“How long has it been, Azar?” Roman asked the old bird perched over a tray of ashes next to the royal bed. The once bright, vibrant feathers of red and orange were now as drab and dull as the prince felt. A miserable squawk came from the tired creature, earning a dry chuckle from Roman.
“Two and a half years? My god!” Roman groaned and rolled onto his side, “Two and a half years since that horrible ending, and I’m still stuck on him! Thomas and the others have moved on! Even that mopey, snarky emo is done brooding and has gone back to causing trouble with those dark sides.”
That wasn’t entirely true, Roman knew that Virgil never left them. He hung out with Patton, Logan, and Roman more after he was accepted, but true to his cautious nature, the anxious side didn’t leave his old friends, even if he didn’t want Thomas to have to deal with them too. Virgil was lucky, he had friends he could go to when he was feeling like shit. Roman really didn’t.
Patton was nice and he wanted to help, which was all well and good, but his advice always led to acting in other people’s interests, if he could keep from getting emotional himself. It wasn't what Roman needed. Logan was not one for sentiment or emotions, and everything led to a lecture, not necessarily a bad kind of lecture, but still a lecture. He would vent to Virgil the day Remus got a boyfriend! And then there were the other "dark sides" who he wasn't close to.
"Azar, old friend, have I been wallowing so long I forgot how to be? Am I no longer the bright spark of inspiration in Thomas' life? Have I failed my kingdom as their prince? Have I failed myself?" Roman questioned. The caw that he got in response brought about another bitter chuckle.
"I wish I could burst into flames and rise like Conchita Wurst, fabulous and confident. I would give anything to feel like me again—ten thousand ideas in a week, hand over my kingdom to Remus, renounce my status as prince. Most anything!" he ranted and sat up. Azar cooed softly and clicked, as if Roman could understand.
"I am telling you that I can't do that!" Roman snapped and rose from his bed. He was not a phoenix! He could argue with this bird all day but it would be pointless, just like his existence. Speaking of pointless, he glanced at the clock and realized he was late for his appointment with Logan to review his ideas. All zero of them.
"Brave face, Roman. The critique is never a reflection on your character," the prince sighed and grabbed his notebook and pen from the desk. It was the first trial of the day.
"I shan't be long, dear friend."
Logan and Patton were seated at the kitchen table, waiting for Roman to arrive. Logan decided to allow Patton to attend the meeting in order to meditate—Logan knew he was going to butt heads with Roman, so why not have a third party to soften the blows?
Patton was just excited to see the process and the fresh ideas. He was ready to gush over Roman's creative prowess and support his boys working together. He wiggled in his seat and waited patiently.
"He's late," Logan huffed and drummed his fingers on the table, "Tardiness like this is exactly why we're behind schedule so often."
"Now Logan, you have to give him some leeway. It's not like it's easy for anyone to peel away from their work," Patton hummed and leaned against Logan.
"He is behind schedule, Patton—a half hour behind. I make room in the schedule to accommodate for his bouts of passion, however I limit that leeway to fifteen minutes."
"Then why didn't you go get him fifteen minutes ago?" Patton asked and tilted his head. It was an innocent question coupled with an innocent gesture but it was damning. Logan blushed and averted his gaze.
"That is an excellent question," the nerd coughed, "I would prefer not to answer at this time."
"Greetings!" Roman sang as he rose up like the distraction Logan needed. His smile was forced and it only became more strained. He was definitely not expecting Patton to witness this latest failure.
"Salutations, Roman. Your timing is impeccable." Logan said stiffly. Patton shot him a pointed look while the prince set down his notebook.
Logan took it and flipped through the pages. Patton peeked over his shoulder and bit his lip in anticipation. Roman shrank back and averted his gaze, unable to look at the frown forming on Logan's face or the worried pout on Patton's.
"Roman, did you, perhaps, bring the wrong notebook?" Logan questioned, his steely eyes boring into the prince.
"No, that's the right one. I was hoping to think of something on my way here." Roman sighed.
"Roman, is everything alright?" Patton asked with all the grace of a worried parent who just saw a bad report card.
"I'm alright," Roman lied and flashed a smile, "I just—" his smile faltered at Logan's suspicious eyebrow, "—hit a block. I've been trying so hard to get around it but my valiant quest has proven fruitless thus far."
"And you didn't think to mention this before?" Logan interrogated, "I could have found new techniques to help you!"
"Your techniques have done nothing this time, boring me to death about a proper sleep schedule is not the end all be all of solutions! Unless you have something else in mind, spare me the repeat agony!" Roman growled. He was right about the lecture Logan would have gone with but Logan was not willing to give him the satisfaction.
"I do not, nothing you haven't already heard. If you don't want to listen to me, then so be it."
"I have been listening! I've tried everything from a set sleep schedule to exercise and healthy eating. I've tried going back to basics with anything I create. I have gone through book after book trying to get a fresh idea but nothing is coming to me! I am trapped like a prisoner in my own kingdom! I long to escape and reinstate myself in my throne but I have yet to break the chains holding me back!" Roman argued, bemoaning his predicament with flourish.
"You would do well to try harder, for Thomas. He needs a new idea for a short video." Logan huffed and pushed his glasses up.
"Did you listen to a word I said?! I know Thomas needs an idea! I am floundering in the shallows and here you are, acting as if I am idly sitting by like a voiceless Ariel!"
"Logan, Roman, let's all take a deep breath and—"
"Your efforts are misdirected, as usual. And because of that, we have to hope that one of your ridiculous rejected ideas will be adequate for the next short video."
"You made sure there were plenty of those. Is there anything else you need me for or shall I leave you to your date now that you have room in your schedule, Ass-istant Manager?" Roman huffed. Logan scowled and flushed bright red.
"Date?! Roman Patton is here to help with the process today—not everything is romance like your fantasy world! He's not coming back and you have to accept it and move forward!"
"My fantasy world? You have no idea what my world is like! I am tethered to Thomas' dreams and I can't move forward any faster than I already am! Some of us are emotionally attached to things that put us in a jam aside from Crofter's!" Roman snarled with his hands balled into fists at his sides.
"Roman, maybe you should take a rest, you look like you need it. I'll make sure there's some fun in the video for you." Patton said meekly, finally.
"Fine," Roman huffed and snatched his notebook back, "Thank you, Patton, your defense has been immeasurable."
He sank out as Patton and Logan shared a look. Roman didn't care, he was under attack on two fronts and he knew he was not well. Something had to give.
Yes, in this au Virgil is still part of the group, but he's also close with Deceit and Remus because joining the "light" sides after Accepting Anxiety seems ooc imo
Chapter 2: The Other Side of Me
His room was the same as he had left it. The gossamer curtains tinted the room in golds and reds, his bed was in the same sorry state, and the desk was cluttered and untouched. Even the fading magic in the air was floating around miserably. Nothing was out of place. Except for one thing.
"Azar!" he shrieked and hurried to the pile of embers where his friend once sat. He knew he would see his phoenix again soon, but in a new life. That didn't stop the grief from flooding his veins and blurring his vision, bringing him to his knees.
"No! How could I have been so blind!" he cried, letting the salty stream roll down his cheeks, "I have been too wrapped up in my own woes and I didn't think to notice you were at the end! My dearest friend, I should have seen the signs! I should have made your roost more comfortable! I should have done so much more for you after everything! Please forgive my conceitedness!"
Nothing moved in that pile of ashes in response. He sobbed as yet another failure weighed on his shoulders. He had no idea how long he was sobbing, shaking from the release. He was a mess who only seemed to mess up. A failure.
Roman shook his head and dried his eyes. He was through mourning his losses, especially the temporary ones. He was not the failure, the others failed him in his time of desperation and need!
"You were right, my Fawkes, despite my faux pas. It's time to start a new and burn the pathetic prince they know. I am the king of my realm and I am the most important side! I am strong, resilient, and no longer hiding from being myself!" He turned to his vanity and stared at the prince in the mirror—perfectly askew hair, white and gold clothes, the red sash. Pathetic. That was the show pony that was set to be put down.
He slammed his fist into the glass, letting the shattered shards cut into his knuckles. Blood seeped through the gashes, turning his hand red. Roman smiled darkly and healed himself, willing a pair of red gloves over his hands.
"Those two bespectacled boneheads have no respect for their king! Well it's time I showed them exactly what they're dealing with!" Roman shouted to the air. He willed away his princely whites for a black version of his usual attire. His sash was no longer the passionate scarlet that represented his core, but rather a golden yellow. The cape that draped over his shoulders to just above his thighs was the color of blood, to match the jewels embedded into the crown on his head.
"I am no longer a subject of ridicule! They will see me, hear me, fear me! There is no one greater, no one prouder than I!" Roman shouted and summoned his sword. He balanced the blade in his hand and smiled at his friend, gleaming in the light.
"In your honor, Azar, and for my own, they will yield to me! By force if necessary!"
Remus shivered as he cleaned his morning star. He set his weapon down and stood, feeling as if a new weight had settled on him. He didn't like it.
"Raggedy Anx! Hiss-roll!" He called as he stepped out of his room. No one was in the commons, of course not, but that was alright. He knew where he could find them.
Remus walked to Deceit's room, ignoring the pain in the back of his head, a headache only meant things were worse than he was ready to admit. He felt the urge to create, to conceptualize, to do Roman's job.
All it took was a sharp knock on the black door for Deceit to answer. The snake-side was just the slightest bit perturbed but that never stopped Remus!
"What is it Remus? This is a fantastic time.” Deceit frowned. The usual crazed look in Remus’ eyes was faded and his voice trembled slightly when he spoke. Deceit knew it was serious.
“I don’t know! Something is wrong and I don't know what! All I know is that wincey princey is as okay as Scare Bear was when MCR got back together!"
“I thought you silenced him from bringing that up!” Virgil snapped from inside. Remus peeked around Deceit into the room. Sitting cross-legged on the burgundy chaise lounge, the embodiment of fear and anxiety was munching on a bag of cheetos. Deceit cringed at the sound of a cheese puff snapping and littering his floor with orange dust.
"Focus Alex," Deceit shot back, "We were just discussing your own unease."
"Could you use my actual name?"
"But you said that was your actual name, Angelo!" Deceit cooed at him, getting Virgil to snarl under his breath.
"And you knew from the start that neither of those names were my real name—quit it!"
"I'm only teasing, Virgil!"
"I have a bad feeling, I'm here, and I'm stress-eating! Is this really the best time for that?" he hissed back and clenched his fist around the bag. The crinkling made Deceit's human eye twitch and made Remus cringe.
"Excuse me for trying to lighten the mood! It's not like I'm just as stressed at the moment!" Deceit snarled, "And next time munch on something that won't turn my room orange when you come to me for help!"
"You summoned me!"
"Because you were lying to yourself so much you needed an intervention! And I won't make that mistake again!"
"Quit bitching about old and new lies and help me! Prickly Princey isn't okay and I don't know why! My boring broski is giving me work now!" Remus cut in and threw his hands out exasperatedly, "I'm already drinking the self-loathing liquor!"
"I'll drink to that!" Virgil said with a wry smirk, "Come on in. Let's figure something out." Remus smiled meekly at them both as Deceit stepped aside with a sweeping gesture.
Remus skipped inside past Deceit with a wiggle, his personality shining through. And then Deceit shut the door.
Chapter 3: Writing's on the Wall
"Alright, so," Deceit hummed once his door was closed, "You have a horrible feeling, you feel that something is wrong with Roman, and I am concerned with his latest lies." Remus flopped onto Virgil's lap and stared at Deceit while he stole a cheeto.
"His lies? Have you been spying on my icky big brother?"
"Yeah, because somebody is too chicken to ask him on a date!" Virgil jeered and ran his orange fingers through Remus' hair.
"So you can tease me but I can't tease you?" Deceit pouted, "You truly are becoming a double agent—eh–regardless!"
"Double agent, Royal Double, you let Double Trouble in! Face your doom with that snakey spine!—ooh, babe keep scratching there it's making me—"
"Hardly the time for that," Deceit groaned, "Roman's self-worth is at an all-time low and he said something rather concerning. It might be related to your issues."
"Oh! So is it like he's snapped and plans on murdering everyone, skinning them, eating our flesh and going Norman Bates on our asses, using us as puppets for his one-man show?" Remus asked excitedly, rolling onto his stomach and stealing the bag of Cheetos from Virgil.
"Reek—" Virgil warned.
"Or is he going to take a trip to the abyss and dispose of the walking cadaver that he calls a body like Scare Bear here tried to do a couple years ago?"
"Remus!" Virgil barked with his tempest tongue. Remus craned his neck and smiled sheepishly at the scowling emo. He crossed a line and he knew it, but in his defense, his mouth was faster than his empathy.
"Sorry, Scare Bear." He flashed his most pitiful puppy eyes at Virgil and fluttered his lashes innocently. He really was sorry. Virgil scratched Remus' scalp in the same spot as before, accepting his apology.
"Remus," Deceit sighed, "He said—" he did his best impression of the prince, "—'I am the king of my realm and I am the most important side!'"
"Well that's no biggie, it's a lie and he knows it!" Remus groaned, "What gives?"
"Oh honey, he believes it, and that's the problem."
"Oof!" Virgil hissed and stole back his snack as a new wave of stress washed over him.
"That's an understatement!" Remus pouted, "So the other job is his focus and that's why I have the urge to play demigod?"
"It's been a long time since we've dealt with full-on Pride," Virgil said with a mouth full of chewed orange corn puffs and cheddar.
"The favorite three have every recollection of that time," Deceit added and leaned against the wall with a frown, "But there has to be more to it than last time. We were so young then, and it was a quick fix."
"Says you! I had to wrestle him to the ground and Scare Bear pulled a big sexy and made him quake in fear!" Remus huffed and tried to steal the bag again. Virgil moved it just in time and dumped the crumbs in his mouth. He could summon another bag of chips later.
"Last time, Alejandro didn't have an impending sense of doom or the munchies," Deceit hummed and examined his fingers.
"I didn't even use that one!" Virgil groaned, "Are you kidding me Despacito!?"
"Ooh, that's a new one! But my point stands. We have to check the imagination, the abyss, and the upper commons. For once I believe Remus' ideas are entirely outlandish."
"I call dibs on the imagination!" Remus cheered before Virgil pushed him off his lap and to the floor with a glorious thud.
"They like me so I'll check in upstairs," Virgil said and banished the now empty bag. He got up and helped Remus to his feet.
"I will handle the abyss. If anything happens do hesitate to summon the rest of us," Deceit said, standing up and adjusting his gloves.
"Are the Knights of the Shadows getting ready to kick some butt?" Remus squealed and bounced on the balls of his feet.
"The Sanders Guardians are back in action," Virgil agreed, smiling softly at the duke. Deceit stopped himself from gagging at the mild display of affection.
"Let's go save Thomas from himself." Deceit sank out before either of the other two could add to his statement, and Remus went immediately after him. Virgil stayed back and cleaned up his mess lest he face a serpentine wrath, since he had the smallest area to search it didn’t bother him, but he would turn the upper half inside out to find that prince. Roman needed them.
"Hey Logan," Patton peeped and leaned against the dark blue door frame. Logan was at his desk, frustratedly flipping through old ideas.
"Yes Patton?" he questioned, not looking up.
"I know you're busy but I think it might be a good idea to apologize to Roman."
"Patton I am not sure I understand your sense of humor in this situation, and I do not have time for jokes."
"I'm serious, Logan. He's struggling and he's trying, we should be supportive and help him through it without getting too angry with him."
"I did not get angry. I do not experience emotions," Logan argued flatly and pushed his glasses up his nose. Patton sighed and shook his head. He didn't like seeing his boys like this, upset and closed-off.
"Logan." Patton was using his dad voice. He was beyond serious and Logan couldn't be bothered at a time like this.
"I would appreciate that you refrain from using such a tone with me at present. I am trying to make up for lost time and today's mistakes. If you are concerned about Roman's well-being, address it with him and not me." Logan huffed. Patton wilted.
"Logan I am serious about this. You were too hard on him."
"I don't know what you mean, this time I was far more amicable than warranted. It was a business meeting. If we were to have the same presentation in the real world, he would get us fired. It was not the time or place to show up empty handed. If our meeting was on less formal terms the situation would have been drastically different.”
“Logan, you flat-out insulted his previous work and ignored him when he said he was putting in effort, I don’t think—”
“No you don’t. Now please, I have to remedy this particular situation. Close the door on your way out,” Logan cut him off with an edge to his voice. Patton sighed and left, deciding he wasn’t emotionally ready to admit he was wrong yet.
Patton trudged wearily to the common area and plopped on the couch. He could fix the mindscape one friendship at a time, make it perfect, right? He could only wonder.
Chapter 4: Hit Me
Deceit arrived in the coldest part of the mind. The empty, inky darkness made him shiver. He could still feel the lingering panic in the air as fresh as the day he pulled Virgil away from the edge of forgetting. He hoped like hell that Roman was anywhere else.
That dashing prince deserved so much better than to be milked of all his ideas and confidence. Dairy cows had it better! Oh Deceit would love to take him away from his struggle even for a day to pamper him, but that would entail the prince trusting him. No one really trusted him fully, so it was pointless unless he wanted to become the villain.
Echoing footsteps followed his every move. His cloak fluttered behind him in the stillness. The edge was so close, and he was scared that he might be too late. He bit his lip and prayed to be summoned.
And then he felt that familiar tug that made him want to cry out of relief.
The imagination was large, full of ideas and creatures that Roman and Remus created. Remus would have a lot of searching to do if he were anyone else.
Being a twin and half of Creativity made his job the easiest. He could always tell when Roman was here, he could sense the other in a way no one else could beyond just how much his role was affected.
He appeared in the Dragon Witch's lair, which was not at all a smart move, but he had his reasons. That wall of swords could be useful if things went south.
He couldn't sense his brother in this realm, the place they could go to blow off steam and rejuvenate. Remus grabbed the nearest cutlass just in time.
He was summoned.
Logan checked his watch and sighed. He could take a short break for a cup of coffee and then get back to work. He truly loathed being the only constantly competent side because of the workload and frustration. Coffee helped him cope.
He left his room and headed for the kitchen, passing a thoroughly bummed Patton. Emotions were the bane of his existence, but there was something to be said about Morality. Patton was incredibly smart and clearly a wordsmith with a deep understanding of language. Logan felt his cheeks warm as he prepared the coffee pot.
And then the ground shook. It shook as if thunder and an earthquake merged.
Patton looked up from his woes and smiled softly at the approaching prince. Roman's scowl was set and his hardened eyes bore through Patton.
"Hey Roman! How's the handsomest prince in the entire Thomasphere?"
"Prince?" Roman hummed and rolled his neck to the side, pressing his tongue into his cheek in mock contemplation. Patton leaned forward, cautiously and curiously, as the red silhouette of a phoenix appeared on his shoulder.
"That's no way to greet your king." Roman purred wickedly and righted his head. The word "king" caught Logan's attention and pulled him into the living room.
"What are you talking about? Roman, what's gotten into you?" Patton questioned and stood up, taking on his dad stance. Logan was starting at the dramatic costume change, wondering how much more extra this man could be—and why he couldn't put that creative energy toward an idea for the next video!
Roman hummed softly and stepped closer, snapping his gloved fingers to direct the bird. His phoenix took off and circled over the other two like a vulture.
"I'm through with being a factory for ideas, through with the humiliation of inadequacy," Roman said and glared at Logan then shifted his gaze to Patton, "through with being pushed aside, through with never getting the support I need." He brought his hand to his chin and smiled at the pair,
"So do get used to bowing to your king and try to keep things from getting ugly."
"No Ro—" Logan began to argue, clenching his fists at his sides, but the deafening screech over head made him cringe.
The translucent bird swooped down with a mighty battle cry, its talons extended. Logan fell to the floor to avoid the sharp claws and covered the back of his neck. A talon grazed his arm but nothing more.
Three glowing red gashes appeared where the bird scratched him. It wasn't blood but the sight made him dizzy. His muscles felt like lead and he could hardly bring himself to move.
"Now then, my meek crusader," Roman mused as his bird landed on his shoulder, "since you're under my control—"
"No I'm not! Roman why—" Patton yelled, only to be silenced in a familiar serpentine manner by the king.
"As I was—"
"DECEIT!" Logan shouted, Roman rolled his eyes and neck to glare at the sluggish nerd.
"Patton restrain him." Roman ordered. The look of utter terror that crossed Patton's face contrasted his movements, though he struggled to regain his control. Logan scooted away from him but he was slowly falling for the hypnosis as well.
"Why am I doing this? Because I have spoken up for years only to be pushed aside—my anguish and loneliness have meant little more to either of you than a paper cut! Now you're mine and I will make sure you get to feel exactly how I did!" Roman hummed and examined his fingertips, "And if the dork can't feel, I'm not above a more physical translation."
"Enough!" an echoing voice boomed from the stairs. Before anyone else could react, Virgil extended his extra limbs and chelicerae and opened the other six eyes he was hiding.
"I can't believe I have to do this shit again." Virgil snarled and summoned the others. Roman scoffed and set his phoenix on the spider as Patton struggled against his body.
"Shit!" Deceit hissed when he arrived next to Logan, " Don't hold on for dear life." He ordered, allowing Logan to latch on to him. Roman didn't like that!
"Drop him you cur!" he shouted and drew his sword. Deceit hissed and hoisted Logan up. He was not equipped to fight and defend at the same time but…
"Put up your dukes! And get the fight of your life Princeypoo!" Remus screamed from behind him just before he swung his sword. Deceit sank out with Logan, ready to tend to him.
Roman spun on his heels and parried the attack with ease.
"You never did master the art of stealth, Remus." Roman commented dryly as Remus disengaged and lunged at him.
"Stealth isn't really my thing, diversion and kicking your ass are!" Remus countered as he was deflected yet again. Roman growled under his breath and tried to take the offensive.
Meanwhile Virgil was skittering along the walls and ceiling, jumping around to avoid the bird's claws. Each jump he pulled a Peter Parker and left a silken web where his hands were.
Over and over the swooping talons extended to grab him. He was tiring but he had to keep going. Patton was already caught in the crossfire and Deceit was taking care of Logan. Adrenaline was the only thing keeping Thomas from going completely over the edge!
With a determined hiss, Virgil got the phoenix's attention on the ceiling, unmoving as the raptor sped at him with its talons ready. It grew nearer and nearer, but Virgil didn't move, not until he could see his reflection in its eyes.
He leapt to the ground and smirked at the horrible squawk that followed. He was no bird-eater but it was satisfying to catch one in his web. He took aim and shot a fully formed web to keep it from moving and sighed. This next part would suck.
He jumped on the ceiling again and scurried overhead toward Patton, who was now inching toward the hall toward their rooms and the sword fight that was getting heated.
He was more than distraught by the situation and it wouldn't take much for Virge to stop him. He shot out a thick web and lowered himself quickly.
Patton came face-to-face with a horrific sight. All eight eyes were wide open and purple with black sclera. The chelicerae were wiggling to reveal two thick green fangs. He froze and gawked at Virgil and his spindly legs.
Patton screamed and then fainted into Deceit's arms. That was good timing. They shared a quick nod to the tune of clashing steel before Deceit removed Patton from the situation and Virge climbed up to the ceiling.
It was almost comical how evenly matched the twins were. It was an intricate dance of death. Remus would lunge and dodge gliding across the floor like a ship at sea, rocking with his own rhythm. Roman was graceful as a swan, advancing with his parries when he could. But he was getting tired of the back and forth.
He swung low at Remus' knees, only for the duke to jump over his blade.
"Playing dirty? I know you're rusty but even I have some respect for this art!" Remus laughed and glanced up. Virgil pointed to the floor and cocked his head to the side as Remus deflected the blade again. He knew just what he had to do.
"You have never respected a thing in your life!" Roman scoffed, ignoring the way his hair fell out of place. Remus let out a bitter laugh and lunged forward, using all he had to push Roman back.
He had to keep going,
he had to save his icky big brother,
he had to keep fighting,
he had to—
"Argh!" Roman groaned and dropped his sword when a spider side landed on his back and pierced his shoulder with those horrible fangs.
All the misery in the world flooded him as he fell to his knees. His head was heavy and he was too melancholy to keep his eyes open.
"Let's get him out of here."
Chapter 5: Resign
Roman awoke with the most horrible headache. He kept his eyes closed and sank into the softest bed he'd ever been in. His pillow smelled of the most alluring cologne and he was comfy despite the throbbing in his head. It was just a bad dream.
"Is he still out cold?" he heard Virgil ask worriedly, "Did I overdo it?"
"Nah, Stinky here is a depressed son of a bitch! He'll be fine! Right, Boots Made for Walking?"
"No he's never ever going to feel joy again and Patton will never make those devil's food cupcakes you both love."
"Not helping!" Remus yelped.
"Once I adjust their memories, everything will be okay, Virgil. Deep breaths."
"Adjust my memory?" Roman groaned and opened his eyes. He was greeted with the sight of an elegant Victorian parlor and Deceit sitting at the foot of the bed. Remus was cradling Virgil like a baby, rocking him as he shook.
"Hm? Oh good, you're awake!" Deceit hummed and smiled softly, "How are you feeling?"
"Like I was hit by a truck and didn't get any insurance money to pay for my injuries," Roman pouted and turned his attention to his brother, "Remus what happened?"
"You went berserk, Pride Boy! You tried to take over the mindscape, took control of the hottest dad bod, and threatened to cause Nerdicus Jerkubus physical harm! It was like having the brother I dreamed about!" Remus explained with a laugh. Virgil punched his shoulder to get him to shut up as Roman let out a distressed groan.
"We stopped you before it got bad. But I kinda had to bite you to knock you out since someone forgot his morning star," Virgil tried to fix the mess Remus made and winced. Remus dropped him with an unceremonious thud. Remus squawked when Virgil pulled his feet out from under him so he could join in the floor fun.
"Deceit, would you kindly explain what you meant by 'adjusting their memories?'" Roman asked, ignoring the other two tussling. Deceit frowned and shook his head. How could he word it without causing more upset?
"I am the personification of self-preservation and lies. I have the ability to repress memories if I so choose, and I rarely choose to do so unless it keeps Thomas functioning. This is not the first time you had an episode like this, and you, Morality, and Logic don't recall the others."
"What about Tweedle Vee and Tweedle Ree?"
"We were there to stop you, we have to remember how. It's simple really. Pride can tear a mind apart."
"How do I know you aren't lying to me?"
"Do I have anything to gain in telling you that you almost destroyed the balance of Thomas' mind and I forced you to forget about your outbursts when we all know just how strong of a fighter you are and how fragile your heart is?"
"No." Roman averted his gaze and tried not to think about how he was probably in Deceit's room, his bed, and how he was insulting him.
"Circumstances, darling. Now, let's get you something to eat and drink." Deceit got up, glaring at the idiots tussling and swapping spit out of sight on the floor. But he couldn't exactly leave yet.
"Don't repress the memories this time," Roman requested and sat up, "It's a mistake that we should all learn from."
"As you wish, Prince Roman."
"Okay but still wipe the spider part!" Virgil interjected from his position above Remus, pinning him down.
"We can discuss that while I make dinner. Remus, you wanted to talk to Roman, this is your chance," Deceit sighed and grabbed Virgil by the hoodie, dragging him to his feet. He led the emo out the door, and left Remus alone with Roman, who was terrified but too tired to flee.
"So," Remus said as he got to his feet, "What was it that made you snap?" Roman cringed and rolled onto his side. He was not having this conversation. Remus just sat down next to his back and hummed an oddly soothing tune.
"What are you humming?"
"Answer my question first." Remus said before going back into his tune. It was going to get stuck in Roman's head, he just knew it, and there was only one obvious way to stop him.
"Fine! It was another harsh critique from Logan—he invited Patton without checking with me first and then my 'best friend' didn't come to my defense and acted like I haven't been trying to do my job! Now tell me what the hell you were humming!"
"'Over and Over' by Three Days Grace. My turn!" Remus said with a shimmy, "Since I know you, and one really bad critique isn't enough to break you into stew chunk sized bits of royal filet on its own, what's been going on? Your worst nightmare of a bro wants to know."
"Why should I tell you? You'll just use it against me later—I know how that putrid mind of yours works!" Roman huffed and snuggled his face into the plush pillows.
"Because everyone needs someone to talk to, Snakey has been there to Saporta me and Virge means more than anything to me. But you have the robo-thot and Daddy Altruism up top and they're fucking you over like a sad sub. Do you have anyone to go to?"
Roman paused for a moment, registering not only the words, but the softness in Remus' voice. It was as if he really cared. He probably did. They were twins dammit! Remus could probably tell how awful he felt.
"I get that you don't want me around, so I keep my distance to keep my head on my neck, but I hate to know you're suffering and I'm not the one causing it."
"I got your back, Ro. I'm here for you if you want me to be—or not, you're stuck with me, Clara!" Remus laughed. He was perfectly fine with Roman hating him, but he was not okay with Roman hating himself.
"Is that a reference to something?"
"Yeah, a video game Scare Bear and I played. But you are dodging my question. What's been going on?"
"I'm not up for answering that question now, I want to rest and just recover from that bite," Roman sighed. Remus patted his shoulder and giggled.
"I'm gonna keep asking until you tell me, but I'll let you be for now. And then we can gossip about butts and bro shit!"
Chapter 6: Truth Over Magnitude
Roman didn't go back to sleep after Remus left. He didn't want to after what he learned. He was just as dangerous as Remus and he attacked the others! He was supposed to be the good twin!
Instead he buried himself under the covers and took in his surroundings. Deceit had a certain flare for the dramatic in his elegant style choices. He was possibly the classiest side, a gentleman, but with ulterior motives. Perhaps he wasn't as bad as Roman thought.
"Roman?" a familiar voice called before knocking on the door twice. Roman sat up and tried to fix his hair in vain. He would need a brush to tame his mane!
"Yes?" he responded, all too soon. Deceit came in with a glass of water and a dose of aspirin. He didn’t notice how horrible the prince’s hair looked, or at least he didn’t say anything. He simply ghosted across the floor and sat on the edge of the bed, offering Roman the medicine and water.
“Do you know why you had that episode?” Deceit asked with a motherly tone that surprised Roman. He shook his head and downed his pills with the entire glass of water. Deceit sighed tiredly and took it from him to set aside.
“I know when you’re lying, Prince Roman, despite our current standing, I only want to help you. The same can be said of Remus and Virgil. You are important to Thomas and to us,” he said and slumped his shoulders. Roman studied his posture, and then his face. He was tired and in this light, oddly beautiful. His weary human half showed all of his fatigue while his scales were bright and dazzling. Roman could not lie to him, and truth be told, he did not want to.
“I was ignored, embarrassed, and ridiculed one too many times.”
“It hurts. You are the Ego, my dear prince, not merely Creativity. Tell me, when is the last time you felt like you could take on the world, like the dashing hero in your favorite stories?” Deceit asked with nothing hidden in his sweet voice. Roman winced from the pair of mismatched eyes staring through him with so much concern.
“It’s been so long. Since before the break-up. And, it hasn’t gotten better,” Roman admitted and hung his head. Deceit wouldn’t let that happen. No, he gently reached out and tilted Roman’s chin up to look at him again.
“There’s nothing to be ashamed of. The first step is admitting you have an issue, the second is seeking help. Would the noblest of Romans accept the assistance of two plebeians and a wily patrician?”
“You don’t give yourself enough credit,” Roman responded as the softest pink roses blossomed under his cheeks. The soft tone and delicate touch left him dizzy and craving more contact, more sweet words—two things Deceit would love to provide when the time was right.
“Perhaps not, but that would make the two of us, Prince Roman. Let us help you, make you feel like the brave and dashing hero you were meant to be,” Deceit hummed, letting his eyes fall half-way closed to observe any sort of reaction. The furrowed brow and confused pout were expected.
“Why would the three of you want to help me? We’re on opposing sides of this equation,” Roman pressed.
“Where is a prince without his knights? We three lurk in the shadows, making sure Thomas is safe, that every aspect of him is in good condition. It’s only difficult to manage caring for you three when we are so very divided. You don’t trust me, or Remus, and you’re still learning to trust Virgil,” Deceit answered and let go of Roman’s chin, “I don’t expect you to fully trust or understand our motives, not now, but know that we are here for you."
“If you have me here, why are you asking me to let you ‘help?’” Roman questioned suspiciously.
“Consent is essential, it should be your choice. If you want, I can tell you exactly what I have in store for you.”
“Tell me, please.”
“Dinner, a luxurious bath, dessert, and a full night of Disney movies. If you choose to spend the evening, you have your choice of rooms, mine or Remus’ if only because Virgil’s room has a negative effect,” Deceit smiled, “I don’t mind the chaise, and Remus is quite comfortable sharing with Virgil, not to worry.”
"I—I—thank you," Roman gawked. It sounded like a perfect evening of pure pampering and he was sure he didn't deserve it.
"Is that a yes?" Deceit pressed gently. Roman bit his lip and paused. He might not deserve to be pampered but he wanted it. He wanted it so badly, and this time he was going to give in to his desires.
"Yes. Please help me."
Deceit smiled and conjured a hair brush.
"Clean up as much as you want. Dinner will be ready soon."
"What are you making?" Roman asked, scooting to the edge of the bed while Deceit stood.
"Baked Ziti with a salad and soup. Is that alright?"
"That is more than alright." Roman's lips turned upward, genuinely, for the first time in ages. He had such a handsome smile.
"And we can discuss how long your stay here will be over dinner. Rome wasn't built in a day, and Roman can't be healed in such a short amount of time either. Your time with us is your choice, of course. We want you to be happy again and we will do whatever it takes."
"Deceit," Roman peeped before he could leave, "I know it's an odd request, but I would like a hug if you don't mind. If you don't I understand comple—" Roman was cut off by two arms snaking around his shoulders.
Deceit pulled him in and hissed contentedly as Romam clung to his waist and buried his head in Deceit's chest. He smelled of parchment, the forest, and an old timey cologne—a comforting scent that made Roman feel protected and fuzzy. It ended all too soon.
"I have plenty of hugs to offer, my prince, but for now I have other things to attend to," Deceit sighed, already missing the prince's warmth.
"I understand and I will make that request again. Thank you, Deceit," Roman responded sadly, "Your hugs are amazing." Deceit blushed at that and bowed before taking his leave. Roman couldn't help but feel giddy for just a moment, though he didn't know why.
Chapter 7: Heroes
Roman stepped out into the hallway, wishing he had a warmer jacket. Was this part of the mind always so cold? Was Deceit's room just extra warm? He wandered down the hall and thought about how familiar it was. The carpet under his socks felt familiar, both were just a different color. The more he took in the pictures on the wall of the three of the others, Roman realized that none of them were stone faced and none of their expressions were forced. It brought a pang of melancholy to his chest.
Roman stepped into the commons and was surprised to find the mass of pillows with knit covers and knit blankets on the couch. They were expertly crafted, he could tell even at a distance. The one draped over the top of the couch stood in bold contrast to the rest. It was red with white stars and swirls, and a diagonal yellow sash across it.
"You're up. A little early, but still good," Virgil greeted him from the ceiling. Roman looked up and gasped. He knew Virgil had some kind of animalistic trait, but the four spindly legs coming from his back and the two extra sets of eyes hiding in his eyeshadow were a shock
"Dude, breathe. I'm a spider. Everyone down here knows it. I'm not gonna hide in your bedroom and jump scare you," he droned above the incessant clicking sound that Roman only then noticed. That had better not be the norm!
"Where is Remus?"
"Making more yarn," Virgil answered flatly as if he were only half- paying attention. Judging by his extra eyes pointed elsewhere, the prince assumed he was. Roman pouted and let his eyes wander down to what Virgil was staring at.
Two of those legs were acting as knitting needles and Virge was busy finishing up a cardigan. A white cardigan with a red sash and gold shoulder embroidery.
"And done!" Virgil huffed proudly and leapt to the floor with the sweater in tow. He held it out for the prince and averted his gaze.
"It gets cold down here, and we don't want you to get sick. I'll add a zipper later but for now you need it," he grumbled embarrassedly. Roman took the garment reverently and examined it. It was tightly knit and not a single thread was out of place, plus it was soft—alpaca most likely.
"Thank you, Virgil," Roman said as he pulled it on over his royal garb, "It's fantastic!" Virgil flushed and rubbed the back of his neck.
"It was a simple pattern and there's only so much detail. It's not that great."
"Nonsense! This is such practiced craftsmanship! Not a single stitch is out of place, it's warm but not too thick and the pattern is very much within my style!"
"Take the compliment, Scare Bear!" Remus sang as he appeared with two balls of red yarn in his hand, draping his free arm around Roman.
"Remus!" Roman yelped and jolted to the side. Virgil raised his eyebrows at the prince and smirked while Remus giggled.
"Scaring people? That would be my job."
"And you clearly aren't doing it!" Roman huffed indignantly and crossed his arms.
"I do not like to work hard, it's bad enough I act like I completely hate my roommates so Thomas doesn't hate me again."
"That's not work! It was foreplay when I showed!" Remus jeered. Roman wanted to assume that was just Remus running his mouth to distract him from the other part of that statement, but the glare Virgil shot Remus suggested otherwise.
"Remus!" Deceit called from the kitchen, in a tone that was like a parent about to get their kid to set the table, or else. Remus tossed the yarn on the couch and hurried to help Deceit.
"I'm sorry," Roman said once he and Virgil were alone. Virgil pressed his tongue to his cheek and tilted his head.
"You don't have to apologize for your idiot brother."
"No, I'm sorry for making Thomas hate you. I know it's not entirely my fault but I am partly to blame. And I made you feel unwelcome and—" Virgil snapped his right fingers and Roman stopped suddenly and froze in place despite the spike in his heart rate.
"Your contribution to the Thomas part was nothing. You knew me as the pain in the ass who was best friends with Remus who was an obstacle at best. The back and forth wasn't always bad, and you pulled your head out of your butt. I am the opposite of rationality and a spider. Blame Pat and L for that influence. And throw in a little self-sabotage and you get the picture. When I snap again I don't want to hear you argue. You're forgiven for the role you played and you are not taking any more blame than that," Virgil said firmly. He snapped again and Roman gasped from the rush of relief that washed over him.
"What was that?"
"I paralyzed you with fear. It works as well as Deceit's methods but don't expect me to do it often."
"So it was Patton and Logan?" Roman questioned.
"Yeah, not consciously, at least with Patton, can't really say anything for sure about Logic." Virgil shrugged, "But I had my idiots who were here to help me so it doesn't bother me too much anymore."
"Virgil I—" Roman began only to stop when Virge gave him a pointed look.
"Right now, I owe you the apology. I know I'm mean and I said a lot of stuff that hurt you when you were already down," Virgil huffed and stuffed his hands in his pockets, " I can't promise I won't be that jackass again but I can promise I am here for you if you need anything. So are the others."
"Thank you, Virgil, perhaps I will come to you if I need to talk." Roman said with a small smile and rubbed his arm, feeling the warm sweater reverently.
"C'mon, let's go eat and figure out a plan. Deceit and Remus are probably talking about who will double as you and when—if you decide to stick around." Virgil shrugged and led Roman toward the kitchen.
"I think I will stay for a while," he mused aloud as he thought about his brother's concern, Deceit's tone, and the gift from Virgil. They really were looking out for him.
"In that case, you may have my bed tonight," Deceit said, "Unfortunately Remus has," he paused to shudder, "plans in place." Roman winced and flushed, when he realized his thoughts escaped him.
Deceit set a casserole dish on the table with a smirk on his face. Remus was wiggling in his seat, ready for food, and Virgil plopped down next to him. It smelled wonderful. So Roman took the free seat.
"Thank you," Roman squeaked, "I don't want to know what those plans are."
"Yeah, you don't," Virgil huffed and scooped some noodly goodness onto his plate.
"Besides, it's more interesting to talk about what will happen with you in the snake's bed!" Remus sang, "The theatrics and the sheer vanilla—" he was cut off by a forkful of pasta in the mouth.
"Thank you Virgil. I will not be sleeping with Roman in any sense of the phrase. Don't count me with the classless." Deceit cut in, glaring at Remus.
"You know you want to!" Remus sang with his mouth full. They were lucky he was holding back as much as he was!
"Just because it worked for you, doesn't mean it works for everyone!" Deceit hissed. The human side of his face was getting redder and redder. Roman thought it was cute despite the topic of conversation. Maybe he could change the subject even if he was enjoying the banter.
"What do you mean by 'it worked for you?'" he questioned and filled his plate.
"That's how I got with my Scare Bear! I slept in his bed and then—" Remus cheered, only to freeze up as Virgil snapped his fingers.
"Long story short, we had a sleepover in my room and things escalated," Virgil cut in, "We started dating twelve days later." Roman dropped his fork and gawked at the pair.
"Our one year is in a week."
"I—I–" Roman stammered.
"Yes ironically that is the date of the wedding," Deceit hummed, "Virgil had more reasons to want to skip it than just Thomas' woes!" He took a sip of sparkling grape juice from his wine glass and continued, "But I don't think that is your biggest dilemma."
"Remus got a boyfriend before me!" Roman whined, "And no one told me!"
"I like my privacy, you don't really ask about us, and you wouldn't believe Remus if he told you," Virgil huffed and snapped his fingers, freeing the Duke.
"There are sexier ways to shut me up!" Remus cackled, "But not many!" he added with a purr in his voice, leaning toward his boyfriend. Virgil became very preoccupied with keeping him at bay.
"Telling you might have caused you to snap. They were waiting for the right moment," Deceit said to one mildly dejected prince.
"I flirted with my brother's boyfriend—my disgusting, lewd, twisted brother found someone before me. I'm happy for him, but I can't help but wonder why him when I'm the romantic side!"
"Perhaps you have yet to find him because it's not the right moment, or you're not looking in the right place."
"Yeah! Just look when you're all alone with the pine snake!" Remus cackled.
"Or just have patience," Deceit hummed before turning his attention to Remus, "Patience and enough decency to stop rubbing your foot on the wrong side's crotch at the table!"
"Cuddlefish stop trying to do Roman's job," Virgil teased. Deceit hissed at him.
"Here comes the villain rant!"
"Ooh! I love this part!" Remus squealed.
"Will you two behave like human beings for once!? We have a guest, and I have yet to see manners! You can tease me for my feelings any other time—but not in this situation! The goal is to make Roman feel welcome and comfortable! Not to use him as ammunition so I snap at you for acting like heathens!"
"Heathens wouldn't be using silverware or entertaining any kind of conversation. Besides, other than finding out he's almost a year late to threaten me with his katana if I ever hurt Remus, Princey doesn't seem too uncomfortable. Am I wrong?" Virgil argued.
"I haven't had this much fun at dinner in ages," Roman agreed, "Even if these two want to suggest that the most charming, gentlemanly side would have that kind of interest in a mess like me. It's flattering if nothing else." He flashed a sheepish smile at one flustered snake and relaxed. Things were going to be okay.
Chapter 8: That Beautiful Sound
A title that's not a Conchita Wurst song despite that being the theme? The scandal!
When Deceit mentioned that the bath would be luxurious, Roman never expected this. The tub was full of water that was sparkling and golden with a lovely rose scent. There were red rose petals on the surface and a bath pillow setup so that Roman could experience the spa jets on his back.
"There's shea butter in there as well. I trust that you are fine with that," Deceit said as he placed the towels on the rack by the tub. Roman nodded meekly. Skincare was always a plus.
"It's wonderful. Thank you, Deceit. This is more than I could have hoped for."
"Only the best for the visiting prince," Deceit said with a faint blush as the prince removed his jacket, "I'll be setting up for the movie marathon, unless you need anything else." Roman paused with his shirt in his hand. He did have a request but it was a bit much, but it was worth asking.
"Would you mind staying with me? I don't want to be left alone with my thoughts," he requested, staring at the water rather than his generous host. Deceit coughed and rolled his neck. He was a gentleman and he could keep himself under control.
"That I can do, however you must allow me to make sure Virgil knows to set up in my absence. I won't be long," Deceit replied with a coolness in his voice that made Roman shiver. The snake had a knack for making Roman want to hear him for hours on end.
"I'll be here waiting." With that, Deceit sank out with a tip of his hat. Roman could finally breathe.
He buried his face in his hands and screamed out all of his panic. He really asked Deceit to sit with him while he bathed! He was going to be naked and he was getting all soft and gooey! Over Deceit!
He stripped down to the buff and tried to focus on how soothing the water would be. He didn't bother to fold his clothes and climbed into the tub, sitting down immediately. It was warm and inviting and it enveloped him like a shimmering embrace. He couldn't help but let out a soft sigh and rested his head against the pillow.
"Prince Roman, I've returned." Deceit said and knocked on the bathroom door. Roman hummed in response to let him know it was safe to enter. When he did, Roman was mildly surprised.
The capelet outfit and gloves were gone, and a simple set of silken pajamas was in their place. More astonishingly, the scales on his face were gone only to be replaced by a bright red burn mark that drew unwanted attention to his face. His snake eye was gone but the warm hazel in its place was just as hypnotic. Roman couldn't help it if he was staring. The man was gorgeous.
"Yessss, the sssssnake look is a conssscioussss choiccce, the ssssnake traitssss are not," Deceit bristled.
"Oh, I'm sorry, it's just so different from the usual scales. I don't want to offend. I never considered that you used your shapeshifting for them."
"It makes the tongue flicking less obnoxious and gives others something worthwhile to stare at."
"You doubt your own beauty?"
"I would be lying if I said I didn't, but isn't it incredibly human to have the occasional doubt? I have my reasons for my theatrics but it is not the time for that. Relax my prince," Deceit responded and conjured a chair so he could sit down without getting wet.
"As long as I don't have to keep my eyes closed. I want to remember your face like this. I feel so honored to witness such a rugged yet dignified countenance that few will ever see or appreciate in its natural, uneven, living glory."
"I see that your passion is recovering well," he teased, "Perhaps even your romantic side as well."
"What are you suggesting, o slippery one?" Roman pouted.
"Sitting in a tub, naked, and complimenting my looks does seem like it would be flirting, however you are waxing about beauty in imperfections, so romantic in the artistic sense more so."
"I don't follow."
"You're more comfortable, you want to express ideas and emotion. To ramble until inspiration strikes. You're on the mend," Deceit answered, "That and you are most certainly flirting with me, which is certainly as flattering as it is a good sign." His smug little grin had Roman blushing and stunned.
"So why is it you wanted company like thisss?" Deceit asked nonchalantly and studied his nail beds.
"I—I don't want to be alone. I caused so much damage—I don't want to be left with my insecurities for them to consume me again." Roman admitted shyly, "Please don't laugh."
"If I were to laugh it would be out of joy, not only are you being honest, you're opening up to me, which is more wonderful than a bag of gummy rats, and I can assure you that I am addicted," he replied gently and eyed the prince. He was tense, especially in the shoulders. But he wasn't quite so nervous.
"Would you like to turn on the jets? It's quite soothing and quiet," Deceit suggested after a beat of silence. Roman nodded meekly. Deceit snapped his fingers rather than using the keypad on the edge of the tub, for the drama of it all.
Roman moaned loudly and sank down against the jet. Deceit chuckled softly, knowing that he wouldn't be laughing later.
"I take it you needed that. Perhaps I should enlist Remus to work out all the knots in your muscles."
"Remus?" Roman pouted.
"He knows every pressure point on the body, he's even licensed to perform acupuncture."
"I don't like the idea of him sticking me with needles."
"Virgil can attest to his skill and delicate touch. But he is very good at getting people to relax without the needles."
"I'll consider it. But for now, please keep talking," Roman hummed, "You have a soothing, melodious voice."
"As you wish."
"Do you hear that sound?" Remus sang as he piled more pillows on the couch, "That beautiful sound?"
"You mean Princey figuring out how the tub works?" Virgil questioned as he sifted through the collection of Disney movies. Remus shook his head and guffawed.
"That is the sound of a pure Prince going down! Torture and pain! Breaking a brain! A sound that says he will never walk well again!"
"Oh brother! Do you have to make everything an innuendo or Beetlejuice?" Virgil groaned and eyed him fondly. Remus pouted cutely, urging him to continue butchering the song. He sighed and resigned himself to go along with it.
"The sound of a scream, is music to me," Virgil sang, rather than his usual grumble, "A sound that says fifteen years physical therapy!"
"Thanks Scare Bear!" Remus squealed and hugged him from behind, "You should definitely sing with me when Ro hoe gets out here!"
"After the day he's had? Just sing it to Deceit without me." Virgil jeered and leaned into his touch, "Or maybe you can hold back on that and I'll give you a reason to sing a few beautiful sounds."
"You sneaky feral bastard!" Remus cackled, "They better not drag you away from me when that happens."
Chapter 9: Where Have All the Good Men Gone
Gotta love when characters take control of the story while you're planning ahead
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Snow White, Fantasia, Hercules—Roman was living his best life, hogging the pillows on the couch and watching his favorites with a plate of cookies that he had to keep from Remus. The side in question was slouching on the prince's throne with his legs draped over his boyfriend's lap. Deceit was on Roman's other side, lounging with a bold green facemask on to tend to the scar.
"I don't get it, if he simply invited Maleficent to the party that literally everyone is invited to, Aurora wouldn't have been cursed," Deceit sighed during the opening credits to Sleeping Beauty.
"The idea of prejudice is laced through this film, the only time we see two people from different backgrounds on screen who don't have any nasty to say is when Philip and Rose meet," Remus answered, "Be like Phil and respect people of different classes unless they want to chain you to a wall and torture you for a hundred years without consent. Then you can stab them."
"Have faith in people and be ready for disappointment because of societal expectations," Virgil mused, watching Roman scowl.
"Play nice, Virgil. Just because you don't want the purple dragon witch fairy to perish doesn't mean you have to be mean to Roman."
"Come on! I didn't insult the prince this time." Virgil groaned and hunched over.
"He means, "sorry for upsetting you, princey.'" Remus translated quietly. Roman gently nudged him as thanks and focused on the screen.
Virgil, on the other hand, went rigid. He was expecting this but he didn't have to like it. He tapped Remus on the thigh twice and let the tugging sensation pull him from the room.
Virgil appeared in a bedroom full of toys and photo albums and assorted junk. It was cozy and warm and on the sky blue bed, Patton sat with his array of stuffed animals and pillows. He spotted Virgil and grinned sheepishly. The MCR onesie was not a good sign.
"Hey there kiddo. I hope I didn't catch you at a bad time!" Patton greeted and cuddled Kit the Cat to his chest. Virgil shrugged and wandered over, avoiding the stuff on the floor.
"What's up Pat?" Virgil greeted and sat on the edge of the bed, eyeing the skelanimal in his hands. Patton couldn't look him in the eye and he was tense.
"Where is Roman?" he asked with a trembling lip.
"Safe and unharmed. We're just making sure he's alright and ready to deal with what happened."
"Was all of that real?" Patton breathed, "The hypnosis and the feeling used and the—the spider."
"Yeah, it was all real, Pat," Virgil winced. It didn't help when Patton shook and sniffled. Caring for crying people wasn't a Virgil specialty, especially when he didn't want to scare Patton by touching him.
"Hey, it's okay, the worst is over."
"We're best friends!" Patton scoffed, "Why—Why didn't he tell me!? I would have helped him!"
"That's something you gotta ask him, but I might have an idea," Virgil said and scooted closer. That was enough for Patton to cling to him and bury his face in his shoulder.
"He's the ego, and he's definitely not feeling proud. The rejection and the doubts built up inside him. L didn't help that, and you, you're not the best at self-love or giving advice for that."
"But I want to help him!" Patton sobbed, "I want to be there for him and—and—"
"Shh, that's the past. We're gonna move forward and you two can work things out. Right now he needs some TLC and then you can talk to him when he's up for it. Right now, though, Deceit has him blocked from up here so he can recover."
"Yeah," Virgil said and rubbed Pat's back, "He and Remus are helping him with me. He's gonna be okay."
"Both of them? I don't want them to corrupt him!" Patton sobbed.
"Patton," Virgil said firmly and pushed him an arm's length away, "don't talk about my family like that. They're not everything nice but that doesn't mean you get to say stuff like that behind their backs."
"I'm sorry. I didn't even mean it," Patton mumbled, "I just—I don't want to see him fall for Deceit. He's just so charming and protective and secretly caring and handsome—and Roman would fall for him so easily too!"
"Well I can't guarantee that he won't, but he needs to take some time to come back into himself regardless of romance," Virgil sighed and pulled Patton into a hug. This was going to be a long night and he was not feeling it. At least Patton was calming down.
"I never thought you would fall for Deceit," Virgil mused, "I thought you were into L."
"I didn't think so either, but him and Roman, I just get butterflies. I would rather keep Roman around as a friend and there's tension with Deceit, and he has a crush on Roman. As for Logan, he's a friend, but nothing more—Oh how did I get so off track?"
"The conversation!" Patton giggled sheepishly, "So he's staying with you for a while and he can't come up yet. Can I visit him?"
"You can come downstairs later. I can't promise he'll be up for a visit."
"That's okay. Logan has been cranky and he just keeps snapping at me. Being alone isn't good for him, but it's not good for me either."
"You want to visit the other side? If you don't mind that my boyfriend is clingy and gross, sure."
"You and Remus?" Patton questioned and tilted his head. He could put two and two together, but that didn't stop him from being surprised. What was with these upper sides not asking about the shadows?
"April 13th will be our one year. You guys really don't pay attention to us, do you?"
"I don't want to pry. You know Remus' metaphors and Deceit is the embodiment of lies and I want to give you your space."
"Yeah, I get that. It's just funny how we know so much about you guys and you know so little about us," Virgil shrugged, "Like you're afraid to find out that we're not all bad."
"I'm morality. I can't help it if I see bad and good."
"Well if you visit, you might want to consider thinking in shades of grey. Roman would appreciate it."
Do I smell a love triangle or polyam? Yes
Chapter 10: Get Here
Roman passed out the minute he hit the sheets the night before, so when Deceit woke up on the chaise lounge and saw Roman was still asleep, he decided to leave him be. Instead of his usual routine, he dressed, brushed his teeth, and grabbed his tablet from a bookshelf. He could get some work done in the common area after breakfast.
As he prepared a soft-boiled egg and toast he wondered what he was going to do with Roman today. He considered reading over his old ideas to help him edit a few with some constructive feedback, or maybe he could come up with a half-baked idea that the prince could improve if he wanted to. Perhaps it would be best to have him relax and enjoy himself more with friendly company.
"Good morning!" an all too chipper voice greeted him. Deceit turned from the counter and pouted. What was Patton of all sides doing in his kitchen, with bed head and pajamas?
"Good morning, Morality. What brings you to this den of sin?" he asked, trying to keep his hissing to a minimum.
"Den of sin?" Patton asked and tilted his head cutely, "I thought this was the common area, not Remus' room." The ugly snort from just down the hall startled him but that was all until Remus himself barreled into the kitchen in a pair of purple briefs with Virgil dragging himself in behind the duke, dressed far more appropriately.
"Oh! Good morning!" Patton giggled.
"How dare you call my room a den of sin!" Remus growled, making Patton wince, "It's a whole castle!" He fell over, cackling and writhing on the floor.
"Ignore the half-dead hyena," Virgil grunted, "Coffee."
"It's ready, just don't break my tea mug in the process, again," Deceit sighed and looked to a very concerned Patton.
"To answer your question, I just wanted to stop by. I don't like to have breakfast alone and since Roman's not upstairs right now I thought maybe I could visit you guys."
"You are so lucky I made Remus wear underwear," Virgil said before drinking straight from the pot. Remus quieted down and groaned, "But you like seeing my—"
"Silence thot. I haven't finished my coffee."
"I don't recall granting you entry into this side of the mind," Deceit hummed darkly, "How did you get here?"
"I said it was cool," Virgil answered before downing the last of the coffee. Patton smiled sheepishly at Deceit.
"I guess he forgot to mention it last night. I can always go if you don't want me here right now." The undertone in Patton's chipper voice spoke volumes to Deceit. He wanted to stay but it wasn't merely because he was lonely. There was a hint of longing and a little bit of fear. It was an annoyance at worst for him to be here, but it didn't impact the snake much at all.
"You can stay, but don't wake Roman," Deceit ceded, "He is sleeping soundly and–" Deceit silenced Remus, who was still laughing, "–I don't intend to wake him."
"Okay, I can be quiet!" Patton beamed, "Do you want help making breakfast?"
“My breakfast is nearly finished, so that is a question for Virgil and Remus,” he hummed and went back to preparing his meal. Patton looked to Virgil and the silenced duke, hoping with all his heart that they would want him to make breakfast. He loved making his infamous blueberry Patton-cakes, or his equally thrilling flappats!
“Pancakes, Calamari-brain?” Virgil asked Remus and set down the coffee pot. Remus sat up and nodded rapidly. It beat leftovers or cereal by a longshot! Patton beamed at them.
“Do you want help making those patjacks?” Virgil hesitated.
“Nope, I can handle them on my own! Should I make a few flappats for Roman when he wakes up?” Patton giggled and stood up. He was fortunate that Deceit had his toast buttered and his egg peeled and in a cup all set to be eaten. The snake slunk out of the room with his breakfast without calling too much attention to himself.
“Yeah, I think Princey would like that.” Virgil answered and pulled Remus to his feet, “And I’d like it if you put on pants and a shirt.” Remus pouted at him with his best watery doe eyes, as if begging for him to suggest anything else. Virgil shook his head and nudged him to the exit.
Remus left the room miserably. It left Virgil alone with Patton, which was the plan.
“Not that I plan on kicking you out, but why did you come so soon? What happened?” Virgil asked. Patton sighed and lifted his shirt. There was a bruise on his side that looked painful.
“After you left, I went to check on Logan, to make sure he was getting some sleep. We argued and he told me to get out, and I tried to make a deal, you know, like I leave if he goes to bed. He was just so angry, he threw his coffee mug, though I don’t think he was aiming to hit me. He never had good aim, but it still hurt, and he apologized.”
“You’re scared you’re gonna set him off again.”
“Roman’s breakdown has him on edge. He’s scared, stressed, and angry and he keeps bottling up his emotions. I don’t know how to act around him. I know he’s not a violent person, I know he doesn’t want to hurt anyone.”
“Patton, he threw a mug at you,” Virgil frowned, “Harming you whether he wants to or not is still harming you, and it’s a means to an end if other means don’t work.”
“No buts. He needs help, but you don’t have to provide it if it leaves you bruised,” Virgil huffed, “And he has to want that help for it to work.” A long silence stretched between the two.
“And Roman?” Patton squeaked and lowered his shirt, “Does he want your help?”
“Yes,” Roman said with a yawn as he walked into the kitchen, “I agreed to this, Pat.” He yawned again in the archway and blinked, pausing to process what he just said.
“Patton! What are you doing down here!?”
“Hey kiddo! I thought I’d stop by and make breakfast for you guys,” Patton winced, “Unless you don’t want me to.”
“Hold on, Remus and I said it was okay.” Virgil cut in.
“And I third the notion!” Roman cheered, “Might I assist you?”
“If you want to, sure thing!” Patton cheered. Roman nodded and entered the room. Virgil mock saluted the both of them and left them to it. Cooking with Patton always brought out a creative spark in anyone, something Roman needed, and it gave Virgil a chance to talk to Deceit. The situation at hand just got more complicated
Chapter 11: Uninvited
Who's ready for some Patton angst?
Being briefed on the issue Patton presented was not the best way to start the morning. Deceit had already given up the kitchen table to make room for the fatherly side, and frankly it irritated him to no end. But then he saw Roman after breakfast, a little brighter than before, chatting with Patton about pancake art. Deceit was jealous but pleased to see the improvement, even if meant Roman was spending the entire day in the common area with Patton.
Deceit left his room around noon to prepare his lunch. He didn’t think too much of it when he saw Patton sitting alone in the kitchen, Remus or Virgil could have pulled Roman away for a moment. But then he heard muffled sobs.
“Morality?” Deceit questioned softly and crouched in front of Patton, “Are you alright?”
“I never knew,” he mumbled, “I had no idea how much he needed me to back him up.”
“Roman needed you then, but that’s the past,” Deceit said, “Fortunately you can defend him as needed in the future.”
“No I can’t, I–I—” Patton broke down. Deceit winced and pulled up a chair. Patton didn’t know that he knew about the incident the night before. He wouldn’t let that slip.
“Logic has a way of tearing all of us down. I’m to assume that without Roman there, you’ve become the sole target of his unchecked anger, by no fault of your own.”
“I’m scared, Deceit,” Patton said and nodded, “I don’t want to go back alone, and I don’t want to drag Roman with me.”
“Would you like for me to go disguised as him, just for the evening?” Deceit offered, unsure why he would make such an offer in the first place, other than his function as Self-Preservation. It wasn’t the sheer hopelessness in Patton’s voice, no. It wasn’t the way his gut twisted at the sight of that tear-stained, snotty face. It certainly wasn’t because Patton wanted to protect Roman, or that he admitted he was scared. Okay all of those things played a role, but it was the twinkle in his eyes, like shattered glass, trying to hold on and pull through.
"If it's not too much trouble, Roman usually helps with dinner when he's not in his room," Patton responded, rubbing his arms.
"All the trouble in the world," he lied and placed a hand on Patton's shoulder, "What time are we going upstairs?"
"Around five. Thank you Deceit."
"My dear Morality, there's no need to thank me, my primary purpose is to preserve the self, and last I checked that includes you."
"Just because it's your job doesn't mean I shouldn't say thank you. It's a lot and it's so kind of you to offer to help," Patton huffed and wiped his eyes with a pout. He was too adorable for his own good and Deceit knew it all too well. He hated how that pout made his heart flutter.
"Where is Roman, by the way?"
"He's with Virgil, I think Virgil is giving him a makeover."
"Oh dear," Deceit sighed and pulled out a handkerchief, handing it to Patton. Patton dabbed his eyes and blew his nose, stowing the cloth in his pocket. As soon as he was cleaned up, a royal shriek echoed through the commons.
"What did you do to my face!?" Roman shouted and barreled out of Virgil's room. Virgil followed behind him with a mirror in his hand, and a smirk as they entered the kitchen.
Deceit and Patton stared. How could they not? Roman was simply dazzling with his contour and gold glitter blush. His eyes were framed beautifully with modest eyeliner and bold burgundy gradient shadow. His lips were a soft red and his hair was combed perfectly with just a hint of glittery hairspray to hold it.
"I look like a vampire's worst nightmare!" Roman groaned. Patton and Deceit shared a look and Virgil rolled his eyes, holding up the mirror in front of Roman's face.
"I told you that it would look better outside my room. Fire fairy prince is not my aesthetic and my room knows it."
Roman was utterly speechless. He was a fiery prince and he was starting to feel like it again. He wanted to cry.
"You look divine, my prince. I am truly humbled to be graced with your radiance," Deceit hummed softly. Patton only bristled a little.
"You look amazing Roman!" he squealed, "Like the belle of the ball! Virgil did so good bringing out your eyes!"
"Thank you, Patton, he did do a fantastic job!" Roman agreed and nudged Virgil forward. A little bit of gushing and embarrassment would serve him right for setting up in his room! And with those two occupied, Roman looked to Deceit and smiled.
"Thank you for your kind words, but I should be humbled to be in your presence, dear knight in scaly armor."
"Hey, Dee," Virgil cut in before the real flirting hit, "Roman was telling me about an idea he had that involves flowers. Think you can take him to the garden and help him?"
"If he wishes,"Deceit said and stood. Roman beamed at him and nodded enthusiastically. Deceit smiled softly and took his arm, sinking the pair of them out. Patton stared after them pitifully.
"You want your excuse to work, right?" Virgil asked, grabbing his attention.
"Oh! Yeah, and Deceit is gonna pose as Roman."
"He can mimic the make-up easy. Let's do your face so there's no question," Virgil said, summoning his make-up kit, "And you're helping me clean up. Remus hates when the kitchen is messy."
"What about lunch?" Patton asked and pulled his hair back. Virgil shrugged, setting the box on the table, "Deceit has sandwiches and salad in the garden, Remus is probably eating some monster's—"
"When he's dating you?!" Patton cut him off, aghast.
"Why wouldn't he eat their leftovers? They make a lot of food for dinner. And we think you're the innocent one!"
"Oh, heh, oops. Sorry for assuming!" Patton giggled sheepishly.
"You and me though, we have leftover ziti somehow. We can heat it up after I finish. Sound good?" he continued and dug through his kit for the primer and foundation.
"Alright, so I'm thinking either 50s carhop or kawaii chick for you."
"Think you could maybe do something scene instead?"
"You want more Hello Kitty or Invader Zim?" Virgil asked and pulled out his primer spray and foundation.
"Hello Kitty! I'm a pastel boy!" Patton giggled. Virgil nodded and got to work. This would make heads turn in the best possible way! And he had two heads in mind.