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It's a great big universe (and we're all really puny)

Chapter Text

It was dark in the mindscape that night. Thomas had gone to bed at a reasonable time tonight, much to Logan's joy. Logan had followed soon after, and Roman had disappeared into the imagination to create an "epic" dream for Thomas, while Patton watched just one more episode of Parks and Rec before falling asleep in his cat onesie on the couch in the common room.

And Virgil.... well, Virgil was sitting on the roof of their conjured house staring at stars and contemplating the universe again, while listening to Panic! at the Disco. It was well into the haunting hour, and Virgil just couldn't find it in him to even try to go to sleep. He was too busy overthinking.

With a sigh, he laid back on the very slightly slanted roof and looked out at a star that seemed to shine brighter and brighter each time he looked at it. He had come out here before, and each time his gaze always seemed to be drawn to that star. Even before he was accepted, he would come and watch his star, as he was sure it was, shine at him from the emptiness of space, and each time he would feel just a little bit less alone. It would often lull him to sleep, and he believed it would watch over him and protect him from harm until he woke up. At least, that was the only explanation for why he never seemed to fall off or why no one could find him when he was up there. 

Feeling the beginnings of sleep start to tug at his mind, Virgil looked up at his star and, for the first time, made a wish. 

"Starlight, star bright. My star I see tonight." He whispered, feeling more and more groggy as the seconds passed. "I wish I may, I wish I might, have this wish I wish tonight" 

'I wish I could understand why I am what I am, and why we all are what we are.'  He thought before succumbing to sleep, unaware of the star's light getting brighter and brighter as the light slowly encompassed the mindscape and Thomas himself. And when the light receded, only an empty bed could be found where the youtuber once lay, as he and his sides were about to begin the adventure of a lifetime all thanks to the littlest side. 

 

Chapter Text

When Thomas woke up, he was surprised to find that he was not in his bed, despite falling asleep there. Understandably he was freaking out a little bit. 

"Um... Hello? Is anyone here?" He called out, so stunned by his change in scenery that he didn't notice that he was not being blinded by the room. "Hello?" 

"Hello Thomas" A soft voice spoke from behind him, causing him to let out a totally manly yelp. The sides rose up as Thomas turned to face the owner of the voice, in response to his fear and the situation itself. 

"Who goes there? Release us vile villain!" Roman exclaimed drawing his samurai sword at the figure before them. They were wearing all white in multiple shades, with a crown of fairy lights twinkling in their platinum hair. 

"Peace, Roman, I mean you no harm" The being spoke again, before placing a hand on Roman's sword and lowering it gently as Roman stood in shock not sure how this being knew his name. "You are all safe here, I am merely doing my job." 

"And what, exactly is your job? How do you seem to know who we all are? Are you a fan?" Logan asked, adjusting his glasses as he attempted to make sense of the situation. 

The being giggled a little "I am not one of your subscribers, no. I am what is known as a guardian, and I guard the hopes, dreams, and wonder of one of you in particular." 

"One of us? You mean Thomas?" asked Patton, head titling to the side in confusion while Roman and Logan exchanged glances and Virgil put a hand on Thomas' shoulder to calm both of them down just a bit. 

"No, I am not Thomas' guardian." The being said, before extending a hand out. "come here little one, I will not harm you." The others exchanged glances, not noticing the fact that Virgil had dropped his hand from Thomas' shoulder and was staring slack jawed at the being. 

"Kind being, to who are you referring to?" Roman asked

"To whom" Logan muttered.

"They know who they are, and as such should reveal themselves. The decision is in their hands."

Virgil stared for a moment more before taking a deep breath and stepping forward. "Who are you?" he asked

"I have said..."

"No, you said what you are. I want to know who you are." 

The being smiled at Virgil before grabbing his hand with their outstretched one and pulling into a hug. Virgil could faintly hear sounds of protest from behind him but lost himself in the embrace as he heard the being whisper so only he could hear.

"I am your star little one."

Being held by this being, Virgil could almost feel all his bad thoughts and feelings, his fears being pulled away until only warmth, light and love remained. He giggled a little bit, and the being - his star - laughed and kissed him on the forehead before letting him go and stepping back just far enough to still hold Virgil's hand. 

Virgil allowed himself one more giggle, hidden behind a sweater paw before looking at his famILY. They all looked shocked, though their eyes were soft as they looked at him, hearts melting at the sight of him so happy. 

"Wait" Virgil said, turning back to his star "You said you were doing your job, what is that exactly? Like in this exact moment?" 

"And why exactly did you take us while we were sleeping?" Thomas asked

"I am here to grant your wish little one, and my power can only interact with those on earth while the stars are visible, as soon as dawn breaks and the last star fades from sight my power will lose it's hold on you all. However, worry not I can extend even the smallest of seconds into years, so we shall not encounter that issue." The being said

"Is there anything we can call you? and what wish are they talking about kiddo?" Patton asked

"Virgil wished that he may know the answers as to why he was created, why are all of you together, and why Thomas" The being said only to be met with looks of confusion and pity towards the littlest side. 

"I will be showing you the multitude of universes, of worlds were things are different and your stories unfold in different ways. You, little one," The being gripped both of virgil's hands tightly before letting go "You must figure it out for yourself, find the constants and piece together what you can. Then you will find your answers." 

The room around them started to fade, as did the being. 

"Wait! What do we call you? and what if we have questions?" Virgil exclaimed

"You need simply ask" The being said as the last of the light faded and the world around them started to come alive in swirling colors. 

"And you may call me, Estrela"

Chapter Text

When the world stopped shifting around them, and the colors solidified into objects, the youtuber and his sides found themselves outside a decent looking apartment building. It looked alright, but it probably wasn’t one of the best building’s out there. Just as the sides began to wonder just where the being - Estrela was their name - had sent them, they noticed a pair of children walking down the street towards them. What really drew their attention though, was the conversation that seemed to be happening between them, just loud enough to be overheard.

 

“C’mon Virgey! I wanna make it back in time to make a cake with Baba Ida!” The older looking one, with sandy, curly hair and black glasses said

 

“I’m comin’ pat-pat” The smaller one, with straighter hair of the same sandy color and in an oversized hoodie said.

 

“Oh my goodness!” Thomas exclaimed, watching these cute versions of what he assumed were his anxious and moral sides.

 

“Is that us? How old are we?” Virgil asked

 

Before anyone could respond, a voice seemed to speak inside their heads “ It is indeed you and your friend little one. Patton is around 8 years old, and his little brother Virgil is 5.”

 

“Whoa” They all said, awed at the voice in their head.

 

Clearing his throat, Logan began to suggest a course of action. “I believe it would be best if we follow these counterparts in order to best understand and discover the answers you are looking for virgil. Though how we will follow these children without them noticing, or worse yet getting arrested for stalking children of no relation to ourselves, is something I have not yet figured out.”

 

Once again Estrela spoke in their minds. “ Do not worry, you cannot be seen by those of the worlds you visit. I am hiding you from their view.”

 

With a glance at each other, the sides and Thomas followed the younger Virgil and Patton into the apartment building and up the stairs. Finally, the kids stopped just outside a door with a nice looking welcome mat and the sounds of someone in the kitchen coming faintly from behind. Without further ado, the two young boys knocked.

 

The door was opened by a kind looking old woman not a moment later, which the younger Patton attacked with a hug.

 

“Baba Ida! Can we bake a cake? Please! I promise I’ll do my homework when it’s done! OH, I’ll do it while it’s in the oven! Can we? Please please please please ple…”

 

“Alright” The woman, Baba Ida, chuckled. “Come on in you two! Virgil, sweetie, Nona Mia is on the balcony if you wanna join her?” And with that, the two children were ushered into the small but modest apartment unknowingly followed by their older counterparts.

 

There they stayed, doing various activities with the two women until the sun began to set and a knock was heard at the door.

 

“Ms. Bueller-Manzi? Ms. Manzi-Bueller?” A voice called out from the other side of the door, seeming familiar to the sides, yet none were able to place it.

 

“Come in dear!” Ida called out, as Patton started jumping up and down excitedly next to her.

 

At her words, the door opened and a young boy stepped through, looking like he was only 12 or 13 with neatly brushed hair, a black polo shirt and a familiar pair of black glasses.

 

“LOLO!” the younger Patton yelled, lunging at the boy for a hug, to which he just barely managed to catch the flying child.

 

“Oh my” Logan said, staring at his counterpart as the other sides and Thomas snickered at the preteen trying to hold onto the squirming mass.

 

“Hello Logan dear, are you here for the boys?” Ida asked

 

“Hello, yes I’m here for these two delinquents Ms. Bueller-Manzi” the younger Logan said with a discrete wink in the younger virgil’s direction, to which the child began to giggle softly. The sides, minus Logan, and Thomas began to laugh once again as they noticed the voice crack on the word delinquents and the older Logan muttering to himself.

 

“Contractions, really? The least he could do would be to speak properly…”

 

“Are you eating out tonight dear? Or do I need to send a casserole home with you? And how many times have I told you to just call me baba sweet pea” Ida asked, already moving to the freezer to pull out a ready made casserole.

 

“Ida, sweetheart, maybe you should wait for Lo to answer” Mia stated from her perch on the sofa watching this all unfold with Virgil in her lap.

 

“Mia, dearheart, I just want to be prepared” Ida answered, sending a fake glare at her partner before giving up and giggling to herself.

 

“It’s alright M…” Here the younger Logan faltered at the look he received, “Baba Ida. We’re going out tonight. In fact we should probably get going.”

 

“Oh alright, but you be careful out there, alright? And don’t think I’m not gonna leave this casserole in your fridge when I go to drop all your bags off at your apartment in a bit.” Ida said, coming over and giving the younger Logan a big kiss on the cheek much to his and his counterparts embarrassment. Soon though, the two younger boys were all bundled up and ready to make their way outside, Virgil in Logan’s arms and Patton holding tightly to Logans free hand.

 

“I wonder where they’re going?” Thomas said as they followed behind the children.

 

“Probably home or to a restaurant. They did say they were going out to eat” Patton said, watching the children with soft eyes.

 

“What I want to know, is how many more times can Logan’s voice crack!” Roman exclaimed, making Virgil snicker softly next to him.

 

“I hardly see how that is relevant…”

 

“OH LOOK! WE’RE HERE!” Patton yelled as the children stopped to walk into a busy restaurant.

 

Exchanging one last look, the sides followed the children in, becoming more and more curious about their lives with each passing second.

Chapter Text

When the sides entered the restaurant, they were quickly overwhelmed by the sheer number of people. It seemed like everyone and their brother had decided to come to this particular restaurant tonight. Following the children, they made their way over to a small booth by the kitchens that, despite the long line of people waiting to be seated, was still open and unused.

 

Confused by this the sides stayed quiet, waiting to see what would happen as the younger Logan helped his younger brothers out of their coats and into the booth. However, they were not alone for long as soon after they were all seated a big man, built like a baker or a wrestler, came over to the table.

 

“Ah! There you all are! How have you been? You look hungry!” He exclaimed.

 

“Hiya Mr. Nadeu! Got any new coloring pages?” younger Patton asked, bouncing a little in his seat.

 

“Ha! Of course, I do Papito!” here Mr. Nadeu produced several coloring pages from his apron along with crayons to which the younger Patton and Virgil started coloring almost immediately. Chuckling a little, Mr. Nadeu turned to Logan. “How are your grades doing? I hope you’ve been studying hard!”

 

“Of course! They are doing alright thanks for asking.” Logan said, putting away the younger boys’ coats in the seat next to him.

 

“Good, good! Now, I take it you’ll want the usual?” Without waiting for a response Mr. Nadeau continued. “Bah! Of course you do! I’ll send it right out in a minute! Hang tight” and with that the overwhelming personality before them was gone.

 

The sides took the moment of reprieve to look at the counter parts before them. Younger Virgil was so small and seemed even smaller when swamped by the hoodie. What struck them the most were his glances at the exits of the restaurant, as if making sure that there was an escape route. It was odd to see such high levels of anxiety in a child.

 

The younger Patton was hands down one of the most adorable people any of them had ever seen. With his honey blonde hair in curls down to his ears, freckles kissing every inch of his face and the biggest, brownest doe eyes to ever exist. Even hidden behind a small pair of black glasses, those eyes could stop wars.

 

Younger Logan was worryingly thin. His hair was greased back and his tie and polo were immaculate, but it almost seemed to hang on his lanky frame. His eyes, the same brown as Patton’s, seemed a bit colder but it was the dark circles underneath them that really shocked the group. This poor preteen looked ready to collapse from exhaustion.

 

Before much more could be observed, a familiar voice rang out from behind the invisible sides.

 

“All right! Who’s hungry, huh?” Roman’s alternate had finally appeared. He was dressed in one of the server’s uniforms and carrying a tray of food which he quickly dispersed to the young sides.

 

“RO! I MISSED YOU!” Patton exclaimed, jumping on the – what seemed to be – twenty-year-old

 

“I missed you too little prince! But you must eat your dinner now, and I must get back to work, ok? Be good for Lo, and I’ll come sit with you for a bit on my break” the other Roman said, hugging Patton quickly before returning to the throng of people and the sea of chairs and tables.

 

“Um…. Estrela?” The older Patton asked, wondering if the other could hear them,

 

“yes young one?”

 

“How old is this Roman?”

 

“Yes, and what is his relation with our younger selves?” Logan asked as well

 

The young Roman is around 19 or 20, and he is the oldest brother of the four of your alternates.”

 

“Where are their parents?” Thomas asked, concerned for the younger versions of his sides.

 

… Unfortunately, their parents are no longer within the picture so to speak. Roman has done what he can for his brothers, even going so far as to drop out of school to obtain a full time job.

 

“Out of the picture?” Virgil asked, nervous about the ominous wording.

 

“How did they die?” Roman asked

 

They did not die young one.

 

Virgil felt nervous all of a sudden as Thomas’ anxiety levels spiked in anticipation. “What happened”

 

Their parents were… not kind. Everything was alright for a time, though they were most definitely not the best parents. However, things had gotten worse as the years had progressed. One night, their parents escalated things.” The sides glanced at each other with apprehensive looks

 

“Their mother… Started throwing plates at Virgil’s head, all because he had accidently knocked over a plate and it broke. Virgil was 3 or 4 at the time.”

 

Patton and Thomas gasped at this, while Logan looked like he was going to be sick and Roman looked ready to murder someone. Virgil’s eyes widened in shock.

 

“When Roman came home and found what was happening he took Virgil upstairs and instructed Logan and Patton to help grab everything the four of them could carry -mostly food, clothing, and money - and escaped. They have been on their own ever since.”

 

“How…” Here Roman paused trying to collect his thoughts “How have they survived?”

 

Young Roman dropped out of school in order to get a full time job here at this restaurant. He started as a busboy and has made his way up to waiter. Logan helps from time to time. He tutors and sometimes even does other children’s homework for money. It’s hard, but they have each other and sometimes… That’s enough”  

 

The sides mused over this as they watched the children eating their dinners, noticing the Roman himself did not eat anything. They watched as the four kids stayed until the restaurant closed and followed as they walked back to the apartment building from before. And they followed the boys upstairs until they came to a door across the hall from the old couple’s apartment.

 

“All right, off to bed with you two” Younger Logan said, opening the door allowing Virgil and Patton to run through and around the corner as Logan shouted after them to take off their shoes. The sides followed the slower Roman into the apartment and found it to be small. Just two rooms, and the couch in what appeared to be the living room open and made like a bed.

 

Younger Roman had walked over to the couch bed as the invisible sides looked around the small apartment with pity and sadness for their counterparts and was now sitting on it staring at nothing.

 

“You ok Roman?” Younger Logan asked, as the two younger brothers stared in concern at their oldest brother. The older Logan didn’t even react to the incomplete sentence, to concerned about their counterparts.

 

“Yeah” Roman sighed, rubbing at his face with his hands. “Just tired”

 

This seemed to spark something in little Virgil as he started to crawl over Patton, ignoring his questioning shout, and climb into Romans lap all with a determined and serious look on his face.

 

“Virgil?” Roman asked, his arms automatically wrapping around the small boy.

 

“You’re sad, aren’t you?” Virgil stated, with so much conviction that if this wasn’t so heartbreaking it would be funny. Roman started to deny it immediately.

 

“No, no I’m –“

 

“Don’t lie” Virgil said, staring down Roman. “You told us not to lie when we feel sad, so you can’t lie. We got you too, ok?”

 

Roman stared down at Virgil in shock, before hugging the child tight and letting the tears he had been holding in for who knows how long fall. Logan and Patton joined the hug not to long after the first tear had dropped.

 

The sides were overcome with emotion watching this small family so broken yet so strong. Patton was in tears, and Thomas was too. Roman had to wipe a couple from his eyes, and Logan and Virgil were just barely holding it together.

 

And in the blink of an eye, they were back in that white space from before, staring at Estrela.

 

“Are… Are they going to be alright?” Thomas asked, concern for the children obvious.

 

“They will be fine, better than before. It will be a long battle, but they shall persevere.” Estrela said.

 

“What happens to them?” Roman asked, curious.

 

“Roman is convinced by his brothers to go out to an audition. He gets not only the role, but the spotlight as well.” Images started to appear, floating in the clouds around them. Little glimpses of the life the brothers will live playing out like a movie.

 

“He will go on to be one of the best actors of his time, all thanks to his brothers support. Young Logan will excel at school to the point where he is given almost a free shot at higher education, and becomes one of the youngest college professors ever. Patton will be a jack of all trades and spend most of his time volunteering or donating to charities. And Virgil… Virgil shares his love of music with the world. This band of brothers, though small, support each other through all of life’s hardships, and eventually they triumph.”

 

The sides watched this unfold. Roman, acting in movies, at premieres with his brothers. Logan standing before a full lecture hall, eyes sparkling with excitement as he teaches about astrology. Patton playing with shelter dogs and even acting across from Roman from time to time. And Virgil, before a crowd of hundred, playing guitar with a serene smile on his face.

 

“It is time for the next world. Good luck.”

Chapter Text

                     The sides and YouTube personality found themselves just inside a beautiful foyer, standing at the bottom of a magnificent staircase. They didn’t have long to look however, until a figure clad in purple, black, and silver came rushing down the staircase, sword in hand past them.

 

                    “Was… Was that me?” Virgil asked, glancing at the rest of the group before they all turned and ran in the direction that Virgil’s counterpart had run off in, finally catching up to him inside a magnificent dining room, where the other three sides’ counterparts were also assembled. They were all dressed regally, however the sides seemed to have jumped in at the tail end of a conversation about just why Virgil had come running down the stairs with a sword in hand.

 

                   “Oh shut it glass face.” Roman waved a hand dismissively. “You shan’t bring my spirits down with your quips, for they are lifted as ever on this bright morn!”

 

                   “Geesh, princey, even in this universe you’re unbelievably extra!” Virgil remarked, staring at the creative sides counterpart with a look of sassy surprise.

 

                  “Oh shush Jason Toddler! I’m sure I’m just speaking as one would in this world!” Roman snarked back before their attention was drawn back to the counterparts.

 

                  They watched as Royal Virgil hailed a servant and sat down in front of a fresh plate of food. “Thanks.” he called after the servant, before settling back and running his hand over the metal hilt of the sword in front of him. “It still felt very real.”

 


                 “Well if it helps, you know we’d never intentionally hurt you.” Royal Patton munched on more of his food as he watched Roman settle down from posing and retake his seat beside Virgil.  “Roman and I were just talking about a dragon that is milling somewhere about in the hills.” He changed the subject.

 

                “A DRAGON?!” The sides exclaimed, with varying tones. Roman and Patton with excitement, Thomas and Logan in puzzlement, and Virgil alone in apprehension.

 

                “Really?” Royal Virgil asked, looking confused.

 

                Roman nodded enthusiastically, standing up for maximum regality. “Oh yes the other knights have spoken to me about it! There are all sorts of whispers and rumours going on in the taverns. Apparently it’s been stealing all kinds of sheep and other such things.” He looked very excited. “I have decided I shall vanquish it before it upgrades from small nuisance to thorn in our side!”

 

               “Now that sounds familiar” Virgil muttered, unknowing that the other sides had heard him and were now giving varying looks of concern and confusion.

 

              “Virgil…” Roman whispered hoarsely, looking nauseous. Before much more could be said, however, the group was brought back in by Royal Patton throwing a napkin at Royal Logan.

 

              “Do you mind?” Royal Logan said, only sounding slightly annoyed as he lowered his book to look at the other two, Royal Roman having already left the room for some reason or another.

 


             “I said that Roman won’t leave to go questing unless he has Thomas’s permission, right Lo?” Royal Patton explained and the other nodded.

 


            “The law states that Knights are honour-bound to only go questing with the permission or instruction of the King and Council unless King or Council are otherwise compromised.” He closed his book reluctantly and drummed his fingers against the cover. “And yes we are due for a council meeting at two today.” He replied, adjusting his glasses.

 


           Royal Patton tapped Royal Virgil on the head softly so he’d turn from Logan to look at him. “You’re wearing the circlet, that’s nice~”

 


           “Oh uh…” Royal Virgil let his fingers trail over the metal. “I am.”

 

           “You don’t sound that happy about that.” Roman said.

 

          “I’m sure there’s a reason” Patton stated, stopping any argument in its tracks and focusing everyone back on the scene.

 

          “Are you excited?” Royal Patton asked Royal Virgil. 


          “For what?”


         “For your first council meeting Virgil~”


        “Oh! That must make you the youngest Virgil!” Thomas exclaimed, watching the interaction between the brothers fondly.

 

        “Sorry Pat….” Royal Virgil said, with a sheepish look on his face. “But… no I’m actually, big surprise…. really nervous about it.”

      

        “It’s just us brothers, Joan and Talyn, Terence and Valerie. What could possibly happen?” Royal Patton stood and took his brother’s empty plates. 

 

         “Speaking of council meetings…” Royal Virgil looked at his brother. “Where’s Thomas?”

 

         “It’s me! I wonder what my role is in this universe? I didn’t see myself last time.”  Thomas said, smiling in excitement.

 

         The sides and the youtube personality followed the anxious sides doppelganger up the stairs and through several corridors before coming upon an ornate door. They followed the doppelganger into the room and found a huge, soft looking bed with a small lump curled up on top of it. Royal Virgil moved towards the curtains with barely a moment of hesitation and opened them quickly causing the lump on the bed to groan and roll over.

 

         “Rise and shine oh exalted one.” Royal Virgil teased and moved to stand by the bedside. “I’m usually the one sleeping in at all hours so I have no room to talk of course, but it’s so unlike you.”

         With a grumble the figure on the bed sat up to reveal another Thomas, bleary eyed.

 

        “Surprised you came up.” He told Royal Virgil. “Usually it’s Logan.” He opened his arms and Royal Virgil gave him a hug. “Oh gosh what time is it?”

        

       “After eleven.” Royal Virgil replied.


       “Huh…” Royal Thomas looked even more perplexed but it was obscured by another lion-like yawn. “I didn’t mean to sleep so late. Are the others up?”

  

        Royal Virgil nodded. “Yeah.” He walked over to a wardrobe and brought over a robe, with little star patterns intricately embroidered in gold on the hems sparkled in the light. “I slept a little late too. But Logan says the council meeting is at two so it’s only fair you should be up long enough to enjoy your meal. Also… Roman wants to slay a dragon.”

         “Table that for the meeting, I’m going to bathe quickly, you head on down.” Royal Thomas  moved over to a sliver flower and lifted it gently, smelling it and sighing. “Such a lovely scent.”

           Royal Virgil watched him go and said, “Do you mind if I stay here on the bed until you get back?”


           Royal Thomas hesitated by the door and turned. “Of course you can but…. You ok?” Royal Virgil nodded but didn’t say anything.

 

         “Something is wrong.” the sides and the youtuber soundly heard the voice of Estrela in their minds. It was the first time since coming to this world and they were confused at the worried and ominous tone in her voice.

 

          Before they could question it however, a loud clunking and a gasp was heard from behind the door Royal Thomas had disappeared through, making Royal Virgil look up and move to the bathroom door, poking his head in. “You alright?”

 

          He scrambled inside though when he saw the other on the floor by the tub, struggling to get back up. “Thomas!” He was at his side in seconds and helped to sit him up.

 

         “What’s wrong with him?” Thomas asked, worried for his counterpart. The other sides looked concerned as well.

 

        “I… I do not know.”

 

        “How can you not know? Aren’t you supposed to see everything and all that?” Roman exclaimed hotly.

 

       “There is something not right about this world. I cannot tell what. All I know is that it is not as it should be.”


Chapter Text

                “What do you mean ‘All is not as it should be’?” Roman exclaimed, his fear for his host’s counterpart making his voice pitch upward, practically screeching.

 

                “Now Roman, I’m sure that it’s not as bad as what your thinking” Patton tried to calm the creative side down, but it didn’t look like his words were having any effect

 

                “Please, for the sake of all our eardrums” Logan began, shooting Roman a pointed look, “Could you elaborate on your earlier proclamation? I too am curious as to what you meant by your words.”

 

                “I do not know what exactly is wrong. It is almost as if something or someone of extreme magical prowess is blocking my view of this worlds and the events that will transpire.”

 

                “So we’re flying blind?” Virgil asked, nerves fraying with every word his star said.

 

                “I have been attempting to pull you out of this world since the moment I realized that something was amiss, but…” the voice stopped, as if unsure of what to say next.

 

                “But what?” Thomas questioned, putting a hand on Virgil’s shoulder to try to offer some comfort.

 

                “But I am… unable. It is like my grasp on you all is being disrupted. I will keep attempting to draw you out, but be careful how you proceed. Keep an eye on Virgil’s counterpart. I have a feeling the little one has a great destiny about to begin.”

 

                “But... “ Virgil started

 

                “ I must go. I cannot maintain a vocal connection and work on extracting you at the same time. Watch out for each other, with any luck, I will be able to pull you back to me soon.

 

                The sides stared at each other, with mixed expressions of apprehension, nervousness and dread. Before they could say anything however, Other Thomas and Virgil had started to come back in the room.

 

                “And miss your first council meeting?” Royal Thomas asked, responding to a question the sides had not heard. “Not a chance! Besides, I might just be dizzy because I haven’t eaten yet and I’m not used to eating so late.”

 

                The sides and Thomas watched as Royal Thomas got dressed in clothes fit for a king before he left, Royal Virgil close behind, presumably to get breakfast. With a glance, the observers decided to follow.

 

                They soon came upon the great staircase they had seen Royal Virgil run down earlier. Royal Logan was at the bottom, obviously on his way up.

 

                “You look exhausted.” Royal Logan said to Royal Thomas and Virgil.

 

                “Duly noted.” Royal Thomas chuckled.

                

                “Yeah he got dizzy in the bathroom and fell over and now he won’t listen to me and take it easy.” Royal Virgil glared at Royal Thomas’s back.

           

                “Are you ill?” Royal Logan asked “I can have the healers prescribe you something for your ailments if you wish.”

                “Honestly, you two are worrying far too much.”

           

                “Abrupt disorientation is no laughing matter, Thomas. We should at the very least see to it you are inspected by a medical professional just to be on the safe side. He adjusted his glasses. “In fact there are a few chapters about healing magic in this book and-” Thomas’s hand on Logan’s shoulder stopped him from going on a rant about whatever was held in that book, while the sides watched on, Logan shaking his head in dismay that his counterpart would accept “healing magic” over proven, factual medical science. “Very well I shall desist.”

       

                The sides followed as Royal Thomas and Virgil collected breakfast for Thomas and walked out to what they presumed are the gardens. The sides stopped in awe at the beautiful flowers surrounding them.


           

                “That smells divine.” Both Roman and Royal Thomas said in unison, the former blushing in slight embarrassment that he said the exact same thing as his host’s counterpart.  

           

                “Yeah.” Royal Virgil nodded. “Yeah it does.”

 

                The sides could see a floppy sun hat bouncing around in the garden, the same one Patton used when he gardened in the mindscape.

 

                Royal Virgil obviously saw him too for he remarked “He’s having the time of his life, I think. No one’s better suited to taking care of things.”

 

                Royal Virgil turned back to Royal Thomas, watching him for a second before asking gently “You ok?”

           

                “Hmm?” Royal Thomas looked up.”Oh yeah, I was just thinking.”

           

                “About?”

           

                “Well it was more of those stare off into space kind of thinking moments... you know… where you don’t actually do much thinking?”

           

                “Wait a second…. you were dozing weren’t you?”

           

                Royal Thomas actually had the decency to blush at being called out. “Well….”

           

                “Are you absolutely sure you’re ok to hold this council meeting?”


           

                “Yes. This council meeting will be the first official one to hold the opinions of every single royal Sanders sibling. It is an historic event and the first time you will truly be among us not as a little brother but as an equal. I will not postpone it for anything, short of being entirely physically incapacitated or comatose.”

           

                The sides missed what was said next as they looked at each other once more.

 

                “So… Brothers again, huh?” Virgil said, trying to break the tension

 

                “Looks like it” Thomas agreed

 

                “And I’m the youngest?”

 

                “Yup.”

 

                Virgil smirked, with a twinkle of mischief in his eyes. “Bring it on.” he said, causing everyone to laugh, even Logan grinned at the reference before they tuned back in.

           

                “You seem to be partial to yours too.” Royal Thomas was saying, nodding towards Royal Virgil. “Though what happened to the gem?”

           

                “Honestly? I’m not sure. I thought… you’re going to laugh at me but I thought it was somehow broken by magic.”

           

                Royal Thomas snorted but held a hand up when Royal Virgil scowled. “In my defense I was laughing at the thought that you’d think I’d laugh at you for assuming it was magically broken. Logan was literally gifted a book of magic, Patton was given magic seeds and Roman is walking around with a literal phoenix, why would that be odd?”

           

                “Well magic isn’t the type of thing to just randomly break a gem right? It’s gotta be cooler than that, right?” .

           

                “So seeds magically growing overnight isn’t mundane enough of a thing for magic not to touch? Just because we don’t understand why magic does what it does, and just because most magic is grand and such doesn’t mean it can’t break a gem on your forehead overnight. We live in a world of dragons and troll warlocks, Virge, I really don’t think magic is something we should be questioning the antics of. Leave that to Logan.”

           

                “Well…… Then… ok I had this dream last night but it felt like more than a dream. I’m pretty sure it was magic.”

           

                “Oh?”

       

                “It… felt like it was real and there were versions of all of you but you weren’t you and you were all being so… wrong… and creepy. And you were all wearing white and smiling way too much. Well, except Patton, he’s always smiling.”

           

                “Sounds like a dream so far.” Royal Thomas said. “I mean I’ve had dreams that were weirder than that. Not that I’m not trusting you on this, but how can you assume it was magic?”

           

                “Well…I did sort of pass out and fall on the floor… and it was after that when those things happened so… I don’t know, maybe the gem broke when I fell and didn’t actually crack because of some random magic spell that made you all appear to me and treat me like I was a child again.”

           

                “Virgil, I know you’re worried about being part of the council, and honestly it sounds like your fears were projecting in your dreams last night. Spell or not, you’ve been seriously anxious about being part of the Council. Don’t think I haven’t noticed. But I think the real truth is that you’re afraid to disappoint us and I want you to know that you could never disappoint us in the ways that you fear. Yeah everyone gets disappointed but we’re not going to abandon you, Virge. We love you.”

 

 

                “I second that motion” Roman exclaimed, looping an arm around Virgil as they stood watching this whole conversation.

 

                “Me too!” Patton exclaimed

 

                “And me!” Thomas said.

 

                “And I as well.” Logan stated, all of them standing together, hugging and watching the brothers in front of them.

           

                “Yeah ok, I won’t stress about it.”

           

                “You and I both know that’s not true,” Royal Thomas laughed “but we’re always going to be here to help support you.” Royal Virgil cracked a lopsided smile as Royal Thomas turned. “It’s getting late, we need to get to the meeting. It can’t officially start without me as it is, but it’s better not to keep them waiting.”

 

                Before the sides could follow, a great wind picked up, slamming into them from every side. They gripped tighter to one another exclamations from fear ripping from their lips. The wind lifted the huddled group up and up, higher and higher and a light shone above them, getting brighter and brighter. One by one they passed out, still clutching one another as they were lifted towards the great light. The last thing Virgil saw, just before he passed out, was a pair of eyes glaring from one of the shadows produced by the light. One brown eye and one sickly yellow.

 

                When the sides came too, they found themselves on the most comfortable beds in they had ever laid on, in the bright white room they had come to recognize as Estrela’s.

 

                “What…?” Thomas groaned out clutching his head as the grogginess left him slowly and surely, the others doing almost the same.

 

                “I am so terribly sorry little ones! I did not know that there would be one capable of shielding you from me! I had to get you out of there as quickly as possible, even if it did draw more attention from the one attempting to keep you all there.” Estrela said, wringing their hands together as they appeared before the group.

 

                “It’s.. It’s no problem. You got us out of there after all.” Thomas said hesitantly.

 

                “Yeah! I’m sure you did the best you could!” Patton chirped.

 

                “Though I think I say for all of us,” Logan began, straightening his tie ever so slightly. “That we would prefer not to go to a magical world for a little while. To avoid another incident like this one until we can regain our bearings and composure.”

 

                “Of course, young one. I shall show you all the more mundane until I can find safer magical worlds. Now then, on to the next one?”

Chapter Text

“Where are we to go now?” Roman asked, wondering what great adventure would come next.

 

“Do not worry little one, I think this one should be to your liking,” Estrela said in their quiet voice, eyes twinkling with excitement.

 

“But…”

 

However, before anything more could be said, the room began to swirl in that familiar way as they were sent to their next destination.

 

As the lights around them faded, the sides and Thomas noticed a brightly lit street, with snow softly falling, and a grand opera house in front of them promoting an opera called “ Hannibal.

 

“Do you suppose we’re meant to go in there?” Logan asked, eyeing the opera house.

 

“Why not? If nothing else it would be a good way to pass the time while we wait for what comes…” Roman trailed off noticing something off in the crowd. Before the other sides could react he was off like a shot, trying to keep up with whomever or whatever he had noticed. The others had no choice but to follow their insane prince through the crowds of finely dressed men and women, up the grand stairs. Finally, they found him in a private box, where only one man sat.

 

“Roman, you can’t just run off like that buddy,” Thomas said, panting a bit as they stood in the box.

 

“I’m sorry, but…” Roman pointed at the man sitting before them. “I found our first doppelganger.”

 

The man sitting before them was indeed Roman’s counterpart. He was dressed finely, in clothing befitting a minor lord. Though he sat with the perfect poker face, staring down at the opera before him.

 

The Vicomte Roman de Chagney. The newest patron of this opera. ” Estrela said, not waiting for the question they were sure was coming.

 

“I suggest you watch the opera, you may find another familiar face.

 

The sides and host shared a look before settling in to watch the opera. Until…

 

“Do you recognize her? ” on the stage was a beautiful woman, sandy hair pulled back, half up half down, dressed in the finest costume, and singing like an angel.

 

“Nope, sorry.”

 

“Nope, not a clue.”

 

“Sorry Kiddo, don’t know her.”

 

“Nah”

 

“Are we supposed to?”

 

A small, twinkling giggle resounded in their minds as they listened to the woman on stage singing a song that sounded very familiar to them all.

 

This is your second alter. May I present, Virginia Daaé, known to you as Virgil”

 

“So I’m a woman this time” Virgil facepalmed, as the others snickered or smirked at the expression on his face.

 

They were drawn into the music, however, as the woman - Virginia - began a new song.

 

“Think of me, think of me fondly

When we've said goodbye

Remember me, once in a while

Please, promise me you'll try”

 

“Is that…?” Thomas trailed off as Roman started almost literally buzzing in his seat.

 

“PHANTOM OF THE OPERA!!!!!!!!”

 

“Ah yes, I thought I recognized the titles and names of your counterparts. It seems that Virgil here is this universes’ Christine, and that makes Roman the Vicomte Raoul de Chagny.”

 

Here Roman and Virgil blushed deeply and looked back at the stage, aggressively not looking at each other. The others took that as their cue to tune back into the performance.

 

“When you find that, once again, you long

To take your heart back and be free”

 

“Wow, Kiddo! You sure got a pretty voice!” Patton said upbeat, nudging Virgil in the side a little with his elbow.

 

“Shut up” Virgil grumbled, not unlike grumpy teenagers embarrassed by their overly suburban parents.



“If you ever find a moment

Spare a thought for me

 

We never said our love was evergreen

Or as unchanging as the sea

But if you can still remember

Stop and think of me

 

Think of all the things

We've shared and seen

Don't think about the things

Which might have been

 

Think of me, think of me waking

Silent and resigned

Imagine me trying too hard

To put you from my mind

 

Recall those days, look back on all those times

Think of the things we'll never do

There will never be a day

When I won't think of you”

 

The others were startled out of their awe at the vocal range of their youngest’s counterpart by the lone man, the Vicomte Roman de Chagny, standing and singing out towards the unaware crowd as Virginia continued to dance

 

( Roman )

“Can it be? Can it be Christine?

Bravo!

What a change! You're really not a bit

The gawkish girl that once you were

She may not remember me

But I remember her”

 

And Virginia started once again on stage, slightly overlapping the Vicomte,

 

We never said our love was evergreen

Or as unchanging as the sea

But please promise me that sometimes

You will think—

 

O-o-o-o-o-o-o

O-o-o-o-o-o-o

 

o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o

 

—of me!”

 

The sides joined in with the audience as they clapped wildly at the girl on stage, congratulating her on hitting those seemingly impossible notes.

 

Soon, the Vicomte was on the move, exchanging short pleasantries with those he passed, but clearly making his way towards the dressing rooms. The sides could barely keep up with the man on his mission.

 

They managed to catch up in the dressing room itself, as the Vicomte started to sing at Virginia

 

[ Roman ]

Little Lotte let her mind wander

 

“You remember that too?” Virginia asked, with laughter in her voice

 

[ Romam ]

Little Lotte thought: Am I fonder of dolls

 

[ Roman and Virginia ]

Or of goblins or shoes?

 

[ Virginia ]

Or of riddles of frocks

 

“Those picnics in the attic!” Roman said, reminiscing

 

[ Roman ]

Or of chocolates

 

“Father playing the violin” Virginia breathed out wistfully

 

“As we read to each other dark stories of the North” Roman exclaimed

 

[ Virginia ]

No, what I love best, Lotte said

Is when I'm asleep in my bed

And the Angel of Music sings songs in my head!

 

[ Roman and Virginia ]

The Angel of Music sings songs in my head!

 

“We must celebrate! Come, I shall take you out to dinner!” Roman stated

 

“I can’t Roman... I..”

 

“Oh I won’t keep you out long! Now! You must get your coat, and I my hat!” Making his way to the door, he stopped and turned to look back at Virginia breathing out a disbelieving “Little Lotte” before exiting the room. The sides barely had time to think let alone say anything before

 

[ PHANTOM ]

Insolent boy!

This slave of fashion

Basking in your glory!

 

Ignorant fool!

This brave young suitor

Sharing in my triumph!

 

Virginia was almost cowering in fear at the booming voice coming from seemingly everywhere

 

[ Virginia ]

Angel! I hear you!

Speak, I listen

Stay by my side, guide me!

 

Angel, my soul was weak

Forgive me

Enter at last, Master!

 

The voice softened at the show of submission

 

[ PHANTOM ]

Flattering child

You shall know me

See why in shadow I hide

Look at your face in the mirror

I am there inside!

 

A figure appeared in the mirror, dressed elegantly in all black, a white mask covering most of their face.

 

“If Roman is the Vicomte” Logan wondered out loud, slowly getting anxious, “and Virgil is Christine… who is the phantom?”

 

The sides had no answer, they could only look at the scene in front of them and fear the answer.

 

[ Viginia ]

Angel of Music!

Guide and guardian!

Grant to me your glory!

 

Angel of Music!

Hide no longer!

Come to me, strange angel

 

[ PHANTOM ]

I am your Angel

Come to me: Angel of Music

 

Virginia seemed to move towards the mirror as if in a trance, reaching out to the figure and finally, finally touching their hand.

 

The sides could hear a voice through the door

 

[ Roman ]

Whose is that voice?

Who is that in there?

 

[ PHANTOM]

I am your Angel of Music

Come to me: Angel of Music

 

A strangled gasp escaped Virgil’s lips as the figure turned to look at them all, with a single glowing yellow eye. Before the others could react, he had bolted through the slowly closing mirror door, leaving the others with no choice but to follow as they heard the Vicomte shout from behind the now-closed mirror

 

“VIRGINIA!”