Patton was completely relaxed and comfortable, curled up in a warm pile of blankets and watching a Steven Universe episode, when he heard a faint knock on the door. It was so quiet he wasn’t even sure he had really heard it. But then he heard a faint rustle behind the door and he quickly wiggled out of his warm blanket cocoon, making his way to the door in a second.
“Yes?” he asked as he opened the door, finally catching sight of who it was.
It was Virgil. He was shifting from foot to foot, one arm around his middle, the other playing with his lip between his teeth. He looked.. anxious. And sure he was Anxiety, but Patton knew he had been getting better lately with handling that side of himself. So when Virgil went a few more seconds without saying anything Patton decided to start the conversation himself.
“What’s up kiddo? Did you need something?” he asked gently.
“I- I just-” Virgil tried to start his sentence. Patton saw his hand tremble against his lips. After a second of trying to fumble for words Virgil huffed and shook his head a bit roughly before turning to leave. “It’s nothing, Pat. Sorry for bothering you.”
“Wait wait wait,” Patton reached out to stop him, making sure not to touch him in his anxious and frustrated state, but still trying to get him to stay. He quickly tried to think of something, anything that would help the situation, when suddenly he got an idea. “Would you maybe like to help me make some cookies?”
“Right now?” Virgil stopped, looking uncertain as he bit his lip and eyed Patton’s outstretched hands.
“But- It’s late-” he mumbled halfheartedly, as if he wanted to say yes but didn’t want to force Patton to spend time with him.
“I don’t care,” Patton declared with a bright smile. “I wanna hang out with you now.”
Virgil gave a little amused huff and returned the smile with a small one of his own. When Patton reached out his hand, Virgil finally let go of his middle and took Patton’s hand in his own, relaxing a little for the first time since Patton opened the door for him. “Let’s go then.”
An hour later, Virgil was almost completely relaxed. Patton and him were sitting on the counter together, backs to the cupboards, legs touching, flour-covered fingers laced together.
“Hey kiddo?” Patton asked gently, making sure not to look over at him as he watched his legs swing a little over the edge of the counter.
Virgil hummed in response. He was concentrating on the fingers of his free hand as they lightly traced patterns on the back of Patton’s hand.
“What was it you wanted earlier?”
Virgil tensed up a little.
“It’s okay if you don’t want to say,” Patton said gently, his eyes still trained on the ground.
“I- I just-” Virgil tried to say, but stopped, sighing as he closed his eyes. “It’s stupid.”
“No it’s not,” Patton’s words were soft as he leaned against Virgil’s shoulder. “Not if it upset you.”
Virgil took a deep breath and leaned against Patton a little.
“Sometimes I just- I’m just doing something normal and then my heart starts to beat really fast and my breathing gets all messed up and my hands start to shake and I don’t know why because nothing’s wrong and- I- I don’t know-” he broke himself off, biting his lip as he stared at the floor. His next words were quiet. “I feel stupid.”
“You’re not stupid, kiddo. Sometimes anxiety just doesn’t need a reason, and that’s okay-”
Virgil cut him off. “But I’m supposed to be stronger, I’m supposed to be able to control it, or at least understand it, and if I can’t even do that..”
Patton gently unlaced their fingers and slid off the counter, standing in front of Virgil as he reached up and held Virgil’s cheeks in his hands. Virgil looked up at him with unshed tears of frustration shining in his eyes.
“Listen to me, okay Virge?” Patton’s voice was so gentle as he waited for Virgil’s slight nod. “It’s okay if you can’t control it, at sometimes I can’t control my emotions either. And it’s okay if you can’t understand it; I don’t either. Some things are just not meant to be understood and controlled. Sometimes all you can do is focus on getting through it. And that’s okay. Just remember we’re always here if you need a little help, alright? You don’t have to get through this alone.”
A tear trickled onto Patton’s hand as Virgil smiled shakily at him. Then he swallowed and nodded, closing his eyes and tightening his grip on the edge of the counter as he tried to hold back more tears.
“Hey Virgil?” Patton whispered.
Virgil opened his eyes and blinked back tears as he whispered back hoarsely, “yeah?”
“Would you like a hug?”
Virgil smiled again and a couple more tears slipped down his cheeks as he nodded. Patton opened his arms and waited as Virgil finally got off the counter. After only a second he wrapped his arms around Virgil, smiling as he felt him do the same. Virgil trembled a little in his arms.
“It’s okay, kiddo. I got you,” he whispered, holding him so close and snug. And with that Virgil finally let go of his tears, holding on to Patton as he cried.
For a few moments they just stood there, gently rocking together as Virgil released all the frustration he had felt before and all the relief he felt now. Then he pulled away, mumbling a sorry as he rubbed the remaining tears from his face. “I’m okay now,” he mumbled.
“It’s okay if you’re not, you know?” Patton smiled gently at him, reaching out to brush some of the hair from Virgil’s eyes.
“Yeah I- I know dad,” Virgil said softly, his own smile small but happy.
Patton beamed at him. “I’m really happy to hear that! Now, how would you feel about watching a movie together? It’s pretty late, but I think we could finish one before we have to go to bed.”
“Sure, why not?” Virgil shrugged, his smile growing a bit bigger as Patton tugged him into the living room to pick a movie. And soon enough, they were curled up together on the couch, fast asleep as Winnie the Pooh played on the tv, the scent of cookies still lingering in the air.
They were happy and comfortable and cared for and loved, and for once they both believed it. They were content.