Remus was cold. He had been cold for a long time now. Well, it felt like a long time, it was hard to tell how much time had passed in this part of the mindscape.
It was cold here now. Ever since Dee (yes, he did know Janus’ real name, but he’d always be Dee to Remus) had left it had become colder and colder. Darker too.
Of course, Remus was happy for his friend. Dee didn’t deserve to be hidden away. Granted, it had taken some time. There had been a lot to clear up before everyone had accepted Dee, but they had. Dee spent his time with them now, laughing and playing around like old pals.
And Remus was alone.
The others ignored him the times he’d popped up out of nowhere. The most reaction one of his little facts and what-ifs got was a disgusted frown from Patton or Thomas, which wasn’t what he was after.
Usually Dee came down to visit him after he’d sunk out of there and whatever discussion they were having was over. It was nice to see him, to hear what had been going on lately. But it also felt like pity, Dee didn’t come to see him because he wanted to, not really. Remus wasn’t really sure what he’d said or done to make Dee stop wanting to visit him. Dee had visited a lot before, when he’d just been accepted, but those visits had dwindled down to the few times after Remus had popped up unexpectedly. Like Dee visited him out a sense of obligation only, because of pity.
Remus didn’t mind pity, much. If that was the only way he got to see his friend he’d take it.
It was lonely down here.
There was one side Thomas hadn’t met yet. That side was down here too. But that side couldn’t be bothered with much, wasn’t even interested in meeting Thomas officially. And he certainly wasn’t interested in hanging out with Remus. That was Apathy for you.
Remus spent a lot of time in front of the tv these days, huddled in a blanket or two. His thoughts felt muddled, and the few ideas he came up with were few and far in between. At least watching tv made the time pass. And the sounds from it made it feel like there were actual people around. Made it seem less cold too.
Remus was tired a lot these days. It was strange, because usually he was the one with the most energy out of everyone. But everything felt taxing, even eating took more energy than he’d like.
He’d been scared at first when he’d noticed it. He had tried to go to Dee to ask what was happening, he’d even considered going to Logan. But he hadn’t been able to sink out, in fact, when he had attempted to do so everything had hurt. Like an old person with arthritis. He wasn’t sure how long he had been there, but surely he would have noticed if Thomas had suddenly turned eighty. He couldn’t have been there so long that Thomas had become a senior citizen without him noticing. But if these aches and pains wasn’t because of old age, then what was going on?
He got used to it. The constant, dull aches in his bones even when he was sitting as well as the waning energy. It had been ridiculously easy to get used to. But it was better to adapt than worry about it. Especially since he couldn’t ask anyone for answers.
Eventually he became too tired to care.
Something was dripping from his nose. Absentmindedly he swiped his tongue across his upper lip as he felt it there, then he gagged. He had assumed it was snot or blood, but it tasted like neither. It was a rotten taste, it was vile. Too vile even for him. It woke him up though. And he swiped a finger under his nose, through his moustache, and looked down. It was black. Substance-wise it reminded him of blood, though maybe a bit thicker. He couldn’t really smell it, but, as he’d learned, it tasted awful.
A hysterical cackle escaped his mouth. What the actual fuck?!
Now Remus was worried. This wasn’t something he could ignore. But he still couldn’t sink out. The emergency exit was a long stairway up, and with his aching body he’d only managed six or seven steps before his knees had buckled and he’d collapsed. Calling out had yielded no results, neither had knocking on Apathy’s door done anything. Eventually he had stumbled back to the couch, which had been his home almost ever since Dee left. He didn’t know what to do. He didn’t know what was going on. All he knew was…
He was scared.
He knew what was going on now. It had taken some time, and a lot of calming down and thinking things through when he’d remembered it. It was a theory all sides knew, a knowledge they were born with. The knowledge of what happened when Thomas stopped needing or wasn’t using a side anymore. Though no one had seen or experienced it before.
It was a fact Remus had loved theorizing about when he was younger, something everyone had flinched at when he’d just mentioned it. No one liked it being even hinted at. Kind of like Voldemort’s name in that regard. But knowing what was going on didn’t really help. It didn’t lessen his fears, it actually enhanced them.
He, the side that was constantly spouting morbid facts and talking of death like others talked about the weather, was afraid of dying.
How was that for irony?
The black shit, as he was calling it, sporadically came through most of his orifices by now. He had also noticed his hands starting to flicker slightly on and off. It was unnerving. And he couldn’t help but think it was a cruel way to go. He was impulse, he wasn’t really cut out for suspense.
And now there was a tugging sensation in his stomach. Great, was he about to throw up now on top of it all?
Suddenly he was somewhere else.
“Finally, there you are! Have you been playing with tar or something?”
Slowly he turned to who had spoken and came face to face with Roman. Instinctively he took a step back, not wanting the black shit to touch his brother. Normally when he was covered in something he delighted in chasing the others around, aiming for them to have some of it on themselves too. But not this. He hadn’t chosen to cover himself in this, and he didn’t want anyone else to get it on them. Who know what would happen, maybe they’d melt or something. He didn’t want that.
“Remus?” Someone else said.
Remus turned to face Thomas. Everything was starting to blur slightly and he couldn’t make out the expression on Thomas’ face.
“Hey Thomas. Have you ever thought of what it would be like to die?”
“That’s not really…” someone started, their voice weirdly muffled, but Remus continued.
“It’s a drawn-out process. It’s torture. I really wish you’d speed it up a bit, the suspense is killing me,” he cackled at the accidental pun. “Get it?”
Distantly he felt the black shit starting to run down his neck from both his ears, and down his face from his eyes. There was a weird buzzing in his ears, it was a wonder he could hear himself speak. Everything was really blurry now, and he noticed he was on the floor. Strange, he hadn’t even noticed himself going down. He could feel the taste of the black shit on the back of his tongue, feeling it clogging his throat. He cleared it and continued talking, his speech now slurring a bit.
“Anyway, thank you Thomas. It’s been a pleasure being a part of you. And I’m sorry. I never meant to scare you or make you unable to sleep. But no matter how hard I try I’ve just never been able to stop what I’m thinking or what I’m saying. And I’ve really tried. I… I hope you’ll be happier without me.”
And then everything turned black.
The first thing he became aware of was the noise. It was loud. Too loud. Had he accidently turned the volume up in his sleep?
With a groan he fumbled for the remote. But the couch didn’t feel like it usually did. It was really soft for one thing. No springs were poking at his fingers. It smelled nice too. Not his version of nice, but what most people considered nice. Flower-y.
He opened his eyes. The ceiling above him was brown, wood-y, in color, rather than a dirty gray. It was bright. Not too bright, but brighter than he was used to. The noise had stopped, and he slowly sat up to see where he was. Because this clearly wasn’t his part of the mindscape.
Before he could process what he was seeing there was something clinging to him. Or rather someone. Gray and light blue filled his vision. Patton.
“You know, if you’re trying to strangle me you’re going about it the wrong way,” he offered helpfully, his voice croaky and his throat aching.
“I’m so glad you’re awake kiddo,” he heard Patton say.
Remus pushed him away slightly, frowning.
“Why? You don’t like me. Why would you be happy I’m awake? That I’m alive? Wait… why am I alive?”
A choked sob sounded to his right and he turned to see Dee settle beside him, quickly grabbing him in a tight hug.
“Ree, you fool. Why didn’t you ask for help? Why didn’t you tell anyone things were getting bad?”
“Well, I was unable to sink out. And you wouldn’t have been able to do anything anyway, you can’t control which sides Thomas needs. Besides, why do you care? I haven’t seen you in months!”
Dee pushed him away slightly at that, keeping his hands on Remus’ shoulders, and gave him an odd look.
“Remus, I last saw you two weeks ago. You seemed fine then.”
Remus blinked. He knew Dee’s tells for when he was lying, and there were none now.
“What? No, but… It felt… It seemed like months, years even. What? How? I don’t… I don’t understand,” the more he talked the more his voice started to go out, and he was so confused.
A glass was held out to him, it looked like water. He took it carefully, his hands shaking. It felt good on his throat.
“Now, I think we need to clear some things up,” Logan said. Remus agreed.
It had taken time. Remus still didn’t quite understand why two weeks had seemed like ages, but he didn’t like to think about it really. He preferred not to think about that time at all.
There had been a lot of apologies from everyone, Thomas included, in the aftermath. Dee had hovered a lot, and everyone had seemed scared to let him out of their sights, which was weird considering how they usually wished him to go away.
Slowly things had turned around, fences had been mended and bonds had formed. Things were better now.
The mindscape had merged. There were no “dark” or “light” sides anymore, only sides. They all shared the same living space now. Even Apathy, but he was rarely spotted even now (despite Patton’s efforts). Remus wasn’t ignored anymore. Everyone seemed to enjoy spending time with him, which was a weird, in a good way, feeling. Sure, things weren’t perfect, but no one could really expect that. And things had a way to sort themselves out eventually.
Remus was happy.
He wasn’t alone anymore.