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i'm waiting to love, oh it'll be over and i'll still be asking when

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I think I've been telling lies
'Cause I've never been in love
Everyone falls for the sunshine disguise
Distracted by who they're thinking of

“You need to say what’s in your heart!”

“Come on. If you do that, you could get all tongue-tied. Jumbled. Confused.”

Patton’s smile faltered for a second at Anxiety’s comment. “Well, then you write it all down beforehand in a letter!” He lifted the paper he conjured to his face, scanning the text quickly to ensure it was long enough. “‘Dear Valerie, happy Valerintine’s day. Wow, that didn't come off quite as well as I would've like it to. Maybe not one of my best jokes. Um, well, er…’”

He continued his rambling letter, ignoring Creativity’s comment of “He wrote this down?” and Logic’s “This was the whole problem… he was trying to circumnavigate…” as he went.

“‘Hm. Wow. Uh, is it hot in here? It's a little hot in here to me. I'm getting a little bit sweaty-’”

“Okay! I think that was... that was a bit of a failed experiment,” Thomas cut in. Patton stifled a sigh of relief. He had been getting close to the end of his paper, and the idea of him needing to actually say he liked Valerie romantically and wanted to date her - no matter how much the context screamed that it was all hypothetical and wouldn’t be taken sincerely by anyone - made his insides squirm.

After his second attempt at a method for Thomas also went poorly, Patton conjured another paper. “Okay! Then you create a gift to give them! A drawing!” He held the paper out to Valerie. “Here you go.”

“But that could be just taken as a gift from a friend!” Creativity complained.

Patton didn’t see the problem with that, but before he could voice this Creativity and Anxiety came up with their interpretations of how it would go wrong, and Patton figured that the conversation had move on too far for him to mention it now.

“I just felt something for someone else that I had never felt before, y’know?”

Patton hesitated. He knew that Thomas must be referring to the ever-elusive feelings associated with romance, but Patton couldn’t fully grasp what exactly those feelings were . He was at the core of a lot of Thomas’s feelings, but it seemed the romantic ones weren’t part of that. “…No,” he finally replied.

“Hey, uh, Pat?”

Patton beamed. “Yeah, kiddo?”

“I just realized, I never actually thanked you for your card?” Virgil started, rubbing the back of his neck nervously. “Like, I kept meaning to, but I never got around to it? And I guess my card could be seen as the thank you, but it was never actually outright stated, so-”

“Aw, Virgil, it’s okay! You’re thanking me now, after all!”

Virgil smiled slightly. “Yeah, I guess.”

Patton shrugged. “Honestly, I’m just happy you didn’t, you know, ‘Wow! This is horrible!’”

Virgil winced. “Yeah, that… definitely wasn’t helpful, looking back.”

Patton smiled. “I mean, I know that my drawings definitely aren’t the best , but a little kindness goes a long way.”

Virgil laughed softly. “Yeah, you would know.”

“What’s this?” Roman’s booming voice carried through the room. “Patton gave Virgil a drawing?

Virgil raised an eyebrow. “Uh, yeah? It’d be a pretty boring card without a drawing to fill the space not taken up by words.”

“Yes, but I seem to remember Patton here suggesting giving someone a drawing to show that you like them!” Roman raised an eyebrow.

Patton frowned. “You’re the one that said it could be taken as a gift from a friend, Roman.” The familiar feeling of discomfort rose up in his gut at Roman’s not-at-all-subtle implications.

Roman spread his hands wide in defense. “But it was your idea in the first place for a drawing to be a good way of showing you’re interested in someone!”

“Maybe it was only a good way because it was so easy to see it as platonic,” Patton mumbled as he started to walk away.

“Wh- Hey! I was only joking around!” Roman called out behind him.

Patton heard a soft “I’ll go talk to him” as he continued on to his room. He closed his door part way behind him, pulling his cat onesie on for comfort. He sat down on his bed, pulling a stuffed animal close for comfort.

Soon, he heard a knock at his door. “Can I come in?”

Patton smiled, recognizing Virgil’s voice. “Of course you can, buddy!” As Virgil stepped inside, Patton patted the bed beside him as an invitation for Virgil to sit down. Virgil did sit beside Patton, though he wasn’t as close as where Patton had been patting.

“So,” Virgil started, “Are you doing okay? I mean, obviously you aren’t doing great , but, y’know, okay is different.”

Patton’s smile softened. “Well, I gotta admit, I don’t feel very good after Roman’s comment, but I’ll be alright. I’m sure he didn’t really mean anything by it, anyway.” His smile started to feel a bit forced.

Virgil raised an eyebrow at him. “Just because he didn’t mean anything doesn’t mean that your feelings matter less.”

Patton forced his smile wider. “Of course it doesn’t mean that, kiddo! I just don’t want to make you worry over something like this anymore than you have to.”

Virgil remained unconvinced. “What’s this really about?” He asked softly. “I’ll admit, his comment made me a little uncomfortable, too, but you looked a lot more than just a little uncomfortable because of it.”

“I just-” Patton crumpled, and all of his thoughts on the subject came rushing to the forefront. “Anytime Thomas shows interest someone, I’m happy for him, I can feel that he’s happy, too, but- liking someone romantically is supposed to be this special thing, something you can identify and separate from other feelings, but I don’t know what it’s supposed to feel like? Maybe that just means that Roman is in charge of those feelings instead, but the rest of you seem to still be comfortable with-” Patton waved his hand aimlessly. “-Everything that comes along with discussing that sort of thing. Roman did his dreamy-fantasy guy thing even more than he had to during the Moving On videos, you were able to contribute to that conversation once it moved far enough out of the dreamy-fantasy zone for you, and all three of you seemed just fine discussing your suggestions in the Valentine’s day video, even you - though yours wasn’t during the main video - and-”

“Wait, Patton.” Virgil cut in. “You were taking part in that Valentine’s video just as much as the rest of us, and you definitely had more suggestions than I did - at least, more suggestions that were positive. Are you saying that you didn’t want to be part of the discussion?”

“No, no, it’s not that, I showed up because I wanted to, and it was fun helping you all come up with ideas, but… it kinda felt like I had to come up with ideas, too. And I was fine with that! But the idea of actually saying to hypothetical-stranger-Valerie that I was interested in her, even though Logan and Roman had done it without hesitation before me and it would’ve been clear that I didn’t mean any of it, felt… weird, and wrong. Like- remember my letter, and how long and rambly it was?” Virgil nodded. “That was on purpose, because I didn’t want to get to the end and have to actually say I was interested in hypothetical-stranger-Valerie, and the drawing was meant to border on platonic, so that I wouldn’t feel as much like a container of eels because of it, and- and-” Patton took a shuddering breath.

“Hey, no, it’s okay,” Virgil assured him. “So… you weren’t comfortable with the romance-focused parts of the video being applied to you?” Patton nodded. “Okay, so you don’t like romance for yourself personally. What’s the issue that I’m missing here?”

Patton shrugged. “I dunno, I just… if the rest of you are fine with it, why am I not?”

Virgil responded with a shrug of his own. “Don’t think you’ll find an answer for that from me, and if it’s because of sides stuff the internet probably won’t be much help, but you never know. Maybe search something like, I dunno, ‘no interest in romance’ and see what comes up?”

Patton nodded, and pulled out his phone, typing the search phrase Virgil suggested. The first two results didn’t seem super relevant at a quick glance, but then he noticed a news article result with a headline that included the phrase “‘I just don’t have any romantic feelings’”. Thinking this might be a good start, Patton clicked the link.

The opening line seemed to fit what he was trying to figure out for himself, and within a few sentences his eyes widened. “Virgil!” He started tapping Virgil’s arm rapidly in a mix of excitement and trying to get his attention. “Virgil, look!” Patton held out his phone.

Virgil took the phone, and started to read. “‘Aromantics define themselves as not feeling any or few romantic inclinations towards other people.’” He looked up at Patton. “Is this what you meant?”

Patton nodded. “I mean, it’s not like there have been that many opportunities for me to feel that way, but not being interested in that sort of thing probably counts too, right?”

Virgil scrolled down a bit more, skimming the article. “It mentions something about not understanding why someone would want to be in a relationship, so that’s probably similar? Doesn’t seem to be a requirement, but it looks like it’s at least related.” He handed the phone back to Patton.

“Aromantic,” Patton breathed, a smile clear on his face. He launched himself at Virgil, drawing him into a hug. “Thank you!”

Virgil tensed in surprise at the sudden contact. “Uh, you’re welcome, I guess? Can you let go now?”

“Oh!” Patton released Virgil from his arms. “Sorry, I just got really excited.”

“It’s fine. You good now?” Patton nodded. “Alright, I’m gonna go, then. See you later.”

“Bye!” Patton waved as Virgil left, and then flopped backwards onto his bed, still smiling wide.