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Vanitas was numb.

He laid on the bottom of the small apartment bathtub, legs sprawled over the side. Clothed and dry like sun-scorched, cracked earth in a drought. 

He briefly considered turning the water on, filling it up while he continued to lay there. But turning the faucet on would mean sitting up, which required effort. Required energy.

Time flowed like grains of sand in an hourglass, though it felt like one that had been sitting, long forgotten and waiting to be turned over. Vanitas was unaware of the hour, how long he’d been in there, anything. 

It didn’t matter.

Tiredly, Vanitas thought back to his meltdown. His brain wouldn’t let him think about anything else.

--

Things had been building for a while. It was easy to act like everything was fine - something both he and Sora were struggling to unlearn. Different sources with the same result. Sora wanted the people around him to be happy, didn’t want them to worry. Vanitas did it as a defense mechanism. 

Sora had left early for work, before Vanitas had even woken up for the day. It was...a quiet day. Even without Sora’s voice to break any silence, Vanitas always had the tv, his computer, his phone. Plenty of options, but he chose none. 

Wasting time only ever worked for a short while.

Boredom bred frustration, which led to anger, sadness, restlessness, thinking of things you’d rather avoid. Things such as loneliness, which seemed to spread infinitely through the apartment. 

Vanitas paced the small apartment for a bit, struggling to find interest in doing something, anything. He bit down hard on the inside of his cheek, trying to keep himself grounded

As he went on, he gradually became more and more frantic. Desperate for something. He wasn’t sure why, any more. He dismantled the bedroom, ripping through every drawer, box, shelf for anything . He’d vaguely realized that he was spiralling, at that point. It was too late to calm down. A loud noise from the apartment upstairs startled him, he left the bedroom quickly. Moved on to the living room. He stared shakily, nearly vibrating with nervous energy. 

He turned around and walked into the open-plan kitchen area. Opened the fridge. Closed the fridge. He wandered dazedly, lost in his mind as he opened every cupboard and drawer. Took the knives out of the cutting block. He’d dropped one and flinched, prepared for it to land and stab his foot. It clattered to the floor harmlessly. 

Vanitas left the kitchen after that. 

His thoughts, his feelings, his nervous energy swelled inside of him. Too much. 

He burst, a levee that could no longer hold back raging floodwaters.

Vanitas sobbed. Tears and snot streamed down his face, dripped off his chin, onto the bathroom floor he didn’t fully remember laying down on. He gasped for air as he sobbed, howled, choked on air and spit. 

He cried for a long time, until his head, eyes, throat, lungs hurt. He was sure they’d be getting a noise complaint when the rental office opens tomorrow. He heaved himself up, and his head pounded. Laying down was better, so he got into the tub.

--

Vanitas heard the click of the door being unlocked. Sora’s home. 

The door creaked open. Silence. 

“Vani..?” Sora called out warily.

The door creaked closed, and the lock clicked. 

“Vanitas?” Sora tried again. It was quiet for a moment. “Can you make a noise if you’re home, Vani? Please?” His voice sounded closer.

Vanitas slowly lifted his arm and smacked the shower wall. 

“Ah!” Sora entered the bathroom. “There you are…” He slowly approached the bathtub and crouched down next to it. Worry was etched into his face.

Vanitas slowly waved his hand in a vague gesture.

Sora was quiet for a moment, thoughtful. “Do you wanna sit up? I can get a washcloth for you.”

Vanitas lightly bit inside of his mouth, then nodded. He slowly, tiredly sat up; then watched as Sora grabbed a washcloth and ran it under the faucet. 

“Here,” Sora murmured. He knelt back down and gently held the washcloth against Vanitas’ forehead. 

He closed his eyes, relaxed by the cool temperature of the water; and let out a low, quiet hum in gratitude. 

“Really bad night, huh…” Sora looked at Vanitas sadly. 

The small part of Vanitas that could feel again, felt guilty. Sora hadn’t even seen their bedroom yet. He leaned his forehead into the towel, into Sora’s hand. 

“Do you want me to step out?” Sora asked. “Do you need space?”

Vanitas quickly shook his head, leaving the cool touch of the washcloth.

“Okay,” Sora smiled softly at him. “We can do whatever you want.”

Vanitas took the washcloth and roughly scrubbed it against his face. Despite the pressure, it felt nice to wipe the dried tears off his face. He stood up too quickly. He wobbled slightly, lightheaded, and allowed Sora to gently steady him. 

As soon as the touch was there, it was gone. But for now, that was fine. Vanitas had work to do. 

He wanted nothing more than to collapse back down, or preferably, to collapse in bed; but first he needed to clean the disaster zone he’d turned their bedroom into. He quickly walked into their room and started picking up, Sora close behind.

After a bit, Vanitas realized Sora was helping clean. He stopped what he was doing and shot a look at Sora, who was faced the other direction.

Vanitas exhaled loudly through his nose and focused himself.

“Don’t.” 

He cringed at how weakly his voice came out.

“Huh? Oh…” Sora put down the things he’d been sorting through. “Sorry. Figured it’d go faster if I helped. You’re tired, right?”

Vanitas waved his hand dismissively. Sora was right on both counts, but he felt that it was only right to clean his mess up himself. Then, he could feel like he’d at least partially earned the comforts that were Sora, and a soft bed.

Finally, he’d gotten to everything. Sora had alternated between watching Vanitas clean, and playing on his phone, while he sat backwards on the desk chair. Vanitas flopped face-first down on the bed immediately.

“Time to rest.” Sora’s tone was sweet and soft, music to Vanitas’ tired ears. He wondered if Sora knew that.

Instead of asking, Vanitas rolled onto his back. He turned his head to the side to look at Sora, who seemed significantly more at peace than he was earlier. 

“C’mere?” Vanitas tried. His voice was still too quiet, too off from how he normally sounded. He hated it.

“Yeah, of course.” Sora nodded and smiled, then approached the bed. “Um...by you, or on you?”

Vanitas outstretched his arms.

“Okay.” Sora’s smile grew. He climbed onto the bed and situated himself, then slowly lowered himself on top of Vanitas. “Good?”

Vanitas nodded, then reached up with one hand to card his fingers through Sora’s hair. Sora’s weight on him comforted him, relaxed him. He felt safe laying down with Sora like this, the gentle pressure like a favorite hiding spot.

“Thank you,” Vanitas whispered.

“It’s no problem. You’re okay.” Sora gently kissed Vanitas’ forehead. 

Vanitas returned the action, gently pressing his lips to Sora’s forehead, his cheek, his lips.

“Feeling a bit better?” Sora questioned.

“Yeah.” 

“I’m glad.” Sora shifted his position slightly, so he could rest his head near Vanitas’ shoulders. 

“Sora...I love you.”

“I love you too, Vani. G’night.” 

Vanitas drifted off to sleep feeling like a gentle fall rain.