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As soon as the curtain is raised

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❝ It’s alright, it’s okay, it’s alright, it’s okay.

You’re not a monster, just a human, and you made a few mistakes. ❞

 

It’s fine. It’ll be over soon.

Another sharp pain traveled through the man’s body, warm glimmers sparkled from his cheek, hitting his eyes from the inside. His mind was clouded, his common sense long lost in previous silent cries of help.

Just one more. You’ll be satisfied.

He had tried to tell them. He had tried so many times, without success, to make them realize what had been circulating in his subconscious.

He had tried, but never actively did tell them.

Deceit was scared and he wasn’t able to admit it to anybody; he had shown up more often in hope that the other sides were going to notice his strange demeanor. Instead, they found it annoying at first, as they believed he wanted to go against their points of view on every single dilemma.

Only that everything he did was give trivial suggestions and hardly pay attention to the topic at hand, or talk at all.

Thomas had side glanced him a couple of times, but that was all that it was, since he had been nothing but harmless.

Then came Patton’s suspiciousness.

He had stopped him before he could retreat to his room. « I know you won’t tell me, but … » he looked unsure of his own words. « Do you have anything on your mind, or …? »

Deceit wasn't exactly being hostile to the group. Patton was being wary of him though. That was what he believed, at least.

And it was also what he convinced himself of, the reason why he looked at Patton with a questioning look, narrowing his eyes. He felt the scales on his cheek pressing on one another in his expression.

Patton left, with a defeated “Alright then”.

The second time there was a hopeful buzzing fire at the pit of his stomach was when he found the will to seek Virgil out after one of their meetings with Thomas.

But when it was time to let everything out, it was as if that same fire had burned down all of his words.

Deceit’s shaky hands were hidden behind his back.

« What is it? »

Virgil … he had just started to accept him again, didn’t he? Maybe that wasn’t the best idea. Or, he could always tell him some other time.

« Dee? » his tone was lower, kind of like a whisper. Did he notice he hadn’t been responding for quite a bit? Deceit’s head snapped up with a “huh?” and was met with Virgil’s slightly arched eyebrows.

Why did he call him like back then, when …

« Are you … good? »

I’m so sad, I’m so gone, I’m so lost, I'm so sad, I'm so down.

Before he could respond, Virgil’s eyes scanned a particular spot at the side of his face. « What’s that? »

Deceit’s heart dropped in his chest, his hand flew to his cheek and his fingertips brushed the only uneven part among his scales. His skin felt chapped with dried blood from the day before, when he couldn’t stop picking at it. Were he to press it, the faint pain would still be there.

« Just Remus and his … “surprises”. » he mused, although he had meant to tell the truth, for once. To scream what the reality was.

He had hoped for him of all people to see him. But Virgil only nodded and headed for his room a moment later, the purpose of their chat was forgotten.

It hurts so much.

After that, it could have only gotten worse.

Deceit started being more subtle, hardly ever leaving the dark sides’ part of the mindscape. He thought Remus wouldn’t have noticed, or, if he did, he would’ve brushed it off as some kind of actual activity he’d suggest too.

He was worried they could have grown back.

When he found scars in their place the days after, he could have said he was satisfied.

He could have, really.

But as soon as he did it one time, as soon as he discovered what he was capable of doing, he couldn’t stop himself anymore.

He’d think about his scales for more than an instant, and there he was, urging to rip off every single one of them.

There was no reason at all most times, just an impulsive feeling. And he complied to it at any chance.

It wasn’t easy to get rid of them completely, he knew he wouldn’t have been able to; he had to go through never-ending shots of pain, he had to deal with the crusts of blood on his wounds, peeling them off too, out of frustration.

When he did that enough to leave darker spots on his skin, he knew he was done and could move onto the other scales.

He felt relieved to see he didn’t look quite as monstrous as he did before. At long last, he could be happy.

Deceit discovered it was the complete opposite when he rose in the living room, face wiped of his hideous snake traits, and was only met with wide-eyed stares.

I still disgust them?

His face dropped.

« What have you done? » Virgil was the only one to speak, shock in his eyes.

Logan couldn’t find any word to assist, Roman’s hand flew to his own cheek and Patton was clutching at his shirt, you could read suffering on his teary eyes, as if he were experiencing the same aching all at once. Their reactions were interpreted as disgusted.

« Are you kidding me? » Deceit was in utter disbelief. « Just what the fuck do I have to do- » he caught a sob and suppressed it. When had he started crying? « -to be accepted? » he wiped at his face. Everything hurt in his chest.

He knew where to find physical pain to complement.

Deceit sank down faster than any other day, leaving a dreadful aura behind himself.

Losing balance, he stumbled in the common room to find some useful objects; Remus wasn’t around, that was to his avail. No distractions.

He looked up at a small mirror. That’s what was still wrong.

That horrendous eye.

His hands trembled and went into his hair. Now, how could he fix that? Lenses? Maybe, but what about the skin around, it seemed too much like he had burnt it. Too gruesome to be acceptable. He just wanted to be normal, why was he the only one that had to look like a beast?

Was he, in fact, one? Was that his punishment for being himself? If only Thomas could have gotten rid of him, he’d have already done that.

Could he … get rid of himself?

Was it possible? Was it worth something? To hell with it, there was no thinking straight about that, he felt twisted enough to deserve to stop existing.

As his mind got stuffed with cotton and misery, his auditory system seemed to stop working.

Remus was wondering exactly that, he had been calling his name three times and he didn’t seem to notice his presence at all. He wasn’t stupid, he knew something was up when he saw him shaking.

When Deceit felt his arms being lowered by foreign hands, he was surprised to have the Duke himself presenting in front of his eyes.

His blurred vision didn’t let him recognize Remus’ concerned expression. nothing that was on his mind helped him calm down at all, he didn’t even realize he was surrounded by multiple people. He didn’t want to open his eyes.

I’m just revol-

« I love you. » a broken voice made its way through his thoughts, silencing them.

« I’m sorry. I love you. » he felt hands on his shoulders, but his eyes were still squeezed shut.

He couldn’t see the sides stepping aside to let Logan help him. He didn’t see his soft expression as he whispered things he didn’t comprehend.

Yet, it seemed his breathing pace was slowing down, the cotton in his ears fell out and he tentatively craked one eye open, just the right amount not to be blinded by the disappointment of reality.

Was Logan telling him a tale?

Deceit focused, behind him were a deeply emotional Patton, still clutching at his cat hoodie the same way he did before. Virgil could barely bear to look at him without feeling guilty. Roman was keeping his brother still, who wanted to rush to Deceit as soon as he gave signs of regaining his consciousness.

« Okay? »

Deceit nodded before he could register what he had even agreed to. Afterwards, Logan helped him up to his feet and the others decided it was safe to approach.

Falling to the ground was another one of the things he forgot he had done, apparently.

Roman let go of Remus and they both paced towards him. He eyed them, confused as to why they were both raising their right hands to his face.

When they touched his cheek, he had a horrible feeling of anticipation, but he didn’t move.

In a matter of seconds, the twins made the scales come back, one after the other, replacing the scars like little blossoming spring flowers. The pain disappeared altogether, though he was going to be still scarred inside.

« Please, keep them. » Roman murmured, he let himself show a genuine smile. « They’re pretty, I like them. »

Deceit blinked, stared at him, but remained silent, still incapable to remark anything, while both Creativities stepped to the side as Patton launched himself at him, wrapping his arms around Deceit’s chest.

« Don’t go. I’m sorry. I should’ve understood. » his words felt disconnected between the sobs. Patton hugged him tight, Deceit found the will to return it, slowly burying his face in his hair. He closed his eyes yet again and felt like all his negative feelings were being drained out of his body.

He was, bit by bit, restoring his awareness. Which meant he was starting to regret all he’d done.

« You absolute idiot. » he felt another presence at his side, all at once another pair of arms was around his neck. Virgil’s voice was muffled as he was speaking with his mouth pressed on the other’s shoulder. « If you try any of that again, if you even remotely consider the thought, I will kill you. »

« That’s kind of what I was going for. » Deceit whispered low enough so that only Virgil would have heard clearly.

« Please don’t. » there was a slight crack in his voice as he hugged him tighter.

Deceit looked up to see Logan smiling at the endearing scene, a few feet away from the group, his chin was resting on his palm while his elbow was on his other hand.

His presence made him smile back and mouth a quick “thank you”. What was happening anymore?

« Let’s give him some space, guys. » Roman brushed his back for a moment, offering a tender gaze, then he gently pulled Virgil and Patton away.

Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed Remus holding back from basically throwing himself at him.

« Why such kindness, all of a sudden? » something didn’t sit right.

That was when the Duke finally spoke. « Well, I don’t know. Maybe because you started mumbling about “possibly getting rid of yourself” and freaked me- us out? » 

Deceit did a double take. « I have? » weren’t those just his thoughts? He didn’t remember talking at all.

« Yes, Dee. You didn’t stop for minutes. »

He had to blink several times before he was able to recollect himself. He had been at his limit for so long he had exploded only when he lost control over himself.

Remus paced forward and took his hand, a look that affirmed “If you dare let go I’ll glue our arms together.”

Then, Logan nodded at Roman.

The latter wore an excited expression and gestured widely, bending his creative powers to shape a form of light in front of him. Deceit peeked from his place.

Roman walked towards him, holding a tiny snake that twirled between his hands; he chuckled, then handed it over.

Deceit was already in love with it, practically beaming with so much joy that the others swore they saw some sparkles coming from him, too.

Remus later added a tiny hat and a cape to the creature to match Deceit, getting a laugh out of everyone as the snake simply slithered around and stuck its tongue out several times. Roman offered he could take the animal around the dreamscape whenever he wanted.

It was when, later that day, they were all hanging around in the kitchen and living room, doing small talk, petting the new family member and just relaxing with some movies on, that Deceit knew he could recover.

It wasn’t going to be easy, or immediate at all.

He knew he would fall back into the habit sometimes or find himself scratching his scales without even realizing. He was going to believe he couldn’t do it, that he wouldn’t be able to make it. He was going to cry when the negative thoughts dived back in his mind.

But he had support, this time.

So, yes. He believed he was going to see a better day, eventually.