I Want To... Disappear
(also posted on AO3, warnings for suicidal thoughts and discussion)
Lloyd wasn't even sure what he was talking about. His mouth was opening and words were coming out, Garmadon was replying but whatever they were saying, he couldn't get himself to actually focus on the real words. All he could hear was that little whisper in the back of his mind, the deadly reminder of his worthlessness.
And yet, despite the whisper he kept smiling, laughing at a joke Garmadon had just told. It didn't matter that the voice was telling him he was worthless, that Garmadon merely pitied him and had to have him in his office because it was mandatory. That Garmadon, like all the others, always just tolerated his existence. That he didn't deserve to live.
It was a silent whisper, one only in his mind and he was sure if he ignored it, it would go away. Of course, that hadn't worked. The voice has plagued him for years, sometimes growing quiet only to come back in full force. Now it was at its usual strength, a strong and solid whisper in his mind, reminding him that his place among them was mere circumstance.
"Lloyd, is there anything else you want to talk about?" Garmadon asked, breaking through his thoughts.
He jumped in surprise, not even realising that their conversation had stopped.
A small frown crossed Garmadon's face, his eyes studying Lloyd's expression. "Is there something on your mind?"
"Uh-" He hummed, wondering if the voice in his head was speaking to Garmadon too. "N-no."
Garmadon let out a small sigh, a warm smile on his face, "Lloyd, that wasn't awfully convincing. Whatever it is, remember you can tell me here. In this space whatever you say here, stays here."
Lloyd hummed again, tapping his fingers against his knees. Maybe… maybe he could say the voice out loud. Maybe he could tell Garmadon. "You promise?" He found himself saying, his eyes cast down into his lap, "You won't… 'dad' me about it?"
"I promise Lloyd, what we discuss in this room, stays in this room," Garmadon affirmed, his expression serious, "I won't bring any of this up outside of this room with you or anyone."
He narrowed his eyes, studying Garmadon's expression. It hadn't always been easy, trusting his father to keep their sessions to the office but the months they'd spent together had shown him that Garmadon always kept his word.
He took a deep breath and opened his mouth, speaking the words of the voice that whispers in his mind.
His own voice.
"I want to die."
Garmadon's expression softened, his concern plain across his face as he watched Lloyd tap his knees, eyes down as the words poured out of him.
"Ever since I can remember, there's always been a voice in my head, reminding me of my worthlessness, that I don't belong," Lloyd continued, his heart racing, "It was really loud at Darkleys but after running into the Pythor, it kind've went away…" he trailed off, the strangeness of his time with Pythor, who tricked and used and betrayed him, was the time where the voice in his head was quietest. "It kept coming back."
"What else does this voice tell you?" Garmadon asked, his voice soft and gentle.
"It doesn't tell me anything," Lloyd murmured, "It is me." He took a shuddering breath, his whole body giving a small shake. "Sometimes… sometimes it's one of the ninja or Wu but most of the time it's me, telling me things I try to ignore."
Lloyd took another deep breath, his fingers curling around his knees to stop them from shaking. "No one actually wants me around," his voice was barely above a whisper, "they only tolerate me, only say they like me, because they're good people and they have no choice but if they did have a choice… well they wouldn't be my friends."
He bit his lip, his breathing going shaky. "I can't keep up with everything I have to do. I'm not as good a fighter as everyone thinks, I can't lead the team, I am floundering with no idea of what I'm trying to do or what I want to try to do and I just… I want to quit."
Garmadon gave a soft smile, "I know the ninja catchphrase makes it hard to want to stop doing something like being a hero but it's not entirely impossible."
Lloyd shook his head, "Yes it is. The only way to really quit is to get injured or…" he trailed off, the word left unspoken on his lips.
"Lloyd, I would rather stand in front of the city and all its people announcing you've quit then let you keep doing something that hurts you," Garmadon said, his voice firm.
"I don't just want to quit being the city's hero," Lloyd replied, his voice shaking, "I… I want… to disappear… forever."
Garmadon leaned forward across the table, placing his hand on Lloyd's knee, "When things are overwhelming, when the voice in our heads is telling us we are worthless, it can be almost impossible to remember the people around us," he gave Lloyd's knee a gentle squeeze, "Although your meeting with the ninja and joining their crew happened because of the things happening around you, it does not mean that they love you any less."
Lloyd shook his head, "I don't believe it's true."
Garmadon gave Lloyd's knee another squeeze, "I promise you Lloyd, that voice in your head isn't fueled by the truth, it is fueled by our fears. When things are as bad as they can be, it makes the voice stronger and when that happens, we have to listen to the real voices, the people around us who love and care for us."
"I… I don't know…"
"It is okay to be uncertain," Garmadon affirmed, "The negativity in our minds can seem like a friend when it has been around for so long, but it is far from your friend. Instead, let's try something new."
Lloyd looked up from his lap, one eyebrow raised in question.
"Spend some time with the ninja, doing something you enjoy," Garmadon said with a soft smile, leaning back into his own chair. "Give yourself a break from yourself and let them do the talking."
Lloyd chewed on the inside of his cheek, his eyes unfocused as his mind ran through all the terrible outcomes of trying to hang out with people he'd convinced himself that hated him.
"If you'd like," Garmadon spoke up, his tone gentle, "You could start with your parents." He smiled, his eyes twinkling.
Lloyd couldn't help but smile, the mischievous twinkle in Garmadon's eye reminding him of the sweetest moments between them. "Maybe… maybe I will," Lloyd replied, his small smile reaching his eyes. "It sounds like fun."
He sat back in his own chair, his shaky body feeling the most relaxed it had all session. The voice was still there, whispering in his mind that it was a lie, a useless endeavour but he pushed it aside. Sitting in the office, in front of Garmadon, he felt something he hadn't felt in a long time. Peace.