Patton scanned the golden field, chewing on his lip. Was he not coming? This was where they always met, wasn’t it? He caught a glimpse of his bowler hat, and breathed a sigh of relief. “There you are!” He called out to him, giggling and smiling when he saw Janus’s face. “For a moment I thought that you wouldn’t show up.”
The man laughed softly. “For you, my dear, I would never dream of it.” Patton laughed at the pun and started walking towards him. Janus turned his head slowly, giving Patton a good look at the snake side of his face. His golden-green scales glittered in the sunlight, his one emerald green eye looking him up and down. “Come sit.” He gestured to the spot in the field next to him.
Patton happily skipped over, laughing at the way his skirt flowed behind him. He never got to wear skirts or dresses in real life, the village leaders had proclaimed it unacceptable for a man to wear. But here, he could be and do anything. He was only dreaming, after all, he might as well take advantage of it.
“So.” Janus continued once Patton had settled down beside him and rested his head on Janus’s shoulder. “Tomorrow is selection day.”
Patton’s cheerful demeanor dimmed ever so slightly at the reminder. “I know. I wonder who it’ll be. Not many children have come of age this year. There won’t be a very big group to choose from.” Every ten years, a child who had come of age that year was chosen to be… gifted, to the spirits that ruled over the world as gods. To the village, “of age” meant twenty. They always called the selected young adult “gifts,” the village leaders refused to call it a sacrifice, as that would imply that they were unwilling to give these things. And that could make the spirits angry. So no, they weren’t sacrifices, they were gifts, and they were treated as such.
Every child who had a chance of being selected was dressed in nice clothes tailored specifically for them. When the gift had been selected, the others would stay in their clothes and party hard for the rest of the day and night, only stopping once the clock struck midnight. The village leaders said it was to honor the ones chosen, but honestly, Patton just felt like it was to celebrate the ones who didn’t get chosen.
The chosen child would be led to a cave deep in the woods, far away from the village, and left there. The child would then enter the cave, and then they would never be seen again.
Pat knew that he was going to be chosen this year. He had overheard talk of it from the adults, people who didn’t like him very much, but it wasn’t much of a surprise. Staying in the village didn’t suit his people’s needs, he was too feminine, not a fighter, not a hunter, and would much rather spend his time frolicking through the forests and making friends with the animals rather than killing them.
He didn’t say as much to Janus though, knowing it would only worry the man. See, they had met in a dream just like this one, but unlike the other people in Patton’s dreams, who were all friendlier, milder versions of the people in his daily life, Pat had never met Janus in real life. They always met in the same location, a field of grass so tall it reached up to your shoulders when you sat down. It wasn’t always sunny, some days it snowed, sometimes it rained, and some days it was cloudy. But rain or shine, Janus was always there, waiting for him.
He wasn’t actually sure if Janus was real or not, it seemed equally plausible and likely that he had just dreamed him up. After all, nobody could be that perfect. Janus was everything he could possibly want in a partner. Handsome, kind, funny, respectful, and classy. He made puns, he was always very delicate with Pat. He behaved in ways Pat had never seen a man behave before.
Patton wondered idly if he would ever see Janus after tomorrow. No one knew what happened to the… “gifts” after they entered the cave. All they knew is that they went in and then they never came out. It was a little unnerving, and no one had any idea if it was because of the specific day or person, or if it applied to anyone anytime. No one was willing to test it out, not that Patton could blame them for it.
“Whatever happens.” Janus said after a few moments of silence, bringing Pat back into the present. “I’ll always be here, waiting. Whoever gets chosen, I’ll be willing to listen.” Pat nodded mutely, suddenly unable to speak over the lump rising in his throat. Even if he could talk, he doubted he would. After all, how was he supposed to explain to the man he loved that he was going to be the one chosen?
He didn’t realize he was crying until Janus lifted his chin and gently wiped away the tears with his thumb. He gave Patton a quick kiss and rested his hand on his cheek. “There there love, it will be alright. There’s no need to worry. I’m sure everything will turn out fine.” He offered Patton that charming smile that always tied his stomach into knots. Even now, it gave him butterflies. “Now then, let’s talk about something else, shall we?”
What followed was a lot of talking, but even more kissing. Patton told Janus about what was going on in his daily life, and Janus talked about his family. Patton had heard a lot about Janus’s family over the years. He had no idea if they were real, and Janus never mentioned any names, but he had been told so many stories it almost felt as if Pat knew them personally. It was comforting, to hear about a family as affectionate as his. Especially because Patton’s would never be that way.
All too soon, Patton felt himself drifting in and out of their little world. He was waking up. He didn’t want to, he never wanted to, but he knew he didn’t have much choice in the matter, and he would leave this world for the last time tonight. He pressed one last kiss to Janus’s lips, more desperate than usual, trying to force every bit of love he had for the man into it in case he never saw him again.
He finished with a promise to see him tomorrow, his heart cracking as he knew that for the first time ever, he might not be able to keep that promise. And then he awoke, the phantom of Janus’s warm lips still there, teasing him. He ached for it to be real, wanted to know if Janus was real, and if he would ever get to meet him in person. But he knew it would never come. He sighed and reluctantly climbed out of bed, choosing not to try and go back to sleep like he did some days. He crossed over to the other side of the room and pulled open the doors to the closet.
After looking through it, he reached in and grabbed an outfit off of one of the hangers, a special suit that had been tailored to him specifically for today. It was uncomfortably tight, and made with more layers than Patton thought were strictly necessary. He hated form fitting clothes, he always felt like he was suffocating in them. He didn’t know what was going to happen to him, but he knew his parents wanted to look his best. And being honest, after today he wouldn’t have to worry about that anymore.
After changing, he headed downstairs where his parents were waiting with unimpressed looks on their faces, dreading what he knew was about to happen. Patton didn’t expect any praises or reassurances, and he got none. No “Oh look how handsome you are” or “We’re so proud of you, I’m sure that you’ll make a fine addition to the village.” Nothing like he expected the other children were getting. In the eyes of his parents, he was never good enough.
He had tried everything to win their approval, he really had! But no matter what he did, he just couldn’t seem to figure out what they wanted from him.
Sighing internally, he submitted himself to their inspection, not saying a word as his mother fussed about his hair and proceeded to tug it painfully in all different directions until she was satisfied, and his father critiqued every little detail about how his suit was done, even if when he fixed it, there wasn’t a single difference that Patton could see. He tried telling himself that they just wanted what’s best for him, but it wasn’t convincing.
They left the house together, without eating breakfast. Pat squashed a protest at this, it was fine, it didn’t matter if he was a little hungry. They didn’t want food to stain his clothing, after all.
People were already gathering in the town square, the newly made adults standing in the center, nervously playing with their scarves, dresses, and jewelry. They were all nervous, even scared, but not Patton. All he felt was a strange numbness, knowing that he was about to be sacrificed to the spirits. He didn’t care, he had already come to accept it. And that was good, he told himself, he didn’t want to feel anything. Feeling things would only make it harder.
He sat down in the chair labeled with his name, and waited to be called forward.
When his name was called, he barely reacted. The others all slumped in relief, knowing that they would go on to lead successful lives. He stood and let himself be led away, glancing over his shoulder to see that his parents were looking after him, still looking disappointed and unimpressed. He knew what they must be thinking, to have wasted the effort on raising a child only for him to be deemed worthless to the village, and given to the spirits to do with as they pleased.
And that brought something back. Hurt. He was hurt, even though he shouldn’t be. He knew this was coming, he knew that not one tear would be shed for him, but it still hurt. Because he was probably going to die, and no one cared. During the only other selection he had been alive to witness, many people had cried, and some had even tried going after the selected one. This was completely different. There was no noise, no commotion. Just… silence.
As they reached the cave, Patton felt the remaining numbness inside of him ebb away into something else. Panic spiked in his chest, and the fear he had been repressing came crashing down on him. Oh gosh oh gosh oh gosh oh gosh, he was about to die, wasn’t he. He didn’t want to die, he still had a lot he wanted to do! He wanted to travel the world and make friends and help people, and see things that few have ever seen before!
Well. He thought with a bitter laugh. Does the realm of the spirits count? The people leading him stopped in front of the cave, and Patton took a deep breath. This was fine, he had known this would happen. He could do this. This was what was best for his village! This was the right thing to do. He just had to keep reminding himself of that.
The people leading him left the clearing, although Pat knew they were hiding in the trees to make sure he didn’t try and make a break for it. They had tried binding their gifts before, but the spirits had reacted poorly to that, and so Pat was free of any restraints. He was grateful for that, at least. He didn’t know why, it wouldn’t make much of a difference, but at least if something attacked him, he would stand… something of a chance.
Carefully, he stepped into the cave, and was immediately hit with a powerful rush of… something. He wasn’t sure what it was, but it felt mystical, and very, very ancient. It was almost… soothing, in a way. Some of the fear dulled, although it was still there in the back of his mind.
He continued going forward, taking it one step at a time and running his hand along the surprisingly smooth stone of the walls surrounding him. As he went deeper and deeper, the feeling, the force, the… the magic got stronger, and he started slowing his step. It was starting to seep into his brain, overtake his mind, and drain his energy, making him slow and lethargic.
Eventually, he reached the edge of the cave. The magic was at its strongest here, and while part of him wanted to fight it, the other part wanted to give in. The two voices in his head argued like he had heard his parents do sometimes, though the fighting voice was quickly losing. There was no point in fighting, the voice that wanted him to give in told him, you can’t go back. Why don’t you let it take you? What’s the worst that could happen? And he was tired. Feeling so many emotions at once was draining, and the magic was so warm and comforting. Surely nothing like this could mean him harm?
He sat down on the ground, not caring that he was getting his suit dirty, and then flopped onto his back, exhausted from fighting. All of a sudden, it was like the magic got stronger, as if coaxing him to go to sleep. He tried fighting a bit at first, but found he had no energy, and the magic promised him nothing but comfort. He started to fall asleep, wondering one last time if he would ever see Janus again.
When he woke up, for a second, he thought nothing had changed. The first thing he saw were stone walls, so he was still in a cave, but quickly he realized that he was not at all where he had been when he fell asleep. The cave he was now in had cracks in its ceiling, and from it, sunlight poured it, lighting the area. And it was absolutely magical . Moss and vines crawled all over the walls and floor, and he himself was lying on a bed of flowers of all different colors. Glittering crystals of every shade of purple and blue were everywhere, reflecting the sunlight and giving them the illusion that they were glowing. Perhaps they really were glowing, it was hard to tell.
Patton looked down at himself, and saw that his clothes had somehow magically changed. Gone was the uncomfortable suit, he was now in a soft, flowy blue dress. The sleeves were long and puffy, with little bows where they were sewn to the bodice, and the skirt reached down to his knees. His feet were bare, and when he reached up and felt his hair, it was free from the painful hairstyle his mother had put it in. His scalp wasn’t even sore like it usually was whenever his hair was styled like that.
Was this the realm of the spirits? It was… pretty, if nothing else. He stood up slowly, and immediately his knees collapsed underneath him. How long had he been out? Why couldn’t he stand up? He shifted his position, drawing his knees up to his chest and resting his chin on them, wondering what he was supposed to do. Where was he supposed to go from here? Did the spirits want him to stay? Want him to go?
Eventually, he heard footsteps echoing through the tunnel leading to who-knows-where. He perked up a bit, his heart starting to beat a little faster. Who was there? What did they want from him? It was probably a spirit, he was in their world, after all. Should he bow? Would that be seen as mocking? Oh god, what was he supposed to do?
After panicking on what to do for a few more moments, he decided on sitting with his legs folded beneath him, his head lowered respectfully. He didn’t look up, even as the footsteps grew closer. With each passing second, he tensed up more and more. He was about to find out what happened to all of the previous gifts to the spirits. Finally, the footsteps stopped, the only indication that they had arrived. For a few seconds, there was nothing but silence. Patton kept his head down, even though he wanted so badly to look up and meet the gaze of whoever arrived. Then, a small gasp.
“...Patton?” And oh- oh he knew that voice. It was the same voice he had heard what felt like only a few hours ago. His head snapped up, and his gaze locked onto familiar eyes, eyes that he had never thought he was going to see again. Janus was staring at him with a bewildered expression, like he was just as confused as Patton was.
“This…” Pat started, trying to piece together what was in front of him. This was impossible! How- how was Janus here? Was this real? He looked down at his hands, his breathing speeding up, and noticed that they were trembling. “I-I’m dreaming, right? This- this can’t possibly be real. Or- or am I dead? Oh gosh, did I die !? Did- did I-” His voice was starting to edge on hysterical.
“Patton.” As always, just one word from Janus’s mouth was enough to make him stop spiralling. He fell silent and looked up at Janus, the man with the snake face, the serpent, his love. Janus walked forward and knelt down in front of Pat, reaching up and brushing his cheek.
“Pat, I can assure you that you aren’t dreaming. And you aren’t dead either. You’re in the spirit realm, but I don’t understand. How are you here? Like- physically here, not just a projection of your soul. Today was supposed to be the day I collected the… gift left to us by the mortals. But instead you…” He trailed off, seeming to realize what was going on. “Oh no, Pat, they didn’t…”
Pat nodded, the pain of being sacrificed to unknown deities returning. His vision blurred as tears started forming, and soon they were streaming down his face. “T-they chose me. I-I’m sorry Janus. I was really scared, I thought I was going to die, and no- no one would care. But now I’m here and y-you’re here too, I don’t know what I’m supposed to do and-” He stopped as a sob tore its way out of his throat. Janus wrapped his arms around Pat carefully, pulling him in against his chest and holding him there. He whispered reassurances into Pat’s ear just like had done the previous night, and Pat melted into him.
He reached up and gripped his shirt tightly, sobbing into his shoulder and not caring that he was probably ruining Janus’s pristine and most likely expensive suit. He needed this right now. He needed someone to hold him and tell him everything was alright.
Eventually, he calmed down, and pulled back, looking Janus up and down. “But- wait. Hold on. If we’re really in the spirit realm, then why are you here? I thought-” He blushed and looked down, embarrassed. “I thought I had made you up.”
Janus’s expression shifted. He chewed on his lower lip and flexed his hand, as if inspecting his nails even though he was wearing gloves, something he only did when he was nervous. “Well, you see I…” He stopped, seemed to collect his thoughts, and took a deep breath.
“I haven’t been completely honest with you, Pat. And I am sorry I kept you in the dark for so long, but I don’t regret it. I am actually a spirit myself, the spirit of trickery, lies, illusions, and everything in between. I apologize, I didn’t want to tell you for fear that you would treat me differently. For whatever reason, you would project yourself into the spirit realm in your sleep. I didn’t want to run the risk of scaring you off. I am not what most people consider a friendly spirit, after all. I was worried that telling you all this would make you think that I was lying to you, and that I didn’t really love you, but I promise, I would never lie to you. I would never even consider it.”
Patton sat there, stunned. This was a lot of new information to take in at once. Janus was a spirit, and he somehow had been to the spirit realm before? In his sleep? What!? How was that even possible?
“Janus I…” He searched Janus’s face, looking for some kind of proof that he was any different than the last time he saw the spirit. Looking for some kind of proof that he was lying. He knew Janus’s tells by now, and he found none. This was still his Janus. “I would never leave you like that. I don’t care if you’re a spirit, you were my friend, and then you were my… I don’t exactly know the word for it, because I don’t think meeting one another in dreams when I’m not fully there counts as a romantic relationship. But I do know that I still love you, and I don’t think there is anything you can do about that.”
Janus threw his head back and laughed, relief flooding through his features. He smiled shyly at him. “May I kiss you?” He stopped, thought over his question, and hurriedly continued. “You don’t have to, of course, now that you know what I am. Don’t feel like you’re under any obligation to do this. A-and if you want to, it doesn’t have to be different from all those other times I kissed you and-”
Pat laughed, interrupting the man’s panicked rambling, as the man’s face grew bright red. “Jan, did you not hear what I just said? I love you, you idiot, of course you can kiss me! Not because you’re a spirit or whatever, just because I want you to. I’ve gone too long without your affection.”
Janus smirked slyly, a mischievous look in his eye. “Well, we must rectify that immediately.” And then he put his lips on Patton’s. If he thought kissing Janus in his dreams was amazing, it was nothing compared to this. It felt like an explosion, better than any of their previous kisses, and before he knew what he was doing he wrapped his arms around Janus and pulled their bodies together.
Janus brought his hand up and began running it through his hair, and they stayed like that, the two of them holding one another, until they had to break apart for air. Both of them were grinning like maniacs, and Pat had to hold back a whine when Janus let go of his hair.
He let out a sigh, staring into Janus’s eyes for a few more minutes where neither of them said anything before looking down at the ground and releasing Janus from his hold. “You have no idea how long I’ve wanted to do that.” He said, laughing softly.
“Same.” Janus said. His smile dropped slightly, his face turning serious, and he looked back out at the tunnel leading to the rest of the spirit realm. “So from here, you have two options. Most ‘gifts’ that we receive live in a village that we have set up for them. They live out the rest of their days there, and though they don’t age and could live forever if they wanted to, most have family or friends they wish to meet in the underworld, so whenever they choose to, they retire there.
“You could also choose to live there, if you want to, and of course it is a hundred percent your choice, but I thought that you might want to… live with me. Most spirits live in groups and hold domain over a specific area of the world. You could live with me and the other spirits who rule over our area. We’d have to prepare a room for you, seeing as I wasn’t expecting you to be the one I retrieved down here, but I’d love to have you.”
Patton thought it over for a second. He could live in the village, with other humans like him, and live a relatively normal life by himself. He was sure that Janus wasn’t lying, he really could choose that path if he wanted to. He could also stay with Janus, where he would be with his love, and live with him forever. It sounded like one of those happily ever afters he read in his stories.
“I want to stay with you.” He said softly. “I don’t… I don’t have anyone I want to meet in the underworld, and I don’t really fit in with the other people at my village, so I really don’t think I want to live there.” Janus’s face lit up, happy that Patton chose that option. If he had had any doubts before, that expression washed them away.
Janus, as always, was careful to conceal his excitement, and stood up, offering a hand to Pat. Patton hesitantly took it and lifted himself to his feet, but felt his knees threaten to give out. They collapsed, but Janus caught him, and kept him from falling down.
“Ah, I always seem to forget.” He mumbled before offering Patton an apologetic smile. “The transfer between worlds is very jarring to the human body, so it may take a little bit for you to get your strength back. It will come back faster once we leave this cave, but…” His face turned bright red. “Would you… mind it if I carried you?”
Pat felt blood rushing to his face, but he shook his head vigorously. Janus nodded, pressing his lips together in a thin line before scooping him up, and carried him bridal style out of the cave. The sunlight was blinding at first, and he used his arm to cover his eyes. Eventually, though, it became bearable, and he lowered his arm to look around. Janus was currently carrying him through a village, most likely the one with the sacrifices he was talking about before. Many of them waved to Janus or shouted hellos, and a few of them cast Patton sympathetic looks and encouraging smiles.
He felt tears prick at his eyes. These people were already so much friendlier than the people of his old village. He smiled to himself, and curled into Janus slightly, and Janus noticed his tears, speeding up a bit. Eventually they left the village, and after walking through a forest whose trees had leaves of every color of the rainbow, they approached a sprawling mansion made of stone and marble. It took Patton’s breath away with just one look. Was this where Janus lived? It was beautiful! Just out front there was a fountain and flowers everywhere.
“Do you think you can walk now?” Janus asked, coming to a stop in front of the steps leading up the main door. “Not that I mind carrying you.” Pat giggled, but nodded. His legs felt significantly stronger than they had back at the cave. Janus let him down slowly, and when he was confident Pat wouldn’t collapse the second he let go, he stepped back. Pat wobbled a bit but was able to maintain his balance, and Janus helped him climb the stairs.
They pushed through the doors into the foyer, and Pat took in the scene before him. There were two curved staircases leading up to a second floor, and a small perch between them. He barely had a moment to admire the beautifully decorated interior before two loud voices could be heard.
“Jan Jan’s back!” One of them shouted, and then a body launched itself over the railing and crashed into Janus. Patton stumbled back a few steps and stared with a bewildered look on his face, wondering what was happening. Looking closer, Janus’s assailant was another spirit, mostly human, but with horns that curved to fit the shape of his head, scales underneath his eyes that reminded Pat of freckles, and emerald green dragon wings and a tail. A second dragon-person-thing came down the stairs, this one sliding down on the banister. He looked exactly the same except for the fact that he did not have a mustache like the first one, and his wings and tail were red.
“Hello Remus.” Janus said in a tone that could only be described as fond exasperation. “Would you please get off of me?” “Remus” shook his head, and Janus sighed, slightly irritated. “We have a guest.” Remus perked up at the mention of a guest and looked over at Pat. Immediately, he jumped up and before Pat could blink he was just a few inches away from his face. Patton yelped and backed away.
He waved awkwardly. “Uh… hi. I’m Patton.”
Remus’s face turned from intrigued to shocked, and he openly gaped. “Patton? As in- the human boy the Janus always talks about wanting to fuck? That Patton?” Pat squeaked and covered his face with his hands.
The second dragon approached them and elbowed Remus in the ribs before turning to face Patton with an apologetic smile. “Please forgive my brother. He… isn’t the best at reading the room. It’s a pleasure to meet you, Patton. My name is Roman, and my boneheaded brother is Remus. We are the spirits of the arts, in all of their many, many forms. I’m assuming that you are the new… gift to us?” Patton nodded, and Roman’s face split into a grin. “Wonderful! I am sorry about the circumstances in which you ended up here, we understand that it must have been scary. But I can assure you that you are safe here.” Patton smiled at him. He seemed nice, at least.
“Patton will be staying with us as opposed to staying in the village.” Janus said, standing up and brushing himself off. “Where are Virgil and Logan?”
“I’m right here.” A new voice came out of nowhere and bounced off the walls, echoing. A figure rose up from the shadows, fast and sudden, and Patton shrieked. The new person had eight eyes, fangs, and six extra spider-like appendages. Patton did not like spiders. He didn’t like them at all.
“Oh shit dude, sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you.” The spider-person stepped forward, and Patton flinched. They stopped moving and took a deep breath. “Uh… hi. I’m Virgil.”
“My son.” Janus stepped in smoothly. “I understand, Patton, that you are afraid of spiders, but Virgil will not hurt you. He is the spirit of fear, death, and the night, but he is altogether harmless.” Janus smiled down warmly at Virgil as Virgil scowled up at him petulantly
Patton swallowed and offered a shaky grin. “It-it’s nice to meet you Virgil!” This was fine. This wasn’t a normal creepy crawly, this was a spirit, this was a sentient being just like him. There was no reason for him to attack Patton. He could deal with this. He took a deep breath, and tried to offer a more genuine smile. “Sorry kiddo, you just startled me.”
Virgil offered an awkward two fingered salute. “Uh… yeah… sorry.” He cringed. “Nice to meet you too.” Patton bit his lip and felt something stir within him. Oh. Oh he’s adorable. Nevermind that he was a creepy-crawly-death-dealer, he was so awkward! He clearly wasn’t very good at socializing, unlike Patton, who thrived on it. It was so cute! Yeah, Patton was definitely adopting him.
“What on Earth is all this racket?” Another spirit appeared at the top of the staircase. This one had a big pair of wings that looked similar to that of a spotted owl, feathers mixed into his hair, and square-frame glasses on his nose.
“Logan! Janus found his fuck-budd-” Remus suddenly slapped his own hand over his mouth. Patton startled, unsure of what just happened. Janus was glaring at Remus something fierce, and Remus was grabbing his wrist with his other hand, trying to pull it off. Roman and Virgil were snickering though, so Pat figured this was probably something that happened frequently.
“Logan, this is Patton, my partner. He’ll be staying with us from here on out.” Janus walked over to Pat and held out an arm. Pat took the invitation and looped his through Janus’s immediately.
Logan nodded and tilted his head to the side.. “The one who traveled between worlds in their sleep?” Janus nodded. Logan turned to Patton and offered him a polite smile. “Well then, welcome, Patton. I am Logan, the spirit of wisdom, knowledge, logical thinking, intelligence, and education. I’ll have a room set up for you. Janus has told us a lot about you, and I have a few questions, if you wouldn’t mind answering them.”
Patton looked up at Janus, chewing on his lower lip. Janus nodded, answering his silent question. The two of them walked up the staircase and followed Logan as he started walking down one of the hallways. Pat wasn’t sure if he should be concerned, but Janus was here, and he wouldn’t let Patton get hurt.
“Ah, that’s what I thought.” Logan said, scribbling something down in the journal he had in his hands. Patton stared at the glowing blue stone in his hand. It was very pretty, and caught the light beautifully. He wondered what it was called. “It appears that Patton has the soul of a spirit.”
Patton snapped his head up to look at the other spirit, and both he and Janus started sputtering, equally shocked. “What!?” Patton shrieked. What was that supposed to mean? The soul of a spirit?
Logan nodded, continuing on as if he hadn’t just dropped a metaphorical bomb on them. “It’s very rare, but spirits are not as invincible as people believe. They can be killed, but only by another spirit’s hand. If a spirit is ‘killed,’ their soul is recycled into a human body, who is then born into the world without any of the spirit’s memories. Over the course of their life their magic essence fades, and their soul is eventually turned fully human. At around… thirty, there is so little left of their essence that there is nothing worth saving, and it would be impossible to bring back their power. By thirty-five, it’s gone completely. I’ve never heard of a spirit-human ever making their way back to the realm of the spirits, though. All the stories where this happens end in tragedy. This is very intriguing.” Logan tapped his pen to his chin.
Patton’s hand started shaking. This- this was too much. He didn’t know what he was doing, he was completely out of his depth. Just half an hour ago he thought he was going to die, and now he was here, being told that he was in fact, the reincarnation of a spirit. Janus noticed his shaking, and carefully took the stone from him, squeezing his arm reassuringly.
“Patton.” Logan continued. “I am going to assume that this is the reason your soul would project you into the spirit realm when you dreamt. With your permission, I’d like to try and bring out your true form. In doing this, I will be informed of what the role of the spirit you once were was.” His wings flapped once for emphasis.
Patton was completely overwhelmed. So much had happened in one day and he was somehow handling all of it. Was he supposed to have specific powers as a spirit-human? He didn’t feel very powerful.
“Only if you want to, love.” Janus whispered in his ear. Patton looked up at his love, and realized. Janus was a spirit. He was something inhuman, something that Patton probably would never be able to understand in his current form. But… if he brought out his true form… maybe then he’d understand? Or maybe he wouldn’t, but that didn’t matter right now to him. He wanted this, he realized. Now that Logan had mentioned it, he did feel like there was a part of him that was long repressed, a part that had never even seen the light of day. He wanted to know.
He took a deep breath, and looking back at Logan, nodded. Logan nodded to Janus, who stepped back, and set his hands gently on Patton’s shoulders, squeezing firmly but not painfully. Patton suddenly felt a rush of magic, like floodgates being opened and warm water flowing in. Then he felt the restraints on whatever that repressed part of him was starting to melt away. He looked down at his feet and saw that a ring of light blue light surrounded him. Logan quickly removed his hands, finishing whatever he had done and stepping back. Patton felt himself being lifted off the ground. He panicked suddenly. Was this what was supposed to happen?
There was a giant flash of light, forcing him to close his eyes, and next thing he knew, he was being lowered to the ground, Logan and Janus were staring at him with awestruck expressions. Janus’s face was bright red.
“Is… is something wrong?” Pat asked. And then he felt it. An unfamiliar flutter, a not quite conscious movement coming from his… back? It felt like two new appendages had grown there, but he didn’t understand. What could possibly be on his back?
“Patton…” Janus breathed. Logan gestured to a full body mirror that Pat was ninety percent sure hadn’t been in the room before, not that he cared much about that right now, and Patton walked up to it. He gasped at what he saw. On his back, was a pair of giant iridescent blue morpho butterfly wings, and two antennae growing out of his head. His hair, once completely ash blonde, was now highlighted with silver and ice blue. He reached up and played with it, twisting one of the silver locks around his finger. He reached out and touched his reflection, somehow amazed to see it do the same. Was that really still him? Was that what he looked like now? It… it was so…
“They’re beautiful!” He exclaimed, a grin spreading across his face. He felt the tears coming on again, and the wings on his back fluttered, lifting him off the ground a few inches. He yelped in surprise, but it wasn’t a bad thing. He felt so much lighter, so much more graceful than he had before. These new parts of him would take some getting used to, that was for sure, but… Patton had never been happier.
He turned around to face Janus once more, and flew (freaking flew ) into him, kissing him squarely on the lips. Janus stumbled back a bit, and surprised to see Patton a few inches off the ground, his wings fluttering fast and holding him up in the air. But the hesitation only lasted a moment, and then he was kissing him back.
“Thank you Janus.” Patton whispered when they broke apart. He gently caressed the scales covering half of his love’s face.
“Tch. For what?” Janus asked half-teasingly, moving his hand through Pat’s hair.
“Everything.” He giggled. God, how did he explain to Janus that he was the sole thing that kept Pat going for so long? Even when things seemed too depressing, he had been there. How did he explain to Janus everything he had done for him when this was the first time they’d met in real life? An impossible task, yet it was one he was determined to accomplish at some point.
Logan cleared his throat, and Pat stepped back, looking over at him.
“There is one final step we need to take. Now that your transformation is complete…” He picked up his journal and flipped through it. “On this day, with the spirit of Deceit as my witness, I dub you Patton, the spirit of the sky, day, emotion, the heart and soul, and…” He glanced up and offered a small smile. “The Keeper of Dreams.”