"You were fools to enter this place," the dangerous voice hissed from every corner of the lair, darkness encroaching on the pair of them. "You gambled with your lives and sanity, and you lost. You will never escape this place, or me. Your bones will lie here forever, alone and forgotten…"

"Please. You and I both know you don't have the power to carry out those threats," Pitch replied dismissively, turning his attention back to the shattered cage.

"You dare test me?!" the other thing snarled, and claws made of shadow swiped out from the looming creature. Pitch didn't so much as blink, and the claws passed through him without any apparent effect whatsoever.

"I don't need to, you do it quite handily all by yourself," Pitch replied.

"Pitch, what is this thing? Some kind of guard dog?" Jack asked, staff held up defensively.

"Not really. It's… well, it's a bit of a long story-"

"GUARD DOG?!" The snarl rang through the caverns and Jack flinched as shadows swarmed up his ankles and calves, but the darkness caused no more than a faint sensation of pressure against his skin.

Pitch sighed. "Quite the anger problem we have there. I suppose I can't really blame you, but it's no good in throwing a tantrum if you're too weak to do any real damage. It just tips your hand. Not that it really matters in this case…" He waved a hand, making the shadows evaporate from Jack

"How did- Who are you?" A slim, dark man with luminous eyes stepped out of the shadows to confront Pitch.

The boogeyman met the eyes of his near-doppelganger, though the one that had just emerged seemed smaller, more washed out. "I'm you. Give or take three and a half centuries," he replied, looking his counterpart up and down and pursing his lips. "You look terrible."

The other Pitch stared at him suspiciously. "Well, the Dark Ages ending wasn't exactly my greatest moment. But you should know that, shouldn't you?" he replied curtly. "How did you get here?"

"I'm not really sure. I did annoy Father Time once or twice before… Or after this actually, I suppose," Pitch shrugged.

"Wait, hold on. You're, what, the future version of him?" Jack interrupted, pointing at the newer Pitch. "That's how you knew so much about me, isn't it? You met me before."

Pitch grinned, teeth flashing in the gloom of the lair. "I admit, I cheated a little."

Jack frowned, considering this new information. "So, why did you come find me? What's the deal with us in… when you're from?"

"Why, we're simply the best of friends, of course. How could we be anything else?" Pitch asked innocently, spreading his hands.

"Yes, I'm sure he makes a lovely minion. Maybe he actually becomes marginally intimidating at some point," the other Pitch drawled dismissively. "How nice for you. But there are more pressing matters to discuss. You're believed in, aren't you? Seen?" He stepped forwards and looked over his doppelganger more intently.

Pitch's eyes narrowed at the slight, and a Nightmare reared out of the space between them, making his counterpart stumble backwards with a start. "Oh yes. My name is known the world over," he replied with a smirk, stroking the nose of the creature.

"How did you… The dreamsand?" the newer boogeyman murmured, staring at the Nightmare. He snapped his gaze back to Pitch, a giddy grin splitting his face. "The Guardians are gone, then?" he asked gleefully.

"Well, no. The twits are still around, being nuisances," Pitch admitted.

The grin vanished. "But if they're still... Wouldn't they stop you?"

Pitch picked up the wide smile his doppelganger lost. "No. Because they can't, you see. As much as they like to flash those little weapons of those, the real threat are their centers, hope and wonder and light. Those are what drive out the space that fear can occupy, as you and I found out in the Dark Ages. But it's not the opposite of all fear. Shadows always coexist where there is light, and humans will actually happily invite me in, given the right incentive. I'm sure you've heard them tell horror stories around the fire…"

"You're feeding off of that?" the other boogeyman said disdainfully. "That isn't real terror."

"Oh, it's real enough for my purposes. And it's convenient, they run off screaming only to come right back for more the moment the adrenaline rush wears off. It's... fun." He glanced at Jack, who was watching this exchange with some interest, before turning his attention back to his doppelganger. "And best of all, the Guardians can't do a thing about it. If anything, extra doses of wonder and whimsy just make the humans more inclined to seek out a thrill."

The other boogeyman sneered. "You're settling. Have you forgotten already, how it was to be a being of true dread, to have people of all creeds quake at the mention of you? To answer to nothing and no one?"

"No, I remember. The good old days," Pitch murmured, sounding wistful.

"We could have that again, you and I. It would be easy, you still have power and belief and knowledge… We could dispose of the Guardians and take power again. The world will tremble at our approach again, and no one will be able to watch the sun set without feeling dread creep up their spines…"

Pitch took a slow breath, staring out over the ruins of his past lair. "…No. That's not any way to live, not even for you or me," he answered, shaking his head.

"WHAT?! You- What did they do to you? Where are your claws, your spirit? You're happy to be some kind of mewling threatless lapdog?!" the other boogeyman spat, clenching his fists and stepping forward.

Pitch snarled at his double, and the already faint light dimmed all around them, swallowed by shadows that rose like his hackles. "Get me angry and see how dull my claws are, wretch."

"You're throwing everything away, and for what?!"

"Hey, hey, whoa. Let's just calm down, alright?" Jack interrupted, stepping between the two of them. "You're so argumentative that you're going to fight yourself? Really?"

"I am not him!" Both Pitches snapped in unison.

Jack raised an eyebrow. "Yeah, really showing off how different you both are there."

"I can't believe you can't even control your pet! How far have you fallen?" the newer boogeyman demanded over Jack's head.

Pitch snarled. "You're one to talk, trapped in here and weak as a kitten. But if you want to see if you can be brought lower, I'll-"

"Wow, and here you almost tricked me into thinking you were cool," Jack interrupted, heaving a sigh. Pitch looked offended. "Look, you. Pitch two," he started turning to the shorter of the pair.

"Excuse me, this is my timeline that he invaded, that makes me the original one," the boogeyman shot back, jabbing a finger at his doppelganger.

"Yeah, well, I met you second. And since calling you both Pitch is going to be really confusing, really fast, I'm going to have to call one of you something else," Jack replied. "I suppose you do have a theme going on with Pitch Black. So how 'bout something along those lines? Like, hm, raven? You're kind of bird-like."

The newer boogeyman stared down his nose disdainfully at Jack. "I would thank you not draw any comparisons between me and that idiotic fairy. And raven is cliché."

"Okay, coal black?"

"Oh, and now you have to involve the fat man too? Would you stop drawing comparisons between me and those twits?"

Jack raised an eyebrow, looking confused, then shrugged. "Fine. Um, ebon black. Jet black. Oh, inky black!"

"If you call me Inky, I will find a way to kill you, immortal spirit or not."

Jack grinned. "Hey, if you don't have a better suggestion…"

He rolled his eyes. "If you must call me anything, why not Mètminwi?"

"Metminwhat? That's a bit of a mouthful."

"It's the Haitian name for the boogeyman; it means 'master of midnight'."

"Sounds kind of weird to me."

"He's also supposed to be two stories tall," Pitch remarked with a smirk. "I'm not sure you really fit the profile at this point in time."

The shorter boogeyman narrowed his eyes. "You-"

"How about Sable?" Jack interrupted, deciding to not deal with more bickering between the two. "That's not bad, right? And it's not three syllables long."

"If it will get you out of my hair, then I don't care," the newly christened Sable muttered. He shot a dirty look at Pitch. "Why did you even bring him?"

"Well, I'd like to claim that I did it on purpose to annoy you, but I'm afraid that was just a happy coincidence," Pitch replied with a smirk.

"Pitch, do you need to antagonise everyone you meet?"

The boogeyman sniffed distainfully. "I don't see why I can't bully myself. Everyone else seems to feel entitled to do so."

"Are you two ever going to leave my home?" Sable demanded in exasperation. "You've long outstayed your welcome."

"Oh, yeah, sure. We'll head out shortly. And you'll come with us," Jack

Both boogeyman snapped their gazes to Jack. "What?"

"Well, you say you've never done scaring for fun before, and you say that it's really enjoyable, so clearly you need to give it a whirl," the frost spirit explained, as if it was obvious.

"Jack, that's not… He's not safe," Pitch hissed. "You heard him, when we first came in here."

Jack shrugged. "You said he didn't have the power to carry out those threats. And you'll be around to watch him. I don't think it can hurt."

Sable ignored his double and crossed his arms, looking pensive. "If it will get me out of this pit and let me hear some screams again, then I'll come with you," he decided.

A/N- I'm not dead! I apologize for the long absence, and I will be attempting to update AHFF reasonably soon as well. Fun fact, for this chapter I looked up a ridiculous number of boogeyman names from different cultures and languages and almost all of them sound incredibly dorky. Come to think of it, 'boogeyman' isn't really a dignified moniker either, is it? Oh Pitch, you are a universal and eternal dork, aren't you?