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please, open the door

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It wasn’t meant to go like this.

Janus had planned perfectly for their coming out, down to mentally scripting all the possible reactions their partners could have. They knew neither Virgil nor Logan were transphobic—after all, Virgil was trans himself—but still, they’d been nervous about going through with it.

Their boyfriends were gay. They liked men, they liked each other and yes, they liked them but they didn’t know. Really, it was only natural to be worried about the effect this could have on their relationship.

So, they’d put it off. The flinch every time Virgil referred to them as his boyfriend wasn’t picked up on and the slight frown they adopted when being told how handsome they were was taken as nothing more than insecurity and though, maybe, they were a little put out by how their boyfriends never seemed to notice, they couldn’t blame them. It was their fault for not telling them after all.

It was all their fault.

“Jan, please, open the door,” Logan said, the concern in his voice leaking in through the cracks between solid wood and drywall. Janus could barely hear it though for the rushing of blood in their ears and the heaving sounds of their breath seemed to take up all the space left in the bedroom.

They tore at their clothes, ripping several of the buttons off their blouse as they yanked it over their head, their skirt tossed to the other side of the room as if throwing it to where it was no longer in view would somehow mitigate the weight of what had already occurred.

It wasn’t supposed to happen like this! They’d been careless. Their boyfriends’ schedules were predictable—Logan worked till 4:30 pm every weekday, Virgil slept in but stayed out later—and as such, they hadn’t even considered the fact that they would be caught. It was foolish to think they were ever safe, utterly foolish.

Their chest was tight, heavy, and they dropped to the floor—curled up with their legs hugged to their chest and their whole body shaking.

Logan’s voice trickled its way back into Janus’ mind, softer than they had ever heard it outside of late-night love confessions and Virgil’s panic attacks. “Jan, honey, it’s okay. You’re okay. Do you remember Virgil’s breathing exercises?”

And with a jolt, Janus realised that is what this was. A panic attack.

Their breathing hitched and they ducked their head down to press against their knees, hands gripping to each other until the knuckles turned white.

It was a fact that was more terrifying than it had any right to be. Janus was always the one to comfort their boyfriends when they were panicking, they knew all of the techniques, they knew each of their boyfriends’ preferences on touch while they were experiencing particularly heightened anxiety but right now it was all useless. The only thing looping in their head was visions of their boyfriends laughing at them, outing them to everyone, leaving them, kicking them onto the street where they’ll be alone, alone, alone, just when they had finally gotten comfortable enough to let them in.

Pulling in a stuttering breath, they tried to count, managing to hold it for around four seconds before blowing it out.

It felt almost impossible—like climbing the rough side of a rocky cliff face when your body only wants you to stay at the bottom of the ravine to die—but they knew it wasn’t. Despite the siren sounding in their mind, they knew there was no physical danger. And anything else could be dealt with later.

So, they tried again, this time slightly more successfully and with each breath, they could feel the weight of their head getting heavier, the static in their limbs fading away to almost nothing. By the time they could breathe again they were so tired, all they wanted to do was sleep for a year.

Unfortunately, their boyfriends would probably have some qualms with that notion.

There was murmuring outside and Janus knew without a doubt that Virgil had arrived, so they figured the locked door likely wouldn’t hold them back much longer. Virgil had learned to pick a lock as a teen—a skill they’d occasionally utilised to break into their parents’ liquor cabinet when they were both too young to drink—and with the level of worry Janus was sure Logan was holding, they doubt he’d have much of an issue with trying to break into their room. 

To the sound of the doorknob rattling, they clambered up from the ground, pulling on a large shirt they’d found beside them on the floor. It must have been Logan’s because it smelt like him—sort of like paper and metal but mostly just like Logan—and Janus tried not to acknowledge the way something in their chest lurched.

They approached the door with probably more hesitance than was warranted and, standing with their hand on the doorknob, they took a moment to catch their breath before turning the lock and throwing it open.

Virgil was on his knees on the ground, a hairpin held in his hand and his tongue sticking out ever so slightly as he concentrated. As the door swung open, though, his expression changed to one of shock, glancing up at Janus in a way that made them feel somewhere between adored and uncomfortable. Logan was much the same—though he wasn’t on his knees—his expression shining with relief and barely contained concern.

There was a moment of silence, punctuated with Janus clearing their throat.

“Go on then,” they said, their hands on their hips and their voice wavering much less than they had been expecting, “Say your piece.”

But instead of the anger or the betrayal Janus had been half-expecting, Logan threw himself forward, wrapping his arms around them and cradling them like they’d been missing for years, like they were something precious, like they were loved.

And Janus melted.

They let out a gasp as they felt the breath being punched out of them, hands going up to grab at the back of Logan’s coat and it was barely a moment before Virgil stood up to join them, his long arms reaching around them both like a shelter from the wind and the rain and the fear.

Far sooner than Janus would have liked, they both pulled away, leaving Janus feeling cold and somewhat lost.

“I’m sorry,” Logan said softly. His gaze was cast to the ground and Janus took the opportunity to run their gaze over his slumped shoulders and furrowed brow, vaguely feeling the urge to soothe the stress he seemed to be holding, “I should have warned you that I was coming home early but I had wanted it to be a surprise.”

Janus laughed but the sound was void of joy, seeming instead rather hollow. “Well, you certainly accomplished that.”

Visibly, Logan winced and Janus felt a stab of guilt go through them. It wasn’t Logan’s fault—they knew it wasn’t Logan’s fault—and it was unfair of them to make him feel bad for something that could have been so easily avoided if only they were more careful. 

Janus was not known for being impulsive. They thought things through and they made plans and they certainly didn’t jump into things without being entirely sure of them first. The problem with that, however, was that sometimes you can’t be entirely sure.

And now, unfortunately, seemed like it was one of those times.

“I’m nonbinary. I use they/them pronouns.”

They wouldn’t say it was quite blurted but it was certainly close—their words hurried as if given the chance to think for even a moment longer would prevent them from being said. Maybe it would.

Glancing at the two of them, it was clear that they were surprised but it was eclipsed quickly by a look of understanding and though part of them was relieved—breath exhaled, shoulders dropping, loved, loved, loved—part of them could only feel that this was much too good to be true.

“Okay.” Logan nodded, his expression thoughtful. “Thank you for telling us.”

Janus narrowed their eyes. “That’s it?”

Something of a bewildered expression crossed Logan’s face and he tilted his head slightly, as if Janus were some puzzle that he had yet to figure out. In response, they folded their arms tight across their chest. That look always made them feel a little too much like an ant under a magnifying glass and while sometimes they were grateful to have so much of Logan’s attention, now it just made them feel exposed.

“What do you mean?”

They gaped at him for a moment before throwing up their arms in a gesture of incredulity. “You’re gay! You like boys-!” 

“We like you,” Logan interrupted. His voice was calm and caring in a way that sort of made Janus want to cry but they refused to show that kind of weakness right now, “In fact, we love you and learning your gender identity doesn’t change that in the slightest, at least not in my case.”

They fidgeted a bit with the hem of Logan’s shirt, feeling the absence of their usual outfit—the weighted jacket and full coverage shirt—like a missing limb. “Virgil?”

Cautiously, they glanced over to him and almost took a step back in shock at the unexpected shine of Virgil’s eyes—wet and teary and full of an unquantifiable amount of love. Janus and Virgil had been friends since they were children and, outside of panic attacks, they’d barely ever seen him cry.

“I’m so proud of you,” he murmured, making something in Janus’ chest crack open like a geode, leaving bits of rock scattered around but exposing something a lot more valuable, “Coming out is really hard and I’m really, really proud of you. And I love you. A lot.”

Janus exhaled, their breath shaky. “Oh.”

There was a moment of silence as the three of them just stood there, unsure of what to do next. Then, Virgil laughed. It was sort of wet but full of love and the others couldn’t help but echo him, feeling all the stress and the tension and the fear melting away with each second that passed. It was ridiculous, really, but Janus thought that maybe they deserved it all the same.

Virgil shook his head incredulously, his lips teasing at a smile but his eyes soft. “God, c'mere, asshole.”

Biting at their bottom lip to stop the way it was wobbling ever so slightly, they stepped forward into Virgil’s open arms, slotting in like they were made to be there.

“Pretty rude of you to call me an asshole while I’m baring my soul over here, dick,” Janus laughed into his shoulder.

They felt a kiss being pressed to the top of their head from behind, Logan worming his way in to join the hug and bringing with him a sense of completeness that made Janus exhale softly into the space between them, their eyes fluttering closed for just a moment.

It felt safe here—truly, safe—and though they are aware that it was okay to be afraid… they couldn’t help but wonder why they were ever worried.

After a long moment of soaking in the comfort their boyfriends brought them, they pulled away, gently extricating themself from the embrace. Despite the fact that they were no longer touching, nobody moved too far apart and Janus could still feel echoes of Virgil’s skin brushing against theirs and the soft exhale of Logan’s breath as if they hadn’t moved at all.

“Gods, this is far too many emotions for me,” they joked, though there was truth in the words still, “And I swear if either of you tells anyone about any of this they will not find the body.”

“Wouldn’t dream of it, my love.”

“Not in a million years.”

They rolled their eyes, fondness barely hidden behind a look of exasperation. Their boyfriends were so stupidly earnest sometimes, though they’d be lying if they said it wasn’t endearing.

“Saps.”

Wandering back into their room with their boyfriends trailing after them, they began to get redressed, stripping Logan’s shirt off to pull on one of their own. It wasn’t the first time they’d changed in front of their boyfriends but even still they were cautious of the way the two of them were looking at them, bumping their shoulders together every so often as small talk picked back up.

The conversation was familiar, dotted with exclamations from Virgil about how much he hates his job and overlaid with Logan’s recapping of Roman and Patton’s ridiculous pining recently, Janus occasionally butting in to affectionately berate their twin for being so oblivious. Even they’d figured out their relationship faster than that and the three of them were experts when it came to putting up emotional walls.

It felt… normal. Good, even. And bit by bit, comment by comment, word by word, Janus felt that sense of comfort creeping back in until eventually the three of them were lying on the bed, limbs tangled together and someone’s hand in Janus’ hair, unsure of where one body started and another began. 

“Thank you,” they whispered, just loud enough that they knew the others could hear them.

Logan pressed a kiss to the back of their hand, intertwining their fingers and keeping their joined hands pressed tight to his chest. “There’s no need to thank us, my darling. Our love for you was never in question. Not for a single moment.”

And to the murmuring affirmations of Virgil, twin heartbeats echoing in their ears, Janus let themself believe that.