When he was younger, before he knew the difference between the light sides and the dark sides, Virgil never cared that he lived in a basement. It wasn’t a traditional basement. In fact, it was quite pleasant. It was in no way perfect and the lack of windows made the whole place permanently dark, but it was clean and quiet, so he’d always been comfortable. That was until he’d met the others, when he’d seen the sun streaming through the windows and felt heard for the first time. Since meeting them, the basement had seemed as much smaller, almost claustrophobic, and the heavy, underground air was stifling. He tried to push it to the back of his mind. He was down there for a reason after all. He didn’t belong upstairs in the light.
“Beans again for dinner. Not the most to creative I know, but that’s Remus’ job.” Said Deceit as Virgil sulked into the kitchen.
“Cool.” Virgil grumbled as he reached into the high cupboards for a cup. It was always such a stretch that he had to stand on his tiptoes.
“Quite possibly, the oven is on the blink again.” Deceit muttered.
“Somethings wrong.” Deceit noted as Virgil filled his glass with water and sat down at the table.
“Everything’s fine.” Virgil said shaking his head.
“You can’t lie to me, Virgil. I’m very perceptive.” Deceit pulled out a chair and took a place at the table opposite Virgil. Virgil’s eye quickly darted their gaze across the room to avoid eye contact. Something about Deceit looking directly at him always felt suffocating, like a boa constrictor wrapping around his chest. He was never sure whether he was purposefully trying to make him uncomfortable or if it was all in his head, but he felt it all the same. “It’s the others, isn’t it?”
“Yes.” Virgil nodded.
“Did they hurt you?”
“No. I don’t think any of them would hurt a fly, even Roman seems to just talk the talk.”
“I didn’t necessarily mean physically.”
“I don’t know. A-a little maybe. That’s…not the problem.”
“Then what is the problem?” Asked Deceit.
“It’s just…spending time with the others, seeing how Thomas looks at them and then seeing the way he looks at me. I used to wonder why he did that, why he looked at me so differently. I used to think it was a look of hate, but it’s not, it’s a look of fear. He’s afraid of me. They’re all afraid of me.”
“As they should be. You exist to scare Thomas into the correct behaviours. If you can scare the others into obeying you, even better.”
“But I’m hurting them.” Virgil protested.
“And they hurt us.” Deceit snapped.
“They care a lot about Thomas.” Virgil sighed quietly.
“As do we.” Deceit hissed. “We care for him in a way the others would never dare to. By being the bad guys. By showing him the parts of himself he doesn’t want to see and the options he wouldn’t think to consider without us. They don’t understand us, Virgil, and they never will. You could be doing your job perfectly for your whole life and they will still see you as a failure. As long as you do what you’re supposed to they’ll hate you. You shouldn’t care what they think.”
“I know.” Virgil replied. His hands trembled from gripping his glass so tightly that it was on the verge of shattering.
“Then why do you?” Deceit scowled.
“Don’t you remember how they treated us?” He growled.
“Of course, you don’t. You’re far too young. They wanted to destroy us, Virgil, they wanted us gone. They ripped Remus away from his brother for daring to be different. Those are the people you want to the approval of, Virgil. You have no idea what it was like when they locked us away.” He shouted.
“Did they lock us away?” Or did you lock us in?” Virgil snapped. For a moment he felt a pang of defiance. He pushed himself to make eye contact, just for a second. Deceit’s posture remained still and composed, his back perfectly straight and his head held high, but his eyes were so full of quiet rage that Virgil’s gaze was forced to sink to the floor.
“They make Thomas happy, that’s all.” Virgil said quietly. “And they make him feel safe. Anybody who makes him feel that way can’t be all bad.”
“Safe is very big word, Virgil.” Deceit grumbled.
“It’s four letters.” Virgil scoffed.
“I meant figuratively. It’s wonderful to think how many important, life changing words begin with four little letters, isn’t it? Love, hope, kill.”
“…What exactly are you trying to imply, Virgil.” Deceit’s eyes narrowed. Virgil could feel them burning into him without even looking up.
“Nothing.” Virgil replied quickly. His heart began to pound as Deceit’s eye stayed locked directly on to him.
“You spend a couple of days with that failed teacher and suddenly you think you’re so much smarter, so much more justice.” He didn’t shout, somehow that made it worse. His voice was quiet and cold, like the gentle frost that killed in the night.
“Here’s another four letter word for you, Virgil.” Deceit bluntly interrupted as he slumped into the back of his chair. “Side, as in pick one.”
“What?” Virgil’s eyes shot up. Deceit’s face no longer showed rage. In fact, it no longer showed anything reassembling an emotion.
“You heard. See, I understand you, Virgil. I’ve been here for you since you came into existence, when you were small and scared.”
“Don’t.” Virgil mumbled.
“When Thomas wouldn’t even acknowledge your existence, I was here. I know what’s best for you. But you think you’re so smart now, don’t you? All of a sudden you think you know what is and isn’t good for Thomas. So, I’ll let you decide. Do you want to be upstairs with the ones who can barely stand to look at you? Or do you want to here, with the ones who have always loved you.”
“I’m the only one who will ever do that, Virgil. Nobody will ever love you like me.”
Virgil went silent. He fidgeted with his fingers in attempt to push away a sense of heavy nausea. Maybe Deceit had a point. After all, he’d been the enemy for a long time. He’d hurt everyone in one way or another throughout the years. He couldn’t undo all pain and damage, nor could he make up for it overnight. Maybe he’d never be able to make up for it at all. They had no reason to love him. They had no reason to accept him. He had no place upstairs. Then again, he’d known Deceit’s love all his life. He knew what it was like to feel small and helpless, to be afraid to look his guardian in the eye. If that was what love was, he didn’t want it.
“I choose neither.” Virgil scowled.
“That’s not an option.” Deceit huffed.
“Sure it is. I have a room, don’t I? A room that I could block you out of if I really wanted to. We’re not human. We don’t actually need to eat or drink, we just do it for the routine. I could stay there forever until there is no Thomas to hurt anymore. I choose my side.” He explained as he rose to his feet.
“This little tantrum isn’t going to work out how you think, Virgil. Nobody’s going to come running after you. I know I won’t. They certainly won’t. They don’t care. The time you spent up there has been nothing more than a passing novelty for them. You’re going to end up alone…you deserve to be alone.” He growled.
“Then let me be alone.” Virgil replied coldly.
“…fine.” Deceit grumbled. “Just remember, I’m always going to be here. So, if you ever change your mind, don’t even think about coming back.”
“Don’t worry.” Said Virgil as he straightened his back and filled his chest, scraping his chair as he pushed it back into place. “I won’t.”