“Virgil?” The voice seems hopeful, and yet it holds back tears.
“Patton, give him time. He's been unconscious for three hours, seventeen minutes, and thirty-six seconds. Let him wake up fully.” This voice seems more in control, but dampened as though it hides emotions that shouldn't be there.
“Is he alright though?” The third voice seems more nervous, but holds an air of command.
“I won't know until he's more coherent,” the second voice says.
“He's going to be okay. He has to be,” the first voice pleads.
I slowly blink open my eyes, squinting through the darkness, but I can't see anything. My chest constricts and my breathing quickens. I don't know who's surrounding me, and that means I don't trust them. I hear one of the voices say something, but the words don't register in my brain. All I know is I'm in danger. Something wraps around me, and I hear a soothing whisper in my ear. “It's okay. You're safe.” For some reason, I believe him.
“Patton, don't. You'll hurt yourself.”
“Until Virgil is better, you can get over it, Logan,” the first voice says from beside me and I realize two things. One: his name is Patton. Two: he's the one who's hugging me. Patton starts to pull away from the hug, but some part of me convinces my hand to grab his arm and hold it there. I don't know why, but his touch grounds me.
“Virgil, do you believe that you are coherent enough for me to ask you questions?” The second voice says.
My muscles tense involuntarily, but I don't respond.
“Virgil, do you remember what happened?”
What happened? Wait. Is Virgil my name? They keep calling me that, so it must be. But it doesn't feel right. The only name I can seem to come up with is nowhere near even similar to Virgil. “Anxiety.” My voice is raspy and weak, but I think they heard me. One of them sighs, and it sounds so distressed.
“Anxiety, do you remember what happened?” He asks again. This time I know he's talking to me. I shudder, and Patton tightens his embrace.
“You'll be okay, kiddo,” he reassures me. “Logan just needs to know. If you don't remember, that's okay too. You hit your head pretty hard.”
“Wh-” I can't even finish the word. I have too many questions. What happened? Where am I? Why is it so dark? Who are you? I could probably name several more, too.
“It's alright, Anx. Want me to tell you?”
I don't respond, but he seems to interpret the yes from my silence.
“You and Logan were arguing, and you were at the top of the stairs. You stepped backwards and fell down. Hit your head a couple times and passed out.”
“I am truly sorry,” the second voice, that must belong to Logan, says. I sense that the emotion he's holding back is guilt. Did He push me?
“I-I,” I cringe at the weakness in my voice. “I don't remember.”
“Right. Do you remember anything?”
I shake my head, almost imperceptibly. Patton squeezes tighter to help me not freak out.
“Why is it so dark?” My voice is almost nonexistent. I think Patton is the only one who can hear me.
“Oh kiddo,” Patton’s voice drips with sorrow. “Logan, he can't see.”
The third voice swears.
“Roman, language,” Logan chides. “Virgil, can you see anything? Shadows? Or is everything just black.”
“Theoretically, your eyesight could return, at least in part, but it would seem that right now, you're completely blind. Which would make sense, as you did hit the back of your head, near the occipital lobe. But... Blindness and amnesia? The recovery process will certainly be a complex one. Not that there’s anything to worry about, Virgil,” Logan quickly adds the last part. I don’t believe him. There’s always something to worry about. And I don’t know why, but I definitely don’t trust him.
Anxiety woke up screaming. Patton burst into his room. “Anxiety! Kiddo, you okay?”
“Dad,” the young Side latched onto the moral one, trembling.
“Shhh. It'll be okay kiddo. I'm right here,” Patton wrapped his arms around Anxiety and gave him a reassuring squeeze. “Bad dream?”
Anxiety just nodded.
“Want to talk about it?”
“Y-you a-and R-Ro-Roman w-were-were- you were dead.”
“Well that's not going to happen. We're part of Thomas's personality. The only way we die is if Thomas dies, and Thomas isn't anywhere near dying.”
Patton held him for a while, cradling the boy's shaking body in his arms. After nearly an hour, Anxiety’s breath had evened out and he'd stopped shaking. “You feeling better now?”
Anxiety nodded and pulled away from the embrace.
“Want me to stay until you fall back asleep?”
“Can- can I sleep with you?”
“Of course kiddo,” Patton offered an unseen smile and took Anxiety’s hand. He led the boy through the dark hallway to his room and opened the door. The faint golden glow of the room lingered, even with the lights off. Patton helped Anxiety to the large bed and curled up next to him under soft blue blankets. Anxiety rested his head on Patton's chest and hummed contentedly as he fell asleep. Patton stayed awake a while longer, stroking Anxiety’s hair.
The door cracked open and Logan popped his head in. “Patton, can we-oh. I apologize. I'll come back later.”
“No, it's alright,” Patton said softly. “We can talk, so long as we don't wake him. What's up, kiddo?”
“It's not important.”
“Don't be silly. That's my job. What's wrong?”
“Just... worried is all. About Anxiety.”
“What about him?”
“Do you think he'll ever remember me?”
“I think you've just gotta give him time,” Patton offered a reassuring smile.
“But, I don't want to lose him Pat.”
“You haven't lost him. He's still there, he just doesn't remember. He's lost inside his own head, and just needs to find his way back.”
“But amnesia isn't always cured.”
“Logic. That's your job. What are the statistics?”
“I don't know! I'm a chemical engineer, not a neurologist!” Logan exclaimed. He flinched as Anxiety stirred in his sleep, but he didn't wake up. “I pushed him, Pat. We were arguing and I got mad and I pushed him. It's my fault he's hurting, and he knows. He doesn't trust me, and he has every reason not to. But I want him to trust me. I want him to love me again. We never used those words, but I feel them every time I look at him. And it kills me to see him in pain and know that it's my fault. I desperately want for him to be happy. And it's my fault he isn't.”
“Lo, kiddo, it's okay. Anxiety will get better. You just have to give him time. Why don't you try talking to him? Explain what happened.”
“Do you think it'll work?”
“It'll help more than lying to him.”
“Yeah. You're right. Thank you Patton,” Logan nodded. “I shall return to bed now, and speak with Anxiety in the morning.”
“You do th-” Patton cut himself off with a yawn- “that kiddo. I'm gonna get some sleep now too.”
Patton fell asleep, stroking Virgil softly, his heart aching for both his sons.
“Anxiety,” Logan approached the kitchen. He clutched the book in his hands like a lifeline to keep from trembling. “Can we talk?”
“L-Logan,” Anxiety spun around and backed into the corner.
“Since you don't remember, I thought I might tell you about when you fell.”
Anxiety couldn't see where Logan was, or what he was doing, and that terrified him. For all he knew, the logical side was carrying a knife, rather than his hand bound copy of Paradise Lost . Logan didn't meet Anxiety’s eyes, not that the latter could tell. Logan took a breath in, and Virgil held his. “We were arguing. I grew angry with you, and couldn't contain it. I lashed out at you. I pushed you, and you fell down the stairs. You hit your head, which is why you can't remember or see. It's my fault, Anxiety. And I'm sorry. I'm so so sorry,” Logan stepped closer and grabbed Anxiety's hands. Anxiety started shaking. “I love you, Virgil, and I'm sorry. I never should have pushed you. Will you forgive me?”
Virgil shoved past him, still holding his breath. He tripped over Logan's foot and fell. He crawled backwards, trying to get away Logan followed.
“Anxiety breathe. It's okay. Four seconds,” Logan reached out and took Anxiety’s hands again, trying to ground him. Anxiety backed up more, this time into Roman. But all he knew was he bumped into something. All Anxiety knew was he was cornered. He felt the tightness in his chest constrict his heart more to the point where he wanted to scream in pain, but he was afraid to breathe.
“Anxiety,” Roman's voice cut through his panic. “Breathe.”
He couldn't. Breathing was wrong. Breathing meant that he was alive, that he took up space. But all he wanted was to fade into the shadows and hide. He didn't want to be seen, to be touched. He just needed to be invisible. He was desperate to run and hide, but couldn't move. His thought screamed at him. This was wrong. This was bad, dangerous. But he couldn't get out. He couldn't escape. He needed to get away so he could breathe. But that meant moving. And he couldn't. He curled his fingers into his hair, pulling. He felt arms wrap around him and a soothing voice whispering in his ear.
“It's okay kiddo. You're okay. Just breathe. I'm right here.”
“Dad,” Anxiety grabbed onto him for dear life. Patton held the smaller side close, murmuring reassurances in his ear. He looked up at Logan and shook his head as a way of saying ‘not now.’ Logan’s face fell and the logical side sank down into Thomas’s living room, where their host was having a panic attack only slightly lesser than Anxiety’s. Thomas was sitting on the stairs, in Virgil’s spot. That couldn’t be good. Thomas’s anxiety was always increased tenfold when he was there.
“Thomas can you breathe?” Logan tried to gently coax Thomas from his panic. He looked worriedly at the spots of red where Thomas’s fingernails were digging into his palms. He gently uncurled his fists, putting a stress ball in his hands. Thomas instinctively squeezed it. “Breathe with me, I’m going to count,” Logan said, before slowly starting to count backwards from 100. When he got to 0, Thomas had calmed down and was nodding with each count. “Good, I’m proud of you Thomas,” he smiled reassuringly.
Thomas looked up. “L-Logan?!” He squeaked. “Get away fro me!” He pushed the logical side into his place. “Get out get out!” Logan had never seen Thomas react this way to seeing him, and it stung. This hurt almost as much as Virgil being afraid of him, and he knew it was his own damn fault.
I never should have gotten angry , he chastised himself as he sank down. He fled to his room, not letting his tears escape his eyes. He collapsed against the inside of his door, shaking. They hate me , he curled around himself. They hate me they hate me they hate me. I hate me. Virgil hates me. I should never have reacted. I’m such a failure. I can never do anything right. In that moment, Logan made a decision. He wouldn’t leave his room until he could earn back everyone’s trust.