Neptune is fucked up.
That’s something he already knows. He’s probably the most ironic person in the world - he’s great with girls, but he’s gay. He has blue hair and is named fucking Neptune, of all things, but he has aquaphobia. Like, that is pretty fucked up.
But his fucked up-ness usually doesn’t come back to haunt him. He is a fairly normal person, and he can function just like a normal person in society. He doesn’t have debilitating nightmares every night or PTSD or anything. He just has a... well, a traumatic past.
But the whole problem starts after the fight with team NDGO, because that’s when everybody, like, the whole entire population of Remnant, finds out he’s afraid of water. That is an issue, because Neptune doesn’t like it when people know his secrets. Especially, the, uh, delicate ones, such as his aquaphobia.
When Sun says it, in front of the whole audience, Neptune resists the urge to blush. Instead, he denies it, and tries to stay as far away from the water as possible. He can hear all the people laughing - one, big, humiliating roar. It makes him feel sick, added on to the initial horror that’s clawing on his insides.
But he tiptoes close to the water, and he electrocutes it - it’s a big step for him. He feels like he wants to throw up afterwards, and when he gets back to his dorm room, he does. Even just looking at a large body of water makes him want to cry and die.
But in the end, his need to live wins out, so he doesn’t die. He usually does cry, though, and it makes him sick with himself.
Nobody understands that his fear of water isn’t a joke. Nobody gets that it isn’t funny. Nobody realizes that it’s a real phobia, and nobody knows that there is a legitimate reason as to why he’s so afraid.
They’re too busy laughing at his expense.
People are dicks - Neptune knows that. No, he doesn’t dig it, even if he does like dick. But this fact that humans in general are just giant bitches is continually expressed to him for the two days after the fight, because of the incessant teasing he receives from every direction.
“Hey Neptune! Aren’t you supposed to be the king of water?”
“Oh look, little Neppy is scared of the dangerous water bottle... oh, does he need a tissue?”
“Guys, I bet he doesn’t even shower! Gross!”
“What a pussy.”
It weighs down on him more than it should. Especially since the whole reason he’s afraid of water is not something he likes to think about, ever, and now he’s being reminded of it every five minutes.
He can tell Sun feels bad about accidentally telling everybody, because every time Neptune gets teased Sun looks down and bites his lip. Then, he yells at the prick to go fuck themselves, and looks to Neptune to see if he’s okay. It makes Neptune feel good to know Sun’s looking after him.
The third day, it’s raining. Neptune isn’t scared of rain - it’s fucking rain, it can’t drown him. But everybody else seems to think he is afraid of it, because they tease him relentlessly. It’s starting to become a real issue; less teasing, more ruthless bullying. But Neptune isn’t a pussy. He keeps his head up, his mouth shut, and his eyes dry. He thinks that if he ignores them, they’ll get bored and stop. But Sun’s defense doesn’t feel too bad, either.
The seventh day is when it all goes to shit. Like, he understands that it was shit before - it was really shit. But day seven is just one big steaming pile of complete dog shit compared to the six other more modest shits. You get the picture - much shit, very wow.
It’s the day Cardin has decided to be a complete prick. After a week, Neptune is feeling more down than usual. Like, I-want-to-stay-in-bed-and-cry-all day and I-am-feeling-physical-pain-in-my-stomach-because-I’m-so-depressed kind of down. But life is a douche to Neptune, and he supposes that it’s just his goddamn terrible luck that has Cardin acting up particularly badly today.
He’s walking back from class at the end of the day to his dorm room when he runs into Cardin. He’s been hoping to avoid him, but, as stated above, life is a douchebag. Cardin saunters up to him with his little meathead team behind him, and Neptune knows for a fact that he is screwed. He averts his gaze to the floor.
“Hey Neptune, are you crying? Oh wait, you can’t, you’re too afraid of water!” Neptune knows that Cardin’s insults are fucking weak, but right now he’s feeling particularly fucking weak himself and it hurts. Especially since Sun isn’t here to bite back at them.
“Where’s your boyfriend, water boy? Not here to defend you today, is he?” Neptune blushes, but keeps walking. Sun is not his boyfriend. Not yet, at least. Don’t even get Neptune started on Sun, though - he’s a fucking mess when it comes to Sun Wukong and he knows it.
“Well, now that your knight in shining armor isn’t here to save the day, we can have a little fun, can’t we?” Cardin looks to his cronies, and Neptune feels nervous. He’s perfectly capable of defending himself, but - a full on fight? And one person on four? He’s not up for this ever, much less today.
Two of Cardin’s henchmen come and grab Neptune’s arms forcefully, and Neptune really wishes that somebody could come help him. He’s feeling super uncool right now, and very, very helpless. The guys basically drag him off to where he knows the bathrooms are, and now he feels like he’s going to die. Really, legitimately die.
Cardin goes first, and kicks the door open. Of course, of course nobody is there. And Neptune is shaking because he knows exactly what’s going to happen - it’s happened before.
Cardin goes over and turns on the sink, waiting until it’s completely full before turning it off. “Hey, how long do you think you can hold your breath?” Neptune is shaking his head, because he knows he is not capable of words.
The cronies drag him forward, forcefully. He likes to think they would have had a harder time getting him where they wanted him to go if it wasn’t water they were threatening him with, but it was pitifully easy for them to get him knelt right up against the sink.
Cardin is the one that forces his his head into the water, and Neptune’s whole world is porcelain and absolutely terrifying.
Neptune can’t breath, he can’t breath. His eyes are stinging and his mouth is shut but he cannot get any air into his lungs and that is not okay. He wants to close his eyes, but the darker it gets the more scary it is. He wants to scream, but it won’t matter because he is under water. His lungs are starting to burn. His eyes are tearing up, and he wants to laugh because it’s so ironic. Fuck his life, fuck everything, he’s so scared, he would hyperventilate but he cannot because there is no air. No fucking air, oh god, he’s going to die, he’s going to drown, he’s going to drown in a fucking sink, he’s going to die without even telling Sun he loves him, he’s absolutely going to die, no, no, no, no, no no no no no no stop stop please stop stop stop stop stopstopstopstopstopstopstopstopstopstopMompleasestop
Cardin’s hand that is forcing his head into the water stops pressing forcefully, and Neptune jerks his head up, gasping for breath and tasting bile on his tongue and fuck, fuck, shit, that was fucking water oh shit, it’s his mom, he’s not doing well enough, fuck!
Neptune collapses onto the ground, and the cronies release their grip on his arms and he can distantly hear them laughing and walking away. His vision is blurry, with tears, he knows that he’s crying, and he’s going to be sick.
He unsteadily gets on his feet and stumbles into a stall, and then proceeds to throw up. He cannot do this, he needs somebody to save him.
When he finishes throwing up anything he’s eaten in the past 12 hours, he collapses back down onto his ass unceremoniously and leans against the stall, panting for breath. Shakily, he gets out his scroll and taps on Sun’s picture, sending the least formal message he’s ever written in his life.
To: Sun Wukong
From: Neptune Vasilias
hhelp me im in the bathroom on th first floor
To: Neptune Vasilias
From: Sun Wukong
shit bro, whats up
Neptune can’t find it in himself to text a response, so he doesn’t text at all.
His hands are shaking very badly now, so he clasps them together. He feels like he’s nine again, like he’s small and vulnerable and hurt. He curls himself into a small ball, drawing in shuddering breaths and waiting for Sun to come and save him.
He closes his eyes, and thinks back to the time when this was a regular occurrence.
Mother opens the door violently, slamming it against the wall and making the hinges squeak. She stares him down - a scrawny nine year old with blue hair and hidden bruises. “What are you up to now?”
Neptune looks up at his mother from the book he’s reading. “Studying,” He says, with slight reproach in his voice.
“For my test tomorrow.”
His mother looks angry, because she can’t find fault in him for doing that. She storms out, and an hour or two later, she comes back in. Neptune can tell she’s drunk, because she’s holding a vodka bottle and looks at him like he’s some sort of disgusting creature.
“You,” she says with disgust laced in every letter, and then lunges forward to grab him by the arm. He is too scared to resist.
Her sharp nails dig into his arm and drag him up and out of bed and away from his book. He knows exactly where they’re going - to the sink, again, to get almost drowned. Water makes him cringe every time he looks at it - that’s why he’s such a sickly kid. He doesn’t drink enough water.
His mother opens the door, and forces him to lean over the sink. She turns the tap on, waits until it’s full, and shoves his head in.
Neptune throws up again. This time, he stays hovering over the toilet bowl, shivering and crying and knowing he needs help.
When help does come, he’s in the same position, freaking out. He hears Sun before he sees him - the door opens, the familiar sound of feet padding over tile greets his ears, and a creaking sound that lets him know somebody opened the stall door are all tell-tale signs that Sun has come to the rescue.
“Nep? Buddy?” Sun says, his voice panicked. Sun kneels on the ground next to him, putting his hand on his back.
“T-they - it was C-Cardin - put me in w-water, they filled up the s-sink and shoved my h-head in, S-Sun, I’m scared - please, save me, help me, fuck...” Neptune’s voice is wavering and quiet, and his words are almost incomprehensible because he says them so fast.
Sun doesn’t seem to know exactly what to do, so he puts his arms around Neptune and holds him close. Neptune holds on tight, savoring the warmth that radiates from Sun and wishing he always felt this safe. Sun speaks after a second. “Do you think you can come back to the dorm room?”
Neptune doesn’t want to leave, at all, because people will see him and see that he’s covered in water. They’ll put two and two together, and then everybody will make fun of him more because of how badly he’s reacted. But he agrees to anyway, and Sun pulls him up and wraps an arm around Neptune’s shoulders.
Neptune knows for a fact that any suaveness or cool reputation he’s created for himself will fall away immediately if anybody spots him. “Sun?” He asks, and his voice rasps pathetically, “Can you make sure nobody sees me?”
Sun nods, and rubs circles into Neptune’s shoulder. He brings him around, some way Neptune’s never seen before, and nobody is there. Neptune doesn’t know how Sun found this way, but he doesn’t want to ask because he can’t trust himself to speak anymore without breaking into tears.
Eventually, they make it back to their dorm room. Scarlet and Sage are out, thankfully - probably training or hanging out with somebody else. Sun walks Neptune to his bed and sits him down, rubbing his arm and sitting down next to him. Sun looks down, and then says: “Why are you so afraid of water?”
Neptune decides to tell him - after all, they’ve been friends most of their lives. “Mom abused me.”
Sun moves back, surprised. His lips part and his eyes widen, and then he looks angry. “That bitch!” Sun doesn’t ask anything more, and Neptune knows Sun deserves to know the rest if he isn’t trying to pry.
“Y-yeah. She would... she would get drunk, and then she would stick my head in a sink of w-water and wait until I started to go limp to let me back out again. She hated me, because my dad left when he found out about me. And...” Neptune couldn’t bring himself to go on, because that was everything there was to tell.
Sun scooches closer, so that him and Neptune’s shoulders are aligned and Neptune can feel Sun’s thigh against his. It makes him blush, so he looks away. Sun moves his tail so that it wraps around Neptune’s waist, and then Neptune’s really blushing.
“We’ll kick the shit out of Cardin next time we fight him, okay? You’ll beat his ass and then he won’t mess with you. There’s just some shit you don’t mess with, and the stuff you’ve got going on is some pretty bad shit. But just remember, Nep, I’m here for you. Don’t let this weigh you down, because it’s not your fault. It’s your dad’s fault for leaving, your mom’s fault for abusing you, and Cardin’s fault for bringing all that back. But none of it was your fault.”
Neptune nods, and finds himself believing in the things Sun is saying. After a moment, he realizes just how close they are to each other, and he needs to move. He gets up, offers Sun a feeble smile, and goes into the bathroom.
He doesn’t want to shower, but he brushes his teeth and washes the taste of vomit out of his mouth. He slicks back his wet hair, and then takes off his shoes and jacket. He feels tired, so he goes to sleep just the way he is.
Her nails are long and red, longer than they ever have been. She cackles, shrieks, and then digs them into your arm. She drags you to the ocean and tosses you in.
It’s chaotic. The water flips you, drags you, fills your eyes and ears and lungs and mouth full of water, hits your head against the bottom, brings you this way and that. The world around you is fading into blackness, it’s fuzzy, and your lungs are screaming out into the night for any air they might get but can’t.
You hear her cackling, and then you wake up.
Neptune wakes up with his chest soaked with sweat and tears streaming from his eyes. He gasps for breath, sucking it in and savoring the ability to breath. Neptune hasn’t been this scared since he was a kid, but the combined stress of the bullying and the almost drowning has built up into his worst nightmare.
Neptune curls up into a little ball, dragging the blankets up around him and presses his back against the wall. He tucks his head in between his knees and rocks back and forth, trying to control his breathing but craves the fresh air around him with an unstoppable desire.
Then, he feels warm arms wrap around him again. “Sh, sh,” Sun says, and Neptune melts a little bit. “It’s okay, it was just a dream. You’re safe, you’re here, she’s gone.”
Neptune moves his head out from between his legs and puts it on Sun’s shoulder, and moves to hug him back. “I’m so scared, Sun.”
“Don’t worry Nep, I’ve got you.” Sun moves his hand to Neptune’s chin and moves him until he’s looking Sun in the eyes. “You’re safe.” Neptune stares into Sun’s dark grey eyes, feeling safe and warm and dry. He smiles, a little, and his chest buzzes with satisfaction when Sun smiles back at him.
A beat passes, and then Sun kisses him.
It’s gentle and slow, easy enough for Neptune to react to immediately. Neptune kisses him back and reaches for one of Sun’s hands, entwining their fingers and then leaning back until they’re both lying down on Neptune’s bed. He doesn’t feel like there are fireworks - he feels like it’s right. Like it’s been coming a long time now.
The kiss for a little while until Neptune pulls away for air. He gasps for it, taking it in all at once, and Sun decides that’s enough for tonight. So he pulls him close and chases away the demons for a while.
Neptune is fucked up. But he’s not alone.