if I asked you about love
you’d probably quote me a sonnet
but you’ve never looked at [someone]
and been totally vulnerable.
known someone that could level you with [their] eyes.
feeling like god put an angel on earth
just for you
who could rescue you from the depths of hell.
and you wouldn’t know what it’s like to be [their] angel
to have that love for [them] be there forever.
you don’t know about real loss
cause that only occurs when you love something
more than you love yourself.
I doubt you’ve ever dared
to love anybody that much.
- Robin Williams (Good Will Hunting)
Virgil starts off as Anxiety and nothing more.
He starts off as the thing that Thomas denies he has, he starts off as the punchline of a million jokes that Thomas makes to cope, he starts off as the mental illness that Thomas wishes every night to cure.
He isn’t wanted, he knows that much, and he thinks about killing himself a couple of times. But it wouldn’t do any good, because he can’t die until Thomas does.
And as much as he hates the idea of living, he hates the idea of Thomas dying more, because Virgil is the protector, and he will protect Thomas with everything in him. He will drain himself of will and happiness and love if it means that Thomas has all that in spades.
That doesn’t make it any easier.
When he first meets the others, he doesn’t even try to make a good impression. The prince already hates him, he knows that much, and Logic has no way of liking anybody at this point in time, too caught up in equations and foreign languages that Thomas will never know.
Even the one they call Patton, who has nothing but affection and empathy running through his veins, can’t empathize with Virgil, because he knows no bad feelings other than sadness. That’s all he can feel for Thomas, because Virgil keeps all the fear to himself, ironically enough, in fear of hurting the others.
He wonders if they’re aware of how easy they sleep, if they have any clue as to why none of their dreams are nightmares, if they’ve caught on yet to the fact that he wears no eye shadow at all.
He wears sleepless nights and insomnia beneath his bloodshot eyes.
He finds common ground with Logan first, the analytical and emotionless side providing a safe space for Virgil to be himself. He calls Virgil Anxiety like the rest, at first, until that becomes too formal for someone who curls himself around Logan’s polos when he’s tired and too scared to fall asleep.
Virgil’s not sure Logan even realizes when he starts doing it.
“Ann,” the logical side calls from his desk. “Come here for a moment please?”
“Ann,” he says in Virgil’s ear to wake him up. “It’s time to go.”
“Ann,” he whispers as Virgil clings to him for dear life. “Ann, it’s okay. I’m here. I’m not going anywhere.”
And Virgil holds Ann somewhere close in his chest, somewhere he can always go back to, just in case he fucks this up too and he needs a reminder that he was loved, once.
Logan is Virgil’s first friend.
Despite what Thomas or Roman or Patton or Deceit seem to believe (excluding Logan, the only rational one), Virgil isn’t some victimized invalid. He’s not weak or self-pitying or a coward, he never has been. If anything, the best word to describe him is careful.
He never speaks out of turn. He learned his lesson with Deceit, who used to never let Virgil speak at all. Then, he opens up to Patton, who takes everything he says as an invite for comfort when often Virgil only meant it as a joke, but Morality can never understand that, can he?
And then there’s Princey. Strong and extra and handsome, kind and chivalrous and romantic, and yet no amount of goodness or princely honor could possibly condone Virgil’s sarcastic words. Always bark, never bite, and yet Roman’s words sink their fangs into Virgil’s skin and hold on for dear life, leaving him with ugly wounds that gape and bleed the longer he keeps himself around.
Careful is a concept borne of Anxiety, borne of fear, and Virgil would wish it away with all his might if he didn’t know how important it is to look both ways before crossing the street.
He won’t let Thomas be run over. By a car, by words, or by himself.
Certainly never by fear.
Virgil believes in love, possibly too much to be healthy. He wants it, needs it, craves it, like the sky might the sun or the moon. But still, he’s more of a moon than a sky; always chasing what he wants and always ending up alone. Too late. Too far behind to catch up.
Still he lets himself fall. Lets himself collapse into the void, closing his eyes and feeling the wind push cold into his bones. Phantoms of arms that wrap themselves around him, and he lets himself be comforted by past sides who have failed to do what he trudges on for.
Do not be forgotten. Do not be forgotten. Do not be forgotten.
They will always hate you, they will always want you gone, they will always force you to be the bad guy, but they will not forget you. You will not let them.
(Oh, but he will.)
It’s when the arms become real that Virgil loses his already loose grip on reality, black wings vanishing into thin air, Logan’s worried eyes watching him. Patton’s soft voice comforting him.
Roman’s strong arms holding him steady.
Virgil is not one of those fools who thinks dreams and nightmares are different. He has both, and they’re all the same, but what changes is how he perceives what they’re trying to tell him, which alters what word he uses.
In truth, Virgil’s nightmares all involve Logan leaving him. Thomas pushing him away. Patton giving up on him. Roman ignoring him.
But why would it matter? They’d all be better off, much as he would suffer, and Virgil wants to protect them.
And if that means that they need to distance themselves from him, if it means they need to treat him like the dark, if it means they need to forget him, he will encourage them. He’d rather be forgotten than be feared.
He dreams of Roman’s giddy smile when Virgil isn’t there. He dreams of Patton’s twinkling eyes when Virgil doesn’t bother him. He dreams of Logan’s proud stance when Virgil doesn’t interrupt him. He dreams of Thomas’ undeniable happiness when Virgil didn’t exist.
He has nightmares of his own existence, because he is the monster of his own closet, the villain of his own story, the dark of his own bedroom.
Anxiety is the only one that Virgil cowers from.
The key to controlling bullies is to not let on how much their words hurt. It’s hard to do that with actions, because typically humans wince and flinch and gasp when they’re hit, but luckily Virgil has never been hit (that hard).
But he’s been verbally abused enough to know how to distance himself. Avoid the threat, charm your way away from it, hide behind something so they either can’t see you or can’t reach you. That’s the only way to deal with a problem, to run away from it, because god forbid you stand up. There are people who act on the “or else”.
It hurts when Logan implies he’s a defeatist. It hurts more when Patton treats him like a (“poor little anxious”) baby. It hurts the worst when Roman calls him all those demeaning nicknames.
Until he notices how Thomas flinches back whenever Virgil appears, and that’s what hurts most of all, really.
Virgil is Anxiety, and Thomas is afraid of him.
Virgil is accused of lying more often than not. It’s hurtful, sure, but mostly amusing to him, because at this point, he thinks, the others should have realized that it is impossible for Anxiety to lie.
Anxiety is the truths that people don’t ever want to dwell on.
And everybody does. Even when what Anxiety whispers doesn’t happen, Anxiety doesn’t lie.
You could be left alone.
You could be rejected.
You could be attacked.
And everybody could be. “Could” : used to indicate possibility. Anything is possible. The things we’ve proven aren’t, Anxiety doesn’t waste time with.
Regardless of possibility, as they say -
Anything could happen.
Don’t let “anything” be “something”. Don’t let “could” be “will”. Don’t let “happen” front “to you”.
Fall asleep to five lies as it’s the only way to keep your eyes closed.
Nothing will happen to you.
Virgil is kind of obsessed with tumblr .
Okay, not kind of. He is.
The first thing it asks him is for a username and password. hottopic and ******* , no, you don’t get to know his fucking password. Virgil’s not fucking stupid.
Passwords are the keys to your personal nostalgic treasure chest of secrets. They’re personalized, pondered over, clues into who you are; they should not be revealed. They are created so that you are given a choice as to who you trust with them. It is entirely up to you who sees the inside of your brain, if anyone does at all.
But usernames are windows into fortresses people have built around their identities. Some ambiguous, for those testing out the waters of strangers’ kindness; some plain, for those trusting too easily their hearts to sharpened claws or soft paws.
ounceofunderland_tea is an alias. A wall built to protect their personality, and yet; they are jumbled and most likely clumsy, with a bit of class and madness that mixes into grace. They are the person with the FREE HUG sign that wanders around the cafeteria but has no real friends; the popular girl who insists it’s for a fundraiser when she belongs to no clubs and the handsome jock who jokes about failing when he’s just received his acceptance letter from an Ivy League college. They are the person who believes they have no identity in real life, and so searches for one in fanart and headcanons without realizing that the comments they leave praising a stranger are personalities in themselves. To know someone’s username is to know their honest thoughts.
claire_mendez is a name. She has trusted this community with her name, though they could very well butcher it, stalk it, morph it into something she’s afraid to say. But she believes in the best of people, and so she gives them her name with open arms, saying, Here. I will protect anything you trust me with, so long as you protect me the same. To know someone’s name is to know their deepest secret.
And that’s why Virgil hasn’t told anyone his name. Because names have power, and Virgil knows better than to let anyone have power over him. Anxiety is too careful, too cautious, too aware of every possible outcome to overlook such a simple detail.
There are times he wants to tell. Times when it wouldn’t be ridiculous to think they might care, when his guard is slowly crumbling down and his repair of it is hastened and faulty, when he catches Roman’s eyes from across the room and almost loses himself in the rage he sees there.
There are times he almost opens his mouth and does.
But names are given with trust; trust that has been earned .
Virgil doesn’t trust Roman. Roman doesn’t deserve Virgil’s name. Bullies don’t deserve their victims’ names. They don’t deserve to have their own.
Virgil trusts Patton. But Patton doesn’t deserve Virgil’s name. Fathers don’t deserve their children’s names. They don’t deserve what they forced.
Virgil trusts Logan. But Logan doesn’t deserve Virgil’s name. Teachers don’t deserve their students’ names. They don’t deserve to miss those who forget them.
In the end, there’s only one time he ever tells.
Because Virgil trusts Thomas. Thomas deserves Virgil’s name. People deserve to know their own fears. They deserve their chances to heal and move on.
Thomas deserves to blame Virgil, not Anxiety. Thomas deserves the truth .
Thomas is the first to learn Virgil’s name.
To Virgil’s surprise, Thomas is the first to call him by it too.
Virgil is not dark. He’s not light either, mind you, but he toes the line.
The dark sides call it freedom. The light sides call it betrayal.
Virgil calls it loneliness.
It is no fun to belong nowhere. He is afraid of the dark as he fears what he cannot see coming. He is afraid of the light as he fears what he cannot see going away. He is afraid of the in between as he fears being all alone.
Deceit is the dark that lures him in, lurking in the blackness until Virgil succumbs to the wolf’s sickeningly sweet voice and mistakes lies for love.
Roman tries to call him back, eyes heavy with guilt and shame, but Virgil cannot hear his voice. He cannot see the light at the end of the long, dark tunnel because to him there has never been pure light, only sunshine that beckons while it burns you.
Deceit hisses backhanded compliments in Virgil’s ears. He whispers twisted truths around Virgil’s fingers, murmurs sarcastic kindnesses against Virgil’s lips.
Virgil isn’t stupid. He is Anxiety, he is unpleasant truths. And the truth is, Deceit doesn’t love him.
Deceit is lying.
And Virgil tries and tries to push the voice away, to ignore it, to tie its words in knots until their truth becomes dishonesty but in the end Virgil knows better.
He reaches out and grasps Roman’s hand, holds on with all his might. He drags himself out of the dark with all his strength, nearly collapsing back into the black with exhaustion.
Roman catches him.
It may have been lies, but Virgil still remembers flutters that made him sick in his stomach.
Deceit is Virgil’s first love.
It takes a little while for Virgil to like Patton. His kindness doesn’t make up for the others’ rejection. His love can’t help Virgil’s thoughts at night. That’s not how Anxiety works.
Virgil doesn’t trust Patton. It doesn’t matter that he’s Deceit’s opposite, he’s still never serious or honest about how he feels, and that is always dangerous.
So Virgil avoids him. He recoils from Patton’s touch, refuses to listen to him sing, rejects any idea of them being close. He tries his best to hate all the others, so it hurts less when they demean who he is.
Logan may be Virgil’s friend, but he is still Logic, and Logic is the very opposite of Anxiety; they all know it. Virgil wonders if Thomas has figured out that Anxiety will never go away.
Virgil still tries, keeps his distance. Patton reaches out, cries out, grasps at Virgil’s hoodie with his hands, but it’s no use.
Kindness can’t buy trust, not from the cynical. Still, Patton is the first to try.
Fairytales are the bane of Virgil’s existence. He likes their dark themes, their twisted endings, their unrealistic characters. They make him feel better about his own world.
They don’t make it any easier to understand Roman.
You’d think the princes in fairytales would be models of their own prince’s behavior, but Roman’s mannerisms are strange, unheroic. Roman is normal, painfully so, and Virgil supposes that’s why Virgil can’t hate him.
Roman is too much like Thomas for Virgil to hate. Always wanting to be better than he is, always putting others before himself, always stretching himself too thin. But still, the facade is kept up.
God forbid anyone see the sunshine rain.
Virgil supposes that’s why Roman hates him so much. Virgil is the one person Roman simply can’t save.
After all, if the way to save a victim is to murder its monster, then the only blood Roman would have on his hands would be that of the person he’s tried so hard to make stop bleeding.
Roman isn’t Virgil’s first anything.
First isn’t an accomplishment. For some reason it makes people feel validated, special, notable, when they’re not. First can be important, but that doesn’t mean it always is, that it’s something to chase after and toil for.
Because Patton is Virgil’s second friend. Logan is the second to learn Virgil’s name. Thomas is the second one that Virgil trusts and Deceit is the second person Virgil forgives, after himself.
Roman is the second person Virgil loves.
He doesn’t realize it at first, because like many things love creeps up on Virgil. It worms its way into his heart at the beginning, barely enough to be noticeable, and then it grows.
And as it grows, filling him with warmth and nerves, it travels to his eyes. And to his smile. And to his fingers and his toes and his arms when he first allows himself to hug someone back, when he clutches at their shirt and buries his face in their neck, kissing the skin there.
And Virgil should hate love, should be terrified of it, because love is what destroys people. Every death, every leave, every backdown stems from some form of love and Virgil knows this. He’s witnessed it firsthand, seen love destroy Patton, destroy Logan, destroy Thomas .
Love has even destroyed him.
Roman is the embodiment of love, the person who’s broken Virgil too many times to count. The one that leaves him wondering if there’s any hope for anyone to ever love him. For him to ever be happy. To be fearless.
And no, there isn’t. Not entirely. Anxiety cannot be loved, Anxiety cannot be happy, and Anxiety certainly cannot be fearless.
But it can lead to those things.
If there’s one thing Virgil knows, it’s the truth. And the truth is, he’s fearless enough to take a chance.
Love fixes what love breaks, after all.
Anxiety is not curable. You can’t heal it. You can’t fix it. You can’t tear it apart and start rebuilding it all over again into something perfect and clean and pure.
Anxiety is something its hosts have to live with.
Virgil knows this, has accepted this. Even as Roman tries to save him and Virgil tries to stop him, because Virgil knows there is only one way to quiet himself.
Anxiety must be treated. Not as a disease, or as a disorder, or as a problem. Anxiety is not a problem. The people it lives in are not problems.
They do not need to be cured or healed or fixed. Most of them don’t even want to be.
Anxiety must be treated as a part of the person you love, the person you love so much it kills you to watch Anxiety hold them back.
But Anxiety also protects. And if that is who Virgil is - Anxiety, incurable, unhealable, unfixable - then he will protect Thomas and all that he is even if it leaves Virgil crying and gasping for death on the floor.
Virgil will not let himself be fixed.
Things get better. That’s what you should always keep in mind.
Roman sneaks into Virgil’s room every night, lays down beside him and traces constellations in the air until Virgil’s ceiling is covered in twinkling little stars. Roman teaches Virgil what sleep feels like.
Logan invites Virgil to read in Logan’s room every day, puts on soft rock ballads and brushes his thumbs gently up and down the sides of Virgil’s hips as he holds him close, Virgil’s arms around his neck as they sway and Logan babbles on about all the things he knows they’re safe from. Logan teaches Virgil what safety feels like.
Patton drags Virgil into the living room every night, gathers blankets and pillows and stuffed animals and builds forts around the couch and chairs and TV for Virgil to crawl into and watch Disney movies from until his eyelids droop and he drops his head onto Patton’s chest, the other’s arms loose and strong around him. Patton teaches him what comfort feels like.
Thomas pulls Virgil out into the sunshine in his backyard, weaves flower crowns and braids them into Virgil’s hair, painting Virgil’s nails black with white and yellow daisies while telling ridiculous jokes about anything that happens to come to mind, things he wouldn’t be able to laugh about with anyone else, because no one else would understand. Thomas teaches him what happiness feels like.
It takes a long time. It takes patience, and mistakes, and risk. It takes doodles and videos and songs sung in raspy voices at 2 AM. But things get better.
Together, they teach him what love feels like.
Anxiety is sleepless nights, and haunting notions, and bad days. Anxiety is cold fingers, and slow sad songs, and forced smiles. Anxiety is missed opportunities, and blank pages, and empty rooms.
Anxiety is a part of you. It is something that everybody feels. Some more than others, some less. It is human nature. There is nothing wrong with feeling it.
Anxiety is the hate and the love. Anxiety is the doubt and the hope. Anxiety is the bad and the good.
Anxiety is the reason people live.
Virgil is Anxiety.
Virgil is the reason Thomas lives.
I have no tangible enemies.
merely an imagination