The Garden reacted before Santa herself did. After all, at her heart, it was an extension of her. The expansion of her. And those dark hollowed eyes suddenly locked onto Algos when the woman suddenly closed the distance. The skeletal features of their visage creaking down to stare into Algos's own, head bending at an unnatural angle as the Demon....embraced her. The Santa before her was a creature so very unlike the arrancar. Her mask was massive, practically a fully formed deer skull shrouding her features as brilliant amber eyes stared into the demon that had wrapped around her.
Those words made the figure shift, and those bloody flesh blossoms soon peeled away as thin bone took it's place, the blood that oozed from them turning black as these dark flowers yawned open all around as they grew along it's body, that contorting garden slowly starting to relax as if brought back into focus.
It stared, tilting it's head so that black hair shifted. She was practically a completely different person. She narrowed her eyes when she took a moment to stare at her.
And of course, the real Santa staggered up to her feet, and turned to look at Algos and ....that....thing? Something his deep within her chest when she saw it, and the monster's head turned to look into Santa's eyes and she felt something inside her twist. Almost instantly she clutched herself, as flowers began to sprout along her body. She KNEW that this was. This thing that Algos was so entangled with.
The beast shifted it's attention back to the woman after briefly glanceing toward Santa. And a slow, deep chuckle gently bled from the garden, that dull thrum from every direction almost comforting as it's head canted to the side sympathetically. "Purpose? You misunderstand."
That voice bled out, as the trees bled that blackness like an inky wine, and petals from those flowers began to fall around them in dark fluttering flakes, the pattering impacts on the floor around them sounding almost like rain. "I never had a purpose. I never had a reason. Which is why you look upon me with that blissful gaze of false recognition. "
CRACK. Her arms split down their middle, separating into two separate sets, one remaining engaged with the Algos' hands even as they trailed up to touch her aface, as the other set reached up and gently framed Algos's face in a dark mirror of Algos' own action, that dark blood running down the Demon's features.
When Algos supped from that creature, she wouldn't feel agony anymore. It was. ....intensity. As if something had impaled her mind with a thousand needles of adrenaline and pushed them all in at once. Awareness. Keenness. The sensation from every weeping eye that budded from those flowers, to the taste and scent in the tongues of the mouthes peeling open upon the bark of every tree. The Instant that Algos had engaged with the creature, it's entire being was centered upon her, as if a billion souls stared at Algos from every direction in scrutiny. "I wonder why you decided to reach into this simple creature. Why you chose to....awaken her in such a way. Are you satisfied? Do you feel some inkling of pleasure in waking me from my rest?"
The mask began to crumple, peeling away until a calm, smiling pale face stared at her through those crumbling vestiges, and roots crawled from the fringes of her face, gently weaving over the fingers on Algos's hand. " You have not fixed her. You have shattered her. Turn and look at her. Does she seem any more cognizant?"
Santa herself blinked, looking up, shaky and ...confused. Her expression blank with fear and tension. She seemed almost out of it.Her face so much paler than usual as she crouched down and hugged herself, as the flowers echoed in the monster's words.
But the monster smiled prettily all the same. "I can still feel that dull, happy ignorance bleeding out of her. She's assuring herself that this is your doing. That you're somehow showing her something. She thinks I'm merely a reflection of what you think she can be. Isn't that darling? Even in this terrified state she thinks you've only the best of intentions. She thinks you believe in her. That you're trying to help her by doing this. But what purpose is there preaching to a woman incapable of understanding? Her eyes are like a mirror, and I can only wonder who you're truly talking to when you speak to her."
The creature smiled wider, and her hold on the woman tightened, more than happy to lean in as Algos tucked her close, antlers crumbling as they came into contact with Algos' face, leaving her without them. "She can feel you through me. And that dull, stupid comfort is something I can feel in my bones. Marvelous."
A pause. "Even if she has butchered it to make her own. I still have a name. I am Santa Ajora. What do you ask of me, O Waker Mine?"
She smiled. And amusement bled from the garden, mixed with that dull terrified hope. Santa herself, telling herself that Algos was helping her. And Santa, seeming amused in what the demon had done. As those trees drew taller, and bone peeled in wide thinning plates all around them, an altar of bone and black blood slowly erecting around them, as if the garden were growing a place from her memory, one that slowly spread and encroached on more and more of the place Algos had chosen.
Slowly, Santa looked up, as her mind frayed. She felt someone else in the garden. Or perhaps not someone else, but more like ..... an unfamiliar self. Like a hand prickling and unfamiliar from lost blood flow. It was her, and yet not her at the same time. She picked herself up. "Algos..."
She manages to murmur shakily, that smile spreading across her face as she limped over to where the woman was, approaching her from behind and then moving her arms around the woman's waist, resting her chin on the woman's head. Between Santa and Ajora, the pair of them practically enveloped the woman in entirety.
And when she spoke
The garden echoed around them.
As the tree peeled away from the monster called Ajora, severing those last horrific shackles that had kept her buried in Santa's mind, the tree itself crashing to the ground around them as black flowers of flesh and bone grew from it's innards, Ajora smiling all the wider as they spoke in Unison."Thank you."