It was by pure accident that Deceit discovered Logan was susceptible to hypnosis.
It was an ability he had. It wasn’t an ability he flaunted. Maybe it was a by-product of his snake-like appearance and Thomas’ love for the Jungle Book. Maybe it was the charming nature of sweet little lies. But whatever the logic behind it was, it was an ability Deceit had. And he’d never used it on a Light Side before.
It wasn’t like he’d never used it, though. It was one of the only sure-fire ways to calm down some of the Dark Sides; a task much more difficult since Anxiety, Virgil, had been accepted as a Light Side, and had run.
Deceit couldn’t blame him. And he certainly was not envious of him.
But it was hard, between Apathy and him, to try and calm down Insanity. Insanity was Logan’s opposite, and whilst Deceit would never admit it to either of them, when it came down to mannerisms they were shockingly similar. Where Logic was controlled in his moments, Insanity was far more unhinged and wild, but they really were each others’ mirrors, however deranged the reflection was.
Deceit was lounging in the corner of the Light Sides’ common room, merely listening to the conversation. As long as he didn’t butt in and make an ass of himself, he was allowed to stay. And anyway, his cloak had been fairly badly torn by Insanity yesterday in a little bit of a… scuffle that happened, so Deceit sat, definitely not huddled defensively, in the corner with a needle and thread, stitching up the rip. If you looked closer at Deceit’s cape, you could see that it was torn and had been stitched up many times before. But Deceit had gotten good enough at needlework that you shouldn’t be able to tell.
Deceit had his collar turned up in replacement for the cape as he repaired it. It was not to hide bruises on his throat that Insanity definitely did not leave.
But he couldn’t ignore the rising voices. The conversation had shifted into an argument. A loud one. An angry one. Virgil was hiding in the depths of his hoodie trying to breathe and even Patton couldn’t mediate it. Roman and Logan egged each other on. Louder. Angrier. More. Louder. Louder. LOUDER.
And Logan screamed at Roman.
Loud and angry and overpowering.
He was moving towards Roman. Storming. He didn’t stop. Deceit didn’t catch the words, the tone was enough. He sounded so angry, so dangerous, just like him, he sounded like Insanity, why is he here, when did Insanity get here, who’s idea was that, what should he do, what should he do, what shou-
Across the room, he locked eyes with Virgil. The look in his eyes mirrored the thoughts bouncing around in Deceit’s skull. Patton physically reeled. You knew it had to be bad when even Morality didn’t know what to do. Deceit rose to his feet, acting more on instinct than thought. He stepped around Patton, running a calming hand across his shoulder as he passed. He bit his lip, and stepped in between them.
He thought he heard Roman gasp. Logan stared him down, and the inferno in his eyes was scarily familiar. He thought he’d escaped this, he thought when he was here he wouldn’t have to deal with this, but here he was.
“Get out of my way, Deceit.”
There was that harsh, discordant edge, that grit that he’d only heard in Insanity’s voice. This wasn’t Logan, where was he, what day was it, where where where-
Insanity raised his hand. A familiar action.
Was there shouting in the background?
As the hand came down with force, Deceit caught his wrist. He wasn’t getting any more bruises this week.
The look of surprise on Insanity’s face nearly drew a smile out of him. Deceit didn’t let either of them catch their breath. No time, no time, needed to calm him down before he broke anything or anyone.
And Deceit activated his ability.
The gentle swirl of colourful hypnotic spirals in Deceit’s eyes instantly gave Insanity pause. His eyes locked on. In seconds, he was going limp. “Now, Inny,” Deceit crooned, trying to keep the edge of fear out of his voice. “There’s no need for that, now.”
Insanity’s face drained of rage, leaving a guarded expression behind. “I need you to relax,” Deceit continued softly. The room was dead silent. “Breathe in for me.”
Insanity took a slow breath in.
He breathed out. Deceit could see the tension leaking from his shoulders. It was working it was working hallelujah. “And again.”
Insanity’s eyes were falling shut. Half-lidded, captured, unable to look away. “That’s good. Very good. Keep going. Just relax,” Deceit continued. He led him back to the sofa and sat him down slowly, trying not to break the spell. “That’s it.”
A question from behind him. It sounded confused. It sounded… afraid?
Deceit turned, casting a glance over his shoulder. And he saw…
Morality and Creativity staring at him with wide eyes. And Anxiety.
Patton and Roman.
Reality came crashing down. That meant…
He snapped back around, staring down at the hypnotised Side on the sofa in front of him.
Oh god, what had he done?
“Deceit, it’s oka-”
“W-wake up,” Deceit choked out, snapping his eyes closed. He heard the sleepy sounds of Logan waking up and he didn’t wait any longer.
He tried to make a break for it upstairs. Virgil blocked his path, trying to calm him, to catch him, to hurt him not again just let him go he didn’t mean it this time he swore please he was telling the truth this time please please let me go
He managed to fight out some words. Something along the lines of ‘I’m sorry,’ and ‘I didn’t mean to,’ and ‘please let me go.’ Some version of the storm of thoughts that wouldn’t let him breathe.
He darted around Virgil to the side of the staircase and threw himself over the bannister. He raced up the stairs, stumbling.
He threw himself into the broom closet, and down the stairs that led to the Dark Sides’ area. He threw himself into his room and bolted all the locks with a manic, but practiced frenzy.
A few minutes passed as he buried himself in the farthest corner of his bedroom and huddled under a blanket. A lazy knock came from the door. “Snakeface,” he heard Apathy call. “It’s getting to dinner time. Am I cooking again?”
There was Apathy. He didn’t care. Couldn’t care. But he could’ve asked it anyway, as a social courtesy.
‘Are you alright?’
That was all he wanted.
He just wanted someone to care.
But Deceit merely swallowed his grief and called back. “I am unable to cook tonight.”
Apathy shuffled on his feet, and sighed loudly. “Fine.”
He heard Apathy leave.
He breathed out and tried to keep the sobs confined tightly in his throat.
He heard Insanity breeze down the corridor, heard him try for the umpteenth time try to get a rise out of Apathy. He prayed quietly to whatever gods there may be that Insanity didn’t knock on his door. He wasn’t sure all the bolts would keep him out. He hadn’t a chance to replace all of them yet. He heard the lilting, unsteady footsteps race up and down the hall, before coming to rest outside his door. “Deceeeeit,” he said, sing-song.
Deceit shoved his fist in his mouth and refused to make a sound.
“Dee! Why don’t you come out?” he taunted. There was a soft thump as Insanity let his forehead fall against the door.
Thump. “Come oooon~”
Deceit bit down and stopped breathing. No breath through the vocal chords, no sound. No sound, no danger.
There was that dangerous growl. A choked sob escaped him. He didn’t need to hear it again today.
“Get out here right now or I’ll-”
Deceit felt his name called, felt a grip in his hair, and before he knew it-
He was dragged up, next to Patton.
The sudden light blinded him. He spat out his fist and attempted to collect himself. His ragged breathing and jumpy behaviour did not help.
Patton carefully put a hand on his shoulder. “Kiddo…” he murmured. “Are you alright?”
Deceit stared at him, his mismatched eyes wide. The tears he’d been fighting leaked out. He kept his breath locked in his chest, as quiet as possible even as Patton’s face melted into sympathy.
“Yes,” Deceit whispered. “I’m fi-”
His voiced cracked.
He tried again.
Patton held out his arms to offer a hug. Deceit flinched back. The last time someone offered a hug, it didn’t end very nicely for him.
As Patton’s arms and face fell, Deceit shrunk in on himself. He was suddenly aware of all the eyes on him. He scraped his shirt sleeve across his face roughly, drying his tears as best he could, before he closed his eyes and took a breath. He ran a hand through his hair, which had been tugged out of line by the rough summon. He drew up to his full height and smiled.
And there was the Deceit they knew.
“What do you need from me?” Deceit queried, fighting down the anxiety in his chest.
Virgil look at him, looked through him.
Roman looked down at his boots, and Logan…
Deceit couldn’t even look at Logan.
But Logan cleared his throat. “I, uh, apologise for the summon,” he offered first. “I’m yet to perfect that.”
“No issue,” Deceit replied fiddling with the seam of a glove. “It was very… timely.”
That had Virgil’s attention. Deceit met Virgil’s questioning gaze. He nodded slowly. Virgil’s brow softened in concern.
Logan glanced at Virgil, and cleared his throat. “Well, I summoned you because I… we, wished to thank you, Deceit,” he replied, adjusting his tie nervously.
Deceit’s gaze snapped onto Logan. Then he immediately looked at the floor.
Don’t look him in the eyes, he won’t want that, won’t want that ever again, they can’t trust his eyes, they’ll get the blindfold won’t they, don’t don’t don’t.
“What for?” he managed to ask.
“For the peaceful de-escalation of the earlier fight,” Logan finished.
Deceit blinked, looking up from the ground.
“…What?” he demanded haltingly.
“Thank you for…” Logan ran a hand through his hair. He glanced around at the others, and there was guilt in his eyes. “Stopping me. Before I went any further.”
The breath stopped in Deceit’s throat.
“Our fights had never escalated that far before,” Roman said, glancing from Logan to the snake-like side, before glancing down at the floor. “And you calmed the situation down so… effectively.”
Deceit’s lip quivered.
“I scared you all,” he whispered. “I showed you all how much more of a freak I am and, Logan, I literally controlled you and you’re thanking me? I-”
He clapped a hand over his own mouth before he could betray his own thoughts further.
Virgil took a few hesitant steps over to Deceit and peeled the Side’s palm off his mouth. “I explained,” Anxiety said softly. “About Insanity.”
Deceit turned away, hands back at his mouth not to mute his words but to muffle his sobs. “Dee, it’s okay,” Virgil said softly. “It’s okay.”
Carefully, Virgil extended his arms, eyebrows raised in question. Deceit stared. He stared for a few moments before some part of him acknowledged Virgil wouldn’t hurt him and he threw himself into Anxiety’s embrace. His tears went into the shoulder of Virgil’s hoodie, and Virgil softly ran his hands through Deceit’s hair. He was so gentle, no one was gentle with him, why was Virgil being so nice? Why did the touch mean so much, why did it feel so good? Why, why, why, why,
The thoughts spilled out onto his tongue.
Virgil hugged him tightly. He understood what the Side meant. “Because you don’t deserve to be hurt anymore,” he murmured into Deceit’s ear.
Deceit shook his head. He heard shuffling from behind him, from Patton. And he felt more warmth envelop him. He felt someone join in the hug from behind and then were the hands going for his throat? No, no, no, no, no no no no no no no no no nononononononononononononononono
Deceit twisted and thrashed out of the embrace with a desperate scream, shaking them both off. He ran, ran to Virgil’s corner and hid behind the bannister of the staircase. He gripped it, trying to blink the tears away as he shook. He was shaking so badly. Where was his cape? His hat? He needed something to hide in. Where was his cape his cape his cape he needed his cape. He shouldn’t’ve run running made it feel like a game for him and he would punish him even more for running, he shouldn’t’ve run. He was shaking, he was clawing at his arms, he wanted to rip his eyes out and pretend it never happened, pretend he wasn’t a freak, pretend he didn’t exist, he shouldn’t exist he-
Someone was kneeling in front of him.
Someone was calling his name.
Someone was holding out his cape to him.
Deceit blinked the tears away as he zoned in on the person in front of him.
Kneeling there patiently, arms outstretched with Deceit’s cloak in his hands. “We fixed it for you,” Logan said softly. “Roman repaired the fabric itself, so it’s as good as new.”
Deceit took it with slow, trembling hands. He ran his fingers across the fabric. It was softer than it had ever been, and all those countless rows of stitching that had scarred its surface were gone. All the times it had been thoughtlessly destroyed and all the hours he’d spent fixing it as best he could – gone.
A shaky smile stretched across Deceit’s face. It grew and grew until his cheeks hurt and he started laughing. Crying? Both? “Thank you!” he cried, clutching his cape to his chest. “Thank you so much!”
He threw it over his shoulders and drew it tightly around himself. He felt better. Lots better. “Deceit, would you like to sit somewhere more comfortable?” Logan asked, extending a hand to the snake-like Side. Deceit stared at the outstretched hand. He tried not to link it to Insanity. He tried not but this was like when Insanity offered to help him to his feet and then pulled him forward and into the bathtub and broke his nose and he laughed. So he tried not to hesitate, tried not to constantly flick his eyes up to Logan’s face to remind himself that this was not Insanity but he couldn’t help but flinch, even as Logan slowly, carefully, equally as hesitant, curled his fingers around Deceit’s hand. Deceit let Logan pull him to his feet, keeping his eyes on the floor.
Sitting at the dining table rather than the sofa, Deceit fiddled with a chip in the handle of a mug of tea he’d been given. He was crammed in next to Virgil, the only one who didn’t set off any unpleasant memories immediately. Virgil’s seat meant his back was always to the wall when he was with the others. They both knew why.
Roman sat to their left, also fiddling with his mug of coffee as the other two bustled around in the kitchen, preparing dinner.
“How do you do that?” Roman asked suddenly, not looking up from his hands.
Deceit regarded him with confusion.
“I must ask you to be more specific,” he said, hoping the prince was not asking about the hypnosis.
“The hypnosis,” stated Roman, still not looking up.
Deceit huffed out a tiny breath.
“It is just an ability I have,” he said. “You can conjure. Anx- sorry, Virgil, can control shadows, I can… do that.”
“You can control shadows?” Roman perked up, glancing at Virgil. Virgil nodded slightly, silently, disappearing into his hood.
Deceit frowned. “Sorry,” he quickly followed up. “I thought… I didn’t realise you hadn’t-”
“It’s fine,” Virgil interrupted. “Really.”
Deceit let it drop, but the feeling that it wasn’t really fine lingered in his gut.
Roman glanced at Deceit quickly, before looking away.
He was avoiding Deceit’s eyes.
That was it.
The prince didn’t trust him.
Deceit let his head fall.
He put his head in his hands, so he could hide his eyes from view.
“Dee?” Virgil asked softly.
“M'fine,” he mumbled.
“Dee, look at me,” Virgil said, tone slightly harsher.
“No,” Deceit said.
“It wasn’t a question,” Virgil frowned, a hand on Deceit’s shoulder. Deceit didn’t reply, and didn’t move.
Virgil peeled one hand off Deceit’s face, and Deceit’s yellow snake eye bore into Virgil’s eyes, before flitting away.
“You’re not going to…” Virgil’s eyes fell on Roman, who was still, very pointedly, not looking at Deceit.
Virgil’s expression turned stormy. Roman met his eyes, and went pale. “If you think Deceit will just…” Virgil trailed off, trying to find the words. “Just, use his hypnosis willy-nilly now you know about it, you’re wrong, Princey.”
He spat out that last word.
Roman winced, and looked down at his hands.
Deceit rose from his seat and left the room, darting upstairs. He returned a moment later, breathing hard from running, with a piece of fabric balled in his fist. As Logan and Patton drifted over to the table with five plates of mac and cheese, Deceit hesitantly rejoined them.
He unfurled the fabric and used it to blindfold himself.
Everyone’s faces around the table dropped. The ease with which Deceit did that was unnerving.
“Dee,” Virgil said, reaching for the knot. “Don’t do this to yourself.”
Deceit intercepted Virgil’s hand, catching his wrist with a grip so tight that Virgil sucked in a pained breath. They all watched in silence as Deceit slowly, deliberately, placed Virgil’s hand down on the table. His breathing was ragged but his movements precise.
“Don’t,” he hissed out. “Just…”
The meal fell into awkward silence.
Roman studied the snake-like Side with something uncomfortably like guilt churning in his stomach. The careful yet still confident way Deceit moved while blindfolded was a testament of months, maybe even years, of living like this.
Deceit took longer than all of them to finish.
No one said a word.
Roman quickly cleared the plates and hurried away into the kitchen to wash the dishes, the guilt beginning to crack his actor’s façade. Virgil quietly rose and followed him, to have a quiet word with the prince.
Deceit stiffened as he felt Virgil leave his side. His head turned, but he bit his lip as the blackness was all that greeted him. He heard the others stand, chairs scraping on the floorboards. He felt someone approach him.
“Deceit,” they said. It was Logan. Personally, Deceit didn’t understand why he hadn’t thrown him out yet. “I’m going to help you out of your seat, and move you to the sofa. I want to watch a documentary, and I think the commentary would be engaging enough for you.”
Deceit didn’t speak, didn’t trust himself to speak. Instead, he simply extended a hand out in front of him, and tried to ignore how he was shaking.
“Alright,” Logan’s calm tone pierced through his shot nerves. “Thank you, Deceit. I’m going to take your hand, and we’ll stand up, okay?”
Deceit nodded again, and braced for Logan to snatch his hand. To squeeze, to hurt. Instead, the aspect of logic carefully slid his hand into Deceit’s, and gently gripped his wrist in a steady and firm hold. Deceit reciprocated the hold nervously. He didn’t know if this was what he was supposed to do. But Logan didn’t seem upset, so…
“Great,” Logan continued. Not an ounce of frustration coloured his tone. “Let’s stand now. On three.”
Logan helped him to his feet with a gentle perseverance that Deceit had expected from no one. Then, with one hand still in Deceit’s and the other guiding him from the elbow, Deceit let Logan lead him to the sofa and sit him down. As he kicked off his boots, something large and soft, some kind of stuffed toy, was offered to him, placed into his hands. Deceit took it without hesitation, wrapping his arms around it and mumbling a quiet thank you. He tucked his legs up and buried his chin in the soft thing, settling back into the seat. He heard a, ‘you’re welcome,’ which sounded like it came from Patton.
“I’m going to watch a documentary about tigers,” Logan called from across the room, by the TV, if Deceit was envisioning the space correctly. “Is that satisfactory?”
He heard Logan fiddle with the TV. He also heard a quiet, but heated discussion from back in the kitchen, through hissed teeth. He couldn’t make out the words, but he clutched the toy all the tighter and buried his face in it.
Footsteps. He felt Logan standing nearby. “May I sit with you?” he asked.
Deceit bit his lip. No one asked anything of him. They only took. Why were these people being so nice to him?
“No,” he whispered, whilst nodding, because his words weren’t coming out right and everything was getting a bit much and that fine line between real words and lies was beginning to blur. “You certainly cannot.”
“Thank you,” Logan said, and he felt the steady warmth of Logan settle on the seat beside him. Logan turned up the volume. Whatever voices were in the background were drowned out by a soothing voice and nature sounds. “This documentary is by David Attenborough,” Logan informed him, even though Deceit didn’t ask. “There are other documentaries by other people, but I say he has the nicest voice.”
As they settled into silence to learn about tigers, Deceit did have to agree with him.
During the documentary, Deceit heard those hissed voices in the background rise in volume, before he heard footsteps storm past and up the stairs, and the quiet sound what might be someone trying to muffle their tears. He heard a heavy sigh behind him. Murmured words. He tried to ignore them, but he was drawn to that conversation like a moth to flame. Patton and Virgil talking in low voices, about him about what he’d done wrong about-
Logan’s hand on his knee drew him out of his stupor. “Did you know that despite being a member of the cats’ family, tigers are excellent swimmers and swim frequently for both enjoyment and exercise?”
Logan’s tone was light, but it was a clean way to draw Deceit’s attention back to the documentary. Deceit shivered from the chill settling in his bones and from the touch, and quietly mumbled, “I definitely did.”
“Well, let’s keep listening,” Logan prompted.
Deceit turned his head back forward, directing his attention away from what was going on behind him.
He hadn’t meant to fall asleep. He hadn’t slept easily in so long. The gentle rise into wakefulness didn’t usually happen to Deceit. If it wasn’t an alarm, it was the others waking him harshly, or his own fitful rest and nightmares. So Deceit slowly and blearily lifting his head off whatever surface he’d drifted off on was so foreign to him.
And that set off the warning bells.
There was a heat source next to him. There was something furry in his arms that he knew was not his, and why couldn’t he see?
The blindfold was back.
Where was he, where was he? Was Insanity nearby? Did he do this?
Something was covering him. Binding him. Weighing him down and whatever was next to him was moving.
Deceit could put two and two together. His breath stopped in his throat and he tried to scream for help but no sound came out.
He threw himself away from the thing next to him, it was another person. Only Insanity had the patience for a stunt like that, only for something horrible to happen. He wriggled out of the binds and threw away the furry thing. He didn’t want to entertain what it might have been. He tried to run, to get away. He needed to. “Apathy!” he managed to choke out. “Help me!”
No response, apart from that voice repeating his name, sounding… confused? Concerned?
And no Apathy.
He expected as much.
Deceit stumbled away. He had time, he was fast, he could hide, he was good at hiding. He was like a snake, after all.
His thoughts were disjointed and whirling, trying to think of somewhere to hide.
Deceit tripped over something, fell headlong over a coffee table in his path. Why was there a coffee table there? They didn’t have a coffee table. The Light Sides had a coffee table, but not them. Insanity kept breaking them.
“Deceit!” the exclamation came.
Deceit was on his front. Had he hit his head? He wasn’t sure.
But one thought stuck out.
The Light Sides had a coffee table.
The Light Sides.
He felt someone kneeling beside him, talking to him.
“-eit! Deceit, can you hear me? I am Logan, I am Logic, I am not going to hurt you. Please, can you hear me? Tell me where you are. Come back to me. I’m going to put my hand on yours, okay?”
And there was his hand. Deceit’s breathing evened out slightly.
“I-I’m in the Light Side common room,” he hissed hesitantly. Was he?
“Yes,” confirmed the voice. “Yes, you are. Very good, Deceit. Who am I?”
He just told him. He was… “Logic,” Deceit whispered, readjusting the grip Logan had on his hand so he could firmly hold it, linking the fingers. “You’re Logic.”
“Yes,” Logan said, and he could hear the smile in his voice. “Very good, Deceit.”
“You are Logan,” Deceit repeated to himself. “You a-are not Ins-anity.”
His voice cracked when he tried to say his name.
“I am not Insanity,” Logan agreed, sadness in his tone. “Insanity is not here. Insanity is never allowed here, can never be here. He can’t hurt you here, I swear it on my own sanity. Tell me what year it is, Deceit.”
“It’s two thousand and eighteen,” Deceit said, more confidently than before.
“Good, very good.”
They stayed like that for a moment, Deceit clinging to Logic like a lifeline.
“I don’t want to get up now,” Deceit said quietly, keeping his head turned away from Logan.
“Alright,” Logan agreed. “I’ll move you back to the sofa?”
Deceit just nodded. He didn’t think he could force out any more words.
Logan helped him stand and helped him sit, making him comfortable.
He felt Logan just… stand over him for a moment.
“Deceit…” Logan started.
Deceit automatically looked up, not that it made a difference.
Logan paused, before saying, “I want to take your blindfold off.”
Deceit shrank back into the seat, but didn’t make any verbal objections. His hands were moving. “No, no, no,” he said. Had he slipped into sign language? “No, no, no, no, no.”
He was going faster and faster, the gestures meshing into a confusing mess.
Logan caught his hands. “Deceit, I trust you,” he stated.
Deceit fell still.
“I trust you won’t hurt me,” Logan reiterated.
Deceit began to shake. “But,” was all he got out before Logan cupped his chin and all breath left him at the sudden contact.
It was gentle.
It set Deceit’s skin on fire and he loved it.
And he was afraid of it.
“Dee,” Logan said softly.
They both heard Deceit’s breath catch in his throat.
“May I take it off?”
Logan slowly reached either side of Deceit’s head, and fumbled with the knot. It came undone easily. He watched as the fabric fell away from Deceit’s face and slid into his lap, but his eyes never left Deceit’s when they were revealed.
The blindfold had been absorbing his tears.
Now they rolled freely down his cheeks, but Deceit was almost absolutely silent.
Deceit’s eyes, one rich brown and the other striking yellow, were captivating, and not because of any ability or power. Logan studied his eyes with a smile. “Your eyes are beautiful,” he said softly.
Deceit’s breath rushed out of him. His eyes had been described many ways. Beautiful was not one of them. Logan cupped Deceit’s chin in his slender fingers and stroked Deceit’s scales with his thumb. Deceit flushed because the touch felt good, no one touched him like this, this wasn’t bad, this felt good, and not weirdly, it was… affection? Is this what affection was?
The tears did not stop.
Logan moved to Deceit’s side, sitting next to him. Their eyes never left each others’. Logan left his hand on Deceit’s cheek. He seemed to understand the Side’s need for touch.
Finally, Deceit managed to form a sentence. “A-are you sure you aren’t the one with the hypnosis?” he stammered softly, leaning into Logan’s gentle touches as Logan continued to run his thumb across Deceit’s scaly cheekbone.
“Why’s that?” Logan asked softly.
“B-because it feels like you’ve got me under a spell right now,” Deceit replied, unabashedly letting his eyes close. His cheeks were burning and all shame was out the window and what was he doing right now?
“I wish to hug you,” Logan stated, his other hand travelling to Deceit’s shoulder, preparing to pull him closer.
“Okay,” Deceit whispered, getting lost on the sensations.
He let Logan pull him close. Wrap his arms around him. To do the same back. To bury his head in Logic’s shoulder and relish in companionship. Was this creepy? Was this wrong? God, he hoped not because he didn’t want to go back to how he was before now. Would this be gone by morning? Most likely. Deceit buried his head further into Logan’s shirt and a tiny sound of contentment escaped him.
“Is this good?” Logan asked.
“Yes,” Deceit immediately replied. “I can’t… It’s… just, yes.”
He gripped Logan’s shirt tighter and tried to push away the inevitability of this ending. Because it would. Everything would end, and nothing lasted. Tomorrow, Logan would be as distant as Roman, as Apathy. Tomorrow, Logan would care as much as-
Deceit cursed himself inwardly at the fact he somehow had more tears to cry.
“What are you afraid of here?” Logan murmured in his ear.
The intimacy made him shiver.
“I-I’m afraid… that…” Deceit couldn’t finish that sentence. “I’m not afraid.”
Logan drew him tighter.
“Alright. What are you not afraid of, right now?” he asked.
He was working around his curse, he was making an attempt to care, he wasn’t casting Deceit aside as soon as the lies spilled out, he was finding another way. Deceit fisted Logan’s shirt all the tighter and took a hissing, steadying breath.
“I-I’m not afraid of you leaving,” he mumbled. “I’m not afraid that this is all a façade and in the morning I’ll be in my room with Insanity breaking down the door. I’m not afraid that you’ll pretend this never happened and you’ll all become like Apathy and I’m not afraid that-”
Logan placed the tip of his index finger on Deceit’s lips.
The touch burned and tingled.
“You have nothing to fear here, Dee,” Logan reiterated. “We’ve come so far. I wouldn’t cast you out when you have…” he fumbled for words. Roman would be better here, he knew it. “You have… bared your… soul? For me. To me.” Logan winced into his neck. “I’m bad at this.”
Deceit shook his head, pulling back to look at Logan. “You are not,” he said. “I can’t begin to explain how much this means to me.”
Deceit found himself staring into Logan’s eyes for too long. They were beautiful in their own right; methodical, critical, analytical, but still with underlying warmth. “I don’t know why you cared,” he found himself saying.
“Because you need someone to,” Logan immediately replied. “And I am more than happy to care about you.”
“And you aren’t afraid of me?” Deceit asked, and gods, he sounded so small, so plaintive. “Of what I can do, and what I stand for?”
“I am Logic,” Logan said bitterly. “Cold, hard, unfeeling logic. You should be afraid of me.”
Deceit hesitantly reached out and cupped Logan’s cheek in his hand, wanting to reassure him and not really sure how, but reciprocation of the affection made the most sense to him. “You are more than that,” Deceit.
Logan’s lips quirked in a strange little smile. “My mind is always whirring,” he said, looking down. “Always working, always formulating, always something. There has only been one time, in Thomas’ life, where I have just… stopped thinking for a moment, and I can’t stop thinking about it.”
Logan looked up, tentative and hesitant. “When you hypnotised me.”
Deceit stared at Logan, dumbfounded. “Y-you… liked it?” he quailed.
To his uttermost surprise, Logan flushed hard and looked away, embarrassed by the admission. “I-I, um…” he stumbled over words, his composure hanging by a thread, before he simply hung his head in defeat with a sigh. “Yes,” he clarified.
Deceit’s world raced to a stop.
He pulled back, staring incomprehensively at Logan.
Logan looked back, and the vulnerability in both of their eyes gave them pause.
“Y-you don’t think I’m a freak?” Deceit whispered.
“Never,” Logan said firmly. He shied away slightly. “Have I disturbed you?”
“No,” Deceit declared. “No, no, no.”
He put his head in his hands, to hide his smile. “I just can’t believe it,” he mumbled into his gloves. “I can’t believe someone likes it. Likes… me.”
“We all like you,” Logan said, that don’t-be-silly look in his eyes.
“Roman doesn’t,” Deceit shot back immediately.
“Roman doesn’t know how he feels right now,” Logan rebuked, shaking his head. “He will come around.”
Deceit’s smile couldn’t be hidden any more. He felt giddy. He threw his arms around Logan and hugged him tightly. He could hardly articulate the thoughts in his head, but the one idea that came across to Logan was, ‘thank you.’
Logan’s hand moved to pet Deceit’s hair tenderly as his other drew the Side closer. “It’s more than alright, Dee,” he murmured. “You don’t have to go back.”
Deceit fell dead silent, freezing up in Logan’s arms.
“B-but,” he said, pulling away and wrapping his arms around himself. “I do.”
“We can make you a room up here,” Logan protested, resting a hand on Deceit’s arm. “We can-”
“If I don’t go back,” Deceit interrupted, putting a hand up to silence him. “Apathy will be the only one between us and Insanity.” He shook his head. “And that’s… Apathy doesn’t give two shits. It’s kind of his thing. Insanity will beat him up a couple of times and get bored.”
Logan stared at Deceit as Deceit looked away. “A-and a bored Insanity is a dangerous Insanity,” Deceit mumbled. “It used to be between Anxie-, sorry. Virgil, and I to keep him… entertained, but Virgil ran. And I certainly don’t understand why, a-and I don’t wish I could too, because someone has to keep him away from Thomas.”
Logan’s eyes were wide.
Deceit put his chin on his knees. “I am, among other things, Thomas’ inner self-preservation,” he explained, staring at the ground. “Often, I am the last barrier between Thomas and a complete breakdown. I hide the parts of him he doesn’t know about, doesn’t want to know about. That is my job.”
Deceit glanced at Logan. “It’s my job, and I can’t change it because I don’t like it.”
Logan’s breath was gone. He couldn’t formulate an answer. The lengths Deceit has gone to, the things he’d been through, he couldn’t begin to fathom it, and he wasn’t going to walk away?
“In fact,” Deceit said sadly, pulling out his phone from a pocket, “I’ve probably been here too long.”
“It hasn’t even been six hours,” Logan protested, glancing at the screen. It was full of notifications. Missed calls, texts, other messages from other apps. Most of the hundreds of messages were from Insanity. There was one text from Apathy.
‘You coming back soon?’
Logan watched Deceit’s face drop.
Deceit unfurled his limbs and hurriedly began to pull his boots back on. Rising to his feet, he harshly ran his sleeve across his face to dry any last tears and set his expression to cool disinterest.
“What does that mean?” Logan asked, scrambling to his feet also.
“It means he’s in trouble,” was all Deceit explained.
Deceit rushed up the stairs, Logan hot on his heels. As they reached the cupboard, Deceit froze before he reached the doorknob.
“Logan,” he stated firmly. “You can’t come with me.”
“Don’t be stupid,” Logan snapped. “You shouldn’t do this alone.”
“I have Apathy,” Deceit pointed out unconvincingly. “I’m not alone.”
“You know what I mean,” Logan replied, folding his arms.
Deceit shook his head firmly.
“I don’t know what impact Insanity might have on you, and I’m not risking it,” he said. “You are not coming.”
“Then take Virgil,” Logan said, gesturing to Anxiety’s door.
“No,” growled Deceit. “I can’t subject him to that again! Just-” He glanced down at his phone.
“I don’t have time for this,” he said. “Thank you, Logan. Pass on my thanks to everyone else, and my apologies to Roman. I have to go.”
And he darted into the broom closet and locked it behind him before Logan could follow.
Deceit thundered down the stairwell, forcing down all fear into a tight little knot in the depths of his chest. He didn’t need that now.
Breaking out into the Dark Sides’ common room, Deceit’s eyes adjusted quickly to the dim light. Insanity wasn’t there, but would probably be summoned by the sound of his footsteps, and Apathy,
was lying, pale-faced, half-awake and broken on the couch.
He went straight to Apathy’s side.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “I was gone too long.”
“You’re telling me,” croaked out Apathy.
Deceit fetched the large first aid kit from the kitchen and quickly began to patch Apathy up. “It looks like he’s only done a day’s damage,” Deceit said, voice soft because it seems Apathy had taken a blow to the head and his wicked headache was unforgiving. “You’ll be fine after a couple night’s rest.”
Apathy blinked up at the ceiling.
They heard his footsteps down the hallway. Deceit took off his newly repaired cloak and spread it over Apathy as a blanket, and swallowed that trepidation.
He could feel his presence in the doorway.
“Insanity,” greeted Deceit, turning around slowly.
Insanity smiled at him, his broken and bent glasses frames catching the light. His ragged, patchwork clothes hung off him. They hadn’t been able to convince him to eat for a while.
“Dee!” he chirped. “You’re back!”
“Yes,” Deceit replied, keeping his body language casual as he took a few steps towards the deranged side. “I apologise for being gone so long.”
“You had fun?”
Deceit blinked. “It was awful, really. It’s far too bright up there.”
The lie came easily. But he’d given no contextual clues for it to be a lie. And Insanity looked… weaker than normal. He had to reason to doubt him.
“Well, you can stay here, right?” Insanity asked, voice wavering, tottering over towards him. “You can stay and keep our family together?”
Was he upset? Like, actually, sadness-type-upset?
“Yes,” Deceit said, opening his arms for a hug. He must still be in a hugging mood. What was he doing? The last time he got a hug from Insanity, the man had strangled him. But something in the side’s eyes gave him pause. “I’m staying down here.”
It felt like he was condemning himself, but he pushed that thought aside.
“And you won’t ever go back?” Insanity asked, plaintively.
Deceit’s breath caught in his chest as he felt the ghost of Logan’s thumb over his cheek.
He couldn’t promise that.
He was Deceit. He couldn’t promise, full stop.
“I will still live down here, with you,” he said instead, letting his arms fall as Insanity did not move any closer. “I will not change my residence.”
“That’s not what I meant!” Insanity roared, stomping his foot. The change was instant.
Deceit stared evenly back. I know what you meant, and I can’t answer that.
Deceit rolled his eyes. “You two haven’t eaten, have you?” he asked, glancing back at Apathy.
Apathy shook his head. “I burnt it, and it was shit,” he replied. “So, not really.”
“Well,” Deceit said, forcing a light tone into his voice. “You’re not you when you’re hungry, allegedly. Let me cook something.”
They sat at the dinner table like the Light Sides had. Deceit made spaghetti. They both wolfed it down like they hadn’t eaten in days. Deceit forced himself to eat, because he didn’t want to give them the impression that he spurned them for the Light Sides. He forced himself to eat the whole plate. He felt sick.
He tucked Insanity into bed. As drained as the Side was, Insanity had reverted even more into childlike behaviour, and would not go to bed until someone did. Deceit tucked the blankets up to Insanity’s chin and tried not to be unnerved by the two bright orange eyes boring into his skull. He smoothed Insanity’s hair back gently out of his face. “Do you need anything else, Inny?” he asked. Insanity shook his head exaggeratedly.
Deceit smiled at him. He wasn’t like this often. He must’ve been upset.
“Can I get a goodnight kiss?” Insanity said as Deceit stood up.
“A-ah, yes, of course,” he fumbled.
Regaining composure, Deceit bent over an placed a peck onto Insanity’s forehead. “Sleep well,” he said, quickly leaving the room as the Side fell asleep almost immediately.
He had never been more unnerved in his life. But he kept it trapped in his throat and helped Apathy into bed also. Having dished out some Panadol to the Side, and the food making him drowsy, Apathy easily went to sleep with barely a word.
Deceit stood alone in the Dark Sides’ common room trying to quell the horrible feeling in his stomach. He felt such a strange mix of emotions, he was so confused. Then he had to make a dash to the bathroom as both meals he’d eaten made a reappearance.
It was four in the morning by the time he’d wound up in his bedroom. He was exhausted. He bolted all the locks and hung up his cape, before falling back on his bed.
He should get changed.
His eyelids fell.
His phone buzzed.
It took Deceit a bit to realise that it’d been doing that for a while.
He pulled it out, and saw his phone was flooded with messages from… Virgil?
He opened them, scrolling through them to the start.
‘hey, dee. lo said u had to go, something about insanity. u ok?’
‘dee, answer me. u ok?’
‘why’d u lock the door?’
‘are u conscious?’
‘cmon dee, answer me.’
He scrolled past many more, before finally replying.
‘Sorry for no reply. It’s been…’
‘weird,’ was the word he settled on.
‘good weird or bad weird’
‘good? I think?’
‘can u come back?’
Then, Deceit stared at the wall, before typing out one more message.
‘tell Logan I’m alright.’
‘is that a lie’
‘well I just tucked Insanity into bed and had to give him a kiss goodnight so I’m a little shaken but like I’m fine’
‘yeah. He beat up Apathy and neither had eaten. I fed them, patched them up and put them in bed. It’s all good.’
‘u’re right that’s pretty fuckin weird’
‘can i give logan ur number?’
‘he keeps trying to steal my phone’
‘can he not’
‘i got shit on here no one needs to see’
Deceit huffed out a quiet laugh and smiled.
‘yeah, you can’
‘tell him not to ring tho’
‘I don’t want to wake them up’
It took barely a moment before messages came flooding through from Logan.
‘I’m okay, Logan’
‘Don’t you EVER pull a stunt like that again!’
‘I said I’m okay, Logan.’
‘I swear to God, Dee.’
That smile hadn’t died yet. He could feel the ghost of Logan’s thumb on his cheek.
‘If you’re lying I’m breaking down that door and strangling all three of you. I don’t care about consequences.’
‘I’m not lying.’
‘And anyway, I’ve just managed to get them asleep so I’d rather you didn’t.’
‘I should let you sleep.’
‘I meant Logan.’
‘Sorry, sorry sorry sorryosryrysory’
‘Dee, it’s alright.’
‘If I can call you ‘Dee,’ then it’s only fair you can also call me ‘Lo,’ if you so wish.’
‘I don’t mind.’
Deceit plugged in his phone and got as far as changed into his pyjama pants and a singlet before he kind of gave up. He collapsed into bed, staring at the door with a dull swirl of thoughts lulling him to sleep. If he closed his eyes, he could still feel Logan’s touch, on his cheek, on his lips, on his shoulder. And the comforting thought of people caring lulled him to sleep, and Deceit dreamed of family and love.