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A Vessel

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“Thanks, you guys. This makes me feel a lot better.”
Thomas exhales, his sides sinking back down into their spots inside his mind.
A stray thought drifted into his mind, wondering why they were the way they were.
Why did he choose to share these moments with the world?
This was himself, broken down to his essentials.
And he was comfortable showing them?
He was still uneasy about the warning he had to place before… the Duke’s episode. This wasn’t his standard content but he did have a lesson to teach.
Never to be done again, though. He wouldn’t alienate his audience like that.
If it was a side of him, it would be shown as little as possible.
Something twists in Thomas’s stomach. Wasn’t that… dishonest?

No, he decides. It wasn’t dishonest. He was protecting them from Remus and his potentially triggering content.
He puts the recording equipment away, trying to calm himself.
He felt… alone.
So he called one of his friends.
Ten minutes later, Joan was crunching Cheetos on Thomas’s couch.

“I just feel like I shouldn’t be doing this sometimes. Like my issues are weird and wrong and I need to keep it from my viewers.”
He’s laying on the couch looking at the ceiling, pondering.
“Thomas, the work you do with the sides helps people every day. You opening up and sharing those issues helps make other people feel seen.”

“Not recently. They haven’t even been helpful.”

“What do you mean? DWIT helped a lot of people and you know that.”

“I’m-“ not talking about the episodes. He thought, keeping his mouth shut.

“Thomas, buddy, you’ve been super strange lately, please tell me what’s going on.” Joan asks in a serious tone, their brown eyes pleading.

“I told you. They’re not being helpful. I can’t listen to them all the time.”

“What- you can’t listen to them all the time? Thomas, you’re not supposed to use these episodes as a moral rule book.”

“I’m not talking about the episodes, Joan.” Thomas’ voice is low, still, and on the verge of trembling.

“Where do the sides exist outside of the episodes?” Joan looks confused.

“Here. With me. All the time.”

“Oh my god can you see them?” Something in Joan’s tone changed.
“Why didn’t you tell us you could see them-“
They whipped out their phone.
“Talyn and Cam are coming over, this qualifies as an emergency.”

“Joan, please, please don’t call me crazy.”

“I know you’re not crazy, what I don’t know is how they interact with you. I want to find out exactly what’s going on and for that I need witnesses.”

We can’t let them do that, Thomas. You shouldn’t have opened your mouth.

Joan is my friend, he thought.

Do you think they want to know all your dark, twisted secrets-

“Joan. I love you and I know you want the best for me. But some parts of myself I can’t show on camera. It’s too dangerous.”

“Thomas, what the fuck are you on about? Nothing in your mind is dangerous, you just have Disney villains calling some shots. And it sounds like they should shut the fuck up.” Joan reasons, putting a hand on Thomas’s shoulder.

“Nothing about you is evil or bad.”

“You don’t know that-“ Thomas breaks away, squeezing his head between his hands.

“I’ve been friends with you for years-“

“And you think you know everything about us?”

Thomas turns around, voice distorted, eyes glowing yellow.

Joan, you’re lucky we’ve hidden these parts from him for this long, or your precious friend would be long gone.

“Who…” Joan exhales shakily, trying to wrap their mind around the scene unfolding in front of them.

“Who am I talking to, right now. Deceit?”

A curled lip smirk graces what used to be their friends’ face.

The one of many.”

“Okay, uh, can I talk to Thomas?”

You are.


You just don’t want to admit the truth.

“I know you’ve been nothing but a pain in the ass since 'Can Lying Be Good?' Give him his sanity back.”

In order to get the goods of the piñata of life, he must take off the blindfold. The second he understands that, I’ll let up.

“What the fuck is that supposed to mean-“


“Shit that’s Talyn and Cam-“

The door opens, smiling faces breaking the tension as the yellow fades.

“Hey Talyn! Hey Cam! Joan was just talking about you guys.” Thomas’s tone sounds compressed.

“Yeah, they said it was an emergency… but you look okay.”

“I’m fine now, just had to get some things off my chest.”

“Bullshit. He’s being possessed. By his sides. Which are spiritually real.”

Silence falls at Joan’s accusation.

“Right now, it’s not him at the helm of his mind.”

Cam looks at who he thought was Thomas.
“Okay… so who is?”

“Nobody! It’s me, I swear, pinkie promise!”
Thomas looks desperate at Joan’s glare.

“Deceit. You can prove it by this.”

Joan turns back to their friend.
“What color are you?”


“Thomas doesn’t have a color.”


Talyn and Cam reel at the distorted voice.

Fine. It’s me, nobody’s favorite reptile. Now what?

“Now we call the ER-“

“Talyn, no. This is something that needs to stay here.”

You can’t get rid of me. They’ve tried. Do you know how destructive it is to have murder attempted on you? Thankfully he came to his senses.

“I… what the fuck is going on?” Cam looks confused.

There are parts of Thomas that I hide. Not you, nor the audience he holds so dearly, are permitted to see these parts. It would eat him up inside if you all, his closest friends, knew the twisted things he thought and did.

“He’s not killing people, right?” Talyn asks, combing through their brightly colored hair nervously.

Of course not. Even I have standards. Murder isn’t something he can pull off anyway.

“That’s… somewhat calming. I think. If it’s not murder… what is it?” Joan asks, curious.

That’s not my secret to tell. In fact, I was the one in charge of hiding it.

“So, even if we can’t know… can we at least know if it makes him feel better? Are you looking after his well being?” Talyn says.

No unintentional harm will come to Thomas. You have my word.

“Don’t you mean intentional harm? Like you won’t hurt him on purpose?”

My words are a tricky thing. But I can swear Thomas will be better because of it.

“Tell us you won’t hurt him.” Joan demands.

I promise I’ll hurt him.

Deceit knows he’d have to pull some verbal trickery to keep the secret and the promise. By fooling Joan into thinking he was promising not to hurt Thomas, no promises were actually broken and no secrets were exposed.

“Tell us you won’t hurt him, why is that so hard?”
Talyn implores, a frown on their face.

It’s more complicated than you think it is. I have it handled. Let me take care of him. He’s in my care.

“Are we seriously gonna trust this guy?” Cam asks, turning to Joan and Talyn.

I am Thomas! He isn’t taking part in anything he doesn’t, on some level, agree to!

Joan gets more confused.
“You know what, this sounds like a really personal problem. Call us back when you’re done arguing with yourself. Please, Thomas. I know you’re in there. Don’t let him win.”

The door closes and Deceit materializes, grabbing Thomas by the chin.

“You almost blew it. Leave the talking to me.”

“I’m sorry-“

“Shut up. God, shut up.”

Deceit shoved him backwards and starts pacing.

“I’m the only reason your friends haven’t clutched their pearls and called you a freak. Appreciate my services for what they’re worth.”

“Dee, I’m sorry I didn’t mean to ruin what you planned I just hate lying to them-“

“Would you rather tell them the truth? Tell them what goes on that twisted mind of yours? Tell them you feel you’re nothing but a host to a bunch of parasites and you want them to eat you alive?”

“Pick up the phone then, Thomas. Tell them you spend your nights crying as your pride wounds you. And you wanted more.”

Thomas is rendered speechless, the wind knocked out of him.

“I- I… What should I do, Dee? What do you want me to do?” He blinks, mind falling into a space it was newly familiar with.

“Never do that again. Understand? If I say we keep our mouths shut, don’t disobey me.”

“Yes, Dee.” He gulps. “I… I will keep my mouth shut.”

“It’s so frustrating when you think you have the moral high ground. Really, it throws a wrench in my plans. Especially when your morals disagree.”

“Hey, Thomas. Heard you wanted to babble to your friends?”

“Patton-“ Thomas sighs in relief. “You’re here, thank goodness.

“I’m shocked, Thomas. I thought we agreed as a family this wasn’t something to be shared. Are we not enough for you?”

Something twists in Thomas’s stomach.

“I don’t think he thinks so.”
“How sad. It’s like he doesn’t know how much we love him.”
“Roman, Logan, Virgil, Remus? Mind showing yourselves?” Patton asks.

The missing sides pop up, all with a disappointed look on their face.

“Thomas, what the fuck was that?” Virgil scolds, shadows swirling around him.

“Do you want to lose us? The one thing that makes you special?” Roman says, walking behind Thomas.

“You can’t function without us. You need us. In a way they would never understand.” Logan says.

“Look at him, he’s trembling!” Remus squeals. “Feeling the consequences of your actions now, little bitch?”

Thomas squeezes his eyes shut.
“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry I love you guys more than the world, I don’t want to lose you, I need you-“ He breaks into a sob as the six sides surround him, hugging him and then pulling away.

“That behavior isn’t acceptable and you know it, Thomas.” Patton says, placing a hand on his shoulder.

“Without us…” Roman begins.

“I’m nothing but an empty shell.” Thomas finishes.

“There’s a good boy.” Patton smiles, looking towards the other sides.
“I think we’ve berated him enough. He’s learned his lesson.”
Some skeptical looks from the other sides are shared.
“And if he hasn’t, we’ll do what is necessary.” Deceit says.

“Thomas, don’t you have a deadline for that sponsorship email to take care of?” Logan asks.

“I do. I’ll go take care of it.”

It’s a few hours when Thomas is scrolling through Instagram that Roman comes over, sitting down next to him.
“Who’s that dude?” Roman asks, curious.
“His name is Michael. He followed me a week ago.”
“That’s his insta you’re scrolling through.” Roman pauses. “If you accidentally like his picture, he’s going to know you were stalking him.”

“I’m not-“

“Yes you are, you’ve sat here doing this for thirty minutes.”

“Okay, so what? It’s not like I’m brave enough to act on any of it.”

“Thomas, what an attitude! Is that any way to speak to your prince?”

“Maybe if you let me breathe every so often-“
Thomas’s phone is yanked out of his hands and thrown aside.
Roman’s hands are pinning his shoulders into the back of the couch as the red side looms over him, face set in determination.

“I said, is that any way to speak to your prince?” Roman’s voice was lower.

“N-no. Your Highness.”

Roman shifts at the nickname, knowing what it meant.
“I’m taking Thomas to my room.” he announces, grabbing his hand.

The door to Roman’s kingdom closes, sealing Thomas’ fate.

“What is this, the second time this week? Roman keeps jumping on him before any of us can and it’s just not fair.” Virgil complains.

“It’s easier for Roman to sense when that’s going to happen. That’s more his area.” Logan says.

“Remus, let us know when he plans on acting up again so we can get a turn.” Virgil says, playing with his hoodie strings.

“Will do, Jackoff Skellington.”

Groans were heard all around.

Logan notices Thomas’s phone going off with a text notification.

‘done dealing with that snake bastard yet?’

“Give me the phone.” Deceit demands, snatching it from Logan.

‘yeah he left as soon as patton told him he’d take care of the situation’

‘and what situation is this exactly’

‘a personal one i can’t talk about’

‘wdym can’t’

‘i mean it’s not a good idea to’

‘when have you ever shied away from venting to us’

‘this is different’

‘i’m coming back over’
‘you need to get out of your own head’

“Shit.” Deceit says. “I’ll impersonate him, it’ll be fine. Don’t take him from Roman’s room.”

“I’ll clean this place up a little.” Logan offers.

It’s a few moments later when Joan busts through the door, seeing the sides in all their individuality.

“Oops.” Patton says as Joan’s jaw almost hits the floor.

“Holy shit.” they say, shocked. “You’re real.”

“I would hope we aren’t, for your sake.” Logan says.

“This is the coolest thing ever oh my god-“ Joan looks around, doing a head count.
“Where’s Roman? For that matter, where’s Thomas? And I don’t want to know where bowler hat man is, spare me the details.”

“Roman is fighting an evil beast, or so he told me.” Virgil says, deadpan.

“Thomaaaas! Joan came back!” Patton exclaims.

Deceit comes out, having raided Thomas’s closet for what he thought was an appropriate outfit.

“Hello, Joan.” he says, smiling, teeth not showing.

“You’re not freaking out over me seeing the sides?” Joan asks, confused.

“I mean, I told you. What more reason would I have to be freaked out? Just wait until you see their rooms.”

“How real is this?” Joan asks.

“As real as you want it to be.”

“Thomas you seem really weird, are you sure…. you’re you?” Joan turns to Thomas, not sure if they saw their friend or someone else more sinister.

“I promise I’m the same person that beat your ass in MarioKart on Wednesday.” Thomceit rolls his eyes.

“Hey now that’s because we did 200cc races-“

Crisis averted.

“Wow. I can’t believe you guys are real.” Joan rubs the side of their face.

“How do you live like this every day?” they ask Thomas.

“Lots of banter and lots of chaos.”

It’s then Virgil’s head pops up.

“I have to go help Roman, be right back.”

A few moments later, Virgil has disappeared while a mildly flushed Roman has reappeared.

“Hello, dear Joan! What a wonderful surprise.” He says, holding his arms out for a hug.

Joan pats the side of Roman’s arms in disbelief.

“So you can take physical forms-“

“All kinds!” Remus throws his arms up. “One time, i was a Kraken from Pirates of the Carribean-“

“Remus! Shut up!” Thomas hisses. “Nobody wants to know where that story leads. Or ends.”

“Ooookay, not quite what I expected but he is your intrusive thoughts so I get it.” Joan says, laughing.

“He’s a bit more than that-“ Thomceit chuckles.

“Then what is he, Thomas? Because you seem awfully comfortable around him now compared to the last interaction you told me about.”

Deceit shifts under Joan’s tone.

“He’s a part of me. Unfortunately. I have to deal with his bullshit just like how I have to deal with everyone else’s.”

“Yep, okay that’s enough out of you, snake man. I was trying to figure out which one of you was who. I know Thomas isn’t here. Or he would have been happier. Relieved. Smiling with the sun beaming out of his face.” Joan's face hardened into a glare.

“You can never smile like he can.”

Deceit’s face snarls, scales shining through.
“Where he’s located is none of your business.”

“Logan. Buddy. Please. Tell a pal where to find Thomas?”

“Sorry Joan, I’m afraid I can’t do that. Even if I wanted to.”

“Even if you- asshole!” Joan looks on, shocked.

“Which one of you is hiding him? Why?”

Virgil comes thundering down the staircase.

“We have him. He’s fine.”

“He’s not yours. He has friends outside of his head.”

“We will decide what he does.” Virgil is more insistent now, smoky purple tendrils lurking.

“We are him. Do you not trust him?” Logan asks.

“I don’t trust him.” Joan points to Deceit. “And right now, for some fucking reason, he’s the ringleader.”

“You don’t want to see Thomas right now. He’s compromised.” Roman says, a last attempt at trying to shake Joan off.

“I don’t care. Where the fuck are you keeping my best friend?”

A silent decision is reached.

“Remus. Go get him.” Deceit orders.

The green side comes back with Thomas slumped next to his shoulders, barely conscious.

He was not looking okay.
He had red marks and burns almost everywhere. His eyes were wet from crying. His lips were red and puffy.
His legs were weak and his throat was hoarse, every muscle in his body begging for him to lie down.
His breath was shaky, the effects of Virgil's room leaving a dark residue under his eyes.

“Joan… what are you doing here…” he croaks.

Joan was stone, rooted to the spot, unable to process what was happening.

“What happened?” they ask, heart pounding.

A weak smile forms on Thomas’s face.

“Just doing some self exploration. You know how it is.”

“Thomas Foley Sanders, what the actual fuck is going on?”

“I’m fine-“

“No, you’re really fucking not! I can see you really, really injured!”
They turn.

“And none of you are doing anything about it- Remus what the hell- ARE YOU TAKING A FUCKING PICTURE-“

Joan turns to their friend, waiting for Thomas to explain himself.

But he never does.

Chapter Text

It had been 24 hours since The Incident, as Thomas had dubbed it.
Joan had sent text after text apologizing for running out on him, trying to explain the whole thing just overwhelmed them, that they were willing to sit down and listen if Thomas could just please text them back-

Thomas knew the truth. Deceit was right. Joan couldn’t bear to see Thomas in his ‘true form’.

“Isn’t this exactly what we said would happen, darling?” he remembers the scaled side telling him after Thomas broke down crying upon Joan’s exit.

It truly broke him, seeing one of his closest friends look at them with such shock and concern and horror.

“They’ll come back, right? They won’t leave me?” Thomas asked, shaking.

“Shhh, kiddo you’ll be okay. We’re right here. We’re never gonna leave you.” Patton said, hugging Thomas and patting his hair.

“No matter what happens, we’ll always be here for you, sugarplum.” Roman presses a kiss to his forehead.

His breathing steadies, hands still shaking. Virgil squeezes it gently, support in his touch.

“Thanks, guys. I feel better now.”

“You haven’t had the glitter bath yet, Thomas! Isn’t that your favorite part?” Patton asks.

They both leave to heal Thomas’s wounds, while Logan gathers the other sides.

“So. How do we deal with this most recent development?” he asks, hands on the table.

“It’s clear Joan doesn’t approve of whatever they think is happening. They believe we’re putting Thomas in danger.” Roman says.

Deceit arches an eyebrow. “How many times are we going to need to explain to them that We. Are. Thomas.” He punctuates each word with an angry foot tap.

“Do they believe us? Do they think we’re some sort of demon system taking over Thomas’s body?” Remus asked, waving his hands around for emphasis.
“Joan has hated me ever since I suggested Thomas lie to them about the play reading.” Deceit says, eyes set in a glare. “They probably think I’m an evil demon come to take their precious friend from the clutches of innocence.”

“You’ve done somewhat of an acceptable job if Joan thinks we’re innocent.” Virgil snarks, throwing a glare toward his reluctant partner in crime.

“So at some point, it is understood that we must explain to Joan what we are and how we function.” Logan pulls a notebook and pen out of nowhere, scribbling intently. “Also while keeping our dynamic vague and somewhat secret.”

“I can’t even begin to think of how we could explain what we are to Joan.” Roman muses.

“I can. ‘Hey I’m Thomas and I’m a masochist with clones of myself. Guess where that ends up-’” Remus gets cut off by a smack on the arm by Deceit, which was probably not the best move upon realizing Remus wiggled his eyebrows at him and muttered “Do it harder next time.”

Logan’s shoulders lower in exasperation. “Can you keep it in your pants for ten minutes while we attempt to fix the dilemma we put ourselves in?”

“Yeah, come on Oscar the Casting Grouch.” Roman pipes up, earning a confused look from Virgil.

“Because he’s green and stinky, and Casting Grouch sounds like Casting Couch which is-”

Roman is cut off by Deceit, his own hand clapping over his mouth while he mutters in protest.

“Spare us the details, Hellmo.”

“Enough with the Sesame street jokes, I’m having sock puppet flashbacks.” Virgil holds his hand up with his eyes squinted shut, remembering the painful puppeteering and problem solving of a few episodes ago.

“I believe the term that would best fit here is ‘Put a sock in it, Roman.’” Logan says with no humor. “Now, since I made the last quip, can we please get back on task?”

“What was the task again, Teach?” Roman asks, rooting around in the cupboard.

“Roman we are metaphysical entities, we don’t require food, what in the name of Galileo are you doing-”

“Why don’t we just tell Joan that?” Roman says, coming back to the table with a packet of cookies.
“Roman put those back-”

“Are those cookies? Don’t mind if we do.” Patton, coming back, snags one for himself and one for Thomas, who is curled into his side.

Logan has the expression of a side who has given up on life completely.

“Okay, so our options are to fabricate a lie about how there was a hallucinogen in Thomas’s ventilation-”

“Which is not happening because I don’t think I need to go over /again/ that we are not lying to Joan!” Patton angrily points at Deceit with his cookie.

“-or explain to Joan how things truly are. All of it.” Logan looks at the rest of the sides, unsure.

“...Meaning the hurting?” Thomas says, voice weak.

“That’s up to you, Thomas.”

“Should it be?” Deceit interjects. “Thomas doesn’t make decisions in his best interests. He makes them in his friends’ best interests. Where will that get us? Lost and alone.”

“I think we should tell Joan what we are, scientifically, and leave the pain part out.” Roman suggests, crunching on his cookie. “If they ask, we can say Thomas tried to help me fight a beast and got hurt.”

“So a lie of omission. At the least.” Patton says, arms now crossed.

“It’s the truth or the friendship, Patton. Which one are you trying to throw away?” Deceit hisses.

Patton looks at Thomas. “Fine. Only because we want Joan around. Don’t think this is a win.”

The sides and their host disperse, all with confusing feelings about the days ahead.

Thomas finally answers Joan’s texts.

-sorry, was taking some time to heal

-you’re okay!! That makes me happy to hear.

-yeah, doing much better now

-can i come over? Did you get checked up by a doctor?
-i’m fully healed now

-that’s great, thomas
-can i bring snacks

-when would i ever say no to that question?

-depends on who’s at the wheel

-overstepped my boundaries, got it

-no i mean just. Forget it

-thomas i like you a lot but that entire ordeal is really hard to forget
-are you safe with them?

-they’re my home of course

Thomas looks at his phone, heart heavy. The truth was painful. Hell, the truth /was/ pain. The truth was that pain made him feel alive. Like he wasn’t stuck inside his own head. Like he was real.

Were they his home, or was he theirs?

Chapter Text

Joan was confused. So very confused. They had been texting Thomas on and off for three days now, Thomas refusing to let them come over again after what had happened, claiming it would never be the same.
Joan knew Thomas needed an outside voice to cut through the manipulation he was hearing, the whispers and the voices they knew haunted their friend were turning him into something, someone else.
They paced their living room for the fifth time that afternoon.
“Talyn, is Thomas going to come back to the person he used to be?”

Talyn was sprawled on Joan’s couch, mind exhausted with concern for their friend. Talyn insisted they talk to a professional or something, because there were people, real live people, hurting their friend, and that needed to stop.

But it was Joan that changed their mind, saying this was a problem unique to Thomas, that it wouldn’t make any sense to anyone else. Cam had taken a few moments to try and ignore what he had seen, and worked on spreading the word to some of Thomas’s friends that he was sick at the moment, and he would be back to his normal self in a while. It was messy.

“I don’t think he ever was the person we thought he was.” Joan says, snapping Talyn out of their thoughts. “Maybe there were some parts we were never meant to know.”

“But he needs our help! He’s hurting!” Talyn protests.

“Maybe he is hurting. I don’t think that’s a mistake.” Joan answers, staring off into the distance trying to make sense of the puzzle thrust before them.

Back at Thomas’s house, where nobody but him resided, things were falling apart.

“They know. That’s a Pandora’s box we’re never going to be able to close.” Thomas said, sobbing. “They’re never going to look at me the same way again.” He hugged his knees to his chest, the gaping void in his chest swallowing him up.

Patton sat next to him, rubbing his back. “Thomas, we can’t change the way they think about us. And we can’t change what makes you, you. This was bound to happen eventually. If you mean as much to them as they mean to us, then things will work out. If they don’t, you have us. And that’s all you really need.”

“I haven’t been doing anything but hurting these past few days. I need them.” Thomas croaks.

“Why do you hurt, Thomas?” Deceit asks, arms crossed.

“Because… Because I’m a bad person. Because I’m selfish and an attention whore and can’t stand the spotlight being on anyone else. And bad people deserve pain. The hurt I feel is a reflection of how I make others feel.”

Patton winced, the feeling of what he thought was the truth bringing him shame.

Logan sighs, nodding his head in agreement. “During the mock court case it was decided you were guilty of being a bad person. The effects of that will have their consequences for a while. However, we can work on getting you to appear to be better. Your internal makeup will not change, but how you present yourself can.”

Remus twirled his mustache, sitting up. “Thomas, you knew when you met me we were all in for some deep shit. I don’t exist in a vacuum. When you were curious about a couple of my ideas, that was when you really descended. Curiosity killed the cat and the moral virtue. What a coincidence those things normally come together!” He hoots, seeing Thomas glare at him.

“Are you upset I exposed your dark desires? Thomas, I! Am! YOU!” He punctuates his words with claps. “You made me to be the bad guy that kidnaps you and locks you in the dungeon. I am just as real as everyone in this room.”

“But…” Thomas feels so alone. He was talking to himself. Again. “You guys aren’t real.”

Roman grabs his arm, making Thomas jump.

“Does this feel imaginary, pretty boy?”


Ever since the court case, Roman had been uncharacteristically mean to Thomas. His so called royal side had been a royal pain in the ass. Always griping about not getting what he wanted.
He’d started taking his anger out on Thomas, blaming him being soft for getting them ‘stuck in this swamp when we could be touching the stars’. His words went from flowery to sharp, twisting in Thomas’s psyche and keeping him up at night.

He’d been the first one to shove Thomas around, mocking him and his fragile heart. When that resulted in Thomas gravitating more towards him, he was a little confused.

Until he talked with Logan.

“It could possibly be a need for attention. Negative attention is still attention. Maybe he isn’t getting it from other places?” was the first theory the logical side came up with.

“That’s not true. He’s Patton’s baby.” Roman wasn’t jealous. He wasn’t that kind of side.

“So what do you have that he doesn’t?” Logan asks.

“A sword. And a jawline that can cut steel. Also, a royal title. And functioning eyes-” Roman stops bragging at Logan’s bespectacled glare.

“Roman. We have the same face.”

“Okay, so maybe we have a lot in common, but I’m better at presenting it. I’m the ideal version of Thomas. I should /be/ him for as well as I know him.” Roman threw his hands in the air, exasperated.

“Maybe that’s what he likes. Maybe he sees you as strong and wants to imitate your mannerisms.” Logan offers.

“Or he could just talk to me. It’s like he doesn’t want to fight back at all! When I call him names he just curls into himself and becomes this… weakling!” Roman’s voice is elevated, his face turning his signature crimson.

“Maybe he feels like he deserves the verbal slander you appear to be hurling.” Logan is visibly disapproving of Roman’s behavior.

“Doesn’t he?” Roman looks at Logan, waiting for the brains of their group to give his verdict.

“He believes he does. That makes it our internal judgement. If he was truly against you being rude to him, he would have made you want to stop.” Logan has another theory lurking at the back of his mind, something in a perspective he would have never looked at before.

Until now.

“If he was… truly against it… so he’s not against it, just pretending to be.” Roman muses, having calmed down.

“Why would he pretend?”

“To play a character? Isn’t that what you theater types do?”

“Logan, shut up.” Roman slaps him on the arm.

“To play a role. He… he’s into this. He enjoys being degraded.” Roman’s eyes widen.
“I’m going to kill my brother. He did this. Had he not /fucking/ shown up none of this would have happened-”

“Roman! Stop.” Logan holds up his hand. “You didn’t think this through before you went on an emotion-fueled quest for revenge. Let this simmer for just a moment.” He begins to explain, “Thomas feels a sort of gratification from you being aggressive and mean. Maybe you could change your tactics to get him to tell you that himself. He’s never going to admit it until he says it out loud. This brings… opportunities for all of us. Do not mess this up, Roman.” He fixes the creative side with a steely glare and for a moment, Roman feels what Thomas felt.

He goes to talk to Thomas, a determination set in his heart.

Chapter Text

Roman was anxious, which was not usually a trait he possessed. So much so that the purple side bearing that title stopped him when he was pacing down the halls.

“Hey, Roman, the fuck? What’s with the pacing?” Virgil asks, pulling him to the side of the hallway by his arm.

“I’m trying to think of the perfect way to approach the subject.” Roman groans, having racked his brain for hours on how to handle this very hot potato.

“What subject?” Virgil quirks his head, violet bangs softly sweeping across his eyelashes.

“Thomas… well, Logan hypothesizes that Thomas gets something out of being in pain.”

“So, a masochist.”

“It has a name?” Roman is shocked.

“I mean, if he enjoys being in pain? Yeah.” Virgil shrugs, sipping from a box.

“Is that grape juice?” Roman asks, seeing the purple container.

“What are you going to do if it is?” Virgil cocks an eyebrow.

“I’d assume you were the kid friendly version of Dionysus.” Roman joked.

“Trying to make me Greek to your Roman?” A groan is heard from the mentioned side, rolling his eyes in response.

“And now I will be Roman away from your attitude,” he says, throwing his hand up.

“That was objectively worse.” Virgil deadpans.

The veil that separates the world of the sides from the world of Thomas is thin, every day getting thinner. Every step Roman takes down the stairs solidifies the mental realm into the real world, his shining black shoes like staples pinning his imagined world to something real.
Roman knows he’s powerful, knows his strength is drawn from something truly special.
He had to wonder, did he create himself? Did his spirit work through Thomas to create everyone? How far apart were they? Who came first, the Sides or Thomas?
He shakes his head, wiping his mental slate like an Etch-A-Sketch.

This was real. Thomas was real. The ideas Roman wrestled with were very, very real.

When Roman found him, Thomas was watching The Good Place on the couch, a lifeless stare into the distance as it was obvious his mind was other places.

When Roman sat down next to him, the human tensed. Roman could feel his heartbeat pick up.

“Is everything alright, dear?” Roman bit his lip as the term of endearment slipped out, accidentally slipping a little too much.

“You of all people know it’s not.” Thomas sounded bitter.

“It’s a bit of a stretch to call me a person.” Roman remarked, trying to cut the tension.

It didn’t work.

“So what are you, Roman? What are we? What am I to you?”

“I…” Roman can’t find the words.

“I… I’m your Roman. We’re… attached. We fit into each other. And… you’re our Thomas. We… we love you, Thomas.” Roman feels like he’s been punched.

“So I’m really that lonely, huh.”

“You’re… not lonely.” Roman defends halfheartedly.

“Roman, tell me why I’m talking to myself right now.” Thomas says, running his hand through his hair in frustration.

“Listen, Thomas, I didn’t come here to be bossed around by someone who can’t stand up to himself and face the truth-” Roman snaps, fed up.

“You do realize I created you, right? You only exist because of me.” Thomas snaps back.

“Bullshit. You’re our physical form. You’re nothing but a vessel for us to exist in.” Roman’s words cut deep, hitting where it hurt.

“Then why do you keep touching me, if you’re not physical?” Thomas is almost shouting.

“I don’t know, Thomas, why do you want me to?” Roman yelled back, staring the other man down.

“Leave me alone, Roman.” Thomas shoves him backwards and gets up from the couch.

“Thomas, you can run from me, but you can’t run from who you are.”

Thomas whips around. “What do you know about who I am? I’m just your vessel, remember?” He sneers, upset.

“Because I feel the same way. I know how you feel. I see the same things you do. Your imagination is my realm, did you really think these things would slip from me?”

“Shouldn’t Remus be yelling at me right now instead?” Thomas didn’t understand Roman’s endgame.

“You’d rather get it from me.” He rolls his head, staring Thomas down.

Thomas balls his fists at his side, glaring back.
“You’re sick, Roman.”

“No, Thomas. You are.” The both of them fall quiet until Roman gets up from the couch and strides over.

“For what it’s worth… it’s not like anybody else would know.” Roman is quieter now, looking at Thomas in a way that makes the human feel vulnerable.

“Would it… help?” Thomas asks, heart pounding.

“Would you like to find out?” Roman sees Thomas flush red.

“This is ridiculous-” he covers his face with his hands. Roman gently grabs his wrists and pulls them away. The grip makes things so much more real.

“Thomas?” Roman asks, not sure what the rules in this situation were.

“I… just…” Thomas is nervous, but then he leans his head on Roman’s shoulder.

Roman feels him draw closer, needing something from him.

“...need to be out of my own head.” he finishes, Roman now rubbing his side.

Roman feels a weird tug in his chest. What the fuck was going on? Did he want to know?

“Thomas, is it strange to admit I have confusing feelings toward you?”

“It’s already strange. And right back atcha.” He murmurs into Roman’s neck, sending shivers down his back.

It’s when Thomas initiates the first kiss that Roman realizes how far gone he is, and by extension, all of the others are too.

Pulling away, Roman says, “I don’t know how we’re doing this.”

“I don’t care, I just need more of it.” There’s a more mutual sense of interest now, different from the antagonizing tension of earlier before.

The rest of the night is spent in a state of questioning, oneself and the ‘others’ around him.

Patton visits Thomas the next morning, catching him just as he awoke.

“Hey there. Mind if I talk with you?” he asks softly.

“Ugh…” Thomas is tired and sore. “I mean, do I have a choice?”

“Thomas… we love you. A lot.” Patton confesses. “Every single one of us thinks about you kind of like how Roman does.”

“All… all of you.” Thomas is too groggy to fully process this information.

“We were wondering if we could all kind of be… together? A lot of us like each other too and I just want us to be one happy family.”

“So… you know what, I’ve been thinking about this for weeks.” Thomas feels the heat rush to his face. “Please. Let’s all be together. That’s exactly what I want.”

And that’s how their strange relationship came to be.