Everything’s irritating me and so I’m not going to cry but instead I’m going to project onto James and Regulus like the good person I am </3
CW: big fucking meltdown :D I don't know what it's called (is it just a me issue?)
“Turn it up.”
Regulus looks up from his book and frowns slightly. “Did you say something, love?”
“The tv,” James grits his teeth and shuts his eyes. “Can you turn it up for me?”
The younger lad hums softly, moving to reach the coffee table and grabbing the tv remote. He messes around with it for a moment. “I think it needs new batteries or something,” he shrugs and pulls himself up out of his seat, disappearing out of the room.
James’s eyes flicker from his laptop to the tv and he glares at it. The music keeps playing, not understanding his irritation. He wills himself to move, to turn it down using the buttons on the side, but he can’t.
He can’t move until it’s turned down but he can’t turn it down until he can move, but he can’t move until he can turn—
“Where’s the batteries?” Regulus calls from the kitchen. “Do we even have any? Did Sirius nick them for some stupid robot toy again, or something?”
James feels his fingers drum against the keyboard, typing random letters into his document that he doesn’t want. And then his shoulders twitch and his ankles kick and he mentally groans.
Just turn down. Turn down. Get up and turn the tv down, alright? It isn’t difficult. It’s not difficult. You’re not struggling. Just get the fuck up and turn it the fuck down.
Regulus steps into the living room just as James lets out a startled cry and flings his laptop across the room. It lands against the tv, both devices crashing to the floor is a mix of glass and plastic. The younger lad flinches, gasping loudly, and James inhales sharply.
Now look what you’ve done. You’re mad. You’ve scared Regulus. You’re fucking pathetic. Why didn’t you just get up and turn it down?
The silence echoes throughout the room; the tv no longer has a screen, and so the music has shut off. His laptop’s near snapped in two, and the fan’s no longer whirring away.
James pulls himself to his feet suddenly and moves to the other side of the room, away from his boyfriend. He rips open the conservatory doors and storms out to the patio, knocking things over as he goes.
“Jamie, wait! You’re going to get hurt!”
The snow sticking to the ground outside burns the bottom of his bare feet but he just keeps moving. His hair feels too long and his hands fly to his head, tugging at the roots, as if he can pull it out. His clothes are too tight and too baggy and a scream rips from his throat.
Make some fucking noise to fill the fucking silence.
Regulus scrambles back into the house, leaving James to collapse into the snow, face-first. He doesn’t care if he gets sick, he doesn’t care if he dies, he just wants everything to feel right.
Why does everything suddenly feel wrong?
He’s not sure how long he lies there in the snow, coughing and yelling and tugging at his hair and scratching his nails down his skin until it burns. But it feels like it won’t stop.
“Jamie!” Regulus’s voice calls from inside the house. “Jamie, hey, James, I’m on my way, alright, love?”
He can’t do anything but let out a choked sob in reply.
But then there’s the sound of the glass doors sliding open, and Regulus dropping down to the ground beside his boyfriend. “James, it’s me, it’s Regulus. I just want to help you, okay? Can I touch you?”
He nods, screwing his eyes shut as Regulus rests a hand on James’s shoulder. And then he slides the elder’s headset over his ears, pressing play on his phone, and James releases a breath he didn’t know he was holding because there’s noise; we’re alright now because there’s noise.
Regulus pulls James up by his shoulders, balancing him to bring him back into the house. He takes him through the living room, using his own body to hide the mess in the corner where the tv and laptop are, and pulling him into the kitchen.
James just hums softly along to the music, unable to hear himself but able to feel the vibrations in his throat, as Regulus slowly glides his finger from James’s shoulder blades up to his head.
When he reaches the bottom of his hairline, James rolls his shoulders and nods softly. Regulus smiles, keeping his hand there as he pulls some scissors from his pocket and slowly begins to cut away at his boyfriend’s hair.
“Thank you,” James feels himself mumble after a moment. “I’m sorry.”
Regulus just presses a kiss to his head in return and continues to cut his hair. When he finishes, James slides his headset down so it hangs around his shoulders and leans his head back against his boyfriend’s chest.
“Sorry ‘m difficult. ’M not tryna be,,” he sighs softly, closing his eyes. “I don’t... I don’t know what happened.”
“I don’t either,” Regulus admits, running a hand through James’s newly-cut hair. “But that’s alright. You don’t have anything to be sorry for, tesoro, alright? Come on, you should shower to get the loose hair off you.”
James chuckles softly and pulls himself out of the chair, brushing off his shirt. “Thank you.”
Regulus just shrugs in response, as if saying, "what else would I do?”, and moves to fill the kettle. James slowly moves his way through the house until he reaches the bathroom upstairs, turning on the light before shutting the door and stripping off his clothes.
He still feels slightly jumpy as he steps under the warm water, but turns up the temperature slightly to soothe himself. And it seems to work. His muscles relax, his breathing evens out, and a pair of arms worm around his waist.
“I’ve got you,” Regulus reaches on his tiptoes to brush his lips next to James’s hair. “I’ve got you, I love you.”
James spins around in his boyfriend’s arms and presses a loving kiss to his cheek. “I love you too,” his eyes sparkle as he glances down between them. “They’ll lose their colour.”
Regulus turns his eyes down to his legs and shrugs, dropping his head against his boyfriend’s bare chest. “I’ll buy more then. Skinny jeans aren’t that expensive.”
“You’re weird. I love you.”
“I love you too, weirdo,” he looks up and smiles. “Can we get tea out? Have a date night? If you’re up to it.”
James chuckles softly and shakes his head. “Whatever you want, mon chéri.”
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Bell Carr / Comics Youth @comicsyouth
“We all have our limits. Think of times when you've had a long hard day and all you want to do is go home - running through the station, it's busy and hot, the lights are too bright, everyone is in a rush, your phone is ringing - and then you see that you missed your train by 30 seconds.
You know there'll be another one in 10 minutes, but the weight of the day hits you all at once and you just need to sit down and cry. The emotion overwhelms you and demands to be felt, whether you like it or not.
For autistic people, the threshold for reaching this point is much lower, and the reaction it produces is very intense and out of their control. They may shout or stop communicating, lash out or sit very still. This is called a meltdown or a shutdown. A meltdown may be misjudged as simply a 'temper tantrum' in children, as they can appear similar - but they are not the same.
A tantrum is typically a way to protest something or get what you want, it has a purpose. Once the situation is resolved and attention is given, the child quickly recovers, and may not have been all that upset in the first place. A meltdown however, is completely involuntary and has no purpose. It's just as distressing for the one experiencing it as it is for those around them, wanting to calm down but not being able to.
Alternatively they may experience a shutdown, withdrawing into themselves to disconnect from all stimuli. Often, it is caused by a gradual build-up of stress - through sensory overload, sudden changes in routine, social interaction, too many questions/demands etc. These can pile up across a day, weeks, even a month until they finally reach breaking point and are completely overwhelmed by a situation. It may feel like a volcano erupting.
The final 'trigger' can be something small like an unexpected visitor or running out of your favourite snack, it may appear to be too trivial to cause so much upset - but it is an accumulation of many things leading up to that point. Not all autistic people have meltdowns or shutdowns, some have them rarely due to improved communication and boundaries. Adults can have them too, not just children.
A shutdown may be difficult to spot if that person is usually quiet anyway. They are often followed by exhaustion, as well as possible embarrassment and shame.
If someone in your life experiences meltdowns or shutdowns, during periods of calm it can be beneficial to discuss the best way for you to support them in the future. Everybody has different needs; some needing to be alone, some needing physical contact, but ALL needing love and understanding.”
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