Nothing seemed off in Thomas Sanders’ home. On the kitchen counter, a paperback book with a freshly-broken spine sat next to a bookmark. Thomas himself was busy preparing a sandwich. It was calm, and most wouldn't give the place a second glance.
Similarly, Thomas' mind seemed more or less calm at first. In his left brain, Logan was busy cleaning. The two drawers in his desk hung open as the logical side busily sorted through papers, each one with some piece of knowledge scrawled on with pen.
Alternatively, in the right brain, Roman was sat at his table. A bright lamp burned on the notebook he was writing in, filled with an ever-growing list of video ideas. There were very few ideas crossed out on this page - it seemed the creative side's work was paying off.
In the darker corners of Thomas' mind, however, his anxiety seemed somewhat restless. Though very little of Virgil's nervous pacing was felt by Thomas, it was still somewhat off. He was rummaging through every drawer in the room, overturning pillows and picking up clothes that had been haphazardly thrown on the ground. After a few minutes of this, the violet-eyed side sunk out with a huff, appearing in the commons of the Mind Palace. "Has anyone seen my headpho- Patton?"
Virgil's hoodie did little to block out the chill in the room. A loud whirring was heard from two fans that had definitely not been there before, one on the ground and the other hanging just above the couch. On the aforementioned couch, the moral side lay sprawled. Patton's cat hoodie, which usually never left his shoulders, was thrown over the back of the couch, and his usual blue polo had been traded for a tank-top of the same color. His face was red and damp, and his glasses were slightly off-kilter. Sky-blue eyes blearily blinked open and Patton rubbed his face, sitting up. "Virgil? Yeah?"
The anxious side blinked and glanced around... well, anxiously. "Are you... okay?"
Patton laid down again. "'m tired." A bead of sweat rolled down his face. "And hot."
Virgil pulled his hoodie closer around himself, shivering slightly. "Hot? Patton, it's freezing in here!"
Patton sighed. "Hot. And... you know, I'm a bit warm too."
Virgil snorted at the joke, but the little seed of worry continued growing in his chest. "Patton, are you sick?"
The sides could get "sick" occasionally - it was usually a side-effect of strenuous situations. Creative blocks could give Roman the common cold and Virgil was essentially allergic to anxiety medications, but Patton was the one effected most often. Any severe negative effect on Thomas' feelings could give Patton an illness - he had gotten everything from strep throat to pink eye before. However, Virgil couldn't think of any recent event that would have such a severe effect on the heart.
"Not sick," Patton mumbled, fanning himself with a hand. "Just hot."
Virgil chewed his lip slightly, thinking. "It's... well, are you sure? It's... so cold in here." Another shiver ran through his body, and he zipped his hoodie up.
"I don't feel sick," Patton repeated. "Just so hot."
Virgil shook his head, staring at the fans. He approached Patton slowly, resting his hand on the moral side's forehead.
He was burning.
Virgil leapt back in surprise, shaking his hand until it cooled off. "Patton, you're burning up!"
"I knooow," Patton cried. "That's what I've been saying."
"But..." Virgil's frown grew. "It's not a normal fever. I felt like I was physically burnt."
"I said I wasn't sick."
"I know," Virgil sighed. "I just can't think of any other reason you'd be so hot. Should I get someone else?"
"'m fine," Patton said with a yawn. "I'm just hot."
"You aren't just hot." Virgil's voice was stern. "You felt like... like a pan, just out of the oven, not someone who's 'just hot.' Even if you aren't sick, something is up."
"I'll cool down soon," Patton insisted.
Virgil sighed. It obviously wasn't true, and something told him that Patton was aware as well. That heat wasn't natural - but then again, Patton was the other side's father figure and caretaker. It made sense that he would downplay any suffering in an attempt not to worry them. "Are you sure?"
There was a beat of silence. "No."
"I'm getting the others."
Sure enough, a mere couple minutes later, all four Sides were gathered in the living room. Patton was fanning himself with a magazine, still sprawled out on the couch. Virgil leaned against the wall, arms wrapped around his body in an attempt to warm himself. Roman was sitting on the coffee table, shivering slightly. Logan was standing a few feet behind Roman, face tight with concentration.
"So, Patton is suffering from a severely heightened temperature," Logan said slowly.
"Mm-hmm," Patton mumbled.
"And this started with little or no warning."
"And despite the severe cold in this room, you still feel unusually torrid."
"Exactly." Patton sat up, rubbing his eyes.
"When did this start?"
Patton yawned, then shrugged. "Maybe an hour ago," he murmured, though it seemed as though he was thinking out loud. "Give or take. I'm not sure."
Logan nodded. "And what else happened around that time?"
Roman's face brightened suddenly. "Thomas finished reading his book!"
Virgil sighed. "What does the book have to do with Patton?" He questioned. "It was just a... a book. It wasn't even that well-written or unique."
Logan held up a finger - stop talking. "And how did the book end?"
Patton's face brightened. "Oh, it was so sweet! They redeemed the villain-"
"-which can be hard to pull off, but was executed exceptionally well in this situation," Roman interjected.
"And the love triangle ended completely platonicly, with no hurt feelings-"
"-even though it didn't depict traditional pragma and eros, I must agree that it was rather sweet to depict such underrated philia," Roman added.
"-and it was just! So! Cute!" Patton's face brightened, and it seemed his situation had been temporarily forgotten.
"That would traditionally be considered heartwarming, correct?" Logan added. A quiet wave of understanding seemed to wash across the room.
Figures of speech seemed to be reflected through the Sides. After arguments, Roman or Patton would sometimes appear physically harmed - bruised ego and hurt feelings. When Virgil had more effect on Thomas than usual, a few inches would be added to his usually short stature - heightened anxiety. It wasn't uncommon for heartwarming events to raise Patton's temperature, but never this much. Virgil frowned in confusion. "Was the ending really that sweet?"
Patton and Roman turned simultaneously. "Well, of course," Roman said. "It was adorable."
"I didn't think it was that nice at all," Virgil muttered. "And to have such a severe effect, you'd think it would be a practically perfect ending."
A bit of the red disappeared from Patton's face, and his expression fell slightly. "But... it was, wasn't it?"
Virgil shrugged. "I guess I do tend to... focus on the negatives... but I still thought it was actually really... sad."
Logan seemed to have a realization, but whatever it was, he didn't share it. Instead, the logical side opted for a simple "How so?"
"Well... the main character's best friend died. It doesn't matter what anyone does, they're still dead. And... did you read the last line? It was so grim. It could be interpreted as sequel bait, but..." The anxious side sighed.
Patton frowned a bit, and it seemed the sweat on his face was lessening. "But... the redemption arc?"
"The villain still killed people, Patton," Virgil muttered. "Redeeming him doesn't change that." As the moral side's mood clearly grew more negative, a small seed of guilt began growing in Virgil's chest.
And Patton shivered.
It was a sudden and almost violent movement, his teeth chattering and body shaking. Patton began tapping the back of the couch almost frantically, grabbing his hoodie and pulling it on. Roman's eyes brightened with realization, and Virgil blinked, surprised.
"It's freezing!" Patton gasped, a small frown on his face as he shook violently. Suddenly, he realized what he had said, and a grin began seeping into his features. "I'm cold! I'm not hot!"
Roman rushed to turn off the fans, and Virgil almost laughed with relief. Patton was fine.
Patton stood up, rushing over to the corner Virgil stood in. "Virgil! I'm not hot!" The small shivers running across his body seemed forgotten. "It was so hot, I could barely move, but it's not hot anymore! I'm not hot!" Without warning, he wrapped his arms around the shorter side, who stiffened with surprise before his limbs loosened a bit.
Virgil allowed himself a small smile, wrapping his arms around Patton in response. "I was just... doing my job."
The small shivers left both side's bodies, and in the Sanders residence, Thomas felt soft warmth spread across his chest.