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When My Fist Clenches, Crack It Open

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Divad is not ready to talk about their relationship with Benny. He doesn’t see how he’ll ever be ready to talk about their relationship with Benny. And yet that's exactly what he has to do, for so many logical, rational reasons.

David might be upset about losing his rational mind to Divad, but knowing the right thing to do doesn't make doing it any easier.

"How are you holding up?" Ptonomy asks David, when their break is over.

"Okay," David says, but tiredly. 'I just want to lie down and not think about anything for a month.'

"Once we're done with Benny, you can rest," Ptonomy says. "You're doing great, David. Let's get you through the last stretch, okay?"

David nods and gives Amy's hand a grateful squeeze. 'I'm not facing any of this alone,' he thinks to himself.

"Okay," Ptonomy says, looking around at them. "We talked about how Benny and David first met, and then how they met again once David was back in the city. We heard what Lenny and David and Amy remembered about Benny and David's relationship. Divad, are you ready to tell us what you remember?"

No, Divad thinks, wishing he could be in their body with David right now, holding Amy's hand together, like they did when they were young. "Yes," he says, but falters anyway. He wishes Dvd was able to share this burden with him, like they always have. But it's Divad's turn to hold their system together.

"We'll take this one step at a time," Ptonomy assures him. "You told us that David fell in love with Benny. How did Benny feel about David?"

Ptonomy hasn't been asking the small questions today. Divad swallows, laces his fingers together. He doesn't look at David. It's easier to tell this to Ptonomy, somehow. "David and Lenny remember the drugs. And the drugs mattered a lot, but--" He stops, starts again. "It's pretty obvious by now that you can love someone and still do terrible things to them."

"So Benny wasn't just using me?" David asks, warily curious.

"Us," Divad corrects. "And no. I'm not defending what he did, we shouldn't have been with him at all, but-- He wasn’t just our drug buddy. He loved us, and— We loved him."

"Your system shares everything," Ptonomy says, understanding. "So you also shared David's feelings for Benny?"

"Yeah," Divad admits. "I mean, being together in our body-- We were used to David being in charge. It's how we always worked. We just-- Weren't in charge of David anymore. If we didn't want to lock ourselves in our bedroom forever, we had to accept what was happening to us."

"That must have been incredibly difficult for you and Dvd," Ptonomy says. "You knew what Benny did to your system and you didn't want to be with him. But you were."

It's such a massive understatement that Divad wants to laugh or cry or both. But he doesn't do anything.

David is horrified, of course. "Divad," he starts.

"You didn't know," Divad tells him. He absolutely does not want to hear David spiralling about this. "You didn't know what Benny did and you didn't know about us. Before you start apologizing, this is why I forgive you. I forgive you, okay? I know everything that happened and I forgive you."

'You shouldn't,' David thinks, stubbornly.

"Tough," Divad tells him. "I forgive you anyway."

"But you didn't forgive David back then," Ptonomy point out.

"No," Divad admits. "Look, I was furious and Dvd was a mess. But we still felt the feelings in our body, we heard David's thoughts in our head. No boundaries, remember? We were just parts of him, we didn't have our own lives."

"So how did you deal with that anger?" Ptonomy asks.

"I blamed David," Divad admits. That anger has only just started to go away. "I knew it was the monster's fault, but-- We couldn't stop the monster any more than we could stop Benny."

"Your system had no control," Ptonomy says, understanding. "But until Farouk took it away, you and Dvd had control over David."

"Yeah," Divad says, looking at David apologetically. "I said a lot of awful things to you. You couldn't hear them but I'm still sorry for saying them."

David gives a tired nod, obviously without the energy to go through his usual cycle of frustration about not remembering.

"Okay," says Ptonomy. "So as I understand it, Benny was effectively the first person your system was in a serious relationship with. Were you attracted to anyone before that?"

"Sure," Divad says. "But it wasn't safe to want things and it sure as hell wasn't safe to love anyone. We just-- Tried not to think about any of that. As long as David had Dvd, our system could take care of itself." It didn't matter that Divad was lonely, that he was left out. It didn't matter that there were people who liked them, who wanted them to like them back. None of it mattered.

“Benny and your system were together for a long time,” Ptonomy says. “Was it Benny or David who decided to keep the full nature of your relationship a secret?”

“David,” Divad says. “He was afraid Amy would be upset, she didn't even like Benny being our friend. And I guess, uh, if David was re-enacting what he had with us--"

"Secrecy was instinctive," Ptonomy agrees. "David couldn't risk telling anyone about you and Dvd, so he felt that telling people about his relationship with Benny was also dangerous. I expect the disapproval people had towards Benny only made that feeling stronger."

"Yeah," Divad says. "But we loved Benny and we needed the drugs Benny gave us." He hated that, hated how the drugs took away what little control they had. If David had only been able to hear him, if Divad hadn't lost control--

But their system never had control. If Farouk didn't want them to put that stuff in their body, there were plenty of ways he could have scared David away from Benny or the drugs. He could even have just made David forget about both of them the way he forgot so much. Farouk allowed them to fall in love with someone who would hurt them, to take refuge in drugs, and then he used those things to drive David into despair. And then he used that despair to put them into Clockworks, and used that place to torture them without worrying about another suicide attempt.

"God, it's all-- Really horrific," Divad realizes, just as David did earlier. Without shame or anger, seeing what happened to them clearly--

"It is horrific," Ptonomy agrees, as he did with David. "But Farouk is out of you and we're going to stop him."

Divad really hopes Ptonomy is right. Now that they're finally free and starting to heal-- The thought of Farouk getting control of them again is absolutely unbearable. Divad doesn't want to die, but he'd rather their system kill itself than live that way again. When David hung them it was awful, but--

"Let's stay focused on how to keep your system safe and happy," Ptonomy cautions. "Isn't that the more logical option?"

"Sorry," Divad says, glad David can't hear his thoughts right now. "You're right." If they killed themselves, Farouk would just snatch their soul like he did to Lenny, and then they'd be trapped in Farouk's body, which is even an even more horrifying thought. They have to get strong so they can fight back and win.

"So tell us more about your system's relationship with Benny," Ptonomy says. "Was the rest of it the same as Lenny and David remember?"

"The drugs were the same," Divad says, bracing himself again. "And the stealing. But everything else--" He looks at David, who's watching him in wary expectation, and Divad really doesn't want to keep going. But he has to. "Benny loved us, but his idea of love was--" What was the word Ptonomy used? "Exploitative."

David just gives a tired sigh. "He raped us?"

"Our relationship started when he tried to roofie us," Divad points out. "Part of why he loved us was because-- We gave him what he wanted. He literally drugged us and had sex with us. Even though we loved him, we wanted the drugs, we wanted him-- He wanted us most when we were too high to want anything."

"And I was just-- Okay with this?" David asks, strained.

"Farouk left you enough," Divad says. "You remember not caring when Benny stole from us. You remember believing that he knew what was best for us. It was the same with the sex. We needed someone to hurt us and Benny wanted someone to hurt."

"None of that is love," David says, angrily.

"We didn't know any better," Divad admits. "Ptonomy's right, what me and Dvd did to you, what the monster did to all of us-- And I know you're not ready to think about Syd, but the same thing happened with her. The same thing probably would have happened if we'd escaped with Lenny, she would've dragged us right back to the drugs."

"What about Philly?" David asks, with an edge of desperation. "I don't remember Philly hurting me. Us."

"We fought with Philly all the time," Divad says. "If anything we were mad at her for trying to stop us from self-destructing. She wanted us to get better, and better meant no Benny and no drugs." He looks at David's unhappy face and hates having made him unhappy. "We thought we didn't deserve to be happy because we were sick," he reminds David. "But we still wanted to be normal no matter how impossible it felt. So we tried to fake it, we tried to lie our way to a normal life. And every time it didn't work, that made us crash harder because it was proof that we would never be happy and we'd always be sick."

'That was exactly how I felt,' David thinks. 'Farouk left me all of that. But if I was with Benny--' "How did I even end up with Philly, if I was with Benny?" He thinks-- Was it Amy who set them up? He can't--

"It was Benny," Divad says, to David's surprise. "Look, he was a selfish, sadistic asshole, but he loved us. You and Benny both thought we were schizophrenic. Our 'symptoms' kept getting worse. Amy met Ben and things were serious, and we knew what Ben thought of us. We told Benny we were afraid of what would happen when Ben took Amy away, so-- He tried to find us another Amy."

"Oh," Amy says, softly. She looks ashamed. "Divad, I'm so sorry."

"You didn't know either," Divad tells her, tiredly. "No one knew anything, that's why we have to talk about this now." He sighs. "Philly was-- Some friend of a friend of a client, I don't know. But Benny set us up, said she would be good for us. He told us to try and make things work. And we did try, we tried to love her the way Philly and Benny and everyone wanted us to love her. But it was just like when you tried to force yourself to love me and Dvd. It wasn't real. And every time things went wrong, we ran right back to Benny."

'I wish all of that didn't make sense,' David thinks, miserably.

"Okay," Ptonomy says. "Thank you, Divad, I think that's enough for now. Unless there's anything else we need to know about those years?"

Divad feels like he's said more than enough. "No," he says, even though-- He feels so many things. Shame, regret, anger, longing, grief. Benny's dead now. Divad never wanted to see him again, but now that he's gone-- Benny tried to help them, in his fucked-up way. He was there for them when no one else was. If he wasn't an addict, maybe Benny would have been a half-decent human being. But the drugs were his monster and no one saved him from them. Even though there was nothing they could have done, Divad regrets that.

'I forgot how much-- Amy getting married--' David thinks, and looks at Amy, apologetic. "It was so many things. I felt so awful all the time. But-- Breaking up with Philly again-- Losing both her and you--" He swallows. "And then Doctor Poole--" He sniffs, wipes at their eyes.

"David," Amy says, holding him. "I'm so sorry I put you in that place."

"It's okay," David says, but he looks anything but okay. "Um. I guess-- Being with Benny didn't--" He takes a shaky breath. “He wasn’t enough?”

"We were-- You were in terrible shape that day," Divad says, his throat tight. "You thought about Benny, but-- You thought you were a burden on him, on Amy and Philly, on everyone. You thought-- If all you were ever going to be was sick, if you couldn't even stop yourself from hurting people-- Then the world was better off without you. You just wanted the pain to stop. It was-- Exactly what happened when we woke up in the cell, when you realized what you'd done, when-- You learned about us." Thinking about those days still breaks their heart. Having his system back made David want to die so much. Divad had to start numbing himself with his powers, it was the only way he could— Stand to be alive.

Just like David. Divad always set himself apart, convinced that he knew best, that all their failures were David’s fault. But they’re the same: in how they hurt themselves, in how they survive. There are things that are different, big things, but— They’ve always shared so much.

When he looks up, expecting to see David upset from discussing those awful days, instead he finds— David calm, with their hand over their heart. And then David looks up at Divad with a strange fascination.

“What?” Divad asks, self-conscious.

“You really have always been with me,” David says, amazed. “I don’t remember a lot of that. Which is nothing new, but— I remember more of those years with Benny than anything before that. And you know. The way I felt, things I didn’t even tell Doctor Poole or Kissinger— You know them better than I do and— You see them clearer. Because you’re my rational mind.”

“I wasn’t then,” Divad says, even though he’d already fused with plenty of other fragments.

“Whatever pieces of me you were then,” David says, amazed at what he’s saying. “You were really there.”

“Always,” Divad promises, feeling a sudden spark of hope. “We’re a system, your system.”

“That should be ‘our system,’ right?” David asks. “We’re both parts of our system. Together. And even if— That means we ended up sharing— Actual fragments of ourselves—“ He shakes his head, still disbelieving. “It’s okay because— It’s like Ptonomy said, about the pieces.”

“No matter how many pieces your system is in,” Ptonomy says. “No matter how those pieces are arranged, collectively you are still one system.”

“I felt so alone in Clockworks,” David says. “Those first days, I was so numb and everyone was gone— But you were there. You and Dvd were always there.”

“We were,” Divad agrees, glad it’s the truth. They never stopped hoping they would get him back, that they would break free of the monster’s control and save their system, and everything would finally be okay.

“Thank you,” David says, earnestly. "For staying with me." 'I wasn't alone. Even then-- I really wasn't doing any of that alone.'

It feels amazing to hear David think that, to hear him believe it. For a bad memory to transform into a good one. For one of the worst moments in their life to somehow become-- Something precious.

'I've always had Divad and Dvd,' David thinks, and the thought feels true and heartfelt.

"You have," Amy says, warmly. She gives him another squeeze, rewarding him.

"I've asked Kerry to bring Dvd down for his session," Ptonomy tells them. "David, are you ready to step out?"

David closes his eyes, focuses on himself to do his check-in. "I'm ready." He looks at Divad, focuses on him. Divad can't remember David ever focusing on him so intently before, wanting with be with him so much. Divad doesn't want him to stop.

"Good," Ptonomy says. "How about you two go up to the loft? Spend some time together."

'I'd like that,' David thinks, warmly. He's still looking at Divad as he thinks it. Divad's never felt so utterly seen.

David leans back, stills, and steps out of their body. He sighs with relief at leaving it behind, then looks at Divad again. Divad stands up, feeling drawn, and doesn't resist when David pulls him into a hug. Divad cautiously holds him back. It's so strange, all of this is so strange.

Kerry and Dvd descend, and Divad hopes-- Hearing all of that, seeing Divad and David healing their system-- But Dvd refuses to look at them. He walks past them and looks like it's all he can do not to break into tears again.

"Dvd," David says, turning to him, worried. But Dvd refuses to acknowledge him.

"C'mon," Divad says, taking David's hand. "They've got this."

David gives another worried look back, but he gives Divad's hand a grateful squeeze, just like he did with Amy. Divad doesn't want to waste this moment. He leads David up to the loft, and thinks how-- They're going to just keep each other company and talk and-- Get to know each other as they are now. Not as two remnants of a broken system, but-- As two people leaving behind their anger and shame to build a new, shared life together. And as much as he wants to be in the world and give back to it and be known-- He wants this even more.