Logan’s been carrying the weight of their family on his shoulders for so long, he doesn’t know how to put it down.
Pairing: platonic Logan & Roman is the focus, romantic logicality
Word count: 2699
Warnings: shouting, unhealthy coping mechanisms, anger issues, references to the cycle of abuse, emotional hurt/comfort
Notes: a missing scene in my Pieces verse taking place between chapters nine and ten of Chipped Tea Sets
thank you to @trivia-goddess for beta-reading!
The rest of the afternoon after Roman's announcement passed in pleasant, amicable small talk, and Logan felt numb the entire time.
Oh, he participated – after twenty-five years, Logan was remarkably adept at behaving "normally" when he was distressed, and while he knew he wasn't quite fooling anyone except perhaps Janus and Virgil, he was at least not doing too poor a job that anyone pointed his behavior out.
Patton kept sending him increasingly worried looks when no one was paying attention, and when they finally left Roman's solar late in the afternoon – Logan hugged Roman stiffly goodbye and tried to ignore his heart cracking clean in two when Roman gave him a wary look before accepting – Patton took his hand firmly as they walked through the halls to their own quarters, even though normally Logan was too anxious to allow such open displays of affection in the more public areas of the house.
Now, he clung to Patton's hand like a lifeline, like an anchor in a storm. He felt like he might shatter if Patton let go.
Logan pulled their door open stiffly and led them in. Patton shut it behind them, before taking Logan's other hand and pulling him to face him.
"Hey," he murmured softly, "Talk to me, honey."
But Logan could already feel himself clamming up, his words clogging in his throat and the impulse to cram all of it, the distress and the fear and the hurt down into some dark place and ignore it rather than face it.
"I am fine," he lied, knowing Patton wouldn't believe him and wondering why he even bothered.
"You aren't," said Patton gently, "It's okay not to be fine. But I can't help you if you don't tell me what's wrong, honey, and I don't know what could have gotten you this upset."
I don't need your help, he almost snapped, but he managed to swallow it before it came out.
He knew, of course, that behavior was learned. It was a miracle that Logan and his brothers had turned out the way they had, when their models of parenthood were so abysmal.
But Logan felt it, sometimes. The impulse to snap at Patton when he prodded at spots that were too tender. To lash out in anger and push him away. Oh, Logan was well aware what kind of temper he'd inherited.
Was that why? Had Roman seen it?
Had Roman been afraid of him?
"Logan," said Patton gently, squeezing his hands.
Logan dropped them, his heart feeling strangled in his chest. He turned away from Patton and crossed the room in quick, long strides, suddenly terrified of what he might do if Patton remained in arms reach when Logan felt this upset.
"Logan, please," Patton pleaded, "You gotta talk to me."
"It isn't important," said Logan stiffly, "I will get over it."
"Sweetheart," said Patton, "Please."
"I don't want to talk about it," said Logan, sharper than he meant to.
His back was to Patton, who was quiet for several long moments, and Logan wondered what he must be thinking. What Logan must look like, cruel and bitter and standoffish.
"Logan," said Patton, a little more solemnly, "You know I never wanna push you too much. But- honey. You kind of- clammed up back there, and I'm worried about-"
He cut off, and something miserably bitter curled in Logan's chest.
"Roman," he said flatly, "You're worried about Roman."
"... A little bit, honey," said Patton, achingly gentle, "I don't think anything bad of you, of course not. But I can tell you're upset, and I wanna know why so I can maybe help you work through it."
"I will not hurt Roman," said Logan, voice trembling.
"No!" exclaimed Patton, "I know that honey, of course I know that. I understand-"
"You don't!" Logan shouted, something snapping, hands flying up to yank at his own hair rather than slam his fist down on the dresser and risk scaring Patton.
"You don't, you don't get it!" said Logan, turning on Patton as his eyes flooded with tears, "One job, I have one job Patton, and that is to keep my brothers safe! Take care of them!"
Patton was watching him with an unreadable expression, and somehow it just made Logan feel worse, like some clawing, miserable thing.
"Mother and Father fired Nanny when they were seven!" said Logan tears streaming down his face, "They were children, they needed – stories and games and they needed to be comforted when they were sick or hurt or scared and that is my job,"
"Oh, Logan," said Patton softly.
"Months," sobbed Logan, all the fight leaving him as he sank to the floor in a heap of tears and snot and mortifying vulnerability, "Months I hurt them, misgendered them constantly, and Roman didn't even tell me. Like- like I would be angry with him or hurt him-"
"Logan, oh, Logan, honey," said Patton, his own voice thick and wet as he crossed the room to crouch in front of Logan and take his hands again, "Honey, I promise that's not what's going on. Roman wasn't scared of you sweetheart."
"How can you say that?" said Logan, "When they told Virgil before me? Janus, before me, who isn't even his soulmate-"
"How can you say that when I've spent the past five minutes screaming at you?" said Logan, voice ragged, "How can anyone possibly expect better of me than this if I can't even control myself enough not to shout at my own soulmate? Of course Roman was scared, I'm not any better than our par-"
"No," said Patton, sharply enough that Logan cut off and didn't finish the sentence.
"No," Patton repeated, gentler, reaching out to push some of Logan's hair out of his face, "Don't. Don't even say it. You aren't, of course you aren't. You could never be."
"But how do you know that?"
"Because you're good and kind and wonderful and literally crying because you're terrified at even the thought you might have scared your baby sibling, sweetheart," said Patton patiently.
Logan couldn’t seem to come up with any kind of rebuttal for that.
“C’mere,” said Patton, “This is a snuggles-on-soft-things conversation, not a floor one.”
Logan let Patton guide him to his feet and lead him like a child, sitting sideways on the couch and tugging Logan to lay on his stomach with his head rested in Patton’s lap. Patton immediately dug his fingers into Logan’s hair, and Logan felt himself relax marginally.
“Okay,” said Patton, “I’m gonna tell you a few things. And I think you might not like some of them, but I promise I’m not saying them to be mean.”
Logan swallowed anxiously.
“Okay,” he said quietly.
“Alright,” said Patton, “First – you should never have been taking care of Remus and Roman like that.”
Logan bristled immediately, but Patton made a soft crooning noise and scratched his scalp.
“I’m not saying it was bad,” said Patton soothingly, “Or that you did anything wrong. But that’s a parent’s job, sweetheart, not a brother’s. You were so upset that they were only seven, that they were kids, but that means you were only- what? Ten or eleven? That’s too much for a little boy, Logan, no matter how much you loved them.”
Logan had to swallow around a lump in his throat.
“Second,” said Patton, “You’re right that… the shouting’s not great. But you have had… maybe the worst role models in what I think might be the whole wide world some days, and I’m not gonna be mad at you, or scared of you, if you sometimes have less-than-great coping skills.”
“You should be,” muttered Logan.
“Well, you don’t get to decide how I feel, do ya mister?” said Patton brightly, and Logan huffed a wet laugh.
“And the last thing, which I really know you’re not gonna like,” continued Patton, “Is… I think it might actually be a good thing that Roman went to someone other than you or Remus with this.”
Logan went rigid, and Patton shushed him softly.
“Not because I think you or Remus would have been bad at it,” he said gently, “But… Logan, it’s been the three of you, and only the three of you, for so, so long. Private tutors instead of going to school, not allowed to be friends with the servants, not allowed to even leave, and barely able to get away with even touching each other on top of it all. It’s good that you still had each other, but it’s not good that that’s all you had.”
He bent forward to kiss Logan on top of the head.
“Especially you,” said Patton quietly, “Feeling like you had to shoulder all of it yourself. That’s not fair to any of you, and it’s not healthy.”
He ran the hand that wasn’t combing through Logan’s hair across his back.
“But now,” said Patton, “You can come to me, and so can Remus and Roman. They can go to Virgil, or Janus. We’re still not the biggest family, but you aren’t alone anymore. You don’t have to do it all by yourself. We can all help each other.”
Shoving his face into Patton’s thigh, Logan let out a muffled, choked noise.
“Shh, it’s okay,” whispered Patton, “It’s okay baby. You can cry, everything’s gonna be fine.”
Curling up, Logan pressed his face to Patton’s stomach, and let himself cry.
Virgil was a heavy sleeper.
Roman didn't often take unfair advantage of it, usually only to get up and go to the bathroom without waking him, but tonight they left a little note on their pillow for Virgil to find in case Roman was still gone when he woke up, and walked out of their quarters.
He should let it go. Logan hadn't said anything bad – he'd said he would practice and thanked Roman for telling him and promised he wasn't mad, and Logan never promised anything he didn't mean.
But something was wrong. Roman didn't know what, but they could tell.
He didn't even know what he was going to do when he got to Logan and Patton's quarters. It was the middle of the night – they couldn't just barge in and demand Logan's attention like they were children again, not when he shared a room with Patton.
But Roman didn't know what else to do – he certainly couldn't sleep like this.
The door of Logan's solar was already open for some reason when Roman arrived at it, and they hesitantly stuck their head inside. The bedroom and office lights were clearly off under the shut doors, and Roman wilted.
He should just go back to bed. What had they even been thinking?
Jolting, Roman stood up ramrod straight and whirled on his heel.
It was only Patton, squinting and sans glasses in the dim light, and Roman felt mortified heat crawling up their neck.
"What's up-" Patton's sentence broke in the middle with a huge yawn, "-Buttercup?"
"I- I just, um..."
Patton squinted a little before smiling softly.
"Tell you what," he said softly, "Why don't I go sleep in a guest room, and you and your brother have a talk."
"I can't- I can't just kick you out of your own quarters-" Roman mumbled.
"Roman, there's more guest rooms in this house than any ten folks know what to do with and they've all got feather mattresses. I'll be fine."
Patton leaned over to pat him on the arm, and Roman grabbed his hand on autopilot, squeezing.
"What- what if he doesn't wanna see me?" they croaked.
"Oh, sweetheart," said Patton, squeezing him back, "Don't be silly. Logan always wants to see you."
He carefully pulled his hand out of Roman's, and turned back down the hall.
Roman stood there in the doorway of the solar for another long minute, worrying their lip. Finally, he squared his shoulders and crossed the room to Logan's bedroom door.
It creaked ominously when they opened it, and they winced. Logan let out a short, questioning grunt from the dark bed.
"Pat?" he said groggily.
"Um... no," said Roman quietly.
Logan lurched up.
"Roman?" he called.
"... Yeah," said Roman, hesitating a little as he stepped into the room.
They both stared for a moment, before Logan's face crumpled in a strange way and he reached out a hand and made the little squeezy motion they'd learned from Patton. Grabby hands, he'd called them.
Roman came over and crawled carefully up onto the bed, relaxing when Logan gently wrapped his arms around their shoulders, tucking Roman up against his chest.
Not mad. Logan was upset, and Roman didn't know why, and that was bad, but he wasn't mad, and some terribly anxious thing unfurled a little in Roman's chest.
Logan pressed his face into Roman's hair. He patted Roman on the back gently, a little awkwardly.
"Are you okay?" said Roman.
Logan let out a short, humorless laugh.
"I should be asking you that. You are the one who has had a stressful experience."
"We can both ask," he muttered a little petulantly.
Logan laughed again, a little more genuinely.
"Very well," he said, "I am okay. Are you?"
"Are you mad at me?" Roman blurted.
Inhaling sharply, Logan went tense and still, and Roman felt tiny in his arms.
"No," said Logan, his voice slightly strangled, "No Roman, never. I could never be mad at you."
"Completely untrue," said Roman nervously.
"Not for something like this," said Logan, "Never, Roman,"
"Then why... why are you..."
Logan sighed, and wind ruffled Roman's hair.
"Have I ever told you," said Logan abruptly, "That I was present when you learned to walk?"
Roman furrowed their brow, shaking their head no.
"You were two, and I was five," said Logan, "And you took two steps on your own after Nanny let go of your hands and felt right into my lap, tore the page of my book, and then you burst into tears."
"Am I in trouble for this twenty years after the fact?"
"No," said Logan, amused, "I helped you sit up. I wiped your face with my sleeve and I held your hand. Nanny must not have been paying attention, because I wasn't supposed to, and I knew I wasn't supposed to. But you were crying and- and it was terrible. I remember thinking it was the worst feeling in the world, seeing you cry."
Roman felt a lump in his throat.
"So I decided," said Logan, voice wobbling, "That I would do anything if it meant you didn't cry again. I became... rather annoying to Nanny, I think, constantly following the two of you around and hovering over you with toys to placate you with the moment you seemed upset."
Laughing, Roman let their face fall to rest on Logan's chest.
"When they moved me out of the nursery I started having... in hindsight I believe they were anxiety attacks." said Logan, "I couldn't- I couldn't handle the thought that you could be hurt or scared and I wouldn't be there."
Logan swallowed audibly.
"... I still can't," he croaked.
Roman burrowed further into Logan's arms, chest aching.
"But... you are not two. Or four, or seven, or even fifteen," said Logan wetly, "I can't follow you around the nursery and fix every upset with toys or games I made up on the spot."
"I mean, you could try," said Roman, trying to lighten the mood a little, and Logan pinched his side in retaliation.
"I'm glad you had Virgil, and Janus," said Logan, "Because- because I would have tried, but I wouldn't have known enough to help you with this. I am... just going to have to grow used to the idea that you will not always need me anymore."
“Also completely untrue,” said Roman wetly.
Logan went still.
“I am always going to need my big brother,” croaked Roman, “No matter what.”
Laughing a little, Logan reached up to pat them gently on the hair.
“That… is comforting,” he said faintly.
Sniffing, Roman curled up small in his brother’s arms, and when he dreamed, it was only of laughter and play.
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