Roman could tell the second he walked into the room, Virgil was not having a good day.
Good days meant everything was put in its place, shoes were kicked off and put out of the way, hoodie was hung up, pajamas immediately replaced school clothes, and homework was put on the desk to work on after dinner. No, this was not a good day.
Today Virgil’s backpack had its contents spilled on the floor, homework covering the worn carpet, pajamas nowhere in sight as Virgil sat on the ground, his shoes and hoodie still firmly in place as he glared at all the assignments he had been given. He looked exhausted and frustrated, the bags under his eyes darker than his eyeshadow, and his hair a worse mess than usual.
Roman hated seeing him like this.
“Virgil?” he asked softly, knocking a little on the door to get his attention. Almost instantly Virgil turned the glare from his homework to Roman, and Roman tried not to flinch. Even though he knew Virgil didn’t really mean to glare at him, he still looked annoyed. But Roman couldn’t let that stop him, not when he saw close up how truly tired Virgil looked. Instead he felt his resolve strengthen a little and he took a deep breath and tried to smile.
“Look-” Virgil started, voice full of frustration as he reached up to comb through his already messy hair, tugging it in the way he always did when he was stressed. “Can you just-”
“Wait,” Roman’s voice was quiet, but he met Virgil’s eyes with a gentle, yet determined look. “Just wait okay? I know you’re really tense and stressed and we both know that makes you lash out a lot and you’re just trying to look out for both of us, but.. I want to help this time. Please?”
Virgil sighed, almost seeming to deflate as his shoulders fell and he slouched forwards, his elbows going to rest on his knees. For a few silent seconds he just held his forehead in his hands and let his violet hair hang down between his fingers.
“What do you suggest Princey?” he sounded so drained and defeated. “I have three big assignments due this week and a test on top of that, I really don’t think you can help. Just.. take care of yourself Ro, I’ll be fine. I always am, right?”
“But- Stormcloud-” Roman tried to say but suddenly Virgil cut him off.
“I’ll be fine.” He was glaring up at him again, posture once again rigid.
“No no no. Okay wait, just wait a second,” Roman tried to placate him, holding up his hands in a calming way, but making sure not to go any closer because he knew how bad that would be in this situation. Virgil eyed him for a second but seemed to relax when he didn’t try to move again. Roman slowly took a deep breath before continuing. “I care about you, okay? I don’t want you to suffer through this alone. So I have a plan!”
Virgil looked at him warily. “If this is gonna be another whipped cream fight, no thanks.”
“Alright listen that one got a little out of hand, but this one is much more fit for my lovely knight!” Roman announced dramatically and grinned as he watched Virgil’s cheeks take on a slightly pink tint.
“Fine,” Virgil huffed as he tried to act as if he wasn’t blushing. “What’s your great idea?”
Roman tried not to let Virgil’s lackluster tone get to him.
“How about instead of fighting or arguing or anything like that, we go on a magnificent date for a few hours? You need a break from your homework, and I could use some time away from mine as well, and when we’re done you can go right back to it! How does that sound, stormcloud?”
Virgil was quiet for a minute, not looking up at Roman’s hopeful expression as he stared at the papers surrounding him. “Ro.. you know I’m not really good company right now.. I don’t think I can even handle going in public..”
“That’s okay,” Roman smiled at him gently, reaching forward to grab his hand but making sure he had a chance to pull away beforehand. When Virgil didn’t move Roman gently enwrapped his hand in both of his own. “Do not worry my knight, the plan has accounted for that! It’s a weeknight so I doubt the venue will be crowded and you are under no obligation to talk or socialize while we are there. Does that sound acceptable?”
“Venue? Ro.. “ Virgil sighed and looked to the side. “I.. I dunno. I guess. Anything’s better than homework at this point honestly, so.. why not?”
“Wonderful! Thank you Virgil!” Roman beamed at him, quickly but carefully pulling him up by the hand he still held so that they both stood. “Would you like to head out now?”
“Sure Princey,” Virgil chuckled a little at how happy Roman looked, taking a deep breath before letting the smile rest on his face. “Let’s go.”
As soon as they got into the car, Roman couldn’t stop smiling. He still hadn’t told Virgil where they were going, but he promised that he would love it and that seemed to appease him for the moment. Or maybe he was just too mentally worn out to be anxious about it. Whichever it was, Roman decided to count himself as lucky, even though he really did know that Virgil was going to love it. It took all his willpower to not sing too loudly with the radio as he tapped on the steering wheel and tried to act as if he didn’t see Virgil shooting him amused, if tired, looks.
Until finally, they arrived at their destination. Roman parked the car and immediately looked over at Virgil and he couldn’t help the way his heart warmed at the excited smile that Virgil now wore.
“Really Ro?” Virgil laughed and smiled as he reached over to lace their fingers together for a minute. “Thanks.”
“Of course, my dearest,” Roman smiled happily and pressed a kiss to Virgil’s hand in his own, not minding as Virgil blushed even brighter than he had before. “You deserve nothing less than the best!”
Virgil quickly took back his hand, trying and failing to cover his now blushing face. “How dare you strike while I was vulnerable.”
“I couldn’t help it,” Roman laughed and reached over to press a little kiss to Virgil’s forehead.
Virgil let out a tiny squeak and burrowed into his hoodie. “Ro!” he whined, trying to get his bright pink cheeks under control as he hid.
“Yes, my charming and beyond beautiful knight?” Roman grinned, attempting to act clueless towards Virgil’s current predicament. “Is something wrong?”
Virgil didn’t say a word, just glaring up at him from inside of his hoodie, bright red cheeks peeking out above the collar.
“Alright alright, I am done for the moment, my knight,” Roman gave in with a smile, pretending he didn’t notice when Virgil blushed a little brighter at the nickname. “I just couldn’t resist seeing that alluring blush once more.”
“That’s cheating,” Virgil grumbled and burrowed completely into his hoodie, until only a small poof of hair was visible.
About ten minutes later, they finally left the car. But not until many compliments and forehead kisses were given, and many blushes and grumbles were made.
By the time they walked into the aquarium, they were smiling and holding hands, both glad to be there for different reasons. Virgil, because he loved all the weird and creepy fish in the sea, and Roman, because he loved seeing how excited Virgil was when he got to learn more about them.
“Hey Virgil did you hear?” Roman innocently asked him after they payed for their tickets and started walking through the fairly empty rooms.
“Hmm?” Virgil made a little questioning sound as he reluctantly took his eyes away from the huge eel curled against one of the tanks’ walls. “Hear what?”
“They’ve added a new exhibit since the last time we were here,” Roman declared with a grin.
Virgil’s eyes lit up. “Really? What kind is it?” His hands were playing with his hoodie sleeves, an excited and eager smile almost permanently on his lips. All thought about homework and stress completely forgotten, just like Roman had hoped for.
“It’s your favorite,” Roman announced and waited for Virgil’s eyes to widen, laughing when Virgil immediately grabbed his hand and started to pull him along to where all the seasonal exhibits were held.
When they got there, Virgil stopped and Roman had to work not to stumble into him.
“Wow,” he whispered, leaning against Roman. All he could do was stare at the exhibit, a massive tank with anywhere from 20 to 30 sharks endlessly swimming in seemingly inconsistent patterns.
“Are they to your liking, my knight?” Roman asked gently as he led them to a nearby seat, wrapping his arm around Virgil as soon as he was able.
“Mhm,” Virgil hummed, a content smile on his face as he kept his eyes trained on a single shark. “Thanks for this, Princey.”
“Well of course!” Roman grinned, making sure his voice wasn’t too loud. His thumb traced against Virgil’s hand and he couldn’t help the little flutter of happiness when Virgil relaxed a little more against him. “I do have a question though.”
“Shoot,” Virgil responded quietly, not minding it as he continued to watch the sharks.
“Why are they your favorite? Why do you like them so much?”
“A couple of reasons,” Virgil smiled softly. “For one, the way they swim calms me down a lot, just cause of how they move I guess. It’s nice. And second of all..” He fell silent, smile dimming a little as he met Roman’s eyes. “They remind me of me a little, you know, from before.”
Roman frowned as tilted his head, confused. “How so?”
“They’re misunderstood. They look mean and sharp and scary and sometimes they make mistakes and bite us, but they never mean to. And yet.. They barely attack five humans every year and everyone hates them and is afraid of them and now they’re being hunted to extinction,” Virgil looked back at them before whispering to himself. “They don’t deserve that.”
“Virge..” Roman was at a loss for a second. He didn’t know how to respond.
“It’s okay, Ro. I know it was reasonable for you guys not to like me at first, I get that,” Virgil said, his voice quiet in the empty observing room. “Getting punished for making mistakes didn’t feel great either, but I get that too.”
“Stormcloud, please look at me,” Roman asked gently. For a second it didn’t look like Virgil was going to, until finally he turned towards him a little and Roman reached up to cup his cheeks in his hands. “I’m sorry.”
“It’s fine-” Virgil sounded tired again.
“No, it wasn’t,” Roman interrupted him. “And it still isn’t. You were just trying to protect Pat cause you’re his big brother, we shouldn’t have been mean to you for that.”
“Hey Princey, I deserved at least a little of that,” Virgil smiled regretfully. “My methods weren’t always ‘good’, remember?”
“Maybe,” Roman shrugged but leaned forward to press a little kiss to Virgil’s forehead. “But you got better. And we’re all really proud of you for that.”
Virgil blushed as he tried to look to the side, staying quiet for a minute. “.. thanks Ro.”
“Of course Virgil, anytime,” he smiled, letting go of Virgil’s cheeks so he could lean against him again, both of them looking at the sharks now. “So.. got any facts about sharks saved up for me?”
Virgil lit up and Roman couldn’t help smiling even bigger as Virgil started to ramble and gesture as he talked about all the things he knew about them, so eager to teach Roman about them too. And Roman listened happily, heart so full of love, because how could he not? Hearing his brave knight let down his shields for the chance to share his happiness with Roman was truly the most wonderful thing in the world. And he was not going to waste a second of it.