Tell them we’re survivors - Sanders Sides Fic
Word-count: 14,200(ish) words [under the cut]. Oneshot.
Ships: Logince, theoretical/possibly implied moceit (if you choose to read it as such)
also shoutout there’s some good good brotherly creativitwins in here bc i love remus :)
Warnings: touch starvation, arguments, swearing, self-deprication/self-doubt, food / descriptions of food / some unhealthy eating habits, brief injury / blood mention, a panic attack.
Hurt/Comfort :) Angst w/ happy ending (big romantic ending, too, sorry it ran away from me lmao)
bet yall thought i wasn’t going to post new stuff anymore huh. well im still kicking. also if you’ve been tagged in this but don’t want to read it, all good!!! i just tagged a bunch of people on the Offchance u might have wanted a Fic. Read responsibly <3 ily
Roman is shivering.
He sits alone on the couch – and it is very late. He waits and listens for Patton go into his bedroom before he at all dares to leave his own. He’s sick of his surroundings, of staring at the same four walls, and so he comes downstairs and sits on the couch.
He might be waiting for something.
He doesn’t know what.
He curls up on himself and tips over sideways, lying in a ball on the sofa and closing his eyes, deciding on the fly that he’s sleeping here tonight.
He is still shivering. He is not necessarily cold.
Not cold in a temperature kind of way. But something in his chest is cold, which sets the chill across his skin like an apathetic blanket.
Roman… wants a hug.
But it’s 2am, and Patton’s just gone to bed. The others should be asleep, …but they all have terrible sleep habits, so no one probably is.
But Roman’s not going to ask. Because it’s embarrassing, it proves him to be weak, and honestly, it’s just too much effort.
He falls asleep on the couch.
He wakes up at roughly 5am, and slinks back upstairs before he can be caught, and tries to catch a few more hours sleep before he puts his clothes in the dryer, and then goes on to drag himself into a warm-warm-hot shower to try and chase the chill from his bones, and he fetches his warm clothes and taking a moment to change into them and enjoy the simulated contact. He can’t help the delighted shivers it sends down his spine, and he hates himself for it, because it really is pathetic, isn’t it?
He goes about his day normally.
He tries not to stare as Patton gives Virgil a very big hug. Patton has not hugged Roman in a long time. Patton probably assumes that Roman does not want hugs from him.
…It is very much the opposite.
But if Patton does not want to give Roman hugs, then Roman will not force the matter.
He turns around to continue into the kitchen when he realises that Logan is: a) already there, and b) watching him closely, and he turns red and carefully slips past, trying his best not to touch Logan.
They make toast side-by-side, and as Roman reaches for the jam jar, Logan passes it to him and their fingers brush, and fuck! Roman jolts because oh god, he really is sensitive now, isn’t he?
“Electric shock,” he quickly excuses himself, even though they both know it wasn’t that at all, and takes the jar before either of them drop it. “Thanks.”
Logan picks up his plate and goes to leave, but he looks Roman up and down once more, with his now-shaking hands and his now-hot cheeks, and pauses.
He stops to pat Roman on the back before he leaves the kitchen.
It’s so warm warm warm Logan come back please god come back
Roman shivers and continues making his toast.
They have a movie night, and Roman is torn as he comes downstairs. Because his tradition is to hog all the pillows and build himself a throne, but this is an optimal chance to get some human contact.
Also, if he wanted the pillows, he needed to have shown up twenty minutes before in order to actually steal them before Virgil gets there.
They’re scheduled to start in five minutes.
So he’s already fucked up that plan.
He heads downstairs and sees his friends already comfortable. Patton and Virgil are sitting together, Patton draped over Virgil’s lap like a cat. Logan is perched in his usual spot, sipping iced coffee. Roman glances to where he normally sits, which is very un-pillowed, and he doesn’t really know what to do as an alternative.
…After the last video and all the confrontations that came with it, the others don’t like him very much. He can tell by how cold they’ve all become to each other. He can tell by how strained Patton’s smile is when it turns on him, and he can see in the way Virgil raises an icily judgemental eyebrow.
“Are you joining us?” Virgil asks.
“Um,” Roman says, always so eloquent. “Maybe? I…”
Stall for time stall for time stall for time stall for time stall for time stall for time stall for time
“I mostly came down for a snack, rather than a movie.”
He strikes a pose.
“Though I already am a snack, of course.”
“Of course,” Virgil echoes dryly. “So… we’ll start without you, and you can sit down if you change your mind.”
Patton tries to smile at him again. Roman attempts to smile back, throws a peace sign of acknowledgement into the air, and hurries into the kitchen.
Logan turns to look at him, and Roman deliberately puts his back to Logan as he hunts around in the cupboard for something he doesn’t really want to eat, and he ends up making popcorn, leaning against the bench and watching the bag spin around and around, and before he knows it he’s emptying it into a big bowl and returning to the sofa.
He’s probably going to sit on the floor. He’s thinking about sitting closer to Logan, if Logan doesn’t object.
He loiters for a moment, and Logan’s the only one who glances at him. Before Roman can ask anything, the embodiment of logic pats the empty spot beside him.
“Here,” he says.
It is not an order, but Roman doesn’t argue. He settles in beside Logan, and Logan glances at him once more. Unbidden, he shuffles closer just a fraction so that their thighs are pressed together. Roman tries to keep the sound that the contact elicits from him down in his throat, and wordlessly offers Logan popcorn to avoid speaking.
They sit and watch the movie together, snacking, and Roman’s skin is on fire in a way that he has been craving for days.
He doesn’t realise how sleepy the warmth makes him until about three-quarters of the way through, where his head is nodding into his chest and he really, really wants to curl up against Logan and fall asleep… but he just can’t do that. He doesn’t deserve it. Not anymore.
It doesn’t help when Logan gently takes the empty bowl out of his hands – it was what Roman had been focussing on not-dropping in order to stay awake.
Roman pulls away, sits upright, and tries to pinch himself to stay conscious.
Logan leans over to him, brow creased with something that Roman might even call concern.
“Are you alright?”
“Mm-hm,” Roman manages, and that’s about all he can manage.
“You look tired.”
Roman shrugs, and nods, and Logan glances at the others, who seem to be purposefully ignoring them.
“If you want to sleep, you can,” Logan offers, and he slinks one of his arms across the back of the sofa, behind Roman, and it takes a moment for the prince to realise what’s being offered.
“I…” he clambers to his feet. “I… yes, you’re right. I’m going to turn in for the night.”
“But…” Patton suddenly speaks up, and his voice is strained. “You love Paddington, don’t you?”
Roman blinks, and his eyes flick back to the screen. He hasn’t really even clicked as to what they are watching. And… yes, it in fact is Paddington that has been playing for the past seventy minutes.
“Um,” Roman says, and edges towards the stairs. They’re all staring at him now. His skin is burning and icy and crawling and he feels so many words, too many words trying to slip off his tongue like oil and he just swallows hard and tries to give them anything - anything at all - as an excuse. “I… I’m sorry, I don’t… feel great? I’m sorry. I’m sorry, I’m just gonna… go.”
And he bolts.
It is a very long, cold night. He can feel where Logan’s leg had been pressed up against his, and the absence of such a small but persistent touch leaves Roman crying uselessly into his pillow. And somehow, despite all that, he still manages to fall asleep.
Roman has a funny feeling that Logan’s… trying something. Because Logan’s hanging around him a lot, constantly making up excuses to be in the prince’s company. And he’s gotten kinder, which is certainly novel. Roman sees that, and he knows well how hard it is, so he does his best to return the favour.
But the thing that makes Roman truly think that that Logan is up to something is the fact that he’s quietly become… well, handsier… for lack of a better term.
He pats Roman on the wrist when they’re sitting brainstorming together and Roman’s made a good point. He presses his hand into the small of Roman’s back when he’s guiding him somewhere, or silently requesting for Roman to step out of the way. He pats Roman on the shoulder in greetings every morning.
Does Logan know what he’s doing? Most likely.
Does Roman hate him for it?
God, he’s so fucking weak that he’ll take anything he can get.
It’s not really gotten better yet. But! Roman can confidently say that it has not gotten any worse, so he’ll take his small victories where they come.
He comes down one morning for breakfast, trying to make sure he keeps his habit of eating regularly, but he hears voices he isn’t prepared to hear, and he freezes at the bottom of the stairs, staring at the back of Janus’ head, who is talking to Patton, and chokes down a few choice curses before he can give himself away.
Patton looks over Janus’ shoulder. At Roman.
His face pinches, expression going from smiling to guarded in a heartbeat. Janus glances over his shoulder to see what his new best friend is looking at, and their eyes meet.
The blood drains from Roman’s face. He turns promptly on his heel and goes back up the stairs.
They watch him leave, but do not call out to him.
…That’s fine. He doesn’t deserve a second chance. He doesn’t want to ruin their morning.
…He wasn’t hungry anyway.
That, it promptly turns out, is a lie.
Roman is curled up in the corner of his room, on the floor. He has given up on sitting at his desk because despite all the tweaks he keeps making to its height and material and texture and breadth is just never a comfortable experience, and sits with his arms wrapped around his stomach, watching the digital clock by his bedside blink-blink-blink.
Hunger pangs fade. They always do. He can wait them out. Nothing he hasn’t done before. Though if Janus is still downstairs at lunch, he probably will have to skip that as well because there’s no real way he can explain himself for missing breakfast but not lunch when they clearly saw him walk away.
He curls up tighter and fights back tears, watching the seconds blink by.
Nothing less than he deserves.
There is a light knock at the door, and then Logan lets himself in.
He doesn’t spot the prince right away from his depression corner, giving Roman a good moment to figure out what the hell Logan has hanging from the crook of his elbow.
Finally, Logan’s eyes find his, and he smiles a tight smile – one of poorly-hidden concern. He lifts the (and yes, it really does seem to be a) picnic basket, and gestures for Roman to stand up.
“I thought, perhaps, you might like to join me, for a picnic. In the Imagination, perhaps? Or even the living room. Or right here. I, um, wherever you’re comfortable.”
He gestures to the basket like Roman hasn’t seen it yet, and the bewilderment on his friend’s face makes Logan shift on his feet awkwardly.
“Or I can leave the basket with you,” he murmurs. “I… do you not like the basket? Is it too much? I thought you might like this sort of thing. I, uh, pardon me, if I misjudged.”
“No!” Roman is scrambling to his feet. “I… um, that sounds… delightful. Thank you, Logan.”
Logan offers his hand, …and Roman forgets to hesitate.
Roman can’t stomach facing the Imagination, and Logan isn’t really that comfortable in there anyway. It was quite touching he offered it in the first place, now that Roman reflects on it. So instead they head downstairs and start pushing furniture out of the way, and Roman summons the nicest picnic blanket he can think of and they lay it out on the floor. Logan finds a three-hour youtube video of wildlife to play on the TV to simulate being outside, and they have a picnic.
Virgil comes downstairs at one point, scrolling on his phone, and takes a moment to take in what on earth he’s looking at, at Logan and Roman with sandwiches in hand, staring back at him. Logan is staring impassively, like he’s challenging him to say something.
Virgil finally turns his gaze onto the princely side he’s seen so little of recently, and flinches, because…
Roman looks terrified. And half-ready to sink out here and now.
“Carry on,” Virgil mumbles, dropping his head and hurrying into the kitchen. “Just getting some Gatorade.”
Roman is still tense, but the fact that Virgil hasn’t shouted at him or told him to back off is reassuring. Virgil has the bottle tucked under his arm and he’s holding a…?
“Do you… drink it with a wine glass?” Logan asks for the both of them, equally as confused.
Virgil shifts on his feet, rolling the aforementioned wine glass between his fingers.
“I like the irony of it,” he shrugs. “…So, an indoor-picnic? Not wanting to face the rays of the death-star today?”
Roman laughs at that, and immediately claps his hand over his mouth like familiarity is not allowed. Logan rolls his shoulders.
“The sun is not a death-star,” he deadpans.
“Are you sure?”
“Just because you wear all-black in all weather doesn’t mean everyone suffers like you, Virgil.”
“You wear all-black!”
“I wear a linen shirt. Far more breathable.”
Roman’s snorting the quietest laughter he can manage into his hand. Virgil’s watching him, trying not to be as obvious as he probably is being.
After a moment, Roman brings his hand down from his mouth, and it strikes Virgil that this is the first smile he’s seen out of him in a long time.
“Roman,” he says before thinking about it, and Roman’s joy is gone in a heartbeat. His hands fall to his lap, and he sits up straight, prepared to be… reprimanded? Virgil doesn’t really know, and it sickens him.
“I, uh,” he stammers, backing away, clutching his Gatorade for moral support. “It’s… nice to see you. Been a while.”
Roman’s lips ghost the words nice to see you with a sort of detached surprise, before a smile manages to fight its way back onto his face.
Logan takes a moment to check the basket, and they all can see that there’s more than two people’s worth of food there. Logan looks up at Roman, a question in his eyes, and Virgil watches Roman take a breath, and nod.
Logan turns to him.
“If you would like to join us,” he says softly, “we would not be opposed.”
Virgil looks at Roman, who looks – for lack of a better term – fragile.
He feels a stab of remorse for what’s happened, because he never really did get Roman’s side of the story, did he? But he sees a glimmer of the old prince as Roman winks at him, and returns to his sandwich.
“Yeah,” Virgil agrees, croaking through a suddenly dry throat. “Yeah, I’d love to. Let me grab a couple more glasses, then.”
Patton comes down for a snack at about 2pm and is surprised to find the three of them picnicking in the living room, wine glasses of Gatorade in their hands. He pauses, eyes scanning the back of Virgil’s head, Logan’s side profile, and…
Roman’s wide-eyed expression as they stare each other down.
Logan notices Roman’s expression first, and turns to see what’s wrong, and blinks as he realises who it is. Virgil turns and looks at him.
“Oh,” he says, “hey, Pat.”
The moment of silence is the tensest thing Patton’s experienced in a while.
“Hi,” he replies slowly. “…What’s all this?”
“A… picnic?” Logan offers. “I… I thought it resembled a picnic. Is it because it’s not outside? I will clean up after us, if you’re worried about that, Patton.”
“Oh, no,” Patton smiles, but it’s a little strained because Roman’s there, Roman’s right there, and he still hasn’t figured out if he’s happy with Roman yet. “That’s alright. I was just wondering if I was… missing out on something, I guess!”
Roman hasn’t said a word.
Patton’s eyes turn back to him and Roman looks terrified, looks queasy, and his hands a gripping the blanket beneath them and Patton’s eyes widen and he goes to say something soothing but –
Roman sinks out.
Patton’s “wait, Roman-” comes a second too late and the prince resurfaces in his own room with a sharp gasp. He stumbles over to his bedroom door and locks it, before falling into bed and pulling the blankets over his head like it will protect him from the world.
Roman is cold. Roman’s so fucking cold and he’s really getting sick of it. After his run-in with Patton he is less willing to risk leaving his room while others are around, and it means that he’s been evading Logan as well.
He half-expects Logan to have given up on him. He’s almost hoping for it. Because it will be easier for them to accept that he’s just someone you simply give up on; rather than someone who deserves unfaltering support.
He knows what sort of person he is. He just wonders if Logan’s figured it out yet, too.
He slinks out of his room at 1am one night, ferociously hungry and thirsty and terrifically lonely. He creeps downstairs and as soon as he sets foot in the kitchen his midnight snack quest turns into a full-on raid. There are leftovers in the fridge, set aside, and Roman suspects they’re for him.
He eats them cold, in the middle of the kitchen, in his pyjamas. The fake-tiles are uncomfortably chilled against his bare feet.
There is the creak of footsteps on the stairs – fast but quiet, and Roman’s choking on his spaghetti as he tries to finish quickly, already hating himself for daring to come downstairs, but freezes as he realises it’s…
His brother jumps over the bannister and crosses the room so quickly that he’s standing in the doorway of the kitchen, panting from his mad dash, and his normally unhinged expression is broken with a genuine smile.
“Roman!” he says, brightly but still hushed. “You are alive!”
Roman, who is frozen to the spot, makes a point of swallowing and loosening his joints from the tension that rooted him in place.
“Um,” he mumbles, putting the now-empty container down on the bench. “…I am? Hello.”
Remus shakes, a full-body shudder he can’t restrain, and then before Roman can blink, Remus is right there and he’s thrown his arms around him and pulling him in tight, buries his face in Roman’s shoulder, and Roman can’t keep the ragged gasp down.
His skin is on fire. His brother is so warm so warm so warm oh god! And he can’t stop himself from just melting on the spot, falling back against his brother with the most pathetic noise whining from the space behind his nose.
He has never really given his brother a hug before. Remus is very good at it. Roman would be feeling guilty if he had any capacity for logical thought in this moment in time. But he doesn’t. All he can do is press himself into Remus’ chest as much as he can, blindly seeking warmth.
“Oh fuck,” Remus hisses. “Oh, dude… Logan said he thought you were touch-starved, but fuck, Roman!”
Roman shakes his head in tiny, tiny motions, because fuck, he knew Logan figured it out! His face is hot with embarrassment and he does his best to hide it in Remus’ sleepshirt.
“It’s okay,” Remus murmurs. “It’s okay, I gotcha. Do you need anything else? You had enough to eat?”
Roman ends up pointing at the empty cup on the bench – he hadn’t gotten around to getting himself a drink, and Remus carefully negotiates the two of them (still holding him tight with one arm) and fills the glass in the sink, pressing it into Roman’s hand.
Roman downs it in a heartbeat, and puts it down on the bench so that he can get back to hugging his brother, gasping for air.
“Don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t-” he’s mumbling, and Roman knows he’s incoherent, but he can’t control himself anymore now that the dam has burst.
“I’m not letting you go,” Remus vows, hugging him tight. “Is there anyone we can go to right now? Anyone you feel comfortable around?”
Roman’s hands tighten on the back of Remus’ shirt. He has no reply. Remus doesn’t miss that.
“Logan wants to help you,” he tells his brother in a low voice. “Can I take you to him?”
Roman’s shaking, but… he nods.
“Great,” Remus says. Instead of separating to climb the stairs, he sinks them down straight into Logan’s room.
The desk-lamp is on when they get there. Logan is sitting on his bed reading, but is noticeably not-asleep.
“You found him,” Logan notes, immediately setting his book aside as the twins appear, and Remus is already practically dragging Roman his way.
“You were right,” Remus declares. “This bitch is so touch-starved I think he’s turned into a koala.”
Logan puts a hand on Roman’s shoulder, which makes him shudder, but he doesn’t let Remus go, and he doesn’t lift his head.
Remus and Logan glance at each other, concerned, before Remus jolts, and he’s patting Roman’s shoulders frantically.
“Oh, no, Roman, don’t cry.”
He can feel the wetness through his shirt.
“I’m sorry,” Roman mumbles out. “I can’t… I can’t help myself. I know it’s so pathetic, I know I’m not allowed it, I know I have to be better than this!”
“All those things you ‘know’ are bullshit,” Remus snaps back; not angry – just frustrated that Roman needs to be convinced of his worth. “And- hang on, let’s backtrack. You’re allowed to cry.”
“Bottling emotions is never healthy,” Logan adds, pushing his glasses up his nose. “Or… so I’m told.”
Roman laughs, a harsh sound that sounds more like a creature in pain, and shakes his head.
“You’re allowed this,” Remus continues, squeezing his brother tight. “You’re allowed to want to be looked after, and we’re allowed to do it.”
“I don’t want to be a hassle,” Roman mumbles.
“You aren’t a hassle,” Logan cuts him off. “You’re my friend.”
Roman doesn’t know if he has any of those anymore.
Well, apparently, he’s got one.
“Roman, would you like some physical company tonight? For sleeping?” Logan offers, and he’s extended his hand.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea for me to...,” Remus says quietly, patting his brother on the back even as Roman looks up at him. “…You know I can’t control my thoughts… sometimes. I don’t want to… hurt… you.”
Roman squeezes Remus in his arms once, tightly, before making himself let go. It’s almost painful, letting go, and as soon as he does step away, he’s shivering, and he takes a step back from the two of them and he already wants to throw himself back at his brother even for just a scrap of comfort.
Remus thrusts his hands into his pockets and smiles at him.
“I… I’m gonna leave you in Logan’s hands, alright? He’ll look after you.”
Before Roman can argue, Remus sinks out, leaving the two of them alone.
Logan takes a hesitant step towards him, and instinctively, Roman takes a step back. God, he feels like a wounded animal.
Logan stops dead, and clasps his hands deliberately in front of him.
“Roman,” he says softly. “Roman, Remus is right, I want to help you.”
“I know you do,” Roman replies, voice equally as hushed. “I… why?”
“Why do you want to help me?” Roman’s beginning to cry again, and he shies away as the tears start to fall. “I’m not worth it, Logan. I’m nasty and cruel a-and selfish! Why help me?”
“You are not those things!” Logan counters, immediacy in his voice. “You… I want to help you because you are a sensitive and kind person who has been taught the wrong things. And it’s not that you are those things, it’s that you’ve been convinced you are. That’s not fair, Roman.”
Logan closes the distance and pulls Roman into a warm and steady hug.
“I want to help you,” he murmurs, “because it figuratively kills me to watch what’s happening to you. Figuratively.”
“Figuratively,” Roman agrees, burying his face in Logan’s shirt. He’s in his pyjamas as well. “Why are you awake, Mr Eight Hours of Sleep? Don’t tell me you’re breaking your circadian rhythm for me.”
“I might be,” Logan shrugs, and he says it so nonchalantly, but it’s a big admission from Logan, if Roman dares to think about it too hard.
He doesn’t, though.
He ends up in Logan’s bed, in Logan’s arms, against Logan’s chest, and he’s shaking, trying not to cry and failing miserably, and Logan’s got him, Logan’s there, and Roman can’t help but just… sleep. Because he feels safe, and loved. And it’s been so long since he’s felt either of those things.
He might feel the press of lips on his temple as he drifts off. Roman decides he must already dreaming.
They spend the whole next day together. Roman hardly leaves Logan’s room except for a change of clothes plus a shower, and for food. And they don’t spend it working – or at least, Roman doesn’t. Logan sits amidst a stack of beanbags and encourages Roman to sit sort-of straddling his hips, their chests pressed together and Roman clinging to him like a lifeline, and Logan has his laptop in arms reach, peering over Roman’s shoulder as Roman buries his face in Logan’s neck as he taps away at his keyboard.
As Logan scrolls over what he’s written, he leans his head against Roman’s.
“How’r’you going?” Roman murmurs, and he feels Logan shiver under him as his lips ghost over Logan’s skin.
“I’m just finishing up,” Logan replies, wrapping one arm securely around Roman’s waist. “Give me ten minutes.”
Logan hits all the appropriate buttons, before closing his laptop and pushing it away from him, before finally wrapping both arms around Roman. For a moment, they listen to their breathing.
Roman’s stomach growls.
He whines and buries his face in Logan’s neck, and Logan can feel how the prince’s face heats up.
“Are you alright to go downstairs?” Logan asks, cupping the back of Roman’s neck with his hand and stiffening in surprise at how that just makes Roman melt.
Roman bites his lip, and curls into Logan closer.
“I guess,” he mumbles. “Why?”
“Lunch time,” Logan says, and he begins to rock gently. “I don’t know about you, but I am hungry.”
“Fair enough,” Roman mumbles, and his stomach betrays him loudly once more. “…I guess we should go downstairs.”
He is being held so tight and secure, and it’s so warm. Roman doesn’t want to move ever again. He curls up even tighter before he realises what he’s doing, and mumbles apologies as he tries to loosen his grip.
“I wonder,” Logan mumbles to himself, before Roman’s squeaking with surprise as the world lurches, and Logan’s on his feet still cradling Roman to his chest, and Roman instinctively crosses his legs behind Logan’s back, clinging to Logan’s shoulders as he stares at the floor, now several feet away.
“You’re strong,” he breathes.
“I suppose so,” Logan smiles, and he hitches Roman more comfortably across his hips. “Would this be sufficient to go downstairs with?”
Roman buries his face with what definitely isn’t a whimper.
“A ‘no’ is okay,” Logan reminds him softly, trying to coax Roman out of his shirt.
“Please,” Roman mumbles, not looking up.
“Alright.” Logan leans his head against Roman’s again. “Let’s go have lunch.”
They go downstairs, and only Virgil is there. And Virgil stares at them in amazement, and Roman refuses to look up from where he’s hiding his face in Logan’s shoulder, and Logan hitches the prince up higher over his hips once more.
“Good day, Virgil,” he says easily.
“Hi,” Virgil says distractedly. “You’re… strong.”
“Hm,” Logan jests lightly. “That’s what Roman said.”
Roman’s hands tighten against Logan’s shirt, and Logan gets the hint.
“So,” Virgil starts, eyes flicking between the koala prince and the embodiment of Logic who has recently become a eucalyptus tree, it seems. “…What’s all this?”
“Cuddles,” Logan says, like it’s the most common thing in the world. “Though I might have to put you down to make us food, Roman.”
Roman can’t keep the sound down – the pathetic one that is the embodiment of but I’m afraid that if you do you’ll never touch me again.
Then he tucks his chin away and starts to loosen his grip, in preparation for letting go.
“Hey, nah, don’t do that,” Virgil jumps in suddenly, and they both look at him in surprise. Virgil looks between the two of them, and there is something sympathetic glittering in his eyes. “I’ll make you guys something. Go sit down, Logan.”
Virgil does. He carries food over to where Logan is sitting on the couch, Roman curled up practically on his lap, and he hands them each a plate. Logan takes it with a thank you. Roman takes it with shaking hands.
“Hey,” Virgil says softly, and he puts his hand on Roman’s shoulder, which gets a sharp breath in from the prince. “…I get it, alright? Let me know if I can help.”
And Virgil walks away. Roman hunches over his plate and tries to hide his tears from Logan.
He has taken to sleeping with Logan.
That sounds bad, in his head, but he can’t help it because it’s currently Remus’ favourite joke. Roman hasn’t slept in his own bed in a while now. Logan’s bed isn’t as comfortable as his own, in Roman’s opinion, but he is very happy to give up a marginal increase of comfort for Logan.
Logan is almost always with him these days. When he can’t be, Remus is there, and to Roman’s surprise, so is Virgil. He remembers one afternoon in particular fondly, where Virgil and him sat back to back in Roman’s room, one earbud each and talking back and forth about their music, swapping tunes and sharing thoughts.
Roman feels better. It’s been a long time since he can say that.
It takes another three weeks of this before they have another movie night, and Patton and Janus are there.
Roman does not sit on his throne. He sits beside Logan, and Virgil moves from his usual spot behind Patton to sit on Roman’s other flank. Remus drapes himself over the back of the sofa, in the empty space between Virgil and Janus, cracking jokes between the two of them.
Patton stares at Virgil for a few moments, almost opening his mouth to say something, ask why he’s sitting so far away, but Virgil turns and murmurs something to Roman, who pauses, before nodding his head in tiny motions, and the words dry up in his throat.
Roman feels Patton’s eyes on them, and they look at each other.
He swallows hard, and smiles at Patton.
Patton looks caught out, before kind-of smiling back.
Then Janus hits play, and they don’t make contact again for the rest of the night.
A few more nights down the line, Roman wakes up in Logan’s arms terribly thirsty, and he carefully extracts himself from the bed. He takes a moment to look down at Logan, whose normally serious face is eased with sleep. Unconsciously, Logan makes a little sound of displeasure, and he feels around for Roman’s warmth. Roman puts a pillow in Logan’s arms to give him something to hug, and… quickly, before he can overthink the rush of warm in his own chest, pauses to press a kiss to Logan’s temple.
Roman feels something. Something about Logan. And if he’s honest, he’s a little scared of it.
He slips out of the room and down the stairs, and he makes it all the way to the kitchen before he realises that actually, the light is on in the kitchen, and people are there.
Patton and Janus are there, to be precise.
Roman freezes, like a deer in headlights. But it’s too late to back out now, they’re both looking at him. And Patton is rubbing his arms uncomfortably and looking away, and it’s clear he’s just freshly been crying.
“I…” Roman stammers. “I’m sorry, I, uh, didn’t mean to interrupt. I just… wanted some water.”
Janus stares at him impassively, before he turns and fetches a glass of the shelf, moves to the sink, before approaching Roman and pressing the glass into his hand.
It is a clear dismissal.
Roman is shaking now, he’s spilling water on his foot and he turns away to take a drink to try and cover it up. It’s silent now, and Roman knows that it is once again his fault that the atmosphere has been ruined.
He drains his glass, puts it down, and glances at the two of them, before beginning to walk away.
They watch him go. It’s almost like they’re waiting for something.
…Roman thinks he knows what.
So he stops, turns around, and walks back, raising his chin, and decides for the first time in a long time that he’s going to be brave, goddamnit.
“I’m sorry,” he declares, his voice loud in the silence.
Patton looks up at him with wide eyes. Janus’ eyes narrow in distrust.
“What for?” Janus asks, folding his arms and moving a little in front of Patton, protecting Patton, protecting Patton from him, and Roman swallows hard.
“I’m sorry,” he repeats slowly, “for… fuck, for everything. Where do I start?”
“The beginning is a good place, I hear,” Janus deadpans, but his eyes are glittering with something Roman can’t place.
“Alright,” Roman shifts on his feet. Whilst he hasn’t been able to stop thinking about this moment; the apology; he still doesn’t know what to say. He hasn’t practiced. It’s not going to be good enough. But then again, it probably never will be.
He takes a breath in, and does his best.
“Patton… I’m sorry for all the pressure I put on you. I’m sorry for expecting you to have all the answers. I’m sorry for convincing you that you have to be all-knowing and perfect. It’s unfair to expect that from anyone,” he starts, and Patton’s eyes are watering, but he’s nodding along. “I… love you, padre, and I know I’ve hurt you. I’m so sorry for my terrible reactions, because I’m working on it, but it’s not fair that you got hurt by my horrible behaviour and beliefs.”
They hadn’t been only Roman’s beliefs. Roman had been doing what he was told. But that’s not what would make Patton feel better. And besides, Roman is right, his behaviour was (and still is) awful.
Patton nods once more, before swallowing hard.
“Thank you, Roman,” he says softly, voice bubbling with emotions that are spilling over as tears, but it’s not weeping, nor sobbing, nor screaming, so it’s going better than Roman had hoped.
Janus seems impressed. Roman shifts on his feet once more, debating leaving it there and then hating himself for even having that thought. Coward.
“And… Janus,” he says, formally, and Janus flinches because it’s the first time Roman’s ever used his name. “I… am sorry for shutting you out and calling you evil. I…”
Roman rolls his shoulders. He can’t say I didn’t know any better without Patton-related strings attached, and really, he should’ve known better, shouldn’t’ve he?
“It was ignorant,” he says instead. “And it was wrong. And I’m sorry. You are valuable and important, and I’m sorry for doubting you.”
Janus looks stunned.
Roman turns and hurries away, choking down sudden and inexplicable tears. As he mounts the stairs, he adds one last thing.
“I’m sorry for laughing at your name,” he calls. “Janus is a good, strong name, and it suits you.”
And he hurries upstairs as they stare after him, but he doesn’t miss Janus turning away to wrap his arms around Patton in a tight hug.
Roman doesn’t return to Logan’s room. He crawls into his own bed, taking a moment to try and enjoy the comfort, and struggles to fall asleep for the rest of the night. He can’t stop shivering.
Roman knows it’s all too good to be true. That, he tells himself, is why he’s locking his door with him inside. He snuck back downstairs to steal a good few days worth of supplies from the kitchen, and he isn’t coming out.
Logan knocks on his door at 10am.
Roman does not answer.
Logan comes back on the hour, every hour. At 7pm, he sighs, and Roman waits to hear the footsteps that signal he’s leaving, but they don’t come.
“Have I offended you, Roman?”
Roman jumps, and he knocks his glass off his desk by accident, and it shatters.
“Shit,” he hisses, and stumbles away from his chair to try and find something in his room to clean it up. The glass has gone everywhere. He accidentally steps in it. He should’ve worn shoes. “Shit, shit, shit, shit-”
“Roman, is everything alright?!”
“I just knocked a glass over!” he calls, trying to make it sound a lot less painful than it is. He regrets having white carpet. This’ll be a pain to clean.
“Roman, let me in, or I’m picking the lock.”
Logan’s voice leaves no room for argument, and he’s beginning to freak out a little if he’s being honest, so Roman stumbles over to the door and unlocks it, cursing himself for breaking so quickly, and grabs Logan’s arms as his darling nerd rushes in.
“Mind the glass,” he says faintly.
Logan looks down, and his expression drops, and he scoops Roman up and carries him to the bed, away from the mess.
“Let’s patch you up first, alright?” Logan soothes, and he hurries off to find a first aid kid, and he returns with Virgil, who winces at the sight of Roman’s feet but fetches the vacuum cleaner to hoover up the glass thoroughly.
Logan kneels on the carpet, eyes flicking up to Roman’s every few seconds as he carefully removes the glass and cleans the wounds, before bandaging Roman’s feet.
Roman makes the mistake of making eye contact with Logan, and the genuine concern in Logan’s eyes chokes him and almost brings Roman to tears then and there. So his eyes flick around the room instead, to anywhere but Logan’s face.
Virgil quickly leaves, and they hear him call for someone, and then he drags Remus back into the room and points at the stains.
“You know how to get blood out of carpet still?” he asks.
“Yep,” Remus replies. “Let me get my shit together.”
And he hurries away to fetch whatever cleaning products he needs.
“Let’s get you out of here, hm?” Logan says, and he’s extending his arms to pick Roman up.
“No,” Roman says immediately, curling in on himself.
Virgil and Logan stare at him.
“I’m fine, thanks.”
“Roman,” Virgil shakes his head. “…you don’t want to be in the room when Remus starts on the stains. Those chemicals, man…”
Roman puts his head in his hands, before forcing the tension out of his shoulders, and silently gets to his feet.
“Let me-” Logan’s already fawning.
“No,” Roman cuts him off, and he hobbles out of his room with his lips set in a hard line. They are calling to him. He hobbles to the bathroom, and once again locks the door.
Footsteps stop on the other side of the door as Roman perches on the edge of the bathtub. The door handle rattles uselessly.
“Roman,” Logan calls again. “I wasn’t joking about picking locks.”
“I don’t care,” Roman snaps back, and he hears the tense silence that follows it. “Leave me alone, why don’t you?”
“…Roman, what’s happened?”
“Nothing,” Roman pulls his hair and tries not to think about Janus and Patton and Patton and Janus. “Nothing that matters.”
“If it upset you, it matters,” Logan shoots back. And Roman is taken aback by how upset Logan sounds. “Roman, please, let me help you.”
“If you want to help,” Roman calls back, not really thinking, “then spend your time on something useful, why don’t you? Has Janus gotten fully settled into his new room yet? And perhaps you can move Remus into mine.”
“Just go make yourself useful,” Roman pushes on, and he’s crying before he knows it. “And leave me behind.”
“I don’t want to leave you behind,” Logan snaps, and it’s sudden and raw and grieving. “Roman, you don’t think you’re useful? You have stripped us down to pure utility? That’s not healthy.”
“I’m not healthy!”
He can almost hear how Logan and Virgil must be glancing at each other.
“I… Don’t you guys get it? Thomas is unhappy because of unhealthy thinking, thinking which I participated in and perpetuated. Everything that’s gone wrong is because of me.”
“Falsehood,” Logan breaks his silence. “I… I have been the root of the problem before.”
“Like, once,” Roman scoffs. “Patton would have learnt what we were believing was actually wrong if I hadn’t been there backing him up. Perpetuated it.”
“I don’t think that’s right,” Virgil calls softly.
“I don’t care what you think,” Roman snaps, and immediately hates himself for it. The ice in his tone is unmistakeable and oh, he just can’t stop himself from hurting people, can he? He can hear Virgil’s sharp inhale through the door.
“I’m sorry,” he immediately follows up. “I… I didn’t mean that.”
“…I know,” Virgil says, before Roman hears one person move away from the door.
“Roman,” Logan says, and it makes sense, Roman supposes, that Logan is the last one there. “Please… You aren’t at fault for Patton’s mistakes.”
“No,” Roman cuts him off. “You’ll upset him if you word it that way.”
“What, if I hold him accountable for what he’s done?” Logan shoots back, and he sounds angry now. “Roman, you can’t magically make Patton pure and innocent by taking all the blame. Patton made mistakes. So has Janus. So did you. So have I. And Virgil!”
“Yes, but Remus is a kettle of fish all of his own. …It’s a strange metaphor. ‘Kettle of fish’. Why would you keep fish in a kettle?”
“Focus, nerd,” Roman says tiredly, and he shakes his head though Logan can’t see it. “Look, I get what you mean. I don’t think you’re right, but I get what you mean.”
There’s a quiet, and then there are footsteps, and quiet voices. Roman strains his ears, staring at the bathroom wall, and flinches as Patton begins to talk.
He doesn’t trust himself to reply. He’s shaking. The blood is roaring in his ears. Patton says something else and Roman can’t reply because he doesn’t actually hear what Patton says. He can’t hear, he can’t breathe, he can’t compute anything and he can’t help himself when he stumbles towards the door and fumbles with the door handle before he distantly remembers he had locked it.
“I can’t…,” he gasps out, voice shrill and panicky. “I-I can’t-”
There is a sound of rattling and jostling from the other side of the door, before it opens, and Roman falls forward onto someone, who barely catches him but now that Roman’s attached he’s not letting go, and he’s crying in earnest and trying to gasp for air and failing. They sink to the floor. It’s nice to have nowhere left to fall.
“It’s okay,” someone tells him. “Roman, I need to you take nice and deep breaths for me, okay?”
Roman does as he’s told, but everything’s racing too fast, and the air wooshes in and out of his lungs too fast and he’s lightheaded but he can’t stop.
“Slow,” the voice corrects, and they pull him in close, whoever’s holding him. “Nice and slow breaths, Roman. I need to follow my instructions, okay? I’m going to count to four, Roman, and I want you to breathe in until I get to four.”
The voice does, and Roman obeys.
“Now, hold it while I count to seven, okay?”
The voice counts to seven and Roman holds his breath.
“Great, now breathe out as I count to eight. Go slow, your lungs should be empty on eight.”
And the voice counts, and Roman tries to control it but his breath still leaves him a little fast. But the voice isn’t angry. In fact, it seems to be quite the opposite.
“Great,” it soothes. “And again, Roman. In for four. We’re going to go until you are calm.”
And they do.
When Roman finally blinks back to himself, he’s on the floor, on his knees, with his arms locked tightly around Logan, who’s been the one guiding him through the breathing exercises. There is another set of arms around them, and Roman doesn’t lift his head from Logan’s chest to see who it is, because if it’s who he thinks it is, he’s going to break.
His steady breathing hitches, and he starts crying on the spot.
…His feet hurt.
“Logan, can I?” says the person-he-doesn’t-want-to-identify, and Logan hesitates, before pulling away, ripping a whimper out of Roman, before he’s pulled against someone else’s chest – someone soft and steady and warm and light-blue and Patton pulls Roman into his lap and cradles him close as Roman can’t stop shaking.
“I’m sorry,” Patton whispers to him. “I’m so sorry.”
The floodgates open. Roman falls sobbing onto Patton’s shoulder and finally lets Patton hold him tight.
They need to talk. In fact, they probably should’ve done it then. But Roman is exhausted, and he can’t help himself but fall asleep in Patton’s arms, still clutching him tightly because even in unconsciousness Roman can’t let go, can’t let that touch escape.
Patton staggers to his feet with Roman cradled in his arms, struggling a little but not accepting Logan’s offer to carry him.
“He just… fell asleep?”
“Roman has been struggling with many things, recently. Touch starvation and sleep deprivation are two of them,” Logan tells him, gently reaching out to brush Roman’s hair back off his forehead.
Patton doesn’t comment on how tender the look on Logan’s face is. He winces, however, as Roman murmurs something in his sleep, and curls in closer to Patton’s chest.
“I imagine he feels safe,” Logan continues, hand falling back to his side. “So he just… shut down.”
Patton tears up, and looks away.
“I don’t deserve that,” he hums, and he hefts Roman in his arms. “I… I don’t deserve his trust.”
“I don’t think that’s right either,” Logan tells him quietly, a hand on Patton’s shoulder, and Patton shivers at the touch. “You two… you two seem to assume everyone hates you. I can assure you that is not the case.”
Patton’s eyes are wide and watery, and his arms are beginning to strain.
“Here,” Logan offers. “Let’s go downstairs, and you and Roman can sit on the couch together, alright?”
The moment Logan gets them settled, Patton has leant back into the corner of the couch, stretched out, and settles Roman against his chest, between his legs. With a sleepy murmur, Roman settles against Patton and hums to himself, and Logan’s heart wrenches at how gaunt the prince looks.
There is someone at the top of the stairs.
Logan turns on his heel and looks up. Janus is there, taking his hat off and pressing it to his chest as he watches Roman.
Janus watches him, his and Patton’s eyes meeting before Patton’s flitter away. Only then does Janus seem to be aware that Logan is looking at him.
“He certainly is a good actor,” Janus says, his voice hanging in the air.
Patton flinches, and his grip on Roman loosens.
“A good actor?” Logan echoes, and he can’t help the ice that creeps into his tone. “Is that what you think, Deceit?”
Janus looks at Logan in surprise, like he doesn’t expect Logan to disagree with him.
“You think everything Roman is going through is for attention?” Logan’s voice is rising and he can’t help himself, because Janus doesn’t know the first thing about what Roman has done to himself. “You’re saying he acted out a panic attack? You’re saying he acted out starving himself? Walking on glass for attention? You’re saying his touch starvation is a lie? Because I have eyes, Deceit, and I’ve been using them, and Roman’s not… Roman’s not been okay for a long time.”
Logan takes a physical step back and has to wipe the skin under his eyes because he’s not sure when he of all people started crying but here they are, before pressing on - “and just because you are so accustomed to seeing him fake being okay, it does not make you the expert on when he isn’t.”
Janus has recoiled, and as Logan looks back up at him, Logan can clearly see in his mismatched eyes that Janus is beginning to realise his mistake.
“A lot of what Roman is struggling with,” Logan grits out, forcing himself to lower his voice again, “has to do with your meddling, Deceit.”
“I have a name,” Janus says quietly, and he sounds fragile enough that Logan winces, regret finally dulling his anger.
He takes a moment to gather himself. He adjust his tie.
“…Janus,” Logan corrects himself, and he sees how Janus’ eyes widen once more, like he didn’t actually expect Logan to be the bigger person here at all. “I know you pride yourself on being observant, but you have spent your time comforting Patton. I know this, and I appreciate that, at least. But you have neglected Roman. You have used Roman. I know you are in a better position because of your efforts, in Thomas’ books and in your own, but you have dragged him down in order to get there.”
Logan is breathing hard. He’s struggling to keep his composure.
“Logan,” Patton says, and Logan flinches, balling his fists. He’d forgotten Patton was there. He’s shaking. He doesn’t know why. “Logan, it’s okay. We… we know.”
“Do you?” Logan shoots back before he can think.
“We do now,” Patton replies sombrely. “I led Roman astray, and I need to make it up to him.”
“You don’t owe him anything,” Janus counters, and it sounds like a conversation they’ve had before.
“That’s not really true,” Patton shakes his head, voice suddenly thick with emotion. “Jan, we both owe Roman something. An apology. He apologised to us, and we can’t even return the favour? We aren’t blameless.”
Patton drops his chin.
“I’m not blameless,” he repeats, and he brushes the hair that oh-so-wants to fall over Roman’s forehead back once more.
He is quiet.
Logan turns back to Janus, who is shaking his head silently.
“Do you really think,” Logan whispers, in awe – but not in a good way – “that you are faultless here? You think you have nothing to apologise for?”
His voice is rising again. He can’t help it.
Janus doesn’t reply, but he looks away, and that’s answer enough for Logan, who’s flushing with the audacity of this bitch.
“I can’t believe you,” he hisses. “I can’t believe you! When will you learn that actions have consequences? That if you try to silence someone enough they will bite back? Why can’t you accept that when you beat someone down enough times they will stay down?”
Janus is staring at him, his gaze calculating.
“This is personal, isn’t it?” he asks quietly.
Logan rakes his hands through his hair.
“No,” he lies through is teeth, before relenting. “…Actually, you know what? Yes. Yes, it is, Janus. I do not take kindly to being silenced. And also, as someone who for the past two months has been dedicated to Roman’s recovery, you also made it personal the moment you made him spiral.”
Janus flinches, before his eyes narrow.
“You think you’re so pure?” he spits out. “Do you even know what you did to Remus?”
Logan stares, and his gaze then falls. He hasn’t really thought about it much. Never really considered it. Remus never seemed to be anything other than amiable to him. But now he thinks about it… His heart is in his throat.
“Don’t talk to me about making someone spiral,” Janus hisses.
“I had no idea,” Logan says limply. “I… I am not good with the consequences of my actions. I will strive to reconcile with Remus, if he is willing.”
Janus flinches again. The look on his face shifts into something almost more unhinged. Desperate. “How do you do that?” he demands, clinging to the bannister. “Just… accept you were wrong?”
Logan is wringing his tie.
“With a lot of grief,” he says quietly. “A lot of introspection. A lot of guilt. A lot of anger. And a lot of …practice. I am not perfect, but I am getting better. I am not saying I’ve never made Remus spiral. Or Roman spiral. Or Virgil. Or even Patton, because I know I have. But I want to be better than that.”
He shakes his head, and he’s pacing now.
“I hate being wrong,” he says. “Don’t you understand? Being wrong goes against all that is expected of me.”
He hears a hum of sympathy from Patton.
“But I need to understand when I am, or I’ll never grow. I can’t do that to Thomas, and I can’t do that to all of you. I now realise I’ve hurt Roman many times in the past and I refuse to continue doing so. But I need you to understand what you’ve done, Janus. And I need you to understand that there are things you need to fix.”
“I know that,” Janus says faintly. “I… my life is full of mistakes that I need to fix. I have exactly one stable relationship, and he is avoiding me right now. I know that.”
“Then do something about it,” Logan snaps. “Regret gets nothing done.”
Janus looks at him with wide and tired eyes, and realises that everything Logan has said is raw and real – if the haggard look in Logan’s eyes is anything to go by.
He goes to say more, before the sound chokes him, stops his breath in his throat, and Janus pauses, before his eyes fall on Roman, and he loses his courage, turning on his heel and sweeping away to his room.
Logan watches him go, and tries to unclench his fists.
He turns slowly on his heel, gaze downturned as his eyes prick with shame as he faces Patton.
“Logan, look at me, hon.”
Logan raises his chin, and the breath rushes out of him like he’s been punched in the stomach as he realises just how soft the look on Patton’s face is.
“You’re right,” Patton says softly. “You’re exceptional, Logan, and you’re observant and kind. Thank you for being there when I wasn’t.”
“I’d do anything for him,” Logan says before he can think about it, and Patton watches the heat rise to Logan’s face, before Patton rolls his shoulders and scrunches his face in concentration.
The sofa shimmers and expands in width with a thought.
“Here,” Patton says softly, extending one arm to Logan, and Logan can’t help but notice how Patton’s hand is shaking. “Come lay down with us, if you want.”
Logan has all but crossed the room before he can think about saying no. He takes Patton’s hand and kicks off his shoes, taking off his and Patton’s glasses and setting them aside, before he finally hesitates.
“It’s alright,” Patton hums, and he gently tugs Logan down. Logan goes easily. He curls up against Patton’s side, face heating up, and loops one of his arms around Roman’s waist.
He shivers as Patton wraps his other arm around him.
“You look tired,” Patton hums, and Logan yawns despite himself. “How’s about you get some sleep, too?”
Logan decides to just nod and close his eyes. He doesn’t have the spoons left to argue.
They all end up falling asleep like that.
Roman wakes up surrounded by warmth, and he is pressed flat against someone’s steadily rising-and-falling chest. There is something playing in the background, like the TV. There are arms around him, more than one person’s arms, unless that person has more than two arms.
Janus has more than two arms.
Roman bolts upright, jerked awake by that alarming thought. All he does is jolt Patton and Logan awake too, and they stare up at him blearily as Roman’s heartbeat slows back to its normal tempo, and his face is hot with embarrassment as Logan sits up.
“Hello,” he says softly, and his voice is gravelly from sleep.
Roman has to bite his lip, because it sounds really cute.
“Hi,” Patton also says, and Roman lets him sit up properly, and they all end up in a sort of triangle, facing each other. “…How are you, Roman?”
Roman is fiddling with his sash. He is cold and shivering, and Logan opens his arms and Roman can’t stop himself from crawling towards him and letting Logan wrap him up in a tight embrace.
“Okay,” he says, because he doesn’t feel awful. Well, he sort of does, but… like, he’s certainly felt worse. And his feet are very sore. But he has, again, had worse.
Two pairs of spectacled eyes turn on him, with various disbelieving looks in their eyes.
“What?” Roman sits back, peels Logan’s hands off him because now he’s self-conscious. Logan makes a noise of protest, and reaches for him again, but Roman’s scooted out of the way.
Logan shivers, and wraps his arms around himself instead, mumbling an apology.
“Roman,” Patton says firmly, and both of their eyes are on Morality now as Patton runs his hand through his hair, swallowing hard. “I owe you something.”
“You…?” Roman looks confused. “You don’t owe me anything, Padre.”
“I owe you an apology,” Patton pushes, shaking his head firmly. “You gave me such a beautiful apology the other night, and I just stood there and took it.”
Logan blinks at this information, before turning and looking at Roman with a worried sort of look.
“When did this happen?” he asks.
“It was, like, two in the morning, specs,” Roman shrugs it off as best he can. “I went to go get some water and… they were downstairs. So I, you know, thought I pull a Virgil. Rip the band aid off, and all that. They deserved an apology.”
Logan glances at Patton, and Patton shifts in his seat.
“I don’t know if we did,” Patton counters quietly. “I… plus, it’s not fair of us to take your apology and not offer one back when we’ve also hurt you.”
“It…” Roman goes to say something, but he can’t figure out what, before he shrugs again, and settles on “it doesn’t matter much, Patton. I just want you to be happy.”
Patton recoils, glancing panickedly at Logan, who has turned to Roman and reached out to him again. Roman looks away.
“Please,” Logan says, and his voice is tiny and vulnerable in a way neither of them - Logan’s oldest friends - have heard before. “Please don’t push us away.”
Roman is rooted to the spot, and Patton realises the prince is crying again.
“We love you, Roman,” Logan continues, and Patton’s nodding but he has a funny feeling this admission is a lot more personal than Logan will let on. “And we can’t stand seeing you break yourself like this.”
“I deserve it!” Roman suddenly snaps, and Patton is too stunned to reply but Logan has already moved closer, and he’s taken Roman’s hands in his own.
“You don’t,” Logan says firmly. “You do not deserve this. This is a fact.”
“I didn’t mean to drive you so hard,” Patton pipes up, causing Roman’s head to snap towards him. “I didn’t mean to put the blinkers on, you know? Just angle down on what we thought we knew, about good and bad and stuff. I… I’m shaken up about it, still, and I will be for a long time.”
Patton rubs his throat and looks away. His face is hot with shame but when he does meet Roman’s eyes, they are sympathetic and gleaming.
“And you’re allowed to be shaken by it too,” Patton finishes. “You should be. Everything we know has been altered. It’s not necessarily completely wrong, but… we turned to the wrong page, is all. Got the wrong edition out at the library. We…”
Patton shrugs hopelessly again.
“I get it,” Roman says, and his voice is low and wobbly and he looks like he probably won’t be able to stop crying for a while.
“So what I’m trying to say, Roman,” Patton holds up a shaky finger, “is I’m sorry. Both of our worlds have been turned upside down, and I was so caught up in my own head that I didn’t stop to think about you.”
“You have to focus on yourself sometimes,” Roman shrugs. “I don’t blame you.”
“While I realise that Roman’s insinuations with that last statement are self-deprecating,” Logan jumps in, “he’s right. Taking time for yourself is not something one needs to apologise for.”
Patton notices, while Logan is facing him and talking to him, that Roman is looking at Logan’s face, admiring his profile.
Patton sees the little smile on Roman’s lips.
They’ll be good for each other, Patton thinks with satisfaction.
Logan looks back at Roman, to check in with him, and catches that little adoring look before Roman can wipe it away, and he flushes.
“Um,” he says.
“Uh,” Roman stammers.
Patton giggles at them, and swings his legs over the edge of the couch to put his shoes back on.
“C’mon,” he says, “let’s have some lunch! Can we have a picnic?”
He likes the way Roman’s face lights up at the idea.
They have a picnic, and everyone is invited. It is a repeat of Logan’s and Roman’s from the other day, the living room transformed into a suitable space.
Everyone is invited, and they’re waiting for the last two to arrive. Remus is loitering at the top of the stairs, talking to someone just out of sight.
“It’s okay, Jan,” Roman hears him coax. “They invited all of us.”
There’s a quiet reply that Roman doesn’t catch, but he has already gone stiff.
“That’s not true,” he hears Remus murmur. “You know that’s not true.”
He doesn’t catch the reply.
“Well, I’m not going without you,” Remus declares. “So either we both come down or we’re chilling in your room today.”
There’s a moment, before Roman watches his brother nod, and go back upstairs. “That’s okay,” Remus murmurs. “That’s okay. Let’s go, alright?”
The four sitting on the floor are watching this, watch them walk away, before they all exchange quiet glances. Patton’s and Logan’s are far more knowing than Roman is probably comfortable with.
“I think… I need to talk to them,” Logan mumbles, and he’s picking at the inside seam of his jeans as he shoots glances at Patton. “I think I made it worse.”
“I think you gave him something important to think about,” Patton shakes his head. “Just like he did you.”
Virgil is glancing around at everyone, thoroughly bewildered. “What the fuck happened,” he demanded, gesturing pointedly at them with his wineglass of Gatorade, “while I was asleep?”
They fill him in.
“Huh,” he says, very quietly, and doesn’t say anything more. In fact, the conversation lulls as Virgil sips at his drink, and the clouded look in his eyes gives them the impression he’s thinking about something that he’d rather not discuss.
Roman shivers, and curls up on himself a little, staring at the blanket beneath them. He’s… he’s certainly set something into motion, here. And he’s not sure whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing. But… well, progress always starts rocky, right?
It does in his experience, at least.
It takes Logan a day to work up the courage to talk to Janus, and another day to find him. He’s like Roman – very good at being slippery when he wants to. And when he does find him, in Remus’ room, Remus blocks the door with a too-casual lean, and smiles a smile that is all-teeth and all-threat, and Logan bows his head and accepts the terms silently.
“Let him in,” Janus calls, his voice absolutely not wobbling, and Remus steps aside and gestures Logan in, closing the door behind them.
Remus’ room is like Roman’s room, except more of it is black and silver, and there is far more electric green everywhere. But it’s still cosy, and it’s tidier than he expected.
Janus is sitting on the floor, holding a hand of cards. It looks to be Uno, now Logan looks closer, and Remus sidesteps him to take up his place on the floor across from Janus and pick up his own hand of cards, before they both look up at Logan. Asking what he wants.
Janus looks fragile. Remus’ eyes meet his own with a challenge, and Logan immediately feels the dramatic irony of this situation.
After a moment, he sits down on the floor as well, turning their line into a triangle, and shuffles backwards a little to give them enough breathing room.
“If you’re busy,” he says softly, nodding to the card deck, “I can come back another time.”
They aren’t busy. It’s just Uno. But Logan is offering Janus a choice here – the choice to do this now, to do this at all.
Janus purses his lips, thinking for a moment. Then he takes seven cards from the pile, face-down, and slides them towards Logan.
“No,” he says, “we’re not busy.”
And thus begins the most emotionally charged game of Uno Logan has ever experienced. But after a few rounds, it becomes clear they are waiting for him to start with what he has come here for.
“I…” he begins, and immediately cringes as he fumbles for what to actually say, crucially aware they are both staring at him now. “Um, oh, fuck, this isn’t how I wanted this to go.”
And the soft swear from him gets a snicker out of Remus, and that’s enough to sort-of break the ice, and Logan smiles even as he rubs his temple. “Just, let me get my thoughts in order.”
And then Janus places a reverse card, and Logan takes a moment to make an indignant noise that makes Janus laugh too, before returning to trying to figure out what to say.
He sets his cards down (face down) as Remus plays his next card, and they turn to him, waiting to see what he’ll do next.
“Um,” he starts again. “I… I have a mental checklist, and I’m going to run down it. Forgive me if this is crude or impersonal.”
He takes a steadying breath in, and out, and turns to Remus.
“I’m sorry,” he says, and watches Remus blink in surprise.
“What for?” the duke hazards, cautious, but his eyes are surprisingly bright.
“For…” Logan trails off, rubs his forehead, before sighing and forging on. “For… how I treated you, your whole introductory episode.”
Remus freezes, like that was not what he expected Logan to say.
“I have been informed there were some… undesired consequences of my actions towards you, and I never intended nor wished to hurt you. In fact, as I have grown to know you more, I can only respect you,” Logan continued, stealing glances at Remus to check he was still listening.
Yes, he has Remus’ whole attention now. Those intense eyes are boring into his, growing brighter by the second, and then Remus pushes a hand to his mouth as he tries to keep his emotions at bay. The saltwater leaking down his cheeks does not obey his wishes.
Logan starts to reach out to him, before he catches himself, knowing that this isn’t his place.
“That’s what I’m sorry for,” he finishes lamely. “I’d go as far to call you my friend, Remus, and I cannot stand the fact that I have clearly done something to hurt you, and never rectified that.”
“I accept,” Remus whispers. “I accept your apology. Thank you. I… I’ll be frank, I just assumed you secretly hated me.”
“I do not,” Logan immediately counters, shaking his head imploringly. “I really do not hate you.”
Remus lets his hand fall from his mouth – to reveal he’s smiling.
“I’d say I’m sorry for throwing shurikens at you,” he banters, “but I’m really not. That was fun.”
Logan snorts. “Fun’s certainly a word for it,” he agrees, pointedly rubbing his head where they had once been lodged. Sometimes, he gets headaches – pain flaring up from those old and non-existent wounds, and it doesn’t make sense but he has no choice but to live through it. And besides, it’s a small price to pay for getting back onto even ground with Remus.
And now that he has found that even ground with Remus…
Logan turns to Janus, and bites his lip.
Janus is watching him very closely. And Logan realises he’s looking for dishonesty. Looking for any proof that Logan is playing with them. But Logan doesn’t like to think he could be that cruel.
“I’m sorry,” he blurts, and personally, he is amazed at how quickly tears have sprung to his eyes, though they haven’t leaked over yet – and he can see how Janus all but flinches at how raw Logan’s voice is.
This is good. This shows Janus that Logan’s being genuine. Because Logan isn’t a good actor, and they both know it. And Logan is trusting them with a lot right now – with his real, genuine emotions, and those are things he’d rather take to his grave if he could.
But it’s important to be genuine, so genuine he shall be.
“I will not deny that I meant a lot of what I said,” he continues, taking off his glasses so he can rub his eyes as subtly as possible, “but the insults were fuelled by my own frustration, and were not only uncalled for, but… bloated, if that makes sense.”
“It does,” Janus nods, and when Logan dares to meet his eyes, Janus also seems on the brink of tears – fragile indeed – but is offering him a surprisingly understanding smile. “I think… it might be a safe statement to make that I was also fuelled by frustration.”
“It’s easy to take sides,” Logan agrees, putting his glasses back on. “But I think it’s the last thing any of us need. And …Patton and Roman have made up, it seems.”
“That’s… good,” Janus murmurs, and his gaze falls back down to his cards. “That’s good.”
His tone makes Logan think that maybe Janus doesn’t actually believe that. But he doesn’t push. He just picks up his cards and puts one down.
Maybe there’s more to say. Logan isn’t sure if he’s said enough. But this is where Janus wants to end it, so Logan will not drag it out any further.
God, he doesn’t know how much more emotional shit he can take. It’s exhausting.
The next movie night, Roman shows up first and constructs his pillowed throne, and is lounging when Virgil and Logan arrive. He’s comfortable, he’s in his element, and he’s ready for anything.
Janus walks downstairs.
Okay, he’s ready for most things. This is perhaps one of the few things that he would have to admit that he did not consider himself ‘ready’ for.
Well, it’s probably overdue, right? If Roman can’t learn to play nice, then they’ll never be able to pick up the pieces for Thomas – and that’s what it’s all about, in the end. And Roman… Roman has been selfish for too long.
(is selfish bad? It always felt like a loaded term and now he doesn’t know what to think about it)
Janus is not in his usual attire. In fact, he almost looks less comfortable, despite the comfort clothes he’s wearing. And Roman can’t help but stare – because he’s wearing pyjamas, of all things. A plain yellow sleep shirt and a pair of black linen trousers, and as he draws closer Roman can see the yellow plaid on them.
Janus clears his throat. “I apologise,” he rubs his arm, not really looking Roman in the eye, but not really looking away. “I don’t… I don’t do onesies.”
It’s okay, because Roman’s also just in normal pyjamas and not in a onesie either, but… Janus has made a clear effort, and it’s… it’s a nice effort.
Roman scrambles to his feet before he realises it, like a host greeting his guests. Logan and Virgil are on the sofa, and their conversation fell silent the moment Janus walked in, but they don’t seem too concerned. Maybe they didn’t expect this to be as civil as it is. Roman doesn’t know whether that’s a compliment or an insult.
“That’s alright,” he manages to force out, because the silence is getting a little long and they’re all looking at him for a response. “That’s… thank you for coming. Thank you for… yeah.”
Wow. Real eloquent, Roman.
But Janus smiles, and it’s a nice and genuine smile and one Roman never expected to receive, and for the first time in a very long time there’s a flicker of hope in his chest that things might even work out.
Everyone trickles in, and Janus ends up sitting on the end of the sofa, beside Roman’s pillow throne. And he lounges there, elbow on the armrest, and they spend the evening slowly warming up to each other. By the end of the night, they are throwing barbs and references and jokes like no-one’s business, and when Janus stands up and leaves when it’s all over, Roman is crying before he knows it (just a little, it’s not like he’s sobbing, he’s just a touch overwhelmed).
But whatever noise he makes must be enough to reach Janus, because he snaps back around with wide eyes.
“Did… did I offend you?” he asks, his voice thin, and he looks genuinely afraid.
“No!” Roman is quick to drag the back of his wrist over his face and smile. “I just… I didn’t expect this to work. I’m glad it has, don’t get me wrong! I just… didn’t expect it.”
And Janus smiles again, and nods, and Roman knows he understands, and says nothing more. Well, nothing other than,
Janus holds his gaze for a beat, a beat long enough to see the tension bleed out of the prince.
“Goodnight, Janus,” he replies, infusing Janus’ name with all the thanks he can, hoping it’s enough. “Sweet dreams.”
Janus leaves, not one to drag conversations out, it seems, but he sees the little hop he does at the top of the stairs, where he thinks Roman can’t see him, and Roman screams into his hands for a moment to gather himself.
Thomas is hesitant to bring up Roman and Janus in the same sentence next meeting, but they show up, they are civil, and they even stand next to each other.
And Roman cracks a grin at Thomas’ bewilderment, and when he shoots Janus a glance, it widens as he sees a similar look on his face too.
“Let’s say,” he addresses Thomas’ careful question, “that we’ve done some… backstage work. We can work together. Especially for you.”
“I second that,” Janus nods. “We all have. Don’t worry about us.”
And Janus nudges Roman with his elbow, making Roman snort, but he still can’t help but rub the spot of contact as it burns delightfully.
His touch starvation has gotten better, especially with Logan helping him, but it certainly isn’t gone. And he can’t help but be ashamed, at times, of being that way and needing the help he needs, and sometimes it’s easier to hide away.
The thing is – now he doesn’t get away with it. It’s annoying, at times. But on the whole, it’s refreshing. Thomas eyes the two of them, searching for anything amiss, but Roman gives him a smile. A whole smile. A genuine smile. A smile he had fallen out of the habit of giving.
And Thomas sees. And Thomas beams back. And in that look, Roman can almost hear him saying welcome back, welcome home, I missed you.
He missed him too. So very much.
“Now,” he declares, clapping his hands together and twisting his smile into something more mischievous, “what’s the plan, ocean man? What do you need us for?”
“Well,” Thomas draws out, before pulling out a notebook and spreading it out on the coffee table, “I’m been roped in to help with a function, and I need you guys’ opinions.”
With a fluid movement, Janus sinks down to sit beside Thomas on the floor on one side, and Roman moves to the other, and the focus shifts into work mode without a second of arguing.
By god, Roman missed this.
A couple weeks later, it almost feels like loose ends have been tied up. Well, all but one. Because now Logan’s being flighty, and Roman’s going through the motions of being frustrated and terrified that he’s upset him – and that now he’s going to lose him.
But it’s about lunchtime when Logan knocks on his door, and when he opens it, Logan has a picnic basket tucked into the crook of his arm and a well-hidden look of apprehension on his face.
“Greetings, Roman,” he says formally, and Logan only gets extra formal when he’s nervous. “I was wondering if you were busy.”
Roman is in the middle of something, he won’t lie, but one look at Logan’s face, and the basket, and his plans are out the window in a heartbeat.
“I’m not busy,” Roman folds his arms, cocks his hips, smiles, and notices that Logan swallows hard. “Why, what’s up?”
“I, uh,” Logan fumbles, and he adjusts his tie, “would… I was wondering, well, that, um. Would you join me for lunch?”
Oh, he’s cute when he’s flustered. And Roman takes that thought and shoves it down, hoping it doesn’t colour his cheeks, and smiles warmly.
“I’d love to.”
“Great.” Logan turns on his heel, and offers Roman his arm. Roman stares for a moment, before taking it and closing his bedroom door behind him, letting Logan lead him onwards.
They don’t go to the living room, like he expects, but Logan actually leads him to the Imagination, and the Imagination is active, and the scene is a beautiful little park with a fresh breeze ruffling soft grass and a blue sky that goes on forever, and it’s the most picturesque thing Roman’s ever seen.
Logan leads him over to a picnic blanket, already set up good to go, and helps Roman get seated, even though he really doesn’t need to, and Roman’s chuckling a little at him as Logan fusses, before setting down the basket and quickly unpacking with strangely practiced motions.
It’s pleasant. It’s extremely pleasant. Roman’s having a wonderful time. Patton and Virgil must’ve helped with the food because it’s very good. Logan brought a book of sonnets and they pass it back and forth, reading their favourites, and Roman can’t help but compare Logan to a summer’s day at this rate, with how his smile is bright and his eyes shine with life, and the radiant way he watches Roman speak.
Roman has never felt so loved in his life. He wonders if he looks as moonstruck as he feels.
Logan finishes his last sonnet, letting the words ring in the air, before setting the book down slowly. It falls closed in Logan’s lap, and Logan stares down at it, like he’s waiting for something, and Roman lets himself fall still as he waits as well.
Logan closes his eyes, takes a deep breath in, and reaches into the basket one last time.
And this time, he pulls out an impossibly huge bouquet of red roses, and he hands it straight to Roman.
Roman takes it with shaking hands, admiring them with wide eyes. “They’re beautiful,” he whispers, trying for the life of him to think of something more to add but he can’t help but be stunned.
“I…” Logan rubs the back of his neck. “Red roses… are, in the language of flowers, associated with romantic love.”
Roman’s grip on the bouquet tightens. “They are,” he agrees loosely, heart in his throat.
“And,” Logan forges on, “they are my gift to you. A-and those… those statements are related.”
Roman is staring. He can’t help it. This is the most romantic thing anyone has ever done for him and also the most Logan thing he’s ever heard, and he’s extremely impressed that these two categories have actually crossed over in this way.
He doesn’t realise he’s spoken til the word leaves his lips.
Logan looks at him, looks at him with pure fondness that stops doubt dead in its tracks.
“You,” he confirms. “How could it be anyone else?”
Roman looks down at the bouquet in his hands, and suddenly his eyes are burning with unshed tears.
When he doesn’t reply, Logan quietly speaks again. “…I understand if this is unexpected, and you need to think on it, or too soon, or… unwanted.”
And Roman realises his silence has been taken the wrong way, and he sets the bouquet down with the utmost of care, before getting up on his knees and pulling Logan into a tight, tight hug.
“It’s a surprise to be sure,” he shakes his head, words pressed into Logan’s shoulder, “but I assure you it is a welcome one.”
“Did you just Prequel-meme during my love confession?”
Roman snorts. He can’t help it. And he can’t keep it to one snort, either, and before he knows it he’s all but cackling into Logan’s chest, before he looks up with all the fondness he can muster.
“I might have,” he says. “Will my sins be forgiven with a kiss?”
Logan’s breath stops, and he looks like Roman’s just stunned him with a fish to the face. But the shock quickly breaks – breaks into a beautiful joy that lights up his eyes and that Roman just adores.
“You… absolutely,” he agrees. He sounds breathless, like he didn’t think he’d get this far. “At least one kiss will be enough, I think.”
Roman slips his arms around Logan and pulls him in close. “I’ll pay your toll, though you drive a hard bargain,” he jokes, and leans in.
Logan kisses him sweetly. It’s perfect except it’s far too short for Roman’s liking, but Logan pulls back to study his face, trying to commit this moment to memory. And how could Roman deny him that? Not when the weather’s so beautiful, the breeze is so gentle, and Logan’s hands are on the small of his back so warm and steady, and he can feel the rise and fall of Logan’s chest and know that they are here and are together and everything’s alright.
“Is this okay?” he asks, because despite himself he can’t help but wonder if he’s enough for Logan, but Logan gives him another quick peck that is more smile than kiss.
“It’s adequate,” he banters, that gleam of life in his eye. “But there’s only one thing that’d make it better, I think.”
“Oh, I know,” Roman smirks, before in a flurry of movement, he has Logan ‘pinned’ by the wrists on the picnic blanket. “More kisses. You think you’re going to end this anytime soon? I’m not letting you go for at least another hour.”
“Only an hour?” Logan smirks back. “I have three set aside just in case.”
“I think we’ll manage,” Roman rolls his eyes fondly as he dips down to kiss him again.
They spend the afternoon like that, giving each other little moments of sweetness and pressing silent thank-yous again and again into each other’s skin. Roman is no fool. Logan probably saved him, not that Logan would see it that way.
And Roman wouldn’t know it, but Logan feels the same way.
Patton is right. They’re good for each other.
And for once, it’s finally the start of something good.
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<|:) howdy guys hope that fic was as banging as i think it is. gonna tag some people who expressed interest (AKA interacted with the posts i made about this) for this lmao <3
@ironwoman359 @larkiaquail @ab-artist @treeni @i-really-like-dragons
and a some friends/people who mentioned a ‘general taglist’ might be a good idea :) @broadwaytheanimatedseries @leiasolo77 @merlybird500 @madamedraconis @witchesgetstitchesblog @quackerz-creations
anyway uhhh have a good night/day
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