Roman- Remus, no! I said we have to leave! Can you listen for once in your life?
Remus- I'm sorry I'm bad at listening! I'm sorry I messed everything up!
Remus- But you need this signal and I'm gonna give it to you.
Roman- Remus, no! I said we have to leave! Can you listen for once in your life?
Remus- I'm sorry I'm bad at listening! I'm sorry I messed everything up!
Remus- But you need this signal and I'm gonna give it to you.
CW: Hurt no comfort
There was a fire deep inside of him that wouldn’t go out, and yet, it wouldn’t burn. Instead, it smoldered, threatening to heat him from the inside but never consume him. To leave him grasping at the warmth but not comforted by it.
‘Come now, let it out. You’ll feel better if you do.’ Like an imp tending the fire, he felt the embers being stoked, felt the heat sear through his soul. Something deep within him was begging to let the fire burn. Let it grow, let it consume.
‘They don’t mean it. They are trying their best with the knowledge they have, besides, you haven’t been straightforward with your complaints. How are they supposed to know?’ Water smothered the embers, drowning out the fire before the flames could rise. Smoke rose to his throat and eyes, breaking a dam he had carefully built, brick by brick; word by word.
Tears. Tears of frustration, of self-loathing, of hatred. The tears fell like acid rain, harsh, damaging, poisoned. They flooded the façade he had built.
‘You don’t deserve this. You don’t deserve to watch your work be destroyed. Fight back.’
‘You can’t fight the mess you created.’
‘You shouldn’t have to explain and defend yourself at every step.’
‘They can’t know your needs if you keep silent.’
‘You’ve spoken up before and your needs weren’t met.’
The war in his head continued to wage on. A fire that never burned but never went out.
Roman took in an unsteady breath as he tried to calm the war inside his head, he tried to make sense of the fighting sides. He hid under the covers, hoping the darkness would hide his thoughts from himself. He didn’t want to fracture.
Tag List: @tsshipmonth2020 @simplestoryteller @fantasticfangirl21 @joylessnightsky
A/N: so I wrote this for my lovely friend @whattheremus for Christmas and it's kinda grown on me and I thought I'd share :)
Characters: Roman, Virgil
Relationship: platonic prinxiety (or romantic if you want)
Tw: fear of the dark, shadows, death mention, graphic descriptions of death, panic attack, hallucinations, momentary loss of speech (Roman can't talk for a bit), cursing
Word count: 3,576
Since the beginning, darkness has been the bringer of evil. Creatures and creations thrive in the dark, waiting in the shadows for the right time to pounce. They're always hungry, always watching and waiting for you to slip up, to make a mistake, so they can have you all to themselves. The darkness doesn't care who or what you are. It doesn't care how old you are or where you're at.
All it cares about is you.
It's this same all-consuming darkness that fills every crevasse of his room, every inch of the grand bedroom was shrouded in shadow.
A bump. A crash. A rustle in the darkness.
The jerk of bedsheets. The bated breath of fear.
Roman now stared out into the darkness, eyes wide and unseeing against the pitch black of the room.
No.. no no this can't be happening-
His nightlight must have died again. Damn, he really needed to get a new one.
Dark dark dark it's too dark too dark, flooded his brain.
Curling up in his bed, he kept his eyes open, unable to ignore the looming threat slowly creeping closer. He could feel the pressure building building building, getting closer closer closer. He could feel the icy breath against his skin, and the jagged edge of darkness slicing through his flesh.
Shapes moved in the corners, hands grabbed at him from the floor. He could have sworn he saw eyes staring at him. White, dangerous eyes that bore straight through his soul and sent a shiver of pure ice down his spine. Everywhere he looked it was dark dark dark...
It was so dark.
The hands got closer, the ice got colder, and shadows grew thicker. They were touching him, choking him, suffocating him and he couldn't do anything about it.
He wanted to scream. Wanted to scream and yell and beg for mercy because he didn't know how much longer his body could stand it, how much longer his mind could stand it. His mouth opened, ready to scream-
A choked, cut-off whimper was all that came out. He tasted salt and saliva on his tongue, soon mixing with the blood pouring out of the indention being made by his teeth in his cheek.
He felt the hands around his neck, the hands grabbing at every inch of his body until it didn't feel like his body anymore. The darkness was violating him, consuming him, eating him alive. It was winning, after all this time it was finally winning.
And Roman could do nothing but watch.
Watch as the hands clouded his vision. Watched as the swirly inkyness of the darkness filled his senses until his mind could only chant dark dark dark. Watched as the cold fog of his breath slowly disappeared and all that was left was black.
Well, there was a reason he always wore white.
His lungs felt strained against his ribcage, too full but not full enough. He tried to breathe, tried to take a breath of that cold cold cold air. He tried to swallow, tried to wet his mouth and move his tongue. Tried to blink away the tears that formed from staring too long. Tried to strain his ears to listen for footsteps, for signs of help.
All he could do was sit. His lungs stopped working, his throat refused to swallow, his tongue refused to move. His eyes remained glued open, staring staring staring into the abyss. Around him was looming silence. Suffocating silence. There was no sound. It was a pure void, no breath, no creaks, no static, no nothing. Just...
It felt wrong. The Mindscape was always buzzing with noise; the faint murmur of conversations, the gibberish on the tv, the boiling of water in the kettle or the scrape of a chair against the floor. There was always noise, always sound. Even at the dead of night it was loud. The refrigerator buzzing, the dishwasher humming, the washing machine thumping, or the muffled beat of music through a certain purple door. There was never silence, never quiet.
Immediately, he wanted to fill that silence.
He needed help. He needed someone to find him. He can't... He can't do this on his own, he's too weak.
Weak... Weak... Weak...
He was always the weak one, wasn't he?
He was the figment scared of the dark, scared of what's in the dark and it scared him so bad he couldn't breathe.
Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.
Right, he needed to breathe.
He just needed to focus on- what was that?
A shadow moved. A shadow moved. It crept closer. And closer. And closer. It's tendril-like fingers curled in a claw-like form waiting to rip him to shreds. It's coming coming coming. He can't escape. He can't call for help, can't fight back, can't do anything.
So he waits.
Waits for the ice cold daggers to bore into his skin. Waits for the claws to dig on either side of his trachea, cutting off all air supply. Waits for the numbness to spread along his body as he slowly loses consciousness. He waits. And waits. And waits.
A warm hand on his knee. The soft 'click' of the lamp. Roman can see the warmth of light behind his eyelids- wait, when did he close his eyes?
"Princey? Can you hear me?"
Is that..? No, it can't be- can it?
He nods his head in a jerky motion and feels the warm warm warm hand leave his knee. He tried to whimper at the loss of heat but it only came out as an exhale.
"Okay, thats,,, that's good. Um, can you speak?" He asked hesitantly.
Roman opened his mouth. Then closed it. Then opened it again. No matter how much he pushed, how much he willed his vocal cords to vibrate and his tongue to work, nothing happened. He closed his mouth and pressed his lips in a thin line, jaw clenching. He settled on shaking his head.
"No? You can't speak?" Virgil asked. A nod. "Okay, thank you for telling me. Er- letting me know. Can,, can you open your eyes?"
Roman didn't know. Was it safe? Was that thing still in here? What if Virgil wasn't real and it's just the shadows playing games with him? What if he's already unconscious and this is just a dream?
Some cruel dream.
"Hey hey none of that. I can practically hear you thinking. I'm real, Princey, I'm right here. Is it okay if I touch you?"
His nod shouldn't have been that quick.
Still, Virgil didn't hesitate to put his hand back on his knee, this time rubbing small circles with his thumb.
"Ro, can you open your eyes for me?" Virgil's voice sounded so small. So... Tired.
Oh yeah, it was the middle of the night. And he just woke Virgil up with his senseless panicking.
He nodded his head and pried his eyes open. He was met with a slightly disheveled looking Virgil; hair rumpled from sleep, clothes wrinkled, and eyeshadow missing. Were those,,, freckles?
Not now, Roman.
Roman slowly looked up and met his eyes. They were bright and alert, almost as if it was midday and he's been awake for hours. They were filled with concern and worry, his brow creased with the latter, and he instantly felt calm. He blinked once. Twice. Three times.
His eyes were working now.
"Can you name five things you can see? Or- well, point to them if you can't speak," Virgil asked and, bless him, he's acting way too patient with him. It's almost enough to make him believe he cares. Roman only nodded and proceeded to look around.
He spotted the lamp on his bedside table and pointed to it, earning a 'good' from Virgil. He looked around and pointed to the window, his desk, the bed, and Virgil. He looked over to the far right corner of his room where a hanging plant had fallen, scattering leaves and dirt all over his floor.
Huh.. so that must have been what the bump was about.
Virgil squeezed his knee.
"Good, you're doing good. Now, four things you can touch?"
Roman's hand hesitantly rested on the sheets, trembling and shaky. Was he really that scared?
"Sheets?" Virgil asked quietly. Roman nodded, and moved his hand to his pants. "Pants?"
Another nod. A shaky inhale. His hand moved to his chest.
"Shirt?" A nod. "Good, okay one more, Ro."
His hand slowly slowly slowly reached out for Virgil. It hovered just above the emo's own hand, shaking against the possibilities. What if this wasn't real? What if Virgil's not here and as soon as he touches him he'll disappear into a cloud of smoke and the light will go out and he'll be left alone alone alone-
Warm on his hand. His head jerked down, eyes landing on where Virgil's hand was now intertwined with his, thumb rubbing against his knuckles. He lifted his gaze and met Virgil's oh so kind eyes, the purple and green looking soft in the warm light of the lamp. He still looked concerned but he had calmed down a bit, now only focused on Roman.
But hadn't Roman been the center of attention for long enough?
Didn't he,,, didn't he deserve to be scared? For all the hurt, all the pain he caused? Is still causing? Shouldn't he be forced to deal with this by himself? He did so many bad things to so many good people.
Didn't he deserve a little bit of hurt?
The husky voice of a sleepy Virgil caught his attention, bringing his mind away from his thoughts.
"Did I lose you there, Princey?" Virgil whispered, tapping his hand a little bit to help ground him. A small nod was all he received, along with Roman recoiling slightly. "No no don't do that, it's okay. I'm not mad at you for spacing out, Ro."
The wave of disbelief shouldn't have hit him that hard.
Apparently it had shown, as Virgil's face instantly fell and his body jerked forward as if he wanted to give him a hug but stopped himself.
Roman should have known he wasn't worth it.
.. It still hurt though.
"Prin- Roman... You don't believe me, do you?" Roman didn't like how hollow his voice sounded. Virgil should never sound that hollow.
A small shake of a head.
"Oh, Ro... Okay. Okay um,, do you believe me when I say I'm not going to hurt you?"
A hesitant nod. A sigh of relief.
"Okay, that's good. I'm not going to hurt you, I'm here to help. I felt your anxiety about something from my room and I decided to come check it out. No no it's not your fault, come back here," he explained, pulling Roman closer by the hand as he tried to shy away again. "Do you think you can continue the exercise?"
"Okay three things you can hear?"
Roman reached out a hand to tap Virgil's chest.
A nod. A nod in return.
Roman pointed to the window where trees rustled in the distance, lit up only by the faint light of the moon.
"Wind? Do you hear the wind?"
Roman paused, listening. He strained his ears, tried to listen for something something something.
Nothing could frown out the noise in his head.
Dark dark dark
Weak weak weak
He lifted his hand to tap against his skull.
"Your head? What do you me- do you mean the voices? Are there voices in your head Princey?"
A nod. Roman looked away from Virgil, choosing to look at the blanket below him.
"What are they saying, Ro? How can I stop them?"
A shake of his head.
"No as in you don't know how or no as in you can't?"
"Okay... Um.. okay two things you can smell?"
Roman lifted the blanket, burying his nose in the fluffy fabric and breathing in. It smelled like warm vanilla with a hint of strawberries. It had always smelled like this for as long as he could remember. It was his favorite blanket, one gifted to him by- well, Virgil actually. He had thrown it at him on his birthday, mumbling a quiet 'happy birthday, Princey' before he had nudged his shoulder and shuffled out of the room.
That was four years ago now, shortly after Virgil was first accepted. Used to, it would bring up memories, painful memories that Roman only dared to think back to when he needed to remind himself how much of a screw up he was. But looking at it now, looking at how far Virgil has come... It filled Roman with pride. Seeing him go from the shy, anxious, introverted side to the openly kind, caring, and snarky one now sitting on his bed trying to calm him down.
Roman couldn't think he had ever met such a brave person before.
"Okay, your blanket? Wait, isn't that…" Virgil paused, taking a moment to fully register the blanket.
"You kept it?" Virgil whispered out. If Roman was looking hard enough, he would notice that the corners of his mouth were slightly turned up into a barely-there smile.
Not that he was looking, of course.
He nodded and pulled the blanket more in his lap, smiling at how Virgil let out a huff of laughter before rubbing the back of his neck.
"I didn't think you'd keep it, if I was being honest. Thought you'd just kept it in your closet or something."
Roman shook his head almost frantically, hugging the blanket closer to his chest. He opened his mouth, trying to push out the words of "it's my favorite because it reminds me of you" or "I keep it in here so I know it's safe" but nothing comes out. He huffs and tries again. Nothing.
A soft hand finds his in the fluff of the blanket and Romans eyes snap forward.
"It's okay it's okay, I get it now. You like the blanket. It's okay. I'm glad you like it," he said with a smile, his sentence trailing off at the end as he looked down to their once again intertwined hands. "Can you name one more thing you can smell?"
Roman carefully untangled his hand from Virgils where it sat on his knee and tapped Virgil's chest, earning a raised eyebrow in return.
The smell of black coffee and chocolate icing. It was one that Roman could never get used to and he didn't think he ever could. It was so distinct, two rich scents mixing into one. It was so very much Virgil that it was hard to ignore. He absolutely adored it.
I guess it's good that vanilla and chocolate go well together.
"Huh.. okay we're definitely coming back to that later- One last thing, something you can taste?"
Roman tapped his eyes with his finger before looking down at their hands again, finding comfort in the foreign yet familiar gesture.
"Eyes? No, that's weird. Um, what do yo- oh.... Tears."
A final nod. Virgil grabbed his free hand with his own, now holding both of his hands and resting them against the soft blanket.
"Do you think you can speak now? Or try to, at least?"
Virgil was so soft with him, so sweet and careful and oh so caring. It made Roman want to explode. It made him want to scream and wail and cry and shake because he knew he didn't deserve this softness. He didn't deserve this kindness being given to him so freely.
But Roman wanted to try. He wanted to earn that kindness, wanted to work up to the point where simple actions such as these were normal. He wanted to get better, wanted to be better.
And maybe this was how he started.
He took a deep breath and closed his eyes, focusing on the words words words in his brain before opening his mouth.
It was barely a whisper, more of a croak, but it was words. He opened his eyes to see Virgil looking at him with- shock??
"Princey... What the fuck do you have to be sorry for?"
".. I woke... Woke you up-"
"No, you didn't. I woke up because of your anxiety."
"Not the same thing. You can't control your anxiety, Ro. It just happens. You had no control over it and it wasn't your fault."
"No, no buts. It's. Not. Your. Fault. Can you repeat after me please? It's not your fault."
"It's not your fault."
Virgil huffed out a laugh and swatted at his arm, causing the princely side to shyly smile.
"No- I mean say it for yourself, you smartass!"
"It's not my fault. It's not.. it's not my fault.."
"There you go. Are you feeling better now?" Virgil's fingers traced a few scars on his hands, one of them traveling up his forearm where his skin was littered with hundreds of tiny marks. Roman nodded and cleared his throat, coughing at the dryness.
"Yeah, I'm.. I'm better. Thank you, Virgil," he offered a small smile, earning a little smirk in return.
"Don't mention it, I was glad I could help."
There was a beat of silence where neither of them spoke, only the faint sound of fingertips against skin could be heard as Virgil kept tracing his scars. He didn't mind, he was just glad that someone actually enjoyed them.
"Hey, can I ask you something?"
"You just did"
"Well can I ask you something again then?"
"Sure, go ahead."
"What freaked you out earlier? Was it a nightmare?"
Roman froze from where he was picking at his blanket. His muscles tensed and Virgil must have noticed because he immediately backtracked.
"Sorry! I'm so sorry, that was really insensitive of me of course you don't want to talk about it why would I pressure you into telling me that's really bad to do and I'm so sorry-"
Roman took a deep breath and placed his free hand over Virgils, bringing it slowly down from it's paused position in the air and curling his fingers around his.
"It's okay, Vi. It... It wasn't a nightmare"
"Okay. Wait then- what was it? Y-you don't have to answer though-!"
"It's okay, I... I want to. I need to. It's the only way I'll get better," he took a deep breath. "Do you remember in the episode 'Embarrassing Phases' when the lights went out?"
"Um... Yeah but what does that have to do with this?"
"Well, I'm... I-... um..."
"It's okay, take your time. You don't have to tell me if you don't want to."
"No, I- I have to. I have to tell you, it's the only way I can fix it. I just- need a second."
"I'll be right here."
Roman squeezed his hand in a silent thanks before taking a breath. How is he supposed to admit his greatest fear? How is he supposed to be the prince if he's scared of something so trivial as the dark? What if Virgil will think less of him after he tells him?
But... Virgil's better than that. He's accepting. He's learned to look through multiple perspectives, to see a story from both sides. He... He wouldn't judge him, not now.
He can always take a page out of Virgil's book. Rip it off like a bandaid.
"I-i'm scared of the dark."
A beat of silence.
"I'm... I'm scared of the dark?" It came out as more of a question and Roman felt his ears turn pink with shame. He kept his eyes locked on the blanket, not daring to look away. To look up and see Virgil's face of disappointment, of disapproval. Or worse, of disgust.
"Ro, how long has this been going on?" Virgil asked. He sounded too soft, too hesitant, too... Careful.
"How long?" Firmer. Pressing. Concern.
"Since we were kids.."
A sharp inhale.
"Kids!? Ro, we... I didn't know, i-"
"It's okay, Virgil. I didn't want you to know. I didn't want any of you to know. I still don't..."
"Wait is that- is that why you ask for the lamp to be on during movie nights?"
"And the hallway nightlights?"
"And the one in your room?"
"Yeah but… It died. The.. the bulb went out or or something, I dunno. I just- I woke up when that plant fell and it was pitch black. I-i couldn't see. I couldn't breathe. I-i couldn't move. It was suffocating, Virgil. It was consuming me and all I could do was sit there and watch-!!"
Warm hands on his face, thumbs gliding across his cheeks. Wetness under his eyes. Oh, he must've been crying.
"Shh shh easy now, it's okay. It's gone, the darkness is gone. I'm here now, I'm right here. Breathe, Princey."
He took a breath, the warm air filling his lungs. It felt like forever ago when that warm air was icy cold and his lungs burned with each breath.
He ended up burying himself in Virgil's shoulder, only now realizing the stormcloud only had a t-shirt and loose boxers on. Virgil wrapped his arms around his shoulders, tugging him closer and rubbing his back. Roman sniffled occasionally, eventually wrapping his arms around Virgil's waist.
For the first time in years, he finally felt warm.
[Creativitwins, Roman angst, unintentionally unsympathetic Patton and Logan, Background Demus, Background Prinxiety, Soft Janus]
WARNINGS: TW SWEARING, REMUS BEING REMUS
Pairings: Demus, Prinxiety, BROTHERLY CREATIVITWINS
(A/N: card provided by @badthingshappenbingo)
A sequel to Sleep Deprivation
“When was the last time you let Roman take a break?”
No one answers.
Roman had passed out. Sleep deprivation finally got to him. As soon as Roman hit the ground, Virgil and Remus were at his side. Virgil held him close and fretted over him while Remus stood back up and moved to stand protectively in front of Roman and Virgil. The younger twin growls and summons his morningstar, looking around the room. He knows Patton and Logan haven’t been the nicest to Roman. He knows Janus has been patching things up with Roman. So Remus glares at Logan and Patton.
“Answer the damn question.” Remus hisses.
“Wouldn’t you know out of all of us? You're his brother.” Logan points out.
Remus rolls his eyes.
“Just because we’re twins, doesn’t mean I always know the shit that Roman is up to. Besides, I haven’t seen Roman around lately. He hasn’t even been to our realm once this week or the week before. So, I know you and goody, goody bitch here know something.” he says, pointing his morningstar at Logan.
“A-Ah, hey, Remus. Maybe put that down? We don’t have to be violent. We can talk this out.” Patton interjects.
“Oh, I will be violent if you and nerd bitch don’t tell me what the fuck you did to my brother.” Remus hisses back.
“Hey! We haven’t done anything!” Patton squeaks in reply before looking to Janus for help. “U-Um, you believe us, right, Janus?”
Janus, who had been watching silently and picking out lies from truths, sighs and looks up. His snake eye glows yellow as he senses lie after lie.
“Does it look like I do? By the way, bold of you to ask me of all people.” he replies before stepping back and examining his glove. “For once, Remus is right. You two know something about Roman and I suggest you tell him because I’m not going to hold him back if he does get violent. This is a matter regarding his brother and his wellbeing so, it’ll be very violent.”
Patton shifts nervously at that.
“O-Okay…” he says before noticing Virgil at Roman’s side. “What about Virgil? The kiddo hasn’t said anything either.”
Remus cuts in again, morningstar aimed at Patton’s throat. The jugular to be scarily precise.
“Virgil is literally the only one who cares about Roman. When was the last time you even took care of him? Oh, that’s right. You don’t. You never gave a shit about him because you never gave him a chance.” he growls. “Now, tell me what you did or I’m playing golf with your eyeballs.”
Logan steps in, rolling his eyes.
“If you must know, Roman was probably just working like he’s supposed to. After all, I have noticed a lack of any good ideas from him. It’s good that he’s more productive now. He tends to waste time on his silly daydreams.” he says.
Remus’ eye twitches and his glow bright red.
“Are you. Fucking. Kidding me? That’s all you have to fucking say?! My brother is passed out on the ground and all you care about is his fucking work ethic?!” he seethes.
Janus looks Roman over, nodding.
“I see it now. Seems like Roman passed out from lack of rest and food. He might even be dehydrated. The only reason why he’s still here is because we’re metaphysical.”
Thomas, who had been watching, blinks in shock.
“Roman…He overworked himself for me? But he didn’t have to. I’m not too pressed about the deadlines. I get it if he needs rest.” he says.
“I know, Thomas. But Roman didn’t just overwork himself for you. It seems he was mostly doing it to please Logan and Patton.” Janus explains.
“Us? W-Why is he trying to please us?” he asks, frowning.
Logan fixes his tie.
“Either way, at least he’s listening to us.”
“Roman overworked himself to please you because he felt like he had to.” Virgil cuts in with a low voice.
Everyone turns to Virgil. Virgil glares back at Patton and Logan. He doesn’t know why he ever believed they were accepting. Especially after seeing how much shit they give poor Roman. He understands Roman now. Hell, he even has some things in common with him…like putting on an act to hide your true vulnerability in fear of being seen or treated differently. Virgil puts on a tough and edgy act to avoid being infantilized and babied by Patton. Roman plays an arrogant and confident role to avoid being looked down on by everyone.
Virgil sighs and looks down at Roman’s pale face. It’s scary to see his prince’s face looking this pale. Pale was not a good look for him. He caresses Roman’s cheek, running his thumb over a faded scar. Poor Roman looks so exhausted. So burnt out and tired. Roman works so hard and Virgil only wishes Logan and Patton could see it. He wishes they could see how much energy Roman sacrifices for them.
“Roman felt like he was never good enough for either of you. He felt like he was never good enough for Thomas. So, he worked harder and harder and harder. He was desperate to find perfect ideas to make you all happy that he stopped taking care of himself. The other reason why he hasn’t keeled over or gotten very sick is because I came to take care of him. I got him to take breaks and feed himself when I could.” Virgil explains, gazing at Roman again.
“B-But he could have come down and joined us for dinner. He could always come to us.” Patton whimpers.
Virgil rolls his eyes.
“Yeah because he totally felt welcome at the table after your constant criticism and put downs.” he huffs.
Patton gasps in shock.
Remus cackles madly, enjoying the way Patton trembles in fear.
“Congratulations, frog daddy. You gave your own kiddo trust issues! Oh right, Roman said he isn’t your kiddo anymore.” he grins.
Patton gasps at that.
Logan cuts in.
“That’s enough. It’s Roman’s fault that he overworked himself then.”
Remus freezes and he turns, head tilted as his grin stretched into something maniacal.
“Are you fucking deaf, Logan? Virgil said Roman overworked because of you and Patton.” he growls, morningstar pointed at the logical side again.
“And if Roman hasn’t been coming to you and Patton because of his trust issues then it only makes more sense that it’s because of the both of you. It seems like Roman can’t come to you for help because neither of you listen or often turn him down. You assume he’s only seeking attention or even faking it. You don’t allow him to want or need so he’s become afraid to do so.” Janus explains in addition.
Remus’ eyes flicker out of anger.
“See? It’s all. Your. fault.” he growls at the two light sides.
Janus holds Remus back before he can lunge forward.
“Don’t waste your time on them, dear. They’re not worth your energy. Now that we have an explanation, we don’t need them anymore. Let’s just go take care of your brother, okay?” he soothes.
Remus sighs but relaxes a bit, eyes returning to normal.
“Fine.” he huffs. “But this isn’t fucking over.
Remus then turns to Virgil.
Virgil blinks and looks up.
“W-We’re going now? Where?” he asks.
“Let’s take him to the dark side. I don’t want these assholes too close to him.” Remus replies. “You can come too if you want, Virgey.”
Virgil sighs but nods. He doesn’t really want to be back there but he’ll do it for Roman.
“Fine. Help me.”
Remus nods and picks up Roman in a fireman’s carry before turning to Patton and Logan.
“If either of you fucks try to follow, I will know.” he threatens before sinking out.
Virgil silently follows.
“We’ll take care of him, Thomas. Take some time for yourself. If Roman’s burnt out, you must be too.” Janus says before sinking out too.
Thomas is then left to deal with Patton and Logan.
Meanwhile, Remus sinks up into the dark side with Roman first. He carries Roman to his bedroom. Thankfully, it’s relatively clean today. Janus makes him keep it clean to a degree. Once in the bedroom, Remus sets his twin down on his bed and tucks him in. He makes sure Roman is comfortable and even puts Squishyboo, his stuffed octopus friend that Roman gave him as a gift, in between Roman’s arms. Unsure of what else is needed, Remus perches on the bed space beside Roman and glances at him worriedly.
Janus and Virgil watch, concerned for the twins. Janus knows the twins better than anyone else. He did take care of them during the early times after the split. Janus remembers Roman being so imaginative and creative. As the years passed, Janus watched as his creative light slowly dimmed and dimmed, flickering as it struggled to remain aglow. Seeing Roman like this scares him. He’s never seen the creative side so quiet and silent. Or still. It seemed wrong.
Then he glances at Remus. His dark and demented Remus who was usually bouncing off the walls as he spouted some twisted tale or idea. Remus was quiet too, watching his twin worriedly still. It made Janus worry too. If one twin was down the other would be affected. It doesn’t help that the twins are still connected and could feel each other’s pain. Janus sighs and sits by Remus, squeezing his shoulder.
“He’ll be alright, dear. He’ll wake up eventually.” he says to Remus.
Remus sighs, staring at his brother’s still form.
“I know. It’s just…I wished he’d stop hurting himself. I wish everyone else would stop hurting him. I wish they would stop putting so much pressure on RoRo.” he mumbles.
Janus gazes at Roman too.
“They’re fools, Remus. Blind fools who just can’t see how great your brother is. And Roman…Roman was thrown into an unkind world with the light sides. They held themselves to a way too high standard and expected Roman to do the same. They forget they’re human and so is he. Roman had no choice but to follow. He is the Ego after all. He has an image to keep. Especially in front of Thomas. Roman was never allowed to freely be himself due to that. He sacrificed his wants and needs just to make them happy. And they gave him nothing but more expectations. Roman didn’t deserve any of that.” he says, watching the prince sleep.
“I was always worried about him.” Virgil finally speaks up, perched on Remus’ nightstand.
Virgil gazes at Roman, looking over him. He’d grown used to his prince being loud and dramatic and vibrant. It was sad to watch that energy diminished as the pressure on him grew heavier and heavier. Virgil had watched as Roman grew quiet and sometimes nervous. He watched as Roman fidgeted nervously rather than excitedly during discussions where he had to bring up his ideas. He watched as Roman worked and worked and worked. He watched as Roman sacrificed his health and time to perfect each idea. He watched as Roman isolated himself in his room, hardly ever leaving his desk.
Virgil remembers going over to see Roman one night…only to find him passed out on the floor. Roman was pale and he looked exhausted. Almost dead. Virgil had to nurse him back to health as best as he could. But even after that, Roman continued to overwork himself. Virgil didn’t know what else to say or do to stop Roman so he did his best to help Roman with moderation. He gently convinced him to take breaks and eat something. It was the least he could do to make sure Roman at least didn’t get sick. And yet, Roman was here. Unconscious. Pale. Definitely sick now.
“I always tried to help by taking care of Princey. I saw him change when the other two started piling more and more things on him. Neither of them cared when Roman would show up exhausted or when he’d skip meals. Roman does so much for Pat and Lo but…they never give him anything back. They only expect more and more. I don’t know why I ever decided to trust them.” Virgil says, sighing. “I can’t believe they just let Roman get this bad…What if he doesn’t wake up?”
Janus shakes his head.
“He will. I know Roman. He still has some strength. He just needs time.” he says.
Remus sighs again, holding Roman’s hand. It’s scary how light and almost boney it is.
“I wish I could heal like Roman can. But all I can do is make things die.” he mutters.
“Remus, we talked about this. Your abilities aren’t your worth. But once your brother wakes up, you and Virgil can help me nurse him back to health, okay?” Janus soothes.
Silence falls in for a moment before Janus speaks again.
“When we were younger…Roman told me he would talk to the moon. He said that the moon would tell him stories and he’d tell the moon his secrets. He said that the moon was his friend and would cheer him up when he was lonely. He would tell me the stories that the moon would tell him. Like the story of the king. Roman always had this creative spark in his eyes when he’d tell me. And he’d glow so bright whenever he got excited. To see him like this now…it makes me regret the times I’d been so awful to him. If I knew he was suffering so much…I would have been there sooner.” he says, reaching over to brush Roman’s hair out of his face.
“Don’t blame yourself, Janus. You couldn’t have known. RoRo’s a good actor. And he puts our needs before his own. He did it so we wouldn’t worry.” Remus replies, his free hand holding Janus’ other hand. “The best we can do now is hope he wakes up so I can beat his ass for scaring me.”
Virgil chuckles tiredly.
“I thought you wanted to help take care of him?” he teases.
Remus smiles a little.
“Yeah…but after that I’m beating shit out of him for scaring me.”
Virgil rolls his eyes.
“Have fun with that.”
Janus smiles sadly and sighs.
“Well, all in due time.”
The three nod, gazing at Roman.
Remus then clings to his twin.
“Please wake up soon, RoRo.”
TRIGGER WARNINGS: EXPLICIT INCESTUAL UNDERAGE RAPE, gaslighting, stockholm syndrome, conditioning, blood, dissociating, let me know if i missed anything!
Synopsis: Roman promises to spend a day with Remus without fighting.
It was Saturday. Remus slept in, curled up in his blankets and holding them to his chin. Daddy had come in during the night, drunk, to quietly fuck him then leave him to clean up. He didn’t like it when Daddy was in a rush, but Daddy’s made it clear that Remus wasn’t in control.
He woke up to knocking at his door. “Hmmph?” He moaned, pulling the pillow over his head.
“Hey, baby bro!” Roman grinned at him. “No one’s home. Wanna play Outlast?”
Remus raised his head and quirked an eyebrow. “You hate Outlast. Where’s Pat and Lo?”
He waved a hand. “I dunno, probably studying and baking cookies. Isn’t Outlast your favourite game?”
“The first one,” Remus clarified. “Not the second one.”
“Right. Well, let’s go!”
Remus sat up. “I don’t know, Ro.”
He pouted. “Why not?”
“I don’t feel like fighting today,” he said honestly. “I don’t have the energy.”
“We don’t always fight!” Roman insisted.
Remus gave him a look. “Really? We don’t?”
“Let me prove it to you!” Roman skipped over and sat in bed. “Let me prove that we can go a whole day without fighting.”
Remus hesitated. Was it worth a shot? He couldn’t say he liked Roman, but he could say he loved him. Truthfully, he didn’t know why they fought all the time. It always seemed unavoidable.
“Okay,” he settled on. “We can try. Outlast?”
Roman grinned. “Yeah!”
They set up in the living room with Mountain Dew and salt and vinegar chips, booting up the game. Remus took the controller first, speedrunning through the first part like he’d done six times in one day before.
“God, you’re good at this game,” Roman said as he took the controller. “But I bet I’m better! I mean— uh… nice job!”
Remus rolled his eyes. Roman trying to be nice was laughable.
“You gotta hide in the locker— Roman, HIDE! You’re gonna get Miles killed!”
“Don’t yell at me! Not everyone is an Outlast freak!”
Remus huffed and went to leave. Roman paused the game and grabbed his hand.
“Wait! I’m sorry, I got carried away. Do over?”
It hadn’t even been twenty minutes. Could they really get through a day without fighting?
But Roman seemed to be really trying, for the first time ever. Remus didn’t understand it but… it felt nice.
“Okay,” he said. “Do over.”
They played through the game with minor arguments but overall having fun. Roman squealed and hid his face in the pillow when Trager cut off Miles’ fingers, then sheepishly asked if they could play Stardew Valley instead. Remus convinced him to finish out the game and it was satisfying watching him cry at the ending, feeling so strongly about something Remus loved with his whole heart.
They went to the kitchen to make lunch. “Let’s make protein shakes,” Roman said excitedly and Remus wrinkled his nose.
“Gross. I want real food.”
Roman frowned. “It is real food! And it’s good, it’s like a milkshake.”
Remus shook his head. “Absolutely not.”
Roman tapped his foot as he thought, looking hurt. Heat chased over Remus’ skin. Shit. He hurt Roman.
“I… well, um… how about… I guess I could try it.”
Roman looked at him hopefully, then smiled and said, “We don’t have to eat the same thing, right? Oh! How about I make you a gross sandwich and you make me my shake?”
Remus thought about it, and decided this was the perfect time to fuck with Roman. “Yeah!”
They got to work, Roman making a disgusting mix of peach, raspberry, and orange Crofters with peanut butter while Remus stuffed the blender full of all the gross things he could. He bit into his sandwich with a grin.
“Mmmmm. Thanks, Ro!”
“Yeah!” He stared at the shake in trepidation. “Yeah. Uh…”
“Aren’t you going to eat?” He asked innocently.
“Yep! Just… Yep!” He took a sip and turned green. “It’s great,” he managed.
Remus burst out into laughter and took the cup. He chugged it down and went to rinse it out.
“Okay, what do you ACTUALLY put in here?”
Roman sighed in relief and instructed him through making the shake. They settled in front of the T.V and watched Coraline as they ate.
They played Stardew Valley for a while until Remus started getting sleepy. He didn’t have a lot of energy lately. He didn’t know why. He slumped over onto Roman’s shoulder and fell asleep.
He woke up to hushed voices. Keeping his eyes closed, he listened.
“-stay away from your brother,” Daddy whispered. “He’s not good for you!”
“We just hung out!” Roman begged, tightening his arm around Remus’ shoulders. “Look at him, he’s just sleeping! We had a good day, Dad.”
“I don’t like what’s been going on with you lately. What happened to my little prince?”
Roman sounded hurt. “I- I still am your little prince.”
“Are you? I thought you hated Remus.”
Remus’ heart clenched. Roman hated him?
“I don’t hate him! I just… get frustrated. I don’t know why we don’t get along.”
“You don’t have to,” Dad insisted. “You don’t have to like him. I don’t.”
“Dad,” Roman said in horror, and it took all of Remus’ strength not to burst into tears right there. “Why have you been spending so much time with him then?”
“I’m trying to get him under control. And it’s working. So please don’t get in the way.”
“I don’t like that,” Roman said. “He doesn’t need to change.”
“You’re too good of a person, Ro. You don’t understand. Don’t you trust me?”
“Good. Now give me a kiss and go to your room.”
“Dad, I… aren’t I too old for that?”
“Now you’re breaking my heart. Are you serious?”
“What— no! No, I just… no, I’m sorry, I take that back. Here.”
Lips smacking together. Roman’s presence leaving, then footsteps. Remus slumped to the couch.
He was picked up and carried into the office. He had to completely dissociate to keep himself from losing it and having a meltdown.
“Baby,” Daddy whispered in his ear, setting him in the office chair.
Remus cracked his eyes open. “Daddy?”
“Now tell me what you and Roman did today.”
Remus hesitated. “Are you mad?”
“Yes. I want you to stay away from your brother. And cuddling with him? Have you forgotten that you’re mine?”
“I can’t…” Remus swallowed, “cuddle?”
“No. And for that you’re getting punished.”
“I don’t understand,” Remus admitted, and he immediately regretted it.
Daddy’s eyes narrowed. “Bend over the desk,” he ordered.
Remus scrambled to obey. Daddy yanked down his pants and disappeared into the closet. He came out with a large paddle.
Remus dug his nails into the desk. He hated this. Fuck, how was he going to get out of this?
“Daddy, please,” he begged. It was just Roman! I didn’t know! Please, PLEASE don’t punish me!”
CRACK! He cried out. Daddy stuffed his pant leg in Remus’ mouth.
“Bite down on that and shut up. You were bad. You knew what you were doing. What are you, a slut? I thought you were all mine! I can’t believe this!”
Remus wanted to beg, to say that he IS all Daddy’s, that no one could ever own him like Daddy could and he was happy with him, anything he could say to get out of this.
But he couldn’t.
He took the punishment, sobbing and hiccuping the entire time, and nearly blacked out when Daddy shoved into him without any prep. He laid there, letting Daddy slam into him, floating out of his body. Was he bleeding again?
His eyes were glazed over. His body knocked against the desk, over and over again. Thunk. Thunk. Thunk. His dad gripped his hair, but he couldn’t feel it.
“Thank me,” he growled, and Remus didn’t process it until he ripped the gag out and smacked him in the head. “Thank me!”
“Thank you, Daddy,” he whispered, and suddenly it made sense.
Remus was bad.
Remus was wrong.
His daddy was being nice and trying to fix him. Logan was wrong, this wasn’t abuse.
It was a lesson.
Please send me asks with what you want to see happen!
Patton is always the one who makes the b-day surprises and this year Roman decided to not do anything so he is alone. :D
TRIGGER WARNINGS: EXPLICIT INCESTUAL UNDERAGE RAPE, conditioning, Stockholm Syndrome, abuse, making excuses for rape, lmk if i missed anything
Synopsis: Logan tries to convince Remus what’s happening is not okay. Roman and Patton talk about their concerns.
It had been six months since Remus’ and his dad’s special relationship started.
Remus tapped his foot in his last class, begging the clock to go by faster. Daddy wanted to see him after school. He sounded happy. He liked when Daddy was happy. He called Remus a good boy and gave him treats and made him dinner afterwards. One time after a particularly tough scene he laid Remus down in bed and helped him sip water and rubbed his legs as he fed Remus crackers. It was nice.
The bell rang. He jumped up and ran to his locker. As he slammed it shut, Logan adjusted his glasses, standing behind the door. Remus jumped.
“Got a minute?” Logan asked.
Remus hesitated. “Not really. What’s up?”
“You seem happier lately. What happened with your problem?”
“We worked it out,” he said in embarrassment.
Logan narrowed his eyes. “What does that mean?”
“We… negotiated. I’m actually going to see him now.”
Logan paled. “You’re letting this happen to you?” He hissed.
Remus bristled. “He’s nicer now!”
“So you’ve got Stockholm Syndrome. Great.”
“I don’t have Stockholm Syndrome!” He snapped.
“Then how do you explain letting your dad fuck you?” Logan whispered, eyes darting.
Remus’ eyes watered. “Maybe I’m just a freak. Maybe it’s none of your business.”
Logan took his hand. “Remus… this isn’t okay. You have to know that. Please don’t let him trick you.”
“All I’ve ever wanted was for my dad to love me,” Remus said with watering eyes. “Now I have that and I’m wrong for it?”
Logan stepped forward. His books clattered to the ground. He grabbed Remus’ face and practically pressed their foreheads together. “Listen to me. You. Are. Not. Wrong. This is not your fault.”
Remus’ breath hitched. Logan’s eyes were the colour of honey, melted and ready to be dipped with apples. Or dunked in hot tea. His glasses glinted in the florescent light.
“I- I have to go,” he murmured, pulling away.
“Remus. Do you actually like him doing this to you?”
“I want him to love me,” Remus said defiantly.
“That’s not what I asked.”
Remus left. He immediately headed to Daddy’s office and locked the door. Music blasted from Roman’s room.
“Hi, Daddy,” Remus said cheerfully.
Daddy turned around and smiled. “Hi, baby boy.”
Remus flushed. He loved that. He never called Roman baby boy. Just for Remus.
“Come sit in my lap.”
Remus did so, relaxing against his chest and closing his eyes. Daddy stroked his hair and Remus almost fell asleep there.
“Why were you late?”
Remus’ blood ran cold.
“Logan stopped me after school. I tried to get him to leave but it was hard.”
His grip tightened. “Logan? Roman’s friend?”
“Isn’t he gay?”
“I don’t want you talking to him anymore. Ever. Got it?”
He frowned. “Daddy—”
“Don’t argue with me! Do you want a punishment?”
“No!” He cried. “I’m sorry!” It was so good. Why wasn’t it good anymore? Why did he have to ruin it?
“You better me. You put me in a bad mood. Get on your knees.”
Remus swallowed and got under his desk, opening his mouth obediently. Remus spent a while warming him, his eyes watering and his knees aching. When Daddy finally let him up, he was crying a little bit. Daddy didn’t wipe his tears but did let him cuddle against him, and that had to be good enough.
Dear Evan Hansen blocked out the sounds of Roman and Patton making out. Roman ran his hands under Patton’s shirt, feeling the dip of his back and smiling into the kiss. Patton giggled and pressed their foreheads together, cupping Roman’s face.
“I love you,” Patton whispered, and Roman grinned.
He jabbed Patton in the side. “Do you?”
Patton squealed. “Yes!”
“You do?” Roman kissed and nipped at his neck while Patton giggled and shrieked. “You do? Well, good, because I love you, too!”
Patton collapsed against his chest, giggling softly and tangling their legs.
They laced their fingers, staring at their hands.
After a while, Patton asked softly, “When are we gonna tell people?”
Roman hummed. “I don’t know. I don’t want to make Logan sad. I think he’d think he’s a third wheel but if we can prove that that wouldn’t happen, he won’t take the news as harsh.”
“I’m worried about Logan,” Patton murmured. “His brother’s been a monster lately. I think he’s abusing Logan.”
Roman sat up, and Patton settled in his lap.
“What?” Roman asked, eyes wide.
Patton nodded. “You haven’t noticed the bruises on his neck? Like someone’s choked him. He tried hiding it with makeup.”
Roman shook his head. “I didn’t… oh god. What do we do?”
“There’s nothing we can do,” Patton said sadly. “Except keep him away from there as much as possible and wait for him to tell us.”
“Why don’t we confront him?”
“When has confronting Logan ever gone well?”
Roman sighed. “I guess that’s true. Speaking of… I’m… I’m worried about…”
Patton frowned. “About? What?”
“My brother,” he finished quietly.
Patton went silent. Then he asked, “Have things gotten worse between you?”
He shook his head. “No. Same old. But… but he’s different. Angrier. More erratic. Last week he almost punched me. I mean, I totally egged him on and it was hilarious, but he’s never gotten violent before.”
“He’s always been really careful about controlling his anger issues,” Patton agreed, “thanks to Janus.”
“Eugh, Janus.” Roman wrinkled his nose and Patton laughed. “What a little punk.”
“You should be grateful for that little punk.” Patton poked his nose. “He’s good for your brother.”
“I guess so. Anyway. I just… he’s not acting like himself.”
“Try to talk to him,” Patton suggested.
He shook his head. “He’d never talk to me.”
“Then go easy. Maybe just start with trying not to fight so much. Trying not to piss him off.”
He pouted. “But pissing him off is so much fun!”
Patton gave him that scolding look Roman fell in love with. “Now, princey, that’s not very nice.”
“Princey?” He grinned, pulling Patton closer to kiss him softly.
“Yeah.” Patton grinned back. “My little princey. I love you.”
“And I you.”
TRIGGER WARNINGS: EXPLICIT UNDERAGE INCESTUAL RAPE, conditioning, gaslighting, stockholm syndrome kinda, abuse
Synopsis: Remus tells a half truth. Or a third truth. More like a quarter.
Virgil laughed as Janus poked his sides, pushing him away. Remus scowled as he entered the basement.
“Remus!” Virgil grinned. “Took you long enough.”
“Are you wearing… a polo?” Janus asked with squinted eyes.
Remus blushed. “Uh… trying out something new.”
“You’re a shitty liar,” Virgil said.
“So what are you guys doing?” Remus sat on the couch.
“Just talking. Um… can we talk to you a moment?”
Remus hesitated. “I don’t know, guys…”
“We’ve been noticing something different with you,” Janus said. “Now, the erraticism, the mood swings, the unpredictability… that’s all normal.”
He wet his lips. They didn’t usually talk about it. Remus’ flaws were… usually elephants in the room.
“But?” Remus asked.
“But…” Virgil shrugged and looked away. “They’re… worse, lately. You’re snapping at us a lot. And we can be patient, we know you say a lot of stuff you don’t mean, but… Remus, we know something is wrong. And we… well, we think we know what it is.”
Remus’ entire body got hot. Oh, fuck. He was so fucked.
“Is Roman hurting you?” Virgil blurted.
Remus’ eyes bulged.
“What? God no!”
Janus held up a hand. “Do not lie to us. We’re not going to immediately jump his shit. If he is hurting you, we need to know so we can come up with a plan on how to stop it. We’re on your side. So tell us the truth. Is Roman hurting you?”
“No,” Remus said firmly.
“Then what was the blood?” Virgil asked.
Remus hesitated. “It’s embarrassing,” he admitted.
“You can tell us,” Virgil said. “We need to know.”
Remus stared at his lap, pretending to be considering but really trying to come up with a lie. How could he explain he was bleeding from the bottom? All he could think of was fucked up masturbation stories.
“Fine,” he sighed. “I… yeah, I was…”
“Raped?” Virgil whispered.
“Yeah.” His eyes watered.
Was that even true? Was he allowed to call it that? He was hard. He came back for more, so desperate for his dad’s affection. What if he was spitting in the face of actual rape victims?
Janus grabbed his hand, looking sick. “Fuck, Remus. I’m so sorry. Who was it, what happened?”
“You can’t tell anyone,” he insisted.
“Why?” Virgil blanched. “You have to go to the hospital!”
“You can’t tell them because he’s dead.”
Remus swallowed. Okay. You’re in way too deep now, Remus.
“I was walking home from 7/11. And a man stopped me, asking for cash. So I went to give him some and he… he pushed me to the ground and… and tore off my pants. He… did the thing… and while he was doing it I managed to get a hold of my pocket knife. I stabbed him in the throat. He bled all over me, I barely got home without being caught. But I hid the body first. I dumped it in the sewers. And so no one can know I was raped because then they’ll know I killed someone and then I’d go to jail.”
Virgil was openly sobbing, covering his mouth. Janus grit his teeth to stop from throwing up. They embraced Remus from either side, holding him gently.
“I’m so sorry,” Virgil whispered.
“It’s okay,” Remus whispered back. “I’m okay.”
He was okay. Because they believed him. They wouldn’t find out about Dad, and Dad wouldn’t punish Remus.
“How can we support you?” Janus asked.
Remus hesitated. He twiddled his thumbs. “I… I can’t… no, it’s way too gross, I can’t ask you—“
“You can ask us anything,” Virgil said seriously.
A few tears dripped down Remus’ face. “I can’t… look at it. To see how bad the damage is.”
Virgil and Janus glanced at each other, then nodded. “Could I tell Mom? She can keep a secret, I promise.”
Virgil’s mom was a doctor. Remus hesitated. He wanted to throw up, the idea that she could bring this up to his parents. Then again, Amber had always been very understanding. And she knew the deal with his parents and Roman.
“Okay,” he agreed.
They went upstairs. Remus’ heart was hammering. Virgil took his mom to the side and when they came out Amber had that same determined-teary-eyed Mom look that she had when Virgil broke his arm. She stormed over to him on the park and set the bone right there before taking him to the hospital.
She wrapped her arms tight around Remus. Remus buried his face in her shoulder and tried not to cry.
“Alright, Rem.” She smiled. “Do you want privacy or the boys with you?”
“Privacy,” he said, and she nodded.
“Okay doing it in the bathroom?”
He nodded, and they headed there.
“Okay. I need you to tell me exactly what happened to your comfort level. Okay? This is strictly for your benefit. You’re not being put on trial. If you misremember a few details, no one’s coming for you.”
“Okay,” he whispered.
He recounted his fake story. She nodded along, brows furrowed, and got pale when he explained the murder.
She pursed her lips. “You’re very brave, Remus. Ready for the physical examination?”
They got him positioned, standing with his feet apart, holding his pants up just above his knees. She examined him closely, taking notes, and brought out a first aid kit.
“Remus… when did you say this happened?”
He paled. “Um… a few months ago.”
“Remus, this is fresh.”
He was going to throw up. “Please don’t tell them,” he begged.
“Are you safe?” She demanded. “Is this going to happen again?”
“No!” He promised. “I mean—yes, I’m safe! It happened a couple times before I… please don’t tell them.”
“When was the last time you showered?” She sighed.
“Before I came over.”
She shook her head. “I wish you wouldn’t have. If you ever wanted to take this to the police we could have used that evidence. But it’s okay. As long as you’re safe now, that’s all that matters. Let me fix you up.”
He felt a lot better physically when they were done, but way worse mentally. He immediately buried himself in Janus’ arms, who kissed the side of his head.
They spent the night trying to get their mind off of it. Playing Minecraft, taking turns on Outlast, eating too many cookies. When they fell asleep, it was in a pile on the floor, Remus in the middle.
Remus dreaded going home, but he did. He walked in the door Saturday morning to find Roman and Dad watching cartoons.
“Morning, Cephy! How was your sleepover?”
“Good,” he mumbled. “What are you watching?”
“Cool. I’m going to my room.”
“Actually, Remus, I wanted to talk to you.” Dad stood up as Roman pouted.
Dad kissed his forehead. “Not a word out of you. I’ll be back.”
Roman grinned, meeting Remus’ gaze. Remus rolled his eyes. He followed his dad to his office, only to be shoved against the door and kissed roughly. Remus gripped his shoulders.
“Daddy?” He asked in confusion as Dad ran his hands up and down Remus’ sides.
“I want you all to myself,” he whispered. “I want to take our time, just you and me.”
Remus beamed. Take that, Roman!
“You’re gonna be a good boy for Daddy?”
He undressed Remus quickly then undressed himself, sitting in his office chair. He pulled Remus into his lap.
“I have a present for you.”
Remus blinked. “For me?”
“For being Daddy’s special secret boy.” He dug around his drawer for a minute before producing a small bottle. “Lube. It’ll make things better for you.”
Remus’ entire body relaxed. “It won’t hurt anymore?”
“No, baby. Not anymore.”
“I… have something for you, too,” he said nervously.
Dad raised an eyebrow. “Really?” He rubbed up and down Remus’ back. It felt so good Remus melted into it. “You’re coming around?”
He nodded. Grabbing his backpack, he pulled out the box of condoms.
Dad looked at it in confusion. “You can’t get pregnant. Why do we need this?”
Remus swallowed. This was not going well, oh fuck. “It’s… it was the only thing I could think of. I’m sorry… do you not like it?”
“Oh, baby.” Dad wrapped his arms around Remus. “We can use them. I love it. Thank you for the gift.”
He kissed Remus’ forehead. That fucking worked? Maybe his dad was an idiot.
Dad coated his fingers in lube and pressed one inside. It was so fucking good. No tearing, no burning, nothing. Just the slight discomfort of having something inside when he wasn’t particularly in the mood.
He slumped against Dad’s chest, and he rubbed Remus’ back as he gently fingered him open. It was almost relaxing. He’d rather play video games with him or do something else, but… it could be worse, right?
“That’s a good boy,” he whispered.
Remus keened. He wasn’t hard, but Dad started stroking him anyway, and as Dad praised him he couldn’t help but get hard.
“Better,” Dad said and took his hands away.
He lifted Remus up and slowly lowered him down. He still didn’t like it, but he was so fucking happy it didn’t hurt anymore.
Dad kissed his cheek and bucked up gently a few times.
“Tell me something you want,” Dad said. “I want to make this time about you.”
Remus bit his lip. I want it to stop. He surely wouldn’t be happy with that.
“Keep… keep telling me I’m good? That you love me?”
“Of course I love you, angel,” he whispered. “You’re so good for me. The best little hole I’ve ever had.”
Remus couldn’t decide if he hated or loved that. Was that all he was to his dad? Something to fuck?
…but if that’s all he was, at least it was something.
“Such a good boy,” he whispered, fucking into him faster. “My good boy. Mine.”
“Yours,” Remus agreed, and the praise was really getting to him. It was all he wanted.
He would do this as long as he had to, he decided, if it meant his dad loved him.
Chapter 5 of Evermore has been posted!! :D https://archiveofourown.org/works/36272881/chapters/90867784
I hope you guys enjoy it! 😊
Roman's issues better be dealt with in the season finale. This man has suffered so much throughout season two I swear to god.
I've said this before and I'll say it again, Roman has a right to be angry at the other sides. He has a right to be upset about how he's been treated. And yes! How he's been dealing with it this far hasn't been healthy! But that doesn't mean we should just teach him how to deal with it! We need to fix the problem at its source. The sides (and Thomas too!) Need to remember that HEY! ROMAN IS THOMAS'S LITERAL EGO! YOU CAN GIVE THOMAS ALL THE COPING MECHANISMS IN THE WORLD TO DEAL WITH HIS ISSUES, BUT IF YOU KEEP ATTACKING THE LITERAL EGO WHILE DOING SO IT ISN'T GONNA DO SHIT.
Logan keeps mentioning that Thomas has low self esteem, and yet it feels like everyone seems to have forgotten that self esteem is Roman's thing, and if Thomas's self esteem is low, then that means Roman's not doing good at all.
I can't wait for the moment when they finally remember that "Oh yeah! This person who we keep ignoring and insulting is Thomas's literal fucking ego." If only for the pure looks of 'oh shit' on all their faces. Am I being slightly petty because Roman's my favorite character? Maybe! But that doesn't change the fact that the sides really need to get their shit together and treat each other better. Because when Virgil, aka Anxiety, is the most sane side in the room, then we've got some serious issues on our hands.
JANUS, YOU'RE LITERALLY SELF PRESERVATION!! I GET THAT ROMAN WAS BEING A BIT OF AN ASSHOLE BY MAKING FUN OF YOUR NAME, BUT THAT DOESN'T EXCUSE YOU COMPARING HIM TO REMUS, THE ONE PERSON HE'S SAID HE DOESN'T WANT TO BE ANYTHING LIKE. HELLO?? WHAT THE FUCK.
Here's to hoping that Roman's issues get dealt with in the season finale, and that he'll get treated better from here on out. Cheers! 🍸
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The set up was not the same as last time. The focus was not put on Remus anymore but was split on all of them. They were again in the living room, again sitting all over the couch but Logan who stood and watching the bunch in front of him.
Thomas was on his drive to Mrs Ramírez and Logan went through the list in his head (and the one he had printed out and held in his hands) for the fourth time. He wanted this to go down right this time and he had done everything he could to prepare himself and the others. Had talked it through thoroughly with Patton and Roman. Had a one on one talk with Virgil about what were important details and facts Logan needed to ask Mrs Ramírez that he had overlooked the last time. Went through the last session with Janus step by step, analysed with him every detail he pointed out to him. Spent time with Remus to… Well not really to do anything specific. It was more moments where he himself got time to get a little distracted and stopped thinking non-stop. Remus just showed him vases he then threw against a wall, animals he had dissected and now needed his help to properly name the parts of them.
Logan believed that it had helped. But he was not certain if it was enough and he had no time left to do more. Now, they were going to the next session and it had to be enough.
Sternly Logan watched the others on the couch. From the left to the right it was Janus, Patton, Remus, Virgil and then Roman. Janus had pointed out that maybe sitting Remus and Virgil next to each other in a situation of great distress, was not the best idea but the Duke had been unyielding. He insisted to be sat next to him and Virgil did not protest against it so everybody just went with it.
And Logan stood in front of them again. They all had agreed that he was the best to guide Thomas through this. And Logan was grateful for their trust. He really was. They had made sure to tell him that he had a space in all of Thomas’s conversations and problems and that he had his space with them.
It was just that now that he had heard all sides talk and bring up their worries… He understood how much more complicated this whole ordeal was and how much was at stake. He understood now where Janus was coming from, why Virgil had needed so long to get to this decision. And this insight made it a little harder for Logan to move, to react, to be the cool-headed Logic he used to be.
Thomas turned into the driveaway.
Patton shot Logan his widest smile. Roman gave him a thumbs-up and Virgil added a little nod. And Janus and Remus just gave him a look. The yellow intense and ready to strike if needed be and the brown rural and dead like the forest ground with its rotting vegetation in a seeming stillness which never was truly still.
Thomas sat down in the waiting area after he had greeted the receptionist with a smile. Ha had to wait for a couple minutes.
And then it was time. Thomas was called in and Logan joined their human trusting that the others would be able to handle themselves, while he was up with Thomas.
The session started. Mrs Ramírez asked about Thomas’s week, about which things had stuck with him and what was on his mind now. And the living room in the Mindscape was mostly silent. Patton was looking over to Virgil, held Janus’s hand firmly and petted Remus’s leg. The Duke liked body contact and Patton was willing to provide everything he needed to feel more included.
Patton looked lastly over to Roman. He was calm despite not sitting next to his brother, ergo being unable to immediately react if anything was going awry. But then again, Roman seemed to be a lot more focused on listening to what was going on with Thomas while Patton himself was far more invested with his “dark” family.
He was worried for them since none of the three were behaving like their usual selves. Janus was stiff next to him, just as he had been last time but at least he was a little more responsive. Virgil was white as a bed sheet and rocked his just slightly back and forth while digging his fingers into his thighs. And Remus –
Actually, Remus appeared to be quite fine. He was silent which was unusual for him, but he didn’t seem to be nearly as distressed or nervous as he had been the last time. Which probably should relax Patton but somehow, he just felt more nervous due to it. Not hearing anything from Remus meant there was a storm coming, at least it usually did, and Patton was unsure how he would be able to handle that. If he was able to handle it.
And as Patton sat there and quietly worried about things that were outside of his control, Mrs Ramírez asked Thomas if he had ever used any medication to treating his anxiety.
Virgil flinched violently and grabbed his upper arms with nervous force, while shutting his eyes. The medication would not hurt him, Virgil knew it wouldn’t but still he was afraid. Afraid of what it could change, of what side effects it could have and of how Thomas’s friends would react. And the fear rang in his ears. It rang and vibrated and it made it impossible for him to hear what Patton was saying, impossible to focus on the questions Logan was helping Thomas to answer.
He could not comprehend what happened outside of him. He didn’t see how Patton stood next to him and talked to him, unsure what even had upset him. He did not see how Remus suddenly pressed Patton back and told him: “I’ve got an idea, popsicle. Let me handle it. Ro, cup your ears.”
Virgil did not see how Roman held his hands over his ears but he felt the big hand on his shoulder and Remus’s warmth pushing closer to him. And at once there was a voice. Clear and cutting. A catching melody in it and the foreboding beat the Duke loved so much.
“Imagine with me!” “Daydreaming holding hands with your best friend” “Your mum chased into a dark dead end” “Your skin falling off like leaves in autumn” “Your iPod sinking to ocean bottom”
Virgil shuddered a little. The rhymes weren’t bad and the pictures grotesque.
“Dancing naked in front of your audience”
… Did Remus slow down a little?
“Your bro called out for intolerance”
It really was not such a bad beat.
“Your hamster dying of overfeeding”
And the imagery was almost entertaining if you didn’t focus on the ideas behind it too much. And then Virgil caught Remus’s look.
“Your hairline even more…” “…receding”
Virgil’s voice was a little off and he knew the notes didn’t come out like he planned. But his head wasn’t stuck anymore. He wasn’t pulled into his own panic anymore. He was able to keep up with Remus’s rhymes and shakily added his own lyrics to the song Remus had started.
It redirected his nervous energy, pulled it away from Patton’s surprised staring at the two of them, Roman’s faint smile as he watched them sing. Pulled it away from noticing how Janus had moved out of his frozen state and stood next to Patton, watching him carefully.
What Virgil did register though was how Logan at once reappeared in front of them all. His eyes immediately locked on Roman who stared right back at him and took his hand away from his ears.
“Teach?” Roman asked and eyed Logan a little worried.
His breathing was slightly faster than usual and his hand movements a little too stiff.
And yet Logan’s voice sounded almost the same as always when he turned to Roman and questioned: “I require your assistance. To ask Mrs Ramírez questions about the medication. I seem unable to encourage Thomas to do so. Would you comply?”
In a flash Roman stood, barley giving Remus a look and nodded to Logan. At that both Prince and Teacher pulled up and left the four others to themselves. And this sudden absence of Roman sent a shiver down Virgil’s spine and at once he found Remus’s arms gingerly put around him.
First, he was confused, then he realized that he had stopped singing and was unable to start again, which almost lead him to freak out anew.
“No, kiddo it’s okay! Roman will come back soon and so will Logan! I am sure they do a wonderful job and-” Virgil heard Patton say but abruptly stop.
Thank god he stopped. Virgil knew Patton meant well but he was not helping. He was not helping with telling him what was to come. Not now. Now he needed something different. Something not so mushy and positive and, and -
“You’re going too fast for him Patton. You cannot expect him to be just fine again. You need to take baby steps first before you can go this big.”
No, Virgil could not just be fine again. He was scared and felt like he was pushed in a corner and no way to flee or see what was in front of him. He was helpless, useless in a situation like this, where he was asked to just sit still and stand by while everything in him screamed to hide or flee or fight even. But he couldn’t and he did not know how to deal with it.
A gloved hand on his knee. Janus’s eyes on him. Glowing smoothly. Somehow, he thought that the left eye had a purple tint to it.
That tone. So secure. So familiar.
Virgil nodded. Janus grinned faintly and closed his eyes in response. Then he opened them again and Virgil noticed how Janus’s second left arm reached for Remus’s knee next to his.
“Listen closely. Listen to me speaking the truth Virgil; Today will not defy you.”
Patton sat next to the three amazed and overwhelmed and baffled. He sat there somehow finally feeling all the exhaustion washing over him. All this uncertainty in him catching up and making his limbs heavy and him so, so lethargic. He had kept going for so long. Kept controlling Logan and Roman so long and it took so much out of him. Because they were always so energized, so determined to do things, so forceful and demanding of his energy. And he had to give it to them. He had to comply and help them since he was the one who asked so much of them and it was hard to work with that. It was hard to give so much energy and knowing it would never be enough. Never having enough energy for them and nothing left for himself.
And then there pierced Virgil’s wobbly voice through Patton’s thought and he listened up.
“Today will not defy me?”
“It is not a question, sweetie,” Janus said with a patience Patton could only admire and wish for himself to have. “Again. With feeling. I’ll help you with it.”
And Patton turned his whole attention on Janus, on how he looked at Virgil and how Virgil looked back. How Virgil parted his lips and Janus responded to it with an encouraging look and mimed the motion with his lips.
“Today will not defy me,” it came so quietly from Virgil but it came.
“Today will not defy me,” he repeated with Janus’s help.
“Today will not defy me,” Remus joined them too.
The three fell into a rhythm and Patton listened so closely. Listened and felt. Felt the strength within their resistance to just prevail. To stay alive and keep ongoing.
And then he felt his heartbeat joining their words. Felt a harmony he had forgotten existed.
Silently. Ever so silently, Patton mumbled the words with them. Held them close to his chest and let them comfort him just as much as they comforted Virgil. And just as silently he thanked Janus in his mind for the soft hand of his, which brushed comforting over his knee, knowing fully well that Patton needed just that. Needed the gentleness of him and the authenticity which lay behind the gesture.
The words remained for a while. The three dark sides kept each other close, kept Patton close and got quieter and calmer with every minute. And as the calm kept coming, they got to listen to Thomas talking with Mrs Ramírez. Heard how he thanked her for her patience with his many questions about the effects people had experienced when they started with medication and for which signs, he had to look out after beginning to take them.
And the second appointment got to its end. Thomas walked outside of the office to his car and sat there in silence for a moment. Just breathing and concentrating on his own body. Being mindful he decided. Then he smiled a little, silently thanked his Prince and his Teacher silently and started the car to drive back home. He would call Joan when he got home and tell them how it had gone down today.
The drive home began and Roman and Logan threw each other a look. Roman was positively beaming, so happy that he had been helpful and Logan just gave him a grateful look. They had done it. They had prevailed and pushed through.
A little awkwardly Logan raised his hand and just hoped Roman would get the hint. And he did. Enthusiastically, Roman high-fived the Teach and bounced on the spot. Logan just chuckled a little at that and asked: “Shall we join the others?”
“Yes, please!” Roman answered excitedly and both sunk down into the living room.
Contently, they found themselves standing close to the couch and watched how four faces turned towards them just as they reappeared.
“Greetings my fellow Sides!” Roman said with an energetic bow and Logan crossed his arms in front of his chest, fondly smiling at his antics.
Janus joined the smile as he got up from his crouching position in front of Virgil and stood a little to the side to give Remus and Patton a full view on the two returned sides. Curiously, he quirked his eyebrow at Roman’s enthusiasm and shot a side-eye to Patton, who seemed to be oddly moved by the whole spiel.
“I see you are quite happy with your performance, Roman,” Janus said softly and got Roman’s full attention.
“Nay, I’m overjoyed with it!” Roman beamed and shot a look over to Logan who playfully rolled his eyes at the hyper energy. “I managed to ask everything Logan wanted to know! Now it will be easy to answer all the questions you might have! Right Logan?”
“Correct. You did very well, Roman,” Logan gently praised and then turned his focus to the couch.
The three sides, who were still sitting on the couch, looked right back at Logan and he at once was very aware of how exhausted and small Virgil looked. Not in a panicked way but it was rather unsettling seeing their friend like this. And just as Logan had recognised that Roman seemed to have come to the same realisation and carefully stepped closer to the others and was soft as he spoke up.
“Virge? Are you fine? Dou you need something?”
Virgil looked up to him. Remus petted his arm caringly and he looked over to Janus with a silent ask in his eyes. Janus just grinned and said in his stead: “He will be. No need to worry.”
“’m just not so talkative,” was the quiet addition from the side in the patchwork hoodie and Roman stepped closer to him and his brother.
Slowly, Roman crouched down, shortly sharing a look with Remus and then stretched his hand out for Virgil. He hesitantly took it and Roman gave him a broad smile.
“That’s okay. I can talk enough for the both of us.”
Remus snickered and Virgil gave Roman a small smile in return before he let go of Roman’s hand. As bravely as Virgil managed, he then sat up a little straighter and let his eyes dart over from Roman, to Remus and then to Janus, who gave him a reassuring look.
And then he turned his attention to Logan, who now was watching Patton. Seeing the concern in the indigo eyes Virgil followed the look and he saw how Patton sat next to Remus loose and almost like a potato sack. His hands were pressed over his nose and mouth and it was very visible that he was holding tears back.
“Patton?” “Padre?” it came unanimously from Logan and Roman.
And Patton lifted his glasses and rubbed his wet eyes, revealing a shaky grin and a bubbly laugh under his hands.
“Patton?” now also Janus asked concerned but Patton just shook his head and laughed a little more.
Cautiously, Logan approached Patton and asked him after he had stopped laughing so loudly: “Are you stressed? Do I need to explain you something? Do you require assistance in any way?”
Patton pulled his glasses back down and sniffed his nose. Again, he shook his head with a fond grin and finally cleared his throat.
“It’s all good, kiddo,” he calmed Logan with a watery tone. “I’m just a bit emotional right now.”
Forcing himself to pause, Patton leaned forward and rested his elbows on his own knees and took a deep breath. He had never realized how much he had needed all of this. How severely overwhelmed he had been.
“You have worked together so flawlessly,” Patton then praised Logan and Roman and pointed and them both with a shaky gesture. “It’s so nice and well and you asked for help Logan, and I’m so, so proud of you for it.”
Logan flushed a little at the praise and Patton looked over to his left to Remus and Virgil.
“And I thought, I wouldn’t be able to help you and couldn’t handle you being distressed and that I would fail you and – and you had it under control!”
Patton raised his eyes up to Janus.
“You did it on your own. You were strong and brave and so smart about it. I just had to watch and do nothing else. You did all of it on your own. I was able to leave it up to you and... It’s so nice. So, so nice not to be in charge and decide and fix everything but let things go and it feels so light. So light. You have no idea, how light I feel right now.”
Now everybody stared at Patton in uncertainty. Uncertain if he was losing his mind or really just endlessly relieved from having pressure removed from his position. But then there was this subtle shift in the look in his eyes as he focused on Logan and then Roman. At the Prince who always swore to protect the heart. The Prince he ought to have protected just as much as the other had protected him.
Finally, Patton would be able to give something back.
“I think you did it, kiddos,” Patton said trembling. “You’ve swayed the heart. I think, I’m finally with you-”
And before Patton could say another word Roman had flung himself around Patton’s neck and tackled him in a passionate hug. It almost pressed the air out of Patton’s lungs but as soon as he felt Roman’s warmth and pure relief and joy, he embraced him tighter. Patted the broad back of the prince and let him silently cry onto his shoulder from ease.
A few moments later Patton opened his eyes and glimpsed over to Logan, who looked at him in bewilderment. With a snicker Patton made grabby hands at him but Logan hesitated.
“Come here Mister! You belong too!” Patton insisted and Logan followed.
And just as Logan stepped closer, Roman blindly pulled Remus with his right into the embrace as well, and Patton gave the Duke a soft pat on the shoulder before he reached behind him over to Virgil and ruffled his hair. And so, Logan and Virgil both inched towards the little hug pile and joined them timidly.
Patton savoured the touch. And he felt how much the twins relished it as well. Felt how glad they were to be here with another with now fear of being separated again. Also, Logan and Virgil seemed relieved. Felt happy in their situation. Felt the support but not smothered by the group and Patton was happy to be able to provide this to them.
Through the pile of hair, heads and hands, close to Patton’s face he glanced towards Janus, who watched him, them all affectionately. It only took a bat of Patton’s eyes and the smallest nod for Janus to recognize the invitation and accept it graciously. Calmly, he took a seat next to Patton’s right where he had initially sat and joined the embrace, by drawing circles on the small of Patton’s back and giving Logan a small squeeze on the shoulder.
How long they remained like this, they didn’t properly realize until Thomas at once sat down on his couch and typed in Joan’s number. With that Janus pulled away again and announced gently: “I’ll make us something. We certainly do not need something refuelling after such a feat of a day.”
“It’s not even dinner time yet,” Logan weakly piped up, trying to pull away from Roman’s and Patton’s hands with no success.
But Janus was already on his way to the kitchen and not a moment later gone from their field of vision. And after a few more moments Patton asked: “How well can Jay actually cook?”
Far too cheery Remus answered, jumping to his feet and pulling Roman and Virgil back from Patton with the movement: “He’s really good at extinguishing fires!”
“Oh dear apple-pie,” Patton exclaimed flatly and was about to get up, when Roman beat him to it and marched towards the kitchen.
“Don’t worry,” Roman reassured, “I’ll look after him! Just lie back!”
And with a skip in his step Roman joined Janus in the kitchen. Curiously, Roman looked inside and saw how Janus had opened several cupboards and already taken out a family package of spaghetti and was now searching for seasoning as it appeared.
“I’d ask if you need a hand but I guess you got enough of those,” Roman joked and entered the room with a smirk.
Janus turned to him and rolled his eyes.
“That was an almost Patton worthy joke. Congratulations,” Janus stated sarcastically and leaned onto the counter to get closer to one of the upper shelves. Forcefully he pushed himself up with his second and third arm set to reach for something with the first left hand only to just not reach it.
Amused Roman watched him struggle for a moment before he got closer and asked: “Garlic? Do you need the garlic seasoning?”
With a slight huff Janus slid to the side, so Roman had free access to the cupboards.
“No, not at all.”
Roman just grinned and took the garlic seasoning with no trouble whatsoever. Galanty he then handed it to Janus and inquired: “So, you’re planning on making spaghetti? What sauce were you thinking of?”
The answer sounded something homebrew like and Roman was quick to help Janus gather all the ingredients he needed and show him where the pots were. Janus then instructed Roman to cut and fry some onions, which the Prince did with no hesitation. Focused, Roman cut the onions with a lot more practice than Janus had expected him to.
“So, I take you are just as fascinated with cooking as Remus is?” Janus started to converse as coolly as he could.
“Yah, I enjoy it a lot. Working with spicey and colours and compositions. It’s just so diverse and you have to do something with your hands. It’s nice. You let Remus help out in the kitchen? Is that why pans started to burn?”
Janus huffed massaged his temples while stirring the sauce he was setting up in one pot.
“You know it. He has a surprisingly good sense of taste and what he makes always tastes delicious, but sometimes the presentation is …"
“Gross? Nasty? Nauseating?”
“All of it. To be honest. And his cooking style is rather worrisome. I had to put out a few fires just because he did something and I forgot the things I had on or in the oven. Very regrettable.”
Roman laughed a little and put a frying pan on the oven and put cooking-oil in it.
“At least he never tried to experiment with chemicals on the stove.”
“Pardon me?” Janus asked bewildered and stopped stirring.
“Oh, Logan’s banned from using any kitchen devices but the coffee maker and the kettle for making tea, because he once exploded a pot because he needed to boil some wild mix of chemicals in Pat’s favourite pot for an experiment. Since then Patton’s really hesitant to let any of us help here. I think it was Logan’s plot for avoiding tohave to help out in the kitchen, to be honest but then again, sometimes Lo just lacks common sense when he’s into something and wants to test something out.”
Janus just stared at Roman for a moment. He did not lie about this. How had he not lied about this?
“And I thought I had it bad,” Janus mumbled and turned back to his pot and continued adding a little liquid to the mix.
For a while neither said anything until Roman put the onions into the pan. Calmly he asked through the hissing and sizzling of the oil: “How’s Virgil’s cooking? I’ve never seen him even try to make a fried egg.”
“He’s generally just nervous around it. I tried to get him into it and if everything is calm and plays out the way it’s intended to, he can follow a recipe well enough. If not – he usually freezes and I’m left to fix whatever has gone wrong. But next to that he is pretty good at making bread. It’s always fluffier than mine.”
Roman chuckled a little and then asked Janus to tell him about his favourite meals and recipes he had made. And Janus went on and on about it, while Roman and he prepared their little meal. It was nothing complicated, nothing deep but it was more than both of them had expected to get out of this.
“He gets a lot of closure through you being around, snek boi. You can risk being a little more open around him, without losing your face,” Roman said at once taking some plates out of the cupboard and not even gracing Janus with a look.
Latter almost catapulted his ladle through the room but found an ounce of self-control and stopped his arms from acting out. Instead he now stared at Roman, whose eyes merely grazed him when he turned around.
“You’re the one for lies, I’m the one for romance, fiendish fibber. And even if I wasn’t, your human half is glowing red with love right now, so... Do yourself a favour and just ask him out.”
Janus twirled around on the spot and fanned his blushed human half. He wished it was so easy. He wished it was so easy to rekindle with Patton, no to just start something with Patton. But no, by the stars and everything beyond, it was not that easy.
“Do I want to know?”
Janus turned and gave Roman a look, which was answer enough. Curiously Roman eyed him up, digging in the strange pool of positive emotions which still radiated from Janus but ebbed away a little after Roman had brought up the topic. Both of them had been in love for a long time. They had repressed and denied it for just as long, had kept their distance and Roman had ignored it for as long as he knew about it. But now, now that they all were so much closer, Roman had needed to say something.
Now he had said something and would leave it up to them to figure it out. Love didn’t like to be forced after all and he would see soon enough how all of it would turn out.
Turning his focus away from Janus’s turmoil Roman spontaneously changed topic and stated: “I want to give Remus his food.”
Startled form the sudden change of topic Janus blanked for a moment before he found his words again and asked suspiciously: “Why would you ask me that?”
The grin that stole itself on Roman’s face had to be described as deeply mischievous and Janus felt his trouble detector went off wildly.
“Roman?” Janus urged Roman dauntingly.
“Just some brotherly fun! Come on you know how much fun it was to taunt Shea back when we were younger, right?” Roman pleaded and bounced on the spot with folded hands.
The Prince started to wear him down. It was disgusting how much he was able to sway him with such a bad argument and a little enthusiasm.
“I’m going to regret this, but sure! Do what you want,” Janus gave in and then ordered him to go and set the table.
Roman was quick to the task and brought the plates to the table. The four others sat already at the table, Logan apparently roughly relaying what had happened during therapy to the three others. Looking how confident he seemed to be in his own abilities, Roman did not interfere and just put the plates and cutlery at their respective places.
“I can also give you some intel into the medication, if you would like to know, Virgil. But it is also fine if you need more time,” Logan offered and Roman gave him a curious side eye.
“You really don’t have to Virgil. It’s fine; it has been a long day and you’re allowed to not want to talk about it right now,” Patton reassured Virgil but the anxious side shook his head.
“It’s okay. I know you wanna know a bit ‘bout it. So, yeah. Ask what you need to. I can take it.”
“So, we really are going to get drugged?” Remus asked sloppily turning around to Roman, who heavily sighed.
“Don’t say it like that! We’ve got a prescription for antidepressants, not cocaine,” Roman retorted and at once all eyes were on him. “What?”
“Antidepressants? Not anxiety medication?” Virgil managed to get out.
Roman smiled and threw a look over to Logan, who cleared his throat and began to explain: “It’s quite regular to prescribe antidepressants to solve problems with anxiety, Mrs Ramírez assured Thomas. With them we try to regulate the rapid surge of emotions, which has caused us a lot of frustration and exhaustion and led to our general dissatisfaction with, well, everything. And with less frustration and exhaustion also our anxiety should regulate itself.”
Janus had just come from the kitchen, holding the pot and stared at Logan quite baffled. And Logan caught that look and was quick to gesture to Janus and encourage him to pose the questions on his mind.
“And... we are certain that this is the right approach? And what kind of drugs did she even prescribe? What are the side effects and how long are we going to take this?” Janus asked and put the pot down on a coaster Roman had put there first.
“I have a list of side effects, but we might want to look at that later. As of the drug itself; it’s herbal based. Well tested and not too strong and we should experience the effects of it in about two weeks. It’s planned that we take it for six months but we will adjust if need be. Its main purpose is to make it easier for us to unlearn unhealthy habits and building up new once. To make the transitioning period easier for all of us.”
And Janus just stared at Logan and then over to Roman, who gave him a brave nod of all things he could have given. Confused Janus then looked over to Remus who just shrugged a little helplessly at the whole ordeal.
“But...” at once all their focus shifted to Virgil who mumbled ever so quietly, “I … I thought I was the problem?”
“No, you are not.”
Virgil’s eyes immediately fell on Logan who had answered his question gently but purposefully.
“But then... Who... Who’s the problem? With whom does of all of Thomas’s struggle originate?”
The three former dark sides felt very akward at once. That was not the lesson they thought any of them would learn today.
“Uuuhhm, I feel like I should say no you’re not it but you all seem to be kinda unanimously agreeing on it so... why exactly are you the problem?” Virgil tested and looked from Roman to Logan who both seemed to be rather unshaken by their admission.
“We have come to that conclusion before, but never did something about it,” Logan said and crossed his arms demonstratively in front of his chest. “Back when you all decided we should turn into puppets and – I put too much pressure onto Roman, because I need the schedule to be adhered to. Which makes him suffer and creates a hostile environment for all of you to be in. You would get anxious and Patton...”
Logan broke off and Roman took the word, ignoring what Logan had just wanted to say about Patton’s state: “And I can’t take a joke about myself because – it always feels like you guys mean it even if you don’t and I technically know that can’t be true but it’s hard to really accept that when all I hear turns into criticism in my head. And I know! I know that’s not how you mean it but it’s been like this for a whil and with the whole trial thing and the call-back it just got worse and I need get my thinking onto healthier tracks again. Otherwise I’ll turn this into hell for all of us and Thomas.”
A deep sigh. Patton’s eyes glowed in cold cyan as he finally looked up and met his eyes with Logan.
“I failed you. There are no other words to say it, but I failed you two. I made choices for you, which I did not agree with at all and had you act on them and scold you for things I told you to do. The planning was too stern, the ideas not proper enough and, and, and. I made things hard for Thomas by deciding things I didn’t want to decide and didn’t have an opinion on. So yes Logan, you criticising me and all the others makes me uncomfortable and uneasy, but I also felt confirmed in my incompetence, which allowed me to excuse my failures again and again. And that’s harmful and dangerous. And in this whole cocktail my indecisiveness made you only worse and that is why it is also originating with me, Virgil. You three-” Patton pointed at him, Janus and Remus - “you reacted to what we gave you. Our whole mess makes you worse and I played along when we simply put the blame on you. Which wasn’t right. Not because none of you are entirely innocent, you’ve played your part in our dilemma, do not think I would not see that, but you are not the source of where our problems started. It has started with us and I need to ask you three to help us dealing with it. Because you seem to function a lot better under pressure than I do and have found yourselves confronted more often to these problems than we did. And we will talk more about it later after we eat this deliciously-smelling pasta and unwind for a bit. Does that sound good to you all?”
Janus wordlessly sat down next to Patton, while Virgil and Remus nodded wordlessly and Logan just stared over to Patton in contemplation. Meanwhile, Roman took the ladle from the spaghetti and started to serve the others almost moving as if nothing had happened at all.
But in a way Roman’s nonchalant behaviour helped a little. It helped how he asked them all if he had put enough on their plates and took a silly little bow when each said they had enough. It helped seeing him pat Patton’s shoulder when he stood next to him. It helped seeing Patton giving into the touch and looking up to the Prince with the most grateful glint in his eyes. It helped knowing that Joan was still talking to Thomas and making him feel proud of his decision to go onto this journey.
And it also helped to defuse the tension, when Remus spit out the first bite of his spaghetti and Roman started to cackle archly.
“Too hot? Want to swap plates?” Roman teased while presenting a little bottle with chili in it.
“You little shit!” Remus groaned and jumped to his feet only for Roman to do the same and flee loudly laughing towards the couch.
Agile the brothers ran a few circles around one another, even jumping over the coffee table a few times and leaving the others staring at them in utter disbelieve.
“The one thing you can eat and I don’t? Really? Have you fallen this far you flamboyant fiddler?” Remus added and tackled Roman onto the floor who only laughed more.
Forcefully, Remus pressed him down, pining his arms to the ground and rendering him unable to move. But Roman just grinned and pulled out his tongue. And at that Remus had to press his lips together to not straight up laugh at his brother’s stupid prank.
“I’ll make you regret it; I warn you!” Remus threatened amused.
Roman quirked an eyebrow and answered self-confidently: “How could you possibly do that, without burning yourself on my spicy wit?”
“I give you spicy!” Remus laughed and deadweight dropped himself onto his brother, who promptly gasped for air and exclaimed a pained noise.
Hastily Roman pushed Remus down from himself who landed just beside him and immediately took a draw-me-like-one-of-your-French-girl-pose. And for a second everything was silent. Until it wasn’t anymore and both Remus and Roman broke into a laughter.
Roman’s was loud and boisterous, filling the room and not caring about being too loud or too proud for anybody around.
Remus’s was airy and swift, almost cute in a way, authentic and humble, not asking or crying to be seen but to be real and for himself.
And the others watched them. Watched the change that had come for them and how all of a sudden, they had gotten the laughter from their Creativities back. And that only because Roman had decided not to go for a ‘Tactical Retreat’.
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Janus quirked an eyebrow up at the two and nonchalantly leaned against the doorframe. Roman looked a little less shaken than before and all in all appeared too well enough to stand again. And while that was really relieving to know, Janus could not stop himself from smirking at scrawny Virgil helping up the ever so strong Prince. He made no mistake; Virgil was very capable of acts of raw strength but the imagery before him was just too amusing.
“A new yoga pose?” Janus teased and Virgil immediately moaned at the comment.
“Why do you have to be like this?” Virgil asked stubbornly and simply pulled Roman into a standing position.
The movement surprised Roman a little but he managed to keep standing and balanced his weight successfully on both of his feet. And as Roman stood and buttoned his shirt, Janus entered the room and handed him a bottle of water.
“Patton told me to give you something to drink. Staying hydrated is very important after all.”
Roman barely looked at him, unscrewed the lid and gurgled a bit of the water and then spit it into the sink next to him. He repeated that three times, breathed into his hand, smelled it and only then took the first gulp out of the bottle. The whole process looked like he had done it a million times, which suddenly reminded both other sides in the room that that was probably exactly the case.
Roman turned to Janus and smiled at him.
You can’t keep doing that, was what Janus wanted to say but instead chose: “Patton thought you two were missing for quite some time now and wanted me to check on you. Are you feeling better now?”
“Yes! All good. How’s Lo?” Roman asked right back and started slowly taking the first steps towards the door.
Janus followed Roman’s movements and answered: “To me he seemed fine but you might want to ask him that yourself.”
Roman nodded and in a surprisingly energetic stride he passed Janus, not quickly as if he was fleeing but determined to get back to the others. And so, Janus and Virgil followed the energetic prince and outside the bathroom and watched him wander into the living room.
“You feeling good teach?” both heard Roman asked not twenty seconds later and shared a look with another which spoke volumes.
“Why are you the one asking me this? I have not fled to the bathroom mere minutes ago.”
Janus held a giggle back while Virgil snorted and both entered the living room, where they immediately looked for Logan shooting Roman a disapproving look. To their surprise Remus looked almost as disapproving and now added: “It was you dipshit, for the protocol. You ran to the bathroom just mere minutes ago.”
“Har, har, har,” Roman simply retorted, not looking to Patton who walked towards him, “but really? Is it better? How do you feel? I never got to ask that before!”
From behind Roman Janus got a look on Patton’s slightly surprised expression as he heard Roman say that. And honestly, that amount of enthusiasm even surprised Janus a good bit.
“It is better as I said prior, but Roman?”
“You are still rather unsteady on your feet. You might want to sit down.”
And Roman looked down to his knees. They were slightly shaking, something he already knew, but since it was pointed out he could as well acknowledge it. And then he looked back up to Logan, still avoiding Patton’s gaze and smiled towards his teacher friend.
“Points to you, teach,” Roman conceded but made no attempt to go and sit down at the table or the couch. “But before I do that, I’ll grab something from the kitchen. I’ll join you just in a sec-”
“Wait, wait, wait Mister!” Patton stopped and firmly grabbed Roman at the arm, as he had started heading towards the kitchen.
Spitefully Roman pouted but could not resist as Patton continued: “I am very proud of you for all the decisions you made today and how you helped Logan but I’d rather you look a little bit more after yourself and ask yourself if it is really a good decision to go and grab some snacks after vomiting.”
Just by the mention of the word “vomit” Patton could see Roman’s stomach twist and sighed. He loved Roman but at times his recklessness could be mindboggling. Softly, Patton nudged him then to sit down on closest chair at the table.
“Fine, maybe not the best plan of action but I am hungry!” Roman protested while being seated.
“Really?” Patton asked with one eyebrow quirked up.
From the side Janus came closer to the two and Patton shot him a curious look, as he noticed the slight discomfort in Janus’s face.
“Don’t you think, Roman might know better than you what he wants and needs?”
Patton blinked a couple times before the final coin fell a grin found its way on his face. Softly he looked over to Roman and then back to Janus before he then told the latter: “Roman knows what he wants much better than I do. And almost always what he needs too. But-” He shot Roman a knowing side-eye to which Roman only pouted more – “if it comes to what food is good for him, he’s proven himself to be a rather unreliable source. So, there’s where I’m coming from. But! Of course, if you are this hungry, I have some zwieback?1 for you.”
“Zwieback?” came the very unenthusiastic question from Roman.
But Patton did not give in an inch and just responded: “That’s what you get for now and if you still feel hungry, we can try for something else. But this is certain to not upset your stomach anymore, so that is what you will get now. Is that okay?”
Patton chuckled a little at that and threw a look over his shoulder to the couch before he went to the kitchen. Logan got his cue, stood up and took a seat next to Roman, Remus following him and taking the other side of his brother.
The twins started to bicker right away, while Janus and Virgil hesitantly took a seat as well and watched them fight over how stupid Roman’s behaviour had been.
“And? Finally satisfied with playing the hero?”
“I wasn’t playing the hero! I just helped make Logan feel better! That’s the purpose of my powers after all.”
“Sure. As if that wasn’t show-offish at all.”
“How dare you?”
Remus snorted at the mockingly offended phrase and patted Roman’s back a little too hard.
“You’re just so fucking stupid, Ro,” Remus said watching Patton re-enter the room with a package of zwieback biscuits and Sablé2 biscuits on a plate. “You can’t do this shit anymore. Not like this.”
Roman looked over to Patton and grumbled: “We both know it would have worked had it been Janus or Virgil.”
“Would it? How so?”
Roman almost flinched at the sound of Logan’s fascinated question and he stared at him just a second after. He had forgotten about him sitting to his left and was now at once heavily aware again that all the others were here too and could listen to him talking and babbling and nagging Remus.
“Roman, you’re pale again. Do you need anything?”
Roman blinked. Logan’s voice sounded genuinely concerned. And he even looked a little concerned. Not that Logan had never shown such emotions, but usually it was something he reserved for really dire situations and just because Roman looked a little sick. But then again, Roman had never offered Logan such support in front of all the others before. Maybe the dynamic had shifted a little, and maybe Roman was ready for even more shifts.
“No,” Roman answered watching how Patton now placed the zwieback biscuits in front of him and put the others out of his reach, “it just hit me that you all saw that and – it made me a little nervous. But my stomach feels fine, if that was your concern.”
Logan looked surprised at that sincere answer and looked over to Patton, who sat down between Janus and Remus and just gave Logan a shrug.
“That was partially a concern of mine, but why would you be nervous about us seeing anything you just did?” Logan asked carefully.
Roman shrugged, looked over to Janus and Virgil and then took a zwieback.
“Vulnerability is hard. I think you know that well, right? Do you mind? I’m starving,” Roman ended and waved his zwieback in front of his face.
“Please do,” Logan told him and continued as Roman started to nibble at the hard bread, “and while I can agree with the sentiment, I do not see how any of your actions would be embarrassing.”
Roman swallowed and took the next biscuit.
“So, you don’t think I acted stupidly, when I decided to help you?”
“I did not say that,” Logan retorted and adjusted his glasses. “But you did in fact help me. You were understood my needs far better than the others and acted accordingly to what you could do. And, while stupid, it was very efficient and helpful.”
“Slow down! You’ll make yourself sick!” both Patton and Remus scolded Roman simultaneously, as he was about to eat the third biscuit in under two minutes.
Roman did slow down but didn’t even care to grace them with a look and just kept his focus on Logan. He knew there was still something Logan wanted to add and he was willing to wait for it.
Roman broke his zwieback in half and just stared at Logan for a minute to process those two words.
“You’re welcome!” Roman finally responded softly with a wide grin and Logan fumbled again with his glasses.
Virgil let out a snort, snatched himself a Sablé and leaned back in his chair, munching his cookie and curiously watching what would be coming next.
“But you really can not keep doing this. It is very inconvenient for you to become sick every time you use them,” Logan continued and set down his paper notebook on the table.
Roman rolled his eyes and took a little nibble from the edge of one of his zwieback halves. He wiggled his free hand around and mumbled: “I know! I know. You’ve all have made that pretty clear and it’s not like I enjoy the after effects of the whole spiel.”
“I am relieved to hear that,” Logan stated and took the Sablé biscuit Virgil slid over to him. “But now; how are you so certain that you could have done what you did for me without becoming sick for Virgil or Janus?”
Roman swallowed and tapped next to Logan’s notebook as a cue for him to take notes of what he was going to say.
“Okay, so the counteracting of a negative emotion requires a lot more finesse than the simple projection of emotions and I need to find the exact right spots to do that. And these spots are not at the same places for everybody. Let’s say… imagine that your emotional interiors are like a Polly Pocket play sets. There are different rooms, different furniture, different textures. I do not get to see these sets though; I only can touch my way through them and have to find everything like that. Now, your emotional interiors obviously are different play ets, so the layouts are not the same. And now I need to find, let’s say the sadness in there and for our example that’s the bed. In the play sets from Jan and Virgil I know exactly where that is, ‘cause I have looked for their beds a million times, which means I can almost immediately find their beds. But your set was new for me and because of that it took me longer to find the thing I was looking for, so I used up more energy than necessary, which led to me getting sick.”
When Roman stopped, Logan was still scribbling down notes frantically and the Prince took the time to nibble a little more at his zwieback. And as he did so he caught the very irritated look of Janus from across the table.
“Stop judging me like that. It wasn’t a million times,” Roman said casually and gesticulated with the biscuit in his hand.
Janus brought out his second arm set to massage his temples and then asked while underlining his words with the hands of his first arm set: “How many times was it then Roman? How often have you done this without learning nothing from it?”
“I wouldn’t say I learnt nothing… I got better every time, so that’s progress! And I didn’t count it, but it was certainly less than a million times.”
“How many, Roman?”
“More than a dozen? Look, I’m not good with numbers!” Roman answered and Janus just threw his hands in the air to which Patton and Virgil reacted with a chuckle.
“A weird analogy but fascinating concept,” Logan pulled Roman’s attention right back to him and Janus was promptly forgotten.
“Thank you! Can you now tell me how it felt? I’m curious! I did it so often but never knew how it’s like to experience for others.”
Logan nodded and tapped his thumb against his lips. He wanted to explain this as accurate as possible, since he was going to be Roman’s first and maybe only source for this information ever. And that was a little bit exciting to him, at least.
“Well, I would say it was a rather physical experience. I was much more focused on the sensation of warmth than anything else. At the same time, I had lost a lot of focus, which was relaxing at the time despite it rendering me completely unable to properly think one coherent thought.”
“How was the warmth? And where was it?” Roman asked in a calm voice and a suddenly calm expression.
“A dry warmth, but not dehydrating. It was not like a warmth we priorly experienced through fire or sunlight. Closest to it would be the warmth from being tucked in blankets. I felt it mainly in my chest area but it went up my throat too.”
“You said you were relaxed? Like content?”
Logan’s eyes lit up as he heard the comparison and Roman had to grin.
“Yes! That is a fitting description! It did not cross my mind but content is a good descriptor for it.”
Roman huffed happily at that and turned the one half of his zwieback in his fingers. Then he looked back at Logan and said: “That’s good to hear! And it also makes sense.”
“How so?” Logan asked intrigued and Roman looked back onto the table.
“That’s how I feel, when I’m content. And stable. And since this is in a way me projecting on you, it makes sense that you feel how I do, doesn’t it?”
Baffled Logan stared at him for a minute with not a single word coming into his mind. The word that came next was impossible. It was impossible for Roman to be able to just function despite such an intense and mind corrupting sensation being constantly present. He himself had been barely able to answer a simple statement from Roman and he was Logic and overseer of the language centre! This didn’t make any sense!
“How in God’s name are you able to concentrate then? Or- or even partake in this conversation? I had trouble giving you a six-word-response! How are you able to hold whole monologues, recite Shakespeare or the Ilyas when this fog is in your head?” Logan almost stammered and gave Roman a horrified look.
And Roman reciprocated the look. Watched Logan’s eyes follow his lips as he stared smiling. Shrugged.
And said: “We both know I’m not good at concentrating. But this is how I experience the world and I had help to figure out how I could deal with it and even use it to my advantage. It’s just me. And I’m fine with this particular aspect of me.”
Logan remained quiet for a long time after that. And the others let him. They saw that this information just had changed the game for him and they wanted to give him the time to work through this.
And while Logan sat there quietly, Virgil spoke up and asked Roman and Remus: “So, how’s this whole renovation going on? And what were you talking about a bookshelf in the wall?”
Remus pointed with a nod to Roman, who immediately took the cue and explained: “Yes, a reading isle! The idea came to me after I had seen the library set up in Janus’s room-”
“You’ve kept that?!” Remus yowled into Janus’s direction and in the process almost scared Patton, Janus and Virgil to the point of almost falling off their chairs.
“Geez,” Patton mumbled with a nervous giggle, while Janus held himself onto Patton’s shoulder and glanced over to Virgil, to see if he was fine. Then Janus shook his head and focused back on Remus.
“Why would I throw out books? I take an interest in reading and a library is a fine place to do so.”
“Even the Swedish thrillers? You’ve kept them?” Remus asked utterly surprised.
Janus felt how Virgil’s look got more suspicious as well as Patton’s interest had clearly been piqued by the curious questions, and that maybe, only maybe Patton already had a suspicion of what this discussion was about.
“You were reading to them?”
Darn it. Patton’s fatherly intuition shall be cursed!
“Well,” Janus granted, “reading to Logan used to calm him down considerably, next to the fact that he needed it to satisfy his hunger. And so, I did that too for Virgil and Remus, and they seemed to enjoy it quite a bit when they were younger.”
“You read to Logan?”
This time Remus’s voice was no longer quite as squeaky and loud but almost fazed by Janus’s statement.
“Yes,” Janus said carefully now finding that also Logan had started to follow the conversation again, “I did. All your needs needed to be met and I had no problem with reading book after book with Logan back when he had still trouble to read them himself. It was time well spent and he depended on the information intake instead of food. In a way it was a matter of life and death, so to speak.”
“But our lives didn’t depend on you rereading Enid Blyton’s The Secret Island like three times a week,” Virgil said with a shit eating grin and Remus chimed in just as teasingly.
“You loved reading to us! You spoke in different voices and dimmed the light when we got to the creepy parts and sometimes even set up music to play in the background! The whole experience and ambience were pretty fucking stellar for a child no older than twelve.”
“Now-” Janus started with his face being flushed and his mind void of good excuses to tell.
While Remus had spoken up, Logan had started to smile. Yes, Janus used to read to him in his earliest days of existence. Creativity was wild and quick. He always wanted to keep up but sometimes he just couldn’t. And he got angry.
Angry at himself for not being quick enough for being able to follow him. Angry at his tummy for rumbling because he was hungry. Angry at his eyes for closing because he was sleepy.
And Patton told him it would be okay, but Logan could not listen, because he was angry now and the next moment did not exist yet but now did. And so, he was also angry at Patton for not listening and walked away from him.
When that happened, it was Janus’s moment to turn up. Quietly, he walked up to him and asked what had happened. What was going on in his head. Why he was angry. And then Logan got to tell him everything and Janus listened. He heard him and then asked if he was maybe just sad that Creativity was quicker than him and he was right. Then he asked if he wanted to read something so his tummy stopped rumbling because he was hungry and he agreed. And then Janus asked him if he was ready to go to sleep and he was. And when he woke up in the morning he went to Patton and told him that he was sorry for walking away because he was no longer angry and knew now that his behaviour had not been helpful.
And Logan smiled as Janus stammered now. Maybe he could not trust him entirely but maybe he could forgive him.
“I enjoyed our reading sessions immensely. You put a lot of heart in it.”
The others just stared at Logan. That was a big admission for him.
Janus blankly stared at Logan, who then promptly took one of the Sablé biscuits and ate it. And with that the tension was gone and Janus just let out a huff. Virgil started to list some books he would like to have in the bookshelf and Logan wrote them down in his notebook. Remus was quick to comment on Virgil’s choices the two got in an argument which crime author understood the correct build-up of tension the best.
And as they discussed Janus took himself a cookie and leaned back for a bit. Patton tenderly petted his shoulder, as he got up to get more of the Sablé biscuits and gave him a soft look before he left the room. Comfortably Janus then watched Roman taking two zwiebacks and quickly eating one of them only for Remus to slap his hand and effectively stopping him from eating the whole thing at once.
“Hey!” Roman protested with a pout, which dangerously quickly started to grow onto Janus.
But Remus did not seem to be touched the tiniest bit and scolded: “Stop eating at this pace! You’re just making yourself sick and I don’t want to be holding your flamboyant hair back while you vomit into the toilet!”
“What a killjoy you are Emu! I thought you liked everything gross?” Virgil teased with a harmless smirk.
“I do! But only when it’s caused by me and you know that Prince Charming over here isn’t meant to be sick!”
Virgil chuckled at Remus’s agitation and threw Roman a short glance. And at once a thought rushed through his head which was far too funny to not share it with the world.
“I don’t know how I never realized that before but you, Remus Sanders, you just talked like the fucking mom-friend.”
“How dare you!” Remus said in the most extravagant tone and clutched his chest as if his life depended on it.
And as they all watched this incredibly familiar display, Logan said in the flattest tone imaginable: “Is it not Roman’s duty to be this “extra”?”
Virgil and Roman burst with laughter at the delivery and Remus stared bedazzled at Logan for a moment before he broke into a snicker which he covered with his hand. The logical side first was a little uncertain if he had used the term correctly, the loud reaction from Roman and Virgil had startled him and the seeming shock from Remus was not what he had gone for, but immediately eased up as he saw the latter snickering.
“You’re on fire today Mister Sass!” Remus smiled widely at Logan who almost felt a little proud of himself because of this easy joke he just made.
“Wait,” Virgil gasped between laughs, “this wasn’t his first one today? Mister Sass? Wtf Emu? What did I miss?”
“He called my savage, when I dissed J!”
“Fair,” both Roman and Virgil said simultaneously and started giggling again right afterwards.
“I could also have gone with “burn”, I was told. That also would have been fitting,” Logan added and took out his vocab cards and looked for the “burn” one where he had added Remus’s commentary.
Virgil leaned over to Logan and watched what he had written down and soon started revising some of the other cards, which by now were outdated. Remus and Roman both got their inputs, while Remus still kept Roman from over eating himself which sometimes resulted in the two mock-fighting. Neither Logan nor Virgil interfered with them though, since they understood that this was their way to display affection.
And at the other side of the table sat Janus, watching them fascinatedly and fondly, soon with Patton by his side. The barely said a word for the rest of the evening. But they didn’t need to. Just seeing them amusing and enjoying themselves for the moment was fine. Because even if it did not seem that way, there were other conversations going on between the four at the same time. Within their jokes they answered each other and found an understanding they had believed to have lost over the years.
And these conversations both Janus and Patton somehow could hear clear as day.
I know what you did for me. If you want to help me again, come to me in the mornings. Ask me. Do never do it again. Understood?
Okay. I understand.
I do. I promise.
… Did you mean me? Was I the one who helped you?
You were. It made you my hero.
Thank you for taking over, despite being so tired yourself.
No, worry Stormcloud. I always got your back. No, matter how much you hate me and/or yourself.
A good thing I don’t hate you anymore, so you have at least one thing less to worry about.
Thank you for looking after him.
Thank you for looking after him.
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“No!” was Remus’s immediate reaction to what Roman just waved him off, not even looking into his direction.
Logan blinked confused at Remus behaviour before he looked back to Roman and asked: “What are you insinuating? And why is Remus against it?”
“Ah, well, you know how we have talked about our powers and how I could use mine to help you guys and strengthen positive emotions within yourself?”
Logan quirked an eyebrow up and looked over to Remus, who looked like he was ready to tackle his brother but held himself back by gripping the edge of his chair. And Logan started to understand where that very apparent frustration might come from.
“Yes, I do,” Logan started and stemmed his arms on his hips. “And I believe to remember that neither you nor Remus can use your powers without suffering from some side effects. And if I remember correctly, Remus implied for you the side effects are stomach related?”
Roman huffed and fumbled with his hair. Of course, Logan would remember that. How could he not? Roman had always had a sensitive stomach and both Logan and Patton had witnessed him getting sick from various food items, which did not cooperate with him the way he had hoped they would. And Remus just making some remarks along the line only made it easier for Logan to remember his weakness and harder for Roman to forget or hide it.
“Possibly,” Roman tried to argue gesticulating wildly and looking up towards the ceiling, “but if I would measure it correctly, so if I’d just use it a teeny tiny bit, you’d feel better and I’d feel a little nauseous at max. No, real harm done, right?”
“Princey, that sounds stupid.” - “I’d rather you wouldn’t risk that, kiddo.” - “You do not even believe your own words, Roman. Let’s be reasonable about this.”
And as Virgil, Patton and Janus respectively brought up their doubts Logan narrowed his eyes at Roman and asked despite his better judgement: “How confident are you in your own ability to estimate how much of your power you are unleashing? And how well you are able to control your powers, given that you have not used it as much as others of us have?”
“Seriously?” Roman asked surprised at Logan even considering his offer after all the others being against it.
“Yes. Less practice obviously means that you are not as well adjusted to the usage of your abilities, as we others are. Oh, and I did not mean to offend you by that.”
“What? I’m not offended! Just surprised that you consider it, even though the others- you know what? Not important. I think I’m pretty confident in my abilities to control them well enough. Should be done easily.”
Logan assessed Roman’s words for a minute. Admittedly, Roman was not really convincing. And by Remus’s unamused look, he doubted Roman’s capabilities as well but on the other hand; Roman had offered it. And it seemed like it would not have a bad side effect for himself. Also, it would be an interesting thing to see how his powers actually looked like.
And so, Logan asked the Prince: “You do truly believe it would help me? I thought your powers were there to enhance or provoke positive feelings, so how would that stop the grief?”
Roman’s look lost a little of its excitement and his voice grew sterner as he explained: “It’s a little harder than enhance or provoke positive feelings but I figured out a way to counteract negative emotions and thoughts with it. That’s how I stopped the nightmares. It’s more difficult than the enhancing or provoking because I need to finetune it and adjust it to the side I’m affecting. But I’m pretty good at improvising and adapting, so it’ll work out fine. And I’d love to help you. To repay the debt.”
At the last phrase Logan raised his eyebrows and adjusted his glasses with a disapproving click of his tongue.
“There is no debt to be repaid,” Logan corrected Roman. “But if you are this eager and so confident in your abilities; be my guest. It will be an interesting experiment no matter how it will turn out.”
“What? He offered. Who am I to turn that down?” Logan simply said towards the angry group of the others staring baffled at him and then turned his attention back to Roman who looked giddy to get started. “Now, how do we proceed? Is there a procedure that will make it easier for you to perform? To raise the potential success rate or anything along the line?”
Quick to Logan’s words Roman moved himself into the direction of the couch and gesticulated Logan to follow him. He needed to do his stuff now, otherwise the others would still interfere and Roman wouldn’t have that.
“Actually, it would help if I could hug you while sitting,” Roman said and flopped down on the couch patting on the spot beside him.
When Logan raised his eyebrow in question and Roman saw how Remus had gotten up from his chair, he hastily added: “It makes it easier for me to concentrate of what I’m doing. No fear of wiggly legs or that I could lose the connection with you. Well, if you’re okay with it, I mean. It’s not necessary though, if it makes you too uncomfortable.”
Logan sat down to Roman’s left with a grumble but unceremoniously stretched his arms out for Roman to hug him.
And at that Roman flashed him a wide grin and pulled him against his chest. Logan had wanted to ask what would happen next but all of a sudden, he felt warm. Almost uncomfortably so. But only almost.
It felt like his chest, where the heart would be, was glowing and it slowly was rising into his throat tickling his vocal cords. Hot towels, soft and comfy and healing. But there was a pressure in the feeling, a good kind, but pressure nevertheless.
“I’m warm,” Logan gulped barely recognizing his own voice.
“Yeah, right. Sorry, I forgot to warn you,” Roman responded squeezing Logan a little more.
“It’s fine. I like warm,” Logan mumbled a little dumbly as he suddenly realized that something in his periphery glittered in a golden light.
Quick Logan cast his gaze a little down, where the glow was coming from, and saw the soft aura emitting from his friend. And as surprising as it was, Logan could not care to mind it. It was just so warm and he felt like something was melting in him, just slowly evaporating what had held him so long.
Not all of it, just a little. Easing away the tip and smoothing some of the sharp edges. And as it happened Logan grew limber in Roman’s arms. He didn’t notice it. Didn’t notice how the muscles of his shoulders, neck and whole back loosened for the first time in months and how good it felt.
He did not know how long he was in this position or if the others came closer or not. He just felt and was for the moment and it was good. A relieved good. A free good. A good he hadn’t felt in – ever, really.
It was not a good he knew.
Naturally, he could not know it. It was the good only Roman could give and Roman had never done that for him before.
“I’ll let go now. It’ll help if you open your eyes.”
And Logan opened his eyes. He had not known that he closed them. Mechanically, he batted his lashes while the warmth was slowly fading but not entirely and he realized how Roman gently pulled away from him.
He saw Patton. He was standing next to the two, close to the couch. Remus stood next to him a little to the side, behind them he made out Janus’s had and just on the other side of his periphery, on the couch, sat Virgil. He frowned in sorrow but Logan didn’t think of that.
He and Roman had completely parted and Logan put his hand on his chest, still feeling the warmth, almost heat. It was still there but he wasn’t focused on it as much as he was before.
“I got it, didn’t I?”
Logan looked at Roman, only now realizing he had been staring at his feet.
“I think you did,” Logan mumbled surprised and slightly shook his head.
And then he noticed how Roman’s face was a little paler and his lips were pressed together in an awkward grin.
Instantly, Logan raised his eyebrows and asked Roman: “But you overdid yourself, didn’t you?”
And just then Roman jumped to his feet, wrestled his way through the innocent bystanders and ran towards the toilet with the shaky cry: “Excuse me!”
And then they heard the bathroom door being shut and muffled barfing. Remus turned around, as well as Patton but both were beaten to it by Virgil, who suddenly had moved from the couch back to the hallway entrance and told them: “I’ll take him this time! Gotta tell him ‘Told you so!’!”
And then Virgil was gone and Patton walked a few steps after him, before Remus said while planting himself onto the couch: “Let him suffer. He has to learn his boundaries one way or another. Maybe he’ll get it this time.”
Patton turned at that and Janus buried his face in his hands, while continuously sighing as loud as he could. Patton only shot a glance over to him and slowly walked back to join Remus and Logan on the couch. Careful, he sat down to Logan’s left, since the spot to his right was already taken by the moping Duke.
Then the Dad cleared his throat and asked carefully: “And you are feeling fine Logan? You look a little out of it.”
And Logan also felt a little out of it. Not in a particular bad way but just a little off to the left. Slightly, he shook his head and conjured his notebook and his favourite pen and tapped with it on the edge of the page.
“It is a strange feeling. But really not bad and I think the ‘sadness’ is bothering me less. It was a very disconcerting feeling and I still feel physically warm, which is odd too, since Roman did not seem to be warm,” Logan stated and started to write down these observations in a list.
He didn’t come far as Remus next to him sat up and leaned towards asking: “Warm? Like where?”
Logan lifted his free hand to point towards his chest and said: “My chest-”
He immediately broke off as Remus pressed his hand on Logan’s chest. Curiously, Logan watched Remus stare at his tie and black polo-shirt and wrinkle his forehead, while feeling for the warmth. Remus’s hand slid down a little towards Logan’s belly and Logan figured that he was trying to figure out if the temperature was the same everywhere. And just as Remus’s hand landed over Logan’s belly button, the duke pulled his hands away, almost as if he had burned it.
Logan raised his eyebrows in question, knowing that his stomach was feeling quite normal, and gave Remus a pointed look to what the latter responded: “It is really warm. Almost on the brink of hot~”
Logan could not but grin at the sudden shift into a flirting tone at the end of Remus’s sentence and let out an amused huff to Patton and Janus’s and even Remus’s surprise.
“Are you certain that you are fine?” Janus asked sounding genuinely worried but Logan only waved him off.
“I am quite all right. But I do have questions concerning all this. Roman’s powers are very fascinating. Give me a second to write this down.”
And Logan scribbled into his notebook for a moment while Janus slowly took a seat on the coffee table and shared an uncomfortable look with Patton and Remus. For a short moment everything but Logan’s pencil scratching over the paper surface was still and none of the three dared to cut through this intense sound of nothingness.
“Very well,” Logan’s voice resounded through the room unaware that it had been silent before, “Patton you used to be able to do that? Did you know what he was trying to do and that it would feel this way?”
Patton blinked a little surprised and his left immediately reached for the back of his head to scratch himself unknowingly.
“I was, but I rarely ever used it. And I wasn’t sure if Roman could do it in the first place, since he never really told me before that he had these abilities,” Patton answered while Logan put that down in his notes.
“You weren’t sure? You did say that Creativity had them before, so why would Roman and Remus not have inherited them?”
“Because Roman and Remus are not like him and – I did once try to figure it out by talking with Roman about my own powers, with the recalling of memories but he dodged the conversation and I felt shame coming from him, so I dropped the topic. I assumed he had them, but it did not work in the way he wanted so he was ashamed to talk about it and I did not want to make him feel bad for something like this.”
Logan hummed in agreement as he made more notes and Patton huffed, pulled his glasses up and drove over his eyes. Hesitantly, he glanced over to Remus, who watched him in suspicion and could not help himself but feel like he deserved that.
Then the scribbling stopped again and Patton said before Logan could even ask him: “And as of how the powers have changed since I had them I can not give you an answer, because I don’t know what he made you feel, besides the fact that you felt warm.”
Logan blinked a little confused and then made a noise of understanding and put his pen on the notebook, which he then set down by his side. Causally, he crossed his legs and joined his hands on his knee before he began to speak.
“I had trouble focusing on anything but it didn’t bother me as much as I assumed it should. I was mainly experiencing the warmth and pressure, which was built up. For my emotional state; He really just took of the edge of the ‘sadness’. It’s not distracting or hurting anymore. I deem it bearable like this. I am really surprised by his precision, despite him claiming to be this good. Does he always work with such meticulousness?” Logan asked Remus in the end and looked at him in wonder.
Remus brought his hand up to his face and scratched his moustache for a moment, before he closed his eyes with little sigh.
“Possibly,” was the answer he gave Logan with a shrug, “I would not put it past him at all. He is a perfectionist and I’d not be surprised if he managed to do exactly what he promised, but I have no way of knowing. He never got a feedback before. So, I can’t tell you for certain if it worked out the way he intended.”
“Can’t you compare it to your own experience with is powers? Or would the experience be very different from you to me?”
“My experience…? I – We don’t use our powers on each other, specs.”
Logan sat back and eyed Remus a tad bit confused just as Patton did.
“Why wouldn’t you? I thought he could help everyone with these abilities?” Patton asked while Logan nodded agreeingly.
“He would have used them on you all the time, wouldn’t he?”
Remus turned his head around to Janus, who looked extremely tired at once, and shrugged with a smirk.
“Yeah, so I forbade it. He used them too often as it is, and I could not have him do anymore harm to himself because of me.”
Patton truncated. Remus was built for carrying heavy emotions and pain. He had been made to deal with those sorts of feelings and even got some joy out of it. Patton knew; he had felt part of it. But hearing this, his load had been overwhelming him. It was not surprising, really Patton had heard the others say this in many ways for so long, but hearing it phrased like this –
I do not. And I won’t have you hurt; you hear me?1
– hit him differently. Uneasy he shifted in his spot and made himself take a deep breath. It was fine, Patton told himself and tried to focus back on the situation at hand. He did not need to think about such things right now.
Recovered Patton now asked Remus: “He used it too often? Is this about the nightmares? I think, he never really explained it after he first brought it up. Also, how did he even spot who was in need of his assistance? You don’t feel the lack of “happy emotions” as he put it.”
Remus quirked his eyebrow up and chuckled a little.
“You’re smarter than you look,” Remus teased and continued a little more serious, “I usually had to tell him, who needed it. And I told him because he was a pain in the ass if I didn’t. It was mostly just Jay and Stormy Heaven but there were periods where he did it every day of the week and I really wanted him to stop. But he insisted on doing it until it came to the whole stuff with the paranoia… I convinced him to stop entirely from doing it as it was building up, ‘cause he simply didn’t have the capability to bear it anymore.”
“… So, additionally to not have ‘practiced’ on me before,” Logan inquired while tapping his lip, “he might have been out of practice? Might that be the cause of his mishap?”
Remus grinned but shook his head.
“Nah, I’m positive he’s at it again. Funnily enough, I think he started helping Virgil.”
“Funnily enough?” Janus asked and caught a mischievous glimpse from Remus.
“Yeah, he sometimes just didn’t help Virgil, back when we were younger, because he was angry at him for being mean to me. Hurting me and stuff, even though I told him it was fine, but welp. Could not change his mind. And after you guys accepted Virgil, I noticed him standing in front of his door for like four nights in a row. He’s not the quickest learner but he’ll break hell and heaven loose to try and mend what’s mendable, when he’s noticed the errors in his ways.”
Patton and Logan exchanged a look. That did sound like their Princey.
“He’s a fool. An utter and complete fool! Thinking that performing such an act of selflessness in the depths of the night, while nobody sees him would do him any good, is buffoonery!” Janus bickered to himself while fumbling with his gloves.
He didn’t see it but Remus’s face fell at his remarks and the sharp tone in Remus’s voice caught him completely off-guard when the Duke said dangerously quiet: “A fool, who learnt that being boisterous would be punished and that boisterous scared Virgil. A fool that understood that he could not just fix everything with his powers and but still tried to do it with decency and silent self-sacrifice because that’s what he thought was heroism in this moment. And a fool who planned all of it so that nobody, not his friends, not his enemies even noticed he was doing it. And he was not only working in the middle of the night, Jay, he was accepting and helping Virge on the other fronts too in the best ways he knew. And you get to call him stupid for hurting and overexerting himself, but you cannot call him an idiot. Not when his plans worked out while yours didn’t.”
Remus broke out in laughter, while Patton and Janus turned in slow motion towards Logan, who readjusted his glasses and glanced down at his vocabulary cards.
“Was that the wrong usage?” he asked a little unsettled by Janus’s and Patton’s looks.
But his attention was soon grabbed by Remus putting his arm around his shoulders and looking at the card he held in his hand.
“Nah! It was perfect! You have vocab cards for these? Do you have one for ‘burn’?”
Logan fished through his cards and mumbled: “I think so. Would that have been a better choice?”
Remus giggled some more.
“It would have been a good one to diss Jaybird a little more, but I like you calling my little call out savage. It’s high praise from Mister Sass himself.”
“What has Virgil done to him?” Janus asked slightly mortified.
Patton could only answer to this with a shrug and just stared at Remus commenting on Logan’s cards and the latter adding whatever Remus said was lacking on them. And then at once the picture in front of him, became too familiar to ignore it.
Unable to control himself Patton gasped and all three other sides stared at him.
“Patton?” Janus asked placing his feet on the ground ready to stand up and jump to his help. “What is it? What’s wrong?”
Patton shook his head.
“I – Do not worry about me. I just – You two-” he pointed at Logan and Remus sitting next to each other and looking at him curiously, “-it’s so much like. Before.”
Patton inhaled some air for a moment. He needed to start calling things by their true name.
“Before, Roman and Remus were split and Creativity was still with us… Logan, I don’t mean to pressure you, and if you do not feel like answering you don’t have to by any means, but is this sadness you talked of – this grief – is this about him? Is this about you missing him?”
Logan flinched. He reached for his collarbone and at once he felt the little sting. Still, there, he realized and blew out some air from his lips. He knew this. He could handle it, even if he didn’t like it. Even if he should not have to. Even if it was not fair. It was okay.
“Yes, it is. But it is nothing new. I am used to it usually, it just had worsened due to the additional stress and changes in a short amount of time. I should be able to control it from now on.”
Patton’s look grew immediately deeply sad.
“Oh, but that is not the point kiddo! I don’t of ask you to control it. I – We should have talked about it. I should have given you the chance to talk about it… You were so angry at us for all of it and I cannot blame you. We acted so childishly about the ordeal while disregarding your-” Patton made an effort to point to Logan as well as Remus, “-feelings at all. You were so very much involved in the split and we just never addressed it again.”
Logan watched Patton with a frown. Then he smacked his lips and crossed his arms demonstratively.
“Of course, it was childish. We were children after all. Also, as much as I have been angry at you, it is no longer source of my main problem. It frustrates me, angers me again and again that I’ll never know what was going on in his head when he planned it. And no matter what we do about it, how much we talk it through, I will never get my answer. And this is what keeps me sad about it. And that is not your fault Patton. It is all right.”
Patton sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. There was no easy, rational way to solve this. There could not be, otherwise Logan had already found and tried it. To make this right, to make it more bearable for Logan, Patton would need to be smarter than logic and he would need some time to do that.
“If you say so, kiddo,” Patton gave in and looked from Logan to Remus. “But if you need to talk about it; I’ll be here. And as soon we get a little settled with this whole therapy thingy we can sit down and talk about it with you and your brother, right Remus? You think we could do that?”
Remus nodded slowly and slipped his arm of Logan’s shoulders. Patton scratched his chin and shot a look to Janus.
“You think you could look after the boys? It’s been a while.”
“Of course,” Janus said happy to be able and get out of this conversation.
“Oh, and take some water with you. Roman’s certainly dehydrated,” Patton remarked and summoned a water bottle, which he then shoved in Janus’s hands.
“Certainly.” And with an eyeroll Janus stood up and went to the bathroom.
Virgil closed the door behind himself and looked around for Princey. Unsurprisingly, he found him dry heaving over the toilet bowl. He sighed and walked over to him, sat down on the edge of the bathtub and hesitantly patted Roman’s back.
Eyes on the door. Listening closely for footsteps. And then a moment of stillness.
Virgil looked down to Roman kneeling on the floor. His right hand was stemmed onto floor and the left hand was clutching the toilet seat. He was shaking a little. But there was no more throwing up.
“Feeling better now, Princey?”
Roman coughed and leaned a little back not yet looking up to Virgil.
“Save your mockery, Emo Nightmare. I know how undignified this must look.”
Virgil let out a snort and shook his head.
“Fuck that. Are you feeling okay, though? I’m starting to worry.”
And at that Roman perked up. Virgil almost fell backwards into the tub and only didn’t do that because Roman grabbed his arm just in time.
Tense they stared at each other; Virgil’s eyes affixed to Roman’s red eyes.
“You okay? Or do I look like a ghost or something?”
Virgil shook his head and stuttered: “Red eyes. Kinda took me by surprise. Sorry.”
And Roman blinked and reached for his face before he stopped and sighed. With a groan he turned himself around, sat down on his behind and stretched his legs out as he leaned against the wall. He let his arms hang down loosely for a moment and just inhaled and exhaled a few times.
“Remus says they stay like this for quite a bit after I used my powers. I’ve never looked in a mirror when I’m like this so I can only imagine how horrifying they must look.”
Roman glanced over to Virgil and the anxious side frowned.
“I wouldn’t say horrifying… It’s actually, uhm, pretty cool. I guess. Flashy. Suits you.”
Both sat at their spots in silence for a little longer. Virgil watched Roman closely. His face was still rather pale, and he looked a bit clammy. His whole royal demeanour was also nowhere to be found. But who could really claim from themselves to look somehow royal while sitting on the bathroom floor after vomiting in the toilet?
“… Are you feeling okay?”
Roman shot his eyes open and slightly lifted his head from the cool tiled bathroom wall.
“You didn’t answer before. Are you doing okay? Still feeling sick and stuff?”
Roman rolled his shoulders and unbuttoned his princely overcoat. The black shirt under it came into vision and Roman huffed in relief.
“It’s okay,” Roman said tiredly but with a smile. “I had it way worse before. I just need to sit for a bit longer and I’ll be just as new.”
Virgil quirked up his eyebrow and Roman chuckled.
“Really! This was nothing, compared to other times!”
“I’m sorry that that’s not reassuring at all.”
Roman just laughed and leaned back against the wall, while Virgil shot him a glare.
“I’m serious Roman! It’s not funny! Not when it means you went through worse for us!” Virgil hissed disconcerted and got Roman to become suddenly quiet.
Virgil let his shoulders slump and made himself seem smaller, as he saw the blank look on Roman’s face. He had been too loud. To forceful after Roman had just been altruistic. Roman surely hated him now. No doub-
Roman’s face at once grew softer and he smiled at Virgil with this look Patton always had when he was about to tell someone he loved them, after they fucked up badly.
“I thought it was my duty, Virge. And in a way I liked to do it. For you all. It made me feel needed and stronger, despite being in pain. I understand that I can’t keep doing it like this. I know I’m not strong enough but I don’t regret this today. I don’t regret helping Logan.”
Virgil eyed Roman up and down and he wrinkled his nose in confusion.
“Why Logan? You two fight like all of the time. I don’t get your dynamic at all.”
Carefully, Roman leaned a bit forward, as if he was testing how far he could go. With a faint huff, he then bent his legs and pulled them to his chest.
“I guess, he’s kind of the same thing for me as Remus was for you,” Roman said after a while and watched the confusion in Virgil’s face grow. “You know, a mentor, older brother. When we were little, Lo always helped me find my way through the mindscape and organize projects and stuff. Patton’s no good with that and – uh, honestly? I’ve got a bad memory, so I had a hard time getting an overview of what I had to do. And Patton soon asked a lot of he and I had to keep you at bay too, so I needed help. And I could always turn to Logan. When I had honest concerns about things, I rather went to him than Patton sometimes, because, well, I never faced the same judgement or disappointment with him like with Pat. He just helped ground me. And I’m glad I got to help him today in return.”
That made sense to Virgil. Awful lot of sense.
Virgil stopped and Roman just watched him continuously smiling softly.
“How would you know? That Emu’s the same for me like Lo for you?”
“He always loved you. He always showed his care very prominently in a very him way. He defended you every time we fought about how – how he was hurt by you. And. Well… Back when I used to do this a lot more, I sometimes… I sometimes didn’t help you on days where you were mean to Remus and… He looked at me really disappointed, when I did that…”
Only breathing. And their thoughts. But it was loud enough to keep the silence from killing them.
“For the record; Now I’m also disappointed in myself that I did that.”
It was Virgil’s turn to smirk and he slid down from the bathtub edge and sat down, cross-legged on the floor.
“I get it. I was an asshole. And so were you. We’ve changed. So, it doesn’t matter anymore. And Princey? I know you wouldn’t do that anymore.”
And that earned Virgil the smallest but most genuine smile from Princey, he had ever gotten. And immediately he felt the need to protect it and hopefully be the cause of it again.
“And I know you wouldn’t hurt him again. You’ve grown so much. Patton and Lo are really proud of you,” Roman said softly and made Virgil forget what he had just heard.
Virgil just shot him a lazy grin leaned his head back on the edge of the bathtub.
“Never thought that we’d be in a similar position, you know?”
“What do you mean.”
Virgil sighed and pulled his hands out of his hoodie pockets to gesticulate while explaining: “You know, being the youngest in the group? The favourite of the Dad but also always deemed as too dangerous to be left alone? And like Pat and Jan are the Dads and Lo and Emu are the eldest sibling, or even stand in parent, because, let’s be honest, Pat and Jan fucked up a lot and I don’t know how often Emu had to pull me away from the messes Jan was creating.”
“If you put it like this… Yeah, Logan had to save our ass quite often but – well, Pat didn’t always listen to reason so…”
“You jumped in?”
“Manipulated him a little so he would do what Lo had in mind, because he thought it was your idea?”
“Sheesh,” both mumbled at the same time and then broke into a giggle.
Not that their situation was particularly funny or something they should laugh about but mor about the fact that they had needed this long to figure all of it out. That they needed so long to see their own connections and similarities.
“Sometimes,” Virgil mumbled still half laughing, “I don’t know how we came so far, cause really? This whole shit is so incredibly dysfunctional. I mean, we’re sitting here because your brother was bombarded by so many negative thoughts by the embodiment of logic that he had to shout them out and led to logic having an emotional meltdown, which you then eased of with powers that are too much for you and made you vomit. And that’s not even a complete summary. It’s insane.”
Roman smiled at that and lazily batted his eyes.
“It is. And we’re still here. Amazing, isn’t it?”
“Fuck, stop talking like that!” Virgil stammered with a laugh. “You sound like your brother.”
Roman only smiled wider.
“So, do you sometimes.”
Virgil crossed his arms and stared at the Prince awaiting.
“Like just before when you said: I was an asshole. And so were you. We’ve changed. So, it doesn’t matter anymore. That’s a very him thing to say, as an example. You know with all the nihilism he talks about and stuff…”
Virgil looked at Roman. He was taking aback by the exact impression of his voice but also at the drowsy sound of Roman’s other words. But then again, Roman was an actor and Remus always loved doing impressions, so it was fairly probable that the brothers had done that together in private. And for Roman’s drowsiness…
“Tired Sleeping Beauty?”
Roman immediately straightened up and lightly shook his head.
“No! No! I’m completely awake! Have you forgotten I don’t need slee-”
“Yeah, yeah,” Virgil cut him off, “I know. But you usually also don’t use your powers, which don’t function like they should. It’s chill. Need some energizers? Food, water?”
And suddenly Roman appeared to be wide awake and fumbled around to get back on his feet. Light-footedly Virgil stood before him and held him his arm out for help, which Roman tried not to use but ended up using nevertheless.
“So, food’s actually the magical word? You were just-” Virgil chuckled while helping Roman out, who promptly hissed back at him, while steading himself on the sink.
“You have no idea! I’m starving! I didn’t get to properly eat dinner tonight, because of some official business that needed my attention in the imagination-”
But Roman didn’t get any further as he was cut off by three short knocks and the bathroom door being opened. And there stood Janus glancing inside and watching the mismatched pair standing next to the sink.
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The next few days flew by in a flash. They had to make plans for new videos and schedule the next appointment with Mrs Ramírez. The date was eventually set to be in two weeks and in little ways they all prepared for the occasion.
Patton had borrowed a few books from Janus on emotional vulnerability, while the latter made efforts to take out more time out of his schedule for Remus and Roman, who had started to make blueprints for a renovation of the common areas. He oversaw their progress and helped them solve conflicts if they couldn’t agree on one design idea. Virgil was found sitting on the couch and scribbling something in a notebook of his for about half an hour each day. An effort of being a little more out in the open. A little more involved. A little more available.
And Logan was working as usual. Coordinating Thomas’s upcoming appointments, fixing and adapting his schedule when things didn’t work out according to plan. Nothing too out of the ordinary. Sometimes he would ask the others if they were fine with the upcoming appointment and what was to do to make them feel more at ease about it.
It was at the sixth day after the first appointment, when all sides had gathered in the living room after Thomas had gone to bed early for once. They had no real plan of what to do now but they didn’t need one. They just wanted to be in the same room and not yet go back into their own for the night. And so, Patton, Janus, Roman and Logan found themselves playing a game of poker, which none of them could properly play but that was of no importance, while Virgil and Remus talked about which horror movie they could watch next.
Virgil often drifted away from the conversation glancing over to the table, where Janus and Roman bluffed about who had the better hand, while Patton just snickered or told them to clam down and Logan observing the whole ordeal quietly.
Remus didn’t mind the breaks. If Virgil got distracted that was okay with him. If Roman and Janus got a little too loud, their voiced almost ringing in his ears, that was okay with him. If Patton got up to make them all more of the far too sweet tea that was okay with him too.
What was not okay, was the phrases spurting around Logan’s head.
Some of them –
You DO talk too much sometimes..
- had been there for a good while now. Remus had heard them even before he had revealed himself to Thomas. The others had such thoughts as well but with Logan it had become far more regular. The second Remus entered a room where Logan was in, the first phrases were thrown at him.
Since the talk after the appointment they had only increased more in frequecy. Their tone had shifted into a more hostile one and Remus felt the hair on the back of his neck stand up from the energy.
Very often it was just a string of the others telling Logan in their own ways to shut up-
Oh hush, sub-astute teacher!
Logan, can you stop?
I’m afraid this is a benched trial for you.
Logan, can you stop?
(strangely never including Remus’s own attempt of shutting Logan down) which always dragged on for far too long to be entertaining anymore.
But at other times it was short remarks and Logan’s full-blown analyses of them. And these analyses were unforgivingly clear and made Logan sound so incredibly helpless in the face of everything that was happening.
Actually, Remus knew that it had gotten worse even before the appointment. It had gone downhill, rapidly so, when he had come into the imagination with him to rescue Roman. And of course, the pictures of the flames and the memories of Roman and him were terrible and certainly did leave their marks, but there were those other memories, those other pictures and this voice which sometimes spoke up within Logan since then and they made Logan sad. Not angry, not frustrated nor helpless.
And it made everything worse. So, so much worse. Because had Logan been angry, Remus could have given him a baseball bat to punch some things. Had he been frustrated he could have brought him onto a mountain in the imagination and let him curse the world.
But sadness Remus didn’t know how to make go away. Probably, because he could never totally get rid of it himself. Because it always lingered and it was heavy and smothering. And if you let it stay there long enough, you’d start to feel comfortable with it, like an old friend, like your favourite blanket or like the particular smell of your laundry detergent, and it was the most dangerous part of it.
And then Remus heard the one that was always worst. The one that together with the sadness had made him remain quiet about the thoughts in the first place. Because he did not want to expose Logan. He did not want to touch him in a way he would hate and would make him feel uncomfortable.
But it needed to get out. Out of his chest, out of Logan’s head. He needed to blurt it out, just like he had always done it when Janus or Virgil thought bad thoughts that were overwhelming them too much. With them it wasn’t so much of a problem though, because they all had known that they were broken.
Logan had never let the others know that though. He had not broken down yet, he had not shown-
Remus pressed his hands against his mouth, shivering from the mere force the thought used to ring Logan’s very being.
Remus forced his eyes open and looked to Virgil, who had just whispered his name. Immediately Virgil recognized the look. Rapidly, he threw his head around, staring over to the table, scanning who it could be.
Logan. Quickened heartbeat. Too tense upper arms. Too straight posture.
Virgil pressed his hand on Remus shoulders. Nodded. Steadied himself. No waiting now. No stalling. Acting. Now.
I’m not a joke!
Remus slumped together from relief. The words had come out so perfectly vulnerable, small and wavering just like Logan had blurted them out in a moment of desperation and frustration some months ago. Finally, finally he had a little more room in his own head again.
Logan on the other hand was not relaxed at all. He stood. Quick and decisive he left the table. Even broke into a sprint. Just to the hallway, then to his room. It was not far and the others could not stop hi-
A mop of purple hair and one purple glowing eye and one black glowing eye stopped him. Logan was baffled for a moment. How had Virgil- Of course, fight or flight. Faster than the rest of them because that was what he was for.
But Logan could not stay here. Frantically, he tried to pass Virgil but the anxious side stretched his arms out and shook his head vehemently.
“We don’t need to do this here. You get to choose whoever you need for this, but you need to talk. Now.”
Logan just stared at Virgil. Felt how his left eyebrow was twitching and the damned sensation of tears burning in his eyes.
Logan hated how loud his voice was. How it screeched. But he needed to get out. He needed to go.
“Logan, Remus did not mean to do that but he will have to get out more if you won’t talk! It’s not a choice to talk or not to talk now, but it’s yours how you get to do it! Because he will get uglier, he will get more painful and he does not want to do that to you!”
Mindlessly, Logan tried to press himself past Virgil but the smaller side held him off, while trying not to grab or touch him anymore than was necessary. Over Logan’s shoulder Virgil saw Patton approach, while Janus looked from him over to Remus, who still looked like he was passed out. Only then Janus rose from his seat and carefully, so carefully moved towards Logan and Virgil as if he was approaching a hurt animal.
“NO!” it came again from Logan but this time it was quieter and dripped with desperation.
Virgil felt Logan’s force behind the pushing lessen. He must have realized that his efforts were for naught and that he had no way to flee. Well, apparently, he was so out of it that he didn’t realize that he could just sink out but you would not see Virgil complain.
“Hey, come on teach... It’s going to be okay. Who do you want with you? Where do you want to go? You get to decide. It’s your pick,” Virgil tried again stepping back a little and forcing himself not lay hands on Logan’s shaking shoulders.
Patton was close now, but Janus held him back. Remus had sat up deep worry visible in his expression. And Princey? He had barely moved not able to assess what was happening and what he could do to stop it from happening.
“It is not my “pick”!” Logan whined stomping his foot on the ground and pressing his hands against the side of his face. “If I got to choose, I would be alone and in my room! I don’t want this! I don’t need your “help”! I don’t want to talk because there is nothing to talk about and I don’t need you people telling me something otherwise!”
“Logan...” Patton almost whispered helplessly.
At that Logan shot around. He glared at Patton, uncaring that he now saw his flushed face and the water in his eyes. Uncaring that his look scared Patton.
“You do not need to talk! You – you – YOU refused to listen to me, whenever I brought up anything mental health related which you might have benefited from but followed the first thing Janus suggested! So, I don’t see why I would have to listen to You if you don’t care to listen to Me! You do not get to worry about me now! You do not get to empathise or care or anything now! You are not supposed to do that with me because I am Logic and I’m not supposed to feel anything you would have to worry about!”
“Logan,” Virgil said firmly from behind him.
Immediately Logan turned back with even more venom in his voice and continued: “And you don’t get to tell me that everything is going to be okay! You are Anxiety, you worry and you don’t have a positive outlook on anything and you cannot tell me, you cannot influence me like the others because I am different! Because I’m not like you and-”
I’m alone. I’m alone. I never belong. I cannot belong. Even if it is not fair.
A pain striking grown turned all their attention over to Remus, who was shaken by Logan’s latest thought. Janus watched the Duke blankly and then back to Logan. Whatever was going on in his head, it had hurt Remus. Janus thought of the last thoughts he or Virgil had had which had made Remus squirm like that. He made a face when he remembered and pulled Patton further back to take another step towards Logan.
Softly Janus flicked his fingers and asked Logan: “Continue. Please. Speak.”
Angrily, Logan’s indigo eyes lit up, but Janus didn’t flinch. He had been hit by far more hostile and aggressive emotions than this. And he knew he would be able to deal with that one specifically.
“Now you want me to speak? Now, when I’m babbling nonsensically overtaken by emotions but not when you need to talk some sense into Thomas? When I could have presented your point of view just as well as you did? Why now? Why? Why did you pull me out of the conservation? Am I not effective enough for your means? Am I not logical enough to shut Patton down, when he’s going crazy with his martyrdom morals?”
“Is this what this is about? Me – being the opposition to Patton?” Janus asked slowly, watching every movement in Logan’s expressions.
“I’m supposed to get some sense into him when he’s being overly emotional! I rationalize and plan and do what’s necessary because I am Logic! This is what I’m for but you can do that too! Maybe even better, because they listen to you and not me because they can empathise with you but not me because I am Logic! And Logic is supposed to make sense, to not feel, to be the opposition of emotions, to understand! So, why, why do I feel? Why do I not understand? Why doesn’t it make sense? It is not fair, Janus. It's not fair.”
Finally, Logan’s voice had quieted down a little. He looked forlorn to Janus and Janus stepped a little closer again. He was almost impressed that Logan had not started crying yet. But the concern overweighed and he took a deep breath.
“No, it is not fair. It really is not. I’m sorry that I cannot make things fair for you.”
Logan turned his face away and hugged himself tightly.
“Can I go now?”
Janus let out a sad snicker.
“I’m afraid not. It’s unfair too but I don’t think I can let you make a tactical retreat right now.”
Logan opened his mouth but closed it again.
“Ask. Ask me all the questions you need to.”
“Why can’t you let me go? You know now that I’m malfunctioning. Isn’t that all you need?”
“You are not malfunctioning. And I’m going to explain that to you. But first do you want to leave and have this conversation somewhere else? Do you want somebody else with you?”
“Why would I want that now? The damage is done and you all have seen it. It’s only efficient if they see the rest. Then no one has to relay the conclusion of this mess to the others.”
Janus threw a look to Virgil, who massaged his temples in frustration. A creaking from the couch and Remus was on his feet. Janus and Virgil turned to watch him wander over to the table and take a seat next to Roman, who still was utterly lost to what was actually happening.
“Neat,” Remus laughed and rubbed his forehead, “then take at least a seat, Mr I-Am-Determined-To-Suffer. Would be pretty inefficient if you’d faint on us.”
Barely lifting his eyes over to Logan, Remus started to pick up the cards and grinned a little, when he heard Logan walk towards the table and take the seat to his left.
In silence, Patton sat down to Roman’s right, Virgil took Logan’s other side and Janus sat in between Patton and Virgil eyeing the constantly paling Logan.
“I suppose you just want me to start, correct?” Janus sighed.
Monotone Logan replied: “It’s highly probable that it means I can go sooner if you start talking now, so yes. Please explain, why I am not malfunctioning.”
“Your theory bases on the assumption that you, logic, are the opposition to Patton, morality and the heart. Am I correct so far?”
Logan gave a curt nod and Janus sighed.
“Very well. Now while that might seem like an opposition at first glance it is not quite true, and I’d like you to follow me closely for this part. Morality has a structure, has thoughts behind it, no matter, what Patton might have said in the past. Morality is a complexly designed construct, which is why there are no universal standards for what is morally right and what is morally wrong. So, your position is not the opposition to Patton’s point of view but a neutral entity. A device to build part of it. You are able to deconstruct but also construct these morals. You are not the opposition but the neutral position to Patton. Morality cannot exist without logic. But because you, Roman and Patton have been the three main operating sides for so long, someone needed to oppose to Patton’s arguments. And Roman is not able to do that to the extent you can. He’s the ego, the self-esteem and he needs love and validation and that is what he got almost exclusively from Patton, when he performed to Patton’s liking. He risked to lose that if he opposed and so he had to play along, which left you as the bad guy. You were left with the opposing position, which never was meant for you, but for me. I am supposed to oppose Patton, not you.”
Logan was still for a moment. His gaze was neutral and Janus could almost see the gears turning in his head.
“That doesn’t excuse the emotions.”
The matter of fact tone in Logan’s voice almost made Janus laugh, if it hadn’t been such a dire situation. Though it did make Remus laugh, at what Logan and Roman flinched and Janus groaned.
“You’re still absolutely shameless, Emu,” Virgil muttered and shifted in his seat while he observed Logan closely.
With a lazy smile Remus replied: “Look, some people laugh at comedies and I laugh at tragedies. Because that is what this is.”
“Be that as it may,” Janus interfered feeling how quick both of his little ones could start spiralling now, “let’s get back to you, Logan. Now, yes emotions within logic do not make so much sense. But you are not just Logic. You are Logan.”
Logan raised his eyebrows and part of his stiffness fell off of him. Naturally, the empathise on his name meant so much to him.
“If I am correct, and I think I am, you are also the primary overseer of Thomas’s language centre and the director of activities for Thomas’s right arm. Meaning, you are not just logic. I remember your first name, I remember Curiosity. I remember and I am very certain that you do too. Logic on its own is quite stale and indecisive, and you are nothing like that. You are driven and hardworking. You are curious, orderly and quite judgemental. And logic, pure logic, would be able to think of every possible outcome and could foresee every possible mistake that could be made and you can’t do that. Neither can I for that matter; The trial was proof enough of that.”
There was a silence after that.
All eyes were on Logan. He only stared down at the table. Started at the pattern the wood drew and rubbed with the back of his right hand his nose. He hadn’t cried. That was good. He sniffed his nose and turned his attention over to Janus.
“I am not stupid,” Logan stated warily eying Janus, “I see that you are manipulative. The usage of my name like that, the listing of my own statements and the positive attributes you assigned to me were things you specifically know I do cherish. You are aware that you cannot make me reconsider my insistence on going to therapy with flattery?”
Janus sighed and nodded.
“I know. I didn’t try to, Logan. And I understand that it is hard to believe someone who calls himself Lord of the Lies but I genuinely do not want you to hurt and repress all of this pain.”
“He’s not lying.”
Logan shifted his focus over to Virgil who had taken the word, while playing with them hem of his hoodie.
“When Remus cries out stuff like this, it’s really, really bad. We know that first hand and it’s never fun. J wouldn’t lie about it.”
“Ah,” was the single response to that from Logan and he shot a side eye to Remus, who gave him a crooked smile and a shrug in return.
Roman next to him, while he finally understood what was happening in general, had put a hand on Remus’s shoulder and stared at his brother in doubt. He never had shouted out any of his bad thoughts. Never. He had to assume that it was different for the two of them, since they were twins and a little weird on all fronts.
“Why had it to be this one?”
The question pulled Roman out of his thoughts and he focused again on Remus and Logan.
“The “I am not a joke” one?”
A nod was the answer Remus got.
“You said it yourself, I play to people’s sensitivities. But I admit that this one was just overwhelmingly loud and it was nothing I could control. I tried though. I did.”
Logan nodded again and Remus watched him with a lump in his throat. He wanted to do more for him. For the feelings Logan felt and couldn’t work through. Maybe this was where the sadness could be helpful, cause sadness sometimes made it easier to say the things that bothered one most.
“I know questions are your thing but may I ask you another one?” Remus asked Logan almost softly.
“You’ve went out of your way to check out how we felt about therapy but never bothered to ask you the same. So how do you feel about it?”
“What do you mean? I’ve presented my thoughts on therapy. You know that I think it is a good thing we go.”
Suddenly understanding what Remus was getting at Virgil sat up and shot a look to Remus. He was not sure if he could say what Logan needed to hear in order to give him the answer he was waiting for. And so, Virgil decided to help Remus out: “Yeah, we know your thoughts but wanted to know how you feel about therapy.”
“How do you feel about our next appointment?” Remus seamlessly finished and saw Logan’s immediate reaction.
And that reaction was to break down over the table and cry. To sob actually. And nobody moved.
Patton didn’t think he should touch him and overstep anymore boundaries.
Janus didn’t think he was trusted enough to get near him.
Virgil didn’t think he had ever seen him cry like this and could not process what was happening
Remus didn’t feel like he could comfort him.
And Roman stood up. He felt that his friend needed a hug.
Gently, but firmly Roman pulled Logan’s chair a little back and touched Logan on the back. When he didn’t react Roman pulled him up into an embrace from behind. And Logan gave in. Awkwardly, he grabbed Roman’s arms and pressed his face against them, while being shaken by his tears.
“How can someone as smart as you be so stupid, nerd?” Roman said with a grin and pulled Logan further up from the chair, so their position was a little less uncomfortable.
“I wanna go now!” it came from weeping Logic and Roman’s very core emphasised with that statement. “She’s been so understanding! She’s listening and it was so easy for her to make sense of it! Her answers make so much sense and I want her to make sense of it now! I am so tired of not understanding what is happening and not being listened to and she’s listening to me and making sense off it for me and I want this to be solved now, because I don’t know if I can work much longer.”
Logan finally stood, his eyes pressed together and he blindly turned himself to properly hug Roman and buried his face in Roman’s crook of his neck. And Roman just held him and drew circles over Logan’s back, his eyes cast down to not see the looks from the rest.
“When have you been the one doing all the work, hm? You think I’ll let you fail?” Roman half joked.
Cynically, Logan muffled his response in Roman’s shirt: “As if you were not tired at all. As if you weren’t this close to breaking too.”
A pressed laugh.
“True. But I’m not going to let you fail nevertheless.”
A watery laugh followed and Logan pulled away to see Roman’s face.
“You are an absolute moron. An enormous buffoon. As if you’d manage to plan something like this without me.”
Roman feint a fake offended lock and Logan snickered. Roman joined and subtly conjured a package Kleenex and a cleaning cloth for Logan’s glasses, which he then gave him.
“How dare you insulting my planning capabilities!” Roman rambled as Logan cleaned his nose and then his face. “My castle is magnificent and my visions are unparalleled by anything you ever came up with!”
“Certainly Roman,” Logan said sarcastically as he wiped his glasses clean.
Precisely, Logan put them back on and met Roman’s gaze again. So that had been it, Logan realized. The flames, the drama. Their burden had broken them. It had let Roman burst into literal flames, while he himself had been figuratively hollowed out from it.
“I can’t wait either.”
“Of course, you can’t. I had my reasons for calling a hypocrite. But there is nothing to be done. We need to hold on a little longer. We may need to come up with some activities to keep ourselves distracted from it until then.”
“Magnificent! How about you help me figure out which books we should get for the common area? We want to make a bookshelf which is embedded in the wall, and I can’t decide which books I should pick!”
“An adequate proposal. I’ll get to it in the morning, after we’ve organised who’s going to stand in for me or you in case of an emergency,” Logan said and then finally threw a look over his shoulders to the others.
His first instinct was to check Virgil, in case that Anxiety was freaking out which could become quite the problem. But beside looking a little frazzled he appeared to be alright and Logan focused on Patton.
Patton’s expression was blank. He just looked Logan in the eyes and pressed his lips together.
“I - You – It is clear that I apologized for-” Patton halted and then continued carefully, “for taking away your agency, correct? You understand that and that I’m working on not doing that anymore?”
“Okay, so you understand but you do still feel angry because of it? You are not ready to forgive me yet.”
Logan furrowed his brows and Patton sighed.
“That is okay Logan. It is fine. You get to be angry even if it doesn’t make sense. Even if you don’t understand. The heart needs time and we’ve been in this relationship for many years. We’ve internalized this dangerous dynamic and I was the one in charge despite not wanting to be in charge and you two were left to execute my wishes and try and fulfil your own needs while doing so. I put you in the spot to compete for your own well-beings and I am sorry for it and I am not going to do that anymore but the harm is done. We need to readjust and figure it out as we go. And we’ll all need all the help we can get.”
And as Patton said the last sentence he looked from Janus, to Virgil and lastly to Remus. All three stared back at him in various states of panic. Roman who had hung on Patton’s lips as he spoke, giggled at the threes’ expression and took a hit from Logan into his side in return.
“You said you wanted to pull your weight and now you’re going to do that, Mister!” Patton said in his fatherly not-quite-serious way directed to Virgil.
“I mean, sure, yes, but I can’t step in for Logan or Roman! I can’t keep a cool head and I’m not a problem solv-”
“Bah, bah, bah! Who said you should do what they do? Helping out does not mean doing their exact job, but do it your way with your means. And you don’t need to do this on your own. I couldn’t to what they do on my own either. But judging how you just teamed up with Remus I think you’ll do fine. You both will.”
Virgil and Remus stared first at Patton and then at each other. It has been quite some time since they had been working together. And they had not even realised it in the first place. It had just felt right and worked out.
Meanwhile, Patton just glanced to Janus by his side. He gulped uneasily and for a millisecond his eyes flashed slightly in their cyan colour. Janus watched and noticed the light. And he knew what it meant and under the table grabbed his hand with a small nod. Patton grinned and squeezed his hand before both let go again as if it had never happened.
Logan and Roman did not notice any of that exchange either. Roman had snapped himself another shirt on, while Logan readjusted his tie and tried to figure out if his hair was a mess after the crying by looking at his reflection in the unlit TV screen.
A little spooked by Patton’s voice Logan turned around and responded: “Yes, Patton?”
“I know that you are not feeling quite all right yet, but is it a little better now? Can we do something else to help?”
“I am uncertain,” Logan admitted quickly locking eyes with Roman again, before he continued. “I know my emotional state is not well but I am unable to differentiate the feelings correctly. I can’t name you what exactly is out of order and thus I can’t tell you what would help.”
“If you want, I could help you. I do know after all what you all feel. Or Remus could as well in this particular case. Whichever you prefer, if you want us to help you figure that out,” Patton offered as he gave Remus a testing look, as if to ask if that offer was all right with Remus as well.
Just then Remus nodded and told Logan enthusiastically: “Yeah, I’d totally do that if you want me to.”
For a short moment Logan’s gaze flickered from Patton to Remus, before he rested on the latter and said: “Then, please. Tell me what the main emotion is I am experiencing right now?”
“Only the main one?” Remus pouted.
“Yes, more would probably be too confusing and if I can get that one out of the way, the others should be easier to work around, I’d assume.”
“I’m … not sure that’s how it works, but fine. Have it your way.”
Remus paused and turned the words around in his mouth. To get to feel them out a little before he’d give them the power to take form.
“I don’t like that one though,” Remus stalled again.
“Remus! Could you please just say it?”
“Okay! It’s sadness. You’re sad.”
For a moment Logan just stared. Not at Remus, not at anything particular. He was just looking towards something, anything really, the words slowly dripping into his mind. Sadness. Of course, it was sadness.
It was grief. He had forgotten it was there. It was subtle, so everlasting, he didn’t even notice it creeping up on him again.
“Oh,” Logan only uttered his eyes finally actually seeing the floor he was staring at for the whole time. “That makes sense. It’s quite annoying. And I don’t think I can just get rid of it now.”
Roman smacked his lips and got the others attention.
“I might be able to help you with that.”
Chapters 3 and 4 of Evermore have been posted! :D
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“Thomas!” Logan almost squeaked surprised by the sudden scenery change. “How can I be of service?”
What was that? He didn’t mean to sound like this. He stood not where he usually stood. He was sitting on the couch. At the end with the arm rest and. Ah. Thomas was sitting on the couch. He chose a more comfortable setting to talk, apparently.
“Logan? Everything okay?”
He flinched. How had he forgotten that Thomas was there? He had just thought about him. He had seen him. Had he missed him say something else? Was that why he asked the question?
“Yes. I mean-” Logan took a deep breath. “I am a little distracted. I apologize. What were you saying?”
To Logan’s relief Thomas smiled at him and it seemed genuine.
“It’s okay. I just said I wanted to check in with you guys. And thank you for today but, uhm, I feel like I’ve pulled you out of something important?”
“We were indeed having a discussion but just came to a conclusion. Well, a possible solution the very least. – It has been a little heated.”
Logan paused; he had momentarily lost his train of thoughts.
“Patton just proposed that we should bring up our findings the next time you’d summon us. I was about to agree.”
“Then you pulled me up. And I don’t know exactly what the others decided. I would not want to decide without their agreement.”
“That is okay. I – You know what? I’m going to ask them in a second about it but I think I want to talk with you first”, Thomas said suspiciously eyeing Logan.
“About what would you like to talk?”
“What is the “Not again” about?”
Logan just stared at Thomas for a minute. Had his tie gotten tighter?
“I said that out loud?”
Thomas sighed and scratched his cheek.
“No? But I heard it and it didn’t sound so good, buddy. I don’t want to pressure you though, but if you need someone to listen, I’m here. Just like you were here for me earlier today.”
Uneasily, Logan shifted on the couch and focused on his knees. Did it make sense to talk with Thomas about his problems? Was he not supposed to solve them for Thomas? Was it a contradiction? Would his feelings complicate Thomas’s situation further?
“I always try and give you logical and relevant information to the problems you face, correct?”
Thomas blinked and furrowed his brows but answered: “A bit of a tangent there, but yeah, sure. That’s what you usually do but it’s not all.”
“You do so much more! You keep us on task and grounded and honestly, you’re the best with Virgil, when he goes overboard. Also, you endure all our antics and – I have never said this and I’m ought to do that more often and I’m gonna do it from now on; You play along and wait for us to get where you’re already at, even though you’re not always comfortable with it. You didn’t want to be sorted or do the puppet stuff, and we gave you a hard time for it, while we made allowances for Virgil. That wasn’t fair.”
“It is quite all right, Thomas. I can make do with it,” Logan said feeling an uncanny feeling of validation light up in his chest.
“I know you can, but you should not have to. Not to the amount you did, at the very least. I’ll be sure to not do that again. Anyway, where were you going with your initial question? I felt like I made you lose your thread.”
“Ah, yes, of course,” Logan stumbled back to his line of thoughts and continued, “usually I can help you out with information, which you easily overlook because you get distracted by the others. Now, my problem is that despite assumingly having all the information I need, I can’t tell what is the most relevant part. I – I am not entirely certain what is wrong. With me.”
“Wrong with you?”
Logan didn’t elaborate. He didn’t know how and why he even bothered to tell Thomas. He felt like he didn’t know anything at the moment.
“Okay, maybe you could tell me again from the top. What makes you think, right now in this exact moment, that something is wrong with you?” Thomas asked gently.
“I – Not all of us were comfortable with the prospect of going to therapy and I did not realize it,” Logan explained. “Not looking out for all possible outcomes, for all possible tribulations is unacceptable of me. I am the one who reminds the others to listen! I listen to them and to what they need to solve their problems! I cannot overlook such a thing!”
The look Logan just got from Thomas reminded him too much of Patton and Patton’s words from before replayed immediately in his head. They are finally asking and accepting help and I won’t shoot that down. They want this-
“I’m sorry but I need to ask: Did they specifically tell you that they were not fine with it or did they hide it?”
“I should have realized it no-”
Thomas broke him off before he could get any further with that train of thought: “Nah ah ah! Did they tell you or did they not? It’s a yes or no question, so please answer accordingly.”
Did he sound like this? If that was how Logan sounded, he suddenly understood why people got so easily annoyed with him.
“No. They did not tell me. Still, I-”
“Good, then let’s go from there,” Thomas stated shutting down Logan’s objections completely. “If they didn’t tell you that they felt uncomfortable you could not have known. You can’t know everything, Logan. It is not your fault that you don’t have all the information you need in order to make everything better. It’s okay. Everybody makes mistakes and it is not the end of me or you.”
Logan listened closely. It made sense. What Thomas stated was true and yet. Right now, it was not enough for Logan. He needed more.
“I am aware that that is the case but this is so important right now. No one is hiding anymore and you are going to therapy. I can’t allow myself to make such mistakes, not if it could mean to set you so far back! I know it’s not technically the end but I’m not sure how many more setbacks I– we can endure.”
Thomas had heard him slip. He didn’t even need to watch his reaction he knew he had noticed it.
“Logan… Can I give you anything? Like water or – you know no one is here but me, so if you want you could wear whatever makes you feel more comfortable. And then, uhm you could tell me what’s up in the Mindscape, since Remus is now one of you guys. What do you think?”
Logan huffed and let himself slip into a more comfortable posture.
“I think, I would appreciate that very much.”
“Thomas really is the king of timing, isn’t he?” Virgil sighed as he looked at the empty seat where Logan had been just seconds ago.
Remus giggled and stretched his arms over his head. This was a lot better than the whole pampering they had done before. In the back of his mind he heard Thomas and Logan talking but blended it out, when he noticed a certain unease arise in Janus.
“You don’t need to tell him quite yet. I’m sure he’ll understand,” Patton told Janus as if he had read Remus’s mind.
Janus huddled himself into the chair, the two lower pairs of arms hugging his sides. The reaction was familiar. Remus had been one of the few who had gotten to see Janus acting like that. Probably, because Janus losing his cool did not scare Remus like it did Virgil. For Virgil Janus had always put on a brave face.
Thinking of brave faces, his brother looked rather relaxed in comparison to before. Afraid to lash out again. His brother wanted to control his outburst and become even kinder than he already was. Idealistic and definitely a very Roman thing to wish for.
Carefully, Remus took a step back and watched how the scene continued to unfold itself in front of him. Virgil stood up and sat himself besides Roman on the couch, who tried not to stare to the Dads. Patton was leaning against the recliner softly laying his hand on Janus’s shoulder. The tension between the two became more and more ridiculous. If they wouldn’t give in soon, they’d probably burst from their horniness, Remus thought with a smirk.
Remus rolled his eyes and sat himself on the armrest next to Virgil, as Patton quietly talked to Janus with calming word on his lips.
“This is going to only get worse and worse, isn’t it?” Virgil asked under his breath and both brothers nodded simultaneously.
“It’s a good thing teach isn’t seeing this. He’s always so darn annoyed with people dancing around their feelings,” Roman retorted.
“Oh, you think he would catch that?” Remus asked and got an amused huff out of Virgil.
“Trust me,” Virgil grinned and gave him a telling look, “even he knows about them. We actually talked about them some nights ago.”
“No! Spill the tea!” Roman demanded quickly lowering his voice as soon as he felt Janus eying the three suspiciously.
But Janus didn’t get to ask what Virgil was whispering about, as Patton put another blanket over him and proclaimed that he was getting hot cocoa for the rest. Remus was happy enough with that development and half listened to Virgil gossiping with Roman, while Janus almost drowned in his blankets. The other half of the time he listened to Logan and Thomas’s conversation in the living room and felt something his stomach fall.
“You’re right; a lot did change in the past weeks… God, I never even realized”, Thomas said and looked into his mug.
Logan sighed and took a sip from his own cocoa. It felt a little silly, sitting here next to his human in the unicorn onesie and the “Best Teacher” cup (A gift Thomas had received from some students when he worked as a substitute teacher for some time. Logan never would admit it but that time of Thomas’s life was still very dear to him.) in his hands. It was such a Patton-y setup and it made him feel as if he was being treated like a child again. And maybe he was. After all, Thomas did treat Gavin like this, when he was here.
But maybe that was alright at the moment.
“I am aware,” Logan said keeping his voice calm but not quite monotone like he sometimes did. “I am still processing the changes. The dynamics are very unordinary. The regular addition of Remus and Janus in our discussions raises new points of view and forces all of us to take them into account. Which is nothing inherently bad. It has the potential to lead to something rather good even, but it is different and the adjustment time is a lot longer than I expected it would be.”
Thomas nodded and both took another sip in union.
“I’m almost afraid to ask but is Remus somehow making things more difficult? Is he, uhm, causing havoc?” Thomas asked worriedly staring at his knuckles.
Logan shook his head with ease.
“No, he isn’t. Not more than I took into account, at least, and he’s far more docile with Roman around. Though Remus seems to still be looking for his place in the group. He is hesitant around Patton as a rule and rarely talks with Virgil, though they do gravitate to another, when a stressful situation arises. Strangely, most of the time, it seems to calm both of them down instead of worsening their mental states.”
“Oh,” Thomas made quite surprised and shared a look with Logan, “that sounds pretty good, except for Patton but well, I suppose they need some time. Anyway, what’s with Janus, Roman and you? Do you get along with him as well?”
“Janus and Remus seem to be on good terms. I suspect they talk in private. After all, Janus made an effort to remain in contact with Remus after he was accepted, while Remus was still only tolerated. With Remus and Roman it is as if they had just picked up their relationship from a few years ago. They bicker and talk quite often and unapologetically. Roman uses cursing words more frequently around him and asks for whatever Remus might want in the moment on behalf of his brother. And I find myself content with Remus’s present. He asks fascinating questions and as disturbing some of it might seem, it has its merit.”
“Oh nerd! I’m almost touched!”
To Remus’s surprise, Logan didn’t even flinch while Thomas almost fell backwards off the couch. The Duke giggled and heaved himself from behind the couch’s backrest on top of it just next to Logan.
“It is my pleasure,” Logan stated, side-eyeing him with the hint of a smirk and then taking the next sip out of his cocoa.
“You’re not bothered by me seeing you in the onesie?”
“You stated you saw everything Thomas was seeing. Trying to hide it now seems to be a rather futile effort.”
“Touché!” Remus laughed and crossed his legs with flair.
Amused he then looked over to Thomas, who had caught himself and now was eyeing him. Judging the look, he was musing if he should offer him a drink as well but that was not what Remus was after. Not right now at least.
“Why did you come up? Do you want to partake in the conversation?” Logan asked and set his cup down on the little side table.
Remus giggled and shrugged.
“Emo and bro are gossiping and it’s boring me. Also, I wanna hear what problem you got with JJ.”
“Wait. You have a problem with Janus? I thought you made up after he apologized for impersonating you?” Thomas said taken aback looking from Remus over to Logan.
Logan stiffened. He took a deep breath and with the blink of an eye he sat there in his usual attire. Slightly he leaned forward and folded his hands on his lap. His eyes were focused on the wall and he tried to recentre his vision on one point.
“I do not hold grudges. The apology was honest and I accepted it. But I cannot deny that his presence is – It has figuratively set our social structure on fire. Patton now behaves like a different side and as much good that does, it was a rapid change for him and I do not understand how he is this comfortable with it, when he had problems just changing the setting of our videos. I also do not understand how the relationship between Janus and Roman works. At one point, Roman appears to be intimidated by him only to suddenly change his mind and take his side. I have known both of them for years and while I am not opposed to change, this is hard for me to comprehend.”
“Ah, Ro probably just begins to see how similar they are. You know, finding comfort in his company and stuff?” Remus said while watching his nails disinterested.
“Similar?” Logan and Thomas asked at the same time and made Remus look at them.
“Ah, yes of course. Very similar even. A little egocentric. Theatre nerds. Dramatic and extra. I mean, I had to redo J’s costume like seven times before he was happy with it. Before it was perfectly fit for his role as a convincing ‘villain’. And I’ve also sat through Roman’s morning routine once. It’s extravagantly long. Also, they both like to take a pragmatic approach, even if J’s more the theory guy than the take the initiative guy. Also, Ro’s an idealist. And Janus is everything but. But for the rest; Pretty similar.”
Until this very moment Thomas had never thought of Janus and Roman as similar. They had such a different get up, such a different tone to themselves. But in the end, both of them did it for the same reason; to get the others’ attention. To get listened to and get people to watch them. None of the others (except maybe Remus but he was not going to open that can of worms quite yet) presented themselves so obviously in their assigned roles. Roman the Prince, the hero, His Hero and Janus the snake, the liar, the mastermind. It was as if they wanted to convince everybody, maybe even themselves, that this was what they were.
Thomas rubbed his temples and went through the last interactions he had had with both of them. Roman had been welcoming, more open and more relaxed since the date of the first appointment had been set and Thomas didn’t feel the same pressure while working on new video ideas anymore, as he did even a month ago. Janus on the other hand… He had been more silent, hadn’t he?
“Is Janus the one, who’s against therapy?”
Both sides stared at Thomas. They had been talking about Remus’s designing most of Janus’s wardrobe and were slightly taken aback by Thomas’s question. Taken aback that he had figured it out.
“What led you to that conclusion?” Logan asked trying to sound uninvested but failing miserably.
“Ah, it was a hunch,” Thomas sighed and leaned back against the backrest ofthe couch. “I should have noticed earlier. And it makes so much sense! It’s his nature to hide things from me, so this might seem really scary. Especially, just after being accepted. He must be afraid that he’s losing his standing before he could even get a good stance. I’ll talk to him when he sinks in.”
“You could… Just summon him now?” Remus said carefully eyeing his human, who promptly just shrugged.
“Sure. But I don’t think pressure him into telling me how he’s feeling, after you all just had a big discussion? That doesn’t sound so nice on him. And I wanna treat you well. You’ve helped me so much and I want to help you all heal too. We’re in this together and I want to check in with you all more often. I actually wanted to ask how Virgil is doing after today but considering things, I suppose he’s not too great?”
Before either could say a thing, Virgil pulled up to Thomas’s left side on the couch while flashing a peace sign.
“Virgil! I didn’t expect you to sho-”
“Did they start making out and you’re fleeing their intense kissing noises?” Remus interrupted energetically and Logan rolled his eyes with loud groan.
Virgil straight out laughed and shook his head.
“Hate to disappoint Emu, but Pop’s mainly coddling Jan right now. Telling him that everything’s going to be fine.”
“Wait, is Janus in such a bad state of mind?” Thomas asked with heavy worry in his voice.
“Nah,” Virgil reassured him, “I don’t think so. He’s hesitant but not at a really bad place. At least not after my judgement. What’s your thoughts on it, Remus?”
Agilely Remus sild down from the backrest and sat himself criss-crossed on the couch. He tilted his head from one side to the other and placed his hands on his knees.
“Don’t think so either. I mean he came out of his own and that means he calculated his chances and was prepared to face the consequences.”
“But man, is he bad at math.”
Remus snickered and slapped his thigh. If that wasn’t the truth.
“Yeah, you’re right! He’s such an exceptional dork with math, planning and foresight! It almost always ends with disasters. Remember the spaghetti on the ceiling?”
That threw Virgil into a laughing fit and both former dark sides started to list weirder and weirder incidents about domestic mishaps in their lounge in the cellar, while Logan and Thomas baffled listened to them. When Virgil then retold the story of the burning vacuum, Remus couldn’t retain himself anymore and feel giggling from the couch, as Logan slapped his hand over his face.
“I don’t believe I say this,” Logan sighed exasperatedly, “but he sounds even more unorganized than Patton. Which, I didn’t believe was possible until this very moment.”
“Heh, he, he – maybe but, to J’s defence he had to deal with us two dumpster fires while Pat got you and brobro. That objectively seems to be easier to deal with than Intrusive Thoughts and Anxiety,” Remus retorted comfortably lying on the ground and setting his feet up onto the couch.
For a moment Logan kept quiet, then raised his eyebrows and said with a slight nod: “You have a point, there. I did stop Patton from making a lot of very unwise decisions. And as much of a nitwit Roman might be, he usually didn’t cause too much havoc if he wasn’t prompted to.”
“Of course, he didn’t! He wanted to impre-”
And for the third time this evening, another side pulled up uninvited. This time it was Roman who had invited himself to the party and now stood in front of the couch and took a light bow.
“Are they making out now?!” it came again from Remus, who twisted himself around to fully face his brother.
Roman rolled his eyes and made a pff-sound as he strolled to the other side of the couch and sat down between Virgil and Thomas.
“We both know, they are not that far yet,” Roman said almost sounding wise. “And not to be mean; one of them is still kinda repressing it and the other’s in denial so…”
“We have to wait for another 30 years until they stop being needlessly foolish and figuratively annoy the death out of us all,” Logan bantered his voice filled with an surprising amount of frustration oozing out from his words.
“So, they actually are into each other?” Thomas asked after an uncomfortably long pause.
“Are they actually into each other?” Logan started and shook his fist into the air. “Oh yes, they are, Thomas! They are. The have been approximately since I existed and at that point you were three, so I have been watching this bad sitcom for almost three decades now and apparently, excuse the phrasing, they still haven’t gotten their shit together. It is becoming ridiculous, Thomas. Ridiculous! I am aware that I am not the expert for romance, but it cannot be so difficult to tell somebody you like them that you keep pushing it of for such a humongous amount of time! Especially not if you live in the same Mindscape! They saw each other for breakfast, everyday over a span of ten plus years. Constantly. I- I really cannot believe them. It’s ridiculous. Just ridiculous.”
A curtain of silence hung over them only broken through some airy breaths from Logan, who viciously adjusted his glasses and patted down his pants, even though they were neither wrinkled nor dirty.
“… You really weren’t kidding when you said, he’d be annoyed by people dancing around their feelings,” Remus half laughed sitting on the floor and spying over to Roman.
The latter slowly shrugged and shot Remus a look of uncertainty. He had guessed that Logan would be annoyed by it but he had never expected to just rant about Patton’s and Janus’s relationship. He usually never got this upset by romantic drama.
And just then Logan raised his voice and said while fumbling with his hands: “You haven’t been there for all of it. I’ve seen their whole story, was witness of all of their fall-outs and – As much as I say that I find it ridiculous, it also bothers me that they are unhappy. But alas, as it has been proven in the past, Thomas is such a big sap that even his Logic cannot but hope for a happy ending.”
“Aww!” Roman and Thomas cooed simultaneously, while Virgil rose his eyebrow with a smirk and Remus snickered.
“I never said that. You will not bring this up in front of Patton or Janus, am I understood?”
“Yes, sir!” it came from all of them and for a moment everything was still.
A good still. The still when snow lay on the ground and no wind was blowing. A nice still.
And then Thomas asked if they wanted to eat some popcorn and watch a movie. After a little bickering, they settled on Beauty and the Beast. Eventually all had settled in comfortable positions, all of them wearing a hoodie, even Remus after a lengthy discussion with Roman and watched the story unfold.
They weren’t following the story too closely though. Softly, Thomas asked Virgil about today and how he felt, as Belle danced over the marked and Virgil answered just as quietly about how understood he had felt with Mrs Ramírez. Just when Gaston tried to talk Belle up Virgil explained that he was positive for the next appointment and while Thomas contently agreed, the three other sides could not but feel a deep sense of relief grow in their chests.
There was a solution. There was the possibility of betterment. There was healing.
And all of them could partake in it.
And so, the movie moved on and half way through, just after “Tale as old as Time” had finished, the two last sides joined them in the living room. Hastily, Thomas hit the pause button as he heard them pull up.
Patton was wearing the cat onesie and Janus was in his usual attire. Patton had appeared squeezed in between Thomas and Roman, while Janus stood a little awkwardly to Thomas right, just next to where Remus was laying on the floor. With a frown he looked down to the Duke, wearing a neon green octopus onesie and smiling brightly at him.
“Am I interrupting your movie night?” Janus asked Thomas while trying to keep his composure.
Immediately, Thomas shook his head and said: “No, not at all! If you want you can join but if there’s something else you want to talk about, we can take a break from the movie. It’s no problem, at all.”
Janus eyed him up hesitantly and then sighed. Smoothly he took a step backwards and took a deep breath before he finally found the courage within himself to speak up.
“In that case – I suppose I need to tell you that I have some reservations about the therapy. Which aren’t resolved yet but we have talked about a possible compromise which seemed very agreeable to me,” Janus explained.
To his surprise Thomas nodded along and replied: “Yeah, I thought that.”
“How? Have you been informed by Logan?”
“Nah, I mean, a little, I guess? But I figured that something was off, when I felt the urge to deny that I had anxiety at all, when Mrs Ramírez first asked me about how my anxiety manifested itself in my day to day life.”
A series of guilty expressions ran over Janus’s face and he sunk even more into himself than before. Almost reactionary Remus sat up but before he could say anything Thomas calmed Janus carefully: “Which is fine, Janus! Now that I know that you’re a part of me, it’s easier for me to point out where it’s coming from. Easier to deal with it. I’m not mad at you. Hiding things to my benefit is your purpose and I can’t possibly fault you for doing what you think is right. We just need to figure out what things are actually worth hiding and which ones can be shared. I know it will take time, but it will be fine. The goal of the therapy is for me to learn dealing with my anxiety, so we’re not going to dig up my whole past. Well, maybe some experiences where my anxiety stopped me from doing what I wanted to do or made me do things I regret. But otherwise I’m not going to share my whole life story with her. Do you think we could do that?”
A huff filled with gratefulness. A short flicker of yellow in Janus’s eyes and a quick grin hushed over his lips.
“I think that sounds doable. Also, additionally, if past events come up in course of the therapy – and there is the need for us to talk about them – in time of course – I will try to – cooperate. That was the idea Patton came up with.”
Curiously, Thomas turned his attention to his left and watched Patton sheepishly biting his lips. And then the pieces fell into their place and Thomas expression fell.
“You aren’t comfortable with the therapy either, are you Patton?”
Patton sighed and pulled the hood of his onesie back. He was slightly smiling but his eyes displayed sadness, as he rose his head and met Thomas’s gaze. Patton knew that he was sabotaging everything by just playing along. He knew they could not succeed if he couldn’t give his full support.
“Maybe not entirely. No, Thomas. I am sorry. I know this makes this harder,” Patton gave in, with his voice sounding consoling and calm as he talked to his human.
“I – It’s okay? But I thought you were in for the idea? You were so supportive when Virgil brought it up. Was that about then?”
A short snicker and a ruffle through the back of his hair. Patton preserved his little smile and answered: “I am supportive of them. Of your plan. Roman wants this, so do you. Logan thinks it is sensible, so do you. Virgil feels as ready as he can and so do you. So, I chose to help the majority who is certain of what they want and need to do. It is the best I can do right now, even though I wished I could offer you more.”
“That’s all right Patton. It really is, just why did you not speak up when you became doubtful? I mean we would have tried and help you get over them.”
Somehow Patton sounded older than usual. Somehow, he looked different. More closed off. More authentic.
“But I had my doubts from the beginning. And it is not that I am against it. I’m just not really into it either. The middle ground is a terrible place for your heart to be in this matter but I don’t think you can just win me over. I’m afraid you need to give me some time. To feel and experience this whole thing. I do believe that I will be with you. That I will feel comfortable with all of it. I do hope so, really, but I can’t choose that side yet. Not when I’m not certain that I feel safe. But that doesn’t mean I won’t support you and my kiddos. I will help in the ways I can now and will speak up if I think we’re taking the wrong route. But right now, I don’t know yet but I am willing to find out with you all. Okay?”
Patton’s hand carefully drew circles over Thomas’s back. The touch was refreshing, not cool, but somehow welcoming. Healing. He somehow remembered it even though he couldn’t recall Patten ever doing that for him.
Nevertheless, Thomas smiled and pulled Patton into a hug. In surprise the Dad squealed but broke into a giggle returning the embrace heartily.
They would be fine, Patton decided and after the hug ushered Janus to join them for the rest of the movie.
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“I'll be in my room then”, Virgil announced as he gave one last look to the collection of sides huddled together on the sofa.
Or better said Remus, who was sat in between Roman and Janus, while Logan stood a little to the left of Roman and Patton sat next to Janus and gave Remus a little squeeze on the shoulder behind Janus's back. Roman only flashed Virgil a short grin before he pulled his brother a little closer to himself and concentrated just on him. Patton had the I-know-you-can-do-it look all plastered over his face as Virgil finally turned away and disappeared in his room.
Thomas turned into the driveaway. It had been discussed in length that for the getting-to-know-each-other-appointment with Mrs Ramírez, Logan would be the one to guide Thomas through all of it. Virgil was to stay in his room, he himself had suggested so, and the rest would look after Remus. Three sides to keep the Duke anchored seemed a little much at first but just as Logan watched the tenseness on Remus’s face and the worried gaze to the hallway, where Virgil had just disappeared, he hoped it would be enough.
Logan, Virgil and Roman had tried to ease Remus into the idea some more after their first appointment had been settled, but to no avail. The Duke still was too worried about Virgil’s safety and while that was an almost sweet sentiment, of all sides Remus certainly was the worst side to take care of Virgil, if he was spiralling. In a bad state of mind, they involuntarily brought out the worst in one another. And nobody wanted that to happen. Not even Remus, who then agreed to Roman, Janus and hesitantly Patton to keep him in place, as the first session would go down.
But judging the panicking expression on Remus’s face, Logan only could pray for the Duke's cooperation.
Thomas stepped inside and had to wait in the waiting room.
“It is going to be fine”, Roman reassured Remus quietly and patted his brother thigh as he squeezed him against his chest.
In the back of his mind Remus wanted to believe Roman. But his heart was racing and too many ways of Virgil dying in his room dying brutally, bloodily, gruesomely shot, shot, shot through his mind. He barely felt Janus's light hand on his other thigh nor the soft squeezing of Patton's hand on his left shoulder.
Despite that the appointment began. Chit-chat about who Thomas was and thanking Mrs Ramírez for taking time for him. And things were fine. Until Thomas explained that he had decided to begin with therapy to work on his issues and she asked him what issues he was thinking of.
A short cry shook through the Mindscape and Remus wanted to force his way through to Virgil’s room.
Sputtering, fighting Remus hadn't realized Virgil’s shout had already stopped and Thomas was only slightly startled. Roman's arm was pressed over his chest and Patton stood in front of him, holding his shoulders sternly to keep him down on the couch.
“It is okay kiddo! It will be fine! Virgil has already caught himself! Just feel!” Patton tried but knew that it was for naught, the distress from Remus rushed through the air right into his veins.
Roman barely concerned himself with Patton's sudden silence and stiffness, nor the blank stare on Janus's face. He just kept Remus down, trying not to listen to his suggestions and looked over to Logan.
“Go up. Help Thomas to formulate what's going on. I've got him”, Roman asked Logan sincerely and determined.
And Logan watched Roman for moment. His gaze flew to Remus for a second and then he pulled up in the back of Thomas's mind and reassured their human calmly: "It is fine. Do explain to her that this is a new set-up for you and you are nervous to talk about the issues you are having. Try and be open. This is the place where many people go to work on these exact issues. It is only logical to bring it up here. So, take a deep breath and just state how you are feeling. She'll certainly guide you through it.”
It took a great effort from Roman and Patton but they managed to keep Remus at bay and eventually, with Logan's help on the front line they could keep him under control and themselves calm enough to not stand in Thomas's way. Though the Duke was crying and talking incoherently, he now no longer fought against Roman's and Patton's efforts and let himself be pushed into the far too soft pillows.
Eventually, slowly, only very slowly Remus got quieter and Roman could carefully draw his arm away from Remus's chest and softly pulled him back into the half embrace from before. Patton had knelt down in front of Remus, in a way that made it hard for Remus to move his legs enough to stand up, yet enough to move and wiggle them a little in order to stimulate himself as much as he needed.
And as Patton watched Remus quietly babbling to himself as Roman hummed, he couldn't help himself but to watch over to Janus who had barely moved nor met anybody's gaze, since Virgil had left the room. It was unusual for Janus to be this inexpressive, Patton thought and carefully put his hand on Janus's to see his reaction.
Janus flinched but didn't look down to Patton, only closing the little distance between him and Remus as he slid a little closer to Remus and slightly squeezed his thigh where his hand was still laying. Patton frowned at the strange behaviour but pushed the question back for later as he didn't dare to get distracted in case that Remus would go wild after all.
But nothing of the sort happened. In the end the hour had almost flown by and Patton let himself drop exhaustedly on his backside and smiled widely at Remus, who almost melted against Roman as the whole tension fell from him. Only a few moments later, when Thomas finally sat back in his car again, Logan reappeared in the mindscape and watched how Patton got back up on his feet and gave him a grateful look. Logan only nodded in response and observed the three sitting on the couch.
“I wanna see Virge”, Remus whimpered weakly and Roman just shooed him and drew circles over his back.
Patton took initiative and got close to Remus. Gently he leaned towards him and brushed over his wet cheeks to brush the tears away, waiting for him to meet his gaze. And eventually Remus eyes became still enough to focus and Patton told him: “Virgil will come out soon. Just give him a moment to catch his breath. And Remus? You were very brave just now. I'm so proud of you, kiddo.”
Lightly, Patton planted a kiss on Remus's forehead, which got him a rather surprised look by Logan and Roman and a short glance by Janus but the Dad didn't care. Not when he felt the slight tinge of relief come up in Remus's head. They were getting somewhere.
Silently, they waited through the drive back home. Nobody said anything but listened for the door of Virgil to open. And the longer they waited the tenser they got. If something bad had happened, they would already know, the effects would have been immediate, Logan thought to himself and tried to not let anybody see that he was worrying. He could not risk it and let the others get upset because of him.
And as Thomas stepped back through his own front door another one squeaked inside the Mindscape and one could not but hear the other sides exhale relieved. Some careful steps later and an eternally long moment of hesitation before Virgil stuck his head into the living room, they saw Anxiety with his hood pulled up but a sheepish smile on his face.
And the sound found its way back to the Mindscape. Remus shifted away from Roman, his eyes darting wildly all over Virgil to make sure that their anxious friend was still save and sound in one piece. Roman groaned and patted his right arm dramatically, while mumbling judgingly: “You barbarian almost dislocated my shoulder!”
Remus only graced him with an unimpressed side-eye and answered: “Take it bitch. I'm sure you crushed at least three of my ribs.”
Logan only rolled his eyes at the brothers’ dispute and asked Virgil with Patton's worried expression in the back of his mind: “How are you feeling?”
Virgil took a hollow gulp and felt the room quieting down again. Absentmindedly he then nodded and after a second try he finally managed to say: “All right. I think, I feel all right. She's – Mrs. Ramírez is nice, right? A good fit, I think.”
“Agreed”, Logan responded trying not to let too much satisfaction slip into his voice, “she seemed very capable and has worked with people who deal with the same and similar issues we deal with. Also, her response to Thomas's nervousness at the beginning was excellent. I would like to settle for a next appointment with her.”
Virgil nodded at that and looked behind Logan to the rest of the group. Patton was as expected grinning widely and Roman gave him a firm nod with grin, as he nudged Remus in the side. And Remus – He looked as relaxed and relieved as Virgil himself felt; barely, but so much better than before. The whole week he had been overthinking and worrying what would happen, only for it to be a talk with a woman, who was as threatening as Talyn dressed up as him.
Before Virgil could say anything else, something in his periphery moved and he turned his attention to the left, where he watched Janus stand up. The expression was blank, the jaw clearly clenched and his hands far too stiff, while he patted his clean trousers down and shot Virgil a short look.
“So, you agree to go and see her again?” Janus asked as if his behaviour was perfectly normal.
“I – yeah, I mean this was good so-” Virgil replied but didn't say more, as Janus just nodded after the yeah and walked right past him disappearing in the hallway.
Stunned Virgil stood there for a moment before he shared a look with Remus. Immediately, they both groaned and made an annoyed face at their realisation.
“What is wro- up with him?” Roman asked confused as he watched their theatrical display of annoyance.
“Fucking ‘tactical retreating’ again! That's what's up with J”, Remus pouted and held his hands with overwhelming flair into the sky.
“Tactical retreat? That's what he calls hiding these days?” Patton mumbled and got on his feet.
“These days?” Virgil asked a little taken aback and shot Patton a look.
The fatherly side only shook his head and answered: “Forget that I said that. I'll go and talk with him. Today was probably harder on him than he anticipated.”
But before Patton could get going, he was stopped by a hand holding him back. Curious Patton looked back and found himself looking up to Roman, who looked a little more solemn than before.
Roman now had the attention. He usually liked attention but as it was now, he wasn't sure if it was his place to take it. Virgil and Remus knew what behaviour Janus was portraying. They obviously had seen it before and apparently so had Patton. And despite them having more context for the odd exit of their snaky friend, Roman felt like they were overlooking something important. Something he didn't have time to speak off, when he was trying to keep Remus at bay and to not worry Virgil too much.
“He has been off all week, padre. Don't you want to give him a sec to cool down?”
“What do you mean? Off all week?” Logan inquired and raised an eyebrow.
“He has been off all week! Just like Remus and Virgil. Wasn't it obvious?”
Confused Roman looked through the round and only found question marks in the others' expression. They couldn’t be this oblivious. He should not be the one to think that the others were oblivious in the first place, he thought and ran his fingers through his hair.
“Okay, you know what? They” - he pointed at Virgil and Remus - “have an excuse for not noticing anything, ‘cause they were stressing for the last week but you to ought to have noticed his weird behaviour! You know him for so much longer than I did and he was – I would give him, like a three and a half on a one to ten scale for impersonating himself! He did a worse job than with Logan!”
“With all due and respect, what are you talking about? Janus wasn’t acting out of the ordinary”, Logan insisted but Roman stopped him quickly.
“He barely used any poorly constructed but colourful metaphors, refused to make eye contact while making important points in conversation and didn’t grin at any of Patton’s puns.”
“He doesn’t find my puns funny.”
“Oh please! That’s not even remotely true! He's barely hiding his amusement when you talk about your purrfect cat-hoodie, any other day. And only yesterday he hardly batted an eye when you said we shouldn’t waste any thyme seasoning the meatloaf. Also, if anybody noticed, he never said he agreed with the whole therapy thing. He only asked Thomas if he wanted to do it and went along with the rest as we planned. Also, he wasn’t doing the ‘speaking in lies’ thing, which probably isn’t a good sign either.”
Roman was met with an uncomfortable wall of silence. In Virgil and Remus, he found recognition as he listed all his points and now, they seemed to be rather overwhelmed by the sudden realisation of their old comrade's unusual antics. Logan looked as if he had been slapped. Slapped by a sound analysis made by Roman. Observations that were astute and precise and should have been made by himself and not by Creativity.
And then there stood Patton still next to Roman not quiet believing what he had just heard. In his core, he knew it made sense. So much sense that Roman could see this lightly through Janus’s walls and charades; that he picked up on every unusual act that came from his oldest friend. But for that he had to admit that Roman had so much more in common with Janus than Patton wanted to. And Patton didn’t want to think of that.
“Okay”, Patton broke the silence and turned completely towards Roman to abandon his efforts of going to Janus. “You’re right, kiddo. We – I should have noticed sooner. I was too wrapped up with keeping an eye on Remus and Virgil. I’ll give him time to catch himself and go to talk to him tomorrow. It’s probably for the best.”
With that Patton straightened his back and gave Roman a pat on the shoulder before he turned around and asked both former dark sides if they wanted to join him in the kitchen to get them something to eat.
Not sure what else to do, they joined him as Logan and Roman were left behind in the living room. Logan eventually sat down on the couch and stared at wall. He had thought that he was prepared for every possibility. That Janus would be the problem in this instance was not a possibility he had considered.
“I didn’t get to listen to what Mrs Ramírez was saying when Thomas got nervous. Do you... do you think you could tell me?”
As if he had just woken up Logan looked up to Roman. His chin wasn’t held as high as usual and his voice sounded almost humble as he spoke. It looked a little curious to anybody who knew Roman well enough. But not to Logan. That stance and that tone were familiar to him. It was the way Roman had always asked for assistance when they were younger and Patton and the others were out of ear shot.
Logan nodded not commenting on the sudden show of vulnerability from Roman and instructed him to sit down so he could retell him what had happened outside of the Mindscape during the therapy session.
The hallway was empty when Roman looked through the crack of his door. He had hoped it would be so as a few hours had passed since the appointment. Careful not to make any noises Roman stepped outside.
Determined he sneaked down the wooden floor boards until he was in front of Janus’s door. Yes, despite him being the one telling the others not to pester Janus too much, he now was about to get inside and talk to him. Not because he thought that his words had been wrong or that he knew better than Janus or the others what was good for Janus, but because he was rather certain that leaving an overthinker to himself with all his thoughts for too long was not a good idea.
And so Roman stood in front of the black door with his hand lifted to knock. Quickly he shot one last look over his shoulder to check if someone was there and then he did the deed.
Knock. Turn the door handle. Open. Enter. Close the door.
And there Roman stood in Janus’s room. Immediately seeing the snake half standing up from his armchair looking at him in light shock. And then Roman’s brain turned from its ‘do’ setting to its ‘think’ setting.
“Shit. For – wow. That was. Uhm”, Roman stumbled and crossed his arms apologetically in front of his chest, as Janus fully rose from his seat.
“Do you dislike people being in your room as much as I do? I know I hate it, it’s such an intimate thing. Do you need me to leave? I’m sorry, I didn’t think or wait for an answer. I won’t do it-”
Roman felt himself being unable to open his mouth. Adrenaline rushed through his veins. He needed to breath. To remain calm. Calm. Calm.
Calm, unlike the panicked expression in Janus’s face. Calm unlike the shock in Janus’s movement as he tumbled back. Calm unlike Janus’s hand which was lifted in a trembling stance and held his lips closed from afar.
And Roman took a deep breath through his nose, bowed his head and raised his hands in defeat, while taking a step back. The display of submission hit Janus unexpectantly and he opened his hands and let Roman open his mouth again.
Roman inhaled relieved through is mouth but remained in his unthreatening stance, wanting to give Janus a choice to send him away as if he desired so. Even when a minute passed without any reaction from Janus, Roman kept quiet.
Janus’s heart was beating a mile a minute. He hadn’t meant to silence Roman. He hadn’t meant to get this startled. But then again, who ever meant to get startled?
Trying to get a grip Janus kept his eyes on Roman. The creative side stood there across from him patiently, submissively. Just before he had been so loud and overwhelming. Had almost seen Janus cry in his armchair.
A few weeks ago, he would have believed that Roman was trying to be cruel. That he wanted to catch him off-guard and unmask his feelings and thoughts. But after seeing the fire in the imagination, hearing his sincere and honest apology, Janus knew that Roman was trying, fighting even to become a better version of himself. That Roman wasn’t cruel on purpose, but lashed out when he was put under pressure and that he was trying to stop himself from doing that.
“You may stay, if you really don’t want to run out and tell Patton what just happened”, Janus finally said and fixed the cuffs of his sleeves with some hasty gestures.
Roman lowered his arms and lifted his chin a little. Then he shook his head and told Janus: “I surprised you, you reacted poorly, it was an accident. No harm done. I’m fine and so are you. I won’t tell Patton a thing.”
Janus watched Roman. This was too easy. Too forgiving. Roman could not possibly be this forgiving. Not without a reason. There must be a hidden motivation behind it.
Janus turned around, gave Roman a little wave to signal him to follow him. Roman followed and Janus made his way upstairs, where he had a little study. Well, it was what Janus called a little study but it was actually more of his personal reading space, a wall covered with books, an elegant black divan and an armchair to sit on with a little table between them, on which there still stood the empty wine glass from the other night. With a flick of his wrist Janus made it disappear in exchange of two cups of tea.
Casually, Janus let himself sit down in the armchair and watched Roman take a seat on the divan, looking around with curious eyes. Some years ago, actually many years ago, Janus had set up this place as a reading isle for Remus and Virgil. He had them read comics, crime stories and all the thrillers they wanted or read to them in the evening from whichever book they chose. It was a memory long gone, but seeing the spark of fascination in Roman’s eyes made his longing only worse.
“Now, who told you to come and look after me?” Janus asked hoping to sound as indifferent as possible.
Judging Roman’s furrowed brows as he met his gaze, Janus had not succeeded with his effort. Yet before he could say anything to smooth the lines Roman had already taken his turn to talk.
“No one did. I came on my own accord and I’m actually the reason why no one else came to bother you before.”
“How so?” Janus asked with a mildly amused huff.
Roman shrugged and said as he eyed the bookshelves again: “Because I said that you might be overwhelmed by the whole therapy thingy and needed some time to catch yourself. It kept Patton out of your hair.”
Janus didn’t say anything and Roman turned his gaze back to him. Almost sheepishly he smiled and commented: “Yeah, wild right? Sometimes he listens to me.”
A loud “No!” just rushed through Janus’s mind with the instant instinct to scold his littl- Roman from making such self-deprecating remarks. But as quick as the urge hit, as quick it was gone again and Janus realized how long it had been since these parental thoughts had come into his head. Maybe sitting here in his study wasn’t the smartest thought after all.
“Of course, he will listen to you. He cares for you Roman. He always has and he always will. But now tell me why you would stand up for me only to burst into my room a few hours later?”
Roman smiled a crooked smile, a poker face far more convincing than Janus had expected and told Janus: “I know out of experience that self-isolation isn’t as helpful as you’d hope it’d be and believe that you’re a merciless overthinker like Virge and Lo are. So, I came to see if you were being stupidly harsh to yourself.”
“Oh, is that so, wise Prince Roman? What is your judgement then?” Janus said in a mocking tone and took a sip out of his cup awaiting Roman’s next answer.
“I think you are not comfortable with the whole therapy thing, since you never actually agreed to it, are wearing one more undershirt than usual, which probably means you feel an even bigger need to hide yourself than usual and that you are drinking chamomile tea.”
“You – how do you want to know how many undershirts I wear?” Janus almost hissed but managed to control his tone in the last second.
“I wear a lot of costumes for performances. I know how clothes fall and wrinkle when you wear something beneath and you’ve added more and more layers through the whole week. Sorry, to burst your bubble but you’re not as inscrutable as you thought.”
Janus just stared at Roman for a moment. With a deep sigh he then set down his tea cup and hid his face in his gloved hands. Everything was so unnecessarily complicated lately. All this talking, all these vulnerable moments, all this opening up. It was so much so soon. Janus couldn’t understand how Patton could do this seemingly with ease. It didn’t make sense.
But instead of saying that Janus simply mumbled through his fingers: “I didn’t think you’d be knowledgeable with tea effects.”
The light laugh, more of an exhale to be honest, touched something in Janus. Not in a hurt way but in a sentimental one. In a way he absolutely didn’t like yet couldn’t help but love.
“I’m not. Pat rarely makes tea and Lo prefers coffee. But Virge drinks it always when he’s too overwhelmed with everything and when I asked him why he said that someone recommended it to him against stress. I guess, he has it from you.”
At that Janus looked up. He knew that his expression was far too easy to read but so was Roman’s. The favourite child thing has not passed yet. Not for Roman nor Remus. But the latter was too worried about Virgil to think about the special treatment the anxious side had received, so Roman stood alone in his turmoil.
Roman’s lips were forced into a small smile, while his eyes spoke of sadness, as he then asked Janus: “Is the worrying because of Virgil? Are just as afraid about him as Remus is?”
Instantly, Janus shook his head. Surprise in Roman’s eyes and a hint of relaxation in his shoulders.
“No, for once it is not. Virgil is stubborn enough to get through this. I cannot but worry a little, of course, but I am not as concerned as your brother is. He wanted it and he will do everything it takes to get there”, Janus stated finally a little calmer and folded his hands in his lap. “I am concerned about the therapy because – It requires to … open up. To talk about and unravel things I do not think should be talked about nor unravelled.”
As Janus ended it was as if Roman had been switched out. The energy from just some minutes before was there again and a bright spark appeared in Roman’s eyes.
“You’re worried about the secrets you keep?”
Janus flinched. Roman’s tone wasn’t threatening at all but the blunt phrasing phased him. Secrecy was not something he was eager to talk about even though he was a master in it.
Catching onto Janus’s discomfort quickly Roman added: “I mean, the stuff Remus brings up but you don’t let slip through, because it would harm Thomas. These secrets.”
Janus immediately narrowed his eyes in suspicion. And then he remembered the door he had never known about and pinched the bridge of his nose in tired manner.
“Remus told you about this, I assume?”
Roman laughed nervously.
“We talked quiet a bit. And he also told me about what kind of memories we are talking about. If I had to guess it’s a coping mechanism? An extreme form from repression? Stuff Thomas doesn’t have the capacity to understand or work through, right?”
Janus rose his eyebrows, his two middle arms appearing and gesturing agitable, while the first pair still rested in his lap and answered: “Correct. It is things Thomas doesn’t need to worry about and nobody else needs to know about them as well. And in therapy it might come up and it could hurt Thomas. And us. I – I hate the idea of just telling a strange woman everything about ourselves! Do you know what could happen with this information in the wrong hands? I have been working years and years in order to keep all of these memories under wrap and now we shall just spill it? That can’t be right! It is destined to fail and it will if we just recklessly overshare our life with a stranger!”
Roman blinked. Janus had gotten louder and more emotional than he had expected. But not in an angry or aggressive way. He was merely defensive and scared. The sight remembered him a little of Virgil, even though the comparison was a little off.
“I- I understand some of these concerns. And I agree with you that not everything is meant to be brought up again, J, but… You might want to tell this to Logan. He could possibly take away a lot of those worries of yours.”
“Certainly! Logan of all sides!”
Roman flinched back at the sudden villain-like laughing fit and eyed Janus in concern until the snake finally caught himself again.
Desperation now dripping through Janus’s words, he continued: “He is the one who doesn’t see the merit in lies! You’ve heard him! He will not agree with me and let me hide some things from Thomas the second he finds out I am still doing it!”
“I know, and he is wrong-”
“You really agree with me?”
“Please let me speak out. Logan is wrong to say that Thomas needs to know everything about himself. That he needs access to all his memories. If he did, he wouldn’t need a Remus and you’re basically doing the same thing just with even heavier stuff. But there are probably things that would be good for Thomas to know. Some things you hide too many. So, neither of you is really right or wrong. The right thing lies somewhere in between you and we all need to figure out together where that is.”
Roman’s eyes were brown and his hair curly and black. He was effortlessly a foot taller than Janus and had broad shoulders and a slim neck. He was an actor and a performer and he carved attention the second anybody showed up. He was Creativity. And because of that he needed to be so much more observant and adaptable than the others gave him credit for. Than Janus gave him credit for.
Janus let out an amused huff and watched Roman observe him for a moment longer. These bright eyes of his saw and registered so much every second, Janus thought and almost felt a head ache come up just by the thought of it.
“You are a lot smarter than we give you credit for, Roman”, Janus said eventually and takes the last sip out of his cup.
A little surprised Roman watched Janus but then counter lightly: “Well, you’re ought to get more efficient after a lifetime spent with the Microsoft Nerd.”
Janus just smiled and takes one last breath.
“You really want me to talk this through?”
“I do. And maybe also that you tell Pat that you like his puns. He seems to think you dislike them”, Roman added and stood up.
Janus huffed but stood up as well.
“Don’t push your luck, child.”
And with that both sides walked out of Janus’s study.
In POF, Roman got led up to believing that maybe he'd actually get listened to for once, Patton and Thomas saying multiple times that they'd like to hear what Roman thinks and Patton even apologizing when he accidentily made Roman think that his opinion on something wasn't wanted. And then at the end of the episode all his hopes were mercilessly crushed by Janus comparing him to Remus and Patton and Thomas not defending him. At the end of POF, he believes that nobody cares about him.
But in FWSA, after trying desperately to get Thomas to talk to Nico, Roman ended up giving up on his big desire, again, and Virgil decided to go for it and push Thomas to talk to him anyway because Roman was upset. Virgil actually going for it, giving in and doing something for Roman because he was sad, proves to Roman that Virgil actually cares about him. And he does! Virgil does care about him, and it makes Roman much more comfortable when talking with and about him. (See how Roman looks really sad and down when mentioning how he thinks he's gotten to know Patton and Logan better since the start of the series, but absolutly lights up when he mentions how he's gotten to know Virgil better.)
Virgil is the only side Roman currently thinks actually cares about him, and in this essay I will-