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Truths and Familiarity

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Virgil couldn’t breathe.

He didn’t understand. He was supposed to be relaxing. He was supposed to be okay, he was supposed to be just coloring and listening to his playlist and be calm but something—nothing happened, why was he feeling this way?

He felt like he could barely breathe, his head was pounding and his chest was aching and his whole body felt weak and—

He suddenly, though vaguely, became aware of a presence beside him on his bed, a hesitant hand hovering his shoulder, a voice next to his ear – he tried to focus on the voice.

“Breathe in for four,” the familiar yet unfamiliar voice said softly, and Virgil tried to do just that, listening as the voice counted to four.

“Hold for seven,” the voice continued, and Virgil tried, but he gasped, unable to. The voice didn’t snap or get mad, to its credit. “In for four,” it repeated.

It took a few minutes, but finally Virgil was able to breathe again, finally his chest stopped aching and his head stopped pounding and his vision cleared.

“Virgil?” He recognized the voice now, the presence. “May I touch you?”

Virgil nodded, and the hand that had been hovering above his shoulder moved to rub his back. He leaned into the touch, and then into the other’s side. Deceit ran a hand through Virgil’s hair.

“May I pick you up?” Deceit asked next, and Virgil made a hum of affirmation, not protesting when Deceit did so. Instead the small Side burrowed into the yellow-themed Side’s chest.

Virgil sighed softly.

He was sleepy now. Maybe he would have been annoyed with Deceit if he had the energy, but for now he just clung to him, a little grateful for the familiarity (not that he’d mention it, even now, when he was small and vulnerable).

He kept his head down while Deceit carried him somewhere – and even though he hadn’t looked up, it seemed familiar, just by the sound and atmosphere. Almost, almost comforting.

Deceit sat down, setting Virgil on his lap, and reached over to rummage through something and to grab something, so Virgil finally looked up. He recognized the place, even though he hadn’t seen it in quite a while, not since moving in with the main Sides. It was the Others’ common room. While it was dimmer than the one that Patton, Roman, and Logan had, it was somewhat soothing.

It hadn’t changed much since he’d left, not really. It still had its ever-going fire in the fireplace, the drapes, the chairs.

Virgil stuck his thumb in his mouth as he considered his surroundings.

“Ah ah ah,” Deceit interrupted, tapping Virgil’s hand once.

Virgil frowned and removed his thumb, looking over. Deceit was offering two things. And then he recognized his basket, with all his old regression tools, on the table. He looked up at Deceit in slight confusion.

“You may have left some things behind when you left,” Deceit said in a way of explanation.

Virgil eyed the pacifier and the teething ring. It hadn’t gotten damaged or dirtied in his absence, it seemed. But he hesitated, half-expecting the items to bite him back.

“He hasn’t seen them since you left,” Deceit said, and since Virgil’s mind was a little clearer, he could remember that Deceit never lied to him when he was regressed, so he should be able to trust him.

Virgil grabbed the pacifier and inspected it, nonetheless. No teeth, nothing sticky or slimy. After another moment’s thought he popped it into his mouth. He leaned his head against Deceit’s chest again, starting to doze.

Both Roman and Deceit were a comforting presence in their own ways. Roman’s time spent was rambunctious, Deceit’s less so. While Roman would play pretend and run around with Virgil, Dee would read to him. Roman was fun but Deceit was calming, and Virgil appreciated the calmness.

He almost missed this.

Deceit started to hum a familiar tune.

Virgil’s grip on him loosened, and the last thing he heard before falling asleep was, “Goodnight, little bat.”

 

And if Virgil hid some goldfish crackers in the Others’ common room the next morning, what of it?