirely sure why she had decided to join the studio. Young and pretty, she could easily land a better-paying job as a professional singer, if she so wished.

However, the moments he enjoyed his time there weren’t going to stop him getting out of a dying animation company. He crumpled up the paper and tossed it in the bin, as if it were all his memories there he was throwing away.

But before Sammy could even take a step towards the door, Mr. Drew burst into the room.

“Sammy, there you are!” He exclaimed in relief, as if he’d needed to search the entire building for Sammy, despite the fact that the music director spent nearly all of his time holed up in his office and his superior should've known this.

“Err, Mr. Drew?” He replied, rather taken aback at the other’s sudden appearance.

“Come, come quickly, I have something to show you.” Without even pausing to wait for Sammy to respond, Mr. Drew whirled around and hurried out, apparently assuming the other would just follow him unquestioningly.

“Uh, all right, but Mr. Drew I have something I urgently need to talk to you about…” He tried to interject, picking up the pace to catch up with his boss.

Mr. Drew didn’t respond. Sammy very much doubted the other even heard him. He seemed dead set on leading Sammy back to his office, which meant more climbing up rows of stairs. Wonderful.

Sammy struggled to keep up, being hunched over a desk all day not leaving his back in the best state. And while Sammy Lawrence was a rather thin man, he was not remotely in shape. Hence his growing hatred for the building’s layout.

By the time they reached Mr. Drew’s office, Sammy was thoroughly out of breath. Whatever the other had summoned him for, he thought to himself, it had better be good.

Following Mr. Drew into the room, Sammy headed straight for the chair facing his boss’ desk and plopped himself down on it, his back aching. Rather than immediately joining Sammy, Mr. Drew took a moment to look outside the door, seemingly scanning the hall to see if anyone was around. An action which caused Sammy to further doubt his employer’s sanity, as he couldn’t imagine a reason their discussion would be so interesting anyone would want to waste their free time eavesdropping.

Sammy's discomfort only increased when Mr. Drew carefully shut and locked the door behind him, stashing the key in his back pocket. Perhaps he was wrong to doubt his co-workers after all…

“Mr. Drew–,“ he tried to say, becoming visibly nervous as it dawned on him he was trapped in a room with a man most of his peers speculated had become a cultist.

“Yes, yes, just a moment there Sammy,” Mr. Drew interrupted, rushing over to his desk to rummage around for something in its draws before finally sitting down. “Ah! There we are.”

Just then, a poorly timed roll of thunder outside had Sammy nearly jumping out of his chair. Trying to calm down, he sucked in a deep breath and wrung his hands together, focusing his gaze on the man in front of him.

Mr. Drew regarded him, seemingly unaffected by the noise outside. “Do you remember when I told you I was working on something better than more cartoons?” He asked, expression hardening into a more serious one.

“…Yes. Yes, I do.” Sammy said slowly, mind wandering back to that time. He’d honestly not taken the other seriously, assuming he was making excuses for his tardiness in providing the concepts.

“It took longer than I thought it would but–”, Mr. Drew finally brought out what he’d been searching for, “–by the gods, Sammy, I’m nearly finished.” Placing it on the desk, he unrolled what appeared to be a large sheet of paper.  

Sammy stared at it unsurely. “What is this?” He queried, the drawings depicted on the paper not looking like any kind of character concepts he’d seen. Upon closer inspection, they appeared to be of that annoying ink machine, the one that had been a menace since Mr. Drew installed it.

“Updated blueprints for the ink machine.” He answered, looking rather proud of himself.

“…Updated?” Sammy couldn’t quite believe what he was hearing. “You want there to be more ink?”

Mr. Drew sighed, noting his employee’s unhappy tone. “Ah, right, I suppose I have a bit of explaining to do first.”

While he reached into his drawers, presumably for something else to show Sammy, the music director’s gaze remained transfixed on the blueprints. There was something strange about them which made him unable to peel his eyes away, though he couldn’t quite put his finger on what. In the top right, the paper read ‘ink machine chk2’. A second model, perhaps?

“Now, for what I’m about to show you, you must keep it completely quiet from the others.” Mr. Drew’s voice snapped Sammy out of his trance and his eyes shot back up to his superior. “Y’understand?”

“All right.” Sammy agreed, part of him itching to interrupt and say he didn’t care what Mr. Drew was going on about, nor that accursed ink machine, and that he just wanted his pay check and to leave and never come back. But a larger part of him knew he was locked in and, more than that, Sammy was genuinely curious about what had possessed Mr. Drew to build the machine causing everyone so much trouble, not to mention change so much as a person.

Initially, he was disappointed with what he saw. Mr. Drew carefully placed a jar on his desk, sealed tightly shut with a lid. It appeared to be roughly half-full of plain old ink – nothing else special about it.

“Erm, Mr. Drew?” He gave the other a sidelong glance, not sure what to make of it.

“Aww, seems he’s shy at the moment.” Mr. Drew tapped at the jar and, when nothing happened, he firmly grasped and shook the container vigorously.

This only caused Sammy to feel even more concerned for his superior’s mental state. Were his co-workers right about Mr. Drew being completely off his rocker?

Finally, after Mr. Drew set the jar back down, something began to happen.

The ink moved

Swirling and shifting, part of it gradually morphed into a little figure of sorts. It was human-like in its presentation, though the ink creature lacked legs – only consisting of a torso, head, and arms which seemed rather disjointed. The way it moved was equally off looking, the thing’s body twisting and jerking sporadically with the effort.

Sammy’s eyes widened as he took in the sight of it.

"Wha..." He tried to form a coherent sentence and promptly failed.

Sammy blinked, expecting what he assumed was an illusion to disappear at any moment. But it remained.

He was utterly horrified, yet… the longer he stared at it, the more intrigued he was by the bizarre being. Was this some kind of magic trick?

“There we go.” Mr. Drew breathed a quiet sigh of relief, smiling down warmly at the ink. “Lil’ fella just needed some encouragement.”

“I… What on earth?” Sammy tried again, taking a moment to collect himself, unable to fully process what he was seeing. “What is that?”

The ink creature then turned to Sammy, apparently noticing him. The music director shuddered as it attempted to lunge at him, instead splattering against the side of the glass.

“Mm, t’be honest I’m not sure what to call him yet.” Mr. Drew answered fondly while the ink reformed, like he had just presented Sammy with a puppy and they were having a casual conversation about what to name it, rather than a sentient pile of ink that would not stop moving on its own.

Still not sure he believed Mr. Drew wasn't playing an elaborate prank on him, Sammy asked, “may I take a closer look?”

“Sure, sure, just make sure not to open the lid.” He said quickly, not at all bothered by the request. “They tend to whittle away into nothing unless surrounded by enough ink.”

They?”  Sammy asked in alarm as he moved to gently pick it up. The man’s bony figures delicately rotated the container and, to his amazement, the ink… thing remained, clearly three-dimensional. It ducked down lower into the liquid pile as he did so, apparently changing its mind on wanting to approach Sammy and instead acting rather wary of him. Which was laughable, in a sense, as Sammy was sure humanity would be far more scared of it than the ink could possibly be of them.

“Yup, I’ve managed to create quite a few of the lil’ fellas.” Mr. Drew replied nonchalantly, content to watch it shuffle about. “None much bigger than this one, though. Seems more, err, substance is required for that.”

Taking a deep breath, Sammy set it down again, undecided on how to feel about how casual Mr. Drew was acting about all this.

For its part, the inky being began to mellow out, settling in the middle of the jar.

“How did you do it?” Sammy eventually questioned after a short silence, not positive he wanted to know.

“Now that’s the peculiar part, I’m not entirely sure.” Mr. Drew responded, scratching his chin thoughtfully. “I ah… Well, let’s just say I’ve done quite a bit of research into the paranormal, among other things. It’s always been a bit of an interest of mine, you know? A hobby. Gave me inspiration for the episodes sometimes, hearing about all the weird things out there.”

Sammy swallowed dryly at this news, feeling conflicted. So, the occult stuff was probably true, at least partially.

“But to cut a long story short, it happened by accident.” He went on, being deliberately vague, deciding Sammy wasn’t quite ready to hear the full specifics of his rituals just yet. “And since then, I’ve been slowly working on improving them.”

“Okay…” Sammy replied, understanding this was not the time to press Mr. Drew further. “But why have you told me this?”

“Sammy, surely you should know there’s no one I’ve been more pleased to have employed here.” Mr. Drew said earnestly before carrying on, “I’ve told you because I want you to help me.”

“Help you? With what exactly?” Sammy knitted his eyebrows, feeling suspicious of his employer’s intentions. He couldn’t understand how Mr. Drew possibly expected him to be of any use in this. He was a music writer not a… spell-caster, or whatever means the man had used to bring the fluid to life.

“Why, with updating the machine, of course.” Mr. Drew responded, like the answer was plain as day. “There’s quite a bit more work to be done, though these blueprints are a good step forward.” 

Sammy shook his head, not comprehending.

“Mr. Drew, I’m going to be frank with you. While I, err… appreciate the fact you’ve entrusted me with the knowledge of, well–,” his eyes deliberately darted to the ink creature before returning to his employer, “–this, I just don’t see how I’ll be of any use in improving your ink machine. I’m a music writer, not an engineer.”

Mr. Drew leaned back in his chair. “Don’t worry yourself, Sammy, you don’t need to be. I actually have another helping me with that.” He clarified. “What I need right now is someone in the know to keep things runnin’ while I’m busy working on this, something I already know you can do a fine job at as music director. As I’m sure you realised, I’m having a bit of a hard time getting cartoons out at the moment. Can’t finish upgrading the machine if we go bankrupt first, y’know?”

Sammy's vision settled back on the container, digesting Mr. Drew's words. The small monster within it gradually shrunk without any outside stimulation, sinking down into the ink pile below it.

Having understood, he started to carefully think over his employer’s proposal. All this was a lot to swallow, to be sure. Ink coming to life? The whole concept was so absurd, almost like something out of a Bendy cartoon.

With one little ink jar, Sammy felt a significant portion of his concept of reality collapsing.

Yet… Strangely, rather than outright rejecting and shutting down Mr. Drew’s idea, Sammy felt himself wanting to consider it more. Eyes drifting from the ink back to the blueprints, he knew there was something special about them.

Meanwhile, in his peripheral vision, Sammy could see a Bendy cut-out in Mr. Drew’s office which seemed to be peering at him, though it hadn’t moved. Probably also interested in his decision, he mused, it may as well be alive too.

Mr. Drew interrupted his train of thought. “Just think of the possibilities, Sammy. We’ll all be famous as inventors! This will be bigger than anything any studio's ever created.” He proclaimed excitedly, trying to persuade Sammy with his words.

Joey Drew was playing all of the right cards to get Sammy to comply, knowing the man craved for far more than just a high-ranking spot at his company. He could guess Sammy’s type. Quiet, reserved, though personally assured of his own expertise and deeply needing recognition for it. Mr. Drew was much more astute judge of character than he let on, for Bendy studios would be nothing without a decent staff team.

The silence stretched on as Sammy continued to think things over. 

Finally, he spoke. “Mr. Drew, pray tell, what exactly is your end goal with all this?" Rather than answering properly, choosing his words carefully, Sammy continued to ask questions - wanting to know what exactly he may be getting himself into. "What is it you hope to achieve?” 

There was a beat of silence as Mr. Drew looked him dead in the eyes.

Sammy held his breath, fearing the older man’s answer.

“My end goal here, Sammy… is to bring Bendy to life.”

Chapter Text

Sammy sat back in his office chair, thinking over the conversation he’d had with Mr. Drew yesterday. Or perhaps that description wasn’t entirely accurate, it was more like he couldn’t stop thinking about it.

Even after their conversation finished and he made his way home in the storm's pouring rain. Changed his clothes and dried himself off. Crawled into bed and spent the night tossing and turning, falling into a restless sleep. 

Mr. Drew's words just continued to replay over and over in his mind.

Bring Bendy to life…

...

What a terrifyingly wonderful idea.

Sammy turned away from the music sheet in front of him, allowing himself to take a break from his work. He couldn't focus on music right now. And anyway, he wasn't particularly happy with the motif he'd used for his next composition - hated it, actually. It didn't fit at all with the overall mood of the piece and would probably have his co-workers complaining. They only ever got mouthy with him when he messed up, never commending him when he wrote something well. 

That was part of the reason he appreciated Mr. Drew so much, as one of the few people who actually acknowledged his talent at the studios. Despite how busy the man surely was, his employer was always prepared to take the time out of his day to listen to Sammy's work, often expressing how lucky he was to have such a capable music director at his company. Or at least that was the case, until Mr. Drew started to focus on other things, namely working on that ink machine, which he now knew the true purpose of.

As his mind drifted to yesterday's conversation once again, Sammy had to accept he really couldn't concentrate on his job right now. But truthfully, perhaps this wasn't actually too surprising, considering how monumental yesterday could be for him if Mr. Drew accomplished his goal.

Bringing Bendy to life...

What would that mean for him?

Sammy reflected on this. He let himself be momentarily lost in grandiose visions of his name (and Mr. Drew’s, he added as an afterthought) printed on all the papers’ headlines. The world would be undoubtedly awestruck - nobody would be able to believe it.

The man's face lit up with a rare grin as similar images flashed through his mind - of famous scientists lining up to shake his hand, of people congratulating him for achieving the impossible, of hordes and hordes of grateful Bendy fans and their parents. All of them absolutely thrilled at the prospect of meeting the little devil in the flesh.

If they were able to, Sammy Lawrence would become one of the pioneers for a new future. He would revolutionise the animation industry. Leave his mark on the world.

And Sammy was so, so desperate for such recognition. Especially now that it may be possible. Now that he could feel it within his grasp. Who could've correctly guessed such a thing would be thanks to Joey Drew Studios? The very company only months ago he'd been so dismissive of. 

How wrong he'd been to so harshly judge the place. How very, very wrong

Bring Bendy to life... 

Yes... they could manage.

And he...

He would be the one to do it.

At this admission, Sammy could feel euphoric giggles bubbling in his chest, reaching a crescendo of loud gleeful laughter.

He couldn't remember the last time he'd genuinely laughed. And what a freeing feeling it was. Why on earth didn't he allow himself to loosen up and do this more often?

So lost in his reverie, Sammy didn’t notice Wally Franks’ entrance. The man cautiously stepped into his room, staring at him in concern.

“Uhh, hello…?” Wally said, clearing his throat to get Sammy's attention. 

Oh. Right. That was why. 

“Hehahahh... What?” His head whipped around to face Wally, face reddening as embarrassment washed over him. “Oh. Oh, Wally, it’s just you.” He sighed, calming down. Sammy regarded the man the way one would a particularly irritating fly buzzing back into view. 

He couldn't because he was constantly dealing with inconsiderate peers who were happy to bother him at any moment

“Umm, hey, Sammy…” Wally greeted, fidgeting nervously. He felt rather uncomfortable to have seen his usually emotionally flat superior laughing so much to himself; maybe Mr. Drew wasn’t the only one crackers around here. Gathering his nerve, he asked, “have you, uhh, seen my keys?”

Gods, of all people to walk in on him now, why did it have to be Wally? Now everyone would know about his outburst before lunch break. Lovely.

“That’s Mr. Lawrence to you,” he snapped. Even after he’d been promoted, Wally insisted on being disrespectful. Typical. “Your keys…? Oh, for heaven’s sake, Wally. Don’t tell me you’ve actually managed to lose them again.”

Sammy suppressed an eye roll, annoyed to have his thoughts interrupted by Wally’s incompetence and not unaware of the way the man was staring at him like he was an escaped patient from the insane asylum.

“’Fraid so, Sammy- Uh. I mean, Mr. Lawrence.” The janitor corrected himself. “I looked up and down this whole building and I can’t find heads or tails of the darn things anywhere.”

Sammy resisted the urge to facepalm. Wally was easily his least favourite co-worker. Always incompetent. Always lazy. Never committed to his work.

But he supposed someone needed to do cleaning duty.

“…I see. The keys to your closet, right? Go ask Mr. Drew if he has any spare.”

“Uhh, right! Will do.” Wally scratched his head awkwardly, not sure what else to say. “Well, um, I’ll be off then.” He finished lamely, leaving and closing the door behind him.


Ugh.

Sammy’s good mood temporarily soured, he wondered if he might have got ahead of himself earlier.

For one, fame and fortune aside, he hadn’t really considered the full real-world implications of being able to bring inanimate objects, more precisely fluid, to life.

Would the impact be positive? Sammy hummed to himself thoughtfully.

Hm. Well, Bendy seemed like a friendly enough fellow, at least. 

And, from a certain angle, the little ink creature Mr. Drew had presented him with was rather... endearing - the way it shrank away from him and gradually relaxed after being left alone for some time. Perhaps people would like to have one of their own?

He grimaced as the image of it returned to his mind at full force. Spasming and jerking, body looking human and yet distinctly not all at the same time. 

...No, never mind. Endearing was absolutely the last word he'd use to describe it. Regardless of how much fondness Mr. Drew expressed towards it, Sammy just couldn't bring himself to feel the same. 

Ah, well, that was fine. They would just have to make sure Bendy's movements looked much better. That was the job of animators anyway, wasn't it? Using enough frames to make their characters' interactions as smooth-looking as possible? If it could be managed with ink on paper, he didn't see why it couldn't be managed with ink on its own - especially ink that happened to be sentient.

He knew he was drastically oversimplifying in his rationalisation but he didn't care, there was no point speculating much further when he had no idea how the things were made anyway.

On that note, clearly he didn't have Mr. Drew's full confidence just yet, as he was still unsure of the processes behind creating the ink creatures. This was a problem because for anyone to care about his contribution, he needed to play as big a role as possible in Bendy's formation.

He knew there were, understandably, many things Mr. Drew was hiding from him. Sammy would just need to take the time to gain more of his employer's trust. He would have to show Mr. Drew that he was prepared to be just as committed to the task as his employer was. 

The music director's eyes narrowed as he suddenly remembered Mr. Drew mentioned another was helping him with the ink machine. Did the man tell that person first? Or were they unaware, just a simple engineer hired to increase the volume of ink?

When looking over the ink machine blueprints, he did vaguely recall seeing an unfamiliar name in the bottom right, though he hadn't paid enough attention to remember it. At the time, drawings of the new machine itself had commanded all his attention instead. It was a shame, but he supposed he could always ask Mr. Drew for another look next time they met. 

Furthermore, there was still the strong possibility Mr. Drew was just pulling his leg with all this. It would be an impressive feat in and of itself to have created the illusion his superior did, but even without the bringing-ink-to-life thing, the man had always been peculiar. Sammy wouldn't put it past him to use the ink jar to try a weird trust exercise with his employees.

...If that was the case, he had fallen for it - hook, line, and sinker.

Ouch, his pride.

With a haggard sigh, Sammy forced himself to push these negative thoughts aside.

Even if what Mr. Drew presented to him was all an elaborate rouse, he had to remember that their session still ended with Sammy receiving not only his pay check, but a promotion and a pay rise. This granted him the additional title of assistant manager - along with his previous one of music department director, of course. So he couldn't complain too much. 

Though, as much as the little ink monster had unsettled him, Sammy desperately hoped it was real. 

For he was determined to have his time in the limelight, which the musician felt he more than deserved. 

There was a reason Sammy was stuck in Joey Drew Studios rather than composing for a more affluent audience and, in his view anyway, it wasn't due to a lack of talent or hard work. His family had been of average class, something that was currently a major disadvantage in the music industry and indeed society as a whole, both things awash with rampant classism. As a result, they didn't have nearly enough money to send him to a music-oriented college, nor did he have the time to work for a scholarship - immediately needing to provide for his family. 

It had taken him a huge amount of effort to get where he was today, writing music for a company. Even one with a workspace as shoddy looking as Joey Drew Studios.

Sammy abruptly ended that train of thought, not wanting to think about his family or the past right now.

He checked his wrist-watch to distract himself. The clock showed nearly an hour had passed.

His eyes widened in dismay.

Nearly springing out of his chair, Sammy practically flew out of his office. He'd wasted far too much time.

Ink monsters or no ink monsters, he wasn't going to become a lazy slacker like many of his co-workers. He had plenty more work to do now, what with the added job of filling in for Mr. Drew. And with everyone's boss absent for so long, there was much that needed to be done to get the company back to its old level of efficiency with releasing cartoons. 

Still, his time hadn't entirely been wasted, at least. Having organised his thoughts, Sammy felt much more motivated to get his work done. And wanting to make a good impression on his first day in this new position, Sammy decided to start with the heart of the studio - the art department. Maybe he should have brought a notebook, it would've been useful to make notes on how everyone was progressing with the long overdue next episode. 

Oh well, he supposed that was just something for him to remember to bring in tomorrow.


By the end of the day, Sammy decided it was a damn good thing he was being paid so much extra, because managing the place was depleting his limited reserves of patience and it was depleting them fast.

Sammy was not a people person by any means. Interacting with others drained him very quickly, even if the conversations were strictly work-focused. Not to mention, on top of that, there was the endless wandering he had to do to get from department to department. But, on the bright side, at least Mr. Drew seemed to have done the job of letting everyone know of his new position, so no further explanation was needed. 

The less talking Sammy had to do, the better, as far as he was concerned.


And so it was that Sammy carried on as music director whilst also doing his best to manage the company like its owner did. Stressful days passed by in a blur, Sammy often collapsing from exhaustion by the time he got home, waking up many a time in his work clothes. 

What the music director didn't have in terms of Mr. Drew's charisma or ability with talking to people, he made up for through sheer hard work alone. Sammy kept organised and detailed accounts of each department's progress and used them to be as strict as possible. Not a single deadline missed got passed him. He gained a bit of a name for himself in the company as a slave driver in the process, pushing everyone harder than ever before to make up for all the lost time.

Privately, he had little sympathy for his peers' griping, because he blamed them for using Mr. Drew's absence as an excuse to put out less work - especially the writing department. Which had, in the past, caused him a lot of trouble as music director because he could hardly compose any new songs without knowing the planned content for the next cartoon. 


Mr. Drew, still wanting to be as involved as possible in his company, would ask to meet up with Sammy at the end of every week to get a solid idea of how everyone was doing. He also offered to be a mediator between departments or workers when conflicts arose between them got too personal for Sammy to handle. Which was a real relief for the worn out music director, who had absolutely no patience for such nonsense. Leaving him alone with it would probably result in Joey Drew Studios' workforce shrinking exponentially as more and more workers got fired - he'd surely be a disaster for their production rates.

Sammy's only complaint was that he wished Mr. Drew would take some of his suggestions more seriously, particularly the ones pertaining to the building's layout.

"You know, Mr. Drew..." He once began after a particularly tiring day, head propped up in his hands as he leaned on his superior's desk. "Along with the current renovations you're making, perhaps you could also change the locations of some of our departments. It would make things much more manageable if everyone were closer together."

"Nonsense!" Mr. Drew laughed, like Sammy had just told a particularly humorous joke. "The distance just means everyone can get some good healthy exercise, which is important for people like us stuck in our offices all day."

"Right..." Sammy had agreed reluctantly, not surprised the rather well-built man didn't mind the trek. 

And while Sammy would let him know how the cartoons were progressing, Mr. Drew would occasionally release snippets of detail about how things were going on his end of things. 

For example...

"Yup, she's been working beautifully actually. Murray's doing a fine job taking care of her." He'd said, answering Sammy's query about the ink machine.

"Good. I'm glad to hear it." Sammy sat up, his interest piquing at the mention of Murray.

Murray, or Murray Hill, was the previously unfamiliar name the music director had noticed on the ink machine blueprints. Mr. Drew had let him get a second look at them, later allowing Sammy to keep them stashed away in his office once no longer needed. If his superior was being truthful, the man had no knowledge of the ink experiments going on and was merely mentioned as someone to contact if repairs were needed.

"Mhmm. With all the new ink we have, I'm considering trying to raise more of those poor little creatures actually." His eyes looked forlorn for a moment as he went on. "I've rather missed our old inky friend, I never even got to name him."

Ah, yes. That was right. The original ink being Sammy saw had apparently 'passed away' or at least ceased its movement for the moment. Though it wasn't a good sign for creating Bendy, Sammy couldn't deny his feelings of relief, as he was sure Mr. Drew would happily bring it out to say hello every meeting otherwise.

What Mr. Drew found lovable about that ugly moving blob, he'd never know.

"Oh? You haven't made anymore since?" That aside, Sammy was surprised. Had Mr. Drew just been pouring all his time into constructing the new machine's model? "Is it... difficult to make them?" He asked, attempting to pry for more information.

"Difficult? Hmm, well, I suppose you could say that..." The man looked away, the question making him pause for thought. Deciding this wasn't the time to elaborate, Mr. Drew changed the topic. "Well, anyway, I remember last meeting you said Miss Susie was having issues with another worker in your department? Did that get sorted?" 

Sammy felt a jolt of irritation as Mr. Drew rapidly switched subjects. He did this every single time it came up, despite the fact months had passed since he confided with Sammy about the ink experiments. Despite that, the music director was clearly still here, working hard to keep the company running. It was obvious he didn't plan to leave anytime soon. So why couldn't his boss just trust him already?

Sammy tried to keep his facial expression neutral as he reassured Mr. Drew that, yes, obviously the problem had been sorted. 

Hands on his lap, Sammy dug his nails into the fabric of his trousers out of frustration. 

Patience was a virtue he very obviously lacked.

But luckily for Sammy, he wouldn't have to wait much longer.


It was during a late evening when Sammy was seriously reevaluating Mr. Drew's sincerity about the ink jar that he finally got some of the answers he wanted. Or had wanted, at least.

Sat in his office chair long after work hours had ended, Sammy yawned. He was bone-tired and fighting a losing battle to keep his eyes open.

Sammy was so utterly sick of the constant work, work, work his new position had. This was honestly a strange sentiment for the musician to have because usually he enjoyed his work. Working kept him busy and it kept his mind focused, it made him feel like he was actually being productive with his life.

Music in particular was something he loved to be immersed in - it was a form of escapism for Sammy. He loved to get lost in his own melodies, especially when he knew others would soon be enjoying them once he finished. Sammy wasn't a particularly emotional person, but he had to admit it gave him a bit of a warm feeling inside.

His new added position, however, had none of these benefits. It required far more contact with others than he was comfortable with and the vast majority of time he used to pour into composing had been lost to badgering employees to meet deadlines, traveling across the studio, and constantly keeping up with everyone's progress.

Everyone's stress would reach maximum nearing the next cartoon's release date, there would be a brief time of relief and respite when it was finished, and then the process would just start all over again. Over and over, round and around the cycle went, pieces of Sammy's sanity going with it.

More worryingly, Sammy felt all this was causing problems with his composing, as his songs unintentionally began to take a darker turn. Upbeat melodies just started to sound sarcastic, while sadder ones for emotional scenes were downright melancholic. These tracks just weren't fitting for most Bendy episodes and his peers would tell him as much.

To deal with stress, usually Sammy would write said pieces for himself as a form of venting, but lately he just didn't have the time to. Often rushing to finish in the middle of the night, he found his pent up feelings bled into his actual music instead. 

With all this in mind, he had to wonder.

Was any of it actually worth it?

The constant stress. Sleep deprivation. Muscle soreness and pounding headaches he typically went to bed with.

Increased pay or none, Sammy felt like he couldn't do this much longer.

As excited as he had been at the prospect of bringing Bendy to life, and truthfully still was, he was currently doubting he would ever be remotely involved other than doing Mr. Drew's dirty work - if it happened at all. The man hadn't told him a damn thing since and Sammy was seriously doubting he ever would. 

He groaned in frustration.

Not bothering to tidy up his desk, Sammy stood up from his chair and stretched. His thoughts having been reduced to nothing but whining, Sammy supposed this would have to be it for today.

But, just as he was preparing to leave, a rapping on the door stopped his movements. How odd. He would've thought for sure everyone had long left by this time.

Perhaps someone was also working late like him? Though he hadn't heard any footsteps, either.

"Sammy?" The man murmured, before opening the door. 

Curiously, his guest turned out to be Mr. Drew.

"Mr. Drew?" Sammy said, turning to meet his superior, automatically lowering his voice to match the other man's. Had something gone wrong?

More unusual still, he was being so quiet. Mr. Drew almost always came storming in without a single care what Sammy was doing, it was one of those things that never failed to irritate him about his superior.

"Ah, good, you're still here." He breathed a sigh of relief. "Wasn't sure if you'd be, I know it's pretty late."

"Oh, yes, I tend to stay late most days organising notes." How could he not? Sammy wished he had enough time to be able to go home earlier. "Anyway, what is it? Something happen?"

"No, no, nothing's happened. Not yet, anyway." Mr. Drew paused, choosing his next words carefully. "But I thought tonight I'd finally test out our new ink machine. Would you like to join me?"

...Test out the new ink machine?

Well. This was unexpected.

Sometimes Sammy wondered if Mr. Drew had the ability to read his thoughts, as it was uncanny how often the man managed to appear at the exact right times with these things. Whenever Sammy was getting doubtful or feeling the pressure, there Mr. Drew was, ready to help. No wonder the place had gone to shambles once he started to become more busy with other things, everyone had probably become used to him appearing at the perfect time to get them through their work.

"Yes!"  Sammy said much louder than he intended to, elated. "Err, I mean... yes. I'd be happy to help, if I could." 

Mr. Drew's smirked for a fraction of a second, sensing his employee's eagerness. But his expression was soon replaced with a much more somber one. 

"All right. Let's go."

Chapter Text

With that, the two left Sammy's office together. They walked in silence, passing by empty rooms on their way out of the music department. Sammy, a certified introvert, didn't normally mind the lack of conversation, but for once he wished Mr. Drew would say something. Not hearing much at all about it prior to this, Sammy assumed he'd at least be getting some kind of warning of what to expect. But his employer was completely unreadable, eyes remaining focused straight ahead, not once glancing at Sammy. 

He didn't even have physical exhaustion to distract him, as Sammy had slowly become accustomed to the great distances he had to travel, having walked up and down these same corridors and steps on a daily basis. Indeed, it had become routine for him by now, though still not one he remotely enjoyed. It just wasted so much of his time; Sammy estimated he spent at least an hour a day just traveling back and forth across the unnecessarily large expanse of the studio. An hour a day equalled five hours of the working week, which meant about twenty hours a month, which meant...

Sammy carried on multiplying the numbers in his head, trying to keep himself preoccupied to avoid the feelings of trepidation gradually creeping up on him.

It didn't help that every corner they turned, there seemed to be a Bendy cut-out waiting for them. Watching gleefully as they got closer and closer to their destination, pacman-like eyes not looking the least bit friendly despite the large cheshire grins etched onto their features.

Huh. Had there always been this number of them lying about? Sammy had never really figured out why so many were necessary, but apparently they'd been made long before he worked there. Perhaps they'd been useful as references?

Well, regardless of what they were once used for, right now all they were serving to do was make Sammy more and more uncomfortable. He'd never really noticed how eerie the place could be when it got late, especially with most of the lights off. It didn't help that every floorboard in the building had decided to be especially noisy tonight, many of them creaking loudly under his weight. 

It was unnerving.

Just as Sammy was really beginning to feel his skin crawl, they finally reached the room, its door shut. He took in a deep breath as Mr. Drew moved to open it, hesitantly following the man inside. He had a bad feeling in his gut about this. 

But initially, rather than fearful, Sammy was confused by what he saw.

A long line of candles on the floor had been used to illuminate the machine, with all the room's electrical lights switched off. 

Sammy frowned, rather bothered by this. The entire building was made of almost nothing but wood. Surely Mr. Drew knew any fires would have the entire studio down in flames within minutes?

But rather than complaining, Sammy took the time to scan the rest of the room, his gaze eventually resting on an old metal bucket. Full to the brim with ink, it had been placed underneath the machine's nozzle. Empty jars of differing sizes and their respective lids lay nearby, presumably useful for collecting the ink creatures afterwards. He guessed maybe more than one fluid "friend" was going to be made, unless it was a precautionary measure to have multiple at the ready, which would make equal sense. 

The strangest object of all he noted, however, was something in the middle of the clutter - a black book.

Now, where had he seen that before?

Mr. Drew shut the door behind him, the sound pulling Sammy out of his thoughts. Disturbingly, he could hear the click of a lock as the other man did so.

Sammy gulped.

He was trapped again, it seemed.

Without commenting on this, Mr. Drew walked over and leaned down to pick up the peculiar book. On its cover, Sammy could read 'The Illusion of Living' and then Mr. Drew's full name. So, it was a book he'd written then?

Squinting, Sammy tried again to remember where he'd first seen it. His memory supplied him with an image of when he'd been in the break room with its pedestals, his co-workers present. Ah, yes, that was right. It had been placed on one, face down if he recalled correctly, so he hadn't seen the cover. At the time, the whole scenario had been so bizarre, Sammy hardly questioned its presence. His mind was much more focused on figuring out why Mr. Drew thought his record of all things would be pleasing any gods, a question that still hadn't been answered. 

"Let's see..." Mr. Drew interrupted his musings, continuing to speak in hushed tones as if someone may be trying to listen in on them. 

This fact only made Sammy feel more on edge, becoming impatient as Mr. Drew took painfully long to turn through the pages. He crossed his arms over his chest, trying to hide his apparent nervousness.

"Mr. Drew?" Sammy asked quietly, suddenly feeling like he just wanted to get this over with and go home. 

The other man didn't reply until he stopped at a certain page, supposedly having found what he was looking for.

"Sammy... you wanted to know how my ink friend was created, didn't you?" Mr. Drew turned back to him, regarding him seriously.

Sammy replied with a hesitant nod.

"Good. Well then, step back, I'm going to show you."

While it had been true...

Sammy wasn't so sure if he wanted to know anymore.



Rather than waiting for another reply, Mr. Drew held the book to his chest to balance it, and knelt down. He leaned forward to dip his index finger into the ink-filled bucket.  

Sammy took a step back.

Apparently using the page as a guide, Mr. Drew began to draw a small shape on the floorboards. His movements were slow, cautious. Whatever he was drawing, it was clear he had to be very precise with it.

From the angle Sammy was at, he couldn't quite tell what it was, until Mr. Drew finally stood back up again and revealed it to him.

The shape...

It was a pentagram. A pentagram encased in a summoning circle.

Sammy inhaled sharply.

Good god what had he got himself into. 

"Now, err, here's the grisly part." Mr. Drew explained tactfully, noting Sammy's troubled expression. "You see, these things, uh, they need some... substance." 

The man pulled something Sammy couldn't immediately discern out of his pocket. Though it did look familiar, in fact Sammy was pretty sure he'd occasionally seen them lying around the art department, the name didn't immediately come to mind. He assumed it must be a work tool of some sort.

"...Substance?" Sammy echoed, struggling to keep his breathing even. The anxiety he felt was beginning to suffocate him.

Mr. Drew extended the utensil, revealing a sharp edge.

"That's right."

It was a boxcutter.

Sammy's heart plunged into his stomach. 

Oh no.

No, no, no, no...

He took two more shocked steps back.

Either unaware or unconcerned of his employee's internal panic, Mr. Drew brought the tool to the palm of his own hand. Without hesitation and much too fast for Sammy to mentally prepare himself, Mr. Drew dug the blade into his flesh and sliced neatly across. 

Sammy watched in horror as an angry red line appeared in response across the other's skin, the cut deep enough for blood to be already flowing out of it.

"Phew. I'm glad to have that over with." Mr. Drew said, his tone light-hearted, before retracting and stuffing the boxcutter back into his side pocket. He stole a glance back at Sammy, whose jaw had dropped. Mr. Drew stifled an amused laugh, secretly taking some pleasure in seeing his normally cool-headed music director looking so thoroughly rattled. They'd barely even started.

The man crouched and allowed his blood to drip into the circle, readily kneading the skin around the wound with his other hand to force more of the necessary liquid out. After a few moments, he was satisfied with the amount drawn and leaned forward to tip the bucket a fraction, just enough to send some of the ink from it splattering all over over the floor.

Sammy could hear his heart pounding in his ears as ink flowed across the floor, covering the pentagram.

He could guess what was coming next.

"Now we wait." Mr. Drew drawled, reaching out for an empty jar. He was speaking so casually, it concerned Sammy. There was nothing casual about summoning the god-knows-what-they-were from a pile of ink that could probably be put to better use drawing the next episode. In Sammy's opinion, his employer's reactions were wholly inappropriate for the situation at hand.

But regardless of Sammy's mental complaints, Mr. Drew's demeanor remained unchanged. Decidedly having finished his task, the man stepped back to join Sammy.

And for a brief, blissful moment, everything was still.

Then... it started.

Like water boiling in a pot, the ink began to bubble and froth. At first, it simmered gently, but not more then a few seconds passed before the frothing became aggressive - the fluid vibrating violently as it became more and more viscous under the pentagram's spell. 

Until, eventually, from the aggressive spluttering mass - something began to emerge.

Soft hissing groans could be heard as the creature appeared, apparently struggling to form. Thick clots of ink clustered together to form the things' head and body, which were held up off the floor by two messy stumps Sammy assumed would soon become arms.

Though he wanted to move back further, an ice cold feeling of dread had Sammy rooted to the spot as the hideous beast rose up higher from the ink. His heart continued to beat painfully hard from behind his ribcage - so loudly he was sure the thing must be able to hear it. Sammy tried to scream, but found all that came out were strangled coughing sounds, his lungs bereft of air. He had completely forgotten to breathe.

The monster wasn't concerned by his terror. If anything, his fear seemed to be fueling its motions, as it tried harder than ever before to shape itself out of what was left of the runny ink. 

Sammy could only watch as the thing stretched taller and taller, body growing thicker with every second that passed. Its form was much more defined now, sporting hands with wiry long, pointed fingers - clearly sharp enough to pierce flesh. Though its height didn't even reach his knee, Sammy was starting to doubt the thing would fit into any of the containers, even their largest wide-mouth mason jar. 

After far, far too much time seemed to pass, Mr. Drew finally snapped into action. He dropped the first jar he'd picked up, apparently not expecting his creation to grow to the size it did. Picking out the largest, he swung the retired food-preserver and slammed it down onto the floor, about where the creature should've been located.

But Mr. Drew must have misjudged the distance between his simple device and the ink because he missed.

Sammy felt his vision swimming as the thing slid speedily away from the container, obviously aware of what the other man was doing and trying to escape. Unable to form legs, it efficiently utilised its new claws to dig into the floor and scramble away.

"Whoops!" Mr. Drew laughed, as if the whole thing was just a big game of tag. In his mind, it probably was. 

He dropped to all-fours and tried to crawl after the stealthy ink newborn, but it was too quick for him, circling around to hide behind the ink machine. Rather than annoyed, the man seemed to be having a great time of the chase, still giggling as he let ink splatter all over his once spotless white shirt. But the creature couldn't keep itself hidden long. Drunk on Sammy's fear, whatever instincts he assumed a transcendental ink being might have kicked in, and it crawled out the other side of the machine - making a bee-line for poor Sammy, who had finally managed to get his limbs moving only to back himself into a wall.

Sammy could feel the strong smell of ink flooding nostrils as the monster closed in. It may have been about the size of a small cat, but its claws were much sharper, and the disjointed way with which it moved towards him was enough to leave Sammy, once again, completely paralysed with fear. Not that it really mattered, for there was no where for him to run anyway. 

Meanwhile, the creature was getting closer and closer, only a few inches away from him now. Sammy was only able to tell this fact by the sickening scratchy sounds it made whilst tearing across the floorboards, as his vision had gone blurry, certain he would pass out at any moment. Something he'd actually welcome, in all honesty, as he didn't want to be conscious for whenever the miniature beast decided to rip his face apart.

But just as Sammy was beginning to mentally recite the prayers he'd learned as a child - prayers that hadn't entered his mind for at least a decade - and trying to prepare himself for his inevitable death...

Everything stopped.

Chapter Text

"Gotcha!"

It took Sammy a moment to register Mr. Drew's exclamation and another still to understand what it meant. 

He blinked twice. Then, finally realising he'd been saved, Sammy slowly slid down the wall he'd backed into until he was sitting down, knees hugging his chest. He rested his head against the cool wooden wall, feeling quite prepared to stay there for the rest of the night and contemplate how his life decisions had led to this point.

"Oi, Sammy, can you pass me a lid?" Mr. Drew, however, didn't allow him to rest for long. His voice strained, the man's trophy lay in front of him, both hands grasped firmly around his mischievous new ink pal - encased in the jar at last. He panted with the effort of holding it down as the small beast thrashed roughly against the glass, obviously not at all happy to have been captured. He couldn't really blame it, the poor thing was probably having a great time scaring the life out of Sammy, a venture he could certainly understand pursuing. 

A "wha?" was all Sammy, oblivious, could manage in reply - still woozy after that emotional roller-coaster.

Mr. Drew dared to look away from his creation and glanced back at the other man. "A lid, Sammy. There's a bunch of them right there." He repeated, jerking his head in the general direction of them, unable to point with both his hands preoccupied. Though he tried to sound stern, Mr. Drew couldn't keep the excitement out of his voice. He so loved these rituals. 

"Oh... Oh! Right, yes, uh, here." Sammy, still rather out of it, forced himself to his feet and passed the largest one - which looked appropriate - to his superior. 

In one fluid, practiced motion, Mr. Drew flipped the container over, sealing it tightly shut with the offered lid.

"Oof, there we go. Got you." The man examined it with one hand, wiping beads of sweat off his brow with the other. "Hmm. Bit of a slippery one, werentcha?"

"Christ..." Sammy muttered in relief, not usually one to say the Lord's name in vain simply because of how he'd been reprimanded for it as a child, but the word come out naturally with prayers still fresh on his mind. He brought his hand to his chest and rested it there, struggling to remember how to breathe normally. 

Still standing, Sammy's knees wobbled from the intense relief that flooded over his entire body. He thought for sure he'd been a goner and, quite frankly, he probably very nearly was. 

There was a short pause as Mr. Drew carefully placed the container on the floor, leaving it next to the empty ones. His friend inside it was clearly still fuming to have been captured, its form rather uncomfortably squashed in the tight confined space. The once more imposing monster had also now been reduced to just a head and torso, both its arms cut off thanks to the limited circumference of the jar's opening as it came crashing down on it - something Mr. Drew felt rather guilty for. 

"And that's how it's done." Regardless, Mr. Drew's tone was smug, victorious. Not in any way acknowledging how his first slip-up in apprehending it had nearly let Sammy get killed. 

Sammy, on the other hand, rather than impressed, was utterly dumbfounded at how calm his superior was acting. Even allowing for the fact that Mr. Drew may have done this multiple times before, they were still dealing with supernatural beings that needed human blood to come into being. If Mr. Drew hadn't caught it at the exact moment he had...

Sammy didn't want to think about what could've happened.

"Well then..." Mr. Drew looked back at him. "Would you like to make one of your own?" 

Sammy gawked at the man, not sure he'd heard correctly. 

Make one of his own?

He waited for Mr. Drew to laugh it off as a joke, send him home, and thank him for his time. But he just kept on staring expectantly, clearly wanting an answer.

So... he was serious, then. 

Sammy opened his mouth to say no, not in a million years, did he ever, ever, want to make one of those blood-thirsty things.

But then he noticed how Mr. Drew was staring at him.

A stare that was going to haunt him for a long, long time afterwards, Sammy was sure. Smiling wide, Mr. Drew was looking at Sammy dead in the eyes. His expression was like nothing the music director had ever seen before on him.

If Sammy had to describe the kind of man Mr. Drew was in a word, warm would be the first to come to mind. Despite the exhausting nature of animation studio work, Mr. Drew always made the time to talk to his employees, and more generally be there for them when he could. Though Sammy hadn't been there as long as others, nor was he ever involved in after-hours events, he knew the only reason people tended to refer to Joey Drew as his last name rather than his first - at least in his presence - was due to the fierce respect many of his peers held for him.

That, he was sure, was probably one of the few reasons many of them were still here now, despite all the ink machine's trouble and, well, realistically their generous pay checks, of course. And befitting of a man such as himself, Mr. Drew's smiles were also full of warmth. They were expressions that always reached his eyes, which crinkled when he was particularly pleased.

But right now... Those same eyes were cold. Crazed. Ravenous.

This was not the same kind man who had enthusiastically welcomed him into Joey Drew Studios - the man who would sing his praises, offer coffee to Sammy when he stayed in to work late, and the man who was happy to sit and listen to Sammy's music, no matter the time.  

This was someone else entirely.

It was then Sammy realised Mr. Drew hadn't been acting so calm because of he was assured of his ability with dealing with the ink creatures, having done so many times before, nor because he didn't view them as a threat. He was calm because somehow, someway... doing these ceremonies had caused him to go utterly mad.

Then, another realisation struck him.

The question he'd been asked... wasn't really a question at all.

It was a formality. 

One way or another, Sammy was going to be making one. And if he tried to refuse?

...

The image his mind conjured up made him visibly shudder.

 

Sammy licked his lips nervously, his mouth had gone dry.  

"Ah, um... Y-yes, all right." He said hesitantly, eyes darting back and forth from Mr. Drew to the inky being in its glass prison, remembering what dealing with that had just been like. He did not want to go through that again. But what choice did he have?

"All righty, let me just wipe this tool off for ya." Mr. Drew said brightly, apparently pleased with this answer. The man brought out and wiped off the boxcutter with his shirt, and while Sammy doubted that was sanitary by any standards, he said nothing. Hygiene was definitely the least of his worries right now. "Here you go."

Mr. Drew handed him the tool. 

There was a long pause as Sammy stared at it before finally taking it in one of his hands, gripping it so tightly his knuckles went white. Slowly, ever so slowly, Sammy pointed the blade at himself, not really sure where to begin.

"Oh, wait just a moment!" 

Sammy's eyes shot back to the other man at the sound of his voice, grateful for the excuse to stop. His grip on the weapon reflexively loosened as a small flower of hope bloomed in his chest. Had Mr. Drew changed his mind after all?

"Silly me, I forgot to draw another one." 

At these words, the flower wilted and died, decaying somewhere in Sammy's arteries. 

"Haha, sorry, I'm not used to doing these rituals with someone else. Give me a moment." 

Rituals. Rituals, rituals, rituals...

Mr. Drew wasn't even trying to hide it anymore.

They were doing a goddamn satanic summoning. 

Sammy swallowed the lump that had formed in his throat. He desperately wanted to stop all this, tell Mr. Drew he'd changed his mind and wanted no part in it - that this was far too strange and dangerous and not at all what he had in mind.

But then, what did he have in mind?

Surely he should've known, or at least guessed, what was involved in creating these things - these unnatural beings. But, like an idiot, he'd stayed in the studio anyway, Sammy chastised himself. More then that, he'd actually been looking forward to this. Been impatient for it, even, as he tried to force out more details from Mr. Drew during the months and months he'd remained in that studio. He'd had endless opportunities to leave but didn't take a single one of them. 

And now... it was too late to take it back. 

How stupid he'd been. 

"All done!" Mr. Drew exclaimed in a sing-songy voice, unaware of Sammy's internal conflict. 

Standing back up again, Mr. Drew briefly admired his work. He'd needed to draw it quite a distance from the original circle, the first ink creature having stained many floorboards trying to get away from him. Nevertheless, he thought he'd done a rather good job of it, not even using the book as a reference this time. He found he'd drawn them enough times that he'd actually memorised how to draw the shape - a fact, he was pleased to note, that would probably come in handy later on. 

"Right then, just so you know, any old place is fine. You only need to make sure you draw a good amount - they need a fair bit." He said matter-of-a-factly, as if he wasn't asking Sammy to cut into his own skin to summon a paranormal monster. 

"Okay..." Was all Sammy could say, defeated. There was no getting out of it now. 

Unfortunately, the door of the room was shut behind him - locked tight. He'd have to fight Mr. Drew for the key if he wanted out and, aware of how his lanky figure measured up to the man's much more muscular one, knew he held little hope of succeeding. Sammy wouldn't even have the element of surprise on his side, as he could tell the man was watching him very closely now, almost like he expected his employee to try making a run for it.

Once again, he was trapped.

And again... he gave in. As he'd thought, it was too late to turn back now.

Sammy took a moment to glance down at himself before making a decision of where to bring out the supposedly needed 'substance'. Making a snap decision, he brought the instrument to the tip of his finger, figuring it'd be the easiest place. But try as he might, he was finding it hard to keep the blade still against his skin, as his hands refused to stop shaking.

Mr. Drew's eyes were boring into him. Watching. Waiting. His intense gaze was silently pushing Sammy to begin.

With a deep shaky breath, Sammy finally pressed the point firmly against the tip of his index finger, pricking the thin flesh. He then held his hand over the middle of the pentagram that had been drawn for him, much too scared lean any closer like Mr. Drew had.

Sammy's gaze was so focused on watching the first drops of his own blood falling down into the circle, he barely registered the other man moving in to grip his hand, applying pressure with his fingers around the small wound so more fluid was drawn. When he became more aware, it took every ounce of Sammy's self-control not to immediately jerk his hand away. He knew he had to hold on just a bit longer.

Sammy let himself fall back into detachment once more. Something easy enough for him to manage, considering how surreal it was watching his own blood being used for what was obviously some kind of occult ceremony - a ceremony taking place in a children's cartoon studio of all places. He wondered what had went wrong in his employer's life for the man to have even considered trying such a thing, never mind act it out. 

After nearly thirty seconds of being held, his arm dropped back limply to his side as Mr. Drew let go of it, decidedly satisfied with the amount Sammy had bled out, though truthfully it was still rather meager.

And then...

Rather than tipping it like the first time, Mr. Drew kicked the bucket over. He wouldn't have anymore use for it after this. 

It clattered against the floor as the rest of the ink quickly flooded over the pentagram, mixing with Sammy's blood. Time seemed to be going in slow motion as Sammy watched it and he inhaled slowly, just about remembering to breathe this time. 

It was much, much too late to turn back now.

And, like before, out of the fluid...

Something was born. 

Much quicker than Mr. Drew's, the ink clumped together, soon allowing a tiny creature to rear its head from the puddle. But a shorter formation time was about the only thing he could claim was more frightening about it compared to the last one. Meekly looking up at them, or at least seeming to from the inclination of its head as the creature lacked eyes, this ink being appeared to be much smaller and docile. 

It was... rather pitiful compared to Mr. Drew's, really. 

"Awww," Mr. Drew's predatory expression softened into a loving little smile. He absolutely adored these creatures. 

Sammy supposed he perhaps should've felt a bit embarrassed. Here he was, scared out of his wits, and after he'd finally managed to steel his nerves enough to go through with Mr. Drew's request, all he'd managed was this... pipsqueak of a monster. Well, if he could even call it a monster. The way it languidly bobbed up and down was certainly not at all convincing in that regard.

He supposed their size and ferocity must be proportional to the volume of human, as Mr. Drew put it, 'substance' they were infused with. With only a few little drops, it lacked power, and so this inky runt was the result.

What that would mean for making Bendy, well...

Mr. Drew could see the gears turning in Sammy's head as he realised just how serious of a task they were getting into. 

"Well... what do you think, Sammy?" He broke the silence, wanting to hear his employee's thoughts. 

But Sammy didn't answer.

Mr. Drew shrugged, disappointed but not really surprised at the other's silence. Idly, he wondered if his music director was going into shock.

Though there may have not been much point, as the creature surely didn't seem to be going anywhere, Mr. Drew made sure to catch it anyway. Treating it with care, he picked one of the smaller containers and carefully encased it within, making sure not to harm it like he'd accidentally done with the last. The little ink newborn tumbled over as Mr. Drew flipped the jar over to seal it with a properly sized lid. He then set it aside next to his own, which had started to calm down and partially melt. He took a moment to grin at them both dotingly.

Meanwhile, Sammy remained lost in his thoughts.

He first thought about how completely and ridiculously idiotic he'd been to go along with Mr. Drew all this time, to remain in the studio for months and months after he knew of the ink creatures' existence, waiting patiently - or well, truth to be told, rather impatiently - for this moment. The moment they were in now, Mr. Drew having shown him how to do what he did, hell, even having let Sammy make one of his own.

Sammy tried to remember why he had wanted any of this. What possible reasons he could have harboured for wanting to be involved in things he knew made him uncomfortable. From the first time he laid eyes on that ink "buddy" of his superior's, he knew he didn't like the thing, regardless of how much parental affection Mr. Drew seemed to have for it. 

As if to answer his own question, those same images that had played back in his mind on the few occasions when he let himself daydream at his desk, or was just awake enough to fantasise before he fell asleep, returned to the forefront of his mind. There it was. People looking up to and congratulating him. Fame. Fortune.

Recognition.

Sammy felt a strong urge to slam his head into the wall for being such a damn fool

These monsters didn't care about being of any help to humanity, whatever use he or society tried to find for them. They were only out for human blood, and quite possibly flesh too, which seemed to be the source of their strength - no, their existence itself. Their entire sentience (which, he guessed by their current slow deforming, wasn't something that lasted long) depended on leeching off humans' own. 

Letting the public know about them would have been an incredibly stupid, not to mention dangerous idea. And he'd genuinely considered it, even fantasised wistfully about it.

Sammy felt completely disgusted with himself. 

Turning to Mr. Drew, who didn't look back at him, he wondered what that man's motivations for making such horrific slimy monstrosities could be. He had been the one to figure out how to actually create them, after all. Sammy knew his end goal was to bring Bendy to life, but why? Why was Mr. Drew prepared to do all this, just to rip Bendy out of his cartoons and place him into their own world? 

If he had to guess... it was probably because - like Mr. Drew's other cartoon creations - the man loved the cartoon devil as one would their child. Mr. Drew had poured all his time and energy into building up a company to animate Bendy, make songs for Bendy, and create friends for Bendy to interact with on screen. Everything he'd ever done was all for the little devil. It was no secret to anyone in the office how much Mr. Drew cared for his cartoon creation; hence why, on the occasions his peers felt like poking some fun at the character, they made sure to do so well away from their boss, who would be having absolutely none of it. 

Sammy felt this would also explain why Mr. Drew, once so involved in every departments' affairs, was happy to now devote all his time to perfecting the ink machine instead. Obviously bringing Bendy into the world would make him much more real than just animating him, which only served to create the illusion of movement by showing still images in quick succession.

Despite everything, Sammy could, in a way, understand Mr. Drew's love for Bendy. He had worked with the cartoon demon for so long, writing multiple pieces that fit his mischievous character, that he felt a sort of connection to Bendy too. It only made sense then that Mr. Drew, who had created him and molded his personality through animation over multiple years, would feel a strong affection for the playful demon. 

Sammy looked to his own little ink being, the one that he had created. It seemed to notice, possibly attune to Sammy having been infused with the man's blood, acknowledging him by tilting its dripping head in his direction. It continued to watch him as it sank lower and lower and he felt strangely conflicted as he stared back. Just as its arms had completely deformed, one detaching and falling into the puddle of ink below with a quiet splash, he felt a piercing sadness stab him in the heart. Sammy gasped at the strength of the sudden emotion, surprised at just how badly he wanted to save it for reasons he couldn't fathom.

He controlled himself, turning away from the ink. It was no use anyway, he tried to remind himself. Their lives seemed to be inherently temporary, lasting only as long as the pentagram's magic was able to. 

Unless...

Before he could suppress them, darker thoughts entered Sammy's mind. He wondered how long their life would be if, rather than just a meager portion of blood, an entire human body was sacrificed. How long would they live, then? Could one life be swapped for another?

He felt even more surprised when he realised he was almost considering it, desperation to save his ink creature still clawing at his insides, though he kept his gaze firmly rooted on the floor away from it. Sammy bit down hard on his bottom lip, trying to will the discomfort away. But it remained. 

Evidently being involved in such rituals was having some sort of effect on him, though he wasn't entirely sure why. Sammy thought back to how he felt when one of the monsters was closing in on him, its claws on the wood sounding more like nails scraping against a chalk board in that moment. Remembering the sound sent shivers down his spine and he knew, knew for absolute certain that they were terrible things - things not meant to exist in this world.

But even if that was the case, what could he do about it? He doubted Mr. Drew would just let him leave, not now he knew what was going on behind the scenes. At the very least, he couldn't escape right at this moment. He'd have to pretend to approve of what they'd just done and then disappear at a later date, travel far away and look for new work. 

Although, the prospect of disappearing from the company didn't sit well with him either, knowing it'd mean he couldn't put Joey Drew Studios on his resume. If his future employers decided to look into his achievements there by contacting the company, Mr. Drew would immediately know the location of his new employment. Not to mention the fact he doubted Mr. Drew would leave a good opinion of him either if they tried to phone in. He'd be effectively throwing away all the hard work he'd put into getting here.

Sammy was stuck. Either he stayed and risked continuations of tonight, and quite possibly even worse versions, or left and lost all the progress he'd made. 

The man stifled a sigh, not wanting Mr. Drew to know what he was thinking. Regardless, he knew right now the only thing he could do was pretend. He was exhausted and just wanted to get home and sleep. Deciding on what to do would have to wait. 

And so, finally, he responded to the other man's question.

"I think... they're wonderful, Mr. Drew." Sammy heard himself say, surprised at how genuine he sounded, finding the words weren't entirely a lie. That same sadness he'd felt at his being deforming had settled into a dull ache, as well as a longing to continue the ink's life, even if it meant creating more. 

Mr. Drew looked back at him blankly, obviously having completely forgotten he'd asked a question. Then, his eyes widened, turning his whole body around to face Sammy.

A grin so large it threatened to split Mr. Drew's face spread across his lips.