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Wished to Life

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“What if you could have any fictional character you want? Any at all to be your companion in life, at the mere touch of a button? Here at W.I.S.H, we can make your dreams come-”
Skip. The Parks and Recs theme finally started playing. Thomas Sanders leaned back on his couch and sighed. His “inner Logan” was saying that he should be working on the next Sanders Sides vid. But the rest of him was just so tired. YouTube was getting more stressful to deal with, more time commitments were coming up, and, he was becoming more and more alone

Some of his friends were still around, true. But they were all in the process of moving on with their lives. Joan and Talyn had even moved away, left to do other things with their lives. Yet here he was, watching Parks and Recs for the billionth time at 3 o’clock in the morning. He sighed, then took another bite of pizza.
If only he wasn’t so tired right now, that ad could have been interesting to look into. Even if just for the button meme reference. But A, it was likely beyond his budget and B, was probably over-hyping whatever their product was. He glanced around room. Honestly though, maybe he should look into adopting a pet or something. Anything to fill the empty home.
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A woman huffed as she pushed back the blonde strands that refused to be pony tailed. Could her hair please cooperate with her just this once? First impressions were critical, especially with him. She couldn’t let her crush control her like a silly schoolgirl.

"Miss Sarah Winters?" A man called as he entered the room, the door opened behind him.

She stood up quickly. "Yes, that's me." She strode over and placed the paperwork in his hands. He skimmed through.

"Everything seems to be in order, madam. Please, step this way." And so the two walked into the hallway, silent but for the sound of their footsteps. “The corporation appreciates the simplicity of your request. Only one minor alteration to the canon model of a reasonably straightforward character. You wouldn’t believe how many try to order something absurd like a full-sized version of Galactus. What do they expect to do with a character like that?”

“I’m sure I have no idea,” Sarah replied impatiently. Could he please stop with the idle chit-chat?

“No, you wouldn’t, being as sensible as you are to not want a lunatic who’ll destroy the Earth or do rubbish like that.” Then he opened the door. “Step this way. Your new companion is inside.”

Excitedly, Sarah rushed in. And there he was, more beautiful than her dreams, slumbering peacefully on the sterile lab bed. She smiled brightly, warmth filling her soul. “Welcome to the real world, Logan Sanders.”

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His dark brown eyes blinked as the room came into focus. Where am I? What am I? And... how am I? He moved his right hand, then the other, finding it ironic that his first thoughts were all questions despite not knowing why.

A figure smiled above him. “Feeling disoriented? The doctors said disorientation is a common occurrence.”

He frowned. “Doctors? Have I been ill?”

“Only awakening.” She offered her hand to him, which he took. “Dr. Sarah Winters.”

“Logan Sanders, though you already know that.”

She nodded. "Yes, I do." She pulled him upright. "Out of curiosity, Do you recall anything before this moment?"

He frowned; his brow furrowed in concentration. “I have no memories, just, questions.”

“I see...Well, I will answer what I can. Especially on our way home.”

He turned to look at her. “Home?”
“Yes.” She gestured for him to stand. "I already signed your paperwork. I'll be driving you to our apartment."

"My paperwork?" He sat up and swung his legs over the bed. "And our apartment? Do we live together?"

“We will from now on.” She helped him to his feet. “Come along.” Then dragged him down the grey halls, her heels clicking as they went. Logan at first stumbled, using his other arm to regain his balance, but she slowed down and allowed him to catch up.

His brow furrowed. “Where did I live before?”

“Nowhere in the real world.” Her eyes kept ahead, making sure they were going the right way.

“What do you mean? Did I not exist?”

"Only in a fictional sense before." She looked back at him. "I had partially hypothesized the show you came from would be your memories."

"The show?" He blinked.

She hummed. "...How about I show you after you arrive. I can queue it up while you get settled into your room."

"I suppose that would be acceptable..."

She grinned. "I should hope so. I have your room all planned out." She opened the door, letting bright sunlight in.

"My-" The question died on his lips as his arm instinctively rose up to shield his eyes from the blinding light. But as they slowly began to adjust, his arm lowered allowing him to take in the sky above. The sun, the clouds, birds flying by. At first, he wasn't able to identify everything he saw, but the longer he observed something he found that he'd soon be able to put a name to it. The experience was, fascinating.

Sarah watched him with great interest as she led him to her grey sedan. "Hop on in."

He reluctantly tore his gaze from the sky, puzzled at her request. "Do you enter from the top?"

She let out a surprised chuckle. "You still don't-No, 'hop in' simply means open the passenger door and sit down."

"Oh, then why not say so?" He opened the door and entered as instructed.

She shrugged. "To most, it’s a lot simpler and quicker to say 'hop in'." She opened the other door, then plugged in her seat belt.

"I shall keep that in mind." He copied her movements and buckled himself in.

She smiled, then turned on the car and drove on out.

Logan had his face practically glued to the window. There was so much to see! And he found himself recognizing a lot more than he thought he would. He couldn't help but smile when a new word suddenly clicked in his mind and he was able to identify everything.

Skyscrapers! Cars! Airplanes! Traffic Lights! Cumulus Clouds! The names came to him the entire ride on. All as Sarah glanced on, a smile to her lips. All too soon for Logan though not soon enough for Sarah, the two of them were swallowed inside an apartment parking lot, Sarah driving up a few levels.

"You live all the way up here?" He kept looking around.

"Yes." She finally parked. "It’s one way to get a decent view in this city." The keys were pulled out. "And I've always found it pays to get the best you can afford."

His brow furrowed. "I would like to see more of the city."

"We will, in time." She took his hand and squeezed, smiling almost empathetically. "However, if we expose you to too much at once, you could become overwhelmed. It's best then to get you use to where we live before encountering the wider city."

He slightly slumped back. "Of course, that makes sense. I am new after all."

"Exactly." She squeezed his hand again, then got out of the car. "We will get plenty of time of course. I've taken a week off work to help you get adjusted."

"Where do you work?" He followed her out, making sure to close the door behind him.

"A nearby lab." She locked the car. "I do chemical engineering for a biochemical company."

"Chemical engineering?" His eyes lit up. That also was confusing. How could two simple words be so exciting?

"Yes." She grinned. "I could show you some of my projects if you'd like. All of its pretty dense."

"How could it be dense?"

"Oh because of the formulas and paperwork." She walked to a door, took out a key, then set it inside. "A lot of paperwork. All so the corporations can make sure they're getting their money's worth."

"And do you enjoy your job?"

"Oh most definitely." She opened the door and stepped in. "When all my attention is focused on the chemicals and figuring out how to use them to solve the problems set before me, I never want to be doing anything else..."

"It's like a puzzle."

"Exactly..." Her voice wavered, before she put the key away and gestured Logan on in. "And any puzzle, with enough time and perseverance, can be solved."

"I think I enjoy puzzles." He remarked as he stepped inside.

"I should hope so." She closed and locked the door behind him before showing a modest, white minimalistic living room, with a tv screen and game consoles front and center, with board games and puzzles on shelves underneath. "They are one of my favorite ways to unwind."

His eyes roamed around until they spotted the puzzles, which he immediately started towards.

She grabbed his arm. "Wouldn't you like to see your room first?"

"Oh, my apologies..." his other arm was still reaching towards the puzzles.

She softly smiled. "I know, they are exciting." She pulled him past the kitchen counter and into the hallway. "We can do one while we watch Sanders Sides."

"Sanders Sides?" He blinked and finally faced forward. "Sanders is my last name.”

"Yes." She led him to a door. "Because of the nature of the show." Then she opened the door, revealing a navy-blue room with matching curtains and bedsheets. In front of one window was a small desk and laptop, next to which lay a Rubik’s cube. Opposite the small closet was a dresser and bookshelf, filled with books on science, nature, and... Agatha Christie Murder Mysteries...

His face lit up in a way it never had in the series, a full smile appearing on his face. "This... is this all mine?"

"Yes." She smiled brightly, leaning against the door. "All yours..."

He rushed inside, first to the desk where he picked up the Rubik’s cube, he twisted it around a few times to mix it, making sure not to look as he did so, then solved it again in a matter of seconds. He put it back down then hurried over to the book shelf, skimming over the titles and already creating a reading list for himself. After that he returned to the desk and sat down, starting up the laptop. There was so much he wanted to research! He could find a map of this city and chart out a path to begin exploring!

She watched as he did so, basking in the warmth from his glow. His smile was even more beautiful then she’d imagined… "I'll go order pizza then. I'll call for you when its here."
He didn't even look up, or say anything to acknowledge her. And so, she went back for the living room, ordering up the pizza on the way.

Logan grinned with glee as his fingers vibrated above the keys. All this information at his fingertips, he couldn't decide what to look up first! Maybe the city itself. Where even was here? He could look it up. He did want to go explore after all.

A quick google search located him in Seattle, Washington. Somewhere near the commercial district. Near malls, the Space Needle, and a place called Pike's Place Market. He started noting places of interest, making up the list in his mind. He'd have to go to them all! Bremerton Sound, Mt. Rainer outside the outskirts, the Waterfront.

Wished to Life Seattle Offices?

He frowned slightly. That was the place Sarah had brought him from. He could recall the sign as they left. Perhaps looking them up would answer some of his other questions...He looked up their website and started reading. Various quotes about how 'Dreams Can Come True' were spread throughout, along with various ways to head to a form to buy a character they'd bring to life. Nothing in detail about how this was done. Simply that it was recently discovered, meant only to help others fulfill their dreams, and the rules and guidelines for what characters could be made.

His eyes lingered on that one line. "Buy a character." Sarah had talked about filling out his papers... Had he been purchased by this company? She did say outright that he'd come from a show...Sanders Sides... He went up to the search bar and typed it in.

Quickly, results came up of YouTube videos, pictures and artwork. A wiki! He went to there first. He'd retain information better through reading about how the series was about YouTuber and former Vine star Thomas Sanders as he interacts with various representations of his inner psyche such as Creativity... Morality... Anxiety...

He paused. "Logic..." He clicked the link, bringing up the page.

Logic aka Logan Sanders.
Favorite Color: Navy Blue.
Favorite Book: Agatha Christie's The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. The same book that was most prominently on his shelf...
Also noted to have a love of science, environmental concerns, and astronomy. Books also on the shelf...
Everything here on this page could be found in this room. He scrolled down until he saw an "Images" section, which he clicked and was shown a man in a black shirt and jeans with tie and glasses. Brown eyes, brown hair.
All reflected in the dresser mirror...

All the evidence then pointed to, this being him...Logan "Logic" Sanders from Sanders Sides, created by Thomas Sanders. There was an option to click on that name, which he did. It wouldn't hurt to learn more about his creator. The face was similar, no, the same face. Also seemed kind? Though that was purely speculation He lived in Gainesville, Florida and was known for his comedy, acting, and being openly gay.

"Pizza's on its way!" Sarah called out from the hall.

"Alright..." He absently answered.

Gay? As in, extremely joyful? Or only attracted to the same sex?

"Getting the living room set up now! We could start on a puzzle while we wait!"

He couldn’t take in what she said, focused on that word. He assumed the latter definition, but what did that make him? Likely gay as well… It would only be logical; he was based off this character, played by a gay man, and he was supposed to be part of him. It would be logical. Though, hadn't the website mentioned that they could also alter characters as the person wanted? A way to bring au forms to life as well?

"Don't you want to do puzzles, Logan?" Her steps started coming down the hall. "You were so eager for them earlier?"

He kept grasping with what he was learning. But why change him? This was how he was meant to be.

A sigh came from his door. "Guess I should have expected this."

"Oh!" He blinked and turned around. "I apologize Miss Sarah, what were you expecting?"

"You to be reading a book. Or poking through the room." She stepped. "Didn't expect you to be looking up the show before we watched it."

"Well,” He pushed up his glasses. “At first, I was creating a plan to explore the city and came across a website for Wish To Life, where it said one could purchase a character which is what I assume you did. And you mentioned Sanders Sides so I did some research on it."

She tilted her head, then sighed. "Well, I suppose I can't blame you then." Her eyes grew downcast. "I'm sorry you had to find out that way."

"It is quite alarming, but why apologize?"

"Because I was planning to reveal it more slowly..." She sat on the bed. "Not have it be one of the first things you learned."

"But I'm always seeking knowledge, learning new things." He turned his chair towards her and tilted his head. "If I may, why did you purchase me?"

Sarah's eyes grew weary as she leaned back on her hands. "I was lonely..." She swallowed. "For some time now, I've only lived for my work and I found I wanted human companionship. No one I knew though met my standards."

He focused on her. "You bought me to be your friend?"

"To be someone to live with that I could trust." She looked at him. "Someone who I could discuss work with and was my intellectual equal, without looking down on me for being an unmarried woman." The last part she spat out in disdain.

He frowned. "Why would I ever do that? You seem to be very successful if you can afford a place like this."

She ruefully smiled. "Exactly. Some of my co-workers can't seem to see that. Which is precisely why I, had you brought into reality."

"To be a friend to you?"

"Yes..." She pursed her lips.

"Well, I would be glad to be your companion."

Sarah smiled. "Thank you, Logan." She stood up. "A puzzle before dinner then?"

"If you wish." He stood up

She shook her head. "Don't you want to?"

"Of course, I do."

"Then no need to act like its only due to my wish." She offered her hand to Logan. "I think you'll find Sanders Sides interesting."

"I am looking forward to get to know you more." He smiled and took her hand

She smiled as well. "So am I." Then led him to the living room.

Chapter Text

"There you are!” His wisher barged through his bedroom door. “You awake, Princey?"

"Just daydreaming." He opened his eyes, smiling. "Was there something you needed?"

"Oh nothing." Rosa smiled as she came by his bed. "Just wanted to see what you were doing."

"Well now I'm paying attention to you." He sat up

She smiled. "Good." Then booped his nose. "What were you daydreaming about?"

"An epic battle between a handsome prince, myself,” he rested a hand against his chest. “And a ferocious monster!"

She grinned. "Fantastic. Could you perhaps have the help of a beautiful princess?" She tilted her head.

"Why I'd be honored to, my lady!"

"Great!" She rested on his side and hugged him close. "Too bad they won't let you actually bring the monster to life."

"It is a shame, since I'd be able to slay it before it terrorized anyone." He pouted.

She dramatically sighed. "And we'd make sure that we killed any before it could hurt anyone else..." Then she shrugged. "Have to make do with games and story writing."

"Which I'm more than happy to do with you." He kissed the back of her hand.

She smiled even more, giggling. "So gallant, my prince~"

"Well it is in my nature." He kept that smile plastered on his face. It felt, fake. But it made her happy...And she'd already done so much for him. He wouldn't even be here if it wasn't for her.

She giggled more than nuzzled against his cheek. "Another part of why you're so perfect."

And oh Zeus, did she know how to feed his ego! "Surely you jest!" He gasped.

"Not at all!" She rolled into his lap, looking into his eyes. "I'd be utterly lying if I ever said you weren't my perfect prince."

"Forgive me for accusing you of such a thing." He smiled down at her, running his fingers through her hair.

She smiled more, resting against his chest. "Oh, I love you Roman."

"I care for you as well, you're very dear to me." He shifted.

Her arm caught around his waist as she looked back up at him. "...What's something I haven't done with you yet?"

He blinked. "What do you mean?"

"Well, we've gone skydiving. Ate at that place where we have to eat food blindfolded. Went horseback riding...Haven't skated with you, but that could wait for Valentine's Day."

"I suppose it depends on what you want to do."

She pouted. "But part of the fun is that they're things you want to enjoy for the first time."

"I simply enjoy being with you."

"But I've done just about everything already." She flopped back onto his chest. "You've only been around for two months now!"

"Surely there must be something else!"

She hummed. "...Have I tried D&D with you yet?"

"No, not yet."

"Then let's do that tonight!" She sprung up, grabbing his arm. "We can get Davis to be DM and a couple of the others to be part of the party too."

"Of course!” He sprung to his feet. “I'll create the perfect characters for us!"

"Fantastic! I can get you the sheets!" She pulled him along to the tabletop game room, then plopped him in a chair and pulled up the D&D sheets on her phone. "Okay. Where did I save those...? Here they are! How many would you want to make?"

"One for you, myself..."

She hummed. "...Trevor and Arnold have been doing really good at their jobs...Think they'd find D&D a treat?"

"Of course! I'll make characters for them as well!"

"Alright! I'll invite them." She sent out some quick texts while character sheets printed out. "Davis could arrange their shifts so there's no gaps in security."

"We wouldn't want that."

"No, we wouldn't..." Her shoulders slumped, then she put them back up, smiling as she handed him the character sheets then grabbed all the D&D books. "What sort of characters are you wanting to make?"

"I wish to be a bard!"

She smiled. "I guess a bard does suit you...I can be a noble fighter traveling with you then."

"And I shall sing of our grand adventures!"

She grinned. "Indeed." She sat beside him. "With what background for you?"

"Secretly, I'm a prince who ran away from home!"

"How wonderful! You can be employed by my father, the king to go on an adventure, and so I end up joining you while not knowing you are really my rank."

"No one must ever know!"

She smirked. "We can keep that part a secret from everyone but Davis and see if they pick up on it."

"Yes! And the true reason for why I ran away!"

"Which is...?"

"An arranged marriage of course!"

"Of course! To some odious woman that only wanted your throne and looks."

"A horrid woman indeed." He shuddered. "Nothing like the dashing prince I was in love with.'

She stilled. "...Of course, Was he in love with you?"

"Yes, but unfortunately our love was forbidden." He sighed forlornly.

She took a deep breath. "Terrible homophobia."

"Dreadful."

"Will there be a way for you to be with your prince?"

"That is what I hope to find! Until then, I sing songs of our love!"

"While exploring the land..." She swallowed, then texted about it to Davis.

"Ah, one day we shall be reunited, run away together..." he rested his head in his hands.

"And nothing shall sway you from him?" She placed a hand on his shoulder.

"Nothing can keep me from my true love!"

"Because true love conquers all..."

"Yes! And I'll have my dearest friend beside me!" He held her hand.

Her smile didn't reach her eyes as she squeezed back. "As you will always have me."

He frowned slightly. "Are you alright?"

She smiled bigger. "Perfectly, Ro. You just always have a way of pulling on my heartstrings."

"Are my stories that powerful?"

"That they are." She squeezed his shoulder. "Fitting for being the prince of Creativity."

He smiled, hiding a wince.

She smiled as well then patted his back. "Now, what should the others be?" And sat down beside him.

"We'll need a healer!"

"Yeah!" She leaned in. "One of them can be a life cleric then. Or, maybe they could try to build themselves into an artificer healer."

“Alright.” He nodded, pondering it. "Then we'll need a rogue!"

"Oh, definitely! Should we try to give him some backstory different from being a street rat?"

"Yes!'

"Great! Maybe a sailor?"

"A pirate!"

"Exactly!" She smirked. "Then our healer could have been an acolyte or sage."

"Yes! Yes!" He quickly started writing everything down

Rosa grinned as she watched him. Oh, he was too precious... Perhaps she'd be bringing up her proposal sooner than she'd thought…

She couldn't let him get away from her. She'd made him bi! He was supposed to be falling for her! Yet here was, fantasying over a prince instead of even allowing a chance for their characters to become romantically involved. He could be the prince in disguise that caused the princess to refind joy in the world.

If something happened to his prince...
...Maybe they could be just too late to save him from some dragon or other with her helping be someone to cry on from the grief. Then gradually that grief would turn to love! It would be perfect!

She smirked, then texted that to Davis as well. She could trust her chief of security to make the best D&D session possible.

Then, she'd make him the proposal within this week.

Soon they'd be hearing wedding bells~ And she'd have the wedding to top all weddings. With the perfect prince as her groom.

Chapter Text

Eggs, milk, chocolate chips, sugar... That was everything he needed, right? Well, there was also vanilla and butter...But he was sure he still had some. Oh, and salt and baking soda! Had to have those! Couldn't bake a batch of Happy Pappy Patton cookies without them! He still had some at home, right?
Hopefully; he wanted to surprise Susie for her birthday and it was too late to turn around. The walk to and from the store was gorgeous, but these milk and eggs really needed to get to the refrigerator.

And Susie got awfully lonely without him…Poor Susie...She really could use more friends...

He came to the door of her small, grey house, the lawn and garden way better than it had been. The whole place had been in shambles when he'd arrived. Of course, he hadn't hesitated to help fix everything. He was Happy Pappy Patton after all, always willing to help!

Susie was sitting in her rocking chair, she'd been in the middle of reading when she saw Patton walking up, which caused her to smile. "Oh! You're back already?"

Patton smiled back. "Yep! Didn't need to grab much this time!" He headed to the door and struggled to open it.

"Here let me." She tucked the book under her arm and got the door for him

He nodded. "Thanks Susie!" He headed for the kitchen. "How's the book going?"

"Ooh, you might not like it." She winced. "It isn't exactly a happy story."

Patton bit his lip. "Oh? Well, what's the story called?"

"It's not important now." She waved her hand dismissively. "I'll go put this away while you start on those groceries, okay?"

"Alright!" He forced the grin back on. No need to get her feeling bad. "Then I'll get started on dinner!"

"Great!" She grinned and headed upstairs.

Patton let his smile fall as he went into the kitchen, putting the eggs and milk in the fridge.

Susie was sweet. But sometimes she seemed to not see him as an adult. The most "adult" things he was permitted to do included house chores and grocery shopping... Which, he really didn't mind doing, honest. She got tired so easily most days. But why couldn't she have at least given an outline of the book? It couldn't be worse than having to brave the dreaded spiders.

Chocolate chips and sugar went discreetly to their places, though the cabinet doors slammed a bit more than he meant to.
Maybe he could sneak a look later...While she was having her nap. He knew where she kept her books. He could...just say he was dusting. Glance at the title, put it back, no harm done.
She wouldn't even know, right...?

He placed everything else away then took a deep breath. Alright, what to do for dinner...He opened the fridge. It was her birthday, needed to be her favorite Roast chicken then! He heated up the oven and got ready the pan, getting it rubbed up then slicing in the vegetables. But not too many, she didn't like a lot of vegetables. Just enough to get things just right, going heavy on the potato and light on the carrots.

Then it was just a quick matter of preparing the chicken, popping it into the oven, timing it, washing his hands, then getting started on the cookies!

All for Susie's birthday!

He smiled more. She really deserved the best. If it weren't for her, he wouldn't...Wouldn't have such a good friend!

His best friend!

His only friend...

His smile faltered. Then he focused back on putting the flour, sugar, butter, and eggs into a bowl and battering them together.

"What're you making, Patton Cake?" She walked over.

"Oh!" The bowl shook, then he looked up at her and smiled.
"Guess!"

She gasped. "Happy Pappy Patton cookies! What's the occasion?"

He grinned more. "Why, your birthday of course!"

"You remembered!" She hugged him "Oh you're the best!"

He smiled more, leaning into the touch. "Oh, it's nothing. Why wouldn't I remember the birthday of my best friend?"

"You're too sweet Patty Cake! Oh, let me help you!"

"Oh, you don't need to." He swallowed.

"But I want to!"

"Okay! You can...get out the chocolate chips."

"And sample a few~" She giggled and went to grab the bag.

Patton fake gasped. "Only a little bit of cookie dough before dinner now. You shouldn't spoil your appetite."

"And what's for dinner?" She set the bag down after tossing a few chocolate chips into her mouth.

"Roast Chicken." Patton poured the chips in then stirred it together.

"Aw, Patty; you're really spoiling me here!"

"You deserve spoiling! Besides, what better way to celebrate my first time celebrating your birthday with you?"

"Well you have a point there." She smiled and leaned against him.

He looked towards her. "Yeah...I, really owe you a lot."

"I'm happy to give you the best I can."

"As I am for you...So..." He took some of the cookie dough and handed it to her. "You can go ahead and have this."

"Aw, thanks Patton Cake!" She took a bite and hummed in delight.

"You're welcome!" He grinned, taking a bite of cookie dough himself. What? It’s the best part of making cookies!

Then the oven rang. "The chicken!" He grabbed the oven mitts.

"Oh, be careful Patty!" She looked on worriedly.

"No need to worry about me!" He opened the oven, then grabbed the chicken, hefting it up...

She still watched him worriedly. "Don't burn yourself..."

"I won't." He went to carry it to the small dining table. "I only ever did that once!"

"It could happen again!"

"I'm not that-Whoa!" He tripped on the carpet, fighting to keep the chicken from falling.

"Patton!" She raced over and helped him regain his balance. "Are you okay?!"

"Ye, yeah." He winced, finally getting back his bearings.
"Chicken's okay too!"

"Maybe I should take that from you..."

His shoulders slumped. "Maybe you're right...I'm sorry Susie."

"It's okay Patty," she took the chicken and carried it to the table. "I know you just want to be helpful."

His brow briefly furrowed before he shook it off then followed her. "Well, you've been so nice to me. Only makes sense I do my part!"

She turned to him and smiled. "You do enough just by being here."

Do I? He shook the thought as he went to sit at the table.
She got them some drinks along with plates, silverware, and napkins.
She then sat beside him and held his hand. "Thank you so much Patty, this would have been a lonely birthday without you."

He smiled, squeezing her hand back. "Well, I wouldn't be here without you, so I guess we're about even!

"It would seem so!" She giggled. "Now let's enjoy this delicious meal of yours!"

He grinned back."Alright!" Then went to cut the meat.

"Oh! Let me!" She took the knife from him. "Wouldn't want you to cut yourself."

He blinked. "I've used the knife plenty of times..."

"You did almost drop the chicken though."

He frowned. "Doesn't mean I'll cut myself."

"Still better safe than sorry." She started to cut up the chicken
Patton bit his lips, clasping his hands under the table tightly.
She was right... as always...

"Here you are, Patty!" She served him some chicken and vegetables.

He smiled again. "Thanks, Susie!" Then took his fork and knife and the two began to eat.

At least he'd made the chicken right... "So... What do you want to do after dinner?"

"Well, we could watch a movie and eat some cookies!"

He grinned. "Sounds good! Your favorite?"

"Winnie-the-Pooh!"

"Ah, that's my favorite as well!" He grinned. "You can get that set up while I do the dishes."

"How about I help?"

"It’s your birthday." He smiled, standing up. "No work then for you. Besides, I still need to put the cookies in the oven."

"I'll do that!" She rose up with him.

"But..." He fought the pout. "But it's your birthday..."

"If I help though," she carried over the plates. "We can watch the movie faster!"

"True..." He hesitated, then followed after her. "Al, alright then, Wisher."

She chuckled and placed the cookies in the oven while Patton turned and started washing. He bite down on his lips. Why couldn't he just do anything right? All his attempts to help always got her involved. It's like he never got room to breathe!

Quicker than a blink, she was right at his side, grabbing a towel to help rinse and dry the dishes.

He stiffened. "I can do it myself."

She chuckled. "Don't be silly Patty."

"I'm not! I'm serious!" He grabbed the towel. "You can go on and get the movie set up.”

She flinched as it was yanked out of her hands. Her eyes started to glisten.

Patton froze. "Oh Susie. I'm sorry."

She whimpered and rushed off.

Patton immediately chased after her. "Susie!"

"N-No! I've done enough!"

"That's not-" He looked at her desperately. "I'm sorry Susie. I shouldn't have snapped."

She stopped at the bottom of the stairs, sniffling. "You never snap at me... You're not supposed to..."

Patton's eyes started to shine as well. "I know I shouldn't have. I'm sorry. I just..." He leaned against a wall, sighing."You do so much for me. I wanted to do something for you."

"I know... and I wanted to help... I love you so much..."

"I love you too, Susie." He looked up to her, eyes watery now. "I just, I wish I didn't make more work with you."

"No... it's okay..." She walked over and hugged him tightly.

Patton grasped her back, sniffling now. "I'm-I'm supposed to be here for you!"

"And you have been, you are."

"Not well enough. I shouldn't upset you!"

"No, it's okay... I promise..."

He looked at her warily. "You, sure?"

She nodded. "You're the only one who's ever been kind to me... you know how my parents were... and I never had friends..."

Patton nodded, hugging tighter back. "You deserve so much better."

"And you've given me better..."

He looked at her, forcing himself to smile. "But I could still do better than that. I wouldn't even be here without you."

"True..." She snuggled into him. "And my life is so much better for it "

"I'll make it even better then!"

She smiled more. "I know you will."

He smiled. "Thank you, Susie."

"Now, how about we watch the movie?'

"Alright!" He rushed over to the tv room.

She kept hold of his hand and followed.

Patton really did look like a kid like this as he scrambled to get Winne the Pooh in.
It was adorable, just like him.

Patton looked up, grinning. "It's in!" Then jumped onto the couch.

She sat next to him and snuggled in as Patton hugged back, pushing the button on the remote. Then the show began, allowing the troubling events of the night faded away. Leaving only quiet companionship and peace. For now...

Chapter Text

Virgil took shuddering breaths, listening all around him as he curled in the closet. He'd be okay... deep breaths... just calm down… Calm down before she finds you! He was supposed to be over this!

"Virgil? Where are you?"

His breath stuttered. Oh, please. Not again. Not again!

"Virgil! Stop hiding from me!"

He flinched back, barely muffling a whimper as he shuffled against the wall. Don't come in here. Don't come in!

The closet door flew open, his wisher looked furious. "There you are! What are you doing?!"

He shook. "No-Nothing, Cara!"

"It better not be... I can't deal with anything else right now!"

He failed to hide his wince. "I know..." He could just about smell the alcohol from here.

"Ugh," she gripped her forehead. "I have this stupid presentation tomorrow and all I've got is a headache!'

He swallowed. "You wanting a massage then?"

"Obviously!"

He forced himself to get up. "Alright..." Then walked out of the closet. "Where do you want to do it?"

"My bed." She flopped down.

"Of course..." He gritted his teeth, slipped on behind her, and started to massage.

"My boss is an asshole..." She muttered. "Wants to fire me... knows I won't be able to do this..."

Maybe I should just wring your neck and save him the trouble. "Of course, you can do it..." He soothed. "Can't let him win."

"Could just quit... live off unemployment..."

"You can't buy beer on unemployment..." He muttered under his breath.

But it was loud enough for her to hear. "Why do you think I care about that?" She snapped.

He flinched. "Just, stating the drawbacks..."

"I won't quit... even if I should... not that you care..."

He swallowed. Danger territory. "Why wouldn't I care? You are my Wisher..."

"But you don't give a shit... You hate me, don't you?"

He took deeper breaths. Can't panic now. "Why do you say that?”

"You don't help me like I should. If anyone was supposed to understand me it was you!"

He flinched back. "I, a figment of fight or flight, am supposed to understand all your troubles?!"

"I have anxiety! You're Anxiety! You should be helping me!"

"A person with anxiety is not the best person to help another person with anxiety!"

"But you should understand!" She sat up.

He stood up. "Even if I did, you're demanding the guy you legally own to help with your problems! I even gave you advice, and you didn’t accept it!"

"It's never good advice!"

His eyes widened in disbelief. "What's not good advice about stop drinking and don't purposely antagonize your coworkers?!"

"Shut up!" She slapped his face.

He fell back, hand covering his face.

"You brat..." She stood and walked towards him.

Virgil's eyes widened as he scooted back, legs braced.

"So fucking selfish!" She kept advancing towards him.

"I'm not the selfish one around here!" The shadows darkened around him. He kicked out.

She screamed, then collapsed, clutching her leg.

Virgil froze, watching her. What had he done...?

"What is wrong with you?!"

Virgil shook, stepping back more, eyes darting around the room.

"I should never have brought you here! You're a mistake!' She started getting up.

His eyes widened. "I'm, I'm not!"

She stalked towards him; swaying back and forth as her speech became more slurred. "I'll have you destroyed... can't sell ya... no one would ever want ya..."

Virgil's breath stuttered. "Don't. Please!"

"Waste of money... waste of space..." She reached for him.

Virgil stepped away, pressing against the wall as his breathing became more and more rapid.

She grabbed the front of his hoodie and pulled him close. "I'll have 'em rip you apart. And then... then..." her grip loosened as she slumped against him.

He stood frozen, taking deeper breaths. Then he disengaged her hand off of his hoodie and pulled away.

That...That was the drink talking, right? She wouldn't really...? She always got angry when she drank. She wasn't always like this. He knew that.
Even could be caring.

But the threats had never been like that before either. Though, he also had never fought back before...
He had hurt her...
He had hurt her...She was going to kill him! He needed to get out!

But if he abandoned her, what if she died?!
...Why should he care about that? Because she had been sweet, at times, even though she'd bought him...

…And now he was sounding like he had Stockholm syndrome. Maybe he should leave, but where would he even go?
It was either here or the streets. Definitely couldn't be going back to Wish for asylum or anything. They'd either just send him back to her, or put him someplace even worse
But he didn't know anything about surviving on his own...

He shook, picking her up and setting her on the bed before he left the room, considering. At least, it'd be better if he died free on the streets, then from being a cowed Anxiety. He looked through the pantry to see what he could grab.

There wasn't a lot he could bring, mostly frozen foods and alcohol...
Except for one granola bar. He placed it in his pocket, then grabbed one of the knives she had. He'd need some sort of protection out there.
Should he grab some money...?
Only if she had any loose change lying around. She could have a credit card tracked. No phone then either.
...They didn't have a tracking device in him, did they?

No, that would have cost extra... She had got him on the dirt cheap after getting the money in a raffle. She wouldn't have dreamed he'd run away. And hopefully, that gave him the best chance. He pulled the hoodie closer to himself, went to the apartment door, and stepped outside.

He was really going to do this...
He stalled, glancing around the hallway he hadn't been in since the first day she bought him.

Here he'd be trapped... and there was a good chance he could die here...

Nope! Not in the cards now. He was finally taking control of his own damn life! He walked swiftly then crossed through the front door and out into the street.
This was it, out on his own. Going away from the only life he’d known... But just like ripping the bandage off, this was for the best. And so, he raised his hood over his head and disappeared down an alleyway and into the night.

Chapter Text

Rain dripped down the window as Janus looked out, utterly bored. The city flew by as the car drove on, but nothing about it was exciting or fantastic. He’d just been brought to life today and he was already sick of it!

Evelyn smirked as she drove, glancing over. "Not impressed?"

"Nothing to be impressed by." His Wisher was nothing special either. Just an ordinary woman with dark brown hair, dark brown eyes, red makeup lips, and a white and black dress.

Her chuckle rang in the air. "You really are special."

He scowled. "You don't even know me.”

“Oh I know more than you think.”

"Because you've watched the show I'm in?"

"That, and other sources." She smirked more.

"Other sources?" He frowned.

She only nodded, then set the ac to send cold air towards Janus's snake side.

He turned his head away and rested his hand against his face.

She smiled. "Well, we're here." She parked the car. "Ready to see your new home?"

"I don't have anything better to do..." He got out of the car.

"Good." She got out as well and closed the door. "This way." Then gestured him up the stairs.

He sighed and followed after her.

She smiled more, gesturing into the hall, then locked the door behind them. "What do you think you know about me?"

"I think you're over confident and don't have any friends."

She chuckled. "Might be right on both counts. So, then the reason I bought you...?"

He frowned. "Desperate and lonely?"

"Not desperate I should say." She gestured him down another hall. "Besides, why would I choose a gay man for that?"

"I never assumed you were seeking romantic love."

"True..." She smirked. "Though really, I have plenty of things to occupy my time."

"Such as.”

"My art." She opened up a door into a dark room and gestured inside. "After you."

He glanced at her and narrowed his eyes. Something felt off here...A chill came out from the dark room, and her eyes had something just a little too eager...

She gestured in. "Aren't you curious about my career?"

"Not particularly..." He stepped back.

"Oh, come on." She reached out and grabbed Janus's arm. "You just got to see this."

"I don't think I do." He tried to free himself but she was surprisingly strong.

Her grin widened. "Too bad..." Then she threw him into the room.

He stumbled but managed to keep on his feet. Only to be blinded by the sudden turning on of bright lights. He could hear the door close behind him.

He hissed and covered his eyes.

She chuckled. "Sorry dearie~" The door audibly locked. "But you really should have just come in willingly.”

He lowered his hand, ready to give her a piece of his mind, but he quickly went from glaring to looking around in fear. Around him was a sterile white room, cameras and other lights centered around an area with both a stool and a hook coming down from a wall. Near those were bright yellow rope, while around everywhere else were black and yellow costumes, most revealing in some way, black leather whips, metal clips with yellow on the edges, and various other things black, yellow, snake-themed, and/or painful looking.
In one corner, on its own, was a crate.

Evelyn drunk his expression in. "Enjoy the view?"

"What is this...?" He turned to her. "You're demented!"

She chuckled more, the ring turning menacing. "Oh no. It's purely business." She took a step towards him.

He stepped back. "Get away from me!"

"Come on, Janny. Don't be difficult." She grabbed the rope, holding it taunt. "Just hold still, and this won't hurt..."

He looked desperately for an exit, but all there was was the door. He could try it...

She stepped closer and closer, holding the rope. "You can even keep your clothes on this time~."

Worth a shot. He ran around her and bolted towards the door.

She rolled her eyes, then sauntered after him.

He went to the door and tugged on it desperately. Ugh he felt like an idiot! But what else was he supposed to do?!

"It only opens with my key, dearie~" She let the key dangle from her neck. "There's no other way out."

He looked at the key. He wasn't that stupid.

She smiled knowingly. "You going to be good then?"

"I'm not letting you do this."

She smirked. "I hoped you would say that. Hold still now~" She advanced closer with the rope.

He kept backing away. There had to be something he could defend himself with!

The walls with everything else, including that whip though were past her, away from the door.

Her eyes turned more menacing, advancing closer. "Hold still."

The whip was his best chance...

He took a deep breath and ran for it.

Only for her to lunge, tackling him to the ground and wrapping the rope around his upper arms. "Hold still!"

"Get off me!" He started thrashing and kicking, even throwing his head back in hopes it would hit her. But she dodged that, then forcibly moved his arms behind his back before tying them tight, running more rounds around his whole torso.

He hissed and glared at her. "Bitch!"

She laughed. "Come on, Janny~ Don't be like that." She got to her feet then pulled him upright, looking him over. "That's lovely~"

"This is why you bought me? To play your sick games with?"

"Oh, don't pretend you wouldn't have done so to me..." She tugged him over between the cameras.

He pressed down, trying to resist her pull, but he kept being dragged along. "I wouldn't. I really wouldn't."

"Maybe not like this." She dragged him to the hook, then hung him by his arms, making his toes just touch the ground. Then fussed around. "But a lying manipulator like you? If I was truly some girl, desperate for love, you would have made me eat out of the palm of your hand..."

"Except I have no interest in women."

"True. But you'd do anything to cure your boredom, have control." She went to the cameras. "Struggle prettily now."

"No."

She shook her head. Snapping a picture as is. "If I'm to make good art off you, you're going to need to struggle."

"You plan to sell photos of me?"

"Sort of...The art will be used as references for my sketches and artwork, which will then be sold."

"Lovely..." he rolled his eyes.

She huffed. "Well, if you're going to be like that..." She got out a sketchbook then sat down and started to draw.

"I'm getting the impression that you don't actually know anything about me."

"Or maybe you don't know yourself..." The pencil sketching reverberated through the room. "You're starting to feel sleepy, aren't you."

"I beg your pardon?"

She continued to sketch, readying her camera control. "Likely more on your snake side first. Nothing like a nice, cold room to do that."

"Cold...?" He blinked, letting out a yawn.

She smirked. "Yes. You felt it coming in... Snakes are very exothermic, relying on outside heat to keep awake..."

"I'm not... full snake..." He started to hang limply.

"You're enough snake though that it still affects you." She stood up. "Just as heat can." She headed towards a heat lamp.

He watched her go, he hated how sluggish he was now.

He...he couldn't...

She smiled. "You want to fall asleep?"

"No..."

"Struggle then. Show me how much you want to stay awake..." Her fingers idled over the heat lamp controls.

He shook his head, but it was barely noticeable.

She looked towards him. "Struggle, or you'll sleep here instead of the nice bed I have for you."

"Stop..." his head started to droop, and to top it all off he was shivering!

Her eyes held darkly firm. "Struggle."

He slowly lifted his head, glaring at her. "Frick off..."

She just hummed. "Then I'll leave you like this." She took a quick sketch of his face.

He let his head drop again. He wouldn't fall asleep, but he couldn't move... He'd just be like this, until she had mercy...

She finished the sketches. "I'll be back later." She turned and started for the door.

He couldn't even be bothered to respond. Of all the people who could have bought him. It had to be her…

The key jiggled in the lock, before the door opened, letting a little warmer air through.

It wasn't enough to revive him, so he ignored it for now. Why get his hopes up for nothing? No. He needed to focus on survival. On, looking for some way to get out of here.

"Goodnight~" The lights were turned off, then the door was closed and locked.

And he was left alone in the cold and dark... Alone with his thoughts and the uncertainty of his future...

Chapter Text

All in all, Logan did not have much to complain about with Sarah. She took him around the city, did puzzles, video games, and read with him. And while she strongly advised him to not leave the apartment without her while she was at work, she brought back intriguing chemical puzzles which were more than enough to keep him occupied while she was gone. That didn't mean that sometimes he wished he was allowed to go out on his own. The apartment could get rather dull after a while.

There was only so much variation he could receive from reading, games, puzzles, and movies. At least he was allowed free reign on the network. She'd even helped start him learning some coding. But as he didn't know what to do with his newfound knowledge, it wasn’t very helpful for his dilemma. He figured going out could help inspire him, but he didn't want to upset Sarah. Leaving researching and learning about everything he could about the outside world.

He sighed and looked out the window. Was this really all his life was to be? Locked away in this apartment, never living life as he wanted it? He cannot say this life isn't comfortable though. It was a good life and he should be grateful.

He would be grateful.

Keys jingled in the front door before it opened.

He stood up and clasped his hands together behind his back. "Welcome home, Miss Sarah."

Sarah smiled, slumping in relief. "Thank you Lo." She closed the door. "You would not believe how tiring work can be."

He likely would not, though he did wish she’d explain. "Can I get you anything?”

"Maybe something to drink? To share? She headed to the couch and sat down, rubbing her head. "I could use something."

"Of course, there was that new bottle of wine you purchased."

"That does sound wonderful right now. Thank you."

He nodded and went to get it.

She watched him as he went. "How was your day?"

"It was fine. I did those puzzles you brought home."

"Oh, that's lovely." She smiled. "How far have you gotten?"

"I finished.”

She blinked. "All of them? Already?"
"Yes, I left them on the coffee table." He poured out the wine.

She sat up and looked. "Whoa...That's incredible..."

"Is it?" He returned with the two glasses.

"Yes..." She took one of the glasses. "I imagined it'd take both of us at least a few days..."

"Oh, were we supposed to do them together?' He sat beside her.

"I had, hoped to do so..." She took a sip.

"My apologies...." He hung his head. "I will wait next time.”

She sighed. "No need to apologize." She took another sip. "I didn't make my intentions clear. I just, have been hoping to find out more things we can do together..."

"It wasn't my intent to exclude you. I simply ran out of things to do at home."

"I know..." She took another sip. "I need to figure out more you can do. I can't take much time off work."

"Well..." he reached for a folded-up piece of paper that he kept in his pocket.

She furrowed her brow. "What is it?"

He unfolded it, revealing a map of the city, which he laid on the table. "I had a few places of interest in mind, and a clear route to each of them. I'd have places to stop for food and water though of course I'd bring water in a bottle just in case. And I'd be home by the time you got off of work.”

She frowned. "Have you calculated for homeless, gangs, and all of them?"

"Well, yes. But crime rates have been down especially where I plan on going-"

"Crime rates being down does not mean they've disappeared entirely." She huffed, setting the glass down. "And the fact that you would be a character walking alone would make any chance dangerous. People would try to steal or take you."

"If I wore regular attire, I'd be just another face in the crowd."

"You do wear regular clothing though. Anyone that knows about Sanders Sides could realize who you are..."

"It's more of an obscure web series. The chances of me being recognized are infinitesimal."

"Why are you so willing to take the chance though?" Her voice started to rise. "Being in here is safe, secure."

"Technically it isn't.” He pushed up his glasses. “A robbery or home invasion is prone to happen at any time."

"You know what I mean!" She started to rise.

He frowned in confusion. "I'm afraid I don't..."

"There is a far less chance of you being in danger in here than out in the city! Why do you keep insisting about risking your life in the city alone?!"

He furrowed his brow. "I-I wouldn't consider it risking my life..."

"You would be though! Either someone would take you, or you'd be seen as a runaway character!"

"A runaway character?"

"Yes!" She then slumped back, holding the wine again as she swirled it around.

He took a deep breath. "I understand your concern, I really do. But keeping me here every day alone isn't beneficial to my mental state."

"It won't be beneficial either if WISH thinks you ran away from me." She took another sip. "From the description, their services there, didn't seem pleasant."

"Perhaps if I had something in your handwriting to explain-"

"It might not work. Such things can easily be forged. I don't want you hurt before you're brought back to me."

"But still the chances of me being recognized are slim."

"Why take the chance?!" She took another sip. "I...I just don't want anything to happen to you that I don't know about."

He frowned. "I would tell you everything..."

She sighed. "You have been absolutely frank with me, I'll admit. But we haven't come across a situation where you wouldn't want to tell me yet. You've been too perfect to break any dishes or do anything like that."

He tilted his head. "But why wouldn't I want to tell you about my travels?"

She sighed. "A myriad of reasons." She took another sip. "Something bad happens to you, like someone trying to grab you or grope you, and you don't want to talk about it. You get to feeling like you want to keep some things private to yourself. Or..." She looked deeply in the glass. "You find some other women to fall in love with."

Logan blinked. "That would be impossible, I am not attracted to women."

"But you are..." She took another sip, staring at the glass. "It was the one change I made when having you brought into being..."

"Change?" He frowned. "But my original character is gay, you said so yourself..."

"Yes. But in working with WISH, you can, adjust a character as you see fit. Most of the time, those adjustments are animal features, alpha/omega additions, or a completely human version of a character." She took another gulp. "I didn't want something like that. But I had sometimes imagined what it would be like to get to know and fall in love with the Logan of the show, and have him fall in love with me as well..."

Logan stepped back, setting the glass down. "Is that why you bought me? To be a romantic partner? Why you changed me?"

She took another sip, then looked up at him. "I at least wanted the possibility..." She took another sip. "I wanted you as a friend and companion for certain. All that I told you that first day was true. But the more I got to know you, the more I fell in love with you and desired you as well." She set the glass down. "Why are you not in love with me?"

"I-,” he swallowed. “I suppose it's because I only see you as a friend. And am not drawn to you romantically..."

"But you should be!" She rose up, her full height towering over him. "I've been the only woman you've known. I've provided for you. I've matched you intellectually." She started towards him. "You should love me, the same way I love you."

He started backing away. "Sarah... I think you've had too much to drink... You should lay down..."

"Lie with me then!" She grabbed his arm.

He jumped back. "Sarah please!"

"Let me love you!" She lunged forward. "See me as more than a friend!"

He backed up against the wall, eyes wide in terror. "Sarah-"

"No!" She wrapped her arms around him, then looked into his face. "I've dreamed of this for so long..."

"Please don't...” He pleaded, meeting her eyes. “We can do this another way..."

Her eyes went dark. "I've waited too long already." Then she cupped a hand behind his head and brought her lips up to his and kissed him.

His eyes widened. He wanted to push her away but he couldn't move... He just stood frozen as she continued the kiss.

Eventually she pulled away, smiling. "You liked that?"

He trembled. Should he be honest? Or would that only make things worse?

She tilted her head, frowning as she cupped his cheek. "Logan?"

"I-I felt nothing…”

She slumped, pulling away. "I hoped it would work..." Then turned and went to her room. "Goodnight Lo."

He kept trembling. "Goodnight..."

The door to her room closed, and he was left alone.

What had just happened? Why had it happened?
He'd done nothing to excite her interest! He'd just been himself. He'd done nothing to give her any incentive to love him that way!
Yet she decided she was... Even if these, advances only happened after she had wine, there was a high probability she would do this again. But she hadn't continued when he'd said he'd felt nothing, maybe he'd be fine?

Could also mean she'd try harder. And as long as the two of them lived alone in the apartment, the chances increased. But he also couldn't abandon her, she had been good to him. And where could he even go? Perhaps this was just a one time occurrence.

Could he be certain of that? What if she became more demanding of his attention? Clearly, one of the reasons he wasn't let outside alone was jealousy... But he wasn't interested in a romantic relationship! He just had to show her that!

But how?! Stating he didn't had caused her to...He shuddered at the very thought. He just needed time; he could research! Find some kind of answer! There had to be something he could do!

So that was his plan: Stay and try to make amends with Sarah while quietly searching for an answer to their dilemma. The rest, he could figure out later. Right now, though, he had better clean up... Some wine had been spilled and he didn't want there to be a stain in the carpet. After adjusting his tie, he walked into the kitchen and opened the supply cabinet, getting out the cleaner.

Chapter Text

It was a beautiful day outdoors. Birds singing in the trees as leaves fluttered down in the breeze. All the sudden there was a disturbance, the ring of metal sailing through the air.

"Behind you Roman!" Rosa called out.

Roman spun around, sword in hand. "Thank you, Rosa!"

She laughed. "Can't let the dragon witch get my prince. Off your left shoulder!"

He moved aside and jabbed his sword forward in the empty air. "I got her!"

"Fantastic! Down she goes!"

"The day is saved once again!" Roman cheered.

"Thanks to the marvelous heroism of the great prince Roman!" She smiled, walking forward.

"And his noble companion princess Rosa." He beamed and bowed in front of her.

She grinned. "You’re too kind...And so wonderful!" She leaped and hugged him.

He waved his sword away and caught her; spinning around and laughing.

With her laughing all the while, then resting then letting out a breath. "I think that about does it for me. Let's start heading back in."

"Of course, my lady." He set her down but continued to hold her hand as they walked back

She smiled brightly, resting her head on his shoulder. "Still a shame they wouldn't let you summon actual dragon witches." She pouted.

"As if I wouldn't have complete control, or be able to vanquish them all." He huffed.

"Exactly." She huffed. "They just don't want you taking over their business."

"Jealous of my natural talent." He huffed as well.

"That they are." She nuzzled in, glancing around the forest. It truly was beautiful here... It could just be…She sighed as she smiled. "Won't this be the perfect place for our wedding?"

He stopped abruptly then turned to her. "I'm sorry, our what?"

"Our wedding." She looked up at him. "Couldn't you see it? I had thought of it being on your birthday, but the temperature is so much nicer this time of year and it's all so enchanting. We could have our bridesmaids and groomsmen line up in front of those trees as we pass through those ones."

"Is this for pretend...?" Roman asked, faintly unnerved. "I'm all for playing out a wedding scenario "

She chuckled. "No silly." She hopped his nose. "For real! We have been together for three months. 'Bout time we made honest people of each other."

"Honest people...?" He stepped back slightly. "Rosa I... I was unaware you saw our relationship that way."

"But how else could I see it?" She pulled close to him, looking up as she tapped her fingers up his chest. "We have been with each other near every second of the day. We do things together. We laugh. We have fun. And I love you. Don't you love me?"

"You-You love me?" Roman gulped. "I, love you as a friend but... Perhaps with more time as we furthered our relationship things could develop between us?"

Her eyes grew colder. "We've already had three months though." She grasped his shoulder. "That should be more than enough time."

He shook under her grip. "I-I still think we're getting ahead of ourselves..."

She sighed. "...You know how many choices I juggled around before I chose you?"

He swallowed. "What do you mean?"

"When considering who I wished to bring to life, I had so many choices in mind. In the end, I choose you," she pointed at his chest. "To bring to life. Aren't you grateful that I have?"

"I-I suppose I am…”

Her fingers marched up to his neck. "And aren't you grateful that I've given you art supplies and games and given you a nice room all to yourself?"

A shiver ran down his spine. "Yes, very grateful."

"That's good. You were sounding a bit ungrateful there, Roman..." She met his eyes. "Being ungrateful would make you a bad character. Do you know what happens to bad characters?"

"N-No." He fought to keep himself from shaking.

"Their wishers lock them into little rooms, take away any nice beds to have them lie on the floor, with little food or water until they are sorry they crossed them." She ran a finger down his back. "And if that does not work, they're sent back to the foundation, where they're then packed into tight cages with other characters and sold to the black market to people that don't care about them at all, treated however their buyer wants to treat them." She then pulled his head down towards her. "Are you going to be a good character?"

Roman nodded. "Y-Yes Rosa... I'm sorry for being ungrateful…”

"Good." She grinned, then took his hand. "We can have the wedding on Friday then."

His face paled. "This Friday?"

"Well, maybe not this Friday.” She frowned, tilting her head. “Even that would be moving too fast...” Then she brightened. “How about next Friday?!"

"Alright..." He let out a small sigh of relief. More time for him.

"Excellent!" She hugged him. "We can make our plans during dinner!"

He forced a smile onto his face. "Of course!"

"Fantastic! Let's go then!" Then she dragged him on towards the manor.

Roman subtly took in his surroundings. He was going to have to escape, and fast. Most of the land for miles though was hers...Until it got to the stone fence and metal gate. Then the entire area had near constant surveillance by her guards...
He’d memorized all of their schedules though, and knew where the cameras were. He would just need to choose a night when there was a gap, get out of the house, then bound over the fence. He would be free! And worry about any and all other details then.

Right now, he just had to get out of there!

Chapter Text

Patton grunted. "Come on, stubborn little thing." But the weed wouldn’t budge! He leaned back. Then he fell onto the grass, weed in hand.. "Yes!"

"Are you okay Patty?" Susie called out from the porch.

"Yeah Susie!" He got up, offending weed in hand as he turned to look up at her. "Darn weeds are harder to get at every day."

She smiled, gripping the railing. "I really appreciate it though, your garden is going to look great!"

He beamed. "Thanks! I sure hope it will." He went for the watering can and watered the plants. "They make the house look so much better!"

"Like someone is actually alive in here." She laughed.

"Well, now two someones are alive here." He held up two fingers. "So, it should look doubly alive than it did when I came here."

"Oh, you're right." She laughed, then her eyes lit up. "Ooh! What if I made us some lemonade? You've been working so hard after all!"

He grinned. "That sounds great! Thanks!"

"Alright! Be back in a jiffy!" She got up and shuffled inside.

Patton smiled more, wiping his brow, then went to tackle another weed. Sure, it was hard work, but it felt good to do something like this! Shaping the ground and growing life with his own two hands. Helped by the fact that Susie never wanted to help in the garden...
The one thing he could do alone...

Another weed came up in his hands as he shook himself. She said that he was helpful just being around. He could at least believe that. And he at least made sure she didn't have to do all this work completely by herself. But she still treated him like a child... always fussing over him... Worrying, nagging, keeping stuff away just because she thought he wouldn't like it.

He aggressively pulled up another weed. It was fine! She was a lonely elderly woman while he was someone she chose to bring to life. Maybe she actually did just think of him as some big kid for her.
If she thought of him as a person at all...He stilled, lip trembling.

No... of course she did! She had to, right?! She agreed with the idea that there were two someones here. And the way she worried about him. She had to think of him as a person! But she could also be worried because she bought him and didn't want him broken...

He shook the thought, working more frantically in the garden.
He was just worrying for no reason. He had a good life here and Susie loved him! She did! When he had that burnt thumb, she'd taken care of him! She let him buy things he wanted just because he wanted it as long as it wasn't anything too expensive...And she gave him hugs!

She was a great person! A wonderful-

His thoughts were interrupted by the dog next door, who'd started barking frantically. Odd, she was usually a quiet dog.
He frowned, looking towards the neighbor's house. "Patsy?”

She ignored him, running back and forth in her yard. Barking at something behind the fence.

His brow furrowed. "What's wrong girl?" He went over to the fence then looked at where she was barking.

It looked like one of their trash cans was missing a lid. He shook his head, going over to replace the lid. "Did some raccoon get in here?"

She kept barking, growling when Patton came near.

He stopped, raising his hands. "Hey, it’s me, Patton. I'm just going to see what's in there and put on the lid."

She looked at him then back at the can, growling more.

Patton shook his head, going to look in. "Just what has gotten into you, Pat-?"

A hand suddenly pulled the trashcan over, garbage falling on a person who was now struggling to get up

Patton's eyes widened. "Woah. Hey!" He crouched down by him. "You okay?"

It was a man, looking a bit younger than him. He wore a black hoodie with purple patches sewn onto it, except it was covered in dirt and now garbage. His face was dirty too, especially around his eyes which were wide and afraid. He couldn't stop shaking, couldn't even form a sentence.

Patton's face softened. "Sorry. Didn't mean to scare you there, kiddo. What's your name?"

He just bit his lip, unable to stop shaking.

Patton nodded. "That's alright...Guess it can be scary for some random guy to find you in the garbage can after one dog's non-stop yapping."
She growled again which caused him to flinch. Now that Patton was able to see him, he noticed how big that hoodie was on him...Far too big...
He bit his lip. "You hungry?"

He looked at the bits of food scattered around, then back up at Patton. Nodding slightly.

He smiled. "How about you come in then and I'll get you some leftovers."

He immediately shook his head and scooted away.

Patton forced himself to hold still. "I could bring the food out too. My Wish-Susie won't notice it's missing."

He looked around nervously, then nodded again.

Patton smiled again. "Alright." Then slowly got up. "I could take you by the back door so you're not out in the open...Though we should clean up this garbage here before then..."
He looked down and started gathering it up. Patton stooped down and helped gather it as well, keeping an eye out for anyone else. He was pretty sure Susie wouldn't mind helping a poor kid in need, but she was also against him talking to strangers. Best if she didn't see him then.

He finished up with him with the garbage can then took him over to the back side, bringing his garden tools with him.

He was still skittish the whole way over, constantly looking around.

Patton watched him sadly. Couldn't really blame him...Must be scary when you don't have anywhere to go to. "Wait here." He went to the back door, peering inside. If she was making lemonade...Looked like she was almost finished, her back was currently facing him but she was by the fridge.

That could make things difficult then... He pursed his lips, waiting for… Wait a second... Patsy was still outside.

Maybe..."Wait here." He ran back to the front yard. "Patsy?"

She barked and ran over, wagging her tail.

He grinned. "Hey girl. You want a treat?"

She hopped around, barking excitedly.

"Is that Patsy?" Susie called.

He grinned. "Yeah Susie! She just came for a visit!"

"Aw, is she hungry?"

"I think so! Have some of that leftover chicken still?"

"I think so! I'll get it for you!"

"Thanks Susie! You're the best!"

"Just a moment!" He heard the fridge open and shut, then Susie came outside with a plate of chicken. "Here you are!"
He took the plate. "Thanks!"

"You’re welcome.” She grinned. “I've almost got the lemonade ready, I'll bring it out back for ya!"

His eyes widened. "Actually...I don't like my progress out there...Could we have it out front here?"

"Oh, are you sure? It looked so nice..."

"It looks even nicer out here!" He grinned. "Besides, we'll be seeing the sunset here soon."

"That's true... I suppose I can bring it out here!" She smiled. "Be right back!" She went inside.

He sighed in relief, dropped a small amount of chicken down to Patsy with a thanks then raced back to the backyard. Thankfully, he was still there, though he looked like he'd been about to leave...

He rushed over to him. "Here, have this."

He looked up and slowly took the food from him. He took a small bite, then scarfed the whole thing down.

Patton chuckled. "Slower bites now. Don't get sick..." He started peddling back. "I'll be back for the plate later. Susie's going to be in the front yard with me."

He looked up, slowing down as instructed.

He smiled. "If you stay here, I can make sure she won't see you..." Then he ran back for the front lawn.

Just as she came out with two glasses of lemonade. "Here you are Patty!"

Patton gave a big smile. "Thanks!" He took a glass and sipped it down. "Gardening's thirsty work!"

"But you do such a good job." She smiled and took a sip.

He chuckled, rubbing his back. "Thank you...Your, new book turning out well?"

"Almost finished, I'll be starting a new one soon."

"Oh great! What's it about?"

“It’s, well, about about…” Her eyes glanced around. "Oh! Did Patsy finish her chicken?"

He faintly paled, glancing around for Patsy. "Well, I placed the plate down behind a bush and had her eat there..."

"Looks like she's gone back inside, I'll need to get the plate."

"Oh, I'll get it for you." Patton stood up. "No need to worry. You can...head on in if you want."

"But I just got out here..." She frowned. "Are you hiding something from me?"

"No! I just...thought it was around your nap time and you'd be wanting to go in for that...Though the couch here would be a good place for that too!"

"It's almost night Patton..."

"Oh?" He looked up. "Oh right! It is...I better get my tools put away." He headed down the steps.

"Okay..." She watched with a frown then headed inside.

He sighed in relief, then sped on to the back yard, looking for the visitor.

He'd just finished and was looking around. He never really stopped moving, did he? Always going to and thro.

Patton smiled. "Hey there."

He jumped and turned back around, eyes locked on Patton.

Patton winced. "Sorry...Just came to get the plate and get my gear." He looked him over. "...Mind staying in the garden shed? It’s not the coziest but there's access to water so you can clean up a bit, and it’s at least a roof over your head tonight."

He looked over at the shed then at Patton.

He gave him a gentle smile. "I'd offer the house but...You already seemed nervous about that...I won't tell her you're here, honest."

He looked down, then nodded.

Patton sighed in relief. "Alright." He got the plate and the gardening gear. "Shed's this way." Then led him on.

He followed as close as he could without getting too close.

Patton couldn't help but feel his heart twist at the sight. What had happened to him? He opened the door, hearing it creak. "Well, here's the shed."

The other man glanced around, as if making sure it wasn’t a trap. All that could be seen inside though were the farm tools and other outdoor devices with concrete floors, a single light, and a hose off area by the door.

Patton went in, put away his stuff, then got a lawn chair and propped it open. "You can go ahead and sleep on here...Think there might also be an old blanket around."

He glanced at him as if making sure it was okay then sat down.

Patton nodded, tucking the plate under his arm. "Feel free to have the light on or off if you want. Switch's here...See you later, if I do."

He laid down and shut his eyes. He must be exhausted... And with the life it seemed he had, it made sense. If only he could do more...

"Goodnight, uh...kiddo." Then he shut the door.

Part of him hoped he'd still be there in the morning, but wouldn't blame him if he moved on. He at least wanted to learn his name though...Find out why the two of them looked so similar...Maybe it was just coincidence. Maybe it had something to do with the show he was from? Susie never did bring that up to watch. Was also hard to tell with how filthy he was. Hopefully, he at least used the water to wash himself. Though he wished he could get soap out to him... He headed on back to the house, mind wandering.

She looked up as he entered. "Took you awhile…”

"Oh...Sorry Susie." He handed her the plate. "Patsy took it and buried it from where I had it."

Her eyes stayed grim. "I see…”

He chuckled, bouncing a bit on his feet while he took off his shoes. "So... Movie tonight?"

"I actually think I'll turn in early..."

"Oh, okay. I'll wash up then turn in myself. Goodnight Susie."

"Night Patton." She headed upstairs.

Patton pursed his lips. He could head upstairs with her or really quickly get more food and some cleaning stuff out to the kiddo... But she was already suspicious, and if he was asleep, he didn't want to wake him. Which he would if he went back. So, he went up after her, headed for the bathroom first for his nightly routine, then headed to his room.
He could always check on him in the morning, if he was still there. So, with that, he laid in his bed and tried to get to sleep. Tried not to worry. Ended up worrying a lot...The poor kiddo...Eventually, he went to a fitful sleep, filled with worries and dreams.

Chapter Text

The cameras flashed around him as he hung from the rope harness, the yellow thing coiling like a snake all over him. He really was going to go blind at this rate. Not that she'd care... Well, she'd care if he didn't react at all whenever she reached towards him...

Like she was now…He flinched away, baring his fangs.

She chuckled, drawing back her hand. "Thought I was losing you there for a spell." She snapped another picture. "Do you not appreciate the warmth?" She turned the heat lamp down a notch.

"It's fine…” He hissed.

She huffed. "Then why don't I see more of a struggle from you~" She got back to her seat, taking up her sketchpad. "You're trapped in some unknown dungeon, not knowing who or what has you, just knowing you need to get out now while you have the chance..."

"Is that all you got? Oh no you're trapped, struggle for me! No originality." He rolled his eyes.

She rolled her eyes back. "I don't need to be original. Most the fans will take the same thing in a hundred different forms." She started to sketch. "What matters is that the struggle is there. The desperate attempts to match wits and go against someone that's prepared for you when you aren't, and who can terrify you with a fate worse than death."

"Such as having to see your face every day?"

She chuckled. “I could make it worse...You could see my face every night~"

"I'll go blind..."

She shook her head. "You're a near immortal figment of a man's imagination, representing his self-preservation. I don't think you can let yourself go blind like that."

"By having to see your face constantly, it could happen naturally.”

She smirked. "Would prefer to be completely alone in here? Day in and day out?"

"It'd more preferable than this."

"Even as you let yourself go mad?"

"I already am at this rate.”

She huffed. "What if I could reward you?"

"Reward me?" He scoffed.

"For sure...” She tapped her pencil against her face. “Would you like a friend?”

"Hmm… no.”

"What? You wouldn't find it fun to have someone to play with?"

"You mean for you to play with."

"Well, sometimes. But he could mostly be your toy."

He held in the urge to vomit. "I think I'll pass."

"Oh, really?" She smirked. "That's out of character."

"Again, you don't know anything about me." Janus rolled his eyes.

She pursed her lips, appearing thoughtful. "Or maybe I got a faulty character."

"Unlikely. Are you basing everything you know about me from fan works?" He tilted his head. "That's all you ever bring up, what am I actually like in the source material?"

"Not much different...Conniving, lying, scheming, always seeking to get your way through others' detriments, giving a lot of false flattery to butter them up. Taking pleasure in rubbing the other Sides' insecurities in their faces as you pour more salt in their wounds, then lashing out where you know it hurts most whenever things don't go to your plans. All while considering yourself superior to the other Sides and the only Side Thomas should listen to."

Janus blinked then narrowed his eyes. "I'm going to need some context for this. Perhaps I should watch the show and see for myself.”

She chuckled. "Maybe that could be a reward. Some of the show, for good behavior..."

He huffed. "I'll pass then.”

She shrugged. "Suit yourself." Then continued to sketch.

He sighed and looked around. What a truly dreadful existence. He couldn't be sarcastic about that... When it wasn't terrifying, it was mind-numbingly dull. Every day it was the same thing, hang here in some rope bind, get pictures and sketches done of him, then fall asleep as she’d left him. Maybe he'd be better off if he'd never been created. But he couldn't really uncreate himself, now could he.

Maybe he should try to appease her more. That'd at least make things change...Or she'd become worse. Besides, that would also mean giving in. No thank you.
It was either give in or stay like this for...however long she chose to keep him like this. Either option wasn't pleasant. But he was stubborn. He wouldn't give in easily. Especially not after only...How many days had this been going on? Had to have been at least a week. But he couldn't be sure. Time had already lost all meaning. The same room every day. He'd fall asleep from the cold every night, then wake up in a new position in the morning with her already taking pictures and sketching, though she at least hadn't removed his current outfit, yet.

He knew though that one of these days he'd probably wake up without some or all of them or stuffed into one of those other outfits. All either plain atrocious and/or uncomfortable looking. He sighed. He really was no more than a doll at this point. Dangling from this hook, letting her do as she liked...

...Had she been taking care of his physical needs as well while he slept?

He shuddered at the thought. If he could have more access to the heat lamp, he could at least be awake and aware to know for sure. But to do that, he'd need to play her games. He wasn't getting anywhere like this.

He sighed. Supposing he could swallow his pride for once. He started to struggle a bit. Who knows? Maybe he'd actually escape.

She blinked, then smirked, capturing more pics then turning up the heat lamp a notch.

Now he was angryand humiliated. He glared, then struggled even more. Causing her to grin more, standing as she took more pics and increased the heat coming down upon him.

That at least felt nice, like he had energy for once in his existence! Except now he was getting a little too hot...Sweat coming down his scales.

She tilted her head. "Too much heat at once?"

Janus swallowed. "Maybe...?"

She hummed. "Might also be the outfit.” She put away her sketchbook. “Layers do tend to trap heat more."

He huffed, rolling his eyes. "Or I'm just not used to it since you keep me in an ice box…”

"That could also be..." She took some more pics, focusing on the sweat. "Walking around a bit might help then."

"As if you'd let me down..."

She hummed. "You have been good today." She stepped over to him. "Will you continue to be though is the question."

He looked up, considering her carefully. "Depends on what will happen to me."

"What happens depends on how you act." She unhung him from the hook then carefully set him on his feet.

He wobbled slightly, his legs shaking. But she was there to catch him until the shaking in his legs subsided. He huffed and stood upright

But she only smirked. "Ready?"

He shrugged as much as he could. "I suppose...”

"Good." Then she took hold of the rope halter from behind his back and started to walk him around the room, having the heat lamp trail them along the way. He hadn't even seen the rest of his "home" yet. Just this same dull, pathetic room!

Her eyes trailed him up and down. "How do you feel?"

He thought about it, then his stomach growled. "I'm hungry."

"Reasonable..." She hummed in thought. "Would you prefer to eat in here, or out of this room?"

"Out please."

She hummed. "Since you've been good~" She lowered the bowler hat over his eyes before leading him along, taking out her key as she lead him with the arm gripped around his shoulders.

He frowned. "Am I not allowed to see my own home?"

"Not until I can trust you to not make any escape attempts, dearie~" She rested a light peck on the top of his head, then opened the door and lead him out into the hall.

He hissed at that. Too much touching was going on here... She shouldn't be this comfortable holding him like this! Yet she was, and she just continued on holding him out, giggling at his hiss.

"Here we are!" She raised the bowler hat.

He looked around, huffing. At this point he'd rather go without the hat. But then his head would be completely vulnerable to her...

He focused on the kitchen, a mid-sized affair, stocked with various appliances, a stove, a sink, a microwave, and a fridge. To the side of it was a long counter with bar stools that overlooked a living room.

It was to the stools she led him. "Now sit right here." She pushed him down onto the black leather. "Nice, tight, and still." She untied some of the rope around him then bent down to tie it to the stool.

"You have too much fun with that rope."

She smirked, finishing her tie. "You would be surprised how much artistry there can be to simple ropework." She did a double tie for good measure then stood up and went over to the kitchen cabinets. "Probably a light soup for now. Wouldn't want you to throw up anything now, would we."

"No, of course not... Would ruin your photos…”

"Oh, I don't know. There are probably some people somewhere that see it as a kink."

"Oh gosh..." He shuddered.

She chuckled more. "However, I would prefer to not have to clean vomit off your outfit." She took out a can of chicken noodle soup, got out a pot, then warmed it up. "Your thing is already going to be a chore to clean."

"My thing?”

"You know." She gestured. "The capelet, the clothes underneath. It’s all going to need to be washed sometime."

His lips pursed. "I suppose..."

"Also, you." She continued to stir. "Which could either be done through a soak in a hot bath, or through me hosing you down with cold water."

"Neither sound pleasant..."

"A warm water bath then...” She huffed. “Not one hot enough to get you scolded."

"Whatever you say..."

She smirked. "Even if I order you to call me mistress?"

His eyes locked daggers on her. "I won't go that far yet."

She grinned. "Yet." She grabbed a bowl and a spoon, the poured the soup in and turned around. "Here you are."

He sighed and glared at her. "My arms?"

She hummed, setting the bowl in front of him. "I don't know...It could be fun to spoon feed you~"

"I'd rather eat myself."

She tutted. "Don't think snakes have the ability to regrow limbs." She went over behind him. "Hold still now."

He frowned. "Not what I meant."

"I know." She grabbed one arm, loosened the rope then retied it so that he could get the spoon to his mouth and not much else then did the same to the other side. "You're lucky that I'm not into the idea of seeing you limbless."

"Less ways for you to use your rope, right?"

She chuckled. "There is that. Also, delimbing you would be permanent. If I ever wanted to undo it, I couldn't." She pushed the bowl in reach of him. "This way, for the things I can trust you to take care of, I don't need to be a constant nursemaid for you.”

He glanced at her, but decided not to comment. Opting to just eat his meal.

She leaned on the table and watched him, probably covertly taking more pictures on a small camera in her shirt pocket. If she was, he couldn't be bothered. It really was sad that he was the only interesting thing in her life. Everything around him did seem to be either black, white, or steel gray. The most color came from the rope that held him.
These creative types were certainly an odd breed... Though to be fair to himself, he only knew of this one creative type. Others might be a bit more...homely with their décor. And less sadistic. He just had to wind up with a sadistic one...Why him specifically? Why not anyone else? Of all the characters she could have chosen, what made him stand out? Especially when he was so unlike what she described? None of it made sense...Was he, actually unlike the character she had expected...? Or was she just lying? How could he know if he never learned about who he was? He needed some way to learn, and time awake and aware to digest it.

...Why did everything in his life rely on her right now?

Because she was his ‘all-powerful’ Wisher...And she owned him...Until the day either he or she died.

He sighed and continued eating

She contented herself in watching him, sketching a bit as she did so.

Did she do anything else?

He looked over. "Is this all you do?"

She looked up. "Not all I do...One has to maintain a social media in order to keep up with trends."

He frowned. "Social media?”

She smiled. "A place to interact with people online...Learn what the masses think, and particular things they like."

"And is your work something they like?”

"So far...But my art has never been anything truly authentic yet." She smirked at him. "With you, I can finally get that element."

"So you say..."

"But it’s true." She got out her phone then showed him an image of a man artfully nude on a chair, bound in familiar roadwork in a dungeon. "This has been some of my off-model work. You can see the artifice though in how he holds himself."

"Charming..." he cringed.

"Then with you..." She swiped and brought up one of him, staked above a dragon's hoard, the dragon's tail lightly caressing him as Janus tried to move away. An objectively stunning painting.

He felt his stomach go queasy. "I'm ill now..." he pushed the bowl away. "You can't tell me that people enjoy seeing this."

"Oh, but they do." She smiled, putting her phone back. "People look for these pictures, read stories written around events like this. Some just for morbid curiosity, some for the nervous thrill, some because of liking to see their favorite characters suffer..." She smirked. "And some because their imagination can take things from here."

"Right..."

She tilted her head. "Of course, the main draw for them with things like this is that no one is really hurt." She smirked more. "It’s only entirely fictional characters."
He looked her in the eyes. "You don't think I'm real?"

She only shrugged, keeping that damned smirk. "Technically, you are not. You're only a version of a character that I bought with my own money to use as I see fit."

He scowled back. "But I can think and feel like you can..."

"Clearly." She sighed. "The rules around your kind will likely change sooner rather than later..."

His brow furrowed. "The rules?"

"You know, the ones that dictate whether you're seen as people, or are some weird type of commodity under the law."

He frowned. "Am I not seen as a person?"

"Not at the moment." She took her phone back out and scrolled through. "Technically, you and any character bought through WISH are commodities, a new type of fan work made on demand and for profit, though major corporations are suing if they think a character has been made that they have the intellectual rights to."

No, surely, they couldn’t really think… "But... I have to be a person..."

"And perhaps you are. But as of right now, I own you." She looked back up at him, smirking. "And so legally, I can do with you whatever I want, and have you returned to me if you should ever try to run away."

"There has to be limits!"

She smirked. "Not any yet. WISH is still a fresh thing in the market. By the time any do happen, I'll have you fully wrapped around my finger."

He looked fully at her. "I won't break.”

She smiled more, looking him in the eyes. "We'll see~" Then she leaned back. "How about a show tonight before you head to bed."

"What kind of show?" He swore that if she showed him some show version of her drawings…

"Nothing too exciting." She went over. "I've always had a special fondness for 101 Dalmatians though."

"Which is...?"

"A Disney movie." She put the Blu-ray in, then went over and untied him from the stool. "And since you've done such good work, and I'm in a good mood, you will even get to be on the couch tonight."

"How generous of you..."

She chuckled. "Oh, but it is." She led him over to the coach. "I could be forcing you to kneel on the floor, using you as my footstool." She shoved him down on the couch then sat down herself, wrapping her arm around him.

"You're awfully touchy for someone not interested in me..." He glanced at her arm then her warily.

She shrugged. "You're mine." She grabbed the remote and got the movie playing. "I can be as professional or unprofessional with you as I wish." Then she leaned back to watch the intro.

"I'm not yours..." he muttered.

She smirked. "Then why aren't you walking out the front door~"

He looked at her. "You'd stop me."

She hummed, grinning. "Very true. Now hush and enjoy the movie."

He rolled his eyes and stared at the screen. Seemed to be a rather bland story so far. A dog deciding that his human ought to meet with another one of his choice. How dull.
Though, dull in a different way...

The couples married then were having their new life together. He couldn’t help but sigh. Must be nice to have someone to love you... Do most characters have that? A Wisher that actually loves them? Or were they all like her?

No, they couldn't all be like her, right?

A new face entered the story, Cruella de Vill. He looked at her then at his Wisher.
Other than the lack of black and white hair, the two weren't too different. Both had that arrogant, snooty self-confidence that everything would go their way. And were both probably evil. Well, he knew his Wisher was. Cruella had yet to show her true colors. Well, time would tell. For right now, he could at least enjoy this respite. Before seeing what else she cooked up…

She felt him start to relax against her and silently smirked. Everything was going so well.

Soon enough, she'd have him eating out of the palm of her hand.

Chapter Text

The morning sun shined through the room as she looked around, frowning. "Have you seen my keys, Lo?"

"Right here," Logan hurried over with them.

She took them from his grasp. "Thank you, Logan." She sighed in relief. "What did I ever do without you?"

"Well I'm happy to help." He smiled, hoping maybe she would too.

And she did, a bright one. "And aren't I glad you are too." She hesitated a moment. "I'm heading off to work. You'll be okay while I'm gone?"

"Of course, I'll be here when you return."

"Wonderful..." She pursed her lips. "I may have a surprise when I do."

"Really?" His eyes lit up slightly.

She smiled more. "Yes. I'll have to make sure I can actually arrange it though." She turned to leave. "I'll be back my usual time."

"And I'll be waiting!" He called.

"Excellent!" She paused more at the door, looking back at him. Glancing towards his lips before looking to his eyes. "See you later then."

"I will see you then." He clasped his hands behind his back.

She smiled. "See you." Then she closed and locked the door. The click-clack of her heels echoed on until she reached her car, then he could hear her drive away.

Logan couldn't help but sigh in relief. She was talking to him again! And smiling! Things had to be going back to normal!
Why then did something seem lacking...?

Perhaps because they hadn't fully made amends, but that would change tonight! She had some surprise for him! Surely that would be part of the apology.
Maybe she'd be letting him go outside on his own...?

Best not to hope for too much, he didn't want to ruin his chances. He went about the apartment and began tidying up. The last few days of her completely ignoring him had been tortuous...No goodbyes, good mornings, or hellos. Just her looking away from him, acting like he was invisible. For reasons Logan didn't understand, being ignored like that was hurting him in a way that wasn't technically physical, but he did find that his chest would start to ache whenever his greetings or attempts to get her attention went unnoticed. As if, he did not matter to her...
Yet clearly, he did. She probably was ignoring him out of her own sense of guilt. Everything would improve after tonight. Things could go back to the way they were. They'd talk and she'd pay attention to him and listen to him and spend time with him and it would be great!

He didn't realize he'd been dusting the same spot for several minutes now while he thought about this... Clearly dwelling on this did not help his productivity. He would focus on getting the apartment perfectly clean, then await her arrival.
Perfect. Everything would be perfect. He would be perfect. It would all be perfect just for her.

He spent the rest of the day cleaning, not that the apartment had really been dirty in the first place. Deep down he knew getting it "perfect" was a hopeless venture. But what else was he supposed to do? His nerves were too agitated to do anything else. She had to see that he appreciated all that she did for him, otherwise... No. She was not going to do that again. She wouldn't!

The sound of her car came through from the garage.

He blinked and looked at the clock. She was home already? Oh gosh he was filthy! He needed to change! He rushed into his room. Did he have time to shower? Of course not! She was here already! But he'd been cleaning all day! Maybe a quick sink rub and clothes change. Something like they'd do on the show!

"Logan?" Her voice called.

He grabbed the extra clothes and darted into the bathroom. "One moment!"

"Okay... But hurry up!"

How dirty was he?
He had been cleaning, ugh, quick shower! Very fast! He undressed and got in. Just a quick rinse, didn't even need to wash his hair! Or should he? No! No time! The water cascaded down him.

She came to the bathroom door. "You alright?"

"Just freshening up! One moment!" Okay quick rinse done. He turned off the water. Now get out, get dressed, fix hair, and done! He could go out to her!
He smiled, satisfied, then walked out. "I apologize Sarah.”

She looked him over. "Oh no. No need to apologize." She smiled. "Where we're going, it is better you're cleaned up."

"Going?" His eyes lit up. "We're going out?"

"Yes." She held out tickets. "I got us into see the Space Needle."

"You did?!"

"Yes." She grinned more. "We'll drive on over when you're ready."

"I'm ready!" He covered his mouth, face turning red. "Sorry..."

"No." She grabbed his hand, lowering it from his mouth. "It’s alright...No need to hide your excitement from me."

He frowned, brows furrowed. "You don't mind?”

She shook her head. "Not at all." She squeezed his hand. "I know you are not generally emotional, but there is nothing to be ashamed of when you do find your emotions revealing themselves."

His brows still stayed furrowed. "It doesn't upset you?”

"No." She frowned. "Why would it?"

"It's rather childish...” He stated sheepishly.

She took his other hand. "There's nothing childish about letting your feelings out in private with those you trust. It’s more when out in public that its more, frowned upon."

"Oh, I shall be sure to conduct myself properly.”

“I know you shall...Don't allow yourself to not enjoy the sight though." She led him out down the hall. "There's little purpose in going if you're not going to enjoy it."

"It's unlikely that I won't"

"I know. Just making sure you don't stifle yourself." She opened the door to the garage then led him to the car.

"I won't, don't worry." He got inside and buckled himself in.

"Good." She got in the driver side door, turned on the car, then backed up, and sped on down out into the street.

Logan stared outside. He hadn't been out of the apartment in so long. And now he was out again! Able to see the sky as it descended into sunset and the lights of the city turned on.
It was beautiful... And it was going to be even better in the Space Needle!

They arrived by the iconic building, towering up over the rest like, well, a needle. Sarah finally found a place to park.

Logan practically leapt out of the car before remembering what she'd said and composing himself.

She smiled more as she got out herself. There was the hidden side to Logan. She had missed seeing him smile since the first day he'd arrived..."Ready?"

He walked over to her, looking up the structure. "This is stunning..."

"It truly is." She took his hand and led him on. "Of course, the true grandeur isn't seen until you see from the top."

"Then shall we be off?"

"We shall." She smiled, handed the tickets in, then went with him into the elevator as it ascended up.

"It's so much taller than I thought..."

"That was my impression the first time as well." She leaned against one side of the elevator, watching him.

"You've been here before?”

"Once, when I was a little girl...” Her eyes went distant, then she smiled. “I know you'll like it."

"I'm sure I will."

She smiled. "Maybe I should bring you out more often..."

"Really?”

"Yes...There are some museums around I could take you to."

"I would love that!"

She smiled. "I'm glad." She took his hand again, sighing. "I... never want to make you unhappy. You know that, right?"

"Of course, I do.” He looked at her. "You've only ever done what's best for me."

She smiled in relief. "I'm glad you recognize that...I know it’s sometimes meant curtailing your plans, but this way, there's less danger for you." She moved closer.

"Yes, and you only want me safe.”

"And happy too..." She sighed. "I, should not have lost myself as I did with the wine."

"It's alright, I assumed the wine had been part of it."

She smiled more. "Why shouldn't you be indeed...It only happened because of the wine. It won't happen when you don't want it again."

"I appreciate that, thank you." He smiled back. It really was working! They were friends again! He had no reason to feel unsafe with her anymore! She wouldn't do anything he didn't want!

The elevator dinged, and the door opened to the observatory. He held her hand as they walked out, his eyes widening once again.

The view was gorgeously stunning! The sunset was touching down on the water, staining and sky and waterfront with its colors.

He could almost not believe his eyes. "It's beautiful..."

"Yes, it is." She led him out to the observation area, next to the glass. "You can see for miles from up here."

He pressed up against it. "There's so much out there..."

She smiled, focusing her gaze on Logan. "That there is. All uniquely beautiful in their own way."

"Indeed." He looked at her. "Thank you so much..."

She smiled softly. "You're welcome, Lo..." Her eyes though held darkness.

Which he failed to notice as he continued to take in the view, holding her hand.

She smiled more. "Want to grab dinner while we're here?"

He beamed, then recomposed himself. "That would be nice."

"Alright." She led him over to the restaurant. "The food's overpriced, but the view's worth it."

"It certainly is.”

"Yes...Pick what you like from the menu. They have about any classic American food."

"What would you recommend?" He quickly skimmed through.

She hummed. "Chicken tenders are usually a safe bet...and milkshakes. I know you prefer eating healthy, but today is a day for celebrating."

"That is true... I think I'll try the pizza."

"Alright." She got out her cash and went to the window to order. He stayed at her side all the while.

A tired fast-food worker straightened up as they came. "What can I do you for?"

She smiled. "We'll want chicken tenders, a pepperoni pizza, and two chocolate milkshakes please."

"And thank you." Logan added.

The girl blinked. "Alright...” Then entered in the total at the register. “Cash or credit?"

"Credit." She took out her card and plugged it in.

"Is your evening going well?" Logan asked.

The girl blinked. "Yeah...Hasn't been too bad today..."

Sarah looked between Logan and the girl, frowning.

"No one has been rude, I hope?” Logan continued. “I heard that dealing with customers in food service in particular can be challenging."

She shrugged. "Oh, there's the occasional guy that's upset about how much food costs up here and some wise guys that try to smuggle food up here, but overall-"

"How are the orders going?" Sarah put on her most strained, polite voice.

The girl sighed, glancing back at the kitchens. "Being made as we speak."

"Good." She crossed her arms.

Logan quickly chimed in. "We appreciate it."

"Thanks." She smiled at Logan, then looked at Sarah warily. "I'll go see how they're doing." Then walked back there.

Logan turned to her. "Is something wrong?"

She forced a smile. "Nothing Lo." She squeezed his hand tighter. "Nothing."

"If you say so..."

"I do...You can go ahead and sit down. I'll pick up the order when it comes."

"If it's safe..." he looked around, then spotted a table near the glass.

"I believe so. There's no one here really but us."

"Alright then." He walked over to it and sat down.

Sarah kept watch of him from the counter as she waited.

The view was still beautiful, the stars starting to shine. Logan couldn’t help but smile. This was one of the best moments of his life. Nothing could spoil it for him. Not a thing….

A sudden bash sounded from the counter.

He turned around in alarm and got up. "Sarah?!"

Sarah was angrily hunched over the counter, one fist on it as she looked at the service lady that had stepped back.

He hurried over. "Sarah, what's wrong?"

Sarah looked over at him, then regained her composure. "Simply letting her know somethings..."

"Bitch." She placed the tray down. "You're lucky you have such a nice boyfriend, or I would throw this at you, paid for or not. I was not trying to steal him from you!"

"Boyfriend...?" Logan frowned. "I'm afraid there was a mistake, we're not dating."

She huffed. "Well she's sure acting like you are." She leaned towards him and whispered. "I can give you a number to call if you ever want to get away from the psycho."

His eyes widened slightly, and without thinking he replied, "Really?"

"Really." She went to grab something from her pocket when Sarah stepped between them.

"Come Lo, let's go eat." She kept glaring at the server.

"Oh, right." He picked up their food, looking at the girl. "My apologies..."

She shrugged. "Nothing for you to apologize for. Oh, your ketchup!" She grabbed some packets then handed them to Logan, with some sort of note in the midst of them.

"Thank you." He nodded and ushered Sarah to their table.

Sarah scowled at her the whole way. "She really did not need to be flirting with you like that..."

"Flirting? She was flirting?"

"Yes, being all friendly with you like that..."

"I initiated the conversation, and was simply asking about her day.”

"She should have kept it professional!" She finally sat, taking her chicken and milkshake off the tray.

"How was she not?" He sat across from her.

"The way she smiled at you. The way she responded to every little thing you said when she should have gotten the conversation wrapped up before that point."
He took a deep breath. "I had asked her a question-"

"She didn't need to respond!" She chowed down a bite. "...Why were you even talking to her anyway?"

"I only wanted to make conversation while we waited and from what I've researched food workers normally have to deal with rude customers so I had hoped to make her day a bit better."

She scowled. "There's a line between a bit better and being overly social...I thought you hated talking with strangers!"

He frowned. "I never am around strangers..."

"And I thought you'd appreciate that." She took a sip. "It’s the ultimate introvert's dream."

"Yes but, I am not opposed to a polite conversation.”

"That conversation was more than polite." She huffed.

"I fail to see how it was..." He took a bite of his pizza.

Her eyes narrowed. "You had a more pleasant conversation with her than you've had with me in some weeks."

"What do you mean? I've tried to talk to you and you've ignored me!"

"Only when I have my mind on other things! I focus on what you say lots of times!"

"Sarah you ignored me ever since that night!"

"You flinched anytime I came close to you!"

"That didn't mean I wanted to be ignored!"

"I thought the distance would help!"

"I can't live like that Sarah! I needed you to acknowledge that I was there!"

"I was not in the right headspace to do so!"

"To not even greet me in the morning?! Or say goodbye when you left me alone?!"

"Not when I'm fighting the urge to kiss you again!"

"But that's only when you are drunk!"

"Drink only lowers inhibitions! It doesn't create the urge!"

His face paled. "But you wouldn't... you wouldn't..."

She sighed. "I haven't so far..." She looked towards him, then sipped her milkshake.

He hung his head and continued to eat, but now he felt sick to his stomach. She still wanted to kiss him...Over a week and she still... And now she was angry, and jealous...He, was objectively in danger. His thoughts swirled as she chewed through her chicken, looking out the window.
What would happen when they got home? Maybe he could calm her down by then.... But if he couldn't...He didn't want to think about it... She had promised nothing would happen when he didn't want it to happen.

When...Not if.

Logan looked down, the pizza now completely unappetizing.

Sarah looked at his food. "Not hungry?"

He shook his head.

She sighed. "...We'll take the pizza with us to go then." She got napkins and wrapped it up.

"Alright... he grabbed the ketchup packets. The note was still within them, and she wasn't looking at him for the moment...
He slipped the packets along with the note into his pocket. Safe and sound.

She rose from her seat, offering her hand. "Ready?"

"Yes." He took it and stood up.

She then gripped it firmly and walked hastily to the elevator.

The girl at the counter looked towards Logan.

He looked back and smiled slightly before turning around.

The elevator then closed behind him, sealing the two of them together.

Sarah leaned against one wall, still glaring out.

He looked at her and sighed. The way he saw it he had only one chance to fix this, but would he really want to take that step?
He had to, what other choice did he have?

There was the paper in his pocket...Even if they couldn't help him, it might be prudent to consider that alternative more closely. What was the number even for? And how could they help? He could look it up once he got home, after she went to bed.
After he tried one more time to make things right.

The elevator doors opened. Silently, she grabbed his hand and dragged him along. He stumbled slightly before matching her pace. But she didn't even acknowledge it, just dragging him along then forcing him into the car.

He winced slightly. "Sarah..."

She slammed the door, then hurried into her side and got in, locking the car and turning it on.

"Sarah, why are you acting like this?"

"You're my Logan." She looked back, then got into the road. "No one else's."

He blinked. "Yes... You bought me... but I'm still my own being."

"I brought you to life to be my friend and companion. You're supposed to be content with me!"

"I am your friend! I do care about you!"

"Then why try to befriend someone else?!" She slammed on the brakes, snarled, then sped off.

"I-I was just making conversation! I didn't even ask her name!"

"You were being friendly with the minx!"

"What's wrong with being polite?!"

"You were overly polite!"

'How?!"

"Don't question me!"

"But if I don't ask questions, how am I supposed to learn?!"

Her hands squeezed the steering wheel. "Ask questions about literally anything else, then don't interact with anyone else!"

"I just don't understand why I can't-"

"Because you're mine!" She glared at him. "No one else has a right to you!"

He flinched, moving as far away from her as he could.

Her eyes for a moment filled with something like guilt, then she growled and again and drove on. Staying silent for the rest of the ride.

Logan hung his head. One chance...
Could he even do this?

He could try...

The car drove into the parking lot, winding up the levels. Finally, she parked, then sighed. "Get out the car. Stay by the door."

"Yes ma'am..." he got out.

She grabbed her keys then got out herself, grabbing Logan on the way as she went to unlock her door.

He followed her, keeping pace.

When she finally opened the door, she pulled him inside then pushed him on before locking the door behind them.

He stumbled slightly then straightened up. "Sarah... Please..."

She didn't look at him. "...Tonight started well, but did not end so. How can I trust you out there if this is what a controlled outing looks like?"

"I didn't do anything wrong..."

"You were too friendly with her!" She spun around. "You should just have perhaps asked about her day, heard her response, then have been done with the conversation."

"I-I'm sorry..." he stepped back.

She stared at him. "Clearly, I have been too lenient with you...I thought you would appreciate all that I have given and done for you, but I thought wrong."

"But I do. Sarah, you've done so much for me."

She huffed. "You have an interesting way to show it..." Then she stepped forward. "Go into your room."

He took another step back. "I thought we were talking about this..."

"We've talked already." The keys jangled as she took out another key, different from the front door or car key. "Clearly, you need time alone to truly appreciate what I am to you."

"What do you mean...?"

"It’s rather simple." She stepped closer, towering above him. "From now on, you shall be confined to your room at night unless I say otherwise. I'll let you out in the mornings so you can feed and do your usual chores around the apartment, but after I come home, you shall go back in there."

Logan cowered under her, shaking. "You-You can't lock me away... Sarah please..."

She grabbed his arm. "Your actions have made this necessary, Logan. Fight this, and you will find yourself in the closet."

"No! Sarah please! Just give me one chance!"

Her brow furrowed. "A chance to do what?"

"To-To show you how much I care... How much I appreciate you..."

She stilled, then her grip loosened. "Go on then..."

He forced himself to stop trembling and moved closer. "I-I was wrong... That night when you kissed me..."

Her head tilted. "Wrong?"

"I did feel something, but I had been too afraid to admit it." He cupped her face.

Her eyes widened, then she looked down on him, wildness in her sight. "You, you did?"

"I did. And, I want to make things right."

"You..." Her excitement rang. "You do?"

"Yes." He closed his eyes and kissed her on the lips.

She stayed still only a moment, before she wrapped her arms around him and returned the kiss. Surrounding him with her presence.
He'd never kissed anyone before so he wasn’t sure if he was doing it right, but she seemed happy so he continued.

She relaxed against his touch, deepening the kiss further with a firm hold around him.

Eventually though they both needed to pull back for air, both panting as Logan held her. What would she say...?

She blinked at first, as if startled, then smiled brightly. "That was wonderful, Logan."

He smiled as well. "I'm glad you're happy."

She let out a giggle. "I, I think I'm more than happy..." She grinned, then took his hand, then leaned down to kiss him again.

"Perhaps we should have a bottle of wine?" He suggested. "It might help me get in the mood for the rest of our evening."

She grinned more. "You, want to go all the way?"

"Why not? Once I've had enough to drink at least."

Her eyes gleamed. "I'll get some out." She walked swiftly to the fridge. "Put on some slow, jazzy music, would you please."

"Of course." He nodded and hurried off. Soon the music she'd requested softly filled the room.

She walked over with the bottle and both glasses, both filled with red cabernet. "Would you care to dance?"

"Absolutely." He walked over and took one of the glasses. The bottle was set on the coffee table as she held the other one, setting a hand on his shoulder as she took a sip.

He put an arm around her and the two began to sway back and forth. Her leading, taking sips periodically. He'd occasionally take a sip as well, though he spent most of the time holding her, kissing her as the song played through the player.

Stars shining bright above you
Night breezes seem to whisper, "I love you"
Birds singing in the sycamore tree
Dream a little dream of me

She kissed him back, steadily getting sloppier and sloppier as she drank. Her giggles rang out in the midst of her nibbling his neck or trying to remove his shirt. Eventually her glass, and the bottle, were nearly empty. And he let himself be dragged into her room though he had to support her a bit.

"Say 'nighty-night' and kiss me." She giggled, slurring the words as she held him.
"Just hold me tight, and tell me you'll miss me." She tried to get his shirt off again.
"While I'm alone and blue as can be" She fell onto the bed.
"Dream a little dream of..." Then she fell asleep.

He looked down at her; first brushing her hair out of her face and covering her up. Once he was certain she wouldn't wake up, he left the room. Her keys were still on the coffee table where she'd set them down. Her purse by the door.
He couldn't take her car, but he knew she had some cash in her purse. But first he went to his room, finding the small backpack she'd bought him, and began to pack only the bare minimum of what he needed to survive.

So much he'd be having to leave behind...But he couldn't risk it. At this point, his life was on the line. He'd done everything he could, but staying here would be detrimental...
From his bedroom he packed some clothes as well as the map of the city he'd printed out. Then he went to the bathroom; grabbing his toothbrush and some travel toothpaste. He wanted to bring more in order to keep himself as healthy possible but he needed room to pack a few food items as well. Once his bag was all packed, the last thing he did was write a note, leaving it folded on the table addressed to her.
Once he was finished, he took some cash from her purse, enough to at least get him out of here, then with one last look at his home he stepped out the door, never looking back.

The next morning, Sarah groaned as she held her head. "Remind me to never drink that much again, Lo..." She turned, but didn't see him there. "...Lo?" She got up, searching the apartment. "Lo?" She gripped her shirt. He wasn't in the kitchen, wasn't in his room. Wasn't in the bathroom! Where could he be?!
Her eyes finally alighted on the letter. With a frown, she went, opened it up, and read.

Dear Sarah, I'm sorry for deceiving you the way I did but I had no other choice. I don't harbor any romantic feelings towards you, and your behavior made me fear for my own safety. I had hoped I could make amends and our friendship could continue as it once did; but last night only showed me that such a thing cannot happen as long as you only view me as a thing you own. You are a brilliant woman, Sarah. Someone I am glad to have known. But I cannot remain in a place where I do not feel safe, and I do not think it is good for you either. I'm not asking you to forgive me, but I do hope that in time you will find true happiness. As for me, I'll find a way to get by. Do not worry, I've learned all I can and am confident that I will find my way in the world. Thank you for all you've done for me.
-Logan

Her eyes widened, hand shaking as she stared at the letter. He didn't...
He didn't dare!

She growled, crumbling the letter to the ground. He thought he could get away from her. He was dead wrong. She reached into her purse, dialed a number onto her phone, then waited. "Hello? Customer Service? I'm reporting a runaway."

Chapter Text

The dark night air hung ominously about him. Even the crickets’ song added a menacing air to the night. But this was his only chance. If he didn't get away, now he never would! Roman glanced ahead at the walls surrounding the property. He'd made it this far. Now to just get up and over them...
The walls themselves were twice his height, made of smooth limestone. It was nothing though. He’d climbed up the mansion before. He’d be fine.

With that in mind, he started his ascent, desperately grabbing hand holds as he went. Off in the distance, he heard the whine of dogs.

Don't panic, don't panic. He kept climbing up. He was going to make it!

His leg slid out from under him.

He gasped and clung to the edge. Not good! What was he going to do?!

Barking started to ring out.

He scrambled to regain his footing but felt himself slipping

"What is it, boys?" One of the men asked their canine charges.

"Ack!" He fell from the wall and landed on the grass

"Who's there?!"

"It came from that way!" Feet started rushing. The dogs barked as they ran, bounding straight towards him.

He got up and ran, cursing under his breath. He needed to find another way! Surely there was a place where the fence wasn't as high! The dogs were after him, the black hounds nipping at his heels.

"Ah!" One managed to bite down on his ankle, causing him to trip and the dogs to catch up and jump on him, causing him to crash onto the ground. He struggled to throw them off, trying to shield his face from them. But they only leapt back on, growling and biting at every attempt to resist.

The others caught up to them. "Good boys! Now, heel!" And the dogs jumped back, surrounding where Roman lay. He curled in on himself, unable to stop shaking as he kept his head covered. He was dead, he was so dead.

Laughter erupted from nearby as did the scent of rose perfume. Her laughter.

He slowly looked over, afraid to get up. "Rosa..."

She giggled at him, clad like a queen in pink silken raiment. "What a sight you are, princey..." She gestured, and her men grabbed his arms and lifted Roman to his knees. She then came forward, grabbing his chin. "Did you really think I'd let you get away, my love?"

"I-I wasn't trying to..."

"Oh, so you were just going for a little midnight stroll~" She chuckled more, then stood up straight, glowering down at him. "You know you aren't supposed to lie to me."

He gulped. "Rosa... I can't marry you..."

"You can, and you will." She slapped his cheek. "I did not choose my perfect husband just for you to run away!"

"But I don't love you!"

"You were supposed to! You were-!" She swallowed back, then smirked. "Why don't we test if you really don't love or want me..."

"What do you mean...?" He started shaking again.

Her smile grew. "While I still want you fresh and virginal for our wedding night, a little foretaste to get you interested wouldn't hurt~"

"No..." He shrank back. "No please... Rosa don't..."

She turned to the men. "Bring him to my chamber, boys. Get him all nice and ready~"

"No!" He started to thrash. "Let me go!"
"Do it!"

The men kept their grip on him, then started to lead Roman back to the house. Silent as the grave.

"Rosa please! ROSA!"

But she only smiled, walking with the rest of them. "You're going to enjoy this~"

The stars above blinked with their lights. Roman could only look up at them helplessly. Someone help me... please... Don’t let this be my life...

Chapter Text

Patton fidgeted at the breakfast table, the scraps for the visitor firmly in a napkin. He should check soon. Would he still be there?

He hoped he was, the poor kiddo had looked terrified last night... He just had to have had a good night at least!
He glanced over to Susie, seeing how she was with her breakfast.

She was doing a crossword which meant she'd take awhile to eat...Usually, he'd sit until she was done. But with the kiddo...
He swallowed. "Hey, Susie? Would you mind if I got back to gardening real quick?"

"What? Why?" She looked up. "It's still early."

He shifted nervously. "Because I...want to get it done before it gets hot out!"

"It's supposed to be cooler today..."

"Oh, really? Then I want to be able to enjoy it when it gets cool!"

"Patton... are you lying to me?"

He laughed uncomfortably. "Why-Why would I be...?"

She frowned. "You haven’t been yourself since last night, what are you hiding?"

"No-nothing, Susie." He pushed himself away.

"Patton..." She stood up.

He stilled, shaking. "He...He needed help..."

"Who did?"

"The-The kiddo...He's so thin!"

"There's a kid...?" Her eyes widened.

He nodded. "Ye, yeah...He'd been diving in Gower's garbage can..."

"Oh... why didn't you-"

A knock sounded at the door.

Patton looked over in alarm. Who could that be?

Susie seemed just as confused as she went to answer it
Patton followed behind her, still nervous. Surely it wasn't the kid...

Susie opened the door slightly. "Can I help you...?"

"Sorry to disturb you, ma'am," a man's voice came from outside, "We're from WISH and are currently searching for a runaway character. Our latest report says he was spotted in this neighborhood."

Patton stilled. The kiddo!

"I'm sorry, I haven't seen anyone." She frowned slightly. "I did purchase a character from you but he hasn't been missing..."

"Perhaps he's seen them, we do have his photo here."

Patton swallowed, shaking his head. "I haven't seen anyone around here, sir."

"Well, it would help if you could report this character if you saw him." The man held up the picture on a tablet. "He attacked his Wisher and ran off; he's dangerous and needs to be contained."

Patton bit down on his lips, eyes fixed on the tablet. That was the kiddo alright...

Susie frowned. "He does look dangerous..."

 

"If you see any sign of him please call this number," he handed her a card, "and do not approach him for your own safety. Someone will arrive to sedate him and bring him back to our facility."

Patton's heart froze. "What-What'll happen to him?"

"The same thing that happens to any character deemed a threat." He looked into his eyes. "They are dealt with. Quick and painless."

Susie gasped and covered her mouth.

Patton's eyes widened. "You're going to kill him?!"

"It's just procedure." He turned back to Susie. "Be sure to call, understand?"

She pursed her lips. "Of course..."

Patton turned wildly towards both of them. "But it’s not right!"

Patsy started barking...

Patton paled. "Golly...She must have gotten into the petunias again!"

The man's eyes narrowed then he started to go around.

Patton shook, running after him. "It's just Patsy! You don't need to check it out!"

Patsy's barking became more frantic, she was running around the shed!

Patton's eyes widened. "Patsy, get away from there!"

The man put a hand on a gun of some kind as he approached, Patsy still barking.

Patton stilled, then ran between the man and the door. "Hey! This is private property, mister!”

"Get out of the way Patton..." Susie stood on the back porch. "Let him look..."

Patton's eyes widened. "But, but Susie-"

"Now."

He shook, then hung his head and walked away.

"Thank you, ma'am." He pulled out the gun before swinging the door open, aiming inside.

Only for a black cat to run out, screeching as Patsy chased it through the yard.

Patton let out a quiet sigh of relief. "That...darn cat...Don't know how he manages to get in here."

"Oh dear... Patsy come back!" Susie called.

She stopped near the road, barking until the cat disappeared across and into the trees. She then trotted over to Patton, tail wagging, fully proud to have chased off the intruder.

Patton sighed then crouched down and looked at her. "You really need to start being nicer, Patsy."

Patsy just barked, completely unapologetic.

"The poor thing..." Susie grasped her necklace. "Probably just looking for scraps..."

The man sighed and put his gun away. "My apologies."

Patton didn't dare look at him, giving in and petting Patsy.

"I'll be on my way then." He walked back to the front without another word.

Patton stayed there petting her until he was out of sight, then collapsed to the ground, taking deep, panting breaths.

Patsy whined and licked his face.

Patton shook, half laughing, half sobbing. "Thank, Thanks Pat..."

He felt Susie's hand on his shoulder. "Patton... Let's go inside..."

He froze. "...You would have let him die..."

"Patton, I was scared... He could have hurt you if you'd fought back..."

"So what?!" He turned, pushing her hand from his shoulder. "He was going to kill him!"

"And he could have killed you too!"

"He's after the kiddo!" He shook more, tears falling. "He's...You should have seen him Susie, last night. He, he was so scared..."

She looked at him and hung her head. "You're sure it was the same person as the runaway?"

He sadly nodded. "Would recognize the sweater and face anywhere..."

She sighed. "His name is Virgil..."

He looked back up at her. "You know him?"

"You didn't recognize him?"

He frowned. "He looks like me...Should I?"

She offered a hand. "I'll show you."

He swallowed, then took her hand and stood up. "Alright."

She led him inside after sending Patsy home. Bringing him to her computer.

Patton tilted his head. "We're going to watch something?"

She didn't answer as she pulled up YouTube and typed in the search bar.

"Sanders...?” Patton read out what she typed. “That's my last name!”

She nodded and played the first video before standing up. "Go ahead and watch..."

"Okay..." He sat down in front, looking at the screen then glancing at her. "You're not watching with me?"

"I have some things to do..."

He swallowed. "Alright..." Then he focused back on the show, chuckling at how funny Thomas was. Then his eyes widened. "There's me!"

"Yes..." She started upstairs

His eyes were now firmly fixed. This was his show...He'd wondered where he'd come from, but she'd never answered.

Why had she never shown him this before...? It was really wholesome, and funny! Why hide this?...Well, she was allowing him to watch it now. He could go ahead and see the whole thing! And so, when one episode finished, he went on to the next.

There were other characters too! Logic and Creativity! And Thomas...Oh Thomas was precious! Then came the episode with Anxiety... He looked like Virgil, but the jacket was different
He tilted his head. Was this Virgil? With a job like being Anxiety, no wonder he was so scared...He was kinda mean though...in series… But surely someone shouldn't die just because they're a little mean, right? He kept going through the episodes, heart breaking any time anyone within them was sad. But everything always seemed to turn out okay. And eventually he learned the other's names! Logic was Logan and Creativity was Roman! All such fantastic names! Then Anxiety tried to duck out and they all had to help him get back. Then he revealed his name was Virgil...And they all started to get along together!

He also noticed was how close his character counterpart was to Virgil... He, viewed him as his son...His kiddo... He had had an immediate reaction to seeing Virgil in the flesh. Though Virgil was also just so scared… Had that meant something? Were they connected?

Virgil hadn't immediately trusted him though...
Maybe more would show why he didn't trust him.

Soon their outfits changed, and another Side appeared! Deceit, disguised as him! So mean and slimy...but also funny. He was good at puns at least. He had to appreciate the puns. But why would he think that messenger falcons instead of storks brought babies to people? Everyone knew it was storks! Though, apparently now, you could just wish people into existence.

He frowned. Did that mean parents then now could just wish babies into existence? ...Would WISH then be able to kill those kids if they weren't good? If they were allowed to kill Virgil...
He shook, then went to the next episode. Eventually the one with the puppets came up. Everyone was so cute, though Roman and Virgil’s puppets especially! He felt sorry for Logan though...He wasn't the bad guy here. He just didn't understand. Wasn’t happy with the fact that Thomas had found happiness in a career that wasn’t taken seriously, meaning that he wasn’t taken seriously…

Maybe he could help him, if he ever met him. If he'd been brought to life.
Well, if he and Virgil had been brought to life...

He kept watching. Saddened as him and Virgil didn't seem to be getting along anymore...And that was horrible. Virgil needed his comfort!
There were only a few episodes left... Maybe it gets better!

"Almost done?" Susie walked back in.

He stilled. "I...I have some more episodes...I'm within the courtroom now!"

"That'll be a good place to stop..."

He frowned. "But, why?"

"Because I need to know what you're going to do." She walked over and turned off the computer.

He swallowed, biting back the urge to argue. "What, I'm going to do?"

"I was going to buy you both... originally..." She sighed. "You were best friends. I didn't want to get one without the other. But I just couldn't afford it..."

He swallowed. "Oh..." He was supposed to have someone around then. Someone to play with, talk with, do chores with so Susie didn’t have to…

She crossed her arms. "So... what are you going to do?"

He blinked. "Do...?"

"He's out there on his own..."

He frowned. "...Could I bring him here?"

"He wouldn't be safe... They'd come for him..."

"But I wouldn't know where else to go..." He swallowed. "I...I want to stay...But I also don't want him killed..."

"If you both go... You could both be killed..."

He looked at her. "Would you tell them that I was a runaway?"

"Well, what choice would I have? All runaways have to be reported..."

"But, if you let me go...Then I'm not a runaway."

"That isn't possible." Her brow tensed.

"Isn't it?" He tried to meet her eyes.

She wouldn’t look at him. "Characters can't be let go. You're not people."

He swallowed. "You, don't consider me a person...?"

"How can you be?” She forced herself to look at him. “Patton, you were made in a factory..."

"But..." He blinked. "Then, what am I?"

"You're my Patton..." She cupped his face in her hands. "Mine to love, to take care of."

He shook. "…How can you love something fake?"

She lovingly sighed. "You're not fake..."

"But if I'm not fake, then why do I feel like a person?" He swallowed. "I'm basically just a robot, aren't I? A moving Alexa?"

"No, Patton... but you weren't born. You were made. You're a copy..."

He blinked more, turning away from her. "Then, I should accept that..." He stood up and started out the room, hanging his head.

"Patton... I only want what's best for you... You won't make it out there."

"...I wasn't going out, Wisher." He looked up to her, eyes now hollow. "I was going to wash the dishes."

Susie blinked, then nodded her head. "Okay, Patton."

He nodded back, then headed to the dining room, steps slow and lifeless.

She sighed and went to tidy up herself. He would stay here, he'd be safe. Why then did everything seem wrong...?
It'd be fine. In time everything would be fine...They...They had to be...
Everything would be fine...

Chapter Text

Everything was absolutely not fine! Janus growled lowly. He was near the end of his rope with this woman and her little "hobby"
And no, that wasn't supposed to be a pun!

If he had to undergo one more 'intricate, artistic rope hold', he was going to bite her head off. This 'Japanese Shibari' thing was the last straw! Especially as she managed to make him spin in this one while hanging from rope bindings on his chest so his back faced the floor, hands tied in his back with his elbows in the palms of his hands. All while he still had to pretend to struggle just so he wouldn't freeze each night! There was only so much more of this he could take before he snapped.

The cameras snapped one more. "Think that's enough for now." She got up to him. "You've been doing marvelous work lately."

"I think I'm going to be sick..." He fought the urge to hurl.

She chuckled. "A good walk will make you feel much better." She helped him down to the ground, hand resting on his bare flesh.

He flinched away. "And will I get my clothes back...?"

She smirked. "Well they have to be cleaned first."

"What's wrong with them?"

She huffed. "Do you know how long you've been wearing those? Frankly, you really could stand to have a bath yourself."

"I'm fine..."

She sighed, helping him to walk now. "You would find yourself feeling much better~"

"And do I get to bathe myself?" He asked half-curiously.

She hummed. "I might be persuaded..."

He groaned. "What is it this time?"

She smirked. "A kiss from you.”

"A what?!" He hissed in disgust. "Never."

She chuckled. "Didn't really think so..." She hummed more. "...Choose one of these outfits to wear afterwards."

"I want mine."

She shook her head. "Has to be one of these...Else I'll take charge of bathing you."

He huffed and looked at the outfits. They couldn't be that bad.
There was...Oh geez. Some horrid ballet thing, some sort of dog and cat outfits though with horrid looking mittens, some sort of, half snake outfit that would encompass his legs? Obviously 'sexy' outfits in the forms of several service workers, a long black dress with sun bonnet...That one actually looked like it would cover him up modestly...

"I'll wear that one." He pointed to it

She tilted her head. "Very well then." She grabbed the outfit, along with heeled shoes. Then she had the sunbonnet tilted over his eyes then led him on. "There are no windows in the bathroom, so don't suppose you can escape that way. I'll be outside the door the entire time you're in there. If you try anything..."

He hung his head. "I won't..."

"Good..." A door opened, then he was pushed inside, the sun bonnet taken off his head and hung on above the rest of his future outfit. "Hold still then." She worked to undo the rope.

He sighed and let her, briefly contemplating knocking her out and running once he was free. Unfortunately, he wouldn't be certain he could knock her out in one go. Also, he wouldn't know the lay of the house, and he'd be having to go outside as he was...

The rope came away from him. Evelyn stood up. "Bathtub's over there. Don't take too long..."

He tiredly sighed. "Am I on a limit now?"

"Not a firm one...But I will notice if you're only stalling." She bundled the rope. "Dress up then knock at the door after you're done and stand there. Am I clear?"

"Crystal..." he turned on the water and waited for her to leave.

Which she did soon after, locking the door on her way out.

He sighed and got in. He wasn't sure how much more of this he could take... But at least a bath should help...He had some control of what was going on. Unless she decided to barge in...No... When she left him alone, she left him alone...The possibility was still there, but it wouldn't hold to her pattern.

The bath filled up nicely, quickly becoming the right temperature. He sighed and sank into the water, letting it fill his ears. He just needed silence. A chance to think without anything else happening.
Without considering how she'd likely handcuff him somewhere when it came time for her to bathe him...

He shuddered at the thought.

He had flinched... he'd flinched when she'd touched him. She'd just been keeping him upright yet he'd flinched. He could say that it was just because it was sudden, and that'd been a reminder that he wasn't wearing his clothes... But that would be partially lying, and lying to himself could be dangerous.
Was he finally starting to Crack? Was she breaking him? He hadn't seriously tried an escape for some time...

But he'd needed to get his bearings. Know how she operated and what blind spots there were. Catch her off-guard. Yet she never seemed to be...
The most she ever relaxed around him was when they were watching something together. And he was still tied up those times while she was always holding him...Touching him. Half waiting for the day she'd go further...

He shuddered at the thought
It was clear she had more in mind to do with him though. Stuff involved with those other outfits and implements around the room at the very least.
But why? What did she have to gain from this? Revenue from her works was clearly only part of why she did this. She enjoyed what she did, so maybe it was mostly boredom and the ability to control someone she got from this.
Or...perhaps an ironically twisted way for her to express her own loneliness?
No wonder she didn't have friends. She only felt safe enough to express any of who she was like this, with him completely under her control and unable to fight back.

He wasn't completely under her control yet... But maybe he might as well be. It could be easier... To not fight back? To let her just do whatever she wanted? Just not think about it. Can't be in a losing battle if you stop fighting. Maybe he could even get use to all this. Maybe she'd treat him better... It was the pattern that held so far...

One voice in his head screamed that he couldn't just give in. He'd lose himself.
But what exactly was he losing? Since the moment he came into existence he'd been her plaything. He still didn't know anything about who or what he was based off. All he really had was his snark and an overwhelming urge to protect himself. Even if it meant surrendering...

He should actually clean himself before the water cooled down. He sighed and sat up in the water. He knew what he had to do, but he was afraid...
This would be, major. He couldn't step back from this. Once he took this step, he would be changed. And she will have won. Even if anything happened next that he really didn't want, he'd have no way to refuse her. But he didn't really have a choice now. Maybe it would be better if he just, stopped fighting...Gave up the lie that he had a choice in the matter. The truth had always been, he never had a choice.

The soap and washcloth were right at his elbow, along with shampoo and conditioner. He grabbed it and absently began to wash. He'd deluded himself into thinking he'd ever had a choice... Fighting for some scrap of an idea that what he wanted mattered. It was never the case. He'd been made for his Wisher, designed for her every whim. It was about time he started fulfilling his purpose... He was now cleaned and rinsed, the water cooling beneath him. He started to drain the water and got out, grabbing his towel and drying off. He then moved to put on the outfit...

He found that there seemed to be some sort of, small false boob thing to put on underneath... He sighed and dropped that in the trash. He wasn't that far gone yet. He put on the hat and knocked on the door; then stood perfectly still.

She unlocked the door and came in. "My, you really do dress quick." Looking over him with her eyes.

He didn't say anything, keeping his hands clasped together in front of him.

She tilted her head. "You didn't put on the boobs..."

"Was it really necessary...?" He asked quietly.

She frowned. "...It helps you actually look like a lady."

"Why do you want me to look like one?" His tone held no aggression or sass like usual, it sounded like he was genuinely asking, but already resigned...

Causing her to frown more. "You chose the dress. With that, you choose for your next shots to be a female version of you. A Janice as opposed to a Janus."

"If that's what you want... I threw them away..."

She blinked. "Get them out of there then and put them on."

"Yes ma'am..." he got them out and started to put them on.
What was happening here? Why was he obeying?
This...This had to be some prank of his, right? He couldn't really be...

She stood frozen.

"I'm finished." He turned around. "Is this better?"

She blinked. "...You're not going to make any quip?"

"Why should I? It won't make a difference."

"It’s part of who you are though." She swallowed. "You're supposed to cling to that with all the strength you can muster."

"I'm doing what will best benefit myself, and in this case, its appeasing the one who is in control."

"But it's not you!"

"I don't even know who I am."

She swallowed. "Then I'll just have to show you. Turn around, hands behind your back."

He did as instructed, way too compliant. "I don't understand, isn't this what you wanted?"

"Not like this." She bound his wrists, then grabbed his arm and dragged him out. "Not like this."

He frowned. "Then what did you want?"

She stilled, then continued down the hall, bring him back to the living room. There she set them both on the couch then brought up YouTube and started to search.

He blinked. "Are you finally showing me where I'm from?"

"What do you think, Janice." She selected the Can Lying be Good episode and started it up.

He frowned. "This is it?"

"This is your first episode." She wrapped an arm around him.

"This seems far too lighthearted for the character you described..."

"On the surface, but then there’s behind the scenes. Why does Virgil distrust and loathe you so much?"

"Who?"

She rolled her eyes. "You saw the credits. The guy with the purple sweater."

"But he means nothing to me. I don't know him."

"Your character did." Her hand started rubbing his scalp under the hat.

He flinched slightly. No use moving away when he needed to get accustomed to it. "But I'm not him..."

"But you are...An exact copy of him." She continued her head massage.

"But I... I'm not..." He relaxed into her touch.

She smiled, continuing. "You have his same face. Same body. Same personality...Only difference is that he is with Thomas, and you are mine."

"Thomas..." he stared at him on the screen. "Seems... nice..." Nicer than her. Too bad he couldn't go live with him..

"He does..." She glanced at him. "Far too nice for you."
"But... I'm trying to help... I just want to help..."

She tilted her head. "Help...?"

"I need to help him... that's what I'm trying to do, right?"

"...Did he really need your kind of 'help'?"

"My kind...?'

She gently sighed. "Manipulating him and the others until he gives up all morals..."

"But... that isn't..." he stared at himself on the screen. "It's not... me..."

"You certain...?"

"It can't be..."

She smirked. "Live in denial if you want." She continued her massage. "Just like you're probably denying enjoying this..."

"I'm not..." He slumped against her.

She smirked. "You enjoy this then...My touch in your hair. The outfit you're wearing. Hands tied behind your back."

"I... don't..."

"You don't enjoy this?" She gave another satisfying head massage.

"Mmm..." He shut his eyes.

She chuckled. "Looks like you are. You're enjoying being mine."

"Not yours...” He mumbled out.

She smiled. "Your mouth says no..." She did another massage. "The rest of you screams yes, my little slave~"

"Slave..." His eyes opened, dull and glazed over.

She smirked. "Yes, slave." She scooped him into her arms, then stood up, still massaging his head. "You'll feel even better once in my room..."

"Your room...?" He stared up at her, confused. "I thought you didn't want me like this..."

She just smiled more, rubbing his head more. "I needed to wait until you were ready, dearie. Until you would actually enjoy it..."

"What are you going to do...?"

She smirked. "Nothing too fast tonight." She started to walk. "Not unless you beg me too~"

"Beg...?" His limbs trembled.

"Shh." She rubbed his head more. "Shh. Everything will be alright, pet. Nothing will happen you can't handle."

The trembles began to cease. His head rested against her chest. "Promise...?"

She smiled more. "I promise. Have I ever lied to you~?"

He tiredly frowned. "No...”

She nodded. "Then you know you can trust me. Nothing that you can't handle tonight, my pet." She opened a door, then carried him into her bedroom. "Nothing at all~"

Chapter Text

The banquet hall of the mansion was certainly impressive. A massive chandelier hanging from a painted cloudy sky. Gold-framed mirrors hanging on the emerald green walls with wood paneling, interspersed with renaissance and romantic style artwork of medieval figures and settings. The banquet tables set with the finest sterling silver tableware and Bellec porcelain plates, grand vases containing red roses and white lilies of the valley set in between. And here he was, waiting for the guests to arrive. There really was nothing more for him and the other servers to do until this rehearsal dinner started.

Logan adjusted his tie for what must have been the hundredth time that night then took in a deep breath.

Just relax... You're fine... It's just another job... A job where he would need to remain inconspicuous among over a hundred people while also doing his work efficiently and without incident, but just another job. The main issue was keeping this new form up... He was still getting the hang of this shape shifting business. But he'd managed before, and he would manage tonight. Then head to the motel for a good night's rest.

The sound of cars became heard as they drove through the gravel outside. That would be the guests, plus the bride and groom... He needed to be prepared. The platter of champagne glasses was already ready. He would just need to serve them. He straightened his back and went to work. Being polite but taking care not to be too friendly as the guests arrived through the door.

None of the silk or Milan wool wearing attendees even paid him a second glance, merely gossiping among themselves within their groups.

"You do wonder why she couldn't marry someone real." He overheard one voice remark. "With her fortune, she could have her pick of any man alive."

"I mean, if you can afford to have the perfect man custom made for you, why not do it?" A woman replied.

Logan frowned slightly. Custom made?

The other scowled. "It’s the principle of the thing. WISH products are supposed to be playthings on the side, not the main attraction."

"Oh she's young, let her have her fun."

"He'll at least be easy to throw away when she gets bored."
Another man grabbed a glass from Logan's platter while he could only stand there in silence.

Suddenly, there was a blare of trumpets. "Here come the bride and groom!" Logan looked over. The bride was marrying a character then. Who was it?

Through the entry way, the two came side by side, arms around each other. The bride wearing a classic white princess like dress with pearl beads. The groom...wearing a white and red princely outfit, holding himself with all the regality of nobility, brown eyes glittering under his chest hair, all in a very familiar face.

Logan froze, nearly dropping his tray. It couldn't be, but it was...

Roman Creativity Sanders...The very gay prince of creativity walking through the room as guests parted for the two of them, a seemingly bright smile on his face.

Get a hold of yourself... Logan gulped. He looks fine, just because you had an unfortunate experience doesn't mean his is the same.

...Could he be so certain though? He could only appear fine...He wouldn't know until he observed him more and the best way to observe was to make his way closer. No one paid no mind to a server thankfully, as long as he still had glasses or was a convenient place to set them down again.

The two of them kept making their way through the crowd, thanking everyone who came...All people that had come for her, not for Roman...

Roman himself kept smiling, but the closer Logan got, the more brittle it seemed. Then tenser the shoulders. Like how Logan would find himself when he was with Sarah...

He tried to break apart once, but she dug her nails into him and forced him back. "Where are you going, dearie?"

He swallowed. "Just to...to the restroom. I'd be right back out."

She shook her head. "You'll stay right by my side until everyone leaves..."

Roman wilted. "Yes, Rosa."

Logan frowned. This wasn't right... He needed help! But if he interfered, he could be discovered, and if WISH got involved or this Rosa decided she wanted another Side... He shuddered at the thought. Part of him just wanted to ignore it, but the other part of him saw how scared Roman looked. That same fear that had been in his own eyes with Sarah...

Could he truly abandon Roman to this fate? To be married to such a woman? She looked like she'd be even worse than Sarah. And more dangerous if they did escape. She'd have the resources to hunt Roman down...And everything that could make Roman's life a living hell if he stayed. Sarah at least somewhat cared about what he wanted. This Rosa clearly didn't. He needed to get him away before the wedding tomorrow, but how?

He still had some champagne in the glasses... Please don't let this cost him his job tonight...He started making his way over, headed for Roman.

Rosa reached her hand out for a drink absentmindedly, giggling with her friends while Roman smiled politely.

Logan suddenly ‘tripped’ which resulted in the drinks spilling all over the couple, primarily Roman. "Oh! I'm so sorry!"

"My dress!" Rosa screeched, letting go of Roman. "You ruined my dress!"

"I'm so sorry ma'am!" He watched as several women gathered to help her get it cleaned, separating Roman from her which allowed Logan to gently grab his arm. "I'll help him get cleaned up, don't worry." He swiftly led him to one of the bathrooms. Luckily most of the guests here were more worried about the bride and paid no attention to them.

They were quickly rushed into the bathroom, Roman holding himself was especially stiff...

"I think we're safe to talk in here." He looked him over. "Roman, right?"

Roman backed away. "Yes...But who are you?"

"My apologies..." He shut his eyes and shifted his appearance back to normal. "My name is Logan. Or Logan Logic Sanders if you want to be formal."

He shook, tilting his head. "Logan?"

"From Sanders Sides, just as you are."

He blinked, then rushed forward and hugged him close. "Oh Logan!"

He stiffened slightly. Hadn't been expecting that. "Um, I couldn't help but notice... You didn't seem very comfortable out there."

"That's an understatement..." He pulled back, pursing his lips.

"...Are you going to bring me away? I, I won't be trouble."

"That is my plan, we should be able to escape easily enough. But first, do you know how to shapeshift?"

He blinked. "Wait? We can shapeshift?"

"Yes, it was one of our abilities in the show and I was able to teach myself. I should be able to teach you as well."

He nodded. "Let's do it."

"Alright, for me it helped to have a reference..." Logan shifted into his form from earlier. "See if you can copy my appearance."
He beamed. "Alright then." And he focused, trying hard to copy him, imagining himself as flexible as rubber.

"Just remember to relax, picture it your mind as clear as you can."

"Relax..." He closed his eyes, and his form shifted.

Logan nodded in approval. "It isn't an exact match, but you no longer look like Roman."

He though frowned. "...If you say it’s good enough. What now?"

"Now, your clothes. They'll need to change as well. Although I've found shifting your clothes and other objects to be more difficult, and this is only your first time shifting..."

"I can summon some!" He grinned.

"Summon?"

"Yeah!" He snapped his fingers and there was now a dark blue suit in his hands, nearly identical to the ones of the guests outside.

Logan blinked. "I can't do that..."

He shrugged. "I am the Creative Side." He handed the suit to Logan. "The only limits they imposed on my summoning were no dragon witches and no puppies."

Logan frowned. "Why not puppies? Those are relatively harmless."

He shrugged. "The reasons she said they gave her was that if I was allowed to summon anything living, then I could loophole my way into getting around the restraint. Along with something about there already being enough puppies in the world."

"That's odd…”

"It doesn't affect me too much, even though both were powers of mine on the show...More of a miff than anything."

"Well, at least you could summon this. You'll take my place as a server while I switch to a guest. We can meet outside once my shift ends."

"Very well." He studied Logan's server outfit carefully. "I could easily snap it on."

"Could you?"

"Certainly." He snapped his fingers.

Logan blinked. "Impressive, I'll need to change then.”

"Right." Roman fixed his attire in the mirror. "Tips for how to act?"

"Don't draw attention to yourself. You're a server and seen as lower than the guests here. Just serve drinks and stay quiet. Once the ceremony is meant to start, you'll go back with the others to collect your check. I'll slip out and meet you outside. Also, your "name" is Roland."

He nodded. "Got it. Roland the server." Then he straightened himself up, holding the tray in one hand.

"Good, now if you'd allow me to change."

"Oh!" He paled. "Of course." Then rushed out the bathroom
Odd fellow...

Logan changed into the new outfit, hiding his sever one in the bathroom. He changed his appearance once again and sighed. If Roman was discovered he'd be forced to marry that woman, and he'd be turned into WISH...
He had changed his form significantly. However, if he could make it seem like he was Roman instead...
...That would be a last resort though. If she asked where he was.

He sighed. No use standing around, dwelling on maybes. Simply get out there, and seem like a guest that needed to head outside for a spell. He took a deep breath and headed out.
The party was still in full swing, guests mingling. He could spot Roman going around at the corner of his eye. Keeping his head low, even if his overall manner seemed just slightly too, extra still.

Alright, but where was Rosa? She'd be looking for "Roland" to ask where Roman was. Fortunately though, she wasn't back yet. Likely still figuring out what she would be wearing instead of her dress. Which would give them time to slip away. He checked on Roman one last time them headed towards the exit.

Natural gaps in the congregated guests proved an easy method of escape, though the words were harder to avoid.

"He really is handsome..."

"Might get one for myself."

Just block it out... Logan picked up the pace. He was nearly to the front door...

"Wouldn't let it out of my sight if I was her."

He stiffened slightly.

"Surely you'd want privacy."

The man shrugged. "What could be more private than have things just be you and your toy?"

Logan shuddered and kept walking. Almost there...The door was open in front of him.

One of the security men glanced at him. "Out for a stroll, sir?"
"Just needed to catch my breath."

He nodded. "Hurry back."

"I will, just don't do well in crowds." He walked off.

The guard smiled. "I understand."

Somehow, Logan could not believe he really could…He walked on out into the night, going around the gardens. Inside, he could hear the guests called to the dining room. That should mean that Roman would be on his way out. Just needed to meet him in the back. He made his way over, back where the servers were told to park their cars.

Roman then came rushing out, check in hand.

"Roman?"

He nodded. "That, was intense." He handed him the check. "Here's your money."

"Thank you. Let's get out of here..."

"Yes, let's." He looked around. "The guards are focused around the house today. We shouldn't have much trouble through the gate."

"Yes, stay close to me..."

"Alright." He followed right at his heel.

He kept an eye out, looking for his car.

Roman's eyes suddenly widened. "What's that rattrap?!"

"The only vehicle I could afford with cash... and where the seller didn't care who he sold it to..."

"Oh..." He tilted his head. "Does it run?"

"As long as you don't go too fast..." He got out his key and struggled to jam it into the lock.

He got into the passenger seat. "...Should you change clothes then?"

"I will at the motel." He shifted back to normal.

"...Alright." He buckled the seatbelt. "...You know how to drive?"

"…I can get us from location to the next." Then he started on his way.

"That's good..." He swallowed, glancing about. No one was here, they'd be okay...

He looked around the car, doing his way to not wrinkle his nose. Surely, he could at least repair this wreck. He was Creativity, after all. And it would be some way to repay Logan for all this.
He furrowed his brow in thought, then glanced over at Logan. He was focused on driving, not even looking at him. What would he want from him? He knew he owed him for tonight. Maybe he'd tell him... Rosa had after some time.

When they got far enough from the manor, Logan was able to finally relax... He'd gotten Roman out of there, he was safe. But now came the question of what to do now? There was more of a chance of discovery with the two of them together. She'd know right away that he was gone, she'd be looking for him. It was like he'd just painted a big red target on his back.
She'd know only about Roman though. Not about him. He could just leave Roman on his own.

But...would Roman know how to survive on his own?
Logan had been able to do research and learn how to survive, had he? But he was also Logic, with a drive to learn. Roman not only wouldn't have that, but he would also have WISH and Rosa after him.

If WISH found Roman, they'd find him too. And he'd be sent back to Sarah... But he'd kept from WISH. He could help Roman to not to as well. If Roman was willing…

He glanced at him. "Is there anywhere you're wanting to go?"

Roman frowned. "...I had not thought that far ahead."

"You just wanted to escape?"

"Precisely. Would not be good to have a plan for afterwards if the escape itself didn't succeed."

"I was in a similar situation when I left."

He glanced over. "You also had to escape then."

"I believe I was in a similar situation, my Wisher brought me to life to be her romantic partner, but I did not return her feelings."

"Same here." He crossed his arms. "Gave me three months to think that we were friends before she revealed that she was looking for a wedding."

"Mine kept it hidden for awhile..."

"So basically the same boat. How'd you manage to escape?"

"I snuck out during the night." Logan gripped the steering wheel.

Roman pursed his lips. "I tried to sneak out during the night too..." Then he slumped back. "Didn't work out."

"Well, at least you are free now. Though it isn't the most glamorous life."

"If I wanted glamor, I would have stayed and been her husband." He shivered. "I don't know how I could have lived like that."

"Well, I can teach you how to live on your own. Get a job and support yourself while staying off of WISH's radar."

He looked at him. "You would?"

"It wouldn't be right to leave you on your own with no knowledge."

"I... I could likely figure things out on my own..." He puffed up, then swallowed. "But I would appreciate the help, thank you."

"Of course. I believe the phrase is "Birds of a feather must stick together" or something of that nature." He looked at him. "We are two characters from the same show, both brought to life for less than desirable reasons, why shouldn't we help each other?"

Roman grinned. "Why shouldn't we indeed." He offered his hand. "Partners in crime then."

"I suppose some would consider us running away a crime..."

"Very unjustly." He raised his hand. "We're a bit like Robin Hood and his men then. Protesting against oppression!"

"I suppose... except it’s our own oppression..."

"True..." He laid the hand back down, sighing. "...What's our next course of action?"

"I'll be returning to my motel, then we'll be off again."

"Oh, of course." He rested against the car seat. "...You don't just sleep in the car then?"

"If I'm lucky."

He looked around. "...Maybe I could make it more sleepable."

"No, it's alright. You need your rest "

"...Later then, when we're on our way to...wherever we're going next."

"Depends on where I can get a job..."

"Oh, of course...Would I be getting a job as well?"

"If you wished. I understand though that you might need time."

He frowned. "I can pull my own weight."

"I'm sure you can. All I'm saying is you just escaped an unpleasant situation."

"Was rescued from an unpleasant situation...I can work on improving the car while you work!"

"The car?"

"Yes." He patted the door. "Make it cozier. Perhaps get it a good paint job. Definitely could change or shift the seats though."
"If you wish to take on such a task..."

He nodded. "You won't even know the car when I'm done."
"Don't overextend yourself though."

He laughed. "I'm Creativity. I have no limits."

"Are you sure?"

He wavered. "...Other than the ones that I know WISH set on me...So we can't just have our own army to go after them."

"Unfortunately...”

"Yes, quite." He sighed. "...I'm still worth having around."

"Was that ever in question?"

He tilted his head. "Isn't it? I've seen enough movies with her to know that the rich idiot that's lived in the castle all his life is generally a hindrance within any other circumstance."

"But you are not rich, nor did you live in a castle."

He huffed. "Not a literal castle. But I can get that I've been basically the pampered pet of a woman with a huge mansion and more money than she really knows what to do with." He pushed back his head. "I will seek though to not make my past a liability."

"I lived almost similarly..."

"But you're also Logan, and have had time to adjust to this before me..." He sighed, then pasted on a smile. "I will not let you down though."

"What does my name being Logan have to do with anything?" He frowned.

"Not the name. It’s the...The basic title that goes along with it. Logan Sanders, the one brain cell of the Sides."

"I never got that impression..."

He looked at him. "You watched the show, right?"

"Yes..."

He sighed, now looking weary. "And we likely would need to not lie to each other if this is going to work."

"No..."

"Therefore, we don't need to step around the fact that the Prince Roman of the show was mostly an idiot. An utter buffoon. The comic relief!"

"What?" He turned to him. "Did we watch the same show?"

He sighed. "There's only one show..."

"I didn't see you as an idiot. If anything," he focused on the road again, "you were sad."

He looked at him. "I constantly made fun of and criticized you to bolster my own ego. Doing it to Patton and Virgil to lesser degrees."

"You were also insecure and often made fun of us to hide your own shortcomings. You didn't know how to express how you truly felt."

"It did not make my put downs any better, and made every time I failed a good joke for the watcher."

"I believe you were simply growing. Though there still isn't a conclusion to the series... and it's been awhile since there was an episode..." Logan glanced at him. "It seems our stories are still being told. They're just, paused."

"True..." He glanced over. "At, rather a cliffhanger...Does he not know how to continue our story?"

"Perhaps he doesn't..."

He huffed, looking away. "Maybe he just needs someone to take Joan's place. Rosa always talked about Joan leaving as being what likely was causing the pause."

"Sarah told me it was making the videos longer and adding more to the production..." Logan sighed. "Maybe he, no longer cares... Seems he already told a good story with that Virgil character…"

"But that would leave our stories in the lurch!" He slammed his hand down on the dashboard. "And that of the last Side. The one we all know is coming but don't know the name of!"

"If there is one..."

"Of course, there's one! All the clues are there."

"I meant if the series is ever continued"

"Oh...Well, he's still planning to continue it, clearly..." He held himself. "His voice work may be getting him busy as well...Then of course, the Covid Pandemic of 2020 did not help things."

"Not all... Still, one can get burned out."

"That one can..." He sighed. "Still...He's promised he's continuing. That he wants to get to the end...Joan might kick him if he wastes all their hard work."

"And we'll never know how our stories end..."

"Then we might kick him ourselves to make him finish them!"
Logan’s face turned more pensive. "Right..."

"...I did not mean that literally." He nervously chuckled. "There's, no way we could actually get away with that."

"Would he even want us to exist?"

He winced. "...You may have a point there."

"Maybe he wouldn't like us..."

He shivered. "Perhaps...What gay man would want to acknowledge a character that was nearly made straight?"

Logan jerked, causing the car to swerve.

Roman gripped the car. "Woah!"

Logan managed to gain control again. "I-I’m sorry...”

He took a deep breath. "Some, pot hole there..."

He bit his lip and kept driving. The two kept up their awkward silence until he finally reached the motel.

Roman wrinkled his nose. "This is where we're staying?"

"Just for tonight..." he shifted again and got out. "Coming?"

"Oh... He shifted to some blonde haired, rocker-looking dude. That was common at this type of establishment, right?

"Coming!" then jumped out as well.

Logan grabbed his bag from the back seat and led him towards the building. "I already have a room so you'll just stay with me."

"Very well." He followed behind him. "...Should we have some act for the man at the desk?"

"He's probably asleep...They don't get a lot of business out here." He held the door open for him.

"I wonder why." He muttered as he entered. Sure enough, the guy at the front was half asleep, not even noticing the two as they walked past Roman still felt awkward though as he followed Logan. What did he think of them? Did he think they were brothers? Friends? Lovers...?

"Here..." Logan unlocked his door and opened it. "Make yourself at home."

"Why thank you-" He stopped, eyes fixed on the bed. The single bed.

"Is everything okay?" He shut and locked the door behind him.

He swallowed, skin paling. "It’s...perfectly alright..."

"Alright..." he shifted back to normal. "I have to work on some things, so you can go ahead and take the bed as I'll be up longer.

Roman blinked, shifting back himself. "My dear rescuer. You have clearly had a long day...I'll take guard on the floor while you have the bed."

"A guard won't be necessary.” Logan got himself set up for his late-night work. “And as I said, I'll be up late. You've had a trying day. Go ahead and take it."

"No, you...you take it." He backed away further from the bed. "One never knows if we were followed."

Logan looked back at him, frowning. “Are you afraid that something will happen if you take the bed?”

"Of course not!" Roman replied too quickly, backed up now against a wall. "I simply... I... Why would I be scared of a single bed?"

"I can imagine..."

Immediately, he stilled, eyes fixed on Logan.

He looked down and walked into the bathroom. "I'm going to shower and brush my teeth... I'm sorry I don't have a toothbrush for you"

He gulped. "Never fear!" Then he snapped his fingers. "I can make my own toothbrush."

"Oh, in that case I'll be out in a moment..." he went in and shut the door. Soon Roman heard water running.

Roman took a deep breath himself. Nothing was happening. Logan would be sorta a hypocrite if he did that after saving him from Rosa. And he'd seemed genuinely disturbed just a moment ago, like he was remembering something unpleasant. He was just being a douche wasn't he. Even thinking Logan would do that. When maybe he was a victim like him...

Roman sighed, groaning into his hands. How did he make this right? Maybe a gift? What was something Logan liked?
Astronomy and books! Or did he have a laptop? Didn't look like it...

He could make him one! He pictured one like Rosa would have in his mind then snapped it into existence. This should make it easier for him to work!

It should be top of the line. He'd seen how Rosa's laptop worked enough times. Even used it himself when she let him. Perfect for the logical side to function. If he'd made it right...After that time with the apple, one could never be too careful. He frowned, flipping it open to see how it turned on. The screen lit up, welcoming him.

He sighed in relief. That was working then. He went and clicked on the web browser. Everything was running smoothly, perfect! It'll be a fantastic gift for Logan!

With that, he powered it back off and closed it. Frowning, before adding in a power cord and a leather laptop bag.

Should he decorate the bag?

...Maybe. Though Logan wouldn't like it if he went over the top with it. Maybe he could make it black instead...With constellations on top...Maybe a NASA symbol... No. Just something simple. Black then. Or, more of a midnight blue leather.... One star right on top. There, perfect!

He grinned, then found himself blinking. Huh, maybe he was more tired than he thought...
And the bed was right there...

...He didn't want to take it from Logan though. And... He also just couldn't imagine being a bed right now, for, some reason... He got out blankets then curled on the floor by one side of the bed, soon falling asleep.

And that was the sight Logan returned to after his shower. He sighed and shook his head. Why hadn't he just taken the bed?
A ridiculously stubborn man. He was going to be an, interesting travel companion. But at least he was safe now...

He sighed and headed towards the bed when he noticed the laptop. An apparently ordinary looking black laptop on top a, midnight blue?, leather shoulder bag. Where had this come from? There was no way Roman stole one in the short time he was in the restroom. Certainly not one as nice of one as this.
Had he created this?

Why had he created this?

Some sort of gift? An appeasement offering? Maybe both?
Did it even work? He sat on the bed and turned it on. Swiftly, it booted up, revealing a fairly standard display. Full charge. Options on the desktop for google chrome and steam. Full connection to the internet...

But this motel didn't have wifi... Even if it did there would be no conceivable way for it to have this kind of connection... How? Did Roman not know laptops did not automatically connect themselves to wifi? Perhaps he didn't...

He looked down at him, fast asleep. Why had he done this? What possibly could have motivated something like this?

Whatever the reason, he would need to try to gain a straight (ha) answer from him in the morning. For now, the laptop would make his work simpler. With that, he got to work. Finding thankfully, that his typing didn't disturb Roman. And so, he was able to work comfortably through while the prince slept on.

Chapter Text

Susie's hope that things would be 'fine' were sorely tested. Since that day, she never saw Patton laugh or truly smile. Or even cry. He was just, passive. Refusing to call her anything but Wisher now. Not asking about the book she was reading or the book she was writing. Only asking what she wanted for dinner and answering most things she asked with 'Whatever you want, Wisher."

It was starting to unnerve her, but she didn't know what to do. She turned to the internet, specifically a WISH forum to see if anyone had had similar problems with their own characters. And there certainly had been with, various results.

There were people that talked about showering the character with gifts and giving them all their favorite things, though that didn't seem to work most of the time. Some people talked about making their characters feel fear to snap them out of it while other people preferred their characters being the way they were. One person asking if there was a safe way to let characters go free, but that thread was locked down tight. Most of the threads though ended up with the answer being that the character was just broken. And the answer to a broken character was to turn it back into WISH then get a new copy of the character at discount.

She bit her lip. Did she really want to replace Patton? Could she even bring herself to do it? If she turned him back in, the Patton she knew would die. Even if a new Patton was exactly the same as him, he wouldn't have the same memories. Nor... Nor be the Patton she cared about.

That would just be... cruel... inhumane... But, since Patton wasn't real, it didn't truly matter. Right?
They were all the same...Why then could she not stomach the idea of giving Patton up to his death? Why then was she wanting him to just be happy again, like he used to be?
How was she supposed to do that? It was too late...She had told Patton he wasn't real. How was he supposed to ever be happy again after knowing that? Maybe it would be better to put him down. Mercy kill him like a dog in too much pain.
If he never got better...

...Maybe there was something else she could do. Like...Talk with him. Or...maybe getting a Virgil for him would make him happy. She couldn't afford one... Though, if that one Virgil was still on the streets...It could be risky to bring him home, but then Patton would have a reason to care again.

He was dangerous though…She didn't want Patton to get hurt... But he had been insistent on not having that one in particular die. It might be the only way to snap him out of this.
But there was no way she could find him, it was impossible! But if it was either this or send Patton to die…

She could take up the search while Patton was gone at the grocer's today. Or just find something to help him...
She could hear Patton getting ready to leave in the entry way, tying on his shoes.

"Patton?" She stood up. "Are you leaving?"

"Yes Wisher." He stood up as well, making sure he had what was needed in his wallet.

"Just... try to enjoy yourself, okay? If you see something you want, you can get it."

He nodded, eyes still hollow. "I understand, Wisher."

"Patton..." She teared up. "I'm sorry..."

He blinked, something almost like concern forming before it was buried again. "You only were being honest." A bitter chuckle escaped. "I was just the idiot that believed I was-" He shook his head, then turned and walked out the door.

Susie flinched as it shut behind him. She hadn't meant for this to happen... She just had not wanted him hurt... But she, she also didn't like to see him like this... But she couldn’t lie to him and tell him he was real? Right?

Patton continued on the walk down, glancing about. It was a gorgeous day. Birds were singing. Flowers were blooming. Most days like this, he'd have been skipping along, whistling and laughing, talking to them all.

Now though...He couldn't get himself in the mood to. Only real people skipped around for no reason, enjoying things just because they were around. He wasn't real... The "joy" He felt wasn't real... Nothing he felt was real. He didn't deserve to feel anything. He shouldn't even exist.

He sighed, then tried to force a smile. He needed to at least seem normal for Mr. Gerber. He always got worried whenever Patton came in during an off day. Of course, his worry was due to thinking that Patton was real...But he shouldn't cause him any worry regardless. He could act normal. He could play the part.

Just for a little bit...

He pushed through the door, smile on his face. "Morning Mr. Gerber!"

"Ah! Morning Patton!" He smiled. "Here for Susie again?"

He nodded. "Yep! And to see you of course."

"You flatter me." He chuckled. "Well you know where everything is, but don't hesitate to ask for help!"

"I will! Thanks!" He got into an aisle then finally sighed and let the smile fall. Now he'd just need to get the items on the list and worry about smiling on the way out... Okay, first thing's first. Milk.

He didn't even have the desire to get anything extra for baking... Just, get the stuff they needed. He grabbed her favorite cereal they were out of and started on down. Along the way he started to hear voices.

"It has zero nutritional value! We shouldn't waste our money on something that won't benefit us."

"What care we about nutritional value?! These things are delicious!"

Voices...that sounded familiar? He frowned, silently moving towards where they were.

"Yes, were we more stable I wouldn't mind if you bought them. But at the moment, we're not!"

Finally, he peeked around the corner, eyes blinking at two men, one with glasses staring firmly at the other with the air of a teacher, while the other was wearing a white sweater with a red sash underneath holding a bag if lollipops who stood and sounded much like, Roman?

Roman sighed, holding onto the tootsie pops. "But, if we don't allow ourselves a few enjoyments, life isn't going to be worth living!"

"I know, Roman. But we won't have a life to live if we're ill. And we can't go to a doctor..."

He sighed. "Fine...." Reluctantly, he placed the bag back. "Not even a few, Lo?"

Lo's eyes saddened. "I'm sorry Roman..."

He swallowed. "It’s, it's fine...We don't need them..."

"I could buy them for you." Patton came into the aisle.

Logan looked over and stiffened. It couldn't be...

Roman turned, eyes wide. "...Patton?"

"Hey Roman, Logan." He smiled, coming forward to grab the tootsie pops. "...How're you doing?"

"We're... well..." He narrowed his eyes. "How did you recognize us?"

He blinked. "Your voices are still the same...And Roman has his sash on under his sweater. And you called him Roman so..."

Roman turned a bit sheepish, trying to hide the sash better.

"Oh..." Logan frowned. "We should have been more careful…"

Patton blinked, then sighed. "Yeah..." He looked between the two of them. "Do you have a place to stay for tonight?"

"We do."

"Oh...Then, maybe I could at least help with your groceries." He got out the wallet. "Su-My, Wisher keeps giving me too much for an allowance."

Roman blinked. "Patton..."

"Are you alright?"

He paused. "Yeah. I'm perfectly fine." Too much false cheer was in his voice. "Here. How much could you use? All of it?"

"We have enough..."

"Really? You, you couldn't use more?" His wide eyes looked desperately at Logan.

"Patton we..." he sighed and rested a hand on his shoulder. "I can tell you're not alright..."

Patton started to shake. "But, but I am alright. I'm, I'm not in danger. You are though. If, If I don't help, you could be killed."

"Oh dear Patton..." Roman moved closer.

"Why would we be killed?"

His knees trembled. "It’s, it’s what WISH does to runaways. They find them then...Then they kill them!" He collapsed against Logan's chest, starting to hyperventilate. "Like, they want to-or did...There was a Virgil! They were hunting down to kill him!"

"Patton... please calm down..." he rubbed his back. "Can you take deep breaths for me?"

He tried. He really did. But his breathes took on that overexaggerated cartoon sound.

"Do you remember this? In for four, hold for seven, out for eight."

He quickly nodded, then copied that.

"That's it... in for four... hold for seven... out for eight..."

Gradually, Patton began calming back down. "Thank, thank you."

"You're welcome... Now, Patton, are you in danger?"

He frowned. "No... I, I choose to not run."

"And what about your Wisher?"

"She...She's really nice. Though...If she finds out about you, she'll report you."

"And you said there was a Virgil?"

"She didn't call then. The guy came to the house...Virgil barely got away."

"And you don't know where he went?"

He shook his head. "Nope. Poor kiddo. He, he was hungry."

"And you said WISH was hunting him...? To kill him?"

He nodded. "Said he'd, he'd attacked his Wisher...That he, he was too dangerous...But he was just scared."

"That could have been for a number of reasons..." he turned to Roman. "We; also had to flee our Wishers."

Roman nodded. "Exactly. And, we have made a life out of it..."

"If you wanted... you could come with us. We can look for Virgil together. Find somewhere safe "

He pursed his lips. "I... We could make sure Virgil's safe?"

"Yes, we would bring him with us."

"I, I want...But, I, I can't want."

"What do you mean? You just said you did."

"But, But I can't..."

"Of course you can, Pat..."

"But I'm not real. I can't have wants."

"And yet you do. You want this, Virgil, safe."

"But, But I'm just a copy. Made in a lab."

"As was I... And Roman... Yet we both want things... we feel..."

"And if that doesn't make us real, then what does?"

"But Susie." Tears starting to form. "She, she said..."

"Whatever she said, she was wrong "

"But why would she lie? She, cares about me. In her own way..."

"Does she really?"

"She. She does. She, she has to..."

"That's what we both thought..."

"Exactly."

Patton shook "...Could I at least get her groceries for her, before we go?"

"Whatever you need to do."

Patton nodded. "I at least will do that much."

"We can help with them." Roman offered.

Pat shook his head. "You don't have to..."

"We don't mind." Logan rested a hand on his shoulder.

Pat bit his lip. “…Alright. Here’s the list.” Then he took it out and showed them.

Logan skimmed it. "I'll get the produce. Then he walked off.

Roman looked over. "We can get the rest then together."

Patton shyly smiled. "Alright." Then moved with Roman to the dairy section.

The shopping went by much faster with the extra help. Logan had somehow memorized everything he needed and was already waiting for them once they'd finished while Roman was finding it easy to carry most of the things.

Patton looked wide eyed at both of them. "Wow...Thanks!"

"It isn't a problem."

"Only us doing our parts in this gallant enterprise."

Pat chuckled. "Still. Thank you." Then started for the checkout line.

"Find everything Patton?" Mr. Gerber looked up. "Oh! These friends of yours?"

He grinned more. "Yeah, Mr. Gerber." He got the items to the conveyor belt then got back out the wallet. "They came to surprise me with a visit!"

"How nice!" He started ringing in the items. "You boys staying in town long?"

Roman grinned. "For as long as we can...Our business requires a lot of travel."

"Well this is a nice town. I hope you enjoy your stay." He finished ringing everything in. "That'll be $50.32."

"Got it right here!" Patton handed him the cash.

"I'm sure we will, sir. Thank you."

"Enjoy the rest of your day." He smiled and handed him his change.

Patton smiled back. "I will! Thank you!" Then grabbed the bags.

"Oh, allow me." Roman grabbed one of them.

"I can assist as well." Logan took a few himself.

"Oh..." He took the rest. "I do know how to carry it all..."

"But as long as we are here, we might as well help."

"Exactly!"

Patton smiled. "Okay then. Thanks." He walked on with them out the door. "And thank you again, Mr. Gerber!"

"See you next week!"

Patton faltered a moment, then looked back towards him. "See you when I see you!" Then went out the door.

"Did you come in a vehicle?" Logan asked.

"Oh no." He shook his head. "She's only about five blocks away. I walked here."

Roman blinked. "You walked between here and there once every week? With this many groceries?"

Patton looked at him, tensing up slightly. "I'm stronger than I look."

"There must be a more efficient way to transport this many groceries..."

"Does she not have a car?"

"She does. But I don't have a license, and she doesn't like to get out much." He adjusted the bag. "Besides, it’s a nice walk. And I'm young."

"Still..."

"Its fine." Patton looked ahead. "It’s one of the few things she trusts me with."

"At least she lets you outside..."

Patton frowned, turning to Lo. "Your Wisher, didn't?"

"She deemed it too dangerous for me"

"Oh...Mine only considers knives dangerous to me." Patton half chuckled.

"I couldn't even have a polite conversation with a stranger without her threatening them."

Patton frowned. "She doesn't like me talking with strangers. But she's not that bad about it."

"It's more women she had a problem with."

Roman nodded. "Mine didn't much like me with random women either...Unless they were close friends of her's."

"I was all she had."

Patton sighed. "Same with me and Susie...She, has terrible parents. Never thought her books would go anywhere."

"Did she... also pursue a romantic relationship with you?"

Patton blinked. "No... Why would she want that?"

Roman turned to him. "Not even for, increased companionship?"

Patton shook his head. "She doesn't see me as real though...If anything, she might see me as a kid."

"Oh... I see..."

He looked between the two of them. "...Did, your Wishers see you as people?"

Roman frowned. "She...seemed always interested in what I was doing..."

"She said she loved me..."

Patton sighed. "Susie, would say she cares about me too..."

"Maybe they care too much..."

"Or only care about what they want to care about." Roman muttered.

Patton bit his lip. "Could, the same have happened to Virgil?"

"It's possible.... We won't know until we find him."

"And the sooner we put the groceries away, the sooner we can head out on our search!"

"Right." Patton nodded, then paused. "...You probably will need to wait outside."

"Of course."

Patton nodded, glancing to see how close they were.

The house was just up the street, but...

He frowned. "That's weird."

"What's weird?" Roman looked around.

"Her car's gone...She's always here when I get home."

"Maybe she thought of something she needed to do?"

He frowned. "Without telling me?"

"Whatever the reason, we can now come in with you with the groceries." Roman made his way to the front door.

Logan paused. "Roman, it is rude to enter a home uninvited...”

"Oh, if she's not here, it’s alright." Patton came up and unlocked the door. "Come on in!"

He sighed and followed them in.

Roman looked inside. "This seems, rather cozy."

"Yeah, it is...Kitchen's this way." He led them over through the hall.

"And you live here alone? With your Wisher?"

"Yep!" He put the milk away.

Roman glanced around, putting groceries away as well.
"What do you do all day?"

"Oh, uh, get groceries every so often. Try and cook. Some baking. Gardening. Sometimes watch Disney things with Susie."

Roman turned. "The gardening work outside was yours?"

"Yeah."

"I noticed that on my way in, it's impressive."

"Oh, really?" He started to blush. "Gosh. Thanks."

"It isn't easy, keeping a garden like that."

"It... Seemed easy enough. Though, weeds could be hard to remove."

"Indeed. I'd always thought of starting my own garden," Logan paused, "of course I'd never get that opportunity. Seeing as I was always kept inside an apartment with no outdoor space to even start a garden..."

Patton tilted his head. "I'm sorry...Maybe we could find a place where we could garden together!"

"That would be ideal." He shook his head and focused on the groceries. "Of course, first priority is to locate this Virgil you encountered."

"Yeah. Flour and sugar go down there." He placed away the eggs. "...Would you mind if I wrote her a note, before we go?"

"Not at all. I did the same for my Wisher."

Roman pursed his lips. "We can keep an eye out for her...Will there be anything you would like to pack?"

Patton frowned. "...Maybe a few things from my room." He got out a notepad and started to write. "I'll do it myself though."

Logan nodded. "Take all the time you need."

"Thanks." He paused, then finished up with the note and placed it on the entry way table before going up to his room to pack.

Logan glanced at Roman. "I wasn't expecting to find another."

"Nor was I..." Roman sighed. "What are the odds? Sanders Sides is such an obscure show."

"And the majority of his fan base would be too young to purchase a character, even if they did have the means." Logan frowned. "Most can't afford his merchandise from what Sarah told me."

"Our Wishers certainly are able..." He frowned, looking up. "They choose us. They knew enough about us to be fans of some capacity."

"Yet they chose to hurt us..." Logan fiddled with his tie. "Some days it feels like it's on too tight..."

Roman swallowed. "It doesn't help to loosen it?"

"It always tightens again..."

Roman nodded sympathetically. "Yet it feels wrong to not wear one."

"Sometimes it feels like a noose..." He blinked and let go of it. "Sorry, that was rather morbid..."

"No, I get it..." He clutched at his sash. "My full outfit...can feel suffocating."

"It's like I want to take it off... but I can't..."

"It’s too tightly wound up with who we are..."

"Indeed..."

Patton came down the stairs, holding his things in a blanket. "I'm ready!"

"Alright... Oh." Logan smacked his forehead. "I forgot our car was at the store... We could have driven here..."

"We will just hurry back." Roman rested a hand on his shoulder.

"That works for me!"

"Let's be off then."

"Yes, let's!" Roman then frowned, then snapped his fingers for a bag to envelop what Patton was holding.

"Wow...!" His eyes widened, taking up the straps. "Thanks!"

"My pleasure!" Roman grinned.

"We should hurry, and we'll need to teach you how to shape-shift..."

"Oh, okay!" He grinned. "How do you do it?!"

"It’s simple." Roman led him out the door.

"You simply need to picture how you want to look, then adjust your appearance accordingly."

"Huh..." He frowned, then suddenly turned into a dog.

Logan blinked. "An animal...? We can do that...?"

"Yeah!" Patton shifted back. "It's...what Virgil did...Though as a cat."

"I see... well, if it's easier for you to be a dog, I don't see the harm."

"Nah, I was just trying it out." Then he hefted up his bag. "I'll try more in the car."

"It would be good to get some practice in."

"Yeah. Never even thought of doing it before. Though, I also didn't watch the show until recently, so I didn't even know I could."

"I had to teach myself, it took many failed attempts to get it right."

"Oh. But I guess it’s come in handy though, right."

"Indeed."

Patton tilted his head. "...Can we also shift into puppets?"

"Puppets? I don't know; I haven't tried."

"We should try!" Roman grinned. "After we find Virgil."

"Yes, first we must find him." Logan took out his keys as they entered the parking lot.

Patton nodded. "OK." Then jumped in.

"Did you need anything else?" Logan asked Roman. "We still have some money left..."

Roman frowned, then shook his head. “Nothing that I can think of…”

"We can save it for Virge!" Patton beamed.

"Very well." He got in the driver's seat and started the car.
Patton swallowed, looking around.

Roman got in the passenger seat, snapping on his seatbelt. "Onward through the dark and gloomy streets."

"Yes..." Logan took a deep breath and pulled out of the parking lot.

Patton kept looking out the window as they drove, looking for anything black and/or purple. Even though part of him knew there was no way Virgil would have stayed in this area...There was still a chance he might have! Also a chance that Virgil was captured and already dead. But he wasn't going to dwell on that one. He had to be alive, and Logan and Roman would help take care of him.

The poor kiddo needed a lot of care... He'd looked terrible when Patton last saw him, how worse odd would he be now? Hopefully not too much so...

The house was quiet as Susie drove back, though with how Patton had been that wasn't too surprising. "Patton?" She stepped inside. "I'm home... I just needed to go out for something...”

There was no answer. No smell of dinner was in the air. Only a note on the entryway table.

She paled slightly. "No..." She hurried over. "No... Pat... Please..."
The writing was scrawled out, but clear.

Dear Susie,
I, I know I seemed to be staying. But I've found someonewhere to go to and a way to help Virgil now. Thank you for all you've done for me, I just...I can't be your happy, pappy Patton anymore...

I'm sorry to leave you though. But, with me gone, you can find someone real now. You deserve better than to have someone fake around. There's plenty of animal shelters you can check, bring home a dog or even a cat now that I'm not here anymore. Or, you could talk to Mr. Gerber at the grocery store. He's kind and caring, a lot like you are. I, I wanted to introduce the two of you before, but then you said that you didn't want me talking with strangers, so there was no good way too. He's always greeted me with a smile and asked about my day when I've gone though. Even if it was probably only because he thought I was a real person, he's still been the closest person to a friend I've had other than you, so maybe the two of you could at least get to know each other?

Please...At least wait a day before reporting me missing? I, I know you feel you have to, so you will even though it'll mean...Drops of water soaked the paper there. Just, please at least wait some time before you tell them. I don't want to die...
More drops fell.

Thank you for all you've done for me. I'm, I'm sorry it ended like this. I hope, you can still be happy without me.
Love, your Patton.

Susie trembled and set down the note, tears filling her eyes. "Oh Patton..." She'd never wanted him to go! He was her best friend! The only one who cared! What was she supposed to do now?! He thought he'd be killed if she called WISH, but it was the only way to get him back! How would she-

Yip!

She looked down at the carrier she brought in, sniffling as she knelt and unlocked it. A small puppy ran out, darting around the house and barking in excitement before running back to Susie.

"I'm sorry Patton..." She lifted the puppy into her arms, where he proceeded to lick her face. "I wish you could've been happy here... But... it was my fault..." She petted the puppy's head and sighed. "I won't call them just... please stay safe... wherever you go..." She took a deep breath. "And... I'll try to get better... for you..." She looked at the puppy, and smiled softly. "Welcome home, Pat."

Yip! Pat smiled, then licked her face again, tail wagging excitedly.

"Let's get you settled in." She kept him in one arm then went towards the back door. "There's someone next door I'd love for you to meet "

Yip. Yip! Yip!The puppy rested his head against her chest, looking forward to what his new life had to offer.

Chapter Text

Ugh! Roman opened the back door of the restaurant. Why do trash bags have to be filled this full?! Really, why did I have to be the one to clean up that "accident" in the men's room? I’m a prince for heaven’s sake!

Well, because Patton was so good with people that he got to be a host up front and Logan was (surprisingly) a fantastic cook and was (not so surprisingly) good at managing the kitchen staff. All of which left Roman to do all the dirty work...Not that he was complaining! As a prince, he was quite happy to do anything he needed to.

He was just...well, complaining.

He sighed, then opened the dumpster and threw in the bag. At least that took care of that.

A small, very thin, and very filthy black cat darted past Roman's legs

Roman jumped back, a small dignified yelp erupting out. "Hey! Don't startle me like that!"

The cat continued to run, only to collapse a few feet away.

Roman blinked. "Hey..." Carefully, he stepped forward. "You okay there?"

It curled in on itself, whimpering and shaking.

He frowned. "Clearly not..." Then went forward, letting the cat sniff his hand.

It couldn't even lift its head, poor thing. It was half starved and- growing?

He blinked. He knew he didn't know a lot about the world, but surely cats didn't suddenly grow bigger or change into humans…
Roman blinked more. "...Are you some kind of neko, or kitsune?"

Whoever it was didn't answer. He'd fainted...

Roman's eyes widened, taking the person into his arms. "Don't die on me! Logan! He'll know what to do!" Then he rushed into the kitchen, slamming the door open. "Logan!"

He looked over. "Roman?" He hurried over. "What- Who is that?!"

"I don't know." He managed to close the door. "They were a cat, now they're a person. They fainted!"

"Shh!" He ushered him back towards the door. "He shapeshifted?"

"Ye, yeah..." He let Logan push him back, frowning. "...Is he one of us?" He whispered.

"A black cat who turned into a human... his face..." Logan gently wiped some of the dirt away, his eyes widened. "Virgil..."

Roman's eyes widened. "We found him."

"Get him to the car, I'll retrieve Patton."

"Right." He rushed to the car. "Hang in there, Virge. Hang in there."

He was so thin! How was he still alive?! Sheer willpower?!
He got him into the backseat, then laid him gently down. "How long have you been a cat?"

No answer.
Right, he'd fainted... Not that he really expected a response but still...

He winced. What did he even do now? Get him out of those clothes...? Or, that might be too much of an invasion of privacy...

Maybe wait until they were back at the hotel...
So, wait for the others...
He summoned a blanket and placed it over him.

"Is he alright?" Logan got in the front seat.

"Still out cold..."

Patton erupted into the back. "Virgil!"

"We'll take care of him at the hotel," Logan started the car and sped off, Roman making sure none of them slid around.

Patton shook as he took Virgil's hand. "Oh Virgil..."

"We're going to help him, Patton. Don't worry."

Patton swallowed. "You're, you're sure?"

"Certainly." Roman squeezed his hand. "He survived this long. We won't let him perish now."

Logan drove as fast as he could, going as far as to speed through red lights to get them back to their hotel.

Once there, Roman took Virgil back into his arms. "Back way?"

"Yes, I'll let you in.”

"Right." He gripped him tight, then rushed to the fire escape.

Patton gripped Logan's arm.

"Do you want to go with him?"

He bit his lip. "Won't it be better to have two people in the apartment help to get him in?"

"I'll take care of it. I can tell you're worried.”

He nodded. "Thanks Lo!” Then rushed to join Roman while Logan went through the main entrance.

Patton found Roman on the fire escape by their room window, Virgil still in his arms.

Patton climbed up after him. "Need any help?"

"I got him. Just hope he hurries..." Roman shook. "He's so light..."

Patton frowned, coming up and resting a hand on his shoulder.

"He, is a lot thinner than when I saw him."

"How long do you think it's been since he last ate?"

He swallowed. "Hopefully sometime after he met me..."

"Yeah... right..."

"...Logan thinks he'll make. And, Lo wouldn't lie about that."

"He hasn't lied before..."

He nodded. "Then Lo isn't lying about this...How'd you find him?"

"He was out by the dumpster..."

"Oh..." His eyes widened. "He was diving through the dumpster. Likely looking for food... Oh kiddo." He reached to hug Virgil.

"Careful, he's delicate…"

"Oh, okay..." He gently held Virgil, brushing through his hair. His arms started to tremble.

After what felt like ages, the window out to the fire escape opened, revealing Logan’s head.

Patton looked up. "All clear?"

"Clear, come in." Logan stepped aside for them.

Roman carefully carried Virgil on in.

Patton furrowed her brow. "Should we rest him on the couch?"

"We need to get water into him, then food if we can. He also needs bathed and clean clothes…”

"I can make soup!" Patton hurried to the kitchenette.

Roman looked to Logan. "Should we do it while he's unconscious?"

"Who knows when he'll wake up again?"

Roman bit his lip. "You don't think he'll live then..."

"Help me get him to the bathroom."

"...Alright." Then worked with him to get Virgil in there before closing the door. "You getting the water, right?"

"I will..."

He nodded, then set to work getting Virgil out of his clothes.
Logan turned on the water.

Roman couldn't help but wince as he worked. "Sorry Virge..." He slipped off the shirt. "Not the best way to be undressed..."

"We don't have a choice. He needs to be cared for.”

"I know that..." He took a deep breath. "Just apologizing still. Okay, now the pants." He unzipped them and slid them off, holding in a gasp. He was all skin and bones...

"The water is ready.”

He nodded. "Right." He got the last pieces off, then gently laid him within the tub.

Logan grabbed a washcloth and carefully began to wash off the dirt and grime.

Roman getting shampoo and conditioner to work through his hair. "There now. Easy does it..."

"He can't hear you..."

"I know-" He took a deeper breath. "I know that. Just makes me feel better about this. Besides, if he wakes up, some chatter might more comforting than strangers manhandling him in total silence."

"He won't wake up."

"...You don't know that for sure..." He focused on the hair.

"I do."

"Look, he's still breathing. Long as he breathes, there's hope."

"I'm aware. But he won't wake up any time soon." He continued to wash him. "If he wasn't going to live, I would not have bothered telling Patton to prepare food and water."

He sighed in some relief. "Oh. Sorry...Thought you, thought you meant the euphemism. That he was never going to wake up."

"No, he is just exhausted. He'll need time to rest."

"Good." He exchanged the shampoo for conditioner. "We...We found him in time."

"You saved his life."

He shook his head. "I just startled him out from the dumpster."

"And if you hadn’t, he would not have been found. Or he would have been by someone else."

"Which, may not have gone well..." He shuddered.

"Not at all."

He shook more. "...Why can't life ever be easy for us?"

"Because of what we are. It will never be easy."

"But it’s not fair...None of this is right."

"I know, but this is how it is." He began rinsing him off.

Roman averted his eyes. "Still wish there was just a dragon to slay that would solve everything about this...We could live happily ever after!"

"That is a fairy tale, Roman."

"I know." He sighed. "But I am make-believe and fairy tales. I can't help but want things to be simple like one."

"I understand. I am the opposite, more grounded in reality." He finished rinsing him off and began draining the water. "Could you hand me a towel?"

"Certainly." He grabbed it, frowned, then put it back and snapped out black with the thunderstorm symbol and handed them to Logan.

He took it and wrapped it around Virgil. "Help me bring him to the couch."

"Right." He took the head and carefully brought him back out to the living room.

Patton looked over to them. "Soup's done!"

"Good, he'll be ready for it." The two laid him down. "Could you make some clothes for him? Something loose but warm."

"Right." Roman snapped him into a black bathrobe, pre-heated.
Patton carried over the soup bowl, doing his best to not have it sloshing out the sides. "Careful. It’s hot."

"Do you wish to feed him?"

He blinked. "...Can I?"

"If that's what you want."

"Al... Alright!" He grinned, then went to kneel down for a better angle. "How do I do this?"

"He needs to sit up..." Logan carefully propped him against some pillows. "I'll have to open his mouth, but once he realizes he's getting food he should regain just enough consciousness to eat on his own. At least I hope so..."

"Okay..." He filled up the spoon with soup. "I'm ready."

Logan carefully pried Virgil's mouth open. "Just a small amount."

"Alright...Here you go kiddo." Then he went and placed the spoon in his mouth, slowly pouring it in.

Logan helped to coax it down, but he was still unresponsive. "Again."

Patton nodded, then scooped more and did the same. "Come on Virgil. Wakey-wakey~"

"He won't wake up for awhile, even if he starts eating on his own."

"Oh...Well then." He got another spoonful. "Sleepy-eatey-eatey then~"

Logan sighed. No use trying to talk him out of it. He hadn't even noticed that he hadn't had to help Virgil that time...

Patton smiled and filled up another spoon. "Gotta get your strength up, Virgie. Enjoy this nice chicken noodle soup~"

"He's finally eating on his own..."

"Oh...That's great!" He grinned. "...What should I do now?"

"Finish giving him that, I'll bring water."

"Okay! Great job there, Virgie~" He continued to encourage him on.

Roman fondly rolled his eyes. Only Pat could somehow make baby talk cute. He hasn't thought he'd ever be comfortable hearing it again…

He shook his head. Patton was nothing like Rosa. He was not going to even let that thought cross his mind. His eyes turned to Virgil.

He'd seemed to have enough for now, Logan came back with some water and handed it to Patton. "Go slow, then we'll leave him to rest."

He nods. "Okay." He took the glass, then got Virgil's hand over it and brought it to his mouth. "There you go. A little water now. Nice and fresh~"

"You'll be keeping an eye on him?"

"I will! …What should I keep an eye for?"

"If he starts to wake up, or if you think something is wrong. Even if it's nothing, feel free to come get me." He walked towards his room. "I'm just going to lay down for awhile."

He nodded. "Alright. Get some rest Lo. You really earned it in that kitchen."

He only nodded then headed towards his room. Well, his and Roman's. It had two small beds for each of them while Patton took the couch. Though they did rotate every so often. Now they would have to calculate for four people...

Logan fell onto his bed, not even bothering to cover himself up. He didn't regret finding the others, not in the slightest. He was glad he wasn't alone. And he didn't regret being free. However, all his time was spent running from WISH, searching for jobs, a place to stay, handling their money, taking care of Roman, Patton, and now Virgil who would require a very specific diet and possibly medicine that he would now need to account for.
It was all just... so much...

Would it ever relent? He could not continue like this. Yet if he did not, then what needed to be done would not get done and they would all suffer for it. He was the only one capable of handling all of this, and he would do it to the best of his ability.

For right now though, that required him to actually sleep instead of considering all the reasons he needed to sleep. He'd be no use to them if he couldn't perform optimally. Or couldn’t make certain the arrangement he had with the hotel's owner did not fall apart...

Don't think about it. Sleep. Roman and Patton can handle themselves for a few hours. If there was an emergency, they'd wake him... he could rest...

Or he'd wake up anyway if there was. They weren't exactly quiet... Not at all...At the moment, for instance, he could swear he could hear...Patton singing Virgil a lullaby?
That was... objectively sweet...Though, he wasn't sure if Itsy Bitsy Spider was usually used for a lullaby.

Well Virgil seemed to like spiders within the series... It made sense then, even if Patton did not like spiders. His voice though carried well, and really was soothing...Even helping him to drift off to sleep...

Out came the sun and dried up all the rain. And the itsy-bitsy spider, crawled up the spout again. Patton fondly sighed as he watched Virgil.

He was here, he was alive, and now he was safe. No one was ever going to hurt him again. No one. He squeezed Virgil's hand, swallowing, then looked to Roman, finding him looking pensively from Virgil to the window.

Patton frowned. "Something wrong, Ro?"

"Just keeping watch..."

"Oh..." He glanced out the window as well. "...You think WISH will come here?"

"No... but can never be too careful..."

"I guess not..." He glanced to the door. "...Wouldn't they be more likely to come through there?"

"This way I can see them coming."

"I see...Well, you can watch from that way. And I can watch Virgil and the door."

"Sounds like a plan," He faced the window again. "You didn't have any trouble leaving work, right?"

He shook his head. "Not really. The others for their shift were arriving soon and we told them that we had a family emergency to go to. They were all very understanding."

"That's good... Logan's been worried about keeping that one."

"That he has..." Patton bit his lip. "Though, with finding Virge, won't we have to leave soon?"

"Yeah, but we still have to pay for our room."

"Oh...Right..." His lips pursed together. "...Would we have enough?"

"I hope so…”

"I hope so too...Where would we get the money otherwise?"

"I don't know... Logan just said to let him take care of everything. But I'm worried about him..."

Patton turned to him. "I'm not the only one?"

"He looks like he barely sleeps..."

"Yeah...And he gets lost in his own head sometimes. And often lets his food go cold."

"And you can never ask him what's wrong because he avoids the conversation."

"Exactly. Then you don't wanna press too hard and make it worse." Patton sighed. "We need to figure out what's wrong. But how do we do that?"

"I don't know... I guess we just, watch and wait?"

"What if that causes us to be too late though?"

"Too late for what?"

"I don't know... Whatever trouble Logan is having.” He leaned back. "When's a time that Logan's not had either of us around?"

"Um,” Roman frowned in thought. “Whenever he goes to pay for another night here?"

Pat blinked. "That does happen...He, always comes up with some reason for us to not accompany him to the front desk."

"And he got you to come with me to bring Virgil in, didn't he?"

"Yeah...He did..." His brow furrowed. "Have we not actually been able to afford this place?"

"Where's his finance book?"

"Think it's with his wallet." His eyes flicked around the room. "In the laptop bag."

"Which he had on the table..." Roman walked towards it, the bag was beside the laptop which was charging. Roman dug inside for the small notebook Logan had purchased at the dollar store. Finances were written on the front in black pen. Roman flipped through it.

Patton came up behind him. "What does it say?"

"Getting to that..." Roman found the most recent page and skimmed over it. Money was still tight as ever, even with all three of them working. Logan had written down everything they could afford grocery-wise, but it wouldn't be enough. And he hadn't even calculated for Virgil yet...
And yet, they were in a nice hotel room with a kitchenette...Where did Logan plan for the money to come from?

In another section he'd written "Housing" and all it said underneath was "alternative payment necessary."

"What does that mean...?"

"What does what mean?" Patton stretched to get tall enough to see over Roman's shoulder.

"He's using some alternative payment to keep us here, but what?"

Patton frowned. "I've heard about eggs and milk being used instead of money, but we don't have cows or chickens."

"We don't have anything we could sell..."

"Not unless it's stuff you've been making, but none of that's been disappearing..." Patton blinked. "Could he be working for our room and board?"

"That's possible but, he's never gone that long.”

"Maybe some short job then. Like, taking over the reception area in an emergency."

"Maybe?" Roman put the book away. "He had to go past the front desk to let us in, so he probably took care of tonight's payment already..."

"Or he was seeing if he'd need to do it tonight...He really wasn't gone that long."

"No... and he's napping now..."

"...Maybe one of us could pretend to be Lo then go down and learn what's going on."

"Or wait and follow him later?"

Patton frowned. "If he's as secretive about this as he has been, then it'll be hard to follow him..."

"Small hotel..."

"True...And, one of us would need to stay with Virgil either way..."

"Maybe we should just wait…”

"OK...Who should follow Lo though?"

"I think Virgil would trust you more if he woke up."

"True..." He squeezed Roman's hand. "Just...be careful."

"I will, promise."

He smiled. "Okay..." Then went back by Virgil and sat down.

"Probably should get where he won't see you when he goes out."

"I'll be hidden, don't worry." He winked.

Patton giggled. "I'm sure you will be."

He chuckled and went to prepare himself.

Patton nervously swallowed, holding Virgil's hand. Oh, he hoped this all went alright...

Chapter Text

"Are you alright there, dearie~" She leaned over him on the bed, glancing up to his blindfolded eyes and wrists tied back to the headboard. Her hand stroked his chest.

"My arms hurt..."

"Oh I wouldn't be surprised if they did. That's alright though." She started to untie them. "Since you were such a good boy for this, we can be done with the shoot now."

"That's a relief..."

"I know it is, pet~" She smiled, ruffling his hair. "Feel free to stay lying down for a bit. Then, we can figure out what commission to do next."

"Yes mistress...."

She chuckled. "Aw, don't you like the change of pace~?"

"It's a lot to keep up with..."

"But it hasn't been all bad, has it..." Her hand went back to his head and massaged.

"Mmm..." he relaxed under her touch. "Not at all."

She grinned more. "I'm glad." She continued to pet him as she went through her requests. "Another person has requested you in the cat suit..."

"We've done that one so many times though...”

"They enjoy you like that though. And you are quite pettable." She gave an extra firm pet. "But variety is the spice of life." She continued scrolling through the list.

"Can't we do something new?” He gave the smallest pout.

And oh, did he have to be more and more scrumptious? She hummed. "I'll see what I can find, pet. But there's only so...Well, this is certainly something new..."

"What is it?"

She chuckled. "Someone is willing to pay to see you tied to a railroad track..."

He frowned. "How would we simulate that?"

"Hmm..." She pursed her lips. "...We could always find an old abandoned one."

"What?"

She looked at him. "What would you think to being outside for a bit?"

"Outside?" He blinked. "But I'm not allowed..."

"You'll be outside with me..." She snuggled up against him. "And since you have been good, I can allow a little thing like that. As long as you keep behaving."

"Of course I'll behave..."

"I know you will." She kissed his forehead. "Get to the bathroom and do what you need to. After you come out, we'll have a quick bite to eat, then I'll pack you up."

"Yes mistress." He stood up and went to relieve himself. It really had been awhile...

She chuckled. "Wait a moment there~" Then she went and took off the blindfold, letting him see her smirking face. "Can't have you bumping into walls now, can we."

"Oh...” His eyes blinked rapidly. “Of course...”

She chuckled more. "Well then." She slapped his bottom. "Off now."

He flinched slightly then hurried off straight through the door from her bedroom to the bathroom. There, he was finally out of her sight and finally able to breathe and relax... These commissions were becoming increasingly more strenuous. And took so much longer. They must have been occupied most of the day with getting him fake struggling as he was tied to the bed then fake struggling as he was undressed piece by piece...All for some... sick twisted freak who wanted to pay for him to be like this!

Of course, they didn't know he was real...They thought she was just doing this in her mind. Doing the entire sketch from her imagination.
But still, who pays people to imagine this stuff?!

So far being alive wasn't all it was cracked up to be... His reflection hung there in the mirror. His human skin becoming more and more pale while his scales were gleaming from the last polish session.
His eyes were hollow... his snake eye looked especially dull... Was he dying..?

Would it matter if he was? He almost wanted to, if this was all he'd get for a life. He'd at least be free...Unless something worse than this happened after death. Did he really want to take his chances?

It wasn't like he could run away... If he did, the law would be on her side. There was literally nothing he could do.
He wasn't a person...
He was! The law wasn't right!
He was his Wisher's property. Her pet.
Her slave...

He shuddered and splashed cold water on his face. She would be expecting him back out soon. Best not tarry too long now...

She smiled, getting the bag and rope ready. Perfect! Though...Oh, almost forgot! She took his hat from the clothes pile and added them to his packaging. Now it was perfect.

He walked out of the bathroom and blinked. "You're already packed?"

"Not quite" She rolled the bowler hat in her hands. "There's still the matter of you..."

"Aren't we driving there...?"

She huffed. "There's no good unused tracks for miles around. We'll be spending some overnight time in a hotel."

"Oh... I see..."

She grinned then, taking his hand. "We'll make sure to eat first. Then I'll get you already to go."

"Yes mistress..."

She chuckled, then led him out to the kitchen, wrapping her arm around his waist.

Why did she always have to touch him? Couldn’t she just let him be?
...Nothing he could do about it. Only endure... For as long as he could…


Roman did his best not to laugh. That would spoil things. But still, he could be a little giddy about the fact he'd made a real invisibility cloak! This could solve so many of their problems! He'd need to show Logan. After he'd followed him and learned his big secret of course. But definitely after.

Speaking of which, there he was now, leaving the room...

He wrapped the cloak firmly around himself and followed Lo. It's what he made the cloak for after all.

He was headed towards the front desk. At this point it would be closed, no one else could check in. There went the idea of Logan working reception...

Roman continued following after, moving as close as he dared.
Lo went towards the desk, glanced around to make sure no one was there, then walked behind it towards a door that Roman hadn't noticed before and knocked softly.

"Come in." A gruff voice called out.

Roman frowned, preparing himself to dart through the door.
Logan slipped inside and almost immediately began shutting the door.

Roman darted under his arm, leaving an impression almost like a heavy gust of wind before he was to one side and the door was closed.

The hotel owner kept looking at his computer. "Took you long enough."

"My apologies... something came up..." he took a deep breath. "I need to inform you that this arrangement will be ending soon. We will be leaving in a few days."

He turned his head. "Why? Aren't you and the others comfortable?"

"We are, but I had said before this would be temporary."
"You did.” He stepped closer to Lo. “But I had hoped you would change your mind…"

"I'm afraid that just isn't possible..." He stepped back.

"Really...?" His eyes squinted. "You do know that anyone that reveals anything they know about fugitives can get their hands on some big bucks."

He paled slightly. "But we're not..."

"Oh sure." He smirked. "And you didn't offer to do anything in order to secure your room. Don't think I haven't also noticed how little you let me see if your 'brothers', nor how closely you eye visitors..."

"I'm trying to protect them. We're not criminals..."

"But you're running away from something." He moved up by Logan again and rested a hand on his shoulder, causing Roman to tense. "If you leave, I could take the notion to see just who that is. Lead them straight to you and your little 'family'."

He frowned. "They'd be hurt... Why would you do that...?"

"For the reward money of course. However," His grip changed to lightly lay on Logan's neck. "If you stay, well, I wouldn't want them to find out you're here."

Logan trembled. "They're all I have..."

"I know..." His fingers reached into Logan's hair. "I know. If you want to keep protecting them though, you are better off staying with me..."

Roman frowned, summoning his sword from under the cloak.

Logan meanwhile seemed to hesitate, all too still. "What would I tell them...?"

"Tell them any story you wish. You could say that you have a permanent job here that you can't leave. It would be the truth." He chuckled. "We could even arrange for money from your services to be sent to them from time to time."

"And they would be safe?"

He nodded. "That they would be..."

"Then... We'll stay…"

He grinned. "Good." More fingers made their way into his hair. "I am pleased we could come to an amicable arrangement."

Logan leaned into him. "And... your payment for tonight...?"

"We'll take care of that right now." He smiled, then released him and sat back in his chair. "Well?"

"I-I'm not sure what you'd like..." He started wringing his hands together, upset and scared...

He'd had never seen him so scared.

It was just so wrong to see him like this... What was going on?! What did the man want Logan for?!

The man smiled almost kindly. "Something quick tonight. You have much to consider for tomorrow...Crawl under the desk."

He nodded and got down on his hands and knees. Was he even going to fight this?! Roman could only stare in horror. This, this couldn't be what he thought it was. It couldn't!

The man smiled. "Good lad." Then rolled the chair to the desk, the sound of a zipper crashing the air. "Give this some good worship. I know you've got a smart mouth~"

No...."No!" Roman burst from the corner and charged, sword in hand.

Logan's eyes widened. "Roman-"

The man turned. "What the-?!"

Only for the sword to slide through his chest.

Roman's eyes blazed red. Then he took the sword out and struck the body again and again.

"Roman stop! STOP!"

He took the sword out again. "He's not going to touch you again! He's not!" He went to swing again.

"Roman, he's dead! Stop!"

Roman stuttered then stopped, eyes blinking until they were back to brown. "You're...You're sure?"

"He isn't breathing and is bleeding out on the floor…"

"Bleeding...? Oh..." The sword clattered to the ground as Roman stared at the wreckage.

Logan slowly stood up. "We need to go... tonight..."

He shakily nodded. "Yes..." He took back up the sword, summoning a cloth to wash out the blood. "Need to, get our traces out of here first."

"Do what you can..."

He nodded, then searched the room for cameras. "...Are you alright?"

"That isn't important right now."

"I would say it is..." He went to disconnect something suspicious. "See if you can delete any camera recordings through the computer."

"I already am."

"Good..." He shook, but disconnected the wiring then searched for more. "...How long?"

"It isn't important."

"Yes it is!" He turned to him. "You were being raped and abused under my very nose. I want to know why I didn't notice."

"He had my consent."

"And that makes it alright? So if I had been the one making a deal like this-"

"You wouldn't."

"Why not? I can be quite charming myself, you know." He then went and tried to wipe out any place there could be fingerprints.

"But ensuring we have a place to stay isn't your responsibility."

"If this is part of that, then it can't be solely your responsibility anymore."

"It has to be and it will."

"No, it doesn't." He took Logan's shoulder then whipped him around to face him. "You already secure our jobs, budget our money, secure our food...Let me at least help with this."

"There is no need, we're leaving this place." Logan stared into his eyes. "And you will not tell Patton about this."

"Oh, you don't need to worry about that." He crossed his arms. "As long as you never do this again."

"Is that a threat?"

"It’s a..." He sighed. "I want to protect Pat from this same as you, but if you do this again...I'd need him to help me make sure you aren't."

"You can't tell him.”

"Then please don't do this again...Or he'll find out even if I don't tell him. He's, he's smarter than we give him credit for..."

"I'll do what is necessary to provide for you all."

"And I will do what I need to protect you. Even from yourself..."

"I am fine."

"If you truly believe that..." He swallowed., then sighed. "Just, please...You, you shouldn't...If we can't work at flower shops anymore because of me, then you shouldn't be forced to go through...this."

"Roman, it's fine..."

"It’s not." He shook more. "It’s, not. You were... I'm the only one allowed to be terrified like that."

"No." Logan stood taller. "You will never be afraid like that again. Do you understand?”

He swallowed. "Only, only if you promise to never force yourself into a position like this again."

"I can't make that promise. Now come on, I've deleted all traces of us. We need to be gone before morning."

"...Alright." Roman sheathed his sword, then took the key. "We'll lock his body in to give us more time."

"That would be wise..."

"Thank you." He went to the door, then turned and grabbed his invisibility cloak. "We can both leave under here."

"That's how you got in?"

"Yes. I, needed to make sure you wouldn't spot me."

"Obviously..."

He swallowed, then draped it over the both of them. "Let's get going then."

Logan nodded and walked with him back to their room, Roman making sure they locked the door as they went.

Patton looked up as their door opened. "How-Who's there?"
"It's just us, Patton." Logan slid off the cloak.

"Oh good." He looked them over. "How did it go...?"

"We're leaving tonight." Roman started to pack.

"We are?” He sprung up.

Logan hurried to his own things. "Gather all that you can, and get Virgil ready to move."

"OK." He packed his own stuff. "What happened?"

"There was a problem, we have to leave now."

He frowned. "What sort of problem?"

"With the owner..."

"Oh..." He wrapped Virgil tighter in his blanket. "Something with the-?"

"We better get going." Roman zipped up his bag, then opened the window out to the fire escape. "After you."

"Do you have Virgil?" Logan asked.

"Yeah!" Patton held Virgil close to his chest.

"I'll go first then." He slung his bag over his shoulder and went down.

Roman looked to Patton. "You go after him."

"Alright!" Patton climbed out then scrambled down the stair-ladder.

Logan was there to help steady him and Virgil.
Then Roman came through, closed the window, and sped on down.

"We just need to get to the car..."

"I'll cover for us." Roman kept glancing back towards the building as he pressed them along to the car.

Fortunately, it was late enough to where there was no one out. They made it to the car, Logan helping Patton get settled with Virgil, before loading their things in the truck and getting in.

Patton rested Virgil down beside him, then buckled in.

Roman took the passenger seat. "Tally ho then..."

Logan said nothing as they drove off.

Patton rested his hand on Virgil's head then looked between the two, frowning.

What had happened? Roman must have found out something about Logan's work for the guy, but what? Was it illegal? Or evil...? No, Lo wouldn't do anything evil.
Unless he was being threatened...

Whatever had happened, they would tell him, right?
Obviously not right. They were being so quiet about what happened...Did they not trust him? He thought they did. They let him cook and give food to Virgil.

So why couldn't he know about this?!

Maybe they just didn't trust him enough... How could he prove himself to them then?

Maybe he could just ask? Or would that just make them less want to trust him if he had to ask how to earn it? He should just know how to earn their trust, right?

Roman looked like he wanted to say something... But also, didn't, fidgeting with his sword...Why had he summoned that out?

He'd had his sword... and they'd left in such a hurry… Had someone attacked them? Had it been WISH? Had they tracked Virgil...? He swallowed, holding Virgil closer. WISH couldn't get Virgil. They couldn't! They'd have to go through him first!

Virgil was his kiddo! And like a good father, he would fight to his last breath to protect him, and protect Roman and Logan. Even if they wouldn't tell him what was going on. He'd find out for himself. And that was a promise.

Virgil curled into him in his sleep. Causing a smile to Patton's lips. Yes, Virgil and the others would be safe and happy.
No matter what…

Chapter Text

Virgil blinked, a faint groan escaping him as he nuzzled into the...soft?...Why was he on something soft? Last he remembered he'd been behind that restaurant... hungry... that man had been following him... then what happened?

...What had happened?! He tried to rise up.

A blanket slowly slid off. He was in a bed. But this wasn't his house. Not that he had a house, really...This wasn't his Wisher's place either. Was this WISH? If it was, why give him such a nice room? From what he's overheard, they were planning to kill him.
Unless it was to bring a false wave of security... He bit his lip.

Don't overthink this. It might just be some ‘collector’ or something.

He heard the doorknob turn, then begin to creak.

His breath hitched, then he grabbed back the blanket and pretended to be asleep still, keeping an almost shut eye on the door.

"Kiddo...?"

He blinked, eyes opening before he could stop himself.

Patton stared back, first in shock, then he smiled. "You're awake! You're actually awake!"

He jumped back. "Pa... Patton?"

"Are you okay?" He hurried over. "Do you need anything? Food? Water?"

He blinked. "You're alive?"

"Yes! And so are you..." He sat next to the bed. "I was worried sick about you, kiddo."

He frowned, looking Patton over. "...Did they do anything to you?"

"Who?"

"WISH. Or, whoever's holding us." He took his hand, eyes growing desperate. "The man didn't hurt you, did he?"

"WISH? Oh, no kiddo. We're not with WISH. We're in a hotel!"

"...Hotel?" He looked around more. "Why a hotel?"

"We don't really have anywhere else to go. Logan could catch you up if you'd like."

His brow furrowed. "He's the man in charge here?"

"Kinda? It's him and Roman, little bit of me. We all just kinda help each other."

He blinked. "...I think, I need to see this, Logan."

"I can bring him here if you like."

"If that's not too much trouble..."

"Oh, not at all! One moment!" He hurried out.

Virgil swallowed, then forced himself to sit up. There. Not too weak, but still underestimateable.

"Yeah... He just woke up..." Patton's voice came from outside.

"He did?!" A loud voice cried out.

Virgil startled, then settled back down.

"Calm down Roman, may I see him?"

"Yes, he actually wanted to talk to you. Just be careful; he's nervous."

Virgil huffed. Nervous?
Yeah, he was downright terrified.

"No need to be shifted then." Logan walked into the room in his normal form. "Virgil?"

Virgil's eyes widened. "You've gotta be kidding me..."

Logan blinked. "No, your name is Virgil."

"What? No, I know my own name!" He pointed at him. "You can't be Logan!"

"But I am, why wouldn't I be?"

He shook his head. "Who are you really? I'm not falling for any phony pretenders."

He tilted his head. "How could I be pretending?"

"I don't know! There's just no way I just happen to find another Sanders Sides character. Patton was enough of a surprise."

"I thought the same when I encountered Roman. Yet here we are."

He glared at him. "How do I know this isn't a trick?"

"We saved your life. We're keeping you hidden from WISH who seek to destroy you."

"That's what you're saying. How do I know this isn't...WISH doing some mind games?"

"It isn't... Virgil, please...”

He stared at him. "...Your favorite book?"

"The Murder of Roger Aykroyd, by Agatha Christie."

"...What outfit do you have that you're most embarrassed by, but still wear?"

"A unicorn onesie.”

"...Uh, what's something else only an avid Fander would know?
"
"Out of all his characters, I am Thomas's least favorite to portray due to how complicated my lines are."

"Yeah, either you're Logan or a real fan of the series..." He sighed. "If I believe you're Logan, what's going to happen?"

"We're going to nurse you back to health. You were severely dehydrated and starving when Roman found you. Patton has taken it upon himself to care for you."

"Right. Then after that?"

"I can teach you how to live as a normal human. Hide from WISH as we have all been."

 

He huffed. "What makes you think I need your help?"

"The fact that you were found nearly dead beside a restaurant dumpster."

"Okay, fair." He sighed. "I'll stay, for now...If anything funny happens though, I'm leaving."

"I wouldn't blame you."

He nodded. "Good, that's...good."

"Now, do you want anything to eat?"

He blinked. "...No..." His stomach growled.

"We don't have much, but we do have soup."

"Alright...Soup, sounds good."

"I can go warm some up for you. It would be best if you stayed in bed for now. Patton can help you with anything you may need." Logan turned and walked out.

Virgil huffed. "Even if I need the bathroom?!"

"I can help ya walk there, kiddo," Patton assured him as he walked in, "but you're free to go on your own."

His eyes widened. "Nope! I can, I can definitely walk there by myself. Thank you very much."

"Oh, okay!"

"Thanks..." He looked over at Patton. "It, might be nice to talk though..."

"Of course! I'd be glad to chat with a little cat!" He giggled as two grey cat ears appeared on his head.

Virgil blinked. "You've figured it out too?"

"Yup! I'm a bit better at animals than people. Roman's really good! He can even turn into objects! Logan just sticks to people."

"Oh really..." Virgil looked Patton over. "I guess he's also able to turn back?"

"Yup! We all can!"

"Good..." He looked him over. "...What happened after I left?"

Patton's smile faded and his ears folded back. "A man from WISH came... He was looking for you.”

"I know that part..." He sighed. "I heard you two through the door."

"He... he said you were dangerous and needed to be killed. Then he went to check the shed and-and I was so scared! I couldn't stop worrying!"

"...What happened to you after I left though? You took a big risk there."

"I stayed with my wisher until Logan and Roman found me, they promised they'd help me find you and protect you. So I left."

"You weren't hurt?"

"No, but... I think they were."

He tilted his head. "That makes sense...You weren't? At all?"

"No, I had a pretty good life actually."

He blinked. "But, she was having you do all her chores...You weren't allowed around strangers."

"I was happy to help out! And she was just trying to protect me, she didn't want you dead either."

"...What did she want from me then?"

"Nothing, she didn't know I'd hidden you."

"Then why didn't she want me dead? For all she knew, I would attack her."

"I don't know... She seemed just as scared as I was…"

He frowned. "...So, the three of you have then been travelling together ever since?"

"Yup! Moving from place to place and covering our tracks!"

"I see...And it's worked?"

"So far. There was some trouble with the last place we stayed at though. I still don't really know what happened."

He frowned. "What sort of trouble?"

Patton glanced at the door then lowered his voice. "We didn't have enough money for the last place we stayed, so... Logan was paying for it some other way..."

He frowned. "How? With sex?"

"It's something I've worried about... I just know that our last night there Roman had followed Logan, then suddenly, they came back and told me we had to leave. “

"I see..." His brow furrowed.

"Roman looked angry but also worried... Logan hasn't been the same since."

Virgil swallowed. "How's he been different?"

"Colder... More distant... He won't talk to anyone..."

"He talked with me..."

"Only because he had to..."

He frowned. "Maybe I could use that then...For your sake."

"What do you mean?"

"Just because you care..." He sighed. "I can at least try to get Logan talking with the rest of you again."

"How would you do that?" He tilted his head.

"I don't know. Just, he'll have to talk with me, being all new here and all."

"But he won't talk about what happened..."

"Then, maybe don't push on that..."

"But shouldn't we know so he doesn't try to do it again?"

"It sounds like Roman does..." Virgil sighed. "My wild guess. Lo needs to feel like he's safe and himself again before he'd even want to talk about it."

"But he won't let any of us in... He's shutting us out...”

"Then don't force him out. Just keep...kindly knocking at the door."

"And if he never answers?"

"Then, at least you know you've been there and around for him?"
"I'd rather know that he was okay..."

He sighed. "Can't do that if you keep pushing past his comfort zone."

"I guess you're right... He just... never talks about his life with his Wisher. Nothing in depth anyway. He was the first to run away and he rescued Roman. He takes care of all of us...”

"So you want to take care of him..."

"I do."

He sighed. "If he doesn't trust you to not push him in areas he doesn't want to be pushed, he won't let you take care of him. Give, give him space."

"Okay..."

"Alright." He sighed. Why was he the one giving relationship advice?! He'd just come back from the brink of death and was trying to help his rescuers!

Well, help Patton. Patton had fed him. Had tried to protect him. He at least owed him this....
He sighed. "Would you, like a hug?"

"Oh! Only if you're comfortable."

He shrugged. "I would be. Just, careful."

"Okay then!"

Virgil awkwardly held his arms open for Pat.

He put his own arms around him and... Oh gosh he gave amazing hugs. When was the last time a hug felt this good?
Never...It, never had...This hug made him feel safe... secure... There was nothing demanding. It just, was.
Virgil clung onto him, his sweater crinkling.

Patton softly smiled and rubbed his back. "I'm glad you're safe kiddo..."

"I...I'm..." Against his will, tears started to fall.

"It's okay kiddo..." Patton's own eyes began to water. "You're safe now..."

"I...Really? I...After all this time? I, I can't..."

"You're family, Virgil." He cupped his face and looked into his eyes. "We're going to protect you. No matter what."

His tears fell more out of his blinking eyes. "How, how do I repay?"

"You don't." He smiled and wiped away the tears. "Just promise me you'll rest and get better, okay?"

"I...I'll try."

"That's all I ask, kiddo."

He shakily nodded, resting against him.

Patton continued to hold and rock him gently.

"I have the soup." Roman came through. "Nice and... Oh, should I go?"

"No, it’s okay Roman! He needs to eat."

He shook. "Yeah." A grin crossed his face. "Yeah, I better."

"Thanks Roman!"

He smiled. "Anything to help." Then he set it down.

Virgil licked his lips, then went to lap it up.

"Um, you can use a spoon kiddo." Patton chuckled. "Don't wanna burn your mouth."

"Oh." He sheepishly chuckled. "Right..." Then he grabbed the spoon and, eventually, was eating normally.

Patton smiled. Virgil was going to be okay!
He was awake, he was eating!
Things were going to be alright.

Now if only thing would improve with Logan...
Maybe he would need to take Virgil's advice there... Even if it didn't sit right with him.
It wasn't like Logan could get any colder now.
Could he?

He was so worried... but he didn't want to push. He could, just make sure Lo knew he was there. And was eating. Just let him know he was loved.
Speaking of Lo, where was he? He'd said he was getting the soup but Roman had brought it in.

...Was he planning again? He'd better not be thinking about hurting himself again...
He took a deep breath. Give him space. Give him space... He'd be okay...He would be…

Chapter Text

Roman started to head back out, still smiling softly at the sight.
Logan was sitting on the couch, typing away at his laptop
He swallowed. "You, missed a sight, Lo." He grabbed a glass then went towards the sink. "Virgil's first instinct was to eat his soup like a cat."

"He's probably lived as a cat for awhile. It only makes sense." He responded curtly, scratching something out.

Roman bit his lip. "True..." He then focused on the sink as he filled the glass.

He saw Logan write something down in his finance book, his face emotionless. He fought down a question. Those never went well... At least Logan had said something today. Maybe it meant there was hope?

He only ever talked to him if necessary. It had been so long since the two had had a normal conversationHe missed it. They used to be friends! Now they were just...How could he even make this right? All he did just turned to ash-

A hiss escaped him as he suddenly gripped the sides of the sink, the glass slipping out and shattering at the bottom.

Logan lifted his head. "Are you alright?"

"Fi-Fine!" He saw Roman hunched over the sink, one hand gripping his side. "I'll, I'll just clean this up."

"You're hurt." He stood and walked over.

Roman kept his head ducked down. "It’s nothing, Specs. Nothing."

"Roman please, let me help you."

He swallowed. "I'm, sorry."

"For what?"

"For, everything I suppose-" His grip tightened on the sink as he bit down harder. "You can, get back to your work. I'll, I'll be fine..."

"You need to sit down..." He gently took his arm.

Roman blinked, looking down at the arm as he let himself be pulled away from the sink, looking up to Lo almost hopefully.

"Come on..." he led him to the couch.

Roman followed along, wincing as he moved.

"Where does it hurt?" He sat him down.

He carefully did not lean back. "...Mostly around my torso."

"May I?"

"If you would like to."

"It would help assess your injuries." He carefully lifted his shirt while Roman helped as much as he could, not daring to look up at Logan.

Underneath the shirt, myriads of bruises were all over his back, chest, and arms. Some bigger than others. Many of various ages, with three on Roman's stomach being very recent.

Logan's eyes widened. "Roman, who did this to you?"

"It’s..." He swallowed. "No one really does it. They just, appear."

"How?"

"By me, failing at something...Or thinking about ways I've failed..."

"But how have you failed?”

He sighed. "In, so many ways-" He bit down as one of the bruises deepened.

"Roman, how do I stop this?"

He winced. "I stop this by doing something right for once! …Praise though, helps..."

"Okay... I'll help you... I'll fix this..."
He shook. "You...You don't have to..."

"Yes I do!"

"But, but you hat-, are angry with-, are mad at me!" He finally looked up. "I know this doesn't change that.

"I'm not angry! When did I say I was angry?"

He flinched, looking back down. "You never said. You've just...You've been avoiding us...Won't even talk to us."

"I couldn't..."

"Couldn't?" Roman sadly huffed. "I really screwed up then."

"It wasn't anything to do with you "

"But it must have. It was after our argument that you went like this."

"But the argument wasn't the cause..."

"It, it wasn't?"

"No... No, I never blamed you..."

"Then why the distance?! Why can't I or even Patton come near?!"

"It's for your own good!"

"How?!" He finally looked back up, eyes welling up. "How is losing my best friend supposed to be for my own good?!"

Logan blinked. "Your best friend...?"

"Yes!" He quickly wiped his eyes.

"I... how could you care so much...?"

He gapped. "How could I care?!" Then gripped Logan's shoulders. "You were the one to save me. You have been the one encouraging me and looking out for me, even when it meant sacrificing good jobs. We would pick apart shows together, mocking and nitpicking all the little details. We would argue, but for fun. And even when we didn't agree on something, I knew that you still cared, and often were disagreeing because you cared." He shook. "What sort of stone heart villain would I have to be to not care after all that?"

"I... after what you saw... what you learned... How could I be worthy of your attention?"

His eyes widened in horror. "Oh Lo..." Then he hugged him close, gripping as if for dear life.

Logan shook. "Why don't you hate me...? Discard me...?"

"Because I would never." He hugged him closer. "You, you made a sacrifice for our sake. You thought it was the only way, so I get why you did it. I just...I wish you hadn't because I hate seeing you like this. And the very fact that you were hurting, and I didn't know."

"What other choice did I have? He... he was going to turn you all in..."

"I, I don't know, Lo. I want to say we could have just outrun anyone he sent our way..."

"If WISH found you... They'd take you away... Send you back to her..."

"But then he was taking advantage of you. Treating you like he owned you." He shook. "He, he could have forced you into staying with him full time. Then you'd have been trapped and Pat and I might not have known where to look. I don't want my freedom to come for the price of ours."

"It would have been worth it if it meant you were all free..."

"Not to me! And not to Pat either...We wouldn't be here without you. Why would we let you remain in a worse circumstance than we were trapped in?"

"Because... you had it worse than me..."

He huffed. "Didn't you tell Patton we weren't comparing?"

"We weren't comparing... Mine was the easiest without question."

He shook his head. "Doesn't matter. I don't want you suffering at all like I did."

"But it's only fair... I haven't suffered as much... I can take it..."

"I don't want you to take it. If I could, I would find or create some sanctuary for all of us where we could be safe."

"But until then I'm willing to do whatever it takes to provide for you."

"I know...But I also want to protect you."

"You can in other ways."

"How?"

"By being there when I need you."

"I will be. Just please allow me to be there when you need me."

"I will, I promise."

Roman then relaxed. "I missed you."

"But I never left..."

"I know. I just hated being at all distant from you."

"Oh, well, you can sit by me if you'd like."

He beamed. "I would like that. Thank you."

"I was just finishing going over our budget."

"Oh really?" He looked him in the eyes. "How is it going?"

"Tight... as usual..."

"We always make it work..." Roman hummed. "Will be trickier with Virgil. Perhaps I should start making our own money."

"That's too much of a risk... This hotel is willing to let us work for our room."

He looked at Logan. "Legitimate work?"

"I wouldn't have gotten you and Patton involved if it was dangerous. We'll just be cleaning rooms."

"Good." He sighed in relief. "That shouldn't be the worst job."

"No, we start in the morning."

"Great! I can tell Pat the good news!" He went to get up, then paused. "Oh...Better put the shirt back on."

"Yes, I don't want you to get cold." He went back to work, not even looking up.

Roman still smiled. "Me, get cold?" He grabbed his shirt then buttoned back on, wincing anytime bruises were hit. "Which Side do you take me for?"

"The creative one?" He looked up, confused.

"Then why would I get cold as creativity?" One more wince and the shirt was on. "I could make my body exactly the temperature I want it."

"You can?"

"Probably." He shrugged. "Haven't tried it yet..."

"Oh, let me know if it's possible." He went back to work.

"Certainly. Oh, Virgil's water!" He snapped his fingers. "I'd forgot!"

"You'd better get it to him then."

"Immediately!" He looked to the shattered glass, then cleaned it up and made another glass before getting water in.

"Let me know if he needs anything."

"I will!" He started back, then he stopped. "One thing you might do later Lo?"

"Yes?"

"Give, Patton a chance? I...I know he's also been missing you."

Logan frowned. "You still want me to tell him..."

"I wasn't saying that." He quickly interjected. "Just...He also noticed that you suddenly got, well, distant..."

"And he'll want to know why."

He sighed. "He will...But he'll also just want to know that you're alright."

"I'll tell him then..."

"Thank you." He started for the bedroom Virgil lay in as Patton was helped him finish the last of his soup.

"No Pat, really. I couldn't eat another bite." Virgil yawned. "This, is filling enough."

"Are you sure? We have enough for you"

"I'm sure Pat. Thanks." Virgil smiled slightly.

Roman couldn't help but smile at the scene. Virgil was awake. Logan was talking to them again.
Things were finally going well!

Maybe he could actually have a conversation with Logan about creating a permanent home for them. Somewhere where no one would care that all the sudden, there was a house. A place where the four of them could live in peace...

Perhaps far off into the country, on some deserted mountain. Or, no... The house would likely would need to be somewhat close to civilization. Logan and he had tried to just survive on food he'd created before. That experiment hadn't gone well... It just didn't sustain them like real food did. Only gave them the feeling of being full while failing to actually satisfy. He could at least give their place a vegetable garden and fruit orchard so they would not have to leave as often. Perhaps see if he could create candy trees like the toffee one in The Magician's Nephew.

For now though, he supposed he should prepare for a hard day's work tomorrow. And give Virgil his water! After allowing the two of them some time together. After how much the situation had hurt Patton, it was time he got a chance to enjoy time with someone again, especially when it was someone he'd been worrying so much about.

So Roman just quietly put the glass where they could see it when they looked up, then went back outside the door. He could tell Pat the good news later. Then hopefully Logan would talk to him soon. He would likely want to put it off...But with the thaw that was already happening, it likely should happen soon... Unless he found some reason to prolong it.

Which, was a possibility. But at the very least, since he wasn't giving him the cold shoulder anymore, he would have to stop also giving Pat the cold shoulder. He never wanted to find Pat crying into his stuffed animals when he thought he was alone ever again. With Virgil around now, hopefully that wouldn’t be the case. One never really knew with Pat though...Roman headed back by Logan and sat down.
One never really knew...

Chapter Text

"This will be our last room today," Logan unlocked the room. "I was able to arrange for us to have tomorrow off, we can rest and figure out where we will go next."

"Oh thank-"

"Language!" Patton elbowed Virgil.

Virgil fondly rolled his eyes. "Okay. But still, thank...goodness. I don't know why a hotel has to have so many rooms!"

"It goes by much faster now that you're able to help us." Logan pushed the cart inside.

"I'm sure it does." He grinned. "I'm not like Princey here having to try out every bed."

"Especially in the grander rooms..." Logan huffed.

"Well someone has to make sure they're perfect for the guests!"
Roman scoffed. "None of you care enough to do so!"

"Oh sure." Virgil rolled his eyes as he got out the duster. "It’s not like it’s your time to imagine living in a castle."

"I have to be prepared for when that day arrives!"

"Sure, Princey. Sure." He smirked.

"Well, this looks like the biggest bed of the hotel!" Patton smiled as he pointed it out.

"And it looks like I should try it!"

"Beat ya there!" Roman ran and hopped onto it.

"Hey!" Virgil jumped on after him.

"Oh Zeus! This is soft!"

"Actually, it really is." Virgil collapsed back. "Just leave me here. I think I know how I want to live my life."

"On second thought, I take back what I said about you making things faster." Logan rolled his eyes.

He raised a hand up. "Hey, I'll come back to help...After I get a really good feel for this bed."

Patton chuckled more, going on with the vacuuming.
Logan took out a kit and headed on into the bathroom, fondly shaking his head.

Virgil turned his head. Yeah, he could get used to being in a place like this...
Then he frowned. "Hey, Ro?"

"Yeah, Emo?" He turned.

"Have I gone crazy, or did that bag move?"

"What bag?" He lifted his head.

"That one." He pointed. "There. It moved again!"

Roman sat up. "Did someone sneak their pet here?”

"Maybe..." He rose from the bed and headed over. "Seems a tight place to put one though..."

"Poor thing,” Roman remonstrated. “It could suffocate!"

Patton whined. "Who would do such a thing to their pet?"

"I don't know." Virgil started to unzip it open. "Let's at least give it some time to-Oh geez!" He leapt back.

A body fell out and crumbled onto the floor, definitely not a pet.

"LOGAN!" Roman called out.

"What's going on?!" He ran out, then froze.

Patton covered his mouth, face full of horror.

On the ground was a man face down on the floor, tied in yellow rope, with a bowler hat on his head. Weakly, he tried to get up, only to collapse back to the ground.

"Roman, get these ropes off!"

"On it!" He summoned a small knife and knelt beside him. "Just hold still and I'll have you free in a second!"

The man stilled, the, human side of him going pale...Wait, there were also scales...?

"What-?" He coughed; his voice rough.

Roman stared. "No way..."

"Janus...?" Logan's eyes widened.

An almost huff escaped from him. "What other, half snake men, are there?"

Patton's eyes widened more. "What happened?!"

Janus flinched, head back down.

Virgil swallowed. "We have more important things to worry about."

"We don't have much time to get him out."

"Right!" Roman started cutting the rope away, Janus' limbs flopping out with each cut.

Virgil moved in beside him, helping Roman as he could.

Patton looked to Logan. "Should we put him in the cart?"

"Yes, start clearing a space while I take of the suitcase.”

"Alright!" He cleared out space in the laundry hamper.

Janus meanwhile moved his head back up again, watching Roman warily.

"Almost done..." he made one last cut and pulled the rope away. "There! You're free!"

"Free to what?" He tried to sit up, only to fall back down.

"Well, come with us to our room where you'll be safe."

He blinked, eyes narrowing. "...Safe from her?"

"The one who did this to you? Yes."

He frowned, then forced himself to his feet. "Very well then. Carry me off."

"We'll need to hide you here." Logan gestured to the cart.

"That way no one sees you!" Patton added.

Janus frowned, then shrugged. "Not the worst way to go." He stepped forward, only to falter again.

Roman helped steady him. "I got you."

He shook, but swallowed and steadied. "Thanks."

"In ya go... nice and easy..." Patton helped him into the cart.

Janus shuddered, then glared. "Never speak to me in that tone again."

"Oh! Sorry I was trying to be comforting..."

He blinked. "Oh...Uh, sorry?"

"Oh no don't apologize! You've clearly been through a lot."

"Yeah..." Virgil swallowed.

"But it'll be better now! After we get you away." Patton did a soft layer of laundry over Janus. "Still able to breathe?"

"...Yes."

"We'll let you know when it's safe to come out." Logan began pushing the cart.

"I'll finish up in here!" Virgil got to work.

"...Do it quick, kiddo."

"Don't worry Padre." Roman went by him. " I'll stay with him. Yiu two go on."

"Right!" Patton hurried by Logan, anxiously looking around as they moved out of the room.

Chapter Text

"There's the elevator!"

"Press the button."

"Got it!" He pressed it, bouncing on his toes. Once the elevator door opened, he looked in. "Clear!"

Logan pushed the cart inside. "We're almost there."

"I know." Patton pushed the button that closed the door, then shook his head. "How can anyone do something like that?"

"Some people are just capable of truly evil actions."

"But something like that? What reason did she have?"

"Only he would know and now isn't the time to ask."

"Yeah. It... It really isn't..." He shuddered. "Poor kiddo...Will there be time to feed him before we go?"

"Definitely. We'll need to start packing and I need to inform the hotel owner that we will be leaving."

"I'll take care of food and packing..." He looked at Logan. "...Hurry back though?"

"I will, have Roman make some clothes for Janus, and see if he can come up with a way for us to sneak him out."

Patton frowned. "Won't he be able to shapeshift?"

"There were only four of us when we arrived, and if his wisher starts looking for him, she'll know about his shape-shifting ability."

"Oh. Right..." Patton frowned. "We can't have him in another bag."

"Please not another bag." His voice came out from the hamper
.
"We can use Roman's invisible cloak."

Patton brightly nodded. "That should work!"

"I'll return the cart then and get everything settled."

"Alright. I'll take care of Janus then!"

"I'll meet the rest of you back at the room." The elevator opened and they walked out.

"Okay." Patton continued off with him until they came to their room.
Logan then pushed the cart in as Patton opened the door. "Help me get him on the couch."
"Right." Patton took the laundry out then helped in hoisting Janus up through his arms under Janus's.

Logan took his legs and the two managed to lay him on the couch. "Roman will be here soon. Don't answer the door for anyone else."

Patton nodded. "Got it. Only for Ro and Virgie...Be careful."

"I will." And he hurried out, closing the door behind him.

Patton sighed, then smiled as he turned back to Janus. "Are you hungry there, kid-Oh!?" His cheeks reddened as he hastily handed him a blanket, averting his eyes. "Here. Use this until Roman can make you clothes."

“I appreciate it..."

"Uh, your welcome." He turned back to him once the blanket was over. "So... You hungry?"

"If I try to eat now, I may vomit."

"Oh...What about water?"

"That would be nice..."

"Alright! One cold glass of water, coming up." He hurried to the sink, grabbed a glass, then turned on the faucet.

"So how did you all meet?"

"Oh, basically by chance." He filled the glass up then carefully walked over. "Logan ran from his wisher and saved Roman, then they both found me, then we found Virgil. Here you go!"

"Thanks..." He took the glass. "And you just, live on the run,"

"Yeah." He sat in a chair by Janus. "Taking the odd job and staying where we can. It's, busy, but it’s worth it!"

"To be free?"

"Yeah." He nodded brightly, then his eyes softened. "We can help you to be too."

"Why?"

He frowned. "Why wouldn't we?"

"I'm not exactly liked among this group." He sipped at the water.

"That's only in the show though...Besides, even if we were those characters, I don't think they would leave you with her either."

"Why wouldn't they? I'm the villain."

"Because no one deserves to be treated like that."

"Maybe I deserve it.”

He shook his head. "I don't think the show Janus would deserve that. And you aren't the show Janus."

"You're right, I'm nothing." He chuckled bitterly. "Just a plaything."

He shook his head. "No, you're Janus. Just, not the show one...You're just a different person from him. No reason for his actions then to reflect on you."

"But I'm not a person. I'm a puppet."

His eyes turned sad. "Janus, no... May I hold your hand?"

"If you wish." He held it out to him.

He shook his head. "Do you want me to hold your hand?"

"I don't really care either way."

"Do you really mean that, or was that what she made you believe?"

"Why should I care?"

"Because it’s alright if you don't want to be touched, kiddo...I won't mind."

He huffed. "Do you want to hold my hand or not?"

"I want to do something that helps make you comfortable. What would that be?"

"I really don't care. Not sure how to convince you of that."

He pursed his lips. "So if I offered you a hug..."

"You could."

"But it’s no good to hug someone if they don't want it."

"I'm not agreeing or disagreeing."

"But, still..." He swallowed. "Would you like more water?"

"Why not?"

"O, OK then." He took the glass and went to refill it. All while Janus just watched.

Pat forced himself to take deep breathes. Patience. He had to patient. Janus wasn't use to seeing himself as a person. They could help him. They would help him.

As soon as it was full, he smiled again and walked back. "Here you go."

"Thank you."

"You're welcome..." He swallowed. "...Lo did say I should get packing. I'll just be a yell away if you want or need anything."
"I'll be sure to call."

"Alright!" Then he headed for the bedroom, grabbed out a suitcase, and got into a packing flurry. On the run again, and with a new friend! Though, one that didn't get that he was more than a puppet...Pat hunkered down and focused on packing, audible to Janus as he sipped his water.

All while he laid there in silence, staring ahead and occasionally taking a drink. The blanket was at least soft...And he could actually move his limbs again, which was always a bonus.
How did he ensure though that he would keep getting the better treatment? For all he knew, Patton was either the outlier, or had a more diabolical scheme up his sleeves.

Maybe these were just more of Cruella's puppets... Cruella didn't have an elevator in her house though, right? And it wasn't like she'd let puppets roam free in a random hotel. Not even for a trick this elaborate..

She liked everything under her direct control. And if she had a way to remotely control puppets, she would have used it on him already. So, unless something else proved otherwise, he was going to need to take the idea that these were runaway characters at face value, ones that he was now stuck with.
At least they couldn't be worse than Cruella. Anything would be better than her. Even if they were somehow worse...

Patton came back out, carrying a couple bags. "All packed!"

"That was fast."

He shrugged. "We travel pretty light. If there's ever anything we absolutely need, Roman can make it."

"Willingly?"

"Yeah..." He huffed. "It’s hard to get him to not make something, honestly. Making too much though can tire him out."

"You allow him rest then?"

"Of course!" He furrowed his brow. "We don't want Ro hurting himself."

"That would make sense."

"Well, yeah...We don't want any of us hurting ourselves."

"Of course."

He sighed. "I know you don't understand right now, but you will."

"Remains to be seen."

"Can't argue with that." He placed the bags by the door, then grabbed a broom and started to sweep.

Janus watched him curiously. "Do they make you clean?”

"Oh. No." He continued to sweep. "I just like to keep things neat and tidy, especially if there's time before we have to leave again."

"But the others don't."

"Oh, they do, sometimes...Lo's often busy planning where we're going next, how we're getting there, and the budget though while Roman focuses on moving, then Virgil...Well, we'll see what Virgil does. This is his first move with us."

"He's new?”

"To our group, yeah...Though, now you're the newest."

"I'm flattered."

"...You're welcome?" He shrugged and kept cleaning. "You're not expected to do anything this move though. You clearly need time to rest and get healthy."

"Of course, whatever you wish.”

Patton winced. "...Do you have any wishes?"

"Why would I?"

"Because, I know I had wishes too, even when Susie said I wasn't a real person."

"Was that your Wisher?"

"Yeah." He looked down to the floor. "She, honestly was sweet in her own way. I... I know I had a lot better experience than the rest of you."

"We can't choose our Wishers, they choose us."

He smiled slightly. "Thanks Janus....Still, I... I wish that you guys never had to go through what you went through."

"No use dwelling on a past we can't change."

He sighed. "I know..." His sweeping became more aggressive.
Janus tilted his head. "Did I upset you?"

"No." He swallowed. "There's just some Wishers I want to have some strong words with..."

"I see."

He took deep breathes. "...Sorry. I, really should be more in control of that."

"Of what?"

"My emotions." He continued to sweep. "My temper in particular. No one should have to see me get upset."

"Why?"

"Because you all have your own issues. I shouldn't force on mine."

Janus frowned. "It isn't though."

"Isn't it?"

"You're just talking to me."

"You've been through a bad situation though. I don't need to accidentally remind you of her."

"I can't exactly not think of her."

"I know. So, I need to be better at not doing anything that could remind you of her."

"It's fine, really."

He furrowed his brow. "Tell me the moment I do though..."

"If you wish."

"I...I do."

"Very well."

"Thank you."

He nodded and continued with his drink. Patton looked down and continued to sweep.

A knock at the door was heard.

Patton turned. "Who is it?"

"It's me! Roman!"

He sighed in relief, then ran and opened the door.

Roman hurried in with Virgil. "Are you and Janus alright?"

Where's Logan?"

Patton pursed his lips. "Telling the owner we're leaving."

"Oh..." Virgil bit his lip.

"By himself?"

Patton winced. "He told me to pack and take care of Janus...He said he'd meet us here."

"He'd better..."

Patton nodded anxiously.

Virgil huffed, sighing. "Better be ready then. We finished with the bitch's room. What's left to do?"

"Virgil, language." Patton playfully elbowed him. "As for what to do, I already cleaned and packed...Janus could use some clothes though, Ro. And the invisibility cloak!"

"I got it! One moment!" Roman ran off.

Patton then got to the finishing touches of cleaning up.
Virgil shook his head, coming by Janus.

Janus looked at him. "And you're new as well?"

"Basically." He shrugs. "Guess we're newbies together."

"And what is your purpose?"

"Purpose?" He blinked, then sighed. "We...don't really work like that here."

"But surely you have a role"

"I'm still figuring it out, I guess. They've mostly been focused on getting me up to snuff." He sat back, letting out some ease as weariness left his bones.

"I see..."

"...Trying to figure out what you'll be doing here?"

"I'll have to do something."

Virge forced himself to sit up. "Look, first couple days or so, the main thing you'll need to do is get to a point where you can walk without collapsing. After that, Logan finds us jobs, matching them to what we can do and our comfort levels. We'll have to see what that'll be for you."

"Very well."

"Great..." He tried a thumbs up, a strained grin on his face. But Janus copied him, so maybe he wasn’t doing a bad job!

"Here's the cloak! And let's get you into some clothes!" Roman hurried back in. "Just something comfortable for now."

"Comfortable and practical, Princey. We don't want to explain Janus's typical clothes to everyone."

"Of course! I know that!" He snapped and a loose black shirt with a yellow snake appeared on him, along with some black sweatpants. "There you go! Nice and cozy!"

Janus blinked, looking down. "...Thank you?" It at least was decent...

"Not a problem! And here's the invisible cloak!" He held it out.

He blinked. "...Right." He reached and grabbed it. "This will, keep me invisible."

"We'll just cover you up and walk you out!"

He frowned. "If you say so..."

"Here." Virgil stood back up. "Try it on me."

Roman grinned and threw it on him.

Janus's eyes widened. "What?!"

"I'm actually invisible, aren't I." Virgil moved a bit around, unseeable by their eyes.

"Yup! I have no idea where you are."

"Which means I can... Surprise!" He tackled Roman.

"Ah!" Roman shrieked and fell over.

Their guest stilled on the couch.

Virgil only chuckled, taking the cloak off. "Got ya, Princey."

"How dare you! I wasn't ready!"

"Oh sure. Like you're ever ready for me." He threw the cloak to Janus, who caught it, staring wide eyed at the two of them.

"Well, I'll be prepared next time!"

He chuckled. "And I'll have something even better for you."

"I'll expect it!!"

He rolled his eyes. "Sure you will, Princey. Sure you will."

He pulled his hood over his eyes and pushed him onto his back, pinning him. "Gotcha!"

"Hey!" Virgil pushed him off and the two fell wrestling to the floor, disturbing the coffee table.

"Boys, no roughhousing!"

"He started it!"

"You didn't need to retaliate!"

"I don't care who started it!" Patton came out, a fond smile on his face as he waved around a spoon. "We need to leave this place better than when we came here, alright?"

"Oh, alright pops...” Roman got up.

Virgil sighed. "If you say so, Paps." Then got up himself.

"Good..." Then Patton smiled more, then went to straighten out the living room.

"I still won." Roman whispered.

"Maybe this time." Virge muttered back. "But we'll see about next time."

"You're on."

There was another knock at the door.

Patton turned. "Who's-? Who's there?"

"It's Logan."

He sighed in relief, then rushed over and opened the door. "You're okay?!"

"I'm fine, I told the manager there was a family emergency and we needed to return home. Are you all ready?"

"Yep!" Patton grabbed the luggage. "Got the bags all packed!"
"And Janus?"

"Clothed and ready to be smuggled!"

"As you can, well, rather can't see." He stood up, the cloak wrapped so that his head floated in the air.

"Well your head will need to be covered, someone will also need to guide you."

"Right." Janus quickly covered his head as well.

Patton looked between all of them. "Should I?"

"Go ahead"

"Alright." He moved over to where Janus was. "Follow me, kiddo!"

"I'll try..."

"Well, I'll be here to catch you if you fall."

"Just try to make it look natural."

"Okay!" Patton gave a thumbs up.

Virgil shook his head, then took some of the bags. "Straight to the car?"

"Yes."

"Then let's go." Virgil started out, eyes darting about as they left.
Logan led the way, urgent and quick Patton went behind him, making sure Janus was right behind him while Virgil stayed to Logan's left side.

They took the elevator down to the lobby, Logan walking forward as if his only thought was to get home. Patton went behind him, making sure Janus was right behind him in turn. Virgil stayed to Logan's left side.

All while Roman kept watch in the back. So far so good.
They headed past the front desk, where the receptionist was helping a customer. "Room 38, isn't it?"

"Yes." A voice that chilled Janus to the bone replied. "It was quite the room to find on such short notice."

He stiffened, nearly bumping into Patton.

Roman glared at her. So this was the villain that had trapped Janus. Patton unobtrusively gave what seemed to be his arm a squeeze then helped him continue on.

The villain though didn't notice them, even as Roman glared and Virgil gave a hard stare, smiling as she leaned on the front desk. "You truly have a lovely place here."

"Yes..." The lady continued. "I hope you've been enjoying your time here."

"I have..." She smirked.

Logan didn't even look as he held the door for them all.

Patton led Janus right out the door.

Virgil swallowed, then took Roman's arm, pulling him away.

"Our vehicle is up ahead." Logan continued to lead.

"Good." Virgil glanced back. "Sooner we're away from here, the better."

"Yes."

Patton bit his lip, then silently helped Janus into the car.

Logan got in the driver's seat. "Keep him hidden."

"I will." He nodded. "Sorry kiddo. Better stay under there a little longer."

"Don't worry about me."

Patton winced. "If you say so..."

Virgil got in by Patton while Roman sat up front. Logan took a deep breath and drove off. They needed to put as much distance between here and the hotel as possible before Janus's disappearance was discovered.

Chapter Text

Virgil kept a vigilant eye behind them, hands fidgeting.

"We'll be alright guys." Roman tried to assure them.

"Yeah..." Patton managed a grin. "We're out of there!"

"Janus is free to take off the cloak now." Logan looked to one of the road signs.

"...Of course." Janus let it fall back, brushing himself off.

"How does it feel to be free, Jan?" Roman grinned.

He frowned, staring at him.

"I, think he's still getting use to the idea kiddo..." Patton patted Roman's shoulder.

"Well you're going to love it! Once we figure out where we're going."

"Where are we going, Lo?" Patton turned to Logan.

"I don't know..."

Virgil looked at him. "You don't know?"

"Normally I'd have more time to plan."

He sighed. "Fair..."

"So..." Roman gestured. "Where should we go?"

"I don't know."

"You always have some idea though..."

"Maybe we could try somewhere further east?" Virgil threw out there. "Like, New York City?"

"It's too expensive..."

Patton bit his lip. "What about further south from there? Like...Gainesville, Florida?"

Logan stiffened. "We can't."

Virgil narrowed his eyes. "Why would we go there?"

Patton floundered. "It’s...a town we can hide in. Besides...We could just catch a glimpse of him..."

"It's out of the question."

He deflated. "But...Why?"

"We just can't!"

Roman frowned. "Logan... He could help us..."

"Right." Virgil huffed, crossing his arms. "Or make things worse..."

Pat flinched. "No, he wouldn't!"

"He could protect us! We're his characters after all!"

"He wouldn't take all of us in!”

"Wouldn't take all of us?" Virgil scowled. "How about none of us? We're just his characters, somehow wished to life. He'd have no obligations to us."

"But he'd still help!"

"We can't go to him and we won't! That's final!"

Patton bit down his lip. "But-?"

"ENOUGH!" Logan turned sharply onto another road. "I'm done discussing this."

Pat swallowed, lips wobbling as he began to tremble.
Roman looked at him, then back at Logan, anger welling up inside him. "Apologize."

"What?"

"Apologize, now."

Patton bit down. "Ro... It’s..." He rested a hand on Roman's shoulder. "...I'm sorry Lo."

Virgil swallowed uncomfortably.

"No Patton! You didn't do anything wrong!" Roman glared sharply at Logan. "He yelled at you."

"Roman, now is not the time for this."

"You say that about everything!"

"Ro, please. Let's...Let's just forget about this..." He looked to the ground. "It was a stupid idea anyway..."

"No it wasn't! And he still shouldn't have yelled!"

"You're the one yelling now, Roman."

His eyes burned red. "Say you're sorry right now!"

"Roman! Stop!" Virgil pushed himself into his seat, wide eyed staring at everyone as his breath began to hitch.

"Roman please, stop this." Patton begged.

But Roman ignored him. "Why can't you just apologize to Patton?! You're always keeping things from him! Just like how you never told him how you were paying for our rooms by selling yourself!"

Janus looked sharply up. Wait, what?!

Patton looked up towards Logan. "That was what happened then..."

Logan slammed on the brakes, swerving off to the side of the road.

Virgil instinctually caught Janus and Patton before they fell forward. "Lo?"

Logan gripped the steering wheel until his knuckles turned white, unable to look at any of them. "You promised..."

Roman paled slightly. "Logan I-I'm sorry..."

"Lo, it's okay. I..." Patton swallowed. "I already suspected it."

"That doesn't make it better!"

He winced. "I know...I'm sorry, Lo."

Virgil worked to take deeper breaths. This was not the time to have a panic attack!

Roman looked behind him. "Virgil?"

He shook his head, gesturing to Logan. Don't focus on me. Focus on him!

Too late, he was already turning around. "He's panicking..."
"Oh no, Virgil I'm sorry!"

He shook his head more. "Not-" He heaved. "Not the one to apologize to!"

"Kiddo..." Patton rested a hand on his shoulder. "Deep breathes now, come on."

"Four, seven, eight..." Logan said quietly.

Virgil panted, then tried to suck it in. One...Two...Three...Four, Four...

"Hold for seven.”

He held tight for the required seven seconds.

"...Exhale for Eight."

"Whew..." One...Two...Three...Four...Five...Six...Seven...Eight...

"Keep going...”

He nodded, going through the cycle until he was finally settled back down. Then he ducked his head. "...Tha, Thanks."

Logan didn't reply, he only stared ahead. Still unable to drive forward.

Patton swallowed. "Want, me to try to drive for a bit?"

"You don't know how...”

"I've seen you do it...I could get by on it while you have a rest."

"No, I'll be fine."

Patton watched him carefully. "It’s...It’s okay if you're not."

"I'll manage."

Virgil rested a hand on Patton's shoulder, then looked to Lo. "Want to have a walk for a bit? I... think we could all use some fresh air."

"It isn't safe." He took a deep breath and turned the wheel.

Virgil pursed his lips. "Then maybe we can find some deserted rest stop along the highway. After we stretch our legs, we can try to decide where we're going then..."

Logan nodded as he drove back onto the road.

Patton swallowed anxiously as the car stayed silent. No one said a word, they hardly looked at each other.

All except Janus, who couldn't help but stare at Logan...
Had he really done that? For them? Wasn't he the one in charge of this circus? Why hadn't he ordered one of them to do it instead? Why put that on himself? Or force Roman to make them all the money they needed? The second option would likely cause legal issues...But still, if Roman could be told to do anything and he'd do it. Same with the puffball.

...Maybe he would have to ask him. He needed to understand how this group worked. If Logan wasn't the one directing everything, who was? It clearly couldn't be Patton. Nor Roman. They kept doing the grunt work. Was Virgil becoming the leader? He was still so new, it couldn't be. There must then be something about the situation he was missing, but what?


Back at the hotel, things turned to chaos. Staff ran about trying to find a runaway character. Which, according to the Wisher, was dangerous and could shape-shift into whatever form he wished and so needed to be contained immediately.

Of course, WISH was contacted, with Evelyn sitting on hold with customer service. She huffed. "Fine time for him to run away."

A voice finally answered. "Thank you for contacting WISH's runaway center, at what time did you notice your character was missing?"

"Just within the last hour. He's not in the room, nor anywhere on this floor."

"And do you have his name and identification number?"

"Janus Deceit Sanders. SDJ-0001."

"One moment please... Did you install a tracking chip into your character with your purchase?"

"Of course I did! Part of the guaranteed package."

"Yes, alright Miss Moore. We have activated his tracker and it should give us his location shortly. We will then send a team out to retrieve him. Are you wanting him returned to you or brought back to WISH? If you we could give you a new version of him or reset him."

"No, send him back to me..." She pursed her lips. "How long do you think you will take?"

"We will send out a team as soon as possible. However, we are slightly backed up at the moment... Oddly enough, you're the fourth person to report a missing character recently, all from the same series...'

"Huh...I didn't realize others choose Sanders Sides characters..."

"Indeed, perhaps there's a link to them all going missing, and all around the same area as well. Miss Moore, would you mind coming to the WISH offices to discuss the disappearance of your character with the other wishers? Any information we can gather will be helpful."

"Certainly. Where's the office?" She got out a paper and pen.

The lady gave out the address. "The others will be meeting here Tuesday afternoon at 2:00pm, will you be able to make it?"

"I will. Thanks."

"And of course, we will update you as your character is searched for. Is there anything else I can help you with?"

"Yes, actually...If this takes too long, is there a possibility I could get a discount on another character?"

"Of course, though your current one would be discarded.”

"What?" She frowned. "I thought multiple were an option."

"Unfortunately, since he is a runaway, it is against policy to let a Wisher have more than one."

 

"But if I had him back...Would that still apply?"

"Hm, I suppose not. I could always check for you."

"Please do." She gripped the phone. Stupid Janus!

"I will let you know Tuesday. Until then, Miss Moore."

"Until then." Then she hung up. Drats! She was going to lose days of work! How had he even escaped?! She had tied him tight then zipped up the suitcase. There was no possible way for him to have escaped by himself. Unless...

No matter, he couldn't go far. They'd be tracking him by now. She'd have him back before he knew it!

She sat back on the bed, leaning back. Real question was just how to punish him for this when she got him back. He wouldn't get off scot free that was certain. She could choose one of his least favorite scenarios. Or...She could come up with something new that he would absolutely loathe.

Maybe something involving the new Janus she would buy... She smirked. She was partial to getting an Omega Janus. Especially to see just how Janus reacted to seeing a writhing copy, eager and ever so needy...

She yawned. Well, the meeting wouldn't happen till tomorrow. Time to do what work she could, then get to sleep. She'd have her Janus back soon enough, then he'd be working overtime to catch up on those commissions. It was the least he'd have to do. And so, she worked into the night, getting her pictures and sketches onto her tablet, then she fell asleep, dreaming of her vengeance.

Chapter Text

Elsewhere, the Sides parked in an empty lot, doing their best to sleep in the cramped space. Virgil kept awake though, sitting up as he kept looking around. He certainly hadn't been expecting this turn of events. Not only did they find Janus but also... They were all still friends, right? That had been quite the fight. And the revelation that came with it. It was one thing to suspect something like that. But for it to have actually happened... He glanced over to Logan. Then jolted, noticing Lo’s open eyes, staring up at the ceiling.

He swallowed. "Still awake, Lo?"

"I am."

"Cool...Me too." He bit his lip. "...A lot on your mind?"

"Always..."

"Fair..." He swallowed. "Anything on there...I could help with?"

"No..."

"You sure? I've heard, just talking about things to someone else can help with some problems."

"There's nothing to talk about..."

"I could think of some things." He sighed and straightened up. "What Roman did was, bad."

"He was reprimanding me, as he should have."

"He yelled at you about it, which was bad. And also spilled the beans on a secret that was only yours to share. So, while it wasn't good to make it so that Patton about cried while also making Pat feel like he was stupid, what Roman did in response also wasn't good."

"But he's right..."

"You can be right, but still wrong at the top of your voice..."

"I shouldn't have hidden it from Patton..."

"Can't argue with you there." Virgil pushed back his hair. "Patton's been worried about you."

"I know..."

"I told him not to push. That you would tell him when you were ready."

"I don't think I ever would have been..."

"Maybe not...It is something that most people wouldn't want to share."

"I just... I thought he'd be disgusted with me..."

He huffed. "Well, he isn't. Likely more worried and hoping he didn't screw things up entirely, but he isn't disgusted. And, neither am I."

"He's Patton first and foremost...And even if he were somehow able to perfectly judge things on being right or wrong, he would still not be disgusted by you."

"If he wouldn't then... Thomas certainly would..."

Virgil sighed. "We don't know if that's true, but...the chance is there. And with everything else, it’s just not worth the risk."

"But out of everyone he could actually help us..."

"Maybe...If he chooses to. And that's the big if."

"He seems kind…"

"He does. But would that extend to us? A couple of random people that come begging him for help? Hoping that he will spare us because he was our creator?"

"It is a risk, I know..."

Virgil sighed. "And because I'm Anxiety, I don't like taking risks."

"Neither do I. But, we cannot run forever."

"I wish we could..." He leaned back, looking up to the stars. "Find a place where nothing and no one can bother us anymore. Just the five of us."

"I know... but, there is a complication to that..."
He looked to him. "What?"

"It's... possible our Wishers could have had trackers placed inside us... I looked into it..."

"Oh..." Virgil swallowed. "I sorta discounted that idea in my case...But with you guys..."

"Patton's Wisher probably couldn't afford it. But Roman's definitely would have, and I'm sure Sarah would have though I haven't felt anything."

He bit his lip as he looked over to the last member. "And Janus's Wisher clearly has money, and a desire to keep her characters to herself."

"It's possible then that three of us are being tracked..."

"Shit." He punched the seat in front of him. "Know any way to check, or get them out?"

"All I know is I think our shape shifting helps to hide it occasionally..."

"But it’s not really a good thing for any of us to be shifted too long..."

"No..."

"So we can't really use it for that." Virgil bit his lip. "Maybe if we can dig around the right place, we can take them out."

"It would be dangerous..."

"So you want to make sure we're someplace stable and potentially safe, then maybe try to find them."

"Yes, their website doesn't tell where the tracker is placed."

"Of course they wouldn't." He huffed. "...Would a metal detector work? Or is it something entirely plastic?"

"I don't know, it says further information is provided in person..."
"But that's for a wisher looking to get a character, right?"
"Yes..."

"...None of us could dare be in there long enough for that."

"Too much of a risk."

"But if Thomas were willing to help us..."

"He could claim us since we are his creations."

"…I was thinking more along the lines of he could find out where they place the trackers, but..." He blinked. "Could he really?"

"It's possible, there have been instances of creators preventing their characters from being made."

"But then why didn't he do it before?"

"He might not have considered there would be fans of his wanting or able to bring his characters to life."

He pursed his lips. "How do we convince him then?"

"I don't know..."

He frowned. "...Don't try selling yourself. I don't think he's really into self-incest."

"I wasn't going to!"

He snapped by his ear. "Just making sure."

"I'm sorry... I don't mean to yell..."

"No, its fine. It, was kinda an insensitive question."

Roman let out a groan as he half-woke before starting to fall back asleep.

Logan glanced at him then sighed. "We should get some rest..."

"Yeah...Get to sleep Lo. You need it."

"Yes... You're right..." he took off his glasses and set them on the dash board. "Thank you..."

"Hey, no problem. It’s, what friends do for each other, right?"

"I suppose, goodnight Virgil."

"Goodnight, Lo." Then he kept awake, watching around the car.

All seemed peaceful...
But he couldn't let his guard down. He could sleep during the car ride tomorrow. The others though couldn't afford it if WISH snuck up on them without warning. Especially when they could be tracking them right now. So, he was going to be their protector and watch after them tonight. It was the least he could do after all. They deserved to rest easy for one night.
And so the night passed, eyes ever vigilant for any other people or cars.


Tuesday afternoon couldn't come soon enough for Evelyn, but eventually she found herself in a waiting room inside of WISH, being the first to arrive.

Her fingers bounced on her knee, looking to the clock. Come on, stop being so jumpy. They said that they'd arranged a meeting. One was going to be held, or they would be sorry!

"Is this the place?" A woman walked in, her hair pulled back in a messy pony tail that looked like it was about to fall out and loose clothes thrown on haphazardly.

Evelyn looked up, her own pristine black and white attire still one point with her hair down her shoulders. "If you're here for a Sanders Sides character, than yes, it should be."
"Good..." She flopped into one of the chairs. "Little bastard ran off... stupid waste of money..."

"Yet you're here..." She turned towards her. "Which bastard did you have?"

"Virgil... thought he'd be good to have around... Someone to understand what I'm going through..."

"You could have certainly made a worse choice..." She sat up straighter. Ugh, social interaction. The bane of her existence.
"Who'd you have?"

"Janus." She huffed. "Thought of all of them, he would understand how things were. Not take stupid risks like this."
"He'll only protect himself."

"I knew that going in." Her hand went white around the arm of the chair. "Still, all his self-interest should have told him it was better to stay with me."

"Then maybe you failed."

Her eyes started icy daggers at the woman.

She shrugged. "Just saying."

"Janus was becoming perfect." She took a deep breath.
"Someone helped him. That's the only explanation."

"And who would?"

"Would not questions like that be what we would discuss today?" Another woman came in on clipping heels, appearance neat and professional with a dark blue jacket and black skirt and her blonde hair neatly brushed. "Apologies. It took me some time to find the room."

"And who are you here for?"

"Logan Sanders." She sat on a chair, not letting any of her relax. "He has been gone for so long... I hope he is alright."

Evelyn huffed. "If any of them would do well in the real world, it would be Logan."

"He probably kidnapped them all..." Cara chuckled bitterly
Sarah turned to her and frowned. "I don't believe I know your name."

"Cara, and you are?"

"Sarah Winters."

"And I'm Evelyn Moore, just to wrap this up."

"Thank you." Then she turned back to Cara. "As to your suggestion, Cara, Logan would not kidnap anyone. In all but his leaving, he behaved utterly decently."

"Then why did he leave?"

She stiffened. "That's no concern of yours."

"Oh but it can be if it gives a clue." Evelyn smirked. "What, embarrassed about your time with him?"

"It does not reflect well on me."

Cara snorted. "What's the worst you could have done, married him?"

"No, I-"

"Hey. What's wrong with marrying one of them?" To the door came an expensively dressed, tanned girl, wrapped in red with a gold necklace around her thin throat. Behind her were two black suited bodyguards.

"Uh, it's like buying your own husband? And who are you?"

"Rosa Garden, that's who." She sauntered over to the other side of the room, reclining as her men surrounded her. "And what's so wrong about that? You're certain then that he won't backstab you the first chance he gets."

"But I'm guessing he ran away as well?" She smirked.

She scowled. "Just you wait. He'll be sorry when I have him back."

Sarah fidgeted. "Don't you want your character to want to come back?"

"Why shouldn't he want to? I had him made."

"But he left." Cara pointed out again.

"He's just being petulant." She crossed her arms. "When he comes back, I'll teach him where he truly belongs."

Sarah frowned more.

"You really shouldn't force them..." Another woman walked in.
Evelyn turned to look at her, giving an unimpressed look. "And you are?"

"Susie... Patton's wisher..." She sat down, looking nervous.
Evelyn blinked.

"Dang." Rosa looked over. "I thought it was a shock that Roman had run away. But for a Patton to run..."

She bit her lip and sat down, keeping her head lowered.

Evelyn tilted her head. "What happened? Did you get an Unsympathetic Patton or something?"

"No..."

"Then why the long face?" She leaned forward. "This place is going to get him back for you."

"I..."

"I'm afraid Miss Gables set her Patton free." A woman walked in. "Which, as you all may know, is against the contract she signed when purchasing him."

Rosa's head turned towards Gables. "What?!"

Sarah's eyes widened. "Why...? It’s...It is unsafe out there for them."

"He had to... I was making his life miserable..."

"It's his job to make you happy, not the other way around." Cara scoffed.

"Exactly." Evelyn straightened up. "He's your's to keep and do with what you want. Not someone that should be out in the wider world, outside your guidance."

Sarah looked at her. "...Well, he is certainly allowed to not like some things."

"He needed to protect Virgil..." Susie hunched more.

"He what?" Cara sat up.

"Miss Gables had apparently helped her Patton hide the rogue Virgil from a WISH agent and helped him escape. He's a threat and needs to be contained."

Evelyn huffed. "Of course Virgil becomes a nuisance."
"Contained?" Sarah turned to the lady.

"That bitch attacked me," Cara scowled, "I want him dead."

Rosa frowned a bit, before going back to nonchalance.

Sarah blinked. "...Why did he attack you?"

"Why do you think? He's too anxious! He freaked out for no reason and attacked before running."

She frowned. "You choose though to have Virgil, knowing he would suffer from intense anxiety."

"I thought they'd toned it down for me!"

"They only 'tone down' or alter anything you specifically ask for."
"And I did!"

"Yet he was still too much for you to handle." Evelyn chuckled. "Maybe you should have gone with something else. Maybe a Pokémon?"

"Whatever... I'm never dealing with one of those things again..."
"So you'll let him die." Susie hugged her bag closer to her chest.
"It's unfortunate, but if a character proves to be dangerous then they must be disposed of."

Sarah tensed. "There's no way around that? No one, else could take him on?"

"Well, the Wisher could choose to have him reset. But she's decided not to."

Evelyn tilted her head. "No one else could take him on and try to tame him?"

"I'm afraid not."

Evelyn shrugged. "Just thought I'd ask...What happens to her Patton though since she broke the contract?"

"He will be repossessed by WISH. Of course, since he isn't dangerous, he would be put up for "adoption" as we like to call it."

Evelyn smiled. "Well, I hadn't planned on getting a Patton, but if the option's there-"

"I could, adopt him." Sarah swallowed. "After, I get back Logan...It would be better if he had a, friend."

"Well, we would have to wait until he's found first."

"Couldn't I get a say?" Susie asked. "He... was mine after all...'
Rosa huffed. "You let him go. You lost all right to get a say." She chuckled. "Good thing I don't need to worry about any of that with my Roman."

"We will discuss where the Patton will go once all these characters are located. Which, is what I called you all here for." She took out a remote and pressed a button, causing the lights to dim.

Rosa sat bolt upright, looking around.

Evelyn whistled. "Fancy."

The woman pressed another button and a screen lit up, showing a map of the surrounding area. "As you all know, wishers are advised to include a tracker in their characters. Of course, we know this could cause problems in some and so it's optional. Three of you here paid extra for the tracker, which are now in the Logan, Roman, and Janus characters."

"So you know right where they are right now." Evelyn leaned forward.

"That's the problem. We believe these characters are using their ability to shapeshift, which is interfering with our trackers."

"What?!" Rosa turned to her. "You didn't consider that before?"

"We had no reason to believe you'd lose your characters, or that they would figure out the ability without being taught."

"I thought you were supposed to-!"

"So the trackers aren't as accurate as you'd like." Sarah cut her off.

"Unfortunately, no. But seeing as the Sides shouldn't have any knowledge of shape-shifting, we can only conclude that they were shown their original source material. Thus putting the idea in their minds that it was possible. And whether they know it or not, it does make it difficult for us to track them. But don't worry, they'd need our technology to locate the trackers and safely remove them. So while it has taken us longer, we have been able to track their movements and can conclude that at least three of them are together."

Evelyn frowned. "That explains the suitcase..."

"And seeing as their pattern follows the places where each were reported missing, I believe it's safe to assume that they all found each other." She pressed a button and three lights appeared on the map.

Numerous eyes widened.

Rosa blinked. "All of them? Together?"

"But, how?"

"They don't have a natural magnetism to each other, do they?"

"They shouldn't, but once we saw where they were headed..." the map zoomed out."

"They're going south?" Cara frowned. "And that's supposed to be shocking, why?”

Sarah stiffened. "Gainesville, Florida."

"Oh, where Thomas lives?"

"No..." Evelyn frowned. "Surely they wouldn't go to him."

"It's definitely where they're headed, and seeing how fast they're traveling they must have found a vehicle. If they continue at the rate they are, they'll reach Gainesville in a matter of weeks."

"So we need to stop them before they get there."

"Yes, we have our best going after them. If we time it right, we can intercept them before they get to the city."

"And if its timed wrong...?" Sarah swallowed.

"Then we'll have to meet with their creator himself and explain the situation."

Evelyn frowned. "Is that a good idea?"

"We're hoping it won't come to that. But if by some chance they reach him first he'll need to know exactly what is going on."

"Oh..." Rosa fidgeted.

"Any details of how they were cared for won't be shared. Only that they legally belong to you all as he hasn't put a prohibition on his characters being brought to life. Even if he wanted to, he wouldn't be able to afford it." They could almost see her smirking in the dim light. "All of your characters will be returned back to where they belong in no time."

Rosa sighed in relief. "Great!"

Sarah pursed her lips, glancing over at Susie.

She was staring down with an almost defeated look on her face.
"Now, I'll be keeping all of you updated. As soon as we have any new information on their whereabouts you will know. And once we've secured them, they will be brought back to our facility and returned to you."

"Very well..."

"Can't wait!"

Evelyn looked at her. "So, meeting's over?"

"Yes, you are all free to go."

"Thanks." Evelyn got up. "I'll look forward to your call."

"Of course."

"Finally..." Cara muttered and got up, stumbling to the door while Susie quietly gathered her things.

Rosa headed out with her bodyguards while Evelyn sauntered off as well.

Sarah went to Susie. "Mind if I help?"

"No I got it..." She began walking away.

Sarah followed her. "...What's your occupation?"

"I'm a writer..."

"Oh. What do you write?"

"Fiction... mostly short stories..."

"I see..." She glanced around as they finally left the lobby and headed outside.

"And you?"

"Oh. I do chemical engineering work for a, pharmaceutical company."

"Oh... guess I shouldn't be surprised that you chose Logan..."
"It was a reason, yes..." She sighed, glancing back to make sure no one could listen in. "I... hoped for the two of us to be friends..."

"So did I..."

She looked away. "And, we actually were, of sorts..."

"Me and Patton were friends too."

"Yet, you let him go..."

"He wasn't happy with me..."

"But that made him no longer part of your life...What if he's replaced you with someone else?"

"Then I hope they make him happy."

She swallowed. "...How?"

"If he's with them, who else could?"

"But, don't you want him happy with you? Don't you want to come home and have him there, willing to talk about his day and his latest project?" She clenched her purse. "Don't you dread coming home, all ready to call out his name, only to be reminded he's gone all over again?"

"Always..." Susie wiped her eyes. "I miss his voice, his laugh, how he'd always decorate my house with the things he'd make. Cook my favorite meals, and his garden... He brought so much light into my life..."

"Lo did as well..." She looked away. "He would be there to console, or distract me from a bad day. He was a charming conversation partner, a brilliant mind, a fun companion for games, puzzles, and shows...I should have let him have time outside. I," she shuddered. "I should not have fallen in love with him."

Susie glanced at her. "You fell in love with him?"

"Yes..." She bit her lip. "He was, always there. Even more wonderful than he had been on the show...He never was in love with me though...And I foolishly resented it."

"Is that why he ran away...?"

"That, and the fact I did not trust him out alone...Did not want him to fall in love with someone else, even if he would never love me..."

"You just wanted to keep him for yourself...”

"There, are ways he is legitimately in danger out in the wider world..."

"I know... I worry about him every day..."

"As do I... How could those two not worry about theirs? How could they be so callous?"

"I don't know... sometimes I wish he'd come back... stay with me..."

"As do I..." She swallowed. "But if a friend of his dies in order to get him home..."

"Virgil..."

"Yes..." She frowned. "Virgil...Did something about Cara also seem wrong to you?"

"That she was lying?"

"Or omitting parts of the truth...Virgil, would not do things unless he thought he had a reason, especially if his anxiety was genuinely 'toned down'."

"You think she lied about him attacking her?"

"No... I do wonder though if it was truly an unprovoked attack..."

"Maybe... she attacked him...?"

She frowned. "Why would she attack her own character though?"

"I don't know..."

She bit her lip. "...That does also beg the question...How ethical really is it to marry a character?"

"I... I don't know... I hadn't realized that would be something people would want."

"Perhaps if it was something that I would have considered if Logan truly was willing...However, I don't get the impression that the wedding was Roman's idea..."

"Not if he ran too..."

"And she clearly thinks he ran, not was kidnapped."
"No..."
"Why else would she be so set on how to punish him after he got back?"

"It's horrible..."

"Indeed..." She swallowed. "Just like the other woman's talk of, taming them..."

"And if she gets Patton..."

"About how much do you make per year?"

"Not enough to possibly buy him back..."

"What about to assist in paying Thomas's legal fees?"

"What legal fees?"

"The fees he would have if he did choose to make a claim on them."

"But would he?"

She pursed her lips. "That I do not know..." Her eyes glanced to her. "At the very least...I can likely outbid that other woman for him."

"Would you?"

"It would at least spare one of them. And, if Logan was back with me, he, could use companionship while I am at work..."

"I... I'd rather you have him than that other woman... but I'm worried she'll try something to get him..."

She bit her lip. "I would be willing to fight for Patton if it came down to it...He would at least be one I could save."

"Even if we can't save the others...' She got out her keys. "Like Virgil..."

"Yes..." She sighed. "...What's your contact information?"

"Oh, I can put my number in your phone."

"Here." She unlocked her phone than handed it to her.

She quickly typed it in and handed it back. "There you go..."

"Thank you..." She placed it back in her purse. "I will text you so you know which number is mine."

"Alright, thank you..."

She shrugged. "If I get Patton...I would want to let you have a chance to see him again..."

"You would?"

She nodded. "Let you have some peace of mind..."

"Well, thank you."

"You're welcome..." She hesitated.

"I guess I'll go now..."

"I... suppose..." She swallowed. "Is there a place you like to go out?"

"Not really... Why?"

"I... It will be a long drive back to Seattle...And I had been wondering...If there was someplace around here, I might stop before heading out."

"Oh, um... there's the park...?"

"Oh...Where?"

"By my house, not too far from here."

"Could you show me the way?"

"If you want."

"Only if you don't mind...My car is right over there." She rushed over. Then they drove on for a few minutes before Susie pulled into the parking lot of a small park.

Sarah pulled up beside before getting up. "Nice place."

"I guess it is." She got out and walked up to her.

She swallowed. "Go here often?"

"Occasionally..."

"Did you, come here with him?"

"Yeah, we'd have picnics.”

"That sounds lovely...Logan wanted to picnic...Unfortunately, work was too busy and I never had the chance to."

"He'd probably enjoy being out in nature..."

"Yes..." She looked around. "He at least enjoyed where I was able to take him..."

"What was he like?”

"He was..." She swallowed. "Very bright...Also extremely curious, conscientious, honest, eager, stubborn and determined when it came to something he wanted to accomplish...But, he was also very kind, understanding. And simply..." She chocked back a sob. "Simply wonderful..."

"You really love him..." She sat down on a bench, overlooking a pond

"Yes." She sat down on the other side, face strictly to the water.
"I, I never had been in love before...I just don't understand why he couldn't love me..."

"Maybe in time?"

"I, have a feeling it never would have...Especially after that one drunken night."

"What night?"

She looked to the ground. "A night, I deeply regret..."

"Do you want to talk about it...?"

She swallowed. "Not particularly..."

"Okay then..."

She shook. "I threw out all bottles after Logan left. I, I couldn't face who I was around him drunk."

"Maybe he just needs a chance to know the real you... not you when you're drunk..." Susie frowned. "But... he's supposed to be gay, right? All of them are..."

"I... made him straight."

Susie turned to her. "You changed him?"

She hunched into herself. "I always had a bit of a crush on Logan. The offer was there and I... I hoped he would fall for me and we would have a romance."

Susie bit her lip and averted her gaze.

She swallowed as she glanced at Susie. "Did you, not change Patton at all?"

"No, why would I?"

"You weren't, at all in love with him?"

"That's not what I wanted from him. I wanted a friend, someone to take care of me and someone I could also take care of. I thought he was my best friend...”

She frowned. "How was he not?"

"Because in the end it's what I was forcing him to be. I finally had someone who actually liked me, who wanted to be with me. I never wanted him to leave or change so I did everything i could to prevent that. In the end I... I nearly broke him... I had to let him go or he would have died..."

She swallowed. "There was, no other way to make things, right?"

"Not the with the way I was... If, he was found by Logan and the others, I'm sure they're better friends for him. They'll take care of him and he'll do the same."

She bit her lip. "...WISH won't stop until they catch them though."
She hung her head. "I know..."

She looked up. "It’s funny in a way. You love him, but in the back of your mind, you're trying to forget the fact that you legally own him, that he's only alive because you bought him."

"Sometimes I wonder if I should have... he was so upset..."

"Didn't he enjoy any moments of being alive?"

"He did... until I told him he wasn't real...”

"But aren't they now?" She looked to her. "They have emotions, feelings, and thoughts of their own. They have wants and desires, even opposed to what you want them to have. And, they certainly have free will..."

"I know... Deep down, I always knew, but I was so scared of losing him, that he could be killed like Virgil. So I said something I shouldn't have."

"I should not have kissed him.” She clenched her hands.“Should, have let Logan outside on his own…"

"There was so much I should have done..."

"But we can't change the past..."

"No...”

"Just," she sighed. "Hope we don't make the same mistakes in the future..."

"Yeah..."

She looked up, watching the birds as they flew and sang. "Just... promise you'll make him feel loved..."

"I seemed to have failed that before..."

"So you can try again..."

She sighed. "I can certainly try."

"Yeah... just, maybe think about how you'll make things right."

"I don't even know how I could...I ruined things so badly."

"Well... better he's with you than one of the others..."

She winced. "So much is wrong with that statement."

"I know..."

She shook. "What have we gotten mixed up in?"

"I couldn't tell you..."

"None of it was suppose to be like this."

"Not at all." She sighed and checked her phone. "I'll need to get home. My puppy can't be alone long."

"Puppy?"

"He was supposed to be a gift for Patton, something that could have made him happy..."

"I... Never could have even thought of getting that for Logan...The apartment doesn't allow pets."

"Oh... that's a shame..."

"Yes..." She sighed and got up. "I, may as well head home myself. Thank you for your time."

"You're welcome," she stood, "It was nice meeting you."

"It was nice meeting you as well." She offered a short bow.

"Have a pleasant day." Then began to walk off.

"You too..." Susie headed back to her own car.
And so the two drove off their separate ways.

Chapter Text

The sun shined bright overhead, getting into Roman's blinking eyes. Why was he so uncomfortable? Oh, right...He let out a small groan as he stretched out, wincing. Yep, there were the new bruises. Big ones too. Sleeping in a car wasn't the best, but they currently didn't have money for a motel and needed to save it for fuel and food, especially after Logan had informed them that they could be tracked by WISH and needed to keep moving.
Roman bit his lip. Yeah, being one of the reasons that the others aren't safe wasn't good for the ego. Didn't help that Logan kept brushing off his apologies…

Did he even care that he was sorry? Or maybe he was just distracted? He would have a lot on his mind in trying to get them to safety... Worries that were much greater than his little bruises. He winced as he looked back at the others.
Patton had been somber again, everyone but Logan seeming to notice how much Pat had been stepping on eggshells around him. Virgil was sleep deprived from constantly being on watch about every night.

And Janus...Well, he had been acting, off… Normally he'd talk with them, asking questions or simply commenting in their situation and the sights around them. But lately he'd been quiet, hiding himself from their eye. It was concerning to say the least. But none of them were on good terms with him to really know why. He tilted his head. Had they done something to make him feel uncomfortable? He also slept a lot as well, they made sure to keep him warm, but it was becoming an uphill battle.

He frowned, then reached out and felt his forehead. He was warm, and shivering.

He frowned. That couldn't be right..."Janus?"

He didn't answer...

"Is something wrong?" Logan asked.

Roman looked to him. "Janus shouldn't be warm and shivering, should he?"

"No...” He started to pull over. "I'll check him."

Roman swallowed. "Alright..."

Patton yawned, then blinked. "We're, stopping?"

"Something is wrong with Janus." Logan stopped the car and got out. "Roman, could you please check the map and see how far we are from the nearest town?"

"Oh, sure." He scrambled about until he finally found it then started to read through while Patton looked worriedly at Janus.

Logan opened the door and felt his forehead, frowning. "Definitely feverish."

"Oh kiddo." Patton looked at Logan. "What can we do?"

"I could try making fever relievers..." Roman frowned as he continued studying the map. "And... the next town should be ten miles away."

"How close to the state line?" Logan shut the door.

"Uh...about five miles after the town."

"And where will that leave us?" He got back to the driver's seat
"Into Georgia...Florida will be due southeast of there."

"Right...” He started the car and continued on. "Hopefully we can find a pharmacy in town."

"Hopefully." Patton looked back at Janus, feeling his forehead. Definitely warm...

"Seems big enough it should have one...And aspirin is an over-the-counter thing, right?"

"Yes, it shouldn't be a problem."

"Still, only one of us should go in. Shifted."

"Which will be me."

Roman looked at him. "We will have no one to drive if anything happens to you. I can get aspirin same as you can."

"I'll know what to get, I'll be in and out.”

"So will I..." Roman looked over at him. "You don't have to do everything for the company, Lo."

"I'm aware..."

"Then at least allow me this. You can be here in the car ready to speed away if anything goes wrong."

Logan gripped the steering wheel tightly. "Promise me you'll only grab the medicine and go..."

Roman softly nodded. "I promise."

"Good..."

The drive continued on. Logan going as fast as he could, soon they arrived at a small town. "Keep an eye out for a pharmacy."

"I will." He peered about.

"Oh! There's one!"

Logan pulled into the parking lot and came to a stop. "Are you sure you want to do this, Roman?"

"Yes." He shifted, making him look like a long-suffering office worker. Especially making sure that nothing about his appearance stood out.

"Alright..." handed him a small stack of bills. "This should cover it."

"Got it." He fashioned a wallet then placed them inside, complete with a likely driver's license. "I'll be back before you know then." Then hopped off and headed in, slouching as he went.

"You'd better be..." Logan murmured as he watched him enter.

Patton watched Logan silently, holding Janus close.

Roman meanwhile took a deep breath. Alright you can do this. Aspirin! That should be...down that aisle, right? He went to look.
Oh geez, why were there so many?! Aspirin was supposed to be only one formula! Why so many different types of bottles?! Big, small, night-use, day-use. Which one was what he wanted?!

Calm down. Think. Had Logan ever bought aspirin before? Once, when he complained about getting headaches... What sort of aspirin had Logan bought then?

He needed something for a fever though... Maybe he could ask?
But that would draw attention to himself. And he needed to not call attention. Besides, no one is supposed to have to ask about aspirin! Here. More expensive was better...So he would take the most expensive one with the most pills! There, that one! So he snagged it and headed to the front desk. There was one person getting checked out, but they seemed to be about done. Fantastic! He went behind them and waited his turn.

"Alright you're all set, have a nice day!" The cashier looked to the front. "Next!"

Roman quickly rushed over. "Here." Then handed her the aspirin.
"This all for ya?" She took the bottle and scanned it.

"Yes." He quickly nodded. "I have a friend who's sick, but we were all out."

"Oh, that's nice of you to bring them some medicine." She placed it in a bag. "3.75, please."

"Right." He looked in his wallet, then frowned. Lo had only given him three dollars...

Maybe he shouldn't have gone with the most expensive bottle...
He frowned. What was he supposed to do?! Then he swallowed. He knew it was dangerous...But it was an emergency! He focused, then soon he was taking a crisp five-dollar bill from his wallet and handing it to her.

She took it and cashed it out, handing him back his change. "Here ya go."

He smiled. "Thank you." Then placed the change in his wallet, grabbed the bottle, then walked quickly out and to the car.

Hopefully that wouldn't backfire on that girl... Even if it did...It shouldn't be too bad, right? It was only a five-dollar bill...One that should be just as good as a real five-dollar bill. Why would something major happen over that? He hopped into the car.

"Are you alright?" Logan asked.

"Yes." He huffed. "Here's the aspirin." Then handed it to him.

Logan looked it over and sighed in relief. "Patton, will you help him take two of these? There's water bottles in the back."

He grinned. "Alright Lo!" Then grabbed a water bottle and knelt by Janus. "Hey Janus. Open up there."

His eyes opened slightly. "What...?"

Patton smiled gently. "It’s alright. You've been a bit sickie." He showed him the aspirin then went to open it. "This will help you feel better."

"Oh... sick...?"

"Yes. You got a fever." He took out a pill. "These will help bring it down. You just got to swallow it down."

"Okay..."

"Alright...Open your mouth then. Say aww."

"Aww..." he opened his mouth, revealing a forked tongue and fangs.

He blinked, then smiled. "That's pretty amazing kiddo." Then put in the one pill before giving him some water.

He managed to swallow the pill, eyes closing again. "What is?"

"Your mouth...Gotta take one more aspirin though, kiddo. Open up and say aww."

"Oh... aww..."

"Thank you." Then he put the second aspirin in, then poured in more water as he smiled. "It’s like a snake's mouth."

"And you like it...?"

"Yeah kiddo." He rested a hand on his shoulder. "I like it a lot."

"Oh... did you want to keep looking...?"

"No kiddo. That's alright..." He swallowed. "Is there, any other way I can help you feel better kiddo?"

"Dunno..." he closed his eyes again.

He softly sighed. "Just rest then, kiddo. Nothing as good for sickness as rest...Or..." He looked to Logan. "Chicken noddle soup?"

"Maybe... but we'd have to go to another store to find some... and find somewhere to cook it."

"Right..." He swallowed, fighting the urge to stork Janus's hair.
Roman swallowed as well. "Maybe the next time we go on a food run...We could do a campfire during one of our rest stops."

"There should be a store not too far from here..." Logan started driving.

Patton smiled. "Thank you..."

"We just need to hurry, and I'll go in this time."

Roman went to object, but stayed silent.

Patton frowned. "I could go in. I've been grocery shopping plenty of times."

"I'd rather you remain with Janus."

"Okay..."

Roman huffed. "Guess it wouldn't be a good idea to have Virgil go in."

"Not when he's the one most at risk if he's discovered."

"...Fair." He glanced back at the snoring purple clad emo nightmare. "Also when he's still asleep, and the one likely tied with Janus in least experience in a grocery store."

"Go ahead and try to think of anything else we might need. We won't be stopping again for awhile."

"Okay." Patton thought aloud. "Well...Maybe another water bottle or two so Janus and the rest of us don't get thirsty...Uh...No, not that. Not that either...Uh, celery? For vegetables?"

"We shouldn't keep any produce... It'll go bad..."

"Well, if we ate it within the day, it wouldn't. But I get what you mean...Those, veggie chip things are healthy and would last..."

"They are not great tasting though..."

"Better than nothing."

Roman sighed. "True..."

Patton frowned. "...Trail mix could also be good."

"Yes..."

"And... Well, that's all I could think of unless we also bought a cooler and ice."

"Which we don't have room for..."

"Not even a small cooler?"

"We’d also have to buy ice..."

"Yeah..." He slumped. "Can't think of anything else then."

Roman frowned. "What if I made a refrigerator with bag of holding like qualities?"

"You need to save your strength, Roman."

"But, it would help us."

"Roman please..." Logan turned to him, his eyes weary. "I don't want your powers to have to be the solution to all of our problems... It isn't fair to you."

He swallowed. "It’s not fair to you either to have to figure out everything all the time."

"As long as it's something we can live without, your powers aren't necessary."

"But I want to help you." He turned to him. "You shouldn't have to shoulder everything alone."

"You helped me just now."

"Yeah, but that wasn't that big a thing..." And I nearly botched even that.

"It was for Janus.”

He swallowed, looking back towards him. Seeing that he'd been able to fall back asleep, but he looked much more peaceful now.

Roman softly smiled. "It, does seem to be helping him at least..."

"Let's hope it continues to do so."

He looked at Lo. "It might not?"

"We don't know how sick he is."

"True...But if the aspirin doesn't work long term..."

"We'll figure something out."

He swallowed. "Alright..."

"There's a grocery store up ahead..."

"Good...Come out and yell if anything goes wrong?"

"I will."

He nodded. "Great...Be careful."

"Of course." He pulled into the parking lot and found a place near the store. "All of you stay shifted until I get back, and keep Janus hidden."

"Okay, Lo." Patton shifted, covering Janus and Virgil with a blanket.

Roman went for a bored teenage look. "How long should we wait?"

"It shouldn't take more than ten minutes, fifteen at the most." Logan shifted into an older woman. "If I'm gone longer than that, come and look for me."

Roman nodded. "Understood. I'll come in looking for my lost mother."

"Good, keep watch." He got out and headed inside.

Roman watched him go. "Please be alright Lo..."

Inside the store was full of hustle and bustle, children screaming, carts squeaking, people lined up at the checkouts. A good time to come in unnoticed.

Logan picked up a basket and hurried on. No time to waste on frivolous things. Just bottled water and easy to eat and store food for the road. He hurried up and down the aisles, grabbing everything he needed. He'd only given himself fifteen minutes for this. No use dilly-dallying. A worried Roman was a jumpy Roman.

He made his way into the last aisle. They'd mentioned veggie chips, but perhaps he could get them a small treat as well. Only a small one though. Nothing that would put them over budget.
A bag of lollipops caught his eye, much like what Roman wanted to buy that time they met Patton…

He grabbed it and set it in his basket. Just a little something to brighten their spirits. With a sigh, he made his way towards the check out. Still a lot of long lines. Though the self-checkout was going faster.

He made his way over. At least he didn't have that many items, and this would keep attention off him. One customer finished up just as he was arriving, groaning as they carried their bags out the door. Logan set his basket down and began scanning his items. In and out, simple. Did he have the money for this?

Looked like he'd have just enough, good. He wasn't sure what he would do if he didn't... The last item went through the scanner and in the bags.
He started placing bills into the machine. Now to wait for his change. He glanced around the store, making sure everything was okay. Just then a news bulletin crossed his eye. With their pictures...
He stiffened. No, how?!

WISH! They must really be desperate if they were letting people know they were on the loose, so to speak.
He grabbed his basket and hurried out, racing to the car.
Roman looked over, then frowned. "What happened?"

"We need to go, now." He placed the bags in the back seat before getting back in.

Patton grabbed them and set them on the ground. "Is something wrong, Lo?"

"WISH has posters of us displayed in that store."

His eyes widened. "What?"

"Full on wanted posters?"

"You could say that..."

Patton frowned. "Why wouldn't you say that?"

"I just need to focus... please..." Logan drove out of the parking lot. "How do I get back on the main road?"

Roman pursed his lip. "Go down that road then turn left."

"Thank you..."

"No problem." He got out the map fully, glancing for the roads after that.

"We just need to get back on the highway."

"Got it...Looks like you only need to continue on then take a right from the next road then we're there."

"Good, thank you."

Roman swallowed back a smile. "You're welcome, Lo. Anytime."

He took a deep breath and kept driving. "I, got you all something."

"Oh...?"

"What is it?" Patton looked through the bags.

"It's in a bag by itself, for all of you to share."

"All...Ah!" His eyes widened. "Lollipops?!"

"What?!" Roman looked back. "Oh no way..."

"I figured it would be something you'd enjoy."

Patton's smiled, eyes bright as he hugged the bag. "Thanks Lo!"

"You're welcome." He couldn't help but smile.

Roman was grinning as well. "You...You even remembered the brand..."

"I remember you expressing your like of them."

He beamed. "Thank you." Then he smirked, looking towards them. "I don't suppose we could..."

"I got them for you."

He blinked, then slowly went to reach for one.

Logan didn't stop him, focused on driving.

He then grabbed a cherry, then slowly brought it to his lips, continuing to look at Logan. No quips or chastisements about needing to be healthy?

"Is there a blueberry one in there?" He asked suddenly.

He blinked. "I, believe so..."

"Here it is!" Patton handed it to Logan.

"Thank you." He took it and managed to get it unwrapped, placing it in his mouth.

Roman then put his in his, with Patton getting out a blue raspberry for himself.
Maybe Virgil would have one when he woke up, though it would be later. And Janus...well it might be good for his throat...

For now though, it was nice to just have something sweet to enjoy. Take their minds off things. Savor the little pleasures in life, as a break from all that was wrong and awful about the world.
And how their pursuers were closer than they thought...

Chapter Text

Roman looked up from the map. "Nearly there!"

"Good... I don't know how much longer he's gonna last..." Virgil continued to dab Janus's forehead with a cold cloth while Janus shivered, pressing into the cloth.

Patton winced. Poor kiddo...

"It shouldn't be long now..." Logan's hands tightened around the steering wheel. "We need a plan...”

Roman frowned. "A plan? On how to get in?"

"A plan in general. What are we going to do for Janus? Are we still going to try and find Thomas? And what will we do if WISH is already here? It isn't farfetched to assume they'd figure we'd come here."

Patton frowned. "We don't have anywhere but Thomas to go. You said that yourself. And with Janus sick, we need Thomas's help now even more.”

"I know... but what if he thinks we're not worth the trouble?"

"He'll think us worth the trouble." Pat sat up straighter. "Don't worry."

"Or he'd sell us out..."

"No, he...” Pat shook. “He wouldn't..."

"Either way, it’s a chance we'll have to take..."

"I know..."

"So..." Roman sighed. "We just lay low until we reach Thomas's house then..."

"Knock at the door?"

"One of us will go..."

"While the rest of us, what? Stay in the car and watch?"

"Until I let you know it's safe."

"I don't think you should go alone..." Virgil frowned.

"Yeah Lo. I can be the one to go."

"Or I can." Patton swallowed. "I was the one with the idea."

"I'll take care of it."

"You take care of everything L."

"Let us handle something, please. Besides, if we are wrong, we need you in back to come up with the plan."

"Or I could avoid having any of you put in harm's way."

"But then you're putting yourself solely at risk. We don't want that!"

"Better one than all!"

"Unless by one, you're sending him to certain death, while by all, there's a better chance for them all to escape."

"If something happens to me, I'd rather the rest of you escape!"

"We won't just abandon you!"

Patton winced. "We don't need to argue about this..."

"One argument to win it though is that none of us would know what we were doing if we were alone," Virgil pointed out, "You're the one with all the survival skills.”

"True!" Roman nodded. "Who else would balance the checks like you do?!"

"It wouldn't come to that…”

"If you're worried about it being dangerous though, it could..."

"So I should be the one to go!" Patton sat up straighter.

"No!" Logan gripped the wheel tighter.

"Why not?!"

"I'm the least important one here!"

"That's not why!" Virgil turned to him.

Roman's eyes widened. "Why would you even think that?!"

"Well..." Pat wilted. "It’s, not like I really do much for our survival. I'm, more a load than anything..."

"That isn't- Patton what gave you that idea?!"

He looked up to his eyes, a weary sadness in them. "Because I'm not the guy that makes all the plans, nor the guy defending everyone else. I'm just, I have to hang around uselessly until everyone else makes decisions, some of which I don't even know about because you don't trust me...I'm just..." He looked down. "I'm just the load, the guy that was foolish and childish and packed away all his stuffed animals when he left home instead of stuff more practical."

"You think I'm any better?" Virgil chuckled. "I grabbed a bag and stuffed it with granola bars, lost my bag after some dogs chased me, had to dig through trash to find food, and drink out of rain puddles and bird baths. I lived several weeks as a cat for crying out loud. I almost died!"

Patton looked up at him. "But you've been watching out for us! And, and made our whole group better!"

"So did you, Patton." Logan spoke up. "You lift all our spirits"

"Exactly!" Roman turned to Patton. "You would not believe how more sunshiny our time has been since you came into our lives!"

Patton looked at Logan. "You, mean that?"

"Of course I do..."

He bit his lip. "Why did you never trust me then? Was I just, not good enough to trust?"

"It isn't that I don't trust any of you..."

Patton blinked. "Huh?"

Roman swallowed. "It’s more that you just don't want us to worry..."

"Or get hurt... or taken away..."

"Oh Lo..." Pat rested a hand on his shoulder. "You shouldn't be carrying all that alone."

"I can't lose you... any of you..."

"We can't lose you either, Specs." His hand joined Patton's. "Let us help you."

"But then you would get hurt..."

"Well, yeah. We could get hurt anyway." Roman sighed. "We live a life where hurt happens, much as we wish it wasn't like that."

"And we don't want you to take all the hurt on either..." Patton squeezed his shoulder. "It hurts, to know you could be being hurt and there's no way to know or stop it."

"We're in this together, L." Virgil would have joined them but didn't want to leave Janus collapsed against him as he tried to follow what was going on. What, what was happening...?

"That way," Roman looked at Lo. "None of us are alone."

"Never again...?" He asked.

Patton nodded. "Never again."

"I..." Logan took a deep breath. "If Patton wishes to go, he may do so."

Patton smiled. "I'll do it."

"Just be careful, Pat."

"And we'll be nearby."

He nodded. "Got it. If anything does happen, I'll come back towards you."

"And we'll be there to protect you."

"Exactly!"

Roman smiled, then looked back forward.

Janus began to blearily stir, eyes hazily blinking. "Wh... Where?"

"Hold on, we're getting help for you." Virgil pressed the cloth against his forehead again.

Roman kept looking around, helping Logan find the streets he needed to turn.

Janus frowned. "Help?"

"Yeah kiddo. Help for you."

"…Why?" He pressed more into the cloth.

"Because you're sick?"

He blinked more, looking up at Virgil curiously.

He glanced at him, "Is that cool enough for you?"

"...Yes?"

"Good, need water or anything?”

Patton immediately got out the water.

Janus frowned, swallowing. "Yes..."

"Alright," he took a bottle from Patton and held it up to his mouth, which Janus opened automatically, showing his teeth and snake tongue.

"There we go..." Virgil helped him drink.

Janus turned pliant in his hands, looking him as closely as he could through his fever.

"Does that feel better?”

He frowned. “I, suppose…” He fell against him as the car suddenly skidded right.

Roman winced. “Sorry.”

“Its alright, Roman.” Logan got the car going straight again. “It was a rather sudden turn.”

Janus flinched as he hurried out of Virgil’s lap. "Sorry."

"Wasn't your fault."

He huffed. "Isn't everything?"

"No?”

His eyes shone with skepticism.

"How could it be?"

"You could come up with reasons..." He shivered more.

"But I can't, are you cold?"

"Ye-No..." He huddled down.

"We have blankets-"

"You've already got them all on me!" He tried to sit up. "Just what-" He fell back, head in Virgil's lap.

"Janus? Are you okay?"

"Stop coddling me!" He hissed out, scrambling to get away.

Patton paled. "Kiddo, stop! You'll hurt yourself!"

"I'm not trying to coddle you! I'm just trying to help!"

"You've been helping!" He finally got himself upright, still wavering. "What happens when you're done?!"

"I don't know! You're not sick?!"

"And then what? What do you want me to do?! What's the purpose of all this?!"

"To help you feel better!"

"For what?! You must have decided on some use for me by now!" He wavered more.

"What are you talking about?!"

"Virgil, yelling at him will only cause him more stress."

"Yeah..." Patton swallowed.

Janus blinked. "But I've been yelling at him! You're supposed to be always on his side!"

"There are no sides!"

"But there is! I'm, literally the Dark Side." He shivered more, being to waver more. "I just want to know what to prepare for. Is that too much to ask?!"

"Janus you need to calm down," Logan spoke up, "your fever is most likely rising. Do you have any more medicine?"

"I have it here." Patton got out the bottle.

Janus shook more, tensing up.

"How much is left?"

"'Bout...Half the bottle?"

"Janus... are you willing to take some?"

He looked at him in disbelief. "What happens if I don't?"

"You won't get well..." Roman pursed his lips.

"Your state could become worse... Janus, we don't mean you any harm."

"To what end?" He slumped against the seat. "Just, please, tell what you'll want out of me once I'm well..."

"We don't want anything from you except for you to get better."

He bitterly chuckled. "Sure you do..." He glanced over to Patton. "May as well fork over the pills then."

"They will help, I promise."

"If it's any consolation, Logan can't lie."

He blinked as he swallowed the pills. "What?"

"He can't lie." Patton gave him a water bottle, which he gulped down. "Everything he says then is true."

"He can only give the facts. And the facts are, we just want you to get better."

He swallowed. "If you say so..."

"I promise, nothing is going to happen."

He stiffened. "Nothing that I'm 'unable to deal with'?"

"You're safe, Janus." Logan stopped the car in order to look at him. "I'll do everything I can to protect you."

He swallowed, but met his eyes. "You, promise?"

"I promise."

"Don't...break that..." He started to slump down again, eyes drooping closed.

"I won't..." he turned outside. "We're here."

"Oh!" Patton's eyes widened. "That...That's the place!"

"Yes..."

"Oh..." he grinned, then swallowed. "So I, just, go to the front door..."

"We have to find his apartment first..."

"Oh..." He frowned.

Roman's eyes furrowed. "Well, wouldn't he recognize it from the outside view?"

"We never really see the outside and we don't know the apartment number."

"I could always disguise myself as a cat again." Virgil pointed out. "I can check each place".

Roman glanced at him. "And if Thomas is allergic to you?"

"I could become a puppy!" Patton beamed.

"Or I could change into a bird. Any animal will do."

Roman frowned. "Will you be able to change back?"

"I always am."

He raised an eyebrow. "So you weren't stuck as a cat after you left Patton..."

"No, just chose to be."

"I see..." He sighed. "Well, either you go, or I could do it."

"Why not two of us?"

Roman frowned, looking around. "Would that be a good idea?"

"As animals? Why not?"

"Yeah kiddo. You two can go ahead while I take care of Janus."

Roman bit his lip. Pat and Logan weren't fighters though…

"We're just going to scout is all."

"...True." He swallowed, then took his sword and handed it to Logan. "Call for us if anything happens."

"We will..." Logan frowned and accepted the sword.

Roman nodded. "Alright." Then shook himself and turned into a bald eagle.

"Uh, maybe something more subtle?" Virgil got out and shifted into a small bird.

"Oh...Right." He shook again, then turned into a swallow.

Patton cooed. "Too cute..."

Virgil let out a small chirp, Logan rolled down the window and he flew out. Roman following right after him with some melodies of his own as the two went from place to place, looking inside windows for the familiar living room.

Chapter Text

After about the fifth place, Roman started irritately twitting. "Why are these living rooms so much alike?"

"It's an apartment complex. The only difference would be the furniture."

"Still puts so much work on this...Not this one. Thomas is not married with small children."

"Definitely not..." He flew to another one.

Roman flew by him, looking into the room. "You know. Somehow, I thought you'd favor a raven or crow, or starling."

"This draws less attention." He flew away when he saw a cat inside.

"But it doesn't fit your aesthetic." He flew to the next place, peering in.

"Yeah well, was more focused on survival than fitting an aesthetic that I didn't even know about."

Roman blinked. "You weren't shown the show?"

"No..."

"We'll have to fix that." Roman flew off to the next house.

"I mean, why?"

"Why? Because its seeing where you came from. Who you were brought into existence as."

"I mean... Why not be myself?"

He blinked. "It... helps explain aspects of yourself...Like, what you can do."

"I've kinda figured that out."

"Like the shadow move?"

"And shifting...”

"...I hadn't realized I could until Logan said so." He glanced in another. "Though, I saw everything. I should have tried it at some point."

"Kinda happened by accident." He flew towards another apartment.

"How?" Roman followed after him. "Were you, startled or something?"

"You could say that." He flew towards a sliding glass door.

"Don't run into it!"

"I won't- ACK!" The door suddenly opened, and Virgil smacked into someone's face, who screamed just as loud.

"Virgil!" Roman swooped down.

Virgil fell onto the porch, much to the man's distress. "Oh my God! I just killed a bird!" He knelt down as if to cup Virgil in his hands then stopped. "Wait... birds carry diseases... ugh but he already smacked into my face I might as well be infected!"

Roman stilled, blinking. Was that, Thomas...? It was him! They'd found him!

"Okay, uh..." he carefully lifted Virgil, who was too stunned to move. "I think I have an old shoebox lying around..."

Roman blinked more. If Virgil got put into a shoebox... He flew down, twittering around Thomas's head.

"Ah!" He ducked, keeping Virgil close. "Are you his friend?! I'm sorry I didn't mean to hurt him! I'm trying to help!"

He huffed, then landed on his shoulder, continuing to twitter.

Thomas blinked. "Uh, hi?"

He nodded, then continued to tweet. That's right. Focus on me until Virgil actually flies away.

"Am I becoming a Disney prince? Oh!" He jumped as Virgil took off.

Roman took a bow with his wing, then flew off after Virgil.

Leaving Thomas to stare in shock. "Did-did that bird just bow...?” ...Maybe he'd been editing videos for too long. He...He just needed a break. He shook his head then headed on back inside.

Meanwhile, Roman caught up to Virgil. "You alright?"

"I just smacked into his face!”

"I know! I, I just landed on Thomas Sander's shoulder!"

"Good grief! He almost brought me inside!"

"I know..." He hummed. "Well, it might be one way to get into his house."

"Too late now! Let's just meet up with the others."

"Right. Then we could all transform into birds and get in!"

"Yeah... not sure how that'll work when Logan has a hard time with animals and Janus is sick."

"Oh...We could carry them in a garland! Descending to Thomas like some fairy tale nymph!"

"Yeah... Too much attention.”

"Oh, right..." He sighed. "...Could make it more likely he'd welcome us in."

"We have to wait until it gets later... So no one sees us...”

"...We could turn into moonbeams and pass through the window!"

"Maybe you could.”

"But everyone else couldn't, right...Well, at least we can tell the others where he is!"

"Yeah, then we can just hide out for a bit."

"Good idea." He started to speed up.

Virgil flying close behind.

He squealed. "Oh, Patton's going to be so excited!"

"I hope so... Where's the car?"

"Why, It's right-!" Then he stopped, looking around. "Where is the car?"

"Oh no..."

He froze. "I knew one of us should have stayed behind!" Then he went for the street, desperately looking for the car. Surely Logan was driving. Surely, he just decided it was too dangerous to stay in one place...

Virgil flew beside him, searching frantically.

Roman looked around. "Think! How do we find them?!"

"I don't know! Look for a-" Virgil jolted, nearly falling before righting himself again. "Oh no...”

"What?" Roman tried to look the direction he'd looked.

A van was driving down the road, on the side he could clearly see WISH displayed.

He paled. "No..."

"Come on!" He flew in the direction the van was headed.

Roman rushing after him and the van. "Are they already inside?"

"I'm looking for the car!"

".... Right." His eyes scanned the traffic. "Is that them?"

"Yes! It's them!"

"Thank goodness...But the van!" He started flying to it.

"Wait! Do you have a plan?!' He flew after him.

"Get that van off the road!" He flew towards a tire.

"How?! Roman be careful!"

"I will be!" He looked at the wheels, then focused. If he could he summon nails or something sharp like that...Just had to make sure no one else would get hurt... Nails right in the tire then! He clapped his wings. The nails were summoned. The tires to start deflated. It worked! He flew up to get out of the way.
The van started to roll to a stop, he'd done it! He'd saved them! Should he do some of the other tires? Or would that be overkill? It wasn’t like-

"Um, Roman?!"

He looked over. "What?!"

"They have the road blocked off! They were chasing them into a trap!"

His eyes widened. "We have to warn them!" Then he flew off again.

"Hurry!"

Roman rushed on. This was going too slow. Glaring, he changed into a hawk and continued on. He could see the blockade up ahead, and their car was driving right towards it. Flapping his wings, he headed for the windshield. Just as Logan slammed on the breaks.

He then transformed into Roman. "It’s a trap!"

"I'm aware! That's why I stopped!"

"Oh..." He then got in and drew out another sword. "The guy behind is stopped at the moment. There's an escape there."

"I'd need to reverse the car, where's Virgil?"

"Still in the air, I think." He looked up.

"Well I hope he can follow us..." Logan started to back up.

Patton held onto Janus.

Roman looked around. "Should I get a gun?"

"No! We can't let them believe we're a threat! Or let them see Virgil, he could be killed on sight!"

"Then what should we do?!"

"We just need to escape!" He frantically started turning the car around.

Roman glanced behind him to see more vans pulling up... He frowned. Then summoned more nails on the road behind them.

"Why did you do that?!"

"To slow them down!"

"That's our only way out!"

"Through all the vans!?"

"That's the only way back! We- oh it doesn't matter! We're trapped!"

"They'll run over the nails, then we can make our escape!"

"They'll still be in the way! And they're coming from- from-" Logan started hyperventilating, folding in on himself. "Can't go back, can't go back!"

Patton a hand on his shoulder. "Breathe in Lo. Deep breathes."

Roman climbed into the seat and took over the wheel and gas, gunning it down.

"Take me- take you- take all of us! They'll kill us!"

Patton took his hand. "Deep breaths, Logan. Deep breathes. In for four, hold for seven, out for eight."

He clasped onto his hands, breathing in and out.

"That's it, Lo." He smiled. "That's right."

"Sorry... I'm sorry..."

"You have nothing to be sorry for, Lo." He rubbed the back of his hand. "Nothing."

Roman continued to speed along, darting about as he rushed away. The vans were in hot pursuit, doing everything they could to trap them.

Roman pursed his lips. What were they supposed to do now? If he summoned too much, he could fall asleep at the wheel. He needed some sure-fire way to get away.
Wait, was it getting dark?

He frowned. It wasn't that late yet, was it?

...Wait a second. He glanced skywards.

It looked like a black cloud, covering the sky and turning the area around them dark.

He grinned, then pressed down harder on the gas.

Enough light was left so they could find their way, the WISH vans left behind to try and navigate the darkness.

"Way to go, Virge. Whoa!" He got back control of the car and made a turn. Leaving a large, dark cloud behind them.

Roman kept an eye on the streets, glancing occasionally for Virgil. And so noticed a raven flying nearby, keeping pace with their car.
He grinned. Seemed he had gone for aesthetic this once. Then he waved at him.

He looked over and waved a wing.

He smiled more, then opened the window.

He flew inside and landed on his lap.

"Great job there, Virge." He closed the window back down.

"Should stall them for awhile."

"Enough time for us to get to Thomas." He turned again.

"No!" Logan stiffened. "We can't go to him!"

Patton held his hand. "WISH is pretty close Lo...We need someplace near to hide."

"Exactly! And they'll know to look there! We can't risk it!"

He squeezed his hand more.

Roman swallowed. "Where else would we go though?"

"I don't know! It's just too dangerous!"

"Logan..." Patton looked into his eyes. "It’s okay. It's going to be alright."

"No! No it won't be!" Logan gripped his head, tears falling. "I promised! I promised to keep you safe! I nearly let them take you!"

"You did all you could, Lo. It wasn't your fault they laid that trap..."

"But I should have known!"

"You've been driving us about non-stop for weeks now..." He stroked his hair. "You've been tired. It’s harder to think when you're tired."

"No... No I'll get us out... Let me drive..."

"We're already out, Lo." He hugged him close. "Ro and Virge got us away."

"No... out of here... let me get us out..." he reached for the wheel.

"Logan, please." Virgil got into the passenger seat and shifted back.

"We have this, Lo." Roman glanced back before continuing to drive.

"Let me..." he slumped against Patton as his eyes started to close. "Let me... be useful..."

His eyes grew somber. "You have been, kiddo." He stroked his head. You have been..."

"Don't... ignore me..." He fell asleep in Patton's arms.

His eyes watered. "I won't Lo..." He hugged him closer. "I won't..."

Virgil sighed and leaned back in his seat. "He's right though, we'd be sitting ducks with Thomas. And would be dragging him into this..."

Roman huffed. "I know. But we're already here. If we leave town, they'll be after us. If we stay anywhere, they'll find us."

"Then... maybe we can trick them..."

He looked at him. "Head out, then shapeshift and come back?"

"Or find a way to send the car out... then we all stay shifted for as long as possible. At least... the ones with the trackers..."

Patton swallowed. "I don't think Lo and Janus are going to be able to shift themselves..."

"But they'll know we didn't leave..."

Roman frowned. "...I believe, there was the ability for Sides to shift the others on the show."

"There was?"

"Well, at least clothes were changed."

Patton winced. "I don't think Janus would like it either way."

"He's unconscious..."

"Right now. But he'll wake up."

"When?"

"I don't know. But when he does, I don't think he'll like his clothes being changed."

"Clothes wouldn't likely affect the trackers anyway..." Roman sighed.

"No..."

Roman huffed. "If only we could get the trackers out."

"But we can't find them..."

"We could dig around. It's the only way we can get them to think we're someplace we're not."

"That's not safe...”

"No. But nothing is safe right now."

"I know..."

"We have to try." He looked around. "I'll find a place for us to stop and try it."

"What if there's no time? What about Janus?"

"Guess one of us will have to dig around inside him...Look, it’s either we get the trackers out, or we have to force them to shift while unconscious. Neither option is pleasant."
"It's an option between possibly killing them and briefly making them uncomfortable. I don't like either of those options but at least one of them keeps them alive!"
"We wouldn't kill them!" He made another swerve. "And with the trackers out, we can throw them off by a couple of days!"

Patton bit his lip.

"It wouldn't matter if they were dead!"

"We wouldn't kill them!"

"Both of you, calm down!" His eyes flashed blue.

Roman jolted, before getting back control of the car.

Virgil froze and looked over. "S-Sorry..."

Patton's eyes went to normal, though confused. "Sorry...Just, yelling isn't helping. And Virgil's right, Ro. We aren't doctors. We don't know where the tracking devices are, or how to get them out.... We need to figure out how to get them to shift."

"Yeah, I don't like it either... but I can't hurt them."

Roman pursed his lips. "I'm outvoted then...But we can't get away from them for long if we don't get the trackers out."

"I know... we'll think of something..."

"Alright. I'll head out of town then..."

Patton looked down at the sleeping Logan and Janus. "I can try to figure out the shifting thing for them..."

"I'll keep watch.”

"Okay." Patton ran his fingers through their hair.

Logan curled into him, shaking in his sleep.

Patton's heart ached as he held him closer. Oh Lo...How long had he been hiding how scared he actually was...? How had none of them noticed? Logan had been suffering and none of them had noticed! They-He needed to get better at noticing. Logan should never get this bad in his own emotions again. Maybe once they'd settled somewhere, they could talk about everything. Make sure that he never was putting this much on himself again.

He stroked his back, humming a soft lullaby. Logan was almost hugging him now; both arms wrapped around him.

"Has anyone ever seen him sleep like that?" Virgil asked.

Roman furrowed his brow. "He, barely ever sleeps in the first place..." Maybe before they found Pat, sometimes, when the two of them ended up falling asleep to something they watched...

"What'd he mean by ‘don't ignore me’?"

He swallowed. "He, doesn't do well with being ignored...No matter the reason."

"He's never mentioned it before. Is this a show thing?"

"Logan in show doesn't do well with being ignored...Not sure if it's as painful in show, or if some of it is show Logan having feelings be the bane of his existence."

"Or something that happened with his wisher..."

He swallowed. "Maybe..."

Or part of her alterations... Only he'd know, but would he answer if someone asked him a question like that? He wouldn't have much of a choice... He flinched. He wouldn't want to push like that if he didn't want to answer. Especially not right now.

Logan deserved the chance to recover and have privacy. He was already going to be on edge when they went to Thomas. Which, they needed to prepare for. He sighed. "Think I'm far enough out of town?"

"I think so..."

He went to the side of the road and parked. "Okay." Then shifted himself. "We've got some changing to do."

"Yup..."

Patton nodded, then looked at Logan and gently tried to shift him.

"What are you changing him into?"

"Just, someone not Logan...Curlier, brighter hair for one thing. Size just right for a decent cuddle."

"So you're making him into a teddy bear?" Virgil chuckled.

He smirked. "No..."

"Aw too bad, he'd make an adorable teddy bear."

Patton smiled. "He would. But I don't know how he'd react if he woke up as one. He might be a bit of a grumpy bear."

"Maybe another time then."

He hummed. "Maybe...How does he look?"

"I wouldn't know it was Logan if you hadn't changed him right in front of me."

He smiled. "That's the point." Then he looked over at Janus. "...Now for him."

"Just something simple."

"Yeah..." He placed his hand in Janus's hair, then sighed and slowly shifted the scales away.

"It's for his own good... Remember that."

"I know." He swallowed. "Still...He's so scared of us..."

"I know...”

"This won't help that..."

"We can't help him if he dies...”

"I know, Virge." He finished up, stroking his now black hair as it went over his eyes. "I know..."

Roman looked behind, then checked the road around them. All seemed clear, it was now or never. He found a good spot then drove off the road and stopped.

"Guess we won't be seeing this old thing again..." Virgil got out and looked at the car.

Roman sighed, patting it lovingly. "It has been a good car though...I'm going to miss it."

"Yeah, almost felt like home.”

Roman pursed his lips. "Start heading out with Pat. I... I want to give our home a proper home, so to speak."

"Oh, right. Let me get Janus." He shifted then went to grab him out of the back.

Patton then continuing to hold Logan, hugging him tightly. "Don't be too long."

"I won't." He then drove the car further from the road, out of immediate sight.

"We won't leave without him." Virgil assured him.

"I know that." Patton adjusted his hold on Logan, glancing about. "Will we ever need the car again?"

"I don't know Pat..." He turned to him. "You okay?"

"Yeah." He gave himself more muscle. "Yeah, I'm fine, kiddo. You?"

"Anxious... I don't know how this is going to work..."

Patton pursed his lips, then squeezed Virgil's hand. "We'll make it work. Just like we always do."

"While taking care of these two..."

"Well, Lo's taken care of us. It’s about time we take care of him."

"Definitely. He still won't let you go..."

"Yeah." He looked down at him, sadly smiling. "He did so much, and he still thinks I'd let him go."

"He's not hurting you though, right?"

He shook his head. "Not at all..." He hugged him tighter. "I'm never letting him go!"

“Ever?"

"Never ever!"

Roman chuckled. "I'm sure you will need to some time." He strode over, a strain barely noticeable in his step. "The car now has a respectable resting place."

"I'm sorry Roman..." Virgil swallowed. "You put so much into it."

He waved it off. "It’s better it has a decent place to repose, instead of rusting on some street corner...We should be going." He started down the road. Virgil followed behind, keeping Janus close to him with Patton following behind them.

Janus shivered a bit, huddling more into Virgil as his sweat started gathering on his clothes.

"Hold on... " Virgil murmured. "Just a little longer..."

He shook more. "How, much longer, mistress?"

"We're getting you help..."

"Help..." He sunk more into Virgil, frowning. "What, scenario?"

"Scenario?"

"Yes." He huffed. "Is it, me being forced into a straitjacket for the sanitarium, or a rescue where the rescuers turn out to be worse?"

"What? No, we're getting you to a doctor. Or at least someone who could get you proper medicine."

"Right...Some client would truly commission that..."

"Janus... I'm not your Wisher..."

He frowned, then blurrily opened his eyes.

"Don't worry, it's Virgil. We just have to be in disguise right now."

He blinked more; eyes full of feverish confusion.

"Just try and rest. It'll be okay."

"Yes, sir..." He closed his eyes again, falling back into slumber.

Virgil sighed. Once he was better, they could work on gaining his trust. For right now though, they had to figure out what they were going to do next. Hopefully, before Roman collapsed from exhaustion. It would be dark soon, maybe they could hide for awhile before going to Thomas. That way they could have as many of them not exhausted as possible when meeting him. And hopefully, not freak him out too much...

Chapter Text

A crash resounded from downstairs. Thomas frowned, paused his show, and listened from his bed. Whatever that was, hopefully it wasn’t one of his Fanders actually going through with the suggestion to break his windows. Or burglars either, for that matter... Still, Shouldn't go down unprepared though, what did he have to defend himself with? Oh, his keyblade! Quickly, he grabbed that then left through the door and quietly down the stairs, doing his best to not shake.

"Why did you break the window?!" A voice hissed.

"How else were we supposed to get in?!" Another hissed-whispered back. The figures of around five-six people, one being carried came into focus. "The door was locked!"

"Yeah! Like most places would be!"

Oh great, it was more than one. What was he supposed to do?! He only had a false keyblade!

"Come on kiddos." A third voice started resting the person on the couch. "Let's calm down. We should be fine. This is Thomas we're talking about."

And they knew who he was?! Wait, why did that voice sound familiar?

He saw the five figures standing in his living room, the sixth one laid down on the couch.

"This is bad..." One smaller one started to pace. "This is really bad... We broke in! We're criminals!"

"Technically we are already fugitives."

Fugitives?!

"We could have knocked..."

"But we needed to get in unseen!"

"But now we've most likely been heard."

"We can just wait then and-"

Creak. Thomas halted on the step.

"Shit!"

"Virgil wait-!"

Thomas found himself pinned against the wall.

His eyes widened, “Don’t!” Then he blinked. "...Virgil?"

A light was suddenly turned on, and Thomas found himself face to face with the fictional embodiment of his anxiety.

"I-I'm sorry." He quickly backed away.

He took his breathes. "Well, as long as you don't kill me- Am I dreaming?"

"No, you are not." Logan walked up, adjusting his glasses. "I apologize that we had to meet this way, but we had no other choice..."

His eyes met Logan's. "How? Why?"

"Please, Thomas." Patton called from by the couch, where Janus lay. "We need your help."

"No one else can help us." Roman swallowed.

His eyes flickered to all of them, then looked back at Janus.

"Janus is ill... And we don't have any medicine or a way to take him to a doctor..."

Thomas blinked more, then started over to the couch. He was so... pale... Nothing like the Janus he knew. But that could be explained by him being sick...

Hold on, was he just going to believe them? When there was no possible way they could be the Sides? ...Whatever their story, he clearly needed help. And maybe this was going to be an elaborate way to kill him, but he could try to help at least.

He sighed. "I could get you guys what you need. Or get him to ER..."

"NO!" Virgil, Roman, and Patton shouted.

"Calm down, all of you." Logan sighed. "It would be a risk to take him there. You see, we are being hunted. By WISH, have you heard of them?"

His brow furrowed. "Like the company in those ads? Why would they be hunting you?"

Roman swallowed. "Well, you see..."

"Each of us were brought to life. However, none of could stay with our wishers. For our own safety we all ran away, eventually meeting up. However, some of us may have trackers inside us (Roman, Janus, and myself for certain) and seeing as we are now runaways, WISH won't stop until we're contained and either returned to our wishers, or disposed of..."

Virgil wrapped his arms around himself. "Look, we get it if you'd rather have nothing to do with us. But... Janus needs help...”

Thomas's eyes widened. "Disposed of...? Okay, you know what. I'll save the questions till later. I'm going to have a lot of questions though." He went towards his medical cabinet. "What kind of medicine should work?"

"Anything for a fever, and we believe he may also be cold blooded. We haven't been able to keep him at a consistent temperature..."

"So you could use some heated blankets." Thomas got out his fever relievers, then got a glass and filled with water. "There should be at least one in that closest there."

"Great!" Patton quickly went over and looked.

"How can the rest of us help? We could at least get your window fixed..."

Thomas blinked. "You could?"

"Indeed. One moment." Roman snapped his fingers and the window reassembled itself.

Thomas blinked more. "...I'm definitely dreaming." Then he headed back with the water and pills. "Try giving him two of these."

"I will, thank you." Logan hurried off to tend to Janus.

"Here's the electric blanket!" Patton hurried back, then plugged it in and rested it over Janus.

Roman made his way by Virgil, looking at Thomas who was just watching Logan and Patton.

They were real... walking around his living room, looking exactly like him... No way this was some intensive cosplay. It was them. Each of them moved just like they would move, had their tones of voice. Janus literally was half-snake! People had really brought his characters to life, but how?! Most of his fan base would be too young to afford this!
Yet, they were talking about being made by WISH...Ordered by Wishers. He'd always thought that there was some scam to what they were promising. Not that it could literally do this...

"Hey..." Virgil walked up. "I'm sorry we woke you up and all..."

He shrugged. "I was still watching The Office bloopers, I think..." He turned to Virgil.

"I didn't want to barge in but, he's getting worse..."

"Yeah, he doesn't seem good..." He glanced back at Janus. "How long's he been sick like that?"

"Not long after we found him... I don't even wanna know what his wisher did to him."

He blinked. "His Wisher did?"

"Yeah..." Virgil rubbed his arm. "We've... all got scars..."

He frowned. "They hurt you?"

"In different ways..." he glanced at the others.

Thomas's eyes following his. "And there was no one else to stop it?"

"Who would? We were their property. They could do whatever they wanted."

"What?" His eyes widened.

"Why do you think we had to run?"

"But… But, how could they?"

Roman bit his lip. "I believe we could use some time to rest, if we may."

"Oh...Yeah..." He looked up. "I don't have much space, but if you guys don't mind being cozy, we could make it work."

"We've been living in a car for awhile. We're okay with cozy."

"Oh....Then I suppose you guys would also like showers..."

Roman's eyes lit up. "A shower? Oh that would be divine!"

"Oh, do we stink?" Logan turned to him. "I apologize for that."

"Oh, no." He waved his hands. "You don't, stink at all. Just, if you've been in a car awhile, I could imagine that it would be nice to clean up."

"Oh, well, I suppose you're right."

"That would be nice." Patton smiled. "Thanks Thomas."

"No, no problem. I, should still have clean towels up there...Along with soap and shampoo."

"Who would like to go first?" Logan asked.

"I-" Then Roman faltered, glancing at everyone else and Thomas. "Or...I could go last. A prince like me is never actually that dirty."

"Pat? You wanna go?” Virgil offered.

Patton looked between them and Janus. "Uh, sure."

"I guess I can go next" Virgil shrugged.

"Then you can go after him, Emo." Roman gently nudged Virgil.

"You could go next Roman. I want to monitor Janus." Logan still sat beside him on the couch.

Roman looked at him. "If you say so, Lo."

"I'll take over watching Janus when you're in the shower, Lo." Patton smiled.

"I'd appreciate it."

"Head on up then Pat." Roman smiled at him.

"Great..." Thomas nodded. "Do you want me to show you where it is?"

"It'll be upstairs." Logan pointed out. "I know you have one in your bedroom."

"Yeah..." He chuckled. "That is something seen with the show and all..."

"I'll find my own way up, thanks." Patton then headed upstairs.

Thomas then blinked. "Will he need new clothes? I, guess you all would be my size..."

"I hadn't thought of this..."

Roman swallowed. "Thank you, but we have our ways with clothes thanks to you...Maybe you could help us get set up in that guest room?"

"I could assist." Logan stood.

Thomas blinked. "Okay...Should we carry Janus up there then?"

"Oh, yes. He'll need a bed."

"We can carry him though." Roman went and scooped up Janus. "Unplug the blanket, Lo?"

Logan nodded and unplugged it, picking up the cord so it wouldn't drag.

Thomas then started up the stairs. "This way then."

"Don't hit his head!" Virgil warned.

Roman rolled his eyes, readjusting him. "I am not going to hit his head."

"Just saying!"

"I know, but please." He continued up the stairs. "You can trust that I would not be so clumsy."

"You're exhausted though..."

He stalled, then glanced at Thomas before looking at Virgil. "Not that exhausted."

"Still... I’m just worried..."

He gritted his teeth, glancing more at Thomas. "Virge, I'm fine."

Thomas looked between them. "...Would you like me to carry Janus?"

"No!" Roman held him tighter.

"He was only offering to help," Logan placed a hand on his shoulder then turned to Virgil, "Thank you for your concern. But I believe they will be alright."

"Okay L...”

Thomas swallowed. "Alright...Sorry."

"No, it’s..." Roman sighed. "Its fine..."

Thomas just continued upstairs. "The guest room's right through here."

"Thank you, Thomas."

"No problem."

Roman carried Janus on inside.

Thomas looked at Logan and Virgil. "Anything else I could do?"

"I believe we'll be alright for now."

"Okay. Cool. Uh...Make yourself at home then?"

"We will, thank you."

"Great. I'll...leave you guys to it then." Then he headed back to his room while Roman and Logan headed into the guest room.

“So…?” Virgil closed the door behind them. "We're just trusting him not to rat us out?”

Roman looked to Virgil. "If you want to watch him, feel free." He laid Janus carefully on the bed.

"I'm just saying it's a possibility..."

He sighed. "I know." He stood up. "Sorry just, long day. And we're actually here."

"I know... It's crazy..."

"Exactly." He looked out the door. "I just wish I knew for certain whether we can trust him or not."

"I understand..." Logan sighed as he got the blanket plugged in.

Janus let out a contented sigh as he started to uncurl.

Roman huffed. "I was the one to bring us here. I can be the one keeping an eye on him."

"I can listen out though," Virgil said.

Roman blinked. "Listen out?"

"I've got good hearing." He shrugged.

He blinked more than rubbed his eyes. "Makes sense. I guess..."

"So I'll hear him if he does anything..."

Roman collapsed on the bed. "So, what's he doing now then?"

"Nothing..."

Then came some sounds of falling onto the bed, then clicks on the computer.

"Okay now, he's on his computer..."

Roman's eyes widened. "Doing what?"

"I don't know, typing?"

"Any idea what he's typing?"

"No...?"

Roman got back up, then snapped his fingers and started to shakily put on an invisible cloak.

"Roman..." Logan put a hand on his shoulder.

Roman swallowed. "I can't fail at this. It’s my fault we're here. I have to protect you."

"It's no one's fault. We chose to come here."

Roman sighed. "Because we have nowhere else to go..."

"And... I trust him..."

Roman blinked, looking at him. "You, do?"

"I do." Logan adjusted his glasses.

He blinked. "But you were the most against this..."

"And I've had time to think... if he really wanted us gone, why help us at all?"

He blinked. "Virge could probably come up with a few ideas...To make us feel at ease and be unaware?"

"Well, yes..."

Roman swallowed. "So, there's no good reason to trust him. I shouldn't have brought us here. I should have-."

"Roman... Where's Virgil?"

He blinked, looking around. "What? He, he was just right there..."

"Well he isn't anymore."

His eyes widened. "He's gone for Thomas."

"He must have shifted..."

"He can't be alone with Thomas!" Roman started rushing for the door.

"Roman, stop." Logan grabbed him. "He's most likely hidden. Do you want to blow his cover?"

He shook. "No..."

"Virgil survived on his own before. He knows how to keep himself hidden."

He took a deep breath. "He'll be alright?"

"He will."

He took more breathes. "Okay...Alright..."

"Just give him time..."

"Alright..." He collapsed back on the bed. "If, if you're sure..."

"I am..."

He sighed. "If he's not back before Patton's done, I'll search for him."

"That is reasonable."

"Thanks..." He glanced to the door. Please be alright, Virge. Please be alright.

Chapter Text

Thomas meanwhile continued typing on the keys. "Alright, WISH. Just what type of company are you really?"

He didn't notice the small, purple spider on the ceiling, watching and listening. Instead, he clicked onto the website. "Dreams come to life, laba dada yada. Start on ordering your characters...Info about us...That should be where I start." he clicked the link.

Just what was he looking for? Something that would explain any of this. How they made all of them so well and so exactly while clearly not being robots. How the heck people would be allowed to hurt them with no one else jumping in... Nowhere else seemed to have any info on these guys even though the stocks for the company was within the top ten. And there was little news coverage except for some about lawsuits requiring the characters they'd based off of some of the other franchises to stop being made. All that was left was the company's own website. And it, really wasn't saying much... It looked like if he wanted more information, he'd have to actually purchase a character. Which seemed like a major red flag. People were supposed to be able to know what they were buying before they bought it.

He sighed. "Why are you being so cagey here?" About the only clear thing was a number he should call for customer service and... "Oh, forums!" He tried to click into there.
What?! Set up a WISH account?! Geez these people were secretive!

He huffed. "Well then, if you won't give up your secrets." He opened a new tab and tried Reddit again.
One thing he saw repeatedly was how it was nearly impossible to get information about WISH unless you purchased a character from them. Some accounts had even been banned from reddit itself due to wishers sharing information about it. The posts deleted as well…

He swallowed. This was getting away from what most corrupt businesses would do... He opened a YouTube tab and tried searching there. Most were just wishers showing off their characters... That was better than nothing though. He clicked on one of the videos at random.

Virgil spun a web and lowered himself down just above his head. Thomas was too engrossed though on the screen in front of him to notice.

"Hey? Is this thing on?" A guy tapped the mic, then stepped back. "Good. Hey guys, so remember how I talked about getting Pearl last time? I went through with it! And now she's here in my house! Come on up to the camera, girl." He gestured from off screen.

Thomas could barely believe his eyes as she walked into frame, standing perfectly poised and still, just as graceful and elegant as she appeared in the show. Even though she looked animated, she was still clearly in the real world.

The guy chuckled. "Doesn't really look real does she." He then stood and wrapped his hand around her waist. "Don't be shy Pearl. Say hi to everyone."

"Hello, everyone." She smiled, but there was something off about her smile, and her eyes...

The man chuckled. "Ain't she a peach?" Then he squeezed her tighter. "I can tell you right now that she's far better than any body pillow, if you know what I mean~"

Thomas shook, then quickly clicked on another video at random. Anything to get away from that.

Virgil trembled. Would she ever try to escape? Where would she even go if she were to?

Another video started up. "Let me out of here, fleshling!" A voice screeched from off screen. "You can't do this to me!"

"Geez, you guys won't believe this..." the camera turned to where a life size version of Starscream was contained in some kind of cage, preventing him from moving. "I got him! I actually got him!"

Red eyes glared as his claws gripped the handles, showing the cuffs around his hands. "Not for long...Let me go now, and you might just live."

"Yeah, no worries guys, if he does break out, he'll just shut down. WISH policy says I have to keep him in there."

His eyes widened at that. "You'd...I can't stay here!" He started thrashing around. "Let me out. Let me out!"

"Not gonna happen buddy!"

Okay even for a giant, evil murderous robot, this still felt wrong. Especially one that was supposed to fly...

He switched off to another video, swallowing. Then his eyes widened. "Roman?"

"Hey everybody!" The woman by him waved at the camera. "Meet my new friend!"

"Greetings! Ladies, lords, and non-binary royalty!" Roman stood beside her, waving happily.

She chuckled. "Ain't he just the sweetest thing~" Then she rested her head against his chest. "Today will be his first-time skydiving. You excited?!"

"Of course I am! I'll be falling in style of course~"

"Of course." She went and grabbed the flight suits. "Only the very best for my Roman."

He smiled as he took his suit. "Lead the way, my queen."

She grinned. "Thank you, my prince." Then took his hand and started rushing off. "We'll see you on the plane!"

Thomas blinked more than clicked on her YouTube page where he found a full playlist of her videos with Roman. Going out to eat blindfolded, spelunking in a cave..."Our marriage announcement?"

Virgil winced. He'd hoped he wouldn't find out about that one...

Thomas promptly clicked that link, letting it play out.

She was grinning at the camera, Roman's hand in her's. "Hey everybody! As you can see from the title, we're finally getting married!"

Roman looked, off. He kept avoiding looking at the camera, trying to shrink in on himself...

But she didn’t care in the slightest! "We're both looking forward to our big day! Aren't we, my prince?" Her eyes turned to him.

He didn't answer, still keeping his head down.

A quick frown, then her barely hidden nails dug into his wrist. "Aren't we?"

He immediately shot up, a painfully fake smile on his face. "Of course we are! I can't wait!"

Her smile was then back in full force. "Stupendous!" She then turned back to the camera. "While I can't invite you all there, I will be having video posted on-"

Thomas shook, letting her voice ramble on as he scrolled through the comments. Surely someone there was calling out how wrong this was, right?
But no one was...

He continued to scroll down, looking for someone who had. Most of the comments though were just congratulations on the upcoming wedding, some wondering about what sort of children they would be having, jokes about what the two of them would be like in bed together.
And some guys wondering if she was ever going to partner up with DeceitSoNatural on DeviantArt? Who was that?

Either someone very wholesome, or someone from one of DeviantArt’s darker corners... A link was in the comment. He clicked it.

Virgil shook. Why did he have to click the link? There couldn't be any good coming from there! Didn't he realize that?!

Apparently not, since he turned absolutely pale once the page loaded and a detailed drawing of Janus, suspended in air by yellow ribbons and nothing else on came into focus.
Virgil covered his mouth. How did she get these pictures? Surely Janus hadn't... He couldn't have...

Thomas's shaky fingers moved of their own accord, scrolling through scene after scene of Janus. Janus tied to chairs were the most normal ones, and often the only ones still showing some life in his eyes, some anger and determination. Defiance. The more and more new the art was though, the deader his eyes seemed when not showing outright fear while the scenarios grew more and more demented, going from straitjackets to animal suits to...

Quick as a flash, Thomas shut down the window. Then slam down the laptop and sat up and away.
Virgil quickly climbed back towards the ceiling.

Thomas scrambled to the head of his bed, panting for air as he tried to find his pattern. No wonder Janus was sick! After all, that... He'd been in BDSM clubs and they'd never had stuff out like that! Those things took a toll on the body! And judging by the amount of artwork... He'd been going through this for so long…
Oh… Oh-! He rushed to his nearest trash can and hurled, coughing and shaking.

How could someone do that?! See the living, breathing people that he saw and just...?

He hurled more.

Stuff like that was supposed to be stopped. What was the point of having bringing someone to life if you were just going to treat them like that? How could no one else see them as people?! And that company, WISH, was going to send them back!

He shook, huddling into himself.

He couldn't let that happen. He didn't know how, but they never could be back there ever again. They'd have to kill him first.

Wait, hadn't he seen people prevent their characters from being brought to life?
Yeah, big corporations. That didn't want someone else making money off their properties.

...Could he afford a lawsuit?

Probably not.... He could try though...There were probably ways he could cut down on the show budget, though he couldn't cut down on everyone's wages.
Maybe he could ask Joan to pitch in?
No. They already had enough to take care of with the move and Talyn. He couldn't force this on them too.

No one else he knew was really wealthy either…

He bit his lip. Maybe he could somehow raise awareness of, stuff like this among his fans. There had to be some able to see how immoral and wrong this was. With awareness, laws would change. Even if that would take a long time and he needed something quicker. At the very least, he could try to silently raise money while keeping them safe here for as long as possible, make WISH not know they were here.

Though if he'd heard right from Lo about them being traced, then it'd only be a matter of time before they showed up. He shook. Time. He needed to buy time.
The morning. In the morning, he could see if they knew how they were being traced and figure out how to cover their tracks. Find a way to protect them...

Sighing, he shakily managed to stand, then searched around for his stuffed animals. There was that giant cat a fan had sent him, perfect for hugging. He grabbed onto that, hugging it close as he grabbed others and threw them on the bed till, he had something like the mound from the first Sanders Sides episode.
"Sorry for being so rough there, guys." He patted some of them apologetically. Then sighing, he climbed under the covers and brought them with him, petting the cat as he hugged them the most. "Well, goodnight." Then he tried to close his eyes.

Virgil made his way back to the bedroom, crawling along the floor and under the door before shifting back. "Hey guys."

Roman sprung up. "Virgil!" Then he rushed over to him. "You alright?"

"I'm fine, he never even knew I was there."

"Good." He sighed in relief. "What was he doing?"

"Trying to find out information about WISH... He didn't get far."

"Oh..." He frowned. "He, wasn't trying to contact him?"

"He wasn't trying to...”

"Good." He rubbed his brow. "Guess we can't help that he would want to check what we say..."

"I don't think that's what he was doing either. I think he wants to help us..."

Roman looked at him, hope fighting in his eyes. "You do?"

"Yeah, he... found some videos of wishers..."

His eyes widened. "Which ones...?"

"Some cartoon... a giant robot..." Virgil looked down. "And you..."

Roman stilled, hand squeezing the bed.

"He saw your wedding announcement..."

"He found that one." He shook his head. "Of, all those he could find, he saw that one..." He huffed. "How disgusted was he?"

"He wasn't, he looked more shocked that no one was saying anything against it even though you were clearly scared..."

"They all saw what she saw." He swallowed. "That, it wasn't right for me to lead her on if I hadn't wanted to marry my queen..."

"But you weren't given a choice."

He shook. "Not until Logan came..." Then he turned to look at him.

Logan sat on the bed, his arms crossed. "Did he see anything else?"

"Yeah..." he turned to Janus. "We found out what his Wisher used him for..."

Janus minutely stiffened under the blanket.

"He did?" Roman swung back to Virgil. "How?"

"Someone in the comments mentioned someone called DeceitSoNatural... An artist it looks like... And he was her model..."
Roman blinked. "I recall that name. Rosa refused to collabe with her due to the work she did being too vulgar and plebeian for her prince "

"We saw what she did to Janus..."

"...Dare I ask what that was?"

Janus tensed more.

"You don't want to know but... it explains how he is now..."

He swallowed, glancing at Janus. "I see..."

"But he doesn't want to hurt us, or turn us in."

"Really?"

"It’s like I told ya guys." Patton came in, towel drying his hair. "Thomas is kind and a good person. He wouldn't put us through that."

"I know this is odd coming from me, but I really do trust him."

Roman pursed his lips. "So, other than WISH, we have nothing to worry about?"

"Yeah, and Janus getting better."

"Right, and Janus getting better..." He started to grin. "We might, actually be alright then..."

"Maybe..." Virgil smiled back.

"It’s not maybe." Patton sat on the bed. "It’s completely! We're safe here."

"You're wrong." Logan stated flatly.

Patton winced. "What?"

Roman turned. "I thought you also trusted Thomas."

"It isn't Thomas that I'm worried about. WISH will come here. They'd be foolish not to."

Patton swallowed. "But, Thomas can help us, right?"

"I don't know. Even though he is our creator, he doesn't hold as much power as others out there."

"But Thomas cares about us." Patton sat up. "Others might be bigger or tougher, but he will actually want to help us, and he will."

"Just because he's willing to doesn't mean he will be able to."

"But at least it means he'll do anything he can to help us!"

Roman pursed his lips. "Does it?"

Logan pursed his lips. "You don't know what that would entail."

Patton lowered his head. "No..."

"Even if there was something he could do, he..." Roman swallowed. "He might need an incentive to."

"We won't go there." Logan stood. "Virgil, you should go shower."

"Okay..." Virgil glanced at them all before leaving.

Roman bit his lip and ducked his head. "Sorry..."

"I'm not angry, Roman." He placed a hand on his shoulder. "I simply won't allow you to put yourself in an undesirable situation."

Roman looked up at him. "That means you're not going to either, right?"

"I do not believe it would be necessary with Thomas."

Roman swallowed. "I want to trust that."

"You can, kiddo." Patton held Roman's hand. "You can..."

"I wouldn't allow us to stay here if I thought otherwise."

Roman sighed in relief. "Al, alright..." Then a yawn escaped him.

"Are you going to be too tired for a shower?"

"No." He shook his head. "I could never turn down a chance for a shower."

Patton chuckled. "Maybe you should go after Virgil then."

"I was prepared to go last anyway."

Roman looked at Logan. "You know how I am with hot water..."

"I will manage."

"If you say so..."

Patton fondly shook his head, then scotched up onto the bed and by Janus. "Any change with him?"

"He's resting easier at least..."

"That's good." His hand started to gravitate towards Janus's hair. "Poor kiddo could use it..."

The moment his hand made contact with Janus's hair, Jan immediately flinched away, hissing and curling into himself.

Roman's eyes turned immediately towards the two.

Patton froze. "Hey Janus..." Then he withdrew his hand. "Feeling better?"

He didn't answer, trying to cover his head.

"Give him space Patton..."

"Oh." He pushed himself away. "Right. Sorry kiddo."

"I don't think he's fully awake..."

Patton bit his lip. "I scared him that badly?"

"I don't know. It would be best not to touch him again until he's awake. Unless it's necessary..."

"Right." He clasped his hands in his lap, then glanced at Janus. "Of, course. He just...You seemed to like it when you were sleeping, Lo..."

"I did?" He blinked.

"Yeah." He looked up at Lo. "You were, really cute and cuddly as well."

"I-I wasn't aware..."

Roman chuckled. "It wasn't anything to be ashamed of, Lo." Then he rested a hand on his shoulder. "Patton certainly didn't mind holding you."

"You didn't?"

Patton smiled. "Not at all, Lo. You were like a big teddy koala bear!"

"Oh..." he blushed slightly. "And, you didn't mind? You enjoyed holding me?"

Patton grinned. "I didn't mind at all, Lo." Then he held his hands. "If you ever want me holding you, or you just want to cuddle, we could do that any time you want."

"We can?!" His eyes were practically glowing.

And oh that was just too precious...How could anyone deny him with eyes like that? "We sure can...We could right now if you want."

'"Yes please!" He nearly ran into his arms, clinging to him with his head buried in his chest.

Patton braced himself, then quickly wrapped his arms around him and smiled, holding him close. "This okay?"

"Hmphs." He mumbled, hugging him tighter.

Patton chuckled. "Alright." Then brought his hand up and started rubbing his fingers through his scalp.

Logan practically melted, he reminded Patton of a big cat. A big panther, usually quiet, but he imagined that it would likely purr like this if petted.
He swallowed, then got the two of them comfier on the bed, continuing to stroke his head. Oh Lo...What did your Wisher do to you?

Roman stared. Odd... He thought Logan wouldn’t like touch after what she did. But he never did ever talk about her...There was no telling what she did...
He swallowed, then headed out the door to wait for Virgil and give them some element of privacy.

Logan snuggled into Patton more, like he was trying to get as close as possible. And Patton snuggled right back, gently falling to sleep.
It didn't really matter. He'd make sure to give Logan exactly what he needed.

No matter what that was...

Chapter Text

Come on my prince~ Dance for me... Her fingers held delicate strings, attached to Roman like a marionette.

Thomas's eyes widened.

Roman was pulled onto his feet in the perfect pose. He shined like he was made of glass, cracks on his face looked like tear stains...

Thomas shook. "No!" Then he started to run towards them. "Stop it! Stop hurting him!"

Roman was pulled away just before he could grab him, dancing gracefully, but every movement made him shatter more.

"No!" He leapt for him, only for them to vanish.

Chains rattled from above. Thomas looked up and saw Janus! Blindfolded, golden chains slithering and coiling around him like snakes. Desperately, he gasped for breath as the chains tightened around him.

A chorus of voices rose up, cheering. Beautiful!

"Someone help!" Thomas called out. "Help me get him down!" But no one did. The applause only grew until it was a roar. Bright spotlights turned on, causing Thomas to flinch away, looking desperately around. "Let him down! Let him go!" But he couldn't see him anymore! Where was Janus?! He ran, searching desperately. But the light was getting brighter, the roar growing louder...

He sprung up from his bed and gasped, grabbing onto his head. His stuffed animals had been knocked off his bed, while his blanket wrapped tangledly around him.
He sighed. "I hate when I do that..." Then he swallowed, taking deep breathes. "It was a dream. Just...Just a dream..." Except it technically wasn't, that could very well be their lives... He let out a low growl. He couldn't let it happen. He couldn't let it happen! He refused! No one would ever-

Did he smell pancakes?

He sniffed more. Yeah...That was definitely pancakes... Who was...? He got up from the bed then headed down the stairs, looking into the kitchen.
Patton was busy at work, a stack of pancakes already prepared on a plate as he flipped another. Whistling some song as he went about it.
He blinked more. Patton actually knew how to cook? He went on into the kitchen. "Hey, Patton."

"Oh! Hey Kiddo!" Patton smiled. "Hope you're hungry! I've made lots!"

"I can definitely see that..." He looked around, then back at him. "Did you, sleep okay?"

"Yup! Cuddled with Logan, poor kiddo didn't want to let me go, so I had to wake him up. Finally convinced him to take a shower."

"That's, good to hear!" He leaned against the counter, eyes blinking as he put his brightest attempt of a smile out. Then he blinked. "Logan was willing to cuddle?"

"Oh yeah! He's a real cuddle bug!" Patton giggled.

"That's, amazing..." He shook himself more awake. "Need any help around here?"

“Oh I'm almost done! The others should be down here soon!"

"Oh..." He looked up. "Did, everyone else sleep well too?"

"I think so! Even Janus slept through the night!"

"He's feeling any better?"

"Well, not all the way, but he's definitely improving!"

"I'm glad." He let himself have a small smile. "He definitely needs it."

"It's all thanks to you!" Patton dished up the last pancake.

He frowned. "I haven't done anything yet..."

"You took us in, gave him medicine and a place to sleep, and that heated blanket really helped!"

"...Were you not able to afford something like that?"

"Money was... usually tight..."

"I see..." He stood straighter. "Well, I'm not exactly rich...But things shouldn't be that tight anymore."

"We're willing to help out though! Anything you need!"

"Huh? No." He shook his head. "I'm not going to force anything on you."

"But we can do chores! I can even cook and do your grocery shopping for you."

He blinked. "I, can do my own chores...I don't want you guys feeling obliged to help me."

"But we want to!"

"Are you sure...?"

“Of course! Since you're hosting us and all."

He frowned. "You guys also need the chance to rest though..."

“We will!"

"...And not do anything you guys don't want to do?"

"Well, like what?"

"Uh...Like taking on the jobs like taking out the garbage and cleaning the bathroom?"

"Oh, I do that all the time!"

He winced. "Those are the jobs no one wants to do though."

"But they gotta be done!"

"Yeah, but...But if you let yourself be pushed to do what no one else wants to do, then you end up trapped there."

"But we're not trapped here."

He swallowed. "You have someplace else you can go then? Someplace safe?"

"Well, no. Not yet. We gotta get those trackers out of Lo, Ro, and Jan first."

He blinked. "There's trackers?"

"Didn't they tell you?"

"Lo said you guys were being traced. Not that you guys had outright chips." A shiver went down his spine.

"We're not entirely sure what they are... but we don't know where they put them in at and we don't know how to remove them without hurting them."

Thomas tilted his head. "Then, how do you guys plan to get them out...?"

"Um, we're not sure..."

Steps started coming down the stairs.

He frowned. "I see..."

"Greetings, my lovelies!" Roman smiled as he came to the bottom of the stairs.

"Morning Roman!" Patton waved. "I made pancakes!"

"Superb!" Roman went over and sniffed them. "Still as good as ever, Pat."

"How early did you get up?" Virgil asked.

Patton nervously chuckled. "Only about 5..."

"Way too early..."

Patton shrugged. "I wanted to see what there was to make for breakfast. Then I had to do a bit of cleaning..."

Thomas winced. "Sorry about that."

"Why didn't you ask for help?"

"Well, you guys were asleep. And I got Lo to shower." He went to the sink and started washing the skillet. "Besides, I like cooking and cleaning. I wanted to make a real treat."

"And you sure did..." Roman glanced at the pancakes.

"Logan woke up with you?" Virgil followed his gaze.

"Yeah..." He chuckled. "Took awhile to convince him to go and get a shower. I promised him some of the best pancakes and more cuddles."

Virge smirked. "Funny how you made such a serious looking character so cuddly, Thomas."

Thomas frowned. "That one isn't on me..."

"Huh?" He blinked in surprise. "That wasn't you?"

He shook his head. "Not unless show Lo is really repressing those feelings. Which, honestly wouldn't be that surprising..." Then he blinked. "Haven't you seen the show? Or, do you remember it like you were living in it?"

"Only got to see my introduction... and up until I was accepted... We don't know about our source material when we're made."

Thomas frowned. "So, you don't know about where you're from when you're born?"

"Nope!" Patton shook his head. "We just are who we are! It wasn't till before I left that my Wisher showed me any of the show. And she stopped me before I saw the courtroom!"

Roman frowned. "I... got to see all of it with my Wisher..."

"Logan says he's seen it all. Don't know about Janus..."

Thomas's brow furrowed. "How is, Janus, speaking of him?"

“He slept through the night, and looks like his fever has gone down a bit. So he should be okay."

"I have soup for him in case he's not up for pancakes."

"That's good..." Thomas hummed. "Maybe we could marathon it with everyone then during breakfast."

"You wouldn't mind?" Virgil looked up.

He shook his head. "Not at all! I'll need to run through the next script anyway. Might as well make sure I'm not missing anything from the past."

"You're working on an episode now?"

"Well, it’s in the works." He leaned against the counter. "We just released one, so now I need to get to memorizing the lines and blocking out what happens."

"Oh, neat..." he looked over at the pancakes again.

Patton smiled. "You guys can go ahead and get them on plates. I'm sure Lo and Janus will be coming down soon."

"If Janus is up for it..."

"Yeah...If he is..." He stilled, then scrubbed harder on the skillet. "Otherwise, I'll just get him a plate for his room and we can watch the show up there!"

"Really?"

"Yeah!" Then he winced and looked to Thomas. "If, you don't mind..."

"Not at all!" He stood up. "Really. You guys can make yourselves at home here."

"You sure?"

"Yeah, I'm sure." He smiled. "Here. Let me get you guys out the plates."

"Oh, we can do that, Thomas." Roman went looking.

Thomas frowned. "But you're basically guests!"

"Yeah but... you're... you know..."

He looked over them. "I'm just a guy, that made a show where a guy personifies aspects of himself and talks to them in order to understand who he is better." He went and got out the plates, handing them to them. "You don't need to treat me any differently than that."

"Still... no us without you..."

"That would have been when you guys were just thoughts in my head." He grabbed out the syrup. "Not right now though."

"So what are we then?"

"Some guys, staying at my house for a bit." He looked at Virgil. "And, maybe some people I could be friends with...? Unless that's too creepy, then you can just be guys staying here while that, big storm passes over."

"Well..." he glanced at the others. "We'll definitely think about it."

Roman looked back at him nervously.

Patton just about beamed. "Yeah, we definitely will..."

"Excuse me?" Logan's voice came from the stairs.

Patton looked up. "Hey Lo."

Thomas turned. "What's up?"

"Well..." Only has head was visible, hair still damp. "I'm... in need of new clothes..."

"Oh!" Thomas leapt up the stairs, then rushed to his room. "I'm on it!"

"I could make him something!" Roman started up as well.

Logan quickly pressed up against the wall, the only thing covering him was a towel wrapped around his waist. "S-Sorry I-I should have returned to the bathroom first..."

Roman looked at him softly. "It’s alright, Lo..."

"Here." Thomas came out, bringing out familiar jeans, shirt, and tie, his eyes looking firmly at Logan's head. "There's also underwear in here."

"Th-Thank you..." he gathered the bundle under his arm and hurried into the bathroom.

Thomas swallowed. What had happened to make Logan like this?

"Everything okay up there?" Virgil called

Thomas swallowed. "Yeah..." He looked down. "I, think so..."

"I'm going to check on Janus." Roman finished going up the stairs, then headed into their bedroom as Thomas stood there in thought.

Logan wasn't supposed to be scared... not like that. He was proud, confident in his own reasoning. Angry at getting ignored and pushed to the side because he was certain he had just about all the answers. His only fear, that he was taken as a joke instead of someone to listen to. Thomas looked towards the bathroom. The Logan of the show would not have been self-conscious about being found naked...Definitely wouldn't tremble and stutter and be terrified. Yet, this Logan was with him, and even Roman despite them traveling together all this time...

Something had clearly happened...He just didn't know what.

His eyes looked in towards the bedroom, where Roman was moving softly by Janus.
Janus was still asleep, but it actually looked like he was getting rest. Not the sick sleep that was filled with tossing and turning... No, a peaceful one this time.
Roman softly smiled, tucking in the blankets around him. Being as quiet as he could, before squaring himself and heading back out.

Thomas brought his eyes back towards the bathroom.

The door finally opened and Logan walked out, adjusting his tie when he stopped. "Oh, I had thought you'd be downstairs by now..."

"I... just wanted to make sure they fit." He swallowed. "It looks good on you."

Logan tilted his head slightly. "Thank you... Though I suppose that is one way to compliment yourself."

He reddened. "I didn't mean it that way. I, well I don't think I'm that vain."

"It says something good about you when you are able to put a good outfit together; and you chose our costumes."

"Thanks...I, hope you've liked them."

"I do, thank you." He studied him closely.

Thomas fought the urge to shift. What was he studying him for? Was he coming off creepy? He hoped he wasn't coming off creepy. Probably was though. Why else would he be here waiting for a guy to come out from the bathroom-

"Ah." Roman burst from the door, glancing at both of them. "I see you're already for breakfast then, Lo."

"I wasn't aware that breakfast had been made." He turned to Roman, as if nothing odd had happened at all.

"Really?" Roman tilted his head. "Pat was talking about how he got you to shower while he went down to make it."
"And it’s getting cold, kiddos!" Patton's voice came up from downstairs.

"I wasn't aware that it was finished." He turned and headed downstairs.

"They only just recently were." Roman quickly went behind Logan, leaving Thomas to trail from behind. "Janus is still asleep, but Thomas was offering that we could marathon Sanders Sides for those of us that didn't get a chance to watch the series."

"I have no need to watch it again, unless you want me there."

Thomas swallowed. "If you want to be, Logan. It was, an idea so you guys could relax a bit before we got busy today."

"Did you have plans?"

He shrugged. "Just stuff for the channel and patrons, and getting ready for the next episode. Nothing firmly scheduled, so I can try to help with getting the chips out."

"The... chips...?" Logan frowned.

"The tracking devices." Roman swallowed. "Chips are, a more colloquial term for them.”

"I see, that needs to be our top priority..."

"Exactly." Thomas nodded. "So, best to make sure none of us are too stressed before trying to get them out."

"It would be best if we took care of the issue now before it is too late."

"That makes sense too..."

Patton frowned. "I already made the pancakes though."

Logan sighed. "I suppose we could eat first..."

Patton smiled. "Great. Plates are right here!"

Thomas came by Logan. "We could figure out what we need to do during breakfast, then after it’s all done, we could have a marathon of the show."

"Of course..." He stared at the food. "If you believe that is best..."

He frowned. "It’s you guys at most risk. Not me."

Patton took Logan's hand. "I found the Crofter jam for you."

"Crofters?" He perked up slightly. Whether from the mention of his favorite treat, Patton holding his hand, or both, the others didn't know.

Patton smiled, squeezing his hand. "Yep." Then he pushed it to him. "Loganberry Crofter jam. The perfect thing for putting on pancakes."

"Thank you!" He smiled and started spreading it on his pancakes.

"Is this a show thing...?" Virgil whispered to Roman.

"The Crofters, yes." Roman whispered back. "The hand holding, no."

"Touch in general?"

He frowned. "Not really something Logan would...Of course, you saw the episode where Patton was finally able to hug the others and went around and did it."

"Yeah, he only hugged Thomas."

"And you as a puppet, I think."

"Oh, but not Logan?"

"Well, Logan didn't turn into a puppet until the end and had a high five with me. But yeah...I can't think of a time that Pat and Lo touched. Of course, people love to have them be cuddly together in fanfiction."

"Fanfiction?"

He raised an eyebrow. "She didn't show you any of that either?"

"No..."

"I'm going to need to introduce you to some." He huffed. "It's a splendid arena where people write their views of show characters and have them do what they think they would do."

"Like our Wishers...?"

He winced. "...It can be painful at times."

"Oh... then maybe I don't want to know..."

"But it can be good though." He grabbed for his own pancakes. "Versions of us are put in these different, fantastic worlds. Or they can write out things that you would only dream would actually happen." He shook his head. "The good ones then, are masterfully creative. And can warm your heart like nothing else, even in dark times..."

"I don't know... maybe I'll think about it." He started picking at his own pancake.

"Fair enough." He took the syrup and lathered it on, before getting the butter.

Everyone quietly enjoyed their breakfast. It was nice, to just sit down and have a meal together.

Roman wasn't sure when was the last time they had done something like this. More often than not, they'd needed to rush to work or just had the timing not work out. Here they could just relax... Just, worry about what they were going to need to figure out today without having another job stacked on top of that.

Patton kept holding Logan's hand, who now seemed much better after the incident upstairs, definitely wasn't worried anymore.

Which was good. It had been hard to see Logan that scared. If he could kill that motel owner again for putting such fear in him, he would. His eyes glanced to Thomas, slowly eating his own pancakes. Logan had said he'd trusted him last night...Yet he'd still seemed ill at ease with Thomas upstairs...Was he omitting something there?

Maybe it was just the circumstances...Which, could very well be. But those circumstances might be feeding into any fears he was hiding and...
Roman inwardly sighed. So far, Thomas hadn't done anything that could be seen as creepy. They'd decided to trust him. They were going to try to keep trusting him unless there was a reason not to. They could just, still be cautious. As they all needed to be. Logan was right, just because they'd made it here didn't mean that WISH couldn't appear at any moment.

For all they knew, WISH could be right outside the-

Ding-dong

They all froze, heads snapping towards the door.

Thomas stood up. "Hide."

Chapter Text

"Janus..." Virgil hurried upstairs.

Roman grabbed Patton and Logan and hurried up with him.

Thomas meanwhile made his way to the door, took a moment to make sure they were out of sight. "Who's there?"

"Is this Thomas Sanders?"

"Yeah..."

"I'm a representative from WISH. Could I speak to you for a moment?"

He took a deep breath. "What about? I'm kinda busy today."

"It's a matter of public safety. Please, I'd rather do this as quickly as possible."

He sighed, then opened the door part way to hide the kitchen area. "Public safety?"

"I'm afraid some dangerous characters have made their way to this area. We are tracking them down in order to contain and return them to our facility where they cannot harm anyone."

He raised an eyebrow. "What do you mean by dangerous? Didn’t you, program your robots to not attack people?"

"Please, Mr. Sanders. If you would just allow us to check your home, we will detain them and be on our way "

He stared at her. "Why do you need to get into my house? There's no one else here."

"Not according to the trackers placed inside the characters. I will ask one more time for you to move "

"Sorry. Your things must be mistaken." He held his ground. "And you cannot come into my house without a warrant.”

She turned around, addressing someone behind her. "Search the place. Don't leave a single room unchecked."

"You try to come in here and I'll call the police!" He slammed the door, then got out his key.

Only for the door to be forced open, several men all armed walked inside and began to search.

Thomas's eyes widened. "Hey!" He tried to shove them back. "You can't do this!"

"You're not hiding them, are you?" Her eyes narrowed.

"No!" He turned towards her. "I just don't like strange people forcing themselves into my house!"

"There's signs of multiple people having pancakes." One of the men reported.

"No, that was me feeling sorry for myself and making poor life decisions. Get out of my house!"

"We'll be done soon, check upstairs."

His eyes widened more. "Stop! I haven't cleaned up there!"

"Doesn't matter to us." She followed the men up

"Come on!" He came up, trying to pull them back. "This is an invasion of privacy!"

They continued up, ignoring him completely as they searched upstairs.

Thomas paled more. They couldn't find them! He followed those that went into the guest room.

To see five stuffed animals on the bed. One yellow snake, one black and purple spider, one red lion standing over them both, then a dark blue and a light blue teddy bear, paws pressed together.

"Aren't these adorable?" She walked up to the bed.

"Yes." Thomas quickly moved by her. "They're prototypes for a new line of merchandise...I know a lot of my viewers like having stuffed animals."

"Based off your characters no doubt, you've made quite an interesting series." She lifted the spider up and inspected it closely.

Thomas stiffened. "Yeah. Still surprised its caught on as much as it has."

"Your fans seem to think highly of it, and adore your characters." She turned it around her hands, then looked carefully in its eyes.

"That they do." He wanted to just snatch him away from her! But would that get her more suspicious? He moved closer to her anyway, ready to just in case she tried to carry him out. "The series really wouldn't be what it is without my fans."

"I'm sure it wouldn't," she finally set him down and pulled out a device. He heard a high-pitched squeal as a blue light began scanning the animals.

He shook. What was he going to do?! "Ah!" Then he leapt, knocking her and the device away from them. "Killer spider!"

The device fell onto the bed as she fell onto the floor. The other men in the room immediately aimed their weapons at him.

He swallowed. "Oh. Sorry." He shoved himself back, managing to sit right on the device. "Just, thought I saw a real spider above her head."

"Stand down." She stood. "He's no threat."

One of the men frowned. "And the tracker?"

"Oh, is that what this is?" He grabbed it from beneath him.

"Yes, that one." She held out her hand. "It didn't pick up anything, so I suppose this area is clear."

"Good to hear." He handed it back to her. "I did tell you that I was alone."

"One can never be too careful." She turned to the others. "Move out. We need to secure this area before dark."

He stared, standing up. "Secure the area?"

She didn't answer as she followed them out.

He went to the bedroom door. "I can call the police if you don't leave my house alone."

"We won't be disturbing you further." She looked back up. "Thank you for your cooperation."

His eyes burned. "It was a real pleasure."

With that she followed the rest of the men out, shutting the door behind them.

With that, Thomas collapsed against the dresser, rubbing his face. "You guys alright?"

"I think I'm going to throw up..." The spider wrapped all his legs around himself. "I mean, I would if this body had a stomach."

Thomas winced. "Sorry about that Virge-Virgil...If I'd snatched you out, she would have been more suspicious."

"No worries... I'm just glad Logan's theory checked out."

"Yeah!" Patton bear went and hugged Logan bear. "You really are just the smartest, kiddo."

"Not smart enough to figure out where the trackers are..."

"We can figure that out now then." Roman stood up. "Though...We can't exactly shift back right now..."

'Are you okay with a bunch of talking stuffed animals?" Virgil got up on all of his creepy little legs...

Thomas bit his lip. "Yeah, I'm good." Then he rose to stand up. "...Would the trackers still be in you shifted?"

"Either they are and simply become deactivated when we shift due to our bodies changing, or they cease to exist while we are in different forms."

"I could check."

"How?”

"I have scissors and a sewing kit..."

"You mean cut into us?" Roman's eyes widened.

"Uh, how about no?" Virgil hid under him.

Thomas sighed. "It shouldn't hurt. I could then just get the trackers out this way."

"How do you know it won't kill us?"

"I'll test it." Logan walked over.

"No!" Roman leapt in front of him. "I will."

"One aspect of my character is that damage done to me isn't permanent, correct?" Logan asked Thomas. “And that I recover quickly?"

"Well, yeah...Though that was from Remus, not me."

"But within your series, I was attacked in the head, and recovered in an instant. My Wisher made nearly no changes to me when I was created. If that is true, then I am the least at risk if Thomas's plan fails."

Roman winced. "But that was in the pretend sphere. Not in real life."

"So is us being able to turn into stuffed animals, yet here we are."

"He does have a point, Roman. Did you forget that you can literally make things out of thin air?"

Roman bit his lip. Then looked to Thomas. "If you kill him-"

"I won't..." Thomas nodded. "I'll be careful."

"This is only to see if we can be killed in this form. I should be fine regardless, but I won't risk your safety." Logan walked over to Thomas and sat down. "I am ready when you are."

He swallowed. "Okay..." Then he went and grabbed the scissors, needle, and thread.

Patton ambled over and held Logan's hand, looking about ready to cry.

"Patton... It would be best if you gave us room..."

He swallowed. "Okay..." Then went back over to the others, clutching Virgil.

Thomas came back. "Where should I cut?"

"I've theorized it may be in either our arms, such as our wrists. Or in our heads."

Thomas bit his lip. "Let's, try the wrist first...Then maybe your neck." He took the scissors to one arm. "Ready?"

"I am."

"Okay." Then he snipped.

Patton closed his eyes.

Logan blinked as the arm severed, nothing but a bit of stuffing fell out.

Thomas shook, then shook himself. "This might feel weird..." Then took his finger and dug through Logan's arm.

"Odd, I can't feel anything."

"Well I would hope a stuffed animal doesn't have a nervous system. " He kept feeling around. Please let it be here. But there was nothing...

Thomas sighed. "Not in here." Then brought out his finger and went to reattach Logan's hand.

"At least we know it is painless."

"Yeah." He started sewing. "Sorry. I'm not the best at this."

"It won't be permanent."

"Hopefully..." He finished up. "Now the other arm."

"If you insist." He held it out

"Thanks." He went and cut that too, then reached into there. Only to again find nothing. "Nothing in there either..." He sighed, then started sewing it back up. "...Could it be in your butt?"

"You're not touching him there!" Virgil jumped up.

Roman roared.

"Woah!" Thomas jumped back, holding up his hands. "I was asking! I think I've heard of chips being down there before."

"I'd rather check the other areas first...” Logan somewhat mildly commented. “It seems more likely."

"Completely fair!" Thomas inched back close. "Neck then?"

"Yes..."

"Alright." He got the scissors ready to plunge down. "Ready?"

"Ready."

He then jabbed down and cut, going from the neck to the back, then widening the opening. "Alright. Here goes."

"You might as well search my head..."

"This is terrifying..." Virgil scuttled underneath Roman.

Patton clutched onto both of them.

Roman swallowed, holding them close as he kept watch… "It’s okay. It’s alright..."

Thomas dug his fingers in and began to search. Nothing in the neck, which left the last place Logan had suggested...

He winced, then sewed him back up. "If it’s really in your head, they'd have had to cut into your skull for this."

"Or plant it there before my body was fully formed..."

"Was that how you were created?"

"I think so..."

"Seems as good a theory as any." He swallowed, then brought the scissors up. "Ready?"

"I am..."

"Okay..." Then very carefully, he snipped into his head.

Virgil covered his eyes. "Is he dead...?"

"No... Virgil... I'm not dead..."

"Just cut into." Thomas then started wrangling his fingers in, searching for the chip. At first all he felt was more stuffing, then his fingers brushed against something metal.
His eyes widened. "I think I've got it!" He reached back for it.

"You do?"

Yeah, I... Hold on..." He pulled it out. "There!"

Virgil crawled out. "That's it...?"

"Would appear so."

"If there's something else in there that's the tracker, I wouldn't want to know what this is." Thomas then went to see up Logan's head. "Feeling alright?"

"I am... I just feel... drained..."

Thomas's eyes widened, looking back at the thing.

"Logan!" Patton ran over, hugging him close.

"I... need to be put back together..."

"To have it put back inside you?!"

"I think he means sewed up!"

"Oh, right!" He went and quickly started sewing while the others watched nervously.

Sweat went down from Thomas's brow as he finished the last stitch. "You still there, Lo?"

"I am..."

He sighed in relief. "Feel alright?"

'Yes... just tired..." He curled into him. "But it worked..."

Thomas blinked, then lightly rested a hand on his shoulder. "That's, good."

"It’s wonderful Lo!" Patton hugged him tighter. "It worked!"

"We can get them out of Roman and Janus..."

Roman swallowed. "I'll go next..."

Thomas nodded. "You can get ready while I flush this one down the toilet." Then he took it and rushed out.

Leaving Logan to relax against Patton. "I promise it doesn't hurt."

Patton hugged him closer. "That was still scary to see."

Roman made his way over. "Thank goodness it worked..."

Logan nodded. "Your's should be faster since we know where they are located."

Roman swallowed. "Yes...Not a place we could have gotten on our own." He looked himself over, then shrunk some of his mane.

"Are you ready?" Virgil asked.

He huffed. "I was born ready." Then glanced nervously where Thomas would be coming.

Virgil curled up beside him. "I'll be with you..."

"Thank you..."

Thomas then came in. "Alright...You ready, Roman?"

He shrugged. "Ready as I'll ever be..."

He smiled slightly. "Hey, Disney reference." Then grabbed the scissors.

"Be careful with him..." Virgil warned.

He glanced at Virgil. "I will be." Then he looked to Roman. "Ready?"

"Ready."

"Alright." Then he made the cut and started to search.

Virgil wrapped a leg around him. Fortunately though, it didn't take long. Roman only flinched slightly as it was pulled out.

"There it is!" Then he put it to the side and sewed up Roman.

He blinked. "It’s over?"

"Yeah, you're all done."

"Whew." He relaxed.

Thomas smiled more. "All done." Then finished up the sew. "Now, you guys can figure out how to convince Janus while I get this one taken care of." Then he hurried to do it.

"I mean... He's still asleep..." Virgil looked over. "Maybe he should just do it and we can explain later?"

Patton frowned. "Are we sure he's still asleep?"

Roman frowned, then went over to check. His eyes were closed, and he hadn't questioned being turned into a stuffed animal "...I think he's still asleep."

Patton frowned. "Just because he's asleep now, doesn't mean he won't wake up during the thing."

"But this could be the only rest he's gotten in awhile..."

Roman swallowed. "He should be able to continue sleeping..."

Patton swallowed. "I have a bad feeling about this."

"Let's just try it. Logan said he wouldn't feel anything..."

"And I didn't feel anything either..." Roman's eyes started to blink.

"Okay..." Thomas came in. "Is Janus ready?"

"We think it'd be best to do it while he's asleep..."

Thomas stopped. "Are you, sure? This whole thing is kind of invasive..."

"Best to do it now then..."

He swallowed, moving over to Janus with the scissors and thread. "I shouldn't get his permission first?"

"Just hurry..."

He swallowed, then gently rested a hand on Janus, holding him in place as he readied the scissors.

Janus didn't stir. Maybe he could get it out and sew him up without him noticing.
If he ever found out though...

He swallowed, then made the cut.
Some stuffing puffed out, and he shifted slightly but his eyes remained closed.

Thomas took a deep breath. "It’s okay, Janus." Then he placed his hand in and searched. "It’s alright...I just have to get to get this chip out, then you'll be right back to normal."
He started shaking, his tail twitching.

"Hurry!"

He winced, then as searched faster, trying to be as gentle as he could.

There! He had it!
"Got it!" Then he pulled it out.

Just as Janus's eyes flew open. With an angry hiss, he launched himself at Thomas.

Patton's eyes widened. "Janus, no!"

"Hey." Thomas caught him, then looked carefully into his eyes. "I'm sorry there, Jan. I need to sew you back up though."

"What are you doing to me?!"

"Getting the tracker out of you." He picked it up with his other hand. "See. It's already out."

"Tracker...?"

He softly smiled. "Guess you have been out awhile...You, Lo, and Ro each had one of these in you that WISH was using to follow you. With this out now, none of you have one."

"We're safe now Janus..." Virgil shifted back to normal. "We don't have to be afraid."

Janus looked at him skeptically. "Are we?"

"Yeah kiddo." Patton shifted back to normal and smiled, still holding Lo. "We found Thomas!"

"Thomas?" He looked up at him. "Oh... You're Thomas..."

"Yeah." He nodded. "Nice to meet you, Janus."

"You as well... I suppose..."

"Fair enough. Now, can I please sew your head back together? Logan had a bad reaction to being unsewed too long."

"Oh... of course..." he looked over at Patton, still holding the stuffed animal that he presumed to be Logan.

Patton nodded encouragingly.

"Great." Thomas laid him back down, then took the thread and started to sew him up.

"How long have we been here...?"

"Only since last night." Thomas answered evenly.

"The rest of the time you've been sick," Roman started to wonder over. "We've been on the road."

"Oh... and we haven't been found?"

"Nope!" Patton grinned.

"Though we've had some close calls..."

"How close...?"

Roman winced. "We barely escaped a car chase, then they invaded Thomas's house."

"But we turned into stuffed animals, so they didn't find us!"

“They were just here then..."

Thomas winced, finishing the sewing. "Yeah..." Then he stood up. "After this last trackers down the toilet, they won't have a reason to search here again."

"I hope so..."

He sighed. "Well, I can go take care of this." He took the tracker. "You can shift out or do whatever if you want."

"Right... shift..."

Patton blinked. "Oh. You don't know how?"

“I was never allowed."

Thomas bit his lip. "You're allowed now." Then he headed for the door.

"But I still don't know how."

"We can help teach you." Patton came over and sat on the bed as Thomas left the room. "You just imagine what you want to look like, or your usual form." His form rippled as he transformed to look like Logan. "And you shift!"

Janus frowned. "So I just need to imagine myself?"

"Well, yeah." Patton shifted his form back. "Or at least, what makes you feel like you."

"Like me...?"

"Yeah...Here, try it."

He frowned and concentrated, trying to form a picture of himself in his mind... Snake scales down the left side, human down the other. Snake fangs and tongue...
His skin... bare and cold... wrapped in ropes and chains... hands trailing over him... blind... helpless...
A cloth is over his eyes. His legs pulled apart.

Such a good boy, pet... Her breath chilled his chest. Such a good boy~

"No... no no no... NO!" He hissed and darted underneath the blankets.

Patton's eyes widened. "Janus? You okay?"

"I can't do it!"

Patton frowned. "Want me to help you?"

"No! Leave me alone!"

He bit his lip. "Are you sure, kiddo? There's, soup and pancakes downstairs. Stuff you can't really have as a stuffed animal..."

"I DON'T CARE!"

Patton jumped back, eyes looking to Logan.

Logan stared up at him then shifted back himself. "Just... give him space..."

"Alright..." Patton took Logan's hand, then looked back at Janus. "If you'd like to be left alone, we will leave the room. We're planning to watch the full series though if you'd like to join us."

He didn't answer, choosing to curl around himself and shut his eyes.

Virgil sighed and hung his head. They still had a long way to go... But right now, it was best to leave him be. Roman took Virgil's hand and helped him outside. Logan doing the same with Patton.

The door closed behind them as Thomas met them. "Oh. He, doesn't want anyone in there?"

"No..." Patton hung his head. "Poor kiddo."

"He got scared of something..."

"Not just scared." He curled into Logan. "He was outright terrified."

"I'm sure he'll be alright," Logan leaned into him, "we can help him change back when he's ready."

"OK..."

"In the meantime..." Thomas swallowed. "You guys could have that marathon."

"Doesn't feel right without Janus too..." Patton hummed.

“We could always wait."

"Yeah. I could put on something else for you guys to watch." Thomas started downstairs. "I got a Netflix, DisneyPlus, Amazon Prime, and Vudu account. And some other stuff. You could look through to see what you'd like."

“I believe Roman would enjoy Disney."

Roman shrugged. "Who wouldn't?"

Thomas grinned. "Well, I have about all of Disney available. You guys go ahead and pick out what you want."

"That would be nice..."

"Fantastic!" Roman bounded down the stairs, rushing straight for the tv while Thomas went into the kitchen. The others trailed after him, though Logan glanced at the mess in the kitchen.

Thomas waved him off. "Go ahead, Logan. I got this."

"I can help."

"You said you felt tired after everything. And with how today with, you should take a break." He started gathering the plates.

"If I help, we can both rest sooner." He walked into the kitchen.

Thomas swallowed. "You don't have to, you know."

"I know.” He picked up the condiments and opened the fridge, frowning.

Thomas winced. "Yeah, I'll need to go grocery shopping..."

"Indeed... there's hardly anything of nutritional value in here at all."

He swallowed back the laugh. There was Logan. "I've kinda relied on my Hello Fresh sponsorship for that. Though, Crofters can count as healthy..."

"To an extent." He placed everything inside and shut the door. "I could help write up a grocery list if you desired.”

"Uh...If you want to, sure." He carried the dishes to the sink. "Then you can also put stuff in you know you guys will like."

"Of course." He walked over to the sink.

He swallowed, then turned the water on and got out the soap.

Logan reached for a sponge and grabbed a plate.

Thomas getting another sponge and a towel out. "Thanks." Then rested the towel on the counter before grabbing a plate himself.

"It really isn't any trouble."

"Still, it's something you didn't need to do." He started washing the plate. "So, thank you."

"You are welcome." He dried off the plate and set it on the counter before grabbing another.

Thomas following his lead. "...Must have been tough, getting them all here."

"It was easier than I thought it would be... though we still faced some hardships."

What sort of hardships? He bit his lip. "How, was it easier than you thought?"

"We didn't encounter WISH as often as I had feared we would."

"Because of you guys shifting?"

"That's most likely the reason."

"Glad that's been helping you then." He started cleaning the silverware.

"It has." He reached for another plate.

Thomas swallowed. "Sorry you've all gone through this in the first place."

"Why are you apologizing?"

"Because it shouldn't have happened in the first place." He looked at Lo. "I didn't make you guys with stuff like that in mind."

"Stuff like what?"

"Well...Like having some mysterious organization chasing after you, for instance."

"Well... that isn't your fault."

Seems like there should have been a way to prevent that... "Still, I'm sorry it happened anyway."

"Thank you..." he rinsed off another plate and dried it.

Thomas nodded, then finished with the washing. "So...What are your plans now?"

"I don't know. I'm not letting my guard down just yet."

"I get that." He sighed. "If they do that again, I might actually need to get a gun."

"You know how to use one?"

"Sorta? I know how to cock a shotgun..."

"But could you defend yourself?" He picked up the stack of plates. "Where would you like these?"

"Uh, there in the upper left drawer" He pointed out. "And I don't know, but I can learn to defend you."

"Could you?" He opened the drawer and set the plates inside, Thomas noticing an odd mark on Logan's wrist.

He stared. "Yeah, I could...Is that from me?"

"Is what from you?"

"That..." He pointed to his wrist.

Logan lifted his hand and frowned. "Stitches..."

He swallowed. "That is from me then."

He looked at his other wrist, seeing a similar mark, then felt along his neck. "Are there stitches here as well?"

Thomas went over. "Looks like it."

"I must have some on my head as well..."

"Is it painful?"

"No," he lowered his hand, "it will just be a part of me."

He winced. "Sorry. If I'd just checked the head first..."

"It's alright. There was no ill intent."

"It's a mark on you now though."

"It wasn't one I mind having."

"You sure?" He tilted his head.

"Positive." He met his eyes. "In a way, it could symbolize my freedom."

"Yeah it could..." He glanced to the wrist. "As long as I do all I can to keep it that way.”

"I will be doing the same." His gaze moved past him towards the living room. "For them."

Thomas glanced that way too, watching as they cheered about something on screen. "For all of you..."

Logan didn't respond, simply watching them.

Roman mocking something on screen while Patton laughed, then glanced back towards them in the kitchen.
Logan blinked and turned away. "Was there anything else you needed help with?"

"No, you're good, Lo." He put away the silverware. "Go ahead and join them."

"If you insist, I could begin that grocery list for you."

He smiled. "Yeah, you can do that." He got him pen and paper. "I'll be bringing down my laptop to do some stuff."

"Of course. I will compile a list of things we would like, then you could tell me what you prefer. Oh, I will also need a budget."

"I have one on my laptop..." He started up the stairs. "You can get set up while I bring it down."

'Very well " He went towards the couch to start getting requests.

Thomas shook his head, smiling. Then headed into his room.

Patton looked up as Logan came over. "Hey Lo. Finally joining us?"

“Yes. I am helping Thomas prepare a grocery list and came to ask all of you what you'd want."

Roman looked up at him. "You're not overworking yourself, right?"

"The day has barely begun, how could I be?"

Roman huffed. "You know what I mean..."

"Just make sure you do rest, Lo." Patton squeezed his hand.

He smiled softly. "I will."

Patton smiled back. "...Also tell us if there's anything we can help with. Wouldn't do to be lazy lumps while you and Thomas do everything."

"You're not lazy, you are having much needed rest."

"That doesn't apply to you, of course." Virgil rolled his eyes.

Roman sighed. "Well, we can at least help with the grocery list...Would chicken work?"

"Yes..." a thoughtful look appeared on his face. "I could always hand the list around and each of you could add what you wanted."

"Okay!" Patton reached for it. "I know he could use more milk, eggs, and butter.

"You could also add things you personally want."

Patton frowned. "Well, we can put that in the list of what's not essential to get..." Then he started writing things down, making an essential list, adding eggs, milk, flour, butter, vanilla extract, and a non-essential list, then hovering his pen over non-essentials before putting down chocolate chips. "Your turn now, Virge." Then handed it to him.
“Uh... let me think..."

"That's alright, kiddo." He sat back. "Take your time."

"Okay..." he finally started to write some things down as Roman glanced over his shoulder.

He was mostly writing down some snacks, stuff they'd had on the trip here. He hummed, leaning back. Did he not have a chance to get any of that with his Wisher? Guess that was something that ought to be rectified.

"Done..." he handed it to Roman.

"Stupendous!" Roman glanced through. "I suppose caviar would be out of the range of possibility."

"Most likely..."

Roman chuckled. "As I figured." Then he put lollipops under essentials, before putting in some vegetable suggestions like asparagus, Brussel sprouts, broccoli, and salad greens along with chicken drumsticks and salmon. Then putting some other snack items to introduce to Virgil on the nonessential list.

"Do you know some things Janus might like?"

He frowned. "No. Maybe meat stuff?"

Patton looked up the stairs. "Think that there's a way to ask him?”

"One of us could try later. We don't want to overwhelm him."

"No we don't..." Patton looked back to the screen.

"You going to add anything, Specs?"

"I will." He took the paper and started writing.

Thomas then came down stairs, laptop and charger in hand. "Sorry I took so long. Had, something needing urgent clean up upstairs."

"What was it?" Logan asked.

He nervously chuckled. "Just a bad smell in my bedroom trash."

"Alright... We finished the list."

"Oh, great." He sat at the table, then booted up his computer. "In just a minute, you should see my current budget."

"Is there anything you wish to add?"

He glanced over the list. "I don't think so." Then looked back at the screen, paling when he realized what he'd left his screen on.

Logan frowned. "Thomas?"

"Uh." He closed out of it, Janus's face still scared into his mind. Then fidgeted until he finally got out the budget. "Here it is!" Then he showed that to Lo.

Logan looked at it then back at his list. "I may have to take some things off..."

"I have also been planning to adjust things!" He started deleting his misc. expenses. "There's no way I'm forcing you guys on a food budget meant for one person..."
"But we can manage until we've found jobs."

He blinked. "Do you guys want to get jobs?"

"How else are we meant to support ourselves?"

He pursed his lips. "True, but there's no pressure to do so. I can adjust things to support you guys and save up for your copyright protection without you guys working."

"Copyright protection?"

"Well, whatever the proper term would be for WISH not having the right to you or your likenesses." He put a line in for that.

"So no one would be able to bring more versions of us to life?"

"And no one could legally own you guys anymore."

Roman's eyes widened. He really meant that?

"We would be free?"

"As free as I can get you right now." He sighed. "Technically, you would belong to me. But it would at least keep WISH from getting their hands on you until we can get you guys legally seen as people."

"Is that what you're trying to do?"

He met his eyes. "It's what I want to do. I don't quite know how I'll do that right now, but that's my plan."

"But, why?"

He blinked. "Why...? Don't you want to be free?"

"Of course, but, you owe us nothing..."

"I'm not doing this because I owe you anything..." Carefully, he rested a hand on his shoulder. "I'm doing it because you chose to trust me enough to come to me for help. So, I want to help you."

"But... why? What do you have to gain?"

"It's not about gaining anything. Just, to turn a blind eye to this wouldn't be right. Especially when I'm able to do something to change it."

"But you could be hurt!"

"And you guys could be hurt worse if I don't help. Have already been." He sighed. "I can't let it continue."

"But you shouldn't... I can-"

"Logan," Virgil spoke up, "we came here for help. His help."

"And really." Roman sighed. "He's the only guy that can help us like that..."

"And I want to." His eyes softened. "You're not alone in this, Lo."

"We're all in this together.”

Patton came to Logan's other side. "There's no need for you to do it alone."

"But the rest of you deserve time to rest and heal…”

"So do you, Lo." Patton squeezed his shoulder. "You've worked harder than any of us."

"And you can't say otherwise because you know it's true." Virgil pointed out.

"Give yourself a break, Lo." Roman sighed and came over. "Or if you can't do that, let us help. We're here and willing to."

"I know..."

"Then go ahead and take that break, Lo." Thomas smiled. "I think I still have access to a documentary on black holes."

"A documentary...?"

"Yeah. Though, it doesn't have to be the black holes one. There's a safari one. A horrifying one about the ocean."

“The ocean?”

"Yeah. All about what's at the bottom of it. Though there's also others about other areas of sea life."

"I'd like to watch them... if you didn't mind..."

"Not at all." He looked to the others. "Do, you guys mind?"

Patton smiled. "Not at all!"

"We're just about at the end of this one anyway."

"Doesn't bother me." Virgil shrugged.

"Great!" Thomas came over, grabbed the remote and found where the sea documentaries were.

"I suppose I can rest... for awhile..."

Patton smiled. "Great!" Then took his hand and led him over.

Thomas then handed Lo the remote. "Which one do you want?"

"The deep sea one?"

"Alright. It's that one right there."

Logan selected it then pressed play. On screen came the narration of how the depths of the sea were vast and unknown.
Patton cuddled against Logan then wrapped an arm around him. Logan curled into him and hummed contentedly. Patton and Roman both smiled at the sight. Virgil also relaxed, even if he found the documentary was unsettling. Thomas couldn't help but feel warm at the scene. He looked between them then glanced at the table. To work or to join them?
One documentary couldn't hurt…

He sat in the corner, doing his best to give them space, then started to relax. Maybe things would actually work out. They'd be safe here with him. If he could just do it... They deserved to be safe, to be cared for. And he would do anything he could to ensure they would.

Just look at them! They were precious!

Laying against each other, watching the show. Why would anyone want to hurt them?! Logan with his wonder filled eyes, and a soft smile as he snuggled into Patton. Virgil who was hugging Roman's arm, hood partially covering his face from the screen but was too curious to actually look away, he looked so small compared to the others. Very small...Was he starved before? Definitely needed to make sure he ate then. Roman had his arm wrapped around him, appearing confident while sometimes letting out a slight scream. Then Patton cooing at some of the fish while huddling closer to Lo for the scary stuff And then poor Janus... hiding upstairs as a stuffed snake…
He bit his lip. They had left the door slightly open, right? In case he wanted to get out? Hopefully... not that he would-

He felt something brush against his neck, soft and trembling.

Thomas froze, then glanced down.

Janus, still a plush, was coiled loosely around his neck. Eyes now closed as he rested, his shakes eventually coming to a stop.

He blinked, relaxing. Of all of them, he'd chosen to rest on his shoulders… He didn't really mind, but, why him?

Maybe he wasn't fully awake yet, and had mistaken him for one of the others? Or he'd been cold, somehow… Whatever the reason, he was glad he had at least got this far.
He settled in, careful to not touch him, but making sure he stayed comfortable. It was the least he could do for him. And it just gave another reason for him to stay watching the show. If the others had noticed Janus, they didn't say anything, choosing to focus on the screen.

All in all, things seemed to finally be changing for the better.


A radar map kept beeping with every pass, searching for a signal from the tracers.

The guard monitoring it jumped as a woman entered, the same one who'd been searching the apartment. "Don't bother with that thing, we got them."

He turned to her. "We have?"

"They're with the creator, just as we suspected. I'll be sending in a containment team."

He frowned. "We have positive proof?”

"The tracker picked them up, and there was evidence of at least four others present in the apartment. And they even shifted into stuffed animals matching the color schemes of their characters. They weren't exactly smart about it."

"These characters often aren't." The man darkly chuckled, then stood up. "We can arrange for the warrant then."

"Yes, begin immediately."

He bowed. "Right on it." Then left the room.

She hummed and went to the phone. Might as well alert their wishers, they'd be glad to know that they'd have them back soon. Before she could pick it up however, it began to ring.

Odd. Who could that be?

She frowned and picked it up. "Yes? Oh, perfect timing. We've located them all. Yes, they're just where I suspected. I'm about to- what...?" Her grip on the phone tightened. "He escaped? You let him escape?!"

The voice on the other end winced. "We couldn't stop him. Everyone there-"

"Everyone what? Just let him walk out the door?! It's one of our most secure facilities! We've held more powerful characters than-" She growled and braced a hand against the table. "Never mind the others. They believe they're safe for now, they won't go anywhere. I want all units focused on finding and, if necessary, killing him. Understand?"

"Understood, ma'am! I'll, find who're still alive and order them out."

"You'd better. And tell Stryker to contact me as soon as possible."

"...Stryker? You're sure?"

"That was his little pet, wasn't it? Does he know what happened?"

"We had him after an escaped Mewtoo when it happened."

"Have him contact me as soon as he's finished. He made this mess, he'll clean it up."

"Yes ma'am." Then he hung up.

She growled and slammed the phone down. Bad enough that five characters had gotten away for over a month...but that a dangerous character like him had escaped?! If Stryker hadn't insisted on keeping that one after it didn't sell... What had been so special about him to have caught his interest? Just the fact that he was so powerful while not appearing so on paper? They truly needed to have stricter controls in what characters were made real or not? They couldn't-

The reader started beeping more, three dots traveling swiftly in its view.

She sighed and looked up, frowning.

The dots kept traveling, now far from their creator's house...The sewer... either they'd somehow found a way down there. Or they'd found a way to remove the trackers and had flushed them… The trackers were embedded deep into their skulls though. There's no way they would risk the brain damage. Unless they'd done it while shifted… Especially as stuffed animals!

Note to self, make sure trackers were changed for the next shifters that could shift into inanimate objects. Or no longer permit characters to shape shift. That wouldn't go well. Too many of their clients liked their characters to shift into anything. Literally anything. To not permit it would mean losing potential future clients. It didn't matter. There'd always be others wanting their services.

She could bring it up to the committee while also making known to others the change in plans. If they went there with the warrant and didn't find them, what little relation with law enforcement they had could be in jeopardy. For now she could have someone observe them until they were ready to take them. Soon they would slip up once more. Then they'd be back and taken care of. Until then, she would take care of this new problem... She could only huff. How could one man come up with so many problem characters?

No matter. They'd all be back where they belonged in time.

Chapter Text

As the world came back to Janus, he could only find it, confusing. Nothing felt familiar... He still felt cold… Except that he was wrapped around something so warm...
Had anything ever felt nice like this before? No... it'd always been cold. Now he was so warm... He curled around it more. He never wanted to be cold again.

A soft chuckle erupted above him.

He shook and opened his eyes. Who...?

Thomas's eyes stared down at him, a soft smile in his eyes.

It wasn't her...? But why was he... how...?

His eyes then held, concern? "You alright?"

"W-What do you want...?"

"Nothing." He swallowed. "You, just wrapped yourself around me earlier and fell asleep..."

"Wrapped around...?”

"Yeah...You, remember? You're still a snake plushie?"

"I-I am..."

"Yeah. So you crawled down and wrapped around me for some reason."

"You... hadn't asked...?"

"No..." His brow furrowed. "I thought you mistook me for one of the others."

"This isn't... another commission?"

"No." He shook his head. "It's not a commission at all. You won't need to do those ever again."

"I... I don't...?"

"You don't...Never again."

"Not... not for now…”

He swallowed. "Not ever..."

"While I rest..."

"Not even after that." A hand started to reach, but he dropped it back down and looked back to his computer.

"When you're ready then..."

He sighed. "Is that what you want?"

"I want whatever you want..."

"...Then, tell me what foods you like.”

"Foods...?"

"Yeah. What do you like to eat?"

"Um... meat...?"

"OK. What kind of meat?"

"Mice...?"

His eyes widened. "You, prefer mice?"

“It's what I'm supposed to eat..."

He shook. "Would you mind trying other meats?"

"Like what?”

"Chicken...? It probably would be awhile before I could afford or cook steak."

"If that's what you want to feed me..."

"Yeah..." He wrote some things down. "Then, what type of clothes do you want? Your show outfit, or something more casual?"

"Are those my options...?"

"Yeah..."

"My clothes... Can I have my clothes?"

"You can."

“Then I want them..."

He smiled. "Great. I'll have them ready when you are."

"I will be..."

"Alright." He smiled more, then focused back on the computer.

Janus looked around, noticing the others. They were just, watching TV? Well, Patton seemed asleep, resting on Logan. The rest were just sitting there, watching some show. While Thomas was doing something with numbers and sheets. Were none of them worried? What if WISH came back and caught them all like this? They'd be taken away! And yet, they were just there, more relaxed than he'd ever seen them.

Thomas at least periodically looked towards the door. Was he watching out for them? Offering them sanctuary here? What was the catch? Maybe he wanted his own private harem of all of them...Or planned to use them for the show. Why not both...? He'd overheard them talking, Thomas had seen the pictures, he must have liked what he saw...

If he did though, that'd trap the others in a life like that… Patton wouldn't survive. None of them would. He had to save them! ...But how?

He...He could convince Thomas to use only him. Leave the others alone. He'd do anything... as long as the others were left out of it. And he could do whatever he wanted with him, he'd be good. He'd be an obedient pet, just for him. Hopefully he wouldn't be as bad as her...He was going to let him use his clothes.

He was already nicer, just like he'd imagined. As long as he was nicer, he could bear it again. Whatever he wanted. It's what he was meant for after all... to serve and please...
At least Thomas hadn't minded the one selfish act he had done in wrapping around him. Unless he just wanted him there and would have gotten him anyway... He seemed rather focused on what he was doing though.

"Rats." Thomas muttered under his breath.

Janus looked over. Would he want him to eat rats instead?

Thomas was focused on the screen though, before groaning and rubbing his head. "How will I make this work?"

What was wrong? Janus squinted but had a hard time making anything out. Maybe if he had real eyes, it would be better.

Vaguely though, he thought he saw dates. Dates for what? He peered closer...

...Play Sims 4 as Logan?

He blinked. What even was that?

There were other things like that. Do a makeup tutorial as Roman. Do Remus's skirt pic. Play Goat Simulator as Patton. Play Goat Simulator as Remus. Build new lego set as a charity livestream? Do some other requests. Do voice acting for, something. Those seem to have firm dates on the calendar. Then was work on Cartoon Therapy and work on next Sanders Sides episode. That was certainly a lot to get done… And along with that, it seems like he was struggling on figuring out the time to do it along with other things like groceries or laundry. The shows would most likely be what he'd begin using them for then… How could he not? His Sides were literally alive now.

At least nothing seemed too bad...Even the thing about Janus playing something called Papers Please. Unless that was a kidnapping scenario, it seemed easy enough. Could be him playing another hostage... which one would be his kidnapper? Probably Thomas himself. No way he'd miss a chance like that.

Long as he was allowed his clothes though, it should be alright. Whenever he was ready… Which, likely wouldn't be allowed to be too long. He'd need to be in his human half-snake form for that. And Thomas was on a tight schedule. He should really learn to shift back… But, but that form was, gross. Vulnerable. Painful. Yet it was the form everyone wanted him in. So it was the one he would take. He just, needed to try again.

He closed his eyes, picturing himself One side human, the other side covered in scales. Maybe he was allowed to picture himself in his outfit?

No... it would need to be given to him. Shifting clothes wasn't allowed. But shifting wasn't usually allowed either... Maybe he could try to get away with underwear at least? See how far he could push. Maybe in this case it would be allowed, since others were present. If it wasn't...Better to learn how punishments worked now rather than later.

So focus... he remembered his body, every scale. His hair, his eyes... that could never seem to focus...
Arms... legs...Feet.

Don't focus on the rest.

Make sure that was covered… Definitely have underwear there. He'd need to pry it off to have any 'fun'.

Alright... he could see it all... now he just needed to shift. His form was mist and clay, moldable and under control.
Any second now... and...

Thomas gradually began to feel more weight on his shoulders, instead of a plush snake, arms were wrapping around him. He shivered, then glanced behind him.
Janus stared back at him. In hindsight he probably should have moved first… He started to slip off.

"Wow!" Thomas moved to catch him, causing both them and the chair to tumble to the ground.

"Thomas!" Logan stood up.”

"Janus?" Virgil leaned forward.

Patton whipped around. "You okay kiddos?!"

"Think so." Thomas started to push himself up to look at Janus. "How about you?"

'I-I'm fine... Sorry..." He fell onto his lap.

"Janus... let me get you some clothes." Logan went towards the stairs.

Thomas's face heated as he fixed his gaze on Janus's face. "Not, your fault...Get my Janus costume for him, Lo!"

Roman stood up. "I could make those!"

"No!" Janus sat up. "I-I want the costume he has."

Roman blinked. “If you’re certain…”

Thomas nodded. "Go ahead and get it, Lo!"

"I am!" He called.

"Thanks!" Thomas then looked at Janus. "Would you, like to be somewhere more comfortable?"

"Like... your bed...?"

His eyes widened. "No! I, more meant the couch...Wrapped in a blanket until Logan comes down?"

"If that's what you want..." he stood up, legs shaking.

Thomas quickly sprung up, offering his support. "Guess your legs are still getting re-use to being legs."

"Yes..." he fell against him. "Sorry.. "

"No, it’s, it's all good." He lightly wrapped one arm around him then helped him over. "You don't need to be sorry for things out of your control..."

"Yes sir..." he laid a hand on his shoulder.

Thomas bit his lip. "Please, call me Thomas." Then he sat him down and handed him a blanket.

"Yes sir- Thomas." He wrapped the blanket around his shoulders.

Thomas nodded. "Thank you." Then started to really look at him.

To be frank, he never had really considered how the half scales, half human thing would actually look or work. They'd certainly felt different… He'd seen fan art where he had scales all over his body, but actually seeing it, and them not being makeup...If the situation was anything else, it would be fascinating. Something he'd ask about. As it was though...

He stood himself up, looking up the stairs.

Logan came back down, costume neatly folded in his arms. "Here you go, Janus."

"Thanks..."

"Go ahead and put it on under the blanket." Thomas smiled, then looked away. "So, what have you guys been watching?"

"We finished those documentaries. Not sure what we will watch now."

Patton grinned. "Well, now that Janus is awake. Maybe we could watch the show!"

"I suppose that's an option."

"The show...?" Janus looked up, pulling on his pants.

"Yeah!" Pat turned to him. "A full Sanders Sides run-through!"

"Unless you would rather not." Roman offered. "Of the rest of us however, Logan and I have been the only ones to see all the episodes. And we found out here that another just launched."

"So there will be a new one?" Virgil tilted his head.

"Oh cool!" Patton beamed. "We could all watch it for the first time!"

"If that's what everyone wants..." Thomas glanced around.

"I suppose, as long as nothing else needs done." Logan met his gaze.

He nervously chuckled. "Nothing I can't work on while watching with you guys."

"Very well then…”

"Alright." Thomas took the remote then switched over to YouTube.

"Yay!" Patton hugged Logan. "This will be fun-tastic!"

"I don't believe that's a word." Logan chuckled and snuggled in.

Patton grinned. "It should be!"

Thomas quickly headed to his main channel, avoiding what might appear on his recommended feed...Then got to the playlist. "You guys ready?"

Virgil gave a thumbs-up.

"Ready!" Patton grinned.

"Of course." Roman smiled.

"Okay then." Thomas then got back and pressed play, starting with that very first episode.

Virgil settled in. Time to see what all the fuss was about.

Chapter Text

Thomas grabbed his computer then set up in the couch corner, wincing. It never got easier seeing yourself on screen. What was it like for them, he wondered? He glanced over towards them as he worked.

Patton grinned. "There's you Lo!"

"And you as well."

"Wow, never saw you as the cheerful type." Virgil smirked.

"Oh hush." Patton playfully waved him off. "Lo can be as cheerful as he likes when he wants to be."

"Oh, there's me." Roman leaned back.

Thomas though was sure he could see a wince there. Was he okay?

Well, this was Roman at some of his most egotistical... And if he was also still a perfectionist, it would be a bit, painful to watch.

Still, this was the earliest form of his character, it didn't define who he was. Just as it didn't define Logan and Patton. Still, Roman bit his lip as he watched it.

"That was a short one." Virgil pointed out.

Thomas shrugged as they went to the next one. "They started out short. It was a way to go from Vine to YouTube."

"Vine?"

He blinked. Then shook his head. "I can't be that old..."

"Oh!" Patton exclaimed. "It’s Mr. Stove!"

"Mr. Who?" Virgil focused on the screen again.

Thomas rolled his eyes. "A character I only used for this episode. I really didn't know what to do with the series at this point." He focused back on his computer. "Your introduction though will be coming up next. That worked out much better."

"I at least saw that."

The screen shifted to that, after muffled giggles on the adultery thing and Thomas being utterly clueless about how stoves worked.

Thomas looked up then. "This was really when the series started to take off."

"With me?"

"Yeah." He looked at Virgil. "My first character created for the series, not just altered to fit then expanded. And with that, doors opened that still power the show."

"Really? Wow…”

"Does actually make you pretty special, emo nightmare." Roman bumped his shoulder.

"Hey... not that special..." but he couldn't help but smile.

Patton smiled at him, then looked back up on the screen.

Janus frowned and looked back and forth between the two Virgils. Could no one else see how different those two were?

And it didn't explain why Virgil hated him… Seemed here that he was rather happy with his role… Then came the episode where he was telling off Thomas for lying to himself.
Janus frowned then kept looking towards the screen, then to Virgil. Something was off… Virgil was, smaller? Than in the show? Didn't look as old either... Did no one else notice? He glanced around the room.

Thomas's brow was furrowing. As was Roman's and Patton's, though Pat was also concerned with comforting Logan. "You're always number one in my heart, Lo."

"Oh... thank you...?" Logan was frowning as well. "How long ago was this filmed?"

"First year I made these..." Thomas looked up. "So about...Has it really been over five years now?"

"So you would have been how old?"

He winced. "Uh...27?"

He frowned and studied Virgil again. "He still looks younger."

"Who?" Virgil looked over.

Roman turned to him. "You do. How old are you supposed to be?"

"Um..." he bit his lip. "You guy’s ages...?"

Roman frowned. "Are you sure?"

"Yeah..."

Janus stared at him. "Lie."

Patton looked over at Janus. "You can tell when people are lying?"

"I... I suppose I can..." His tongue flickered out of his mouth. "I could taste it..."

"Weird..." Virgil shrank back.

Thomas looked at Virgil. "Okay then. What age are you actually?"

"I..." he hung his head. "I'm sixteen…”

Patton's eyes widened. "Oh kiddo..." Then he went to hug him.

"What's the big deal?" He moved away. "You all can't be... that much older…”

Thomas bit his lip. "I don't know for sure about them but I'm a bit over thirty..."

"As am I." Logan turned to him. "I am your age."

"Same here." Patton lowered his arms.

Roman swallowed. "I'm an ageless thirty, altered to never grow old."

"I'd guess I'm about all your ages... Though she wanted me to look flawless..." Janus hugged himself.

"Okay so I'm much younger, so what?!”

Thomas winced. "How long did she have you?"

"A few months?! Why does it matter?!"

"It matters because she had to have been older than you!" Roman snapped back. "Unless you were some teenager's gift. It also matters because you were on the streets alone, when you're barely more than a teen!"

"She didn't do anything to me!"

"Lie..."

"Shut up!"

Thomas shook. "What did she do...?"

"Nothing! It wasn't like with them!" He pointed towards Roman and Logan, Logan visibly stiffening.

Thomas stiffened more, glancing towards Lo. "You as well?"

"I... she... wanted me as a romantic partner..."

"She forced herself on you?!"

"Just... once..." Logan wrapped his arms around himself. "Second time... I initiated it..."

The others turned towards him with various levels of shock and compassion in their eyes.

Thomas outright paled. "None of it's your fault!"

"Never said it was..." he shrunk in on himself. Literally, it looked like he was getting smaller.

Patton softened more. "Oh Lo..." He offered his arms.

"I-I'm sorry..." Logan stood and hurried upstairs. "Continue without me."

Thomas frowned, watching him go. Should he go after him? It looked like he wanted to be alone, but...Sometimes being alone wasn't really what helped a person...
Thomas set down his laptop and remote. "Go ahead." Then went up after Logan.

"Okay..." the videos started again, the rest glancing up after him.

Thomas made his way up to where Logan was and knocked.

"Please go..."

"Are you sure, Lo?" He sighed. "Sometimes, isolating yourself makes everything worse..."

It was quiet for a moment...Thomas prepared to turn around when he heard Logan’s voice.

"Come in..."

Thomas sighed in relief, then came in.

Logan was curled up on the guest bed, back to his normal size with his back facing him.

Thomas closed the door, then went and sat on the other side and sighed. "I'm, sorry for putting you in the spotlight like that..."

"It wasn't your fault. When asked a question I have to answer..."

His eyes widened then he took a deep breath. "Okay, for one thing, I didn't know that...Even if it wasn't the case though, it was a dick move for me to ask about your trauma like that."

"A... what?”

"A dick move. Something that, was really unnecessarily cruel..."

"I didn't think it was cruel..." he turned to him. "You were just worried."

He met his eyes. "It still was insensitive and invasive of me to ask, especially then and there. You don't have to be okay with it."

"I'm not okay... but I'm not upset with you..."

"Thank you." He moved to sit crisscross applesauce. "And, I'm glad you're letting yourself understand that you aren't okay. I can imagine it's hard to do, with trauma like that."

"It isn't... really..."

He raised an eyebrow. "Not hard to acknowledge? Or not really trauma?"

"Trauma... it isn't..."

"Okay..." He took a deeper breath. "How is it not trauma to be owned by someone, have that person force themselves on you, then make it so you had no choice but to initiate things yourself?"

"She didn't... She was my friend... She cared about me... She was just confused..."

"Confused?"

"She... drank sometimes..."

He frowned. "So you think that if she didn't drink, the two of you could have had a decent life together..."

"I do... in time..."

"Why-?" He bit his lip. "There were other problems going on then."

"Just a few…”

"...OK, I will need to ask questions." He took a deep breath. "If there's a question you don't want to answer, tell me you'd prefer not to answer and I won't press you. Will that work?"

"It might..."

"Let's try it." He sighed. "...What were some of those other problems?"

"She... didn't want me going outside... ever…”

"Afraid of losing you?"

"Yes... that I'd be hurt, get lost, be kidnapped or... fall in love with another woman..."

"...She was scared you'd fall in love with a woman?"

"Yes... she wanted me to fall in love with her..."

"So she made you straight, like Virgil's Wisher made him younger..."

He shook. "You guessed it...?"

"I should hope I'm not as dumb as my character in the show." He huffed. "Clearly with Virgil, some elements of a character can be changed and you clearly stated the fear of women being who you fell for...Not sure what it would mean if she kept you gay but still planned for you to be her boyfriend."

"I... I'm sorry..."

He blinked. "Why are you sorry? You have nothing to apologize for."

"I'm not... I'm not like you…”

He frowned. "You don't have to be like me."

"But I'm your creation... made to represent a part of you…”

"A part of me. And given that now you're your own person entirely, it's safe to say that you can develop in ways you choose that aren't like me." He sighed. "You're not less of a Logan because someone changed an aspect of you like that..."

"But... why did she... how could she...?"

"I don't know. I can make some guesses, but you are allowed to be upset at the change..."

"I feel... incomplete... like something was torn out and something else was put in... but it doesn't fit right..."

He sadly smiled. "It wasn't how you were meant to be...I wish I could give it back to you."

Logan trembled. "It wasn't as bad... as what they went through…”

"It was still wrong though. It hurt you, and shaped you in ways you didn't ask to be shaped..." He reached for his shoulder.

He stopped shaking. "She kissed me…”

Thomas started to rub his shoulder. "And you hadn't wanted it."

"No... she was drunk... said she'd waited too long... I froze..."

"She felt entitled to you..." His grip tightened. "No one can ever demand your love."

"She asked me how I felt after..." he moved closer to him. "And I couldn't lie... I felt nothing towards her... then she just... ignored me..."

Thomas then moved closer. "You initiated things then so she wasn't ignoring you?"

"One day she finally started talking to me again, she wanted to take me to the space needle. I was so excited, I thought things were getting better. Then we went to have dinner and, she became angry when I had a conversation with a worker. Claimed I was flirting with her when I wasn't... then she took me home and... she was so angry she... threatened to lock me in my room... leave me alone..."

"Oh Lo..." He hugged him close.

"It... hurts... when I'm ignored... I couldn't go through that so I... told her I had felt something, I didn't specify but... that didn't matter when I kissed her. Then I got us some drinks and we danced, she kept kissing me... not just on my mouth but my face and neck... she kept pulling on my tie... trying to take off my shirt..."

He rubbed his back, softly rocking him. "...Did she do it?"

"No... she became drunk enough to where I could get her in bed... she fell asleep..." Logan curled into him. "I ran away that night..."

He sighed in relief. "And I'm so glad you got away. That you took the chance."

"I was terrified... I didn't know where to go... how I was going to survive..."

"But you did anyway. Instead of being trapped with her, you decided to break free and make your own life. I'm so proud of you."

"You're proud...?" He looked up at him with tears in his eyes. "But... you don't know what I did..."

"I know that you were in a situation where you could have easily decided to just stay trapped with her and been miserable, but you took the chance and ran." He wiped away the tears. "You saw the others in trouble, and you chose to help them too."

"I... I did something... to keep us in a hotel..."

His eyes shone in concern. "What?"

"Money was tight... but it was the only place that I thought they'd be safe... I offered to work for our room... but... he had me pay another way..."

His eyes widened. "He, he forced himself on you?"

"He made an offer and I accepted..."

"No, Lo. No." He hugged him tighter, shaking. "You were desperate. He took advantage. That was not your fault."

"He was going to tell... They would have taken them away unless we stayed... unless I stayed with him..." Logan started crying. "I-I can't lose them! They're more than my friends they- they're my family! I love them!"

Thomas rubbed his back more. "You did what you felt you had to. You, you won't lose them now, Lo. Not if, not if I can help it."

"But now you're in danger! I could lose you too and it'd be my fault!"

Thomas just squeezed him closer, silent tears gathering in his eyes. "I was the one to make the choice to help. Whatever happens, it won't be your fault."

"I chose to run first... all this happened because of me..."

"No. This all happened because WISH decided to sell people as people's personal playthings." He locked eyes with Logan. "Without what you did, Roman would be trapped in a marriage with someone that doesn't care about him, Virgil could have died before now, Patton..." He shook. "I don't know what you saved him from exactly and I'm not sure if I want to or don't want to know, but you saved him as well. Then Janus...He..." He looked down. "He would never have even known what it was to be cared about..." He looked back into Logan's eyes. "Even if WISH does get their way, you've at least shown them that they can be and should be treated better than they were. You've done good. And I'm proud of that."

Logan sniffled. "Even after everything I told you...?"

"Even after all that." His smile widened. "I'm proud of you, Lo. Remember that."

He hugged him tightly. "I will... always..."

Thomas wrapped himself around him. "Never forget it."

"It's literally impossible for me to..." he chuckled.

Thomas let out a small laugh as well. "Guess that is." Then he grew somber again. "Still, when the dark thoughts and memories shout the loudest, please use it to fight against them."

"I'll try..." he closed his eyes and leaned against him. "Thank you for coming..."

"Glad I could help." He rubbed his back, letting the two of them bask in silence for the moment.

Poor Lo... he couldn't have ever imagined this happening… Unfortunately, it had happened though. And the only thing he could do was give them a safe place to heal and never allow it to happen again.

He'd never forgive himself if it did… He didn't care how many late nights it took. How many sacrifices he'd have to make. He would not let them go through what they had again! They'd have to go through him first. Even though he really wasn't the most intimidating person...

Didn't mean he wouldn't try. And try harder than this morning... He shook. If they'd taken them then...He couldn't even imagine... especially after finding out more about what they went through. He had to do better. And to help with that, he needed to figure out how to earn more while keeping up with the fans' demands fast.

Maybe... he could ask them to help?

No, no, no. He was not going to enslave them in order to save them. If he asked them to do anything, they might only do it because he told them to.But what if it was the only way to help? Besides, if it wasn't helping him they'd probably be out trying to find jobs elsewhere… He swallowed. How could he be sure though? Right now, he was the guy they were stuck with. He didn't want to be like the guy from the hotel Logan had talked about.

He shivered more. How had they gotten away? Had he reported them? He wasn't sure he wanted to know. Was just glad they had...

Chapter Text

The two held each other like that for a while. Then Logan started to shift. "I think I'm ready to go back down...

He looked at Lo. "You sure? We can stay up here if you want..."

"No, I'm alright.”

"Alright." He kept an arm around him. "Let's head on down then."

"Alright..." he stood with him.

Thomas gently smiled, then kept hugging him as they came downstairs.

The others looked up as they arrived. Patton's eyes looking closely at Logan while Thomas grabbed back his computer. Virgil turned away, biting his lip.

Roman swallowed. "You, missed the mixed messages of Disney debate..."

"It's alright, I remember it "

"Good." He glanced at Logan. "It's a, fun scene though...One of Roman's better parts."

"I remember enjoying it." He sat back down and looked towards Virgil.

Thomas ended up sitting by Logan, keeping an arm around him as he got the laptop up.

Patton grabbed Logan's other hand, also glancing at Virgil. "It really is fun."

"Indeed..." he kept his eyes on Virgil who was trying to hide beside Roman.

Roman sighed, then paused the current episode. "Let's just get this out of the way." He wrapped an arm around Virgil then looked down at him. "I think there's something that someone would like to say?"

Virgil trembled and looked up at Logan, tears running down his face. "I-I'm so sorry! I didn't mean- I shouldn't have- I'm sorry Logan! I'm so sorry!”

"Virgil..." Logan moved closer to him. "I'm not angry…”

Virgil looked up in shock. "How can you not be angry?! I said-"

"I know what you said, and it did hurt..." Logan hugged him. "But I'd never hate you, or be angry with you. You were scared, and it made you panic. I understand that your intent wasn't to harm me. I truly care about you, Virgil." He held him closer. "I love you... Never forget that..."

Virgil whimpered before bursting into tears, clinging to Logan as tight as he could. Patton started tearing up as well, smiling at the scene. Roman swallowed, glancing away while Thomas smiled and kept a hand on Logan's shoulder, looking slightly at Roman worriedly.
Logan hadn't been the only one Virgil mentioned...

Roman still had a protective arm around Virgil, even as he averted his eyes from the scene and stared at the screen. It was shocking... hearing Virgil's actual age. How could he not have noticed? He had been in charge of keeping everyone safe after...He should have realized Virgil shouldn't have been that small. Virgil could have easily died if he hadn't found him, and he was barely 18...And had been bought by someone older than him, why?
If she was anything like Rosa...

I could have had them make me a younger Roman, you know... Her fingernail trailed his chin. A ripe, young, eager latino. Her laughter rang. Maybe if you keep being so ungrateful, he'll be my next groom.

His hand squeezed on the couch. He didn't deserve that... Please don't let that have been what happened... His hold around Virgil tightened. If that was, he'd kill her! Simple as that. He'd kill anyone who tried to hurt any of them. He'd done it once. He could do it again…

"Will you be alright?" Logan asked, rubbing Virgil's back.

"Y-Yeah... I'm okay..."

"Good." Roman chimed in with a smile, looking back towards him.

Virgil pulled away slightly and turned to Roman. "I'm sorry... for what I said..."

"Think nothing of it." Then he turned the episode back on. "Ooh. The procrastination one."

"Oh, my name reveal." Logan sat back.

"Yep." Thomas stretched out. "Only made sense after how developed your characters got, even if there was no good way to get the ball rolling."
"No good way?"

"Well, maybe there was..." Thomas winced. "Though really, it didn't seem your style to reveal it without Thomas asking about it. And Thomas needed to know there were names to be curious about it."

"So you had Patton simply say it."

"Yeah...To be fair, with Logan's question about Thomas really thinking they're only called Logic and Morality, it could be seen as something Lo arranged to test if that were actually true."

"That is also true..."

"...I didn't realize though it could be taken as Patton outing Logan until those theories came up later.”

"What?" Patton's eyes widened.

Logan blinked. "Outing me?"

"Yeah. Because names became a big thing for Virgil and Janus."

"And... even Roman and Patton... to an extent."

"Well...Ro more only told his name because he didn't want to have a major conversation with me calling him Princey...And Patton did a pun. But yeah." He sighed. "The names got shared at meaningful moments after the problem of the day involved them. Which, is also true of your name reveal, except that you didn't get the chance to say it.”

"Yes... still, I'm sure you didn't intend for it to be taken as such.”

"Not at all." He sighed. "It was meant to be a bit of lighthearted fun. Just like the thing with the cream of broccoli soup."

"Did your fans make that sad as well?”

He nodded. "They made it out to be Roman being force fed food he's allergic to."

Patton paled. "But soup's supposed to be good for a person!"

"I believe it was meant more as a joke..."

"It was." Thomas sighed. "With it not being that Roman was allergic to cream based broths, but that a heavy broth would actually not be the best way to help someone heavily bruised and potentially nauseous."

Roman blinked. "I'm not actually supposed to be allergic to cream based foods?"

"It would seem that way."

Thomas turned towards Roman, blinking. "What...?”

"It only really affects soups and sauces." Roman tried to assure. "Not, anything else unless it's straight up cream."

"Oh rats!" He facepalmed. "Ro, I'm so sorry."

"It's alright. It's livable."

"Our Wishers tend to make us what they perceive to be the most accurate portrayal of our series counterparts. Even if it isn't accurate."

Thomas frowned. With some exceptions... "Still, I should have chosen to make that better understood at some point..."

"You can't predict how your fans will interpret things. It can't be helped."

"Exactly." Roman nodded. "Their imaginations will take flight to areas you didn't expect."

"And I don't really want to stomp down on that creativity..." Thomas sighed.

"So there's no point, plus some might hold onto their ideas regardless of what you say."

"Yeah..." He focused back on his computer. "Even with stuff stated in the show."

"Like, me?" Janus asked.

"Yeah..." Thomas glanced at him. "Like with you."

"I'm a villain... I'm evil, right?"

He frowned. "No...You're...You sometimes go about things the wrong way. But in the end, you do want to help. You want things to work out for the better. Though even if show Janus was an out and out villain, that wouldn't make you evil or a villain."

"But that's what she said I was..."

"She may have believed it. But you aren't."

Janus frowned. "But she had to have had a reason to think of me like that..."

He bit his lip. "I wouldn't know for certain. I've heard some reasons for why people hold firm to unsympathetic Janus...It doesn't mean she's right though."

"Why... does Virgil hate me? What did I do to him?"

He winced. "I honestly don't know for sure. The past is not as big a deal for the series as the present. It's more about him getting scared about only being seen as a dark side again, and the fact there is a real anxiety to the idea of lying or being lied to."

"You... don't even know? But you're the creator!"

"And when creating, details sometimes are fuzzy if not there until inspiration hits or it becomes relevant. About the only thing from the past that has been relevant so far is Roman and Remus having been one Side before they split from my development. Otherwise, what's more important is who the Sides are now and how they react and grow."

"Wait, Remus?" Virgil leaned forward. "Who's Remus?"

Thomas blinked. "Another Side representing my intrusive thoughts and the dark side of creativity."

"There's more Sides?"

"Only two more. Remus, and the Orange Side who'll be revealed soon..."

"Orange Side?"

He smirked. "Someone the fans haven't seen yet, though they have kept guessing."

"Oh... a surprise then?"

"One that they might figure out..." He did a bit more on the schedule. "So far, the fan vote is on him being Wrath."

"Wrath? That's an emotion, isn't it?" Logan asked.

"It is. Along with a deadly sin." He shrugged. "Of course, they were guessing Lust before, then they got Remus."

"Is there a lust?" Janus asked.

"No. Remus and to some extent Roman both take that job."

"Really...?"

"Well, Remus gets my more, horny thoughts." He reddened. "While Roman gets the more romantic love at first sight elements of that...Though Patton could also be seen as embodying my lust for life and cartoons while Logan's a lust for knowledge, Virgil's a lust for safety, and you're a lust for getting things my way. Lust isn't solely a term for wanting and imagining doing the dirty to someone."

"I hadn't thought of it like that..." Logan's gaze turned thoughtful.

"It's something I might cover one day...A real point of the serious though is that the parts of a person can be good, but there's also various ways that those Sides could cause a person to, not do great things. To better know yourself then means to recognize your strengths and weaknesses, love yourself despite them, then work to be a better person tomorrow."

"But what if there's a part of you that can't be good?" Janus asked.

"There aren't any." He looked at Janus. "The only way that would happen would be if I choose to not want to be good anymore, or if the Side refused to change in ways that would help them better work with everyone else. Neither of which ultimately happens."

"But surely there are parts of people that make them worse... bad..."

He sighed knowingly. "The Sides are trying to do their job and help as they best know how. They're tempted to do things that are wrong or just end up hurting everyone, but the only way for them to really turn bad, is if they aren't accepted as part of the person."

"And if bad parts are accepted?"

"Then, they can grow to be more how they should be. Self Care and Self Preservation instead of Deceit and Self-Denial."

"But what if they don't want to grow?"

"Then...Hopefully they can be helped." He glanced over at Virgil. "Virgil was."

"I'm not..." Janus sighed and turned away. "Never mind..."

Thomas glanced at him. "You are though...You'll see."

He only stared at the screen in silence. Seeing Thomas acting, strangely...

"Oh, I remember this." Virgil leaned forward. "This was one of the last videos she let me watch."

Thomas swallowed. "Well, now you can see the rest."

"Guess I can see where this hoodie came from." Virgil pulled at his slightly. "I always wondered why it wasn't the same."

Roman smiled. "That will be the episode after this."

Patton frowned. "Why aren't Janus and Remus around to help Virgil here though?"

Thomas winced. "Mostly because they weren't revealed yet."

"Janus will arrive soon though." Logan reassured him. "Remus comes later."

"I saw Janus come." Patton snuggled into Logan. "Still...Doesn't make sense why they're not here."

"They might not know." Roman pointed out.

"Or it could be revealed later?"

Patton hummed. "Maybe..."

Roman winced at the Roman on screen.

Virgil frowned. "He didn't really care..."

He stiffened. "The Roman of the show, was never a true prince..."

Thomas frowned. "He gets better."

"Oh, I know you're not like him." Virgil rested against him. "You're much better."

Roman blinked, then began to relax. "Thank you."

"I know if I went missing you wouldn't stop until you found me."

"Of course I would." He huffed. "Who else would I debate whether Elsa was right to run away or not with?"

"Logan?”

"Well, I can...But he ends up focusing more on the fact that she shouldn't be taking clothes off."

"It's impractical!" Logan pointed out.

"She's being dramatic." Roman shot back. "Besides, with her ice powers, she can get away with getting clothes off. She can make the bold statements she wants to."

"And if she freezes anyway?"

He sputtered. "Then, she'll be learning a lesson in hubris!"

"Maybe you two can debate this another time?" Virgil grinned at Thomas. "Could be a fun video?"

Thomas grinned back. "Kinda did that a bit...But I could do a video with Frozen 2..."

"There you go."

He nodded. "The fans do want to also see everyone in the same room...Maybe it could also be a date with Nico episode."

"Nico...? How many characters are there?!"

"Well, other than the stove and Sacagawea, and other temp side characters...Me, 7 Sides, and Nico so far. So, nine."

"Wow... and I had no idea..."

"It's okay." Patton held his hand. "I didn't know about Remus, Nico, or Mr. Orange either."

"You'll at least get your answer about the sweater." The Harry Potter episode came on screen, Thomas's purple hair being prominent.

"Oh, that also explains this." Virgil pinched a strand or purple hair between his fingers. "Wondered why none of you had any…”

Roman hummed. "His hair only stayed like that a short time...And your hair most fits the aesthetic."

"So I'll just have purple hair forever?"

"Unless you want to try dying it." Thomas swallowed. "It does look good on you."

"You'd let me dye it?"

"Why, yeah." His brow furrowed, then straightened out. "We could pick out a color you'd want while in the grocery store."

"Really?"

"Really." Thomas added it to the grocery list. "Have any ideas what you'd like?"

"Um... blue...?"

He smiled. "Logan blue or Patton blue?"

"Um, kinda both...?"

"We could do that...Half and half?"

"Yeah!"

"Alright then." He smiled, then scribbled that down. "I should remember enough from when I did it to help you."

"You'd help me?"

"Well, yeah...Unless you'd prefer someone else help..."

"It's okay, if you wanna help "

He looked at Virgil carefully. "I would love to help. But if you'd prefer someone else do it, that's okay too."

"I mean, you're probably the only one here who knows how."

"Then I would be happy too."

"Cool." He smiled. "Can't wait."

Thomas smiled back. "Me neither." Then quickly, he shifted things to make Virgil's hair dye job happen soon.

Patton giggled at the screen. "I really do look like a pirate."

"I suppose..." Logan mused.

Roman smiled as well. "That you do. Though I still do hold that Hufflepuff suits you best, even if Gryffindor would not be a bad fit for you, Pat."

"Ah, thanks Ro."

"I don't know if any of these truly fit..." Logan frowned.

"What?" Roman looked at him. "You don't see yourself as a Ravenclaw?"

"No... or any of them really..." He listened to Virgil explaining how he didn't fit in any of them, not even the one everyone expected him to be in…

Roman huffed. "Of course he wouldn't be in Slytherin..." Then he frowned and turned to Lo. "But why don't you see yourself in Ravenclaw? It's for those that seek knowledge and are clever."

"Well... yes..."

"And you're both of those..."

Thomas looked over to Logan. "Why don't you see yourself in any of the houses?"

"It isn't all I am though..."

Thomas hummed. "I don't think the houses are supposed to encompass all that you are. It's more about what are some of your main traits and how you operate. Though of course, that can be subjective. Like, something I came across was the idea that Ravenclaw was also for those with imagination since the house is about using what one knows and imagines in ways to solve problems, therefore making Roman a candidate for Ravenclaw as well."

Roman winced. "My, solutions aren't often all that clever though..."

"And you're usually finding solutions to problems." Virgil pointed to Logan.

"Right...."

Thomas hummed. "Though of course...If your driving force is to help others, then even with Ravenclaw traits, you could be more of a Hufflepuff. Or if there's a driving ambition to what you're doing that you're willing to sacrifice everything for, even with a good ambition, that can make you more Slytherin. Then of course, if the underlying wish of yours is to conquer all your fears and be a hero others can rely on, that can make you a Gryffindor."

Logan shifted uncomfortably. "Couldn't I just... not choose?"

"You can if you want...Wouldn't be fair if I didn't make Virgil choose, but made you choose."

"Then I won't choose..."

"Alright then..."

On the screen, Virgil then revealed the sweater. "I actually dig the purple."

Virgil blinked. "So that's where it came from."

"Yeah." Thomas smiled. "A sign of your growth, and the change of how things were."

"And it's been some real good growth." Patton beamed.

"I'd hope so." The episode ended and the next one started.

"Oh!" Patton smiled. "It's Janus's first episode!"

"Could we skip this one...?" Janus asked.

Thomas looked at him. "If you really want to, we could..."

"Please?"

"Alright..." Then he grabbed the remote and skipped to the Phases video.

Patton looked at Janus. "Why'd you want to skip that?"

"I just did..."

"But-"

"Just leave it be, Pat." Roman rested a hand on his shoulder, looking towards Janus. "He doesn't have to tell us his reasons."

"I can always catch up later." Virgil shrugged.

Patton hummed, then sighed. "Okay..." Then settled back.

Virgil seemed to be a fan of the Halloween episode, even if he didn't like his counterpart's behavior as much. But he was almost bouncing on the couch as he took in the costumes. Thomas smiled at that. Of course he would have a love of Halloween and Halloween costumes. He wouldn't have it any other way...

Patton grinned at the excitement, though frowned. "Do you feel like I treat you that way, kiddo?"

"Treat me like what?" He turned to him.

"Well, that Virgil felt like his Patton was being too much for him..." He swallowed. "Do you feel like I'm too much on you?"

"What? Of course not! Maybe when I first showed up but that was understandable. I almost died!"

He sighed in relief, smiling more lightly. "Good. Well, not good that you almost died. That was really scary and not in a fun scary type of way...But I'm glad that you don't find me too much."

"Though with recent revelations..." Roman hugged him more, a cheeky grin on his face. "I might be the one prone to doing that."

"Hey! Let go!" Virgil attempted to struggle out of his arms, trying to hold in his laughter.

"Hmm...Nope!" Roman hugged tighter. "I'm going to keep you as my little patooie and guard your wittle self from all dangers."

"Ack! No! Patton help!" Virgil laughed and reached for him.

Patton giggled too. "Don't worry kiddo!" He then reached forward and grabbed Virgil, pulling as hard as he could. "I'll save you!"

"No you don't!" Roman held tighter, laughing now himself.

"Come on Roman! Why not cuddle Logan for a bit?! He loves cuddles!"

"I'm confused..." Logan turned to Thomas. "What is happening?"

Thomas grinned. "Oh they're wrestling. Having fun."

"Never shall I release my hold on my damsel in distress!" Roman shifted backwards, holding Virgil more. "Desist, foul thief!"

"Nope!" Patton continued to fight Roman's hold on Virgil. "I'm releasing him from your clutches!"

"Since when did I become a damsel?! Ack! He's tickling me!" Virgil started laughing more. "Pa-Pat! Ha-help!"

"I'll save you!" Then with a mighty pull, Patton fell back with Virgil on his chest. "I got you!"

"That's what you think! Ahh!" Then dramatically, Roman leapt on top of them.

Janus hissed and climbed over Thomas to get out of the way, which resulted in him falling onto Logan and pulling Thomas along with him to escape the chaos.

"Woah!" Thomas reached up to save his laptop.

Logan helped to catch it as the three toppled over, all while the battle for Virgil raged on.

Patton and Roman kept going at it, giggling. Then Roman stretched his arms out and encompassed them both. "Now you're both my patooties!"

"Hey!" Patton laughed. "No fair!"

Thomas looked to Logan and Janus. "You guys okay?"

"I'm... alarmed... by that." He nodded towards Roman's stretchy arms wrapped around the two. "But I am unharmed."

Thomas looked back. "Yeah, that's only come up in a couple videos..."

"And he's taken advantage of it I see..." he started to sit up when his eyes fell on the laptop. Open to a calendar. Next of which was a list of planned events while on the screen, some days were marked down while the rest were things he was taking and trying to scoot around.

Thomas was focused currently on offering Janus a hand. "Would you like help getting up on the couch?"

He looked at his hand and took it, shooting a glare at the others.

Roman winced a bit. "My apologies, dear Janus. We..." He started shifting his arms back and helping Patton and Virgil up. "We, seemed to have become a bit carried away."

"Yeah... sorry buddy..." Virgil put his hood back on. "I can just sit with both of them."

Janus hissed and settled himself beside Thomas.

Thomas chuckled as Roman and Patton scooted by Virgil, sitting down. "Well, no harm, no foul-" His eyes caught Logan looking at the laptop screen. His hands moving towards the keyboard

"Ah!" Thomas reached for the screen. "You...You really don't need to do my work, Lo."

"Oh, my apologies..." he handed the laptop over.

Thomas grabbed it back. "Its, Its all good...Oh, hey! Janus in the endcard!"

Janus looked over and stiffened. "Can we skip?"

He frowned. "Its, not terrible of you..."

Janus on screen found the Scoobey doo dog tag. What? I was looking for-! His smile then dimmed to stone faced. Not looking for...

"I said skip it!" He screamed.

"Alright." He skipped that one.

He shook and glared at him. "Why didn't you listen?!"

Thomas swallowed. "I'm, sorry. I, I was surprised you asked it about that scene. It's, it's one of your softer moments..."

"I don't want to see me... at all..."

Roman frowned. "You're, a major player in the two biggest episodes though..."

"I don't care..."

Thomas winced. "Maybe we should end things here for today then..."

"No... I'll just go upstairs..." He stood. "And I don't want you to follow me."

Thomas flinched. "I...I won't..."

Janus stormed up the stairs, they soon heard a door slam before silence followed.

Thomas took a deep breath, falling back on the couch. Then another...And another.

"Thomas?" Logan placed a hand on his shoulder.

He started shaking. "I screwed up..."

"No you didn't... May I hold you?"

"But he-" He turned to Logan. "You-You sure?"

"I am..." he opened his arms.

Thomas blinked, then fell into them, shaking more. "He's not going to trust me, or want to see me again, or-!"

"Give him time... Thomas..." Logan rubbed circles onto his back. "We still don't know exactly what he went through... He could have been triggered by something in the video..."
His breath finally started to slow. "I...I know...I, It came up so fast...Why that scene?"

"I don't know..."

Finally, he started to calm down, resting up against Lo with his eyes beginning to shut.

Logan started rocking him as he began to hum softly.

Thomas whimpered, then gripped onto him while a yawn escaped. "You...don't need to..."

"Short steps, deep breaths, everything is alright..." Logan started to sing softly. "Chin up, I can't, step into the spotlight." He closed his eyes, continuing to rock him. "She said, I'm sad, somehow without any words. I just, stood there, searching for an answer..."

Thomas's eyes finally closed as he slumped against Logan.

Patton and Roman looking on in shock and awe.

"When this world is no more, the moon is all we'll see. I'll ask you, to fly away with me. When the stars all fall, down, they empty from the sky, but I don't mind..." He looked down at him, smiling softly. "If you're with me, everything's alright..." Gently, he laid him down on the couch. "If you're with me, then everything's alright..."

Their creator then curled up and went to sleep, breathing evenly.

Logan took a blanket that was draped over the couch and covered him up. He then turned and saw the others staring at him. "Is something wrong?"

"No." Roman shook his head. "That just, was incredible..."

"Poor Thomas..." Patton looked towards him. "He must have been pretty tired."

"Today has been particularly stressful... Perhaps we should all attempt to get some rest."

Patton frowned. "But we have been resting..."

"Yeah." Roman stood up. "I feel a bit wound up, actually."

"Oh, then perhaps we could finish?"

Patton frowned. "Don't really want to disturb him either..."

Roman looked around. "Maybe we could clean up around here some? Figure out stuff we can do?"

"If you all insist, as long as they all get rest."

"Alright." Roman then looked around. "I can start around here."

"I'll go for the bathroom." Patton ran upstairs.

"I'll start here..." Logan picked up his laptop from the floor.

"Guess I can help Patton, since the kitchen is done." Virgil hurried up.

"I'll either join there, or do his room." Roman started straightening up things. "Well, there's been worse messes at least..."

"Indeed..." Logan began typing.

Roman tilted his head. "What're you doing?"

"Creating a schedule for him that should allow him to get all his work done in a timely manner."

"Nice...That really feeds into your strengths." He got himself a dust rag and started to dust. "Need any help with that?"

"I'm almost done."

"Oh, already?"

"Yes, I am." He set the laptop down. "Hopefully he approves."

"I'm sure he will." Roman crouched around the tv, sighing. "Seriously. He's hardly dusted around here."

"Is it that bad?"

"Well, rooms need dusting eventually." He wiped away. "This seems to be quite the buildup though..."

"Do you need help?"

"Well, I could use a bit here." Then he shuddered. "I'm almost scared of what his room is like..."

"Perhaps we should leave his room for now."

"Maybe..." He glanced at Thomas. "How full is his schedule?"

"Full... He has so much scheduled for one month, he'll never get to it all."

He frowned. "That can't be healthy."

"It isn't. So I spaced things out."

"How far?"

"Just into next month to give him enough time to rest in between projects."

"Guess that isn't too long of a spread."

"No, and I figured it would be enough since we would he helping him "

Roman turned to look at him. "Oh? In what way?"

"Well, a lot of these videos involve us doing things. Instead of him filming each video separately with him playing us, we could film multiple at once with us in the roles as ourselves."

Roman blinked. "That would work?"

"I don't see why it wouldn't."

"As we saw with the videos, even if we are the Sides, we're not exactly like them..." His brow furrowed. "If we're to make this work, we'll need to act as much like them as possible. Exactly, hence why I'm going to continue my research."

"...You mean watch the rest of the episodes."

"I do. I need to ensure that I at least know what is going on in the series, especially since there has been a new episode. Care to join me?"

He shrugged with a smirk. "May as well." Then tossed the dust rag to the sink and sat besides Logan. "How long will we have to prepare?"

"We have three days, and of course we still need Thomas's approval." He turned the volume down before starting the next episode.

"Of course." He leaned back, hesitated, then rested an arm around Logan. "Though there's no reason he would refuse us, is there?"

"He may be hesitant to have us work as he doesn't want to be seen as enslaving us." He leaned against him.

He blinked, "Enslave us? Just what sort of videos does he need to do?"

"That may have been too harsh a word, the videos are simple enough, most having us playing video games. But we've been through so much He may feel as though he was taking advantage of us by having us film videos for him."

"I could think of worse jobs that we've done willingly...Any way we could convince them that it wouldn't be wrong to?"

"If we all agreed that this was something we wanted to, I don't see the harm in it."

Roman winced. "Could we convince Janus...?"

"As he is... no... and it might be best if Thomas continues to portray him using makeup for his scales, since Janus's are real "

"It at least would save him most of the work..." Then he frowned again. "Virgil would need to be shifted the entire time."

"Yes, I thought of that as well."

"Even if he didn't dye his hair..." He swallowed. "He should be able to maintain his form for long enough, right? It's not like he'd need to be shifted three days straight."

"No, of course not. Though if he doesn't want to either, Thomas could fulfill the role himself."

"Even if only the three of us did it, Thomas would be saving time."

"Exactly."

Roman nodded. "Good." Then he focused on the screen. "And with that, we can work off our room and board here."

"It's the least we could do.”

"Yes..." Roman looked to Thomas. "We already owe him a lot. And if he's really going to go through with all he says..."

"He'll need our help, and if we can, we should."

"Indeed..." With a swallow, he looked back to the screen. "No need to be ungrateful."

Logan turned to him. "I said if we can. Which doesn't mean only if we're physically able, but mentally as well." He held his hand. "I won't have anyone forcing themselves to do something they are unable to. It has nothing to do with being ungrateful."

His shoulders tensed. "I'm perfectly able, Specs. I...I hadn't meant that to come out like that. My apologies."

"How did you mean it then?"

"Simply..." His teeth dug into his lips. "Simply that I wouldn't want to be a, a lazy loafer either." He refused to look at Lo. "And I'd prefer working on the videos here over..."

Logan's eyes softened. "Roman, is this something Rosa said to you?"

His hand fidgeted. "...The ungrateful part? Yes...She though preferred lazy bum when she thought I was lying around doing nothing for too long."

"Well she was wrong..." he squeezed his hand gently. "You're one of the most hardworking individuals I know "

He swallowed. "I barely do anything compared to you."

"But you've been so much help... I don't know what I would do without you."

He glanced at Logan. "You really mean that?"

"I do." His eyes met his. "I'd be, metaphorically, lost without you."

He swallowed, ducking his head. "Even if...I turn out to be a great coward?"

"You are not a coward." He gently lifted his head.

His eyes started to water. "But I'm scared of the idea of getting jobs outside this apartment. I, don't mind the idea of doing the videos, even with how much of an egotistical nightmare my counterpart can be, because it'll mean we're not out there scattered and alone." He started to shake. "WISH won't be able to pick us off one by one because there's little chance you could get us all the same jobs again, then there's little chance I might come here and find you all gone..."

"I'm scared of that too... that's why I'd rather stay here and work on the videos, at least I'd know we're all together..."

He shook, then hugged him closer. "Things will work out, long as we're together."

"Indeed." He returned the hug. "And I'll do everything to keep us that way."

"Same here." He looked back at the screen. "No matter how much like a peacock I need to act."

"Why would you need to act like a bird?"

He giggled. "It's an expression for someone that's stuck up, vain, and prideful."

"Oh, why would you need to act like that?"

He raised an eyebrow, gesturing at the screen. "I know he has changed to be more obviously insecure and often quickly apologetic. But any chance he has to be proud..."

"Oh, I see. You know that isn't a true reflection of yourself, correct?"

"I know-...I hope not...But still! He can be an awful, uncool jerk."

"Yes, but we've seen him trying to get better, he's clearly going through some things."

"True...But, then he starts falling back into those behaviors...Like with the birthday song."

Logan sighed. "Maybe things have gotten better by the newest episode?"

"Hopefully..."

"Which should be starting soon..."

"Alright then." He sat up straighter. "Oh, it seems to have you and Remus."

"Do you think anyone's brought him to life? He's only been shown twice until now..."

His eyes furrowed. "If he's been brought to life, I don't know if I should be sorry for him or his Wisher."

"Depends on what kind of person would want a character like Remus brought to life..."

"And how much of Remus they'd keep intact..." He shivered.

"It's odd... You were made before anyone knew you had a brother..."

"True..." He frowned. "As far as anyone knew then, I was a full Creativity."

"Yet you have another half..."

He frowned. "But since they didn't know that at the time, I wouldn't have been made with that in mind. While he would, making him weaker..."

"Yes..."

"...The Wisher could plan more for what he would be like."

"Especially if much wasn't known about him..."

"But even with what's known makes him unpredictable at least. That could protect him."

"I hope so... He seems to be filled with bad intentions here..."

He tilted his head. "Or just reacting to what's in Thomas' head..."

"Right... but still..." Logan frowned. "I sensed we had a rivalry but..."

"This is really upping it..." Roman almost smirked. "Enough that you need wine to handle him."

"Ah... right…”

He calmed the almost smile back down. "I guess it makes sense. You constantly need to dismantle the thoughts he sends."

"It looks like I'm doing my best, but Thomas won't confront the problem directly."

"Trying to just push through and follow the schedule, but keeps getting trapped back by the unanswered texts." He winced. "Too relatable."

"Distracting oneself from intrusive thoughts doesn't work. Did he forget what he was taught?"

He tilted his head. "It could be that he's mistaking it more for anxiety attacks. He doesn't seem to see Remus this episode."

"But I tell him that it is Intrusive Thoughts..."

"True, yet you provide him distractions instead of coaxing him to finally talk through it more."

"Which could be reflecting Thomas's inability to confront the problem head on."

"Which is something he isn't able to do since he has no control over whether Nico responds or not." His eyes furrowed. "I'd hate to see what happens the first time Nico's late for a date."

"As am I..."

He winced more, then winced again as the knife flew into Remus's eye. "Ouch..."

"He seems more alarmed by the soap..."

"Yeah..." He swallowed. "If he's made, I hope he was made before this, especially if he ends up with a particularly sadistic Wisher."

"We don't know for sure if he was made," Logan took his head, "no reason to worry."

"Well if he's made now, he'll be allergic to soap." He pointed out. "It's more dangerous for him to be made now then it would have been before...Unless...Can WISH update characters?"

Logan frowned. "Patton once mentioned that Susie had talked about characters being altered after they run away... If their Wishers wanted them back..."

Roman swallowed. "Somehow, I doubt Rosa would like it if I was less powerful than I use to be...She was already vexed about not being able to fight an actual dragon witch for our games."

"How would they change us if we were caught...?"

He frowned. "I would definitely become more like half of a creativity, which, I don't know exactly how that'd affect me. It's not like I commonly do stuff that's none PG or anything...You they'd have to find some way to make you not decide to escape again, unless your Wisher was somehow able to stop them."

"But would she?"

He winced. "You'd know better than I would..."

"No... She'd want me to stay and love her..."

Roman bit his lip, tightening his grip around Logan.

"She could make me forget you..."

"If she did, and I had a chance to see you again, I would simply take the opportunity to become your friend all over again."

"You would...?"

He nodded. "I would...Or I would regret not taking the chance for the rest of my life."

"Then... I'd hope to see you again, and would be glad to befriend you."

"As would I..." He swallowed. "Friends forever..."

"As long as we lived anyway..." He rested against him.

He swallowed more. "Which, might be until the end of time..."

"That seems a bit of a stretch..." he shifted a bit, leaning against his chest.

Roman wrapped both his arms around him. "Except is it? Within the show, we're bound to Thomas and so presumably to Thomas's lifespan. With how we are in the real world though, with our appearances based more on how we imagine ourselves....Even without Rosa having made me incapable of growing old, it could be possible that none of you will grow old either."

"It's... possible. Unless our Wishers wanted us to grow old with them... We don't know if Virgil will ever age..."

"True, and if she, wanted him for certain purposes, he could easily have also been locked in one age...Then with you, if you're able to ignore Remus's attacks on you, you likely could logic your way out of being older."

"You think so?" Logan chuckled.

He grinned. "Why not? You could somehow logic your way out of having a ninja star in your head. How much tougher would your body's ability to age and decay be?"

"And I could just spend an eternity with you?"

"Perhaps. Maybe with even the others since I doubt whoever made Patton would want him to grow too old when she needed him for her chores, and...somehow I doubt Janus's Wisher would want him old either, especially if he was to be flawless..."

"That would be nice..."

"Indeed." Then he glanced towards Thomas. Still fast asleep on the couch. And very mortal...
He frowned, then swallowed. He wasn't that old yet...They had more pressing issues. Perhaps, if Thomas kept his word, and things settled down... But it would have to wait… With the hope that there would be enough time...

He glanced back at the screen. Thomas was standing in front of Nico, both with knives in their hands. When suddenly, Logan began to play some music, drastically changing the mood.

Roman let out a chuckle. "Guess that's one way to relieve a stand off."

"And it's working." Logan smiled.

"That it is." He grinned. "Of course you would come up with great ideas."

"Oh please," he smiled as Thomas started dancing. Not realizing his own head was starting to bop along.

Roman's head bopped along as well. "We break down and we break through. 'Cause we can't touch the sky! But sometimes we can get a little closer. If we let go, stop trying to hold the world”

Logan looked up at him, smiling. "You have a lovely voice."

He smiled. "Why thank you." Then made a slight bow.

Logan chuckled as the scene continued with Thomas going back to his laundry as Logan went to confront Remus, Remus being a total diva about the experience.

Roman huffed. "He's like a petulant child."

"Indeed..."

"He really should be more willing to work with you."

"Right..." Logan's smile faded as he saw himself becoming more frustrated with Remus.

Roman started to stiffen. How could Remus stand to let Logan be that frustrated at him? He always broke down before Logan even reached that point...

"Stop... IGNORING ME!" Logan's eyes glowed orange, a frightened look on his face appeared briefly before fading.

Roman flinched back, eyes wide. Grip around Logan tightening.

"What... what was that...?" Logan's arms wrapped around Roman's. "Why did I do that?"

He shook. "I," he gulped. "I guess you were angry...Like in the puppet episode."

"But... I've never done that before..."

"Guess...That's the Orange Side increasing in power?"

"Perhaps..."

He swallowed, working to smooth the shakiness in his limbs. "...How could Orange not be Wrath then?"

"I-I don't know..."

His hand went to try to rub Logan's back. "Per, haps there's something connected to anger he is...? Maybe he's the Annoyance Side?"

"Look it... it doesn't matter... this was made after I was brought to life, and no one knows who this other side is... so it can't hurt- affect me..."

"It, it can't..." He rubbed Logan's back more. "You're, you. And that...That doesn't change that..."

"You're right... you're right..."

"We can, instead, try to just...Have fun. Figure out if the obvious choice is really what's going to happen, or if there's...Something non-obvious like Remus it could be."

"Right..." he took deep breaths. "Thank you..."

He strained to smile. "No, no problem, Specs..."

"That's the end of it for now..." Logan turned off the TV.

Roman sighed. "That, definitely was good for us to be aware of..."

"Yes..."

"But I...I suppose we could use some sort of break now...Uh..." He frowned, trying to get his breathing under control.

"Are you well?"

"Ye-Yeah." He forced a smile as he looked at him. "I'm, I'm fine, Specs."

"Should we do something?"

"I..." He swallowed. "Whatever you want to do..."

"We could rest?"

"It’s...It's only the afternoon though...We, we should think about lunch? Dinner?" His eyes swept the room. "What time is it even?"

"Late afternoon it would seem..."

"Din-Dinner then..." He took deeper breaths. "Virgil and Patton will have to be starving..."

"We can see what we could make, Roman... are you certain that you are well?”

"Yeah, Specs. I'm-I'm fine."

"You're stuttering..."

"Oh..." He tried taking deeper breaths. "It....Just had, surprised me too."

"Are you scared?" He took his hand.

"No-" Then he ducked his head. "...Yes?"

"Why?"

"Because it..." He swallowed. "I, I know he's not you. Believe me. And really, even if you got that upset, nothing would happen..."

"Oh... Roman..." he hugged him. "I'd never become that angry with you, never…”

He startled. "But I can be, an idiot. Can have my head in the clouds instead of my nose to the grindstone. I know you haven't done so yet, but if, if I pressed your buttons hard enough..."

"You wouldn't. And I will not lose control."

"You're," he looked into his eyes. "You're sure?"

"I am."

He shook, then hugged him back, tears silently falling down his face. "I don't deserve you!"

"Well... you have me, deserving or not." He rubbed his back. "And I'm not leaving you.”

"You're, never going to want to?"

"Never..."

He shook more. "Thank you Lo. Thank you."

"You're welcome..."

He held him for some time, until the panic finally fled away.

"Are you alright?"

"Much better now." He looked up and smiled. "Thanks Lo."

"You're welcome. Now," he took his hand and helped him stand up, "why don't we find something to make everyone?"

He quickly nodded. "An excellent idea!" Then he walked with him to the kitchen. "This way, we're sure Patton doesn't cook all the meals again."

“I have missed cooking."

He grinned. "Just haven't told Patton to make sure he doesn't feel bad."

"And we wouldn't want that." Logan began searching through the cabinets. "It looks like he has what we need to make spaghetti..."

"Great!" Roman got pots and pans out. "Your spaghetti's always a treat."

"And it's been awhile since I made it "

"Yeah. It was back... Well, before we picked up our little puffball..."

"Yes, though I don't regret it."

"Nor do I...He was so, sad then."

"I'm glad he's doing better..."

"He has been..." Roman got out anything else they needed. "Like, we have done better since the beginning..."

"Once we found Virgil and he recovered…”

He looked at Logan. "Yeah. Though even the two of us have gotten better since that first motel night."

"Indeed."

Roman shook his head. "It's been an interesting odyssey."

"Certainly, and while we're currently resting I don't believe we are in the clear yet..."

He sighed. "I know. I just, want to make sure to enjoy this while it lasts."

"As do I."

He nodded. "Let's get this dinner made then."

"Yes, let's. Perhaps we could play some music?"

"Sounds good." He reached for a phone. "We Could Fly sound good?"

"From the video?"

"Yeah...Seems, appropriate."

"Very well, I wouldn't mind hearing it again."

"Great." Soon enough, he pulled it up and let it play, bopping with the beat.

Logan chuckled as he waited for the water to boil.

Roman went to prepare the tomato sauce, singing along with the words.

Logan glanced at him and smiled. He really did have a lovely voice. It made logical sense with who he was, but it was still a lovely voice regardless. One with so few opportunities to sing… He wished he could sing more… Maybe if they were staying, there would be more of a chance for that... Maybe for some of the videos Roman could sing? There might have been some requests for that within the other list. He'd have to talk to Roman and Thomas about it. But if he could make it work, it would truly be a blessing. With them on the run, Roman had really had little time to do many of his roles. Not only singing, but creating. He needed that time, and Logan would give it to him.

One way or another.

Chapter Text

Upstairs, Patton let out a sigh of relief. "There. The bathroom's now sparkly and clean! Thanks for the help, Virge."

"No worries. It looked kinda rough in here."

"Yeah..." He got up on his knees, pushing his hair back. "Seems he hasn't been able to get to this in a while."

"Must be busy..." Virgil frowned. "By the way, what room did Janus go in?"

Patton frowned. "Didn't he go into the guest room?"

"I mean I thought so, but the door is cracked open, you'd think he'd prefer to have it shut."

"...Maybe he was doing the thing where he was lying when he said he didn't want Thomas to follow him?" Patton got to his feet, then headed for the door.

"Maybe..." he followed behind him.

He knocked. "Janus? You in there, kiddo?"

No answer, the door opened a bit more due to the knocking.

Patton frowned, "Janus?" Then he went in, looking around.

The room was empty, still messy from the morning, but no sign of Janus.

Patton's eyes widened. "Virgil, completely search this room." Then he ran to Thomas's room.

The door was shut, what if Thomas had closed it and didn't want anyone in there? If Janus was in there though..."Janus?" He opened the door and peered in.

The room was, also a mess... The bed was disheveled, clothes and various props laid scattered about and he could see a pizza box sticking out from under a pile of what he could only assume was dirty laundry. How could he have let his room get like this? He tutted. After he found Janus, he was going to get this room in tip-top shape. Whether Thomas scolded him for it or not? "Janus?" He looked under the bed. More take out boxes... and clothes... The smell almost caused him to retch as he got back up. "Janus?" He looked in the closet. Just more clothes… He frowned now. Where could Janus be? "Janus?!" He ran into the laundry room. He could be hiding under any of these piles! Only one thing to do then! He pulled up his sleeves and started dismantling the piles. "Janus?!"

"Um, Patton?" Virgil peeked inside. "What are you doing in here?" He hissed.

"Looking for Janus!" He looked back at him. "He wasn't anywhere in the guest room?!"

"No... is there nowhere else he could have gone?"

"He couldn't be in the bathroom. We were in there and didn't see him. And...None of the windows are open, are they?"

"No, maybe he's disguised as something?"

"As what?" He looked down. "Clothes?"

"Anything really."

He frowned, then realization hit. "...Like a plushie."

"I'll check the guest room again." He ran off.

Patton moved over by the bed. There had been plushies over there somewhere. If Janus was one of them… None of them looked like a snake, but how would he know which ones Thomas actually owned? Only Thomas would...But Thomas was still asleep, he was already in his room without permission, and if he was the one to find Janus...

He swallowed. "Okay. Which one of you is Janus?"

They all stared at him blankly. Bears, cartoon characters… A big cat...

Patton frowned, "Well, if none of you tells me who Janus is." He gathered them all up in his arms. "I'll take all of you right now."

He felt something move, but it was so subtle he couldn't tell which stuffed animal it came from.

He tightened his grip. "Sorry." Then raced for the guest room.

Virgil was looking under the bed when Patton ran in. "Uh, Pat,"

He then dropped the stuffed animals on the bed. "One of these is Janus." He started sorting them out. "I felt him move."

"Oh... and you didn't think he'd be alarmed by that?"

"I don't know how to tell which one he is." He'd gotten the last ones out. "I need your help with that."

"Right..." he carefully picked one up. "Uh, Janus?”

"I don't think he'll answer us, kiddo." Patton sighed, looking them all over. "Thomas is asleep though, so we have time to figure out which ones to throw back and which one is Janus before he'd know."

"Right, I doubt he'd notice with that mess.”

He winced. "I think he'd notice his plushies gone. But yeah...That's going to need to be cleaned up."

"If he even wants us to."

"It's filthy! Whether he wants us to or not, it needs to be cleaned."

"No kidding..." he frowned as he stared at a small rabbit. "Cara's place looked like that when I first came..."

"So did Susie's...But even her place wasn't as bad." Patton flickered his attention between them. "Only the garden outside was anything like that."

"She made me clean it up... didn't show me how.. "

Patton frowned. "Susie tried to tell me not to clean, but I had to insist...She often got tired and barely had the energy to even do her writing."

"Cara was just always drunk..."

He swallowed. "I'm sorry, kiddo." Then rested a hand on his shoulder.

"I... I never understood why she got me... I'd ask but she'd never give the same answer..."

"I know exactly why with Susie." Patton sat down, careful to not sit on any of the plushies. "She was lonely and wanted a friend to have around..." He then sighed. "Not sure what sort of friend she thought I'd be when she didn't even see me as real..."

"Sometimes she treated me as a friend, Sometimes like her son... Sometimes like a stranger and she didn't know me..."

Patton swallowed, then tilted his head. "What would, happen when she saw you as a stranger?"

"It depended..."

"Did she ever...?" He gulped, crossing his legs. "Would, would she...?"

"Sometimes... when she was drunk enough…” He picked up a stuffed bear. "I learned how to hide..."

Patton's eyes grew in concern. "I'm so sorry, Virgil."

He shrugged. "It was just life... and I ran away once I got the chance..."

He shook his head. "It shouldn't be just life..." He offered an arm.

"I know that now..." he sat beside him. "You guys are the family I didn't know I could even have.”

He quickly wrapped the arm around him. "And we will continue to be that family. No matter what."

"You're the best dad I could ask for."

He smiled. "Thanks kiddo...I love you, my dark strange son."

"Love you too, pop star."

He giggled. "I'm so glad we found you."

"Me too... I would have been caught or dead…”

His smile faded as he hugged Virgil tighter. "Well, we're not going to allow that anymore."

"Right..." Virgil frowned. "How safe are we?"

He winced. "I don't know...But we can work to make us safer."

"How?"

"That's...more Logan's department..." He sighed. "But, helping Thomas out seems to be one good way to go about it."

"Okay, I'm worried about him... those guys just walked in and he couldn't stop them…”

He swallowed. "Yeah...What if they'd decided to hurt him?"

"I... wouldn't have been able to stand by..."

"Neither would I..."

"Then we would have been caught..."

"I know. But, maybe the others could have escaped..."

"Maybe..."

He frowned. Then shook. "We'll...We'll figure out how to get Thomas what he needs to help us somehow."

"Yeah... I'm sure he and Logan will come up with something…”

"Logan always has before." Patton grinned. "Maybe Roman will be able to enter in some of his stories."

"You think?"

"Well, we're staying here for a while. And if Roman became a published author, that would be one source of money."

"True…”

"And I'm sure Roman would get published. You should hear him when he gets really into daydreaming and starts talking out loud. He makes up some of the most wonderful stories."

"I'd believe it," Virgil chuckled, "he'd love getting a chance to share his stories."

"He would." Patton sadly smiled. "It's something he's wanted to try for, well, at least as long as I've known them..."

"And maybe now he'll get his chance." Virgil continued to search through stuffed animals.

"Maybe." Patton started looking more himself, glancing at the rabbit Virgil had been staring at earlier.

He'd set it aside, but it just felt off to him... He frowned, then bent down and locked eyes with it.

Its eyes were yellow... a black rabbit with yellow eyes… Most stuffed animals had black eyes...

He tilted his head. "Is that you, Janus?"

It’s eyes shimmered, then it trembled and jumped out of Patton's arms.

"Whoa!" Virgil tried to catch him but ended up falling back off the bed.

"Kiddo! You okay!?" Patton leapt for Virgil.

"I'm fine! Catch Janus!"

He frowned. "We don't need to catch him!" Then he leapt for the door, and turned. "Woah Janus! We're sorry for scaring you. But you scared us when we didn't see you in here."

He only turned around, darting under the bed.

Patton sighed. Then sat down. "We won't force you out. We just wanted to know that you were alright. We, don't know for certain if Thomas is going to have a 'no going into his room' rule or not."

Virgil peeked under the bed, seeing Janus curled up, covering his face with his... paws?

Patton softened more, getting onto the floor where he could see underneath. "It's okay Jan. We're not going to hurt you."

He was shaking so much... Poor kiddo...

"Hey, hey. It's okay...Deep breathes, kiddo. Could you do that for me? Hold in for four seconds..."

He peeked one yellow at him, still shaking like a leaf in the wind.

Patton just kindly smiled. "That's it, kiddo. Breathe in for four seconds. Then hold for seven, and let out for eight. Can you do that for me?"

He couldn't tell if he was at first, but gradually his breathing began to slow.

Patton nodded. "That's it. That's it...I'm so proud of you kiddo...How do you feel?"

His ears folded back. "Fine..."

"It's okay if you're not kiddo..." Patton stayed where he was. "We really are sorry for scaring you there..."

"I didn't want to be bothered..."

"I can understand that, kiddo. Still, Thomas would be going to his room eventually..."

"He wouldn't have seen me..."

Patton frowned. "Were you planning to spy on him?"

"No..."

He blinked. "Still, it was a big risk. And with none of us knowing where you were, if we hadn't checked his room, we'd be looking for you outside..."

"I wouldn't go out there…”

Patton winced, but nodded. "That's, good to know now...We wouldn't want WISH getting you either."

"And I don't want to be caught..."

"I wouldn't think you would." He swallowed. "If you're still not wanting to be bothered, you can stay under the bed. I'll be going down to make dinner soon...Would you be comfortable going down for that?"

"I will if I feel like it..."

"Okay..." Patton started to scoot away, gesturing Virgil to come by him. "Would you want me to call out when dinner's ready?"

"If you want to bother..."

"It wouldn't be a bother kiddo." He shook his head. "You deserve to eat just like the rest of us."

"Right…”

Patton winced. "I'm sorry you don't believe that..." Slowly, he stood up, then went for the door. "Have a good nap."

"I will..."

He smiled, then his eyes widened. "Oh, Thomas's plushies..."

"I got them..." Virgil gathered them up.

"Thanks kiddo." He sighed in relief. "We'll be leaving you alone then, Jan. Sleep well."

But he didn't answer back...

Patton swallowed, then closed the door behind him and Virgil with a sigh.

"At least he's okay?"

"Yeah, and safe for now..." He stood up straighter. "Let's at least get these back to Thomas's room."

"Then forget we were ever in there."

Patton frowned. "I can't forget the mess." Then they started over.

"But that's not our business..."

"Well, we're staying with him now. It's kinda our business..." He swallowed. "Maybe we could at least clear out the pizza boxes?"

"Patton..."

"What? The boxes are some of the biggest things. They gather bugs and flies that buzz and make people irritated, which then attract spiders." He shivered.

"But it's his room."

"Spiders spread everywhere." He looked at Virgil. "Besides, if it's not spiders, mice or rats may come out. And they're not as cute and cuddly as you might think."

"But still, he has a right to his privacy and it's his home that we are guests in."

He sighed. "Fine. But we're going to demand Thomas let us clean his room. Honestly, he shouldn't even be sleeping in there in the state its in."

"Maybe he's just... going through things?"

"Maybe. That just means though that he needs our help more. Or that of his friends."

"Right..."

Patton swallowed, then opened Thomas's door. Oh it just smells so much worse now. How had he let his room get to be in such a state? He had to sleep here!
He shoved on, helping get the plushies to the bed. Then he froze, staring at the shiny black trash can.

"Patton? What's wrong?"

He frowned, tilting his head. "Why's the trash can clean?"

"Huh, that's ironic.”

"Yeah..." Patton got the plushies neatly arranged. "Really ironic..."

"Well... can't focus on that now, let's go."

"Yeah." Patton looked at it again, then went through the door. "Let's make dinner!"

"Yeah, actually." Virgil sniffed. "Smells like its already cooking."

Patton frowned. "That's odd..." Then he started down the stairs. He could also hear music playing, what was going on?

He turned the corner, then stopped.

Logan and Roman were together in the kitchen making, was that spaghetti? Bopping and singing along to some music...

He froze.
"Well look at that..." Virgil smiled. "Looks like they're having fun."

"Ye-Yeah." He swallowed. "It...does..."

Roman was trying to get Logan to dance with him, all while he tried to stir the spaghetti sauce. They were both smiling and Logan was even laughing at Roman's attempts to pull him away from the stove.

Virgil turned to Patton, frowning when he saw his face. "You okay?”

"I'm...I'm not sure I've ever seen them like this..." Then he turned and sat on the stairs, out of their view. "Its, Its my job to cook."

Virgil frowned. "Your job?”

"Well, it's not like I'm a planner and thinker, like Lo. Or, or able to keep up with him like Roman is." He started to tremble. "It, It was the one thing I could do for them..."

"You... you think that's the only reason they kept you around?"

"No...It's just," He lowered his head. "It's the only thing not making me dead weight..."

"You're joking, right?”

He blinked. "But I can't do anything they can do."

"Neither can I," he chuckled, "and I can barely cook."

Patton's eyes widened as he looked up at him. "You saved us with your shadow thing. And are good with Roman."

"Yeah, but how often have I needed to save us?" Virgil sighed. "Look, I'm not gonna make this an argument over who has more worth here, because none of us are worth more than the other."

He gulped. "I'm not saying I'm worth less than you...Just, there's only few areas where I can actually help that no one needs to help me do. And cooking's one of them."

"Well I think in this case they saw we were already cleaning, and we've got a lot of mouths to feed."

"But they're enjoying it. You saw them." He shook, ducking his head back down. "They're happy cooking. And I've taken that away from them."

"What? Patton you saw how busy Logan was, do you think he had time? Or didn't appreciate having someone help him with that so he could get his work done?"

He stilled. "Some, of that work was times he had to help me do something..."

"Okay well, I'm sure he didn't mind helping. You can see how much he loves us."

"I know. I just..." He curled into himself. "I don't want to let him down...Or just, stand around while he does everything for me." His grip on his knees tightened. "I'm, I'm not useless."

"Of course you're not..." Virgil hugged his arm. "Did you forget that you're the guy who saved me from starving? Who gave me a place to stay and didn't stop searching for me?"

He looked back up. "But, I wasn't able to keep the WISH guy away. And, and Roman ended up being the one to find you..."

"And who nursed me back to health? Who didn't leave me until he knew I was better."

"Well, I, I did...Logan had to tell me what to do..."

"He didn't say not to stay and talk to me, make sure I was comfortable, helped me when I was starting to walk again."

His eyes started to glisten, a soft smile coming on. "I...I couldn't have done otherwise..."

"You're my hero Patton..." Virgil hugged him fully. "I didn't think anyone could love me to the point where they'd leave everything they knew just to make sure I was okay..."

Patton hugged him back, grip almost painful. "Of course I cared kiddo. You were so alone, and scared, and suffering. I wanted to help you. Make sure you didn't suffer anymore."

"And you're part of this group, this, weird family or whatever we are. It wouldn't be complete without you..."

"Even if you guys need to do some things for me?"

"Even then, it doesn't diminish your worth at all."

He smiled more, letting some tears drop before resting his head on Virgil's shoulder. "Thanks, kiddo."

"Any time pops."

Patton half-laughed at that, then nuzzled in more.

"Plus, it looks like Logan might need some help after all..."

He blinked. "Really?" Then turned his head to look.

"Roman no!" Logan laughed as the prince lifted him up, waving a spoon in his hand. "I have to stir the sauce!"

Roman grinned. "But the music, Lo!" Then he twirled him around. "But if I know you, I know what to do! You'll love me at once!"

"The music is nice! But-"

"But nothing! The sauce can take care of itself for a moment!"

Patton chuckled, then got up. "I can finish up things."

"Oh thank goodness..." Logan sighed in relief. "He won't let me cook in peace!"

"That's because there's dancing to be done!" Roman continued to hold Logan as he did some sort of makeshift waltz with him.

Patton grinned, then hurried over to the sauce and stirred. "Happy to help here, kiddos!"

"I'll leave you two to that..." Virgil sat at the table.

"Uh uh, mister." Patton wagged his finger. "You can set the table "

"Or I'll do that..." he got up and started towards the kitchen, just as Roman and Logan headed right for him.

"Whoa!" He jumped onto the counter. "Watch it!"

"You watch it!" Roman then moved further away towards the living room. "You nearly threw off our groove."

"What groove? You're just dragging Logan everywhere!"

"I'll get the hang of it!"

"Precisely! A waltz is the perfect dance for us." He turned back to Logan. "It's a simple one, two, three. One, two, three."

"Doesn't help that you tower over him!"

"I'm in the lead here." He wrapped his arm more tightly around Logan. "It helps to be tall when you're the lead man."

"You look like you could snap him in half." Virgil chuckled.

His eyes shone in mock horror. "I would never."

"But you could! He's so tiny and fragile!"

"Excuse me?" Logan blinked. "I'm taller than you."

"Everyone's taller than me! But everyone's also taller than you!"

Roman tilted his head. "I believe Janus might be shorter..."

"Oh, is he?" Virgil frowned. "To be fair, he hardly ever stands at his full height..."

Patton hummed. "So he might be taller than our dear Logie."

Logan frowned. "Dear Logie?"

"Hey Roman, sounds like a good dance song is coming on! Better teach him before dinner is ready!" Virgil grinned before hopping off the counter.

Roman turned towards him. "Did you change my playlist?"

"Nooo..." Virgil smiled innocently then disappeared into the kitchen.

He glared suspiciously. "If this is a My Chemical Romance number , I swear-!"

"It's not! It's Fall Out Boy!"

"...They can be a bit better. Which song?"

The music started up.

Logan blinked. "Immortals?"

"Oh!" Patton turned. "It's your song!"

Roman huffed. "...I suppose this isn't that bad, Virgil." Then he started leading Logan into more of a swing dance.
Logan bit his lip as he tried to keep up with Roman. Sure, he'd danced with Sarah a few times but nothing like this... Roman started to slow down, still fitting the beat

They say we are what we are, but we don't have to be.
I'm bad behavior but I do it in the best way.

Logan focused, soon being able to match Roman's pace.

I'll be the watcher of the eternal flame. I'll be the guard dog of all your fever dreams.
Oooh-OooOooOh

Roman twirled him around.

I am the sand in the bottom half of the hourglass, glass, glass

Causing Logan to fall against him, Roman easily catching him in his arms.

I try to picture me without you but I can't.

Allowing Roman to twirl him back out.

'Cause we could be immortals, immortals

He collected him back into his arms, leading him through the steps.

Just not for long, for long

Logan was able to keep up with him now, though he still let Roman lead, trusting him in their dance as they moved about the living room.

Live with me forever now, pull the blackout curtains down.

Virgil watched from the kitchen, unable to hide his amazement.

Just not for long, for long.

Patton glimpsed in awe as well, turning down the sauce so it didn't burn. Roman started twirling him around again.

We could be immor—immortals, immor—immortals
Immor—immortals, immor—immortals

He caught him back into his arms and dipped.

Immortals!

Then sprung Logan back onto his feet.

Logan felt breathless, figuratively speaking. He could breathe fine but, the rush he was getting, where had that come from The music? The dance? There was a fast pace to the dance, to all that Roman had led him through. Yet, there was also something to being in Roman's arms...

Sometimes the only payoff for having any faith
Is when it's tested again and again every day

A warmth that filled him...

I'm still comparing your past to my future.

Logan lifted his head, trying to catch Roman's gaze. What was this feeling?

It might be your wound but they're my sutures.

Roman grinned as he met Logan's eye as he led him through more steps.

OOooh-OooOooOh. Oh, I am the sand in the bottom half of the hourglass, glass, glass

He twirled him then caught him again, something, more coming into his eyes. Logan felt so small in his arms, not in a way that made him feel fragile like Virgil had said...

I try to picture me without you but I can't.

More like he'd found something precious, something to protect .

To never be apart from him, no matter what.
'Cause we could be immortals, immortals
Just not for long, for long

Roman's eyes fixed on his, never failing to meet them.
And Logan found he couldn't look away.

Live with me forever now, pull the blackout curtains down.< /i>

Nor could Roman.

We could be immortals, immortals
Just not for long, for long

Virgil glanced at Patton, confusion all over his face. "What's going on?" He mouthed.

Patton looked over at him and mouthed back. "I don't know. Just, something wonderful.

Roman twirled Lo again, a more focused look in his eyes.

We could be immor—immortals, immor—immortals
Immor—immortals, immor—immortals

Then he caught him in his arms, their eyes only centimeters apart.

Immortals

Logan's heart was hammering. He didn't understand this, what was happening? Why did he feel afraid yet, excited at the same time?

The music stopped.

Roman's heart matched his beat for beat. His Adam's apple bobbed. He leaned slightly closer, watching Logan carefully, so so gently.

He didn't make a move to pull away, yet he felt him stiffen in his arms, and sensed several pairs of eyes on them...

It then dawned on them that the two were currently in Thomas's living room, with an audience...

Roman quickly pulled back. "Sorry..."

"It's... quite alright." Logan stood, fixing his tie and face as red as Roman's sash.

He tilted his head, reluctantly removing his arms.

Patton swallowed then looked back at the spaghetti. "Think dinner's ready, kiddos."

"We're coming," Logan started towards the kitchen then froze when he saw Thomas, staring at them with his mouth hanging open.

Thomas kept his mouth open. "Wow...I..." He shook himself. "Didn't know you guys could dance like that."

"Well... I learned some dancing with my Wisher..." Logan fiddled with the end of his tie. "I've never done anything like that before..."

"Rosa..." Roman took a deep breath. "Liked to take me out for parties. I, learned several types of dance for that..."

He pursed his lips. "...Well it's certainly better than I can do."

"I'm sorry we woke you... Things simply got out of hand..."

"No no. It's all good." He got himself up. "I needed to get up anyway...Sorry you guys had to cook dinner..."

"Eh, they did all the hard work." Virgil finished setting the table. "Before their random dance number."

Roman humphed. "It was necessary."

Patton chuckled. "Well, I'd say it's finished up here." He got the sauce into a bowl then went to drain the noodles. "Now we just need someone to tell Janus its ready."

"No need..." Janus walked down the stairs. "I'm already here..."

"Oh." Patton smiled, then poured the noodles into the drainer. "Good...Hope you like spaghetti!"

"It's fine..."

Roman huffed. "You'll change your mind after tasting Logan's spaghetti. It's-It'll be the best you've ever tasted."

"Of course you'd say that." Janus rolled his eyes.

He frowned. "What do you mean by that? Logan's legitimately better than several of the finest chefs I've had to taste."

"Are you sure that isn't a biased opinion?"

He puffed his chest. "Not at all!”

Patton chuckled from where he was, getting the spaghetti now into a bowl.

"Sure Ro. Whatever you say." Virgil grinned.

His cheeks acquired a blush.

Thomas tilted his head, smiling. "Do you recall the first time you had it?"

"Yes..." He turned to Thomas. "Our first day on the run together. Logan decided to, reward me for putting up with everything."

"It wasn't a reward... " Logan shook his head. "You deserved a good meal after all you'd been through..."

Roman looked at Logan. "Wasn't I a bit of a brat that day though?"

"What? Of course not!"

"I outright gagged at that first place you stopped!"

"It wasn't the most ideal place..."

"Still... Really wasn't showing good manners there on my part."

"I don't blame you though..."

He swallowed, nervously scratching his neck. "Well, you do always see the best in me..."

"There's a lot of good to see..."

His blush darkened. "Within your starry eyes, yes." Then he gulped.

"Dinner's on the table!" Patton placed the bowls in the middle of the plates.

"Thank god..." Janus sat down. "That was becoming nauseating."

"Oh I don't know." He smirked at Logan and Roman with a twinkle before sitting down by Janus. "They can be rather cute."

"Cute...?" Logan took his own seat.

He smiled more. "At times..."

"I am a Prince." He sat next to Logan. "I am never cute."

Thomas chuckled. "Sure Roman..." Then he frowned, before going for the chair furthest away from Janus and sitting down. Janus glanced at him but said nothing.

Patton then pushed the bowls by Janus. "Want to get your's out first?"

The silence continued as he served himself a small portion.

Patton nodded. "That's good, kiddo." Then got himself some. "If you're hungry later and there's leftovers, you can have seconds."

He just nodded and began to eat.

Patton nodded back, then handed it to Virgil. "Here you go."

"Thanks, looks good." He scooped himself up quite a bit while making sure there was enough for the others.

Patton grinned. "That it does. Thanks Lo for making this."

"Thank you for finishing..." He served himself.

"No problem Lo." He cut some of the spaghetti up with his fork then popped it into his mouth.

And so they ate in silence, enjoying the meal without the threat of WISH breaking down their door.

Chapter Text

Things for a while were quiet, save for the sounds of metal clanking against ceramic. Thomas glanced towards the door, but mostly focused on the food. "This really does taste good Lo."

"I'm glad you all enjoy it." Logan picked at his food.

Roman frowned, but still ate.

Thomas swallowed. "So...Anything happen while I napped?"

"We tidied upstairs a bit." Virgil shrugged.

"Yeah." Patton nodded. "We got done with the bathroom."

"Oh. That's...Thank you. You really didn't have to do that."

"But we wanted to, Thomas." Patton smiled. "And next, we hope to tackle your room."

Thomas paled, then coughed out. "...My room?"

"Um, we were looking for Janus and... peeked inside your room..." Virgil slumped in his seat. "Dude... it's really bad in there..."

"Yeah, it smells..."

Thomas winced. "Yeah. Just, haven't gotten around to cleaning in there...You guys don't need to clean it though! I...I can do it tonight."

"You can't take care of that all in one night!"

"Not unless you don't get any sleep!"

Roman frowned. "Just how bad is his room?"

"It's like a toxic waste land."

"Clothes everywhere. Pizza boxes..." Pat shivered in disgust. "You're going to attract rats and spiders like that."

Thomas winced. "I...I guess I hadn't realized it was that bad already."

"Look, the four of us wouldn't mind helping. We'd get it done in no time."

He fidgeted. "It's my mess though. You shouldn't feel, like you have to clean it."

Patton tilted his head. "We want to though, kiddo."

"It isn't healthy... at all..."

"Especially if you mean to sleep there." Patton stabbed his plate then got another bite.

He frowned. "...I could promise to sleep on the couch if I don't get it done tonight?"

"I'd accept that... but we still want to help."

"Yeah! Please let us help!" He leaned forward.

Thomas bit his lip. "If it's really what you guys want to do..."

"We do. I mean, we were cleaning hotel rooms for awhile."

"We can do it again for your's." Patton nodded, then turned to Logan and Roman. "Though it really is bad up there, so don't say we didn't warn you."

"I'm sure I'll be able to handle it." Logan assured him

"Likewise." Roman nodded. "We tackled some truly fearsome foes in our hotel cleaning days."

"Horrible..." Virgil shuddered

Patton frowned. "I think this might be a match from some of the darker ones."

"OK. My room can't be that bad."

"We'll let Roman and Logan be the deciding factors."

"Indeed." Roman took another bite. "We will simply have to see for ourselves."

"Make sure you digest first..."

He chewed and swallowed. "Of course I will. What sort of Prince would I be if I didn't?"

"Well you gotta be charming for a certain someone~"

He blushed more, then raised an eyebrow. "Oh? Are you offering to be that someone?"

"No way, old man. Besides, I'm out of your league."

He huffed. "I'm not old. I'm at the prime of life!"

"Whatever you say, gramps."

His eyes shot open in shock. "Logan! Tell him I'm not a gramps!"

Logan blinked. "How could you be? You're not a father so you don't have children, therefore you couldn't have grandchildren."

"See!" He gestured to Virgil. "Not a gramps!"

"Oh fine, you win I guess..."

"Thank you." Then he smirked. "If I were truly to be a grandfather, then wouldn't you need to be the one supplying children?"

"Oh hell no! You're no father of mine!"

"Yeah!" Patton hugged Virgil. "He's my kiddo."

Roman smirked. "I thought he was our shared child. I was the one to find him after all."

"Patton technically found me first!"

"Technically."

"I wouldn't say so!" Patton pouted. "Virgil's my kid. You have to find your own."

"Okay. Then I suppose Janus would be my kid."

"No thank you." Janus hissed.

Roman huffed. "OK...Then I'll find my own child."

"Adopt Thomas. Problem solved."

Roman hummed in thought. "That's an idea..."

"Uh, I'm a grown man." Thomas nervously chuckled. "Still with parents..."

"Doesn't mean I couldn't adopt you, if I wanted." Roman glanced at Logan's plate. Please say having the attention off him allowed him to eat...

He'd taken a few bites, but was still pushing his food around

Roman pursed his lips. At least he was eating something...The two of them really needed to talk, alone.

Hopefully he wouldn't try to avoid him. Not only would that be quite the fanfic cliche, he really did not want to lose Logan. And, to make sure he knew he wouldn't force something
like that on him. Especially after what he'd gone through, but surely he'd know Roman would understand, right? That he'd never hurt him?
Right?

He turned to his food, starting to push it around.
Virgil looked around. This just got awkward… How could he liven the mood? "So... Thomas..." Virgil looked over. "Got any interesting videos coming up?"

He blinked. "Oh, yeah." He cleared his throat. "I'm starting to work on the next Sanders Sides video...And I got some paetron requests before then."

"What are those?"

"Well, they're requests from my patrons. Mostly having me be a Side and playing a video game. Though there's also some for other things."

"Oh, need any help?"

He let out a nervous chuckle. "I'm, good, thanks. You're already doing a lot by helping me clean."

"I mean, how many requests do you have?"

"Uh...Over a hundred?"

Virgil frowned. "And you're going to film them all by yourself...?"

"Well, yeah. Only with multiplayer play do I need any film help."

"So, we could help?"

"You don't have to..."

"Aw, but it sounds fun!" Patton chimed in.

Thomas pursed his lips. "They're expecting me to play characters from the show, which, while you're close, it would require some shifting and acting to act like them."

"So you teach us how to act and leave the shifting to us. I can make myself look exactly like you." Virgil shifted and copied Thomas's posture. "See?"

Thomas let out a chuckle. Then sighed. "...Only if you guys really want to. Given everything, I wouldn't be able to credit your work."

"I mean that's kind of expected though." Virgil shifted back.

"We certainly wouldn't want some massive neon sign that said 'Oh look! Here're the escaped Sides your chasing after.'" Roman took another bite.

"And it would be fun work." Patton pointed out. "Not the sort of thing that, while it can be nice, we could get at some fast food place."

Thomas frowned. "But you guys don't have to work if you'd rather not. You could just, relax."

"We are relaxing. We've been driving for weeks!"

"I don't think cleaning the bathroom and my room counts for relaxing."

"Compared to what we've all been through it is."

"That's not exactly a good thing..."

"You've been willing to share your home with us," Logan spoke up, "and haven't asked for anything in return."

He looked at Logan. "Of course I'm not going to ask anything. You're all in a very vulnerable position and I don't want to take advantage."

"And you don't know how many would."

His grip whitened around his fork. "Even more reason for me to make sure I don't. I'm not going to be anywhere close to being like them."

"And I trust you to keep your word. However, realistically, you can't expect to be able to provide for five extra people working on your own."

He swallowed. "I could try..."

"Or, you can let us help." Patton rested a hand on his hand. "You don't have to do this alone."

"None of us had any hope until we found each other. We realized we didn't have to do everything alone."

"So you don't have to either." Roman looked into Thomas's eyes.

And Thomas ducked his head. "I...I can't ask that of you..."

"You don't have to." Logan assured him.

"We're offering to..." Patton squeezed his shoulder. "All you need to do is accept."

He shook, taking a deep breath. Leaning into Patton's touch. "...If there come days or times when you don't want to do a vid, I'll take it back on. No need to push yourselves that far."

"Of course, we should all make sure to take days off."

"And depending on the requests..." Roman swallowed. "None of us will have to do anything triggering..."

"Of course not." Thomas quickly nodded. "I, don't think there'll be anything like that? But we can make sure before the day of production."

"Especially when we don't know what anyone's limits are."

"Right." He ate more. "...Would there be anything triggering about Sims 4 for you?"

"The Sims?" Virgil frowned.

"A game series." He fiddled with his fork. "In it, you make people and have them go about their lives, having jobs, maybe having a family, etc...Some people are curious to see Logan play it after his time speaking Simlish in the Valentine video."

"I remember that. You wish to film my reaction to it for your audience?"

"That's the idea...Watch as you play it in a way Logan in the show would play it."

"I understand, and I'd be willing to do so."

"OK. Great."

"What game would I be playing?" Patton asked.

"Uh, goat simulator...What, you were playing in the Originality episode."

"Oh, with the silly goat!"

 

"Will Roman and Virgil be playing a game?"
"Yeah...For Virgil, people have wanted to see him play Five Night's at Freddy's, a, horror game where you have to keep alive while these roaming animatronics are around that could kill you."

"Oh fun, I get the creepy game while Logan gets a fun life simulator and Patton gets to be a goat." Virgil rolled his eyes.

Thomas winced. "Well, I could be the one to play it." He sighed. "When people are thinking of who would be playing horror, they either think of you or Remus."

"Perhaps Thomas could play and you could have Virgil reacting in the background?" Logan suggested. "Or even beside you, you could say it was split screen."

He frowned. "Saying it's a split screen when it's actually not could get noticed...If Virgil wants nothing to do with it at all, I could just play as him. If he wants to be the one reacting, he could be pretending to play it."

"I mean, it'd make sense if your anxiety was present," Virgil pointed out. "Maybe we could film me hiding in various places around where you're playing so it seems like I'm watching?"

"Maybe. But it, it wouldn't be like how the request video I already did went."

"What do you mean?"

"Well...I already did one where Janus played Among Us. And it was Janus playing Among Us, not just him at my shoulder..." He sighed. "Any other video will be expected to be like that."

"Why does it have to be the same? Wouldn't we all react differently to being asked to play certain games?"

He tilted his head. "...You might have a point there. Especially if Virgil really wasn't sure about playing a horror game..."

"And it could be funny if you make it to where I at least have to be in the room with you while you play."

He smiled. "That it could be..."

"Plus it wouldn't be the same with everyone, ya know?"

"Yeah. It just will likely be...Especially if they ask for a game that's too overwhelming for you."

"See? It all checks out. And Logan can help film!"

"As can the rest of us." Roman chimed in.

"Yeah..." Thomas hummed. "I usually do the camera work alone when it's only me doing one character anyway..."

"But it would be faster this way, and I wouldn't mind learning how to edit." Logan's eyes narrowed. "I heard you had a bad habit of denying yourself sleep in order to edit a video.
"
He nervously chuckled. "I, want to make sure it gets done..."

"We won't be having that anymore."

"Logan's very strict about proper sleep schedules." Virgil rolled his eyes.

"Yep!" Patton nodded. "Another way he watches out for us."

Thomas grinned. "One that he actually follows himself?"

"Whenever I am able, I do.”

He grinned more, shaking his head. "Not in this house. You sleep when you have everyone else sleep."

"If nothing else is to be done, then I don't see that being a problem."

He raised an eyebrow. "If you're forcing everyone else to the sleep schedule, you have to maintain it yourself. Fair's fair."

"Unless something comes up that must be dealt with."

"Then we'll all deal with it until you're asleep too." Roman smirked.

"But they shouldn't have to deal with anything."

Silverware dropped on the plate. Roman gulped down what he had.

Thomas's brow furrowed. "...Technically then, neither should you. It is my house, and my livelihood. If anyone should be up late, it should be me..."

"But it is my job to take care of them." Logan's grip around his fork tightened.

Patton's breath hitched, arm shaking.

Thomas shook his head, then rested his hand on Logan's. "You don't have to do it alone...What were you saying about not having to do things alone?"

"But, there are some things that fall onto certain people. Their safety is mine."

"But I'm the one with the sword, Lo." Roman turned towards him. "I can also be part of keeping us safe."

"But you shouldn't be put in that situation! It isn't safe!"

"Neither is it safe for you!" Roman sat up straighter, looking into his eyes. "We've already seen that!"

"And now isn't the time for that discussion!"

"And you're just going to keep doing this until it is?!"

"Kiddos..." Patton swallowed. "Calm, calm down..."

"Doing what?! I'm trying to have a discussion!'

"You keep putting everything on yourself!" Roman rose to his feet, causing the table to clatter. "Have rules for everyone else so they don't overwork but not you! Make sure all of us are safe except for you! Why do you always have to do more than the rest of us?!"

"Because I am able to! Therefore I should!" Logan stood as well, but was still much shorter than Roman.

"Guys...? Please calm down..." Virgil covered his face with his hood.

"You always tell me to not do things even if I'm able to!" Roman stood taller. "Why can't you accept I don't want you to be the solution to all our problems either-!"

"Okay, that's enough!" Thomas rose up.

Roman and Logan's hands clasped over their own mouths, silencing them immediately.

Thomas blinked, then glanced towards Janus. Finding him glaring at the two, his hand up in the air and clenched in a fist.

He gave a nod. "Thank you Janus..." Then looked back at them. "OK, it's definitely been quite a day today, but that is no excuse to shout at each other and scare the others." He sighed. "It seems like it's something that's really needed to get discussed, but this is not the way to do it. Nor the time. So the two of you...Get ready to apologize, then try to cool down for the rest of the day. Got it?"

Logan just hung his head, keeping his eyes closed while he took deep breaths.

Roman bit down on his lips, trying to breathe through his nose, but nodded.

Thomas sighed. "Okay Janus. Let them go."

He lowered his hand and the two were able to uncover their mouths, but Logan's position didn't change.

Roman shook, looking into the other's eyes. "My, apologies...I, I should have held my temper under control..."

"It's okay..." Virgil took off his hood. "It's not like you didn't have a reason..."

"Yeah..." Patton looked to Logan, still shaking a bit. "We, we really are capable to help. Even..." He hung his head. "Even when it doesn't seem like it..."

"You all share his feelings...?" Logan rubbed his arm.

Patton winced. "Yeah...You, you do keep overworking. And, and I know we're not as smart as you, or as good with balance sheets and math. But..." His hands trembled. "We're not, helpless babies that you drag along..."

"Is that how I've been treating you...?" Logan finally looked up. "I've just... I've just been trying to protect you, I just want all of you to have better lives than the ones you were given..."

"We know..." Patton took his hand. "But we...We don't want that all on your shoulders either..."

"But I'm willing to... for all of you..."

"But we don't want that Lo." Roman looked at him, then hesitated and dropped his head down. "We want...We want you to be okay too..."

"I'm okay as long as you're all-"

"Lie." Janus kept eating.

"It's okay to do what you need to take care of yourself, Logan..." Thomas swallowed. "Your well-being shouldn't be something you feel you have to ignore..."

"But if I'm not caring for them then-"

"We can take care of ourselves too..."

"We're not, utterly helpless." Patton swallowed. "Or dead weight..."

"Let us help take care of you." Roman looked up into his eyes. "Please."

"Especially when you've done so much already..."

"This is a new place." Patton squeezed his hand. "Let us make this a new life."

"Just rest for a bit, buddy." Virgil smiled. "You did a good job, L."

"Now let us help you."

Logan shook. "But I... I don't need-"

"Lie." Janus served himself more food seeing as no one else seemed to want any. A shame really. It was a much better than mice.

"Logan, please." Roman took his hand. "We don't want you to work yourself into an early grave.”

Logan looked at their hands, not gripping back just yet. "Then, what do you want me to do?"

"Go upstairs, L. Get some sleep."

"Yeah..." Patton sighed. "You need to let yourself rest, please."

Logan nodded, finally wrapping his hand in Roman's. "Very well..."

Roman blinked, then swallowed. "I, could escort you up, if you would like?"

"If you don't mind..."

"Not at all." Then he squeezed his hand back and led him up the stairs.

Logan kept his head down, not letting go of his hand until they reached the guest room.

Roman then sighed and closed the door behind them. "That was, rather surprising, wasn't it."

"Which part?" He sat on the bed.

"A, lot of it..." Roman nervously stood, facing Logan. "But I was especially referring to Janus being capable of doing, that."

"He can do it in the show, I'm not surprised the same applies to reality."

"But are you alright after he did that?"

"Yes... I'm fine..."

He sighed. "So you weren't having a panic attack while it was happening?"

His brow furrowed. “Why would I have been?"

"You closed your eyes and took deep breaths, then have been putting your head down since." He took a step closer. "Either you were just taking the opportunity to calm down since we had both gotten heated there, or you were having a panic attack and we were all too frazzled to address it then..."

"I was not having an attack." Logan finally looked up at him, eyes piercingly concerned "Were you?"

He bit his lip. "It was, surprising...Slightly scary, but, more surprising..."

"And you're alright?”

"Yes, yes." He sighed, then moved to the other side of the bed, not looking at Logan. "I suppose it's good that he has a way to keep us from doing anything out of line..."

"He only acted after Thomas told us to stop..."

"It, it doesn't seem like it was genuinely something Thomas was expecting him to do though." Roman shook. "He just, did it because he agreed we should stop. Wasn't like he was all the sudden becoming Thomas's loyal enforcer or anything and that now we'll have to watch ourselves or-"

"Roman," Logan placed a hand on his shoulder. "Breathe."

He gasped, then took a deep breath. "Sorry..."

"It's alright. I wouldn't dismiss what you said though..."

"It, could happen." He shook more, gripping his knees. "It, so easily could..."

"Especially if he's worried about upsetting Thomas... Or feels like he needs to earn a place here..."

His breath hitched. "I get that, tonight, we were also scaring Patton and Virgil and refusing to stop. But, if it just comes down to Thomas's whim..."

"We were the problem…”

He bit his lip. "I was the problem. I started yelling first."

"I continued arguing with Thomas..."

He huffed. "That last half was us arguing with each other."

"Yes..."

"I, really am sorry for that." He hung his head.

"It wasn't your fault…” He sighed. “I wasn't listening..."

"I still shouldn't have yelled..."

"It probably wouldn't have gotten through to me any other way..."

He looked back, surprise in his eyes.

"I didn't listen to anyone else... even when they were telling me how they felt..."

He sighed. "We could have been better about making sure you heard."

"I just... I didn't want to be like her..."

He tilted his head. "How would you have been?"

"She always kept me inside. I wasn't allowed to go out and explore, truly find things I was passionate about. She controlled every aspect of my life. It was stifling and... I didn't want any of you to be treated that way. It's why I always let you choose the jobs you wanted, even if they weren't the most financially stable, I wanted you to be able to experience life in a way that made you happy... and if I could do the same for the others by taking on the extra work necessary for that to be a reality, then I was willing. But I went too far..."

Roman's eyes filled with understanding, resting a hand on his shoulder. "We know you meant well. Yeah it has hurt to feel like we're not trusted, but that's not the main reason we're upset by this."

"It's because I've been a hypocrite..."

"Well, there's that...But more importantly, we're also worried about you." He met his eyes. "We want you cared for and happy too, able to pursue your own dreams."

"I guess... I'm just unsure of what to do now... We're safe for now but who's to say WISH won't come back? I don't want to let my guard down, but I also don't want to force us back on the run again. Where would we go? And then there's part of me that believes we are safe, and I don't have to worry anymore, but if I'm not worrying about all of you and caring for you what am I supposed to do...? All my life has been spent caring for others and fulfilling their needs..."

"Then now's the time to also start caring for you and your needs." He turned around fully, grasping his hands in his. "I know we're not completely safe yet, but it's the safest we've been so far, and so there's no time better than now to figure out what you want."

"But what if in doing so I let my guard down? And all of you pay the price..." Logan looked down at his hands. "It's a risk I can't take…”

He squeezed his hands. "Then please, at least don't be the only one to carry this...Let us help you. Let, me help you."

"I... why do you care so much? About me?"

"Because I do. You're, someone worth caring about..." Then he swallowed, ducking his head. "You...You've made my life better than I could even imagine. I want to give you a better life as well."

"But the others, they... while I know they care about me, it's different with you." Logan's eyes narrowed slightly. "You look at me differently..."

His cheeks reddened, "Because I..." Then he gulped, eyes looking up at Logan's"...Before we have that conversation, you know I would never force you into anything, right?"

"Of course I do..."

His brow now furrowed. "You were terrified after the dance..."

"What? No I wasn't. It was time to eat."

"You were still in my arms at that point. You stiffened."

"I felt them watching..."

"Was that, all that was? Their eyes on us?"

"It caught me off guard…”

He bit his lip. "If then, I was to hold you in my arms again..."

He stared at him. "Why would you want to?"

"...Because I..." He swallowed, then met his eyes, that something there again. "I love you."

Logan, didn't respond... hardly any emotion passed over his face. Roman couldn't tell what he was thinking but, maybe he was waiting for an explanation?

He swallowed, ducking his head. "I know it could seem sudden. But, really I think I only realized what it was today...It's more than just gratefulness for you saving me. It's the way your eyes sparkle when you take in something you enjoy. The way you smile when you have something you want to share. The debates we have as we watch something we enjoy. How you helped me be comfortable with touch. And the tireless way you seek to help everyone around, even though I wish you'd stop sacrificing yourself in that..." He sighed. "If, if you don't share that sentiment, I will accept that. I still want to live my life by your side, for as long as we live, if you will allow it."

Logan still said nothing, the seconds passing like ages to Roman. Then Logan slowly pulled his hands out of his, saying only one word, "No."

Roman bit down on his lip, cold stabbing through his heart. Don't force him. Don't be a jerk. Accept it. Accept it! You're just not good enough for him... He retrieved his hands and held them close. "As, you wish then." Then turned and got off the bed.

"You're not in love with me... and you can't fall in love with me..."

He turned his back towards him, clenching and unclenching his fists. "Is that how you want things?"

"It's impossible... Roman... I cannot return your feelings... You shouldn't pursue someone who can't love you in return and, you of all people deserve someone who can."

He turned, looking up at him. "What do you mean you can't return my feelings?"

"If you really want to know... I'll tell you..."

Roman stilled. "Only if you're willing to..."

Logan's hand wrapped around the end of his tie. "My Wisher changed only one thing about me from my series counterpart... She made me heterosexual so I could fall in love with her... so she could have a romantic relationship with me..."

His eyes widened. "What?" Then sat back on the bed with Logan.

"She wanted me to love her and her alone... so she took away any chances of me falling for another man by making me straight, then isolating me so I wouldn't fall in love with another woman..."

"But..." His hands shook, darting towards Logan, drawing back, then starting the cycle all over again. "But you were feeling something during the dance, right?!"

"It... must have been from the music... and the dancing..."

He shook. "How could she have done that to you? What sort of sick mind would cause her to do that? It's part of who you are!"

'I asked her... and she only said it was for her romance... the one she wanted with me, her idea of me..."

"Oh Lo!" Then he hugged him.

He stiffened and pulled away. "Roman you... you can't be in love with me... you shouldn't be...."

Roman looked at him sadly. "Once love takes hold, it's not that easily shaken..."

"But it's not real... you're in love with the idea of me that you've created in your mind..."

He shook his head. "I fell for you after getting to know you. And I know you aren't some fantasy I created."

"Roman please... whatever you've imagined about me... I'm not like that..."

He blinked. But, but he hadn't been imagining anything about Lo! Had he...? He swallowed, then leaned back. He had thought that Lo was gay, but other than that, he can't think of anything he had misconstrued or misremembered-"Woah. Wow!" He fell off the edge of the bed.

"Roman!" Logan jumped up and caught him, struggling to pull him back up.

Roman gripped onto him, doing what he could to help push him back up. "Thanks..." He ducked his head. "Guess I, forgot that the edge was there."

"It's alright..." Logan's hands were still holding onto his arm.

"Still's rather clumsy of me..." Roman glanced at them, brow furrowed. No. He wasn't imagining this... He hadn't crafted a false Logan then.

"Roman... I care about you, I truly do... but I can't return your feelings, even if they were real..." he finally let go, hand going back to his tie. "I'm sorry..."

Roman looked at him, tilting his head. No, something was off with this. He could still recall the dance, how the two of them were so close...He was sure that he saw something in his eye, had felt something. Something that..."...Was all of you changed, or just your sexual attraction?"

"What do you mean...?"

He swallowed. He could be wrong here. But if he was right... "Most people, when thinking about attraction only think about the sex appeal..." He rested a hand on his. “But, romantic and sexual attraction don’t always go hand in hand.”

"Then... what are you saying...?"

He looked into his eyes. "Could there be a chance, that when they made you straight, they only changed your sexual orientation, leaving your romantic orientation alone?"

He blinked. "Is... is that possible?"

"I can imagine it being possible." He moved up slightly closer. "A big corporation like WISH, that had the type of oversight that allowed us to hide our trackers just by shifting. If they were more concerned about nitty gritty details, then something like that wouldn't have happened. Characters would have trackers that nothing in their power would stop. If they have that sort of oversight for trackers, with how often characters are baseline straight, there could be a chance they never even considered changing romantic attraction as being important to consider."

"But... but what if...? No... no its too much to hope for." Logan's hand tightened around his tie. "I won't let you have your heart broken."

"If, that's really what you feel is for the best..."

"I do... I'm sorry…”

He swallowed. "I understand." Then he started to shift back, looking up into his eyes. "Can we, can we still be close friends?"

"Of course... I would hope we could be..."

He sighed in relief. "I would hope we could be too…”

"I do enjoy your company..."

He softly smiled. "I do as well...Even when you focus on the unimportant things in cartoons."

"Excuse me?"

He smirked. "You know. Little things like whether a horse can really sniff out a trail like Maximus did in Tangled."

"Well it shouldn't!"

He huffed. "Well, maybe he was some type of magical horse. One also able to act like a bloodhound."

"The film never states that magical animals exist."

"Fair point there. But it never states that they don't. And from the first moments, Maximus is seen as unusual from the other horses."

"A lack of information doesn't mean something is true."

"Doesn't mean that it's not true either. We see that all the time in the real world!”

"I suppose..."

He tilted his head. "...Maybe Mothman's real!"

"If someone brought him to life"

"...Fair point." He sighed. Not the train of thought he was trying for with Logan... How could he help him smile again?
He needed to see him smile...

Logan swallowed. "I think I'll go to bed now..."

He bit his lip. "That, makes sense...I suppose that's my cue to leave..." He started to stand up.

"Will you be alright?"

He turned, and smiled. "Of course Lo...Will you be?"

"If only I knew..."

He paused. "...I could go to sleep with you if you wanted."

He paused for a moment, "Would you?"

Roman quickly nodded, his smile going softer, more real. "Of course."

"I would appreciate that..."

He smiled more. "Just let me snap into pjs and I'll be right with you." Then with a snap, he was in comfy red and blue pyjamas, with yellow crowns and stars all around.

"I should change as well..."

"Very well. Want me to turn around?"

"I... don't mind either way..." He stood and walked to the closet.
He tilted his head. Didn't mind either way...?

He pulled out his pajamas and undid his tie, folding it before taking off his shirt.

Roman bit his lip and looked away, felling his cheeks reddening. Even if Logan was gay, he likely wouldn't want that kind of attention. How many times had his skin crawled while Rosa had watched him dress?

Too many times...

He heard clothes rustling, then the closet door shut. "I'm finished."

Roman turned towards him. "Ah. Quick as ever."

"I try not to take much time, I'm going to wash up before bed."

"Very well." He bowed. "I'll do the same after you're done."

He nodded and left for the bathroom.

Along the way, he could hear the sounds of them cleaning up downstairs.

He hung his head and entered the bathroom, shutting the door behind him. Why did he have to keep ruining this for everyone?"

He had to be the one to argue with Thomas. Had to scare Patton and Virgil. Cause Janus to cover his mouth. Had to be the one to break Roman's heart... He hadn't wanted to do any of those things, now he had to make it right with them all. He grabbed a washcloth and got it damp, washing his face. Virgil and Patton were relatively easy. Just needed to give them major roles in planning their videos. Thomas and Janus, he could figure out. There likely was some way to appease them both.

Roman though...

Roman was claiming to be in love with him... How? They'd just met! Well, technically they had known each other for little under a month now, but still! That was not a lot of time for, a feeling like that to develop! Was it only because of him rescuing him?

That couldn't be. Was that his only standard?

That could be, combined with simply not being Rosa. And, the things he keeps considering the rewards for good behavior...There was also the matter of the physical bruises he received when his ego took a hit… And how he had a tendency to catastrophize whenever he felt something could go wrong or was going wrong, and how he commonly blamed such occurrences on himself. Roman was too primed to be vulnerable in any relationship he was in, no matter what type of relationship that was. And Logan couldn't be the one to break him or let anyone hurt him.

He would need to protect him. But how?

...He couldn't stop him from falling in love with someone else. Though it would be doubtful that he would even have the chance to fall in love with anyone outside the apartment.
Could he try to have a relationship with him? Would that be fair to him? Was it even possible...?

It wouldn't be if there was truly no chance of being true. But if what Roman surmised could be right...And he had felt something during their dance That something was a fact...
The heart though could fall astray and was not easily trusted . It could have just been the circumstances, being in close proximity to Roman, his closest friend. The easy camaraderie they were having.
...And yet, he had felt drawn to Roman in that moment.

When their faces had been inches apart, Roman drawing closer and closer... part of him hadn't wanted to pull away… There was no non-gay explanation for that, was there?
So, perhaps there was a chance that Roman was right, that the two of them could be...together…Was there really one? Could he have some kind of future with him? If they could keep from WISH, perhaps He would not know unless he tried. He'd have to talk to him again though, tell him he wanted to try, but was it too soon? Or would waiting make it too late...

His reflection shone in the mirror. They both would have traumas they would need to overcome. Things they would need to talk about and communicate with each other Perhaps first he should mend their friendship, and see if feelings developed. If not, so be it. If so though...Perhaps he could allow himself and Roman this. A relationship where the feelings were shared… The two were equal. Not the other's possession. They saw each other as people... real people… And would be together as long as they both lived.

Logan began brushing his teeth. No matter what happened, he was going to do his best to fulfill the other’s wishes. Which meant caring for himself and no longer allowing them to worry about him. Regular bedtimes then. Not letting himself work until he was exhausted unless it was a true emergency. Allow them to take their share of the load Meaning, he'd have to figure out what part of his workload they could do, then at least split the workload halfway between them. He'd done it before, he could do it again.
Long as Thomas was willing to let them help with his videos, they could make this work. They could have a chance at a normal life...

He spit out the toothpaste then rinsed out his mouth.

For now, he could focus on the present. Make sure he and Roman's friendship was intact. He shut the light off and returned to their room.

Finding Roman lying on the bed as he looked up towards the ceiling, eyes deep in thought.

"I'm finished..."

Roman blinked. "What?" Then looked over and sat up. "Oh...Hello Lo."

"I'm done in the bathroom, are you alright?"

"Quite. Merely...Daydreaming..."

"About what?”

He ducked his head. "Just, letting my mind wander. It's, always surprising where all it can go."

"I see..." he sat on the bed.

He glanced over at him. "...One random thought was about just how big a pair of moth wings would have to be to hold up a man."

"Why would you wonder that?"

"Just, with our conversation earlier, and how a living Mothman..." He bit his lip. "I'll go brush my teeth now." Then stood up.

"Very well..."

He looked back at him. "I'll be right back. Alright?"

"I'll wait for you..."

His shoulders relaxed. "I won't take long." Then he rushed to the bathroom. Logan sitting on the bed until he returned.

Roman then quickly rushed through brushing his teeth. Can't keep him waiting.
Maybe he could share why exactly he'd starting thinking about moth wings on a human. Except that he didn't want to ruin their remaining evening with more talk about WISH and who else could be suffering because of them. He wanted to come up with something that would make Logan smile!
He spit out the paste, then quickly drank down the water.

What would make him smile?
If he could get the two of them playfully bickering about something, that could do the trick...They still needed to see just how bad Thomas's room is!
That would most likely have to wait until tomorrow. It was far too late tonight. Unless everyone else was going to try to clean that...If they didn't, where would Thomas be sleeping?

He frowned, doing a brief wipe of his face before going out the door.

Maybe they could make him a place, better than a messy room. Surely they had a big enough bed for that...

He entered through the door. "We forgot about Thomas's room."

"Oh..." Logan frowned. "He isn't sleeping in there, right?"

"Not unless everyone else is cleaning it tonight." He came over to Logan. "Perhaps we should take a look to see if that's even feasible."

"I don't know... I was told to sleep..."

Roman frowned. "Virge was making a suggestion, not a command."

"But they're right... I should sleep..."

"If we're going to sleep, we should also make sure they're not about to be hypocrites themselves." He took his hands. "Besides, we will, after checking on how things are in Thomas's room."

"Very well then..." He stood up.

Roman nodded. "Alright." Then kept holding his hands as they went on. "There's every chance that Virgil and Patton are exaggerating."

"I hope so..."

"As do I..." He headed for Thomas's room and opened the door. "I would hate to think we're actually living next to a nuclear wasteland..." He froze as his eyes locked on the room.

Logan stiffened beside him. "They... were not exaggerating..."

"No they weren't...Shit!" He swore under his breath. "How does he sleep like this?!"

"I don't know but, he can't be anymore.”

"Ugh." Roman grabbed his shirt to cover his nose. "This, definitely will not be finished tonight."

"No... he'd be better off sleeping downstairs but, I'd hate to deny him a bed..."

He looked to Logan. "Would we be able to have him in the same bed as all of us?"

"Maybe? I could always take the floor..."

"Nope!" He squeezed Logan's shoulder. "If you take the floor, so will I."

"If you wish..."

"Let's see first how everyone else reacts. Janus may want the floor."

"That's true…”

"We'll have to see." Roman started leading him downstairs.

"Shouldn't I wait?"

"They're not going to be mad at you for not being asleep yet."

"Still... I was asked..."

"If it worries you that much, you can stay in the room while I do it."

"I think I will..."

"Very well." He looked at him softly. "I'll be up shortly."

"I'll be waiting..." He went back to the guest room.

Roman nodded, then straightened his back and headed downstairs, glancing over to the kitchen. It looked like everyone was finishing up with cleaning after dinner... and the tension had died down somewhat. Patton was laughing as he bopped Virgil's nose with bubbles.

"Hey!" Virgil splashed some water at him.

Patton tried to duck, but still got hit. Then he chuckled and splashed back.

"Oh come on! I just dried off!"

Patton chuckled. "Then you shouldn't have been splashing your old man now, now should you."

"It was barely any water!"

"So was what I did." His eyes though started to look carefully at Virgil. Had he gone too far?

"Fine then!" Virgil scooped up a handful of bubbles and plopped them on top of his head.

He giggled. "Hey!" Then threw more bubbles at Virgil.

Roman smiled at the scene, then glanced towards the others, relieved to see Thomas chuckling himself while he put dishes away.
Janus though was sulking on the couch, watching them all with narrowed eyes.

Roman's breath caught in his throat. Why was he so incensed? They were just having fun. Surely he wouldn't...

He hurried down the stairs.

Virgil looked over, now covered in suds. "Oh! Hey Roman, is Logan asleep?"

"Practically..." He ignored Janus and looked to Thomas. "I saw your room. It truly cannot be cleaned tonight."

Thomas frowned. "It’s really that bad?"

"Probably gonna take half the day to clean..." Virgil pointed out.

"So it's something better left till tomorrow."

Thomas sighed. "Alright..." Then went to grab a blanket. "It's not the first time I've slept on the couch.”

Patton frowned. "But, this is your house. You shouldn't have to sleep on the couch..."

"Hey. I don't mind. Long as you guys are comfy on the bed, I can be comfy down here."

"By yourself?"

"Well, yeah..." He swallowed, scratching his neck. "It's how I usually sleep."

"I, talked to Logan before he went to bed." Roman looked at Thomas. "If there are no objections from everyone else, you could share the bed with us..."

"Worse case scenario, some of us could make a place on the floor." Virgil shrugged.

Thomas winced. "I couldn't do that to you guys. Really. The couch is comfy."

"Still... being alone when WISH could still be around..."

Thomas tensed. "...If they barged in, better that I'm down here than anyone else."

"Uh, no. I'm not okay with that." He crossed his arms.

"Yeah, me neither." Patton crossed his arms as well. "At least be in the same room as us. We could bring cushions up to our room for whoever ends up on the floor…”
Thomas bit his lip. "I don't want to make you guys uncomfortable..." Then glanced to Janus.

He was just watching him, like he was waiting for his decision.

He gulped. That was kinda unnerving. "Any thoughts, Janus?"

"I'll go where you go."

He blinked. "You wouldn't prefer to be in a separate room?"

"I would prefer to be with you."

Thomas’s brow furrowed. He meant all of them, right? He swallowed. "Alright...The guest room it is."

"Great!" Patton beamed. "I'll get the cushions."

"Got any extra blankets?" Virgil asked.

Thomas nodded. "More in the chest there."

"Got it." He went over and grabbed a few.

Roman grabbed some as well. "I'll meet you guys up there then." Then started up the stairs.

Janus stood and made his way over to Thomas.

Thomas watched him warily as Patton went to grab the cushions. Was Janus trying to ingratiate himself to him? No... it had to be just a coincidence... Had to be… Maybe he just wanted to be warm… At the very least, there was no way Janus would try anything in a crowded room, right?

"Want help getting upstairs?" Offered Thomas.

He nodded and stood beside him, a bit too close for comfort.

Thomas swallowed. Ok, maybe he just wanted an arm up. He wrapped an arm around him and started upstairs, glancing behind. "You guys got that?"

"Yep!" Patton held up the cushions.

"Don't worry about us!"

"Alright..." Then get continued up with Janus.

Janus pressed up against him.

Thomas swallowed. "You alright?"

"Cold.”

"Oh..." He smiled. "Glad I'm a good heater then."

"You are."

"Good." He paused outside the room. "...You really going to be comfortable like this?"

"Yes."

"If you're sure..." He opened the door, spotting Roman curled around a snuggled up sleeping, snoring Logan under the sheets,

Thomas gave them a soft smile. Then looked to the rest of the bed. "Want to, try being by them?"

"No."

"Oh...Then, where do you want to sleep?"

"With you."

"I get that...But where? On the bed or on the floor once Patton and Virgil get up here?"

"Wherever you sleep."

He sighed. "Any requests though?"

"As long as it's warm."

"Then let's, see how how much room we can make on the bed..." He started to move close to Roman, coaxing Janus to follow along.

He climbed in beside him, still keeping close.

Thomas held him, swallowing again. "This alright?"

"Yes." He snuggled in.

"Great." He glanced to the rest of the bed, seeing how much room there was. Not enough for Virgil or Patton, but enough to where the four of them could sleep comfortably.
He swallowed, then scooted away from Roman. It, wouldn't be bad to take the bed since otherwise Janus would be on the floor with him, right? Besides, he did say he was cold… Still...Could he really force Patton and Virgil to the floor? Hopefully they really wouldn't mind...He glanced to the door.

Just as they walked in. "Looks like we're making a bed on the floor, Pat."

Thomas swallowed. "If you two wouldn't mind..."

"Not at all kiddo." Patton set out the cushions. "You need to get your sleep."

"I'm used to sleeping on the floor anyway."

Thomas winced. "That's not- I can move to the floor then."

"Oh it's no big deal, some of the places we stayed at didn't have enough beds. So we'd rotate sleeping on the floor and couch."

"And since we'll have your room clean tomorrow," Patton laid on the cushions. "We'll all be in beds by tomorrow!"

"See? It all works out."

Thomas swallowed. "Alright...Goodnight you guys."

"Goodnight." Roman pressed more around Logan.

"Goodnight!" Patton opened his arms for Virgil.

"See ya in the morning." Virgil snuggled in.

Janus put his arms around Thomas and pulled him close.

Thomas blinked. Guess, this was a thing...His eyes fell upon his face.

He was asleep, but even then he looked on edge...

He frowned. Was there a way to settle him? He moved in a little closer. Only to feel another pair of arms wrap around him, then another...

He stilled, then took a deep breath. Right...He had multiple arms...Fine. This was fine. Ignore how he could barely move now... He felt Janus nuzzle into his neck, his scales were cold against his skin. Now that he was this cold, he could feel just how cold Janus actually was...

He frowned. That couldn't be healthy for him. Where was that electric blanket? He knew he’d brought it up last night. Where had that ended up though? Even if he knew, he wouldn't be able to reach it. His arms were pretty pinned...

He frowned. "Pst. Hey, Virgil?" He quietly called out.

"Yesh...?" He mumbled.

"Sorry." He whispered back. "But could you grab the electric blanket please? Janus's freezing."

"Oh, yeah one sec..."

"Thanks..." He relaxed back.

He heard some rustling then Virgil came beside the bed. "You just want me to lay on it him?"

"Yeah. Then turn it on."

"Right..." he got it switched on then laid it over Janus, frowning. "Can you move?"

"...Not really." He tried to show Virge.

Virgil frowned. "He's holding you?"

"Yeah. Kept saying he's cold, so I guess I'm a bit of a heater for him."

"But are you okay with that?"

"Yeah. Will be a bit awkward if I have to go pee though."

"Maybe the blanket will help... and he'll let go?"

He glanced at Janus. "We'll see...Thanks again for the help."

"Yeah, no problem." He made his way back to their makeshift bed. "Night."

"Night." Then settled back down himself, closing his eyes.

He could already feel Janus warming up; he'd be fine. They'd all be fine...

He sighed, then tried to adjust and fall asleep. It was surprisingly easy to with others around. He didn't feel as alone. It was almost like he was loved, wanted…

Maybe one day, that would actually be true?

Chapter Text

Sarah swallowed as she paced inside the offices. Why had they felt the need to call her here? They didn't have Logan already, right? If they did, shouldn't she be relieved? He'd be back with her, she'd know he was safe. Why then was her skin crawling...? Perhaps it was simply the frigid air conditioning. That had to be it. She swallowed, located the door she was told about, then knocked.

"Come in," a voice called.

She straightened her back, then stepped on in.

"Ah, Miss Winters, please have a seat." A man gestured towards an empty chair, next to it another chair which was occupied by Evelyn by all people.

Her brow furrowed. "Sorry for my delay." She sat down, focusing on him. "It took some time to make my excuses from work."

"That's quite alright, we were just about to begin." He pushed up his glasses, typing something onto a tablet. "You two were called here to be informed that your characters have been pinned to a certain area, and we are about to send in a team to contain them and return them to our facility."

Sarah sat up straighter. "They shall be coming home soon then."

"Yes. Logan, Janus, and Roman will be returned, and we will be adding some minor adjustments to them before you are permitted to take them home."

"What kind of adjustments?" Evelyn asked.

"Enhanced trackers, and the desire to leave their wishers will be erased. They will never attempt to escape again.”

Sarah froze. "What? Ah-hem." She cleared her throat, then rested her hands on her lap. "What would erasing their desire to leave entail?"

"It simply means they won't try to leave their Wishers. Of course you'll be able to leave them alone, but the new trackers will allow you to set a boundary for them. If they step outside that boundary, the trackers will prompt them to return home. Simple as that."

"But how will that affect their personalities?"

"Oh it shouldn't affect them at all. It's just an easier way to keep them contained."

"Logan is, curious though. And there are times that I will want to take him outside any boundaries I place..." She gripped her purse.

"There will be ways to adjust it, of course. These will mostly be for when you have to leave your characters unattended. You'll have full control I assure you."

She pursed her lips. It seemed a good thing, but... "So all of this will only be caused by the new trackers. Otherwise, he'll be entirely unchanged."

"Of course, not unless you want us to make changes. He'll be the same Logan you purchased."

She sighed in relief. "That will be quite alright then. And the same will hold true with Patton?"

"Yes. However as stated before he will not be permitted to return to his former wisher. And is therefore, up for adoption." He smiled and leaned forward a bit. "I was told that the two of you had shown the most interest in him, which is why I called you here today."

She straightened up more. "And I am still interested in him. Logan could use companionship when I am at work."

"Janus gets rather lonely as well," Evelyn spoke up, "he'd appreciate having a friend around when I'm away."

"Well, we do have methods when it comes to adoption." He slid two pieces of paper in front of them. "If you are really interested in adopting him, feel these out and we'll review them. These will give us an idea of whether or not you're qualified to take on another character."

She frowned, then looked them over. "You have any specific qualifications?"

"Oh just the usual, whether you earn enough to provide for them both, have enough space, etc.”

"I certainly have both." Evelyn smiled and looked the form over. "Patton would have his own bedroom, including his own bathroom. Even his own kitchen area for cooking."

She raised an eyebrow. "Would he actually be allowed to use it?"

"Of course! If he wanted to anyway."

She frowned, then looked at the form. If she was going to keep Patton from her... "...I have been in the process of getting a bigger apartment."

"And how is that working out?" The man asked.

"Rather well." She started filling in some of the form. "I have the financial security of a good credit rating to make me viable for any landlord I come across and have found an opening in some high-rise riverfront property with a view that has four bedrooms, a home kitchen, living area space, and an indoor gym and other recreational facilities such as a swimming pool."

"I'm sure they would both be happy there." He smiled.

'Yes, but how would they get along with each other?"

She glanced at Evelyn. "Why ask that? Since Logan and Patton have been on the run together, they would have had a chance to get to better know each other. A longer chance than Janus would have."

"Yes, but you know in the series they don't get along so well." She shrugged. "Logan gets annoyed with Patton quite often."

She frowned. "So does Janus with Patton...Besides, they are not exactly like their show counterparts anyway, so there's a greater likelihood they would get along."

"But you forget Janus and Patton haven't interacted much, and even so he's the only one that trusts Janus and likes him. It would be nice if he had someone like Patton, who could care for him and love him."

"Shouldn't that be you though?"

"Yes, but Janus needs someone besides me for a more... intimate relationship?"

Her brow furrowed. "You would not know if Patton would want that, nor even Janus."

"No, but it is a possibility. They're both gay. It isn't like I changed him to be a romantic partner for myself. If there's a chance they could be happy together I wouldn't want to stand in my way." She stared directly at Sarah.

She bit her lip. "Logan could use a companion while I am at work...Whatever happens between them, I can trust that Logan would appreciate having Patton around and so I can be certain that the two of them will at least be friends." She finished the forms.

"Well I'm sure Patton would be happy to live with either of you." The man smiled and took their forms. "We'll review these then let you know who he'll be going home with once they're all brought back."

Sarah nodded. "Thank you."

"The two of you are dismissed, you'll be called again when the characters have been brought in."

Evelyn said nothing and stood up, making her way towards the door.

Sarah nodded again then made her way out as well.

Once they were out the two women walked down the hall towards the exit, keeping pace with each other. Sarah couldn't help but glance at Evelyn, brow furrowed.

Evelyn smirked. "Something on your mind?"

She tilted her head. "Do you care about Janus or not?"

"Of course I do, I love Janus." She turned to her. "Do you care about Logan?”

"I do." Then she looked forward, swallowing.

"I wonder why he chose to run away then... and steal along the others with him…”

Her grip tightened on her purse. "A flaw with how I was caring for him, that's all. One that'll be rectified by the new location and a companion."

"And you being able to control where he can and can't go, right?"

"...That will certainly help, yes."

"Help him or yourself?"

She swallowed. "He wanted more time out of the apartment. This would be a way to help him."

"Ah, never let him out?"

"We went out sometimes. I, simply did not know if WISH would repossess him if he was out of my sight."

"Understandable. And you wouldn't want to lose him."

"I wouldn't." She sighed. "The world's a dangerous place for him."

"It really is... It sounds more like he wasn't grateful for what you did for him."

She bit her lip. "He is curiosity, learning, and logic. I did not give him a stimulating enough environment while I was at work. Something that I will change."

"I see. He should appreciate you willing to learn."

She swallowed. If he wasn't scared to death..."What about with you and Janus?"

"I was taking Janus with me on a trip when they stole him away. I wanted to bring him out of the city for a bit. De'd been behaving so well he deserved a reward."

"You were talking about punishing him though..."

"He was misbehaving during the trip. Got into some wine I'd been saving..."

She frowned. "Aren't you worried about what sort of danger he may have been in?"

"I am now. Hhe was starting to look unwell before he went missing. I'd been out getting medicine for him..."

"You didn't just blame it on the wine?"

"Could have been, maybe he drank too much, but I didn’t want to take any chances." She sighed, "he's really the only thing that makes me happy these days."

She swallowed. "And you make him happy?"

"Of course! We spend every moment we can together, and he always follows me around. He never wants to be alone."

She blinked. "Isn't that unhealthy?"

"For some, but it's what he wants."

Does he really? "And, you like having him around 24/7?"

"Why not? He's good company. Do you not like having Logan around?"

"I do. But I would need some time by myself to recharge, as would he."

"Seems like he needed space too. A lot of it if he managed to run all the way to Florida."

She gritted her teeth. "Something I'm going to have addressed.”

"Is he in trouble for running away?"

"No." She gripped her purse. "The reason for that is on me, and so the new apartment and better location will help rectify that."

"Because of you?"

She bit her lip, speeding out of the way. "Because of me not taking into account that he would need more stimulation when I was not around..."

"So he ran to find adventure?"

"And himself..." Where was the door?

"So do you think he'll be content with just a new space?"

"And with Patton, if I get him. The new space will have exercise equipment for him and other such things." There it was. Finally! She opened the door. "Not to mention a view of the Columbia river."

"Hm, but what if you don't get Patton? And even if you do, what if neither of them want to stay? Who knows what Logan's been telling him?"

"...I will make certain they want to stay." She headed for her car.

"By any means necessary?"

She stayed silent.

Evelyn sighed. "He'll do everything to escape again, you know that right?"

"I can make things up to him." She got out her key.

"And if you can't? What if he hates you now?"

"I will figure that out when the time comes." She pressed the button, causing her car to beep.

"You fell in love with him, didn't you?"

She froze. "...It's one of the reasons to buy a character. Have the one you love in your life."

"And you changed him so he could fall in love with you as well?"

"You didn't change Janus at all?"

"Not in the slightest."

She swallowed, then opened her door.

"Sometimes though, when you want something, you simply have to take it."

She froze. "I can't force him to love me back."

"Who says you can't?" She smiled. "You'd be surprised by how easy it is..."

She sharply turned, staring into her eyes. "What did you do to Janus?"

"Oh, nothing he didn't want. Whether he would admit it or not," her smile took a sinister turn. "If you push them long enough, eventually, even the strongest minds will break."

Her hand tightened into a fist. "I will not break Logan."

"You already got close, broke him enough to where he ran away.” She leaned in closer, the smirk full on her face. “Bring him back, now that he's had a taste of freedom, and he will break no matter what."

Her eyes narrowed, fist tightening. "...Good day, Miss Evelyn." Then she got into the car and slammed the door.

She only chuckled and walked away. She'd see in time. And she would revel in it.

Inside the car, Sarah shook, breathing in and out. No, there, there had to be a way to not break him! But she was right, if Logan was forced back he'd never be the same, he'd never trust her again!

There was no way to stop WISH now. If she didn't take him back, they'd just kill him. And, if they gave Patton to that woman...A cold shiver traveled up her spine. Whatever she'd done to Janus... She'd do to Patton... She'd promised Susie that she'd protect him. He, none of them deserved to be broken... Even if Logan already had been. He'd run away after all...

She gripped tight on the steering wheel. What was she supposed to do?! He couldn't live by himself even if he wanted to! He was a character! He was supposed to live with her!

He was supposed to want to… Was she just, that bad a person?

She couldn't be. He'd said she was kind, that had to be true... Yet she had forced him to kiss her… Had gotten angry over what had been nothing but a polite conversation...Had bought him in the first place.

Perhaps, she truly was evil.

But she wasn't like Evelyn, she didn't want to break him!

But she had already, hadn't she. Making it so he'd needed to escape her in the first place… Tears started to fall, a small sob in the air as she tried to wipe them away.
Why was she crying? She deserved this didn't she? To lose what had been her only friend because she couldn't control herself… Her only friend that now she had trapped into having the life he wanted to leave!

Maybe it would be more merciful to have him killed. He could then be free of all this!

But what if he'd become friends with the others? And she had him killed...?

She shook. No. She couldn't be selfish like that just because she wasn't ready to handle the consequences of her mistakes. She'd move into the new apartment. Get him. Get Patton. Then at least he would have one of his true friends with him. No matter what she had to do to get Patton.

No doubt though, Evelyn would do something malicious in order to get him for herself… How to counter that...First things first. She turned on the car, then called the new apartment complex. She had a lot of work to do if she was going to fix this...

But anything she did would be worth it. For Logan's sake.

Chapter Text

"I think I need to shower now…” Virgil shuddered as he hauled a garbage bag downstairs. "Me and my clothes..."

"But at least we're done!" Patton cheerily grinned.

"Indeed." Roman smirked. "You can actually see the floor now."

"Yeah, yeah." Thomas shook his head, then sighed. "Thanks guys."

"It wasn't a problem," Logan carried the last bag down. "Tt needed to be finished before tonight so you could sleep in your room."

"Still, thanks. That would have, probably taken me a couple days."

"Now you just have to keep it from getting like that again," Virgil huffed and set the bag near the door, "for all our sakes."

"Right..." Then he smiled. "All of this calls for a special treat. How does pizza sound?"

Virgil raised an eyebrow. "After all that moldy pizza I found? Yeah, no thanks..."

Patton shook his head. "Going to have to pass on that too, kiddo."

"Alright...You guys could pick something for me to pick up for lunch while I go grocery shopping."

"You're going today?" Logan asked.

"Well, I think I kinda need to today." Thomas looked over to the kitchen, frowning. "There's not that much left in the kitchen and today and tomorrow are my two remaining free days..."

"And you are going alone?"

"Well," he looked over at them. "Not unless any of you want to come with me..."

"I wouldn't mind," Logan walked up to him, "I can keep a list of what we need."

"Great. You can take from the list you guys made yesterday." He handed it over.

"I wouldn't mind going either." Patton grinned. "It can be fun."

"Um, I don't think Janus will go..." Virgil glanced upstairs, he'd been asleep all day. "I could stay with him."

"That would be wise." Roman looked between him and the rest. "I could, also stay to hold down the fort as it were..."

"Will you be alright?" Logan asked.

"Assuredly I will." He smiled at Logan, some concern in his eyes. "I can make sure this domicile is safe upon your return."

"If you are certain..."

"Well, unless you want a knight errant to be with you upon this quest."

"I don't want them alone either..."

"Logan, no offense, but you never want any of us alone."

"With good reason."

Thomas furrowed his brow. "Well, I doubt we'd be attacked in the supermarket...But, we can make sure that we can call in case something happens."

"I'm okay with that."

"Very well then." Roman snapped his fingers then handed Logan a phone that looked like Thomas's while Roman kept his own. "Two phones, coming up."

Thomas's eyes widened.

"Oh!" Patton pipped up. "You guys can also let us know your lunch choices with that."

"Yes, we will get what we can." Logan placed the phone in his pocket.

"Fantastic." Roman then squeezed Logan's hand. "Have a swift return."

"I should hope so..." Logan shifted into his standard human appearance. Thomas had lent them all some of his clothes so they'd have a lower chance of being recognized.

Patton shifted as well, looking like a rather tall, thin hobbit with really curly hair.

Thomas blinked. "I really will need to get use to this." He then headed for the door, grabbing his wallet and keys. "See you guys soon."

"Take care." Virgil plopped on the couch. "Can I play your switch?"

"Feel free!" Thomas opened the door.

"That does sound like fun." Roman watched Logan as he went. "We'll have to have a game when you return."

"I suppose we could try..." Logan followed them out

"Farewell!" He waved.

"See you guys later!" Patton waved back, then closed the door.

For a brief moment, silence settled over the apartment. Virgil shifted. "So uh, wanna start this game up?"

"Sure." Roman gave one last glance to the door, then ran over and leapt over the couch, sitting beside him. "Which game is it?"

"I think Mario Kart?"

"Oh, fun!" He grabbed a controller. "I pick Mario!"

"Uh, I'll be Shy Guy..."
He chuckled. "Perfect for you." Then he started choosing his ride. "A full tournament?"

"Why not?"

"Excellent!" He grinned, then leaned forward. "Be ready to be powened, noob."

"Uh, good luck to you too." Virgil slumped on the couch.

Roman blinked. "...You alright?"

"Yeah, just not too serious a gamer."

He sighed. "I'm sorry. I was trying to appeal to the competitive spirit you have."

"Only on days where I'm not drained from cleaning a hazard zone."

"Fair enough..." He leaned back as well. "This will just be fun then, I promise."

"You mean after I win?"

He chuckled, a mischievous glint in his eyes. "If you win, emo shy guy."

"I plan to." He smirked.

Roman then smirked back, then looked at the screen. The game was on!

The first race began, Virgil having a bit of trouble getting the hang of it. Roman tried to offer him some guidelines as they went, somewhat helpfully. "Fire that one out the back. It'll catch red shells."

"Oh, got it. Dang it!" He growled as he drove over a banana peel.

Roman chuckled. "Also watch out for those. Oh shoot!" He swerved to make sure he didn't ram into the side of the track.

"This is hard..." He huffed and looked at his position. 10th…

"You catch up though." Roman huffed. "I didn't do that well the first time I played this either."

"Right, aren't you supposed to be Mr. Perfect Prince?"

He shook his head. "Contrary to popular belief, I still need to work to get good at things." He sped up with a booster. "True, anything creative or romantic comes naturally to me, but even so I need to develop and work on it. Then of course, if it's not related to either of those things, I have to work at it to gain any sort of skill and not be some ugly duckling waddling on the floor."

"You? Ugly? Don't make me laugh."

"Oh it's true. You should have seen me the first time I tried playing this..." His eyes focused back on the screen.

"I mean we gotta improve if we want to play against the others, show off our future skills."

"That we do." He smirked. "Once we're playing all together, what should we have the loser do?"

"Hm, good question..."

"...Be in charge of doing laundry for a week?"

"Sounds fair!"

"Excellent!" He sighed in relief. "And it'll only be that same week for the penalty. No adding weeks if they lose more games."

"If they agree, you're on."

"I'm sure they will." Hopefully they would… A slight white appeared on his knuckles, but he breathed out and focused on the game, letting the now envelop him.
Some time passed, more races were won and lost, but the two were beginning to improve, Roman one win ahead of Virgil.

"Hey, not too bad Princey."

He grinned. "Thanks. You didn't do too bad yourself, noob."

He chuckled as the next race started. "So, Roman, can I ask kind of a personal question?"

"Uh, sure?" He glanced over at him. "What kind of question?"

"Do you like Logan?"

Okay, that was safer territory. His shoulders relaxed. "I do..."

"Like, as a friend or, like like?"

He chuckled. "Like like." Then he focused back on the screen. "Logan's simply not as sure that he like likes me back."

"You sure? That dance you guys did... It looked like he liked you back."

"I know..." He sighed deeper. "He's not sure though, so I'll respect that.”

"Well, that's good. You still gonna try and romance him?"

"Only if he's willing. It, wouldn't be very princely to force myself upon him if he's not."

"Good point, still, I think he's somewhat interested. He stayed by you all day."

"That he did..." He glanced towards the door. "I'm not going to press him though. The next step will need to be his."

"Right, smart."

He sighed, focusing back on the game. "In this case, its better to be cautious than to do anything else. With his history, I would not want to accidentally trigger him."

"Yeah... poor Lo..." he glanced at him. "And you're not nervous about the idea of a relationship?"

He frowned. "I want it with Lo."

"But what about your own triggers?"

The Prince stilled. "...Logan has already found out and worked with me through a lot of them, even when being friends." He launched some attack powerup. "I can't imagine that would be different while dating..."

"Still... Some just, creep up on you when you least expect them... Ask Janus..."

He frowned. "Because of his reaction to seeing himself on screen?"

"I still don't know what it was... he didn't really freak out and leave until that one end card..."

He swallowed. "That endcard was the only time he saw himself on screen. It's not...that much of a stretch to think that he simply hates who he is in the series."

"But why? He really isn't that bad. He thinks I hate him but I don't."

"It does partially depend on just what type of Wisher he got...The first two main episodes he was in had him doing some pretty underhanded stuff. Enough so that there were a portion of Fanders that thought that Janus was purely unsympathetic, an irredeemable villain that must have abused Virgil in the past to explain why the show Virgil doesn't like him."

"Oh.... Were they even watching the right show?"

He sighed. "You haven't seen the courtroom episode...Its, simple to see how that idea got out from there."

"Still... Why was that one scene enough to make him run like that?"

"I don't know..." His brow furrowed. "Perhaps, his Wisher tortured him with clips of himself?"

"Maybe..." he sighed. "Doesn't help that he's been acting so hostile."

"He's being defensive. It's a classic response to feeling threatened."

"But he never acted like this towards us until we got here..."

"He was also sick before, and pretty out of it."

"Yeah... but he knows we won't hurt him, right?"

"...I don't know. If he thinks we hate him..."

"But we don't... And have you seen how clingy he is with Thomas?"

"Yes." Roman's brow furrowed. "It took all of us to release Thomas from his grasp this morning."

"The way his arms all folded in..." Virgil shuddered. "That was disturbing."

"Yes..." He looked at the screen. "Just like having your own hand gag you."

"Were you two okay after that?"

"...Yes." He focused on the screen. "We, recognized that our fighting was causing you and Patton distress. Sorry about that, by the way."

"It's okay... How did Logan take it...?"

"Logan was more worried about causing you guys to get upset again...Thought you would be since he didn't go to sleep right away."

"Of course not... Oh Logan..." Virgil sighed. "But does he at least understand where we're all coming from?"

"I think he's starting too. We'll just need to carefully encourage him towards more things he might actually enjoy. Let him find himself."

"I just hope he gets the chance too…”

He sighed. "I hope so too." He looked at the screen. "Games should be an area he's right at home in. Hopefully that whole group tournament will help."

"Yeah, he needs to unwind."

"Exactly. I know we can't unwind completely yet. But, he can still relax a little..."

"Especially when he's been carrying us all on his back..."

"Yes," he groaned as he pushed up his hair. "He focuses far too much on trying to not have us worry about everything. It's time we did some of the same for him."

"Yeah, what's something we could do for him?"

He frowned. "All be here and okay when he comes...Maybe try to make something special for him?"

"Like what?"

"I don't know...Think there's a type of tea he likes...Not sure if Thomas would have it though, nor that Logan would tell him willingly."

"No... there's gotta be something though... What if we made him a gift?"

"That's an idea." He turned to Virgil. "I could probably summon his laptop. But if we made him something entirely new..."

"Without wearing yourself out."

He frowned. "I can get the laptop without wearing myself out...But I see your point. What would you suggest?"

"Hmm... something Logan could enjoy and use to find himself..."

He looked at the switch, then glanced back at the door. "Yet not something we need to leave the house for..."

"Something fun, but also kinda practical, like a puzzle maybe?"

"...That could work. What type of puzzle? A jigsaw? A logic puzzle?"

"Maybe a jigsaw of something he likes?"

"Of stars!" He snapped his fingers.

"He also liked the ocean, what if it was like... the ocean but it was space?"

"That would be perfect!" He took his phone then looked up images. "OK. Let's see what that might look like..."

"Either an ocean with stars and planets in it or space with a bunch of fish swimming around."

"The last one's not really Lo's style..." He kept looking through the images. "He prefers things to be as beautiful as they naturally would be instead of...Oh. This is it!”

"What is it?" Virgil leaned forward.

"An ocean night, with the stars and the Milky Way in the air!" He held up the picture to Virgil. "Isn't it lovely?"

"Oh wow, he'll love that!"

"That he would." He captured the image in his mind. "Make it a thousand piece puzzle?"

"Why not?"

"Very well then." He focused, snapped his fingers, and the box came into his hands.

"Oh wow," he smiled. "That looks great!"

"It does! He's going to love this." He turned to Virgil. "Thank you for the idea."

"Hey, I have good ones, occasionally."

He softly smiled. "More than occasionally."

"Like distracting you long enough to win this cup."

Roman's eyes widened. "Oh shoot!" Then he focused back, looking at the screen. If he just didn't come in last...

"My evil plan worked." Virgil grinned.

"It, sure did." He hunkered down on the action, speeding up as fast as he could, taking all the chances he usually wouldn't take.

"Whoa! You're catching up!"

He took deep breaths. "Don't, take your chickens before they hatch." He could do this. He could still make above 11th.

"Come on! Shoot for 3rd!"

"I'm shooting for it!" He came in sight...

Then was knocked off the course.

"Oh no!" Virgil jumped up. "Those stupid shells!"

Roman flinched, not saying a word. Come on, come on. Let him back on the track already.

"Okay 5th! 5th isn't bad!"

6th...7th...8th...He was finally let back down...

Roman gunned forward.

"Come on Ro!"

His knuckles whitened, biting down on his lips as the cart sped on...He got 9th!

He set down the controller, taking deep breathes. Not last place. He, wasn't last place…

"Dude that was close!" Virgil sat back on the couch. "That shell came out of nowhere!"

"That-" His breath hitched. "That it did."

"But hey! 9th ain't bad." He turned to him and his smile faded, "You alright?"

"Fi-Fine." He forced a smile back. "9th truly isn't so bad with the tactic you, used."

"Right... Roman, are you sure you're okay?"

"I'm, I'm certain!" He swallowed. "I, didn't get last place."

"Yeah but... You sound nervous..."

"I'm not-...Why would I be nervous? We're just, having fun. The two of us. Here."

"Yeah but... Roman, I can tell when someone is nervous..."

He froze, then slumped, rubbing his head. "Of course you would be..."

"What's wrong?"

"Its, its nothing, really." He kept his eyes away from Virgil.

"Roman... You can talk to me..."

He sighed. "...First time I played the game, it was, it was at this party Rosa was hosting...All her friends were there."

The room was full with music, people's laughter, and the clinking of glasses. Outside, the moon shown bright. "Hey Rosa, mind if we borrow him for our tournament?" One of the guys grinned. "It's no fun if we don't have a full set."

"And she let you play?" Virgil asked, then frowned. "She'd want you to win, wouldn't she?"

"Well, she would have liked that. But, she was understanding. They all were. I just," his arms tightened around him. "Had to pay the penalty."

"What penalty...?"

"...You had to take a shot every time you got last place."

"Shot! Shot! Shot! Shot!"

"Shot?" He'd looked up in confusion, only to have horrid tepid beer forced down his throat. He'd sputtered.

"Relax..." Rosa rested her hand on his shoulder, grinning. "Everyone goes through this when they lose..."

"How many times did you lose....?" Virgil put a hand on his shoulder.

He swallowed, gradually shifting into it. "I lost count..."

Just as he braced himself for the taste coming up, they'd had a new one for him. Beer, vodka, whiskey, champagne, martinis, cocktails...He didn't even know...Everything blurred with their laughter.

"When the morning came, I had, quite the hangover." He nervously chuckled. "After that, I would spend time getting better at my skills before the next party.

Virgil frowned. "Roman, you know we'd never do anything like that, right?"

He swallowed. "It was all in good fun...I just, had to get good."

"But there's other ways..."

"...No shots then? I, I know that Logan wouldn't like doing that either."

"Yeah just, playing until you get better?"

He nodded. "Sounds-Sounds good...Thanks..."

"Anytime Ro..." he sat down next to him. "Wanna hug?"

He looked up to him. "...If you wouldn't mind?"

"Not at all.” He put his arms around him. Roman started out stiff, but then settled in, taking deeper and deeper breaths.

"You should get yourself a hoodie... They're nice..."

He huffed. "Not, my aesthetic..." His breath evened out more.

"Could make one that fit it."

"I've, tried a few times...Always want my sash though." He grabbed at that.

"Yeah, I couldn't make it without my hoodie."

He nodded. "Just like Logan needs his tie and Patton needs some form of his hoodie on his shoulders."

"And, I'm not sure what Janus needs..."

He hummed. "Maybe the whole ensemble?"

“Maybe?”

"He was, insistent on the whole costume. My bet though would be on the cape."

"You think so?"

"Well, it's either that or the hat. Both are distinctive for his outfit."

"Or maybe his gloves?"

He pursed his lips. "Could be that too...Those at least would be easier to disguise as normal."

"Yeah... You think he's awake?"

"I don't know..." He looked up the stairs. "We should probably check on him."

"Good idea.” Virgil stood up.

Roman stood as well, making sure the game was paused. Then he started up the stairs.

"Don't wanna alarm him though..."

"We'll be as silent as we can be then." He stepped on his tip-toe, and slowly went the rest of the way.

"You really think he's still asleep?"

"Either he is, or he's just in the room." He tip-toed to the door. "Don't want to catch him off guard if he is." Then he went to open the door.

Only to find him missing...

He frowned. "Janus?" Then opened the door wider.

The bed was empty, the electric blanket discarded on the floor.

Roman's eyes widened. "Oh no..."

"Not again!" Virgil started searching frantically. "Janus?!"

Roman turned to him. "Where was he last time?!"

"In Thomas's room disguised as a stuffed rabbit!"

"Let's check there then!" Then rushed over to Thomas's room. "Janus?!"

Everything was still orderly, just as they'd left it besides the shirt Thomas had slept in laying on the bed.

Roman huffed. "I thought we told him to drop that into the laundry room." Then went and picked it up.

Virgil frowned. "Did that shirt always have a snake on it?"

He blinked. "Not that I can recall." He looked at the shirt again.

A yellow snake was coiled on the front of the shirt, odd...

'Hey, Roman?" Virgil lifted the same shirt out of the hamper, except there was no snake on it.

He blinked more, looking at the shirt. "...Janus?"

The shirt started shaking in his hands.

"Might wanna put that down now..."

"Fair enough." Carefully, he set it back on the bed. "Sorry there...What's it like to be a shirt?"

They heard hissing as Janus returned to his normal self. "You could shift yourself and find out."

"Maybe I shall." He shifted himself into a floating prince shirt with sash.

"What's it like?" Virgil asked. "I don't think I could pull that off."

He hummed. "It's interesting." He floated around a bit. "Almost like you see everything and nothing around you all at once."

"And if someone wore you?"

He froze, then he shivered and snapped back to his regular form. "I don't even want to think about that."

"Yeah... me neither..." Virgil cringed. "Sorry I asked."

"Perfectly alright." Roman turned to Janus. "So...You hungry?"

"I thought we were out of food." He crossed his arms.

"We're just about out. But the others are at the store getting more, and there's still your breakfast leftover."

"Who left?"

"Patton, Logan, and Thomas."

"So I'm left with you two..."

"I suppose you can look at it like that..." He swallowed. "But, we have a way to contact the others, if you'd like."

"When will they be back?"

Roman looked out. "Before dark I should say. Thomas was planning to pick up lunch as well."

"Then I suppose I'll be fine…”

"We were just playing video games downstairs if you wanted to join us."

"Yes." Roman smiled. "We could teach you the intricacies of Mario Kart."

"I don't want to play any games..."

"Then you could watch...?"

"While you have your breakfast. We can warm it up for you."

He huffed and stood. "Fine…”

"Thank you." He offered out a hand.

He walked past him and headed downstairs.

"Didn't say no when Thomas offered help..." Virgil muttered

Roman winced. "Maybe he's feeling better today?" Then went after Janus.

"Somehow I doubt it." Virgil trailed behind.

Roman took a deep breath. Please don't say stuff like that in front of him, Virgil. Once down, he headed for the kitchen. "Make yourself comfortable, uh...Janus."

He sat down on the couch, as far from where they'd be sitting as possible

Roman just nodded, then grabbed out the plate of bacon and eggs and popped it into the microwave.

Virgil sat down and began looking through Thomas's other games.

Roman grabbed a fork as the thing heated up. "Does he have Smash Bros?"

"Uh, this?"

"Yeah. That one." He smirked as he grabbed the plate out. "Could be something more your style."

"If you say so." Virgil got the game chip out then slid it in.

"Oh it will be." Then he handed the plate to Janus. "Here you go."

He said nothing and began to eat.

At least he was doing that. Roman just smiled then headed back over, grabbing a controller. "Okay. You choose who you want."

"I don't know who half of these people are." Virgil frowned as he skimmed over the many characters.

"Then pick one for the aesthetic." He grinned, then picked his own. "Chrom's my favorite. Though Robin's fun as well."

"Uh..." Virgil frowned and hit random. "I'll just let fate decide.z'

He smirked. "As you wish..."

The screen selected out Dark Pit.

Roman smirked more. "Seems the game does know you."

"I feel so loved."

"And I am so glad of that." He rested a hand on his shoulder. "Maybe after I trounce you some, we can make our own Miis on here."

"Miis?"

"The console game avatars." Roman focused on the screen after choosing a battleground. "Well, some games use them. But they're still fun to have regardless. A little you within the machine."

"Huh, interesting..."

"Definitely something to explore after this match...Ready?"

"Ready... I think..."

"Then it's on!" Then Chrom swung his sword at Dark Pit.

"Ah!' Virgil screamed and started frantically pushing buttons.

He got Pit up into the air, flapping his wings and sending down arrows that Chrom avoided.

Roman grinned. "You got this." Then started attacking a King Cool in the arena.

"I don't know what I'm doing!"

"That's how one learns to smash! A's your main attack, Y's jump, B's special attack, and x's connected to jumps."

"There's so much going on!"

"Exactly." He caused Chrom to jump, dodging a Captain Falcon attack. "You just need to get into the swing of things."

"I'm going to die!”

"But it'll be fun!" He laughed then sent an opponent off the stage.

"You're insane!"

"You're just now noticing this?!" Then he went to attack another.

"Ah!" Virgil shut his eyes and kept pressing buttons.

Roman looked over, frowned, then paused the game. "...You alright, Virge?"

"F-Fine!" He opened one eye. "Why did we stop?"

"A game's not fun if you're not enjoying it as well." He sighed, then rested a hand on his shoulder. "Would it help if we made it have less opponents? I think there's tutorials too..."

"N-No, it's okay-"

"Lie…” Janus rolled his eyes.

"Thanks." Then he looked back at Virgil. "How about we make the Miis for now, then we can figure out what you want to do, okay?"

Virgil took in some deep breaths, nodding. "Okay..."

"Alright." He got out of there, then brought up the Mii creator. "You can go first."

"Okay..."

"Alright." Roman looked across the screen. "Looks like he has all his friends on here."

"His friends?”

"Yeah, the ones he makes videos with." He looked through. "There's Dominic, Artie, Quill, Terrance. I wonder what happened to him."

"I wouldn't know..."

"I don't know either. Nor with Valerie. Oh." He sadly sighed. "There's Talyn and Joan."

"Who're they?"

"Two of Thomas's best friends, Joan especially so. Joan was there from the beginning for Thomas's videos and helped with making Sanders Sides what it is."

"Really?"

"Yeah..." He sat back. "Unfortunately, Joan decided they wanted to move on to other things. The two of them moved to Vermont, leaving Sanders Sides and Thomas's other channel as well."

"That's rough..."

"Yeah...They're still friends, but, friendships are not the same miles apart when two people are use to being close to each other."

"Yeah... I can't imagine being away from you guys now..."

"Either can I..." He looked again at all of them, then swallowed. "There's the button to create your own."

"Oh, got it." He started with a new Mii and began customizing.

Roman leaned back and watched. "Need more fringe there."

"Is it that bad?"

"No. Just trying to help you get an accurate emo look."

"None of these are good enough?"

"No, I'm just suggesting you make the surf look longer."

"How edgy do you want me to be?" He smirked.

He smirked. "Max edginess."

"All the way then!”

He chuckled. "Go full force!"

"You won't be able to handle the edge coming your way!"

"Bring it on!"

Meanwhile Janus watched, bored out of his mind. This is what they found entertaining? It was only slightly better than watching a water drip! Why couldn't he have just been left alone? He was just getting comfortable up there, even without the heated blanket. Changing himself into different things was honestly quite relaxing A rush of experimentation and style. Trying on new forms like fine gowns. It saved him from having to be in this form all the time...Having the clothes at least, helped though. Hopefully, Thomas would be gentle on them when he-

"Oh what monstrosity have we created!" Roman jokingly laughed.

"Don't talk about my child like that! He's beautiful!"

"Ah yes, very beautiful." He chuckled more. "I can't believe the Mii maker let's you do that."

"Just gotta think outside the box!"

"Oh for sure." He huffed. "Well, save your creation then. I'll show you how to make the handsomest Mii ever."

"Bet it won't top mine. What should we name him?"

"Why not name him Virgil?"

"Uh, because it's taken by me?"

He smiled. "Well, you can give him another name if you want. Part of the point is that he's a version of you you can play on here, and so its typical to give them your name."

"Yes, but, he's become his own person now. He deserves his own special name!"

His smile softened. "Alright then....Perhaps Anton?"

"Hm, Anton... It's perfect!" He typed the name in and saved it. "Welcome to the world, Anton!"

Roman grinned. "I am certain he appreciates being made."

Virgil nodded. “Maybe…” Then he handed the controller to him. "Time to make your son now."

"Oh of course." He took the controller then went to make one. "He shall be the most princely of Miis."

"Not as princely as my son.”

He gave a mock gasp. "Only a prince of shadows. Mine shall be the prince of the sun!" Then gave him the blondest hair available.

"It's blinding!" Virgil covered his eyes.

Janus squinted at the screen. It wasn't that bright.

"Blinding like the sun! Oh...Or perhaps I should choose red like the sun..."

"Red would stand out." Virgil nodded in approval.

"Red it shall be then!" He selected that one, then went for the a classic prince haircut. "Now the question is, blue eyes or green eyes..." He tried both out. "I do love the blue with the red."

"Gee, I wonder why?" Virgil grinned and nudged him with his elbow.

"Oh, shut up." He grinned, a faint blush on his cheeks. "Not everything revolves around my love of Logan."

"Uh, Janus?" Virgil looked over. "That's your cue!"

He blinked. "He isn't lying..."

"Of course I'm not. Thank you Janus." He went on with the eyebrows. "Green's a classic for red-heads, but I also love the symbolism of blue eyes, and how they look."

"Alright, go ahead then!"

"Thank you." He passed through the other sliders, then went to height and made him as tall as he could be.

Virgil rolled his eyes. "He's gonna bump into everything."

"But he shall be princely doing so!" Though he let down the height slightly before fidgeting with the weight to make him skinny without being too skinny.

"But what is he a prince of?"

"The sun kingdom." Roman finished, then went to the final screen. "A kingdom of warmth, chivalry, and generosity, where the nobility rules with strength and fairness, corruption and cruelty being utterly abhorrent throughout the realm."

"Ah, and does he have anyone to rule at his side?"

"Not yet." Roman hummed in thought. "He'll fall though for someone stubborn and utterly nerdy, yet also caring. Someone, whether prince or an unfortunate inhabitant of another land, that he saves from those that would seek to hurt him."

"Awwww... so sweet!"

He blushed. "Shut up." Then he tried entering a name, then deleted, tried retyping, then deleting again. "Who wouldn't want to save their true love?"

"If anyone could do it, it'd be you."

He swallowed. "I hope so..." Then he shook his head and finally entered a name. "There. Welcome to the world, Philip Augustine the 3rd."

"Charmed,” Virgil bowed his head slightly.

Roman smirked, then added his name as the creator then set him into the Mii Maker. "I will have to create his future love, Martin, later." Then he glanced at Janus. "Would you care to create a child?"

"Why?"

"Well," he swallowed. "It, can be fun...And then you can use the child for any games we play that use these Miis to represent you."

"Again, why?"

"So, you have an avatar to play with for those games? Keeping a record of your scores and achievements?...If you don't want to, it's fine."

"I don't see a point."

"I can show you." Roman went to the games. OK. Which of these used Miis?

"I mean, that one is called Miitopia."

"Yes..." He picked it up, eyes lightening up. "This will work perfectly." Then he put it in.

Janus frowned and stared at the screen.

Roman sat back, looking up. "Alright. Looks like we can safely start a new game here." Then went to do so.

"Huh, this looks harmless enough."

"It does." He grinned. "I haven't played this myself, but it seems quite enticing."

"A little fantasy game, right up your alley."

"Indeed." His arms started to slightly flap. "And I get to play the hero! Ooo."

"Also fitting!"

"That it is." He chose his new son for his avatar then looked at the personality traits. "Hmm. Kind or Energetic...?"

"He's your son, so I'd say energetic."

"You know, fair." And gave him the Energetic trait then sent him on his way.

"This game is pretty cutesy."

"But that is to its advantage!" He grinned more as he continued to watch. "Especially with its nightmare plot of someone that can steal people's faces off their bodies."

"Oh right, I guess that is horrifying when you think about it."

"It just doesn't seem so terrible because of the cute." He nodded. "I can appreciate how they worked that balance." He went through the town of Greenhorne, talking with the villagers.

Janus frowned. All he saw was a mess of blobs and colors… But they seemed to be finding something on the screen interesting...Was something wrong with his eyes? That couldn't be, right? Evelyn had said nothing could be wrong with him… Or was that only what she thought? It could have something to do with the snake and non-snake eye having to work together. If he changed both to human eyes though...

But he'd seen fine before...

He, did usually...

Was something wrong with his eye? Some punishment for shifting too much? But no one else was having any problems... right? Of course none of the others had his half-snake parts...Or had spent days in a room in complete darkness only to wake up to constant flashing lights in his face… If she'd ruined his eyes...There, there had to be a way to fix this. Surely! There had to be, he couldn't be left like this! Maybe something the others could help with.But then he'd owe them... He didn't want that.. But if it was between owing them and never being able to see well ever again, owing them would have to be worth it. He was too vulnerable if he was blind. But who would he even tell? Who could he trust? Who could help? And wouldn't ask for too much...? Patton seemed like the least likely to harm him, but he also would have little power to help here. Virgil was similar in that respect. Logan would know the most on how to fix them…But for the actual 'muscle' of the fixing, he would, likely have to rely on Roman… Appease both of them then… With their, relationship, at least they would not mind sharing him between them. Whatever was necessary...

"Finally!" Roman whooped. "There you go, my dear Philip Augustine. You shall be a Warrior of Legend!"

"Mage would have been cooler."

"Oh I suppose. But the warrior gets a sword." Sounds like some sort of, battle? started up on screen.

"But magic is cooler.”

"It can be." The battle ended. "But so are swords. You can have your character be a mage if you want."

"I can and I will."

"Very well then." He chuckled. "And here I was thinking you'd go for the thief class."

"Nah, I'd rather do cool magic and stuff."

He chuckled. "Fair enough." Then he turned to Janus. "What about you? Warrior, Mage, Cleric, Thief, Cook, or Popstar?"

"I'm not playing..."

"Well, that's your choice. But if you were, which class would you choose?"

He huffed and mulled it over. They wouldn't leave him alone until he participated it seemed..."Thief"

Roman smiled. "That would suit you." Then he turned back to the game. "A cool thief. Or maybe you'd be stubborn or cautious."

"Stubborn?" Virgil suggested.

"Very likely. Though I could also see that being Logan..."

"Oh yeah, no one could take that title from him!"

"No indeed." He grinned. "Speaking of taking, seems now's the chance for Anton to take his place on stage."

"Here to save the day as usual!"

He huffed. "Yes, yes. Go ahead and make him a mage with, cautious?"

"Why not? You need someone sensible to keep you alive."

"Anton the Cautious Mage it is then." He chose the appropriate options and set him up. "Now let us see how well our sons get along."

"I'm so proud..."

"As am I." He smiled, watching as they interacted on their journey.

Janus looked towards the door. How much longer would they be?

There was no real way of knowing. He just hoped it wouldn't be too much longer now...

Chapter Text

Thomas sighed, grabbing a shopping cart. "OK. We have the list. What's our first item?"

"Depends on whether you want to get non-food items first, or whether or not you want to split the list evenly so one of us can get half of it."

"Or we can do thirds and all split up." Patton bounced on his feet.

Thomas bit his lip. "Let's just stay together for now. And yeah, do non-food items first." He started with hair products.

"Very well..." Logan studied the list and followed him. "We need shampoo, conditioner, and hair dye."

"Got it." He looked over them. "OK, there's the two color blue hair dyes." He popped those in the cart. "What kind of shampoo do you guys prefer?"

"We don't really have a preference..."

"Yeah." Patton shrugged. "Just whatever works."

"OK..." Thomas looked over. "I'll just grab the stuff I use then..."

"That should suffice," Logan crossed the items off the list.

"Great." He grabbed some bottles of that.

Patton looked over the list. "Are we grabbing toothbrushes and toothpaste next?"

"Yes, all the necessities we'll need. Roman won't have to keep making us everything now."

"Would he usually do that?" Thomas pushed the cart down.

"If we were tight on money and absolutely needed something."

"Though sometimes he'd keep wanting to do it, bless his heart." Patton shook his head. "But it did take so much out of him."

"I'm guessing he didn't take that as a good reason to not do it though." He looked through the toothbrushes. They got to have all their colors in here.

"Well... the things he created weren't always the most reliable..."

He blinked. "Really?"

"Yeah." Patton chuckled. "Or they'd just have these, weird things. Like he tried to replace a fridge that broke once, but it sounded like some troll's snore each time we opened it."

"Or we found that sometimes the thing he'd make would vanish if we were not interacting with them regularly."

"Oh. Guess that'd provide an incentive to use the stuff." He finally found their colors and picked them out.

"Yep." Patton nodded. "Though that usually happened the more less energy he had when trying to create something."

"I've theorized that he has to constantly be focusing on everything he creates in order to keep it in existence."

Thomas hummed. "That could make sense. It should all come from his imagination. So if he should stop thinking about something, it won't be powered by his imagination anymore."

"Which is why I'd rather him not do it anymore... it could harm him in the long run."

"Maybe..." He frowned. "...Do any of you have any allergies to mint?"

"Not that I'm aware of."

"So I don't need to worry about the type of toothpaste." He started putting several in.

"I'm sure we'll be fine." He crossed that off the list.

"Good." He nodded. "Anything else here?"

"Deodorant... perhaps something to help Janus in case he falls ill again..."

"Both good. Guess more soap would also be good. And, here." He grabbed some pills. "Something for illness."

"Good..." Logan crossed them off. "Can you think of anything else, Patton?"

Patton looked around. "Not around here...I can see the milk from here though."

"We should get some then.”

"I'll get it." He started rushing over there.

Thomas fondly shook his head as he started following him. "Little gets him down, does it."

"His ability to find joy in just about anything continues to astound me."

"Even in something like going to the grocery store." He smiled as he grabbed butter and eggs. "Wish I could have that type of ability."

"I thought I did once..." Logan crossed them off. "When I was first brought to life, everything around me was new, yet also familiar. I found joy in learning about these things that I had words for in my mind, yet hadn't learned what the meaning of those words meant."

He furrowed his brow, grabbing orange juice. "From a feeling of coming home? Or a feeling of discovery?"

"A bit of both... I'm curious by nature. I'm filled with the desire to learn and gain knowledge of the world around me..." he dragged his pen across the paper again. "And yet I found the more I learned about the world, the darker it became..."

He winced. "Especially with how you were brought into the world..."

"And learning that people can be cruel..."

"Yet, people can also be kind." He grabbed some cheese. "I, know that can be hard to believe, but it is true."

"Well, you are certainly proof of that."

Thomas blushed, focusing on the other produce to get. "To be fair, so are you."

"Am I?"

"Yeah." He stood up and looked at him. "You, you saw the worst that people could be. Managed to get away with your life. Some people would then be content with that and just ignore anyone else's troubles. And yet, you didn't."

"How could I? Staying wouldn't have been beneficial for either of us..." Logan continued scratching items off. "Yet, part of me still feels guilty, knowing I left her alone the way I did..."

He sadly smiled. "That also shows how good you are." He rested a hand on his shoulder. "It takes goodness to care about someone that's hurt you in the past..."

"I wish there could have been another way... but she forced my hand, so to speak." He looked at him. "And yet I wonder, in time, could I have been happy with her?"

"Not unless she changed." Thomas tightened his grip. "And even if she did, there would be the whole, power she'd continue to have over you."

"As long as she never saw me as an equal..." Logan stared at his hand, frowning.

"Being with her could never have been good or healthy for you." He swallowed, then started to relax.

Logan continued to stare at his hand, before finally looking at him. "Why is your touch different?"

He blinked. "Different how?"

"Everyone who has ever held me, well, Everyone who has been human, they all hold me as if I'm something to own. A possession of theirs, but not yours..."

He swallowed. "I should, hope mine doesn't. I don't view you that way."

"You really don't?"

He looked him in the eyes. "I really don't. And I never want to."

"I..." he looked back at the list. "Thank you..."

"No problem Lo." He sadly smiled. What I'm doing should be the rule, not the exception...

"I'm back!" Patton came over. "And I got milk, cream, and heavy whipping cream."

"Excellent," Logan focused on crossing the items off.

"Great." Thomas nodded. "Now we just need drink, meat, and produce then."

"Yes, we are making good time."

"Yeah." He pushed it on. "We should have plenty of time then to grab what we need then get lunch."

"Then be home- I mean your apartment, before dark."

His smile brightened. "Yep, way before dark." Then he looked towards the drinks on offer. "Wonder if they have the alcohol-removed wine here."

"You don't drink alcohol?"

"Never really acquired the taste for it." He scrolled down, grabbing soda. "Like, I dabble in it some given my background, but its not my go to drink. And when I need something for a skit, I tend to like to replace it with something else. Usually Gatorade."

"I see..."

He just nodded, then grabbed some sparkling cider. "Don't really see it here though...Don't really need it though until the next script that needs one."

"Hey!" Patton rushed to something. "I found the Crofters!"

"Crofters?" Logan perked up.

"Yeah." He pointed them out. "Right here."

Thomas chuckled. "Guess we could grab some more jars."

"If you can afford it..."

"I can make it work out." He shrugged. "I'm not that strapped for cash."

"Still... the others might want something..."

"We've already been getting stuff Lo." Patton grabbed his hand. "You can get something for yourself too..."

"If you are certain...."

"Yeah, we are." Thomas grinned. "Go ahead, Lo."

"If you insist..." he selected a flavor and placed it in the cart.

Thomas smiled more. "Thank you." Then started for the meat section.

Logan added it to the list, calculating their new total so far. Still under budget… So, it was alright. This was going to work.

Thomas looked around. "That looks like good hamburger..."

"Patton has expressed wanting to "cook out" before, would you be interested in making burgers one night?"

"Yeah..." He swallowed, then put it in the cart. "And the meat can be used for spaghetti next time you want to make that."

"I would like to make my own sauce... but that can wait."

"Well, we're already buying the hamburger...Would you want to do from scratch from scratch, or the canned marinara sauce?"

"No it's alright, I don't want to backtrack to get ingredients."

"Alright. Maybe next time then." He went and added in some drumsticks.

Logan hummed. "Only a few items left..."

"The healthy stuff." Patton grinned as he continued on. "Oh, and the flour and baking stuff!"

"Right." Thomas nodded, his eyes looking sadly over the fish offerings.

"I could look for produce..."

"Oh." He looked back up at him. "Yeah. I, guess I can follow Patton then."

"I'll meet with you at the checkout."

"Alright. Call if you need anything." Thomas went after Patton.

"I will." And he went on his way.

Patton looked around the aisle. "Wonderful! They have everything here!"

"Everything for what?"

"Well, for baking." He started grabbing items. "Flour, sugar, vanilla extract, baking soda, baking powder, chocolate chips!"

"You planning on making cookies?" Thomas smiled. "I haven't had those in so long..."

"Well, I do love making cookies." Patton placed them into the cart. "I also been half-wanting to try other things."

"Well I love sweets, so you won't get any complaints from me." Thomas helped him make room. "My kitchen is your kitchen."

"Thanks, Thomas." He stilled a bit, then shrugged it off, smiling. "I'll do my best to not burn the kitchen."

"Probably will have better luck than my first few cooking attempts."

Patton giggled. "Oh I'm sure they weren't that bad."

"Trust me, my neighbors have called the fire department... twice..."

He chuckled. "I only caused a fire once. Susie then made it a rule that I could only cook when she was in the house."

"Susie? Your wisher?"

"Yeah." He rubbed his neck. "She was really nice, honestly." He then grabbed some more items. "I just caused her a lot of worries..."

"Huh... so why did you leave?"

He swallowed. "Well, I was worried about Virgil..." He dropped the rest of the stuff in. "Couldn't help him by staying with her."

"You met him before, right?"

"Well, he came up by the house, half starved the poor kiddo." He sighed. "He had to run off due to WISH, and I was worried half to death for him."

"Was he really that bad?"

"He nearly died when we finally found him again." He looked away. "It took days before he woke up..."

"I'm sorry..." Thomas reached for his hand. "I can't imagine what that would have been like, not knowing if he'd ever wake up..."

Patton blinked, then grabbed it back, giving a smile. "Thankfully though, he did. And we're all the better for it."

"Yeah, he's a lot more cheerful then I thought he'd be."

"Yeah. I, honestly am not sure why either. But I'm glad he is."

"Me too... considering he was so desperate to get away..."

"Well he had every reason to. She was horrible to him."

"Has he talked to you about it?”

"A little bit..." He swallowed. "Though I think he better share what happened for himself."

"None of you really know, do you?"

"He's shared a bit with me. But not much..." He shrugged. "We honestly don't know much about each other's past."

"I feel like Logan's been pretty open about it."

"With you, and when something about her comes up, but otherwise he does try to not talk about her."

"Oh... I haven't been pushing, have I?"

"Well, I don't know. But, maybe Logan needed to be pushed."

"Maybe..." Thomas sighed. "I hope he can start relaxing..."

"We all hope so to..." Patton sighed. "Logan deserves to rest."

"And I hope you all could as well..."

"I'm sure we will. Thanks to you."

"I'll definitely do all I can, you guys deserve a safe place to just, ya know, live."

Patton swallowed, biting his lip while he smiled. "And you have so much already."

"I just hope I can do more some day..."

Patton squeezed his hand back. "You've already done so much though. Thank you."

"No problem." Thomas smiled then looked around. "Think we got everything?"

"Yeah, from here." He grinned. "Now we just need to meet Lo at the checkout!"

"Then we can grab a quick bite to eat and head home!' He pushed the cart towards the front.

"Yeah!" He glanced around for Logan. "What do you think we should have?"

"I know a really good sandwich place, it's not too far from here!"

"That does sound good! Though of course, just anything but pizza seems good right now." Patton shook his head in disgust.

"You said it..."

"Yeah." He looked at Thomas. "It would take quite a lot to not even notice all that until we started cleaning it up..."

"Sorry you had to see all that... not entirely sure how it got that bad..."

He looked at him closely. "Well, when things get busy, and a lot happens, stuff can be missed..."

"Right..." he rubbed his neck and scanned the crowd. "Do you see him?"

"Not yet..." He looked around again....

He was always fast when it came to shopping, where was he? He frowned, then started to head for the produce section.

Thomas followed closely, trying to keep calm but his mind was racing. What if WISH had found him and taken him away? Or someone else nabbed him somehow realizing he was a character? Did someone nab him without knowing he was a character?

"Lo?" Patton started to call, looking around the produce section.

"Oh sh*t!" Patton heard a crash behind him, turning around he saw a rather distressed employee standing next to a crate of apples that had burst open, leaving the fruit scattered on the floor.

Patton's eyes widened. "Oh!" Then he rushed over. "You okay?"

"Yeah, don't know what happened though!" He huffed and started gathering them up. "I turn my back for one minute to help this lady reach a bag of carrots and come back to this..."

"Here. Let me help!" He bent down and started picking them up as well.

"Me too..." Thomas ran over and gathered as much as he could.

"Thanks..." he shook his head. "Perfectly good apples... wasted..."

Patton frowned. "Yeah... We could buy them though." He looked to Thomas. "Couldn't we?"

"I mean, are you still allowed to sell these?"

"If I wanted to get fired, yeah. Health violations and whatever..." he finished picking them up, putting them back in the crate. "Thanks though."

"No, No problem." He looked at the apples again, then started on his way.

Thomas following. "Still no sign of Logan?"

"No..." Patton kept looking, lower lip wobbling.

"Hey, don't worry, I'm sure he-" Thomas looked up and sighed in relief. “See? There. I'd said he’d be waiting for us!"

"Oh, great!" He started to perk up, then hurried over.

Logan was starting to add his items to the conveyor belt. "I was wondering when the two of you would arrive."

"Well we didn't see you when we first came over here, silly." Patton grinned as he added items as well. "We went looking for you."

"Perhaps you got here before me."

"Maybe..." Then he started to slump. "Poor apples..."

"I'm sure they'll be fine."

"But, he's just going to throw them away. Perfectly good apples, that just ended up on the floor through no fault of their own."

"It's policy..."

"Policy's stupid." He placed another item on the belt. "They just need a clean up and they'd be right as rain. Why can't they be given another chance?"

"They're just apples, Patton." Logan snapped. “They will be fine.”

Patton flinched, eyes falling to the belt.

"Hey." Thomas rested a hand on Lo's shoulder. "There's no need for that."

"He's being ridiculous." Logan shrugged his hand off, watching their total rise.

Thomas frowned. "What's ridiculous for you isn't ridiculous to him."

"There's no need to get worked up over something so trivial!"

Patton bit down, fighting a sniffle as he continued to put stuff on the conveyor belt.

Thomas looked warily around the people nearby. "Then why are you?"

"I'm not!"

He sighed. "Then why are you yelling?"

"I'm not-" He stopped, finally feeling all the eyes on him.

Thomas swallowed. "Yeah..." Then looked to the cashier. "Sorry about that. It's, been a Long day."

"I can tell..." She glanced at Logan warily as she scanned their items.

Thomas winced. That could be bad...Then he grabbed for his wallet and pulled out his card.

Patton looked up to see the faces too, then moved nervously closer to Logan, eyes still watery.

Logan turned to him and held his hand. "I'm sorry..."

"It's, it's okay." He looked up at him, rubbing the tears out of his eyes as he chuckled. "Just, me being a dumb again."

"No... Patton... You're not being dumb, I should have stayed silent..."

"No, I should have..." He swallowed, then put on a grin. "Let's get everything put back in the cart and head for home."

"Patton... You're allowed to be upset…”

He moved over to the end of the line, putting the bags into the cart.

"I-I was in the wrong... you can be cross at me…”

He swallowed. "Let's just get to the car."

Logan flinched and hung his head.

Thomas finished paying, then rested a hand on Logan's shoulder. "That doesn't sound like that bad an idea."

"Very well..."

"Alright." Patton looked to the cashier. "Thank you."

"Have a nice day..."

He made a smile. "You too!" Then pushed the cart on.

Thomas followed behind with Logan, continuing to hold him on the shoulder. He was so tense. What’d happened? Like, yeah, maybe he was just berating himself for the whole outburst. But it could also be something else. A barrel of apples didn't explode for no reason...

They got to the car and started loading up the groceries. Patton stayed utterly silent, refusing to look either of them in the eyes. Logan hung his head, absolutely dejected... He'd caused this… Why hadn't he kept his mouth shut? Why hadn't he held his temper?!

Thomas sighed, getting the last bag in. "Okay. You two, get into the car. I'll be back after I put this away."

Logan got in the front, shutting the door and buckling in.

Patton swallowed as he slid in the back then buckled in as well. "I...really am sorry, Lo."

"You're not the one who should be apologizing..."

"But you were right." He hugged himself, looking firmly to the ground. "It was a stupid thing to be upset about. I shouldn't have made you upset."

"It wasn't you who upset me..."

He looked up. "Huh?"

"I saw something in the store..."

He tilted his head. "What?"

He reached into his pocket, pulling out a crumpled piece of paper then handing it to him.

Patton frowned, opening it up. Then his eyes widened. On the paper was not only his face, but the faces of the others printed on there. Information of their last known whereabouts and how to contact WISH if they were spotted were printed on the top of the paper and under each of their pictures were short descriptions, Virgil being branded as dangerous...

He paled. "Oh..."

Logan hung his head. "People were looking at it, some fans of Thomas apparently... They knew about us…”

"Were they-?" He looked up at him. "Did they suspect?"

"No... but they were just like... They didn't even question why we'd run away. They just thought it was amazing that we were real! They wanted versions of us for themselves!"

His eyes widened more. "Oh." He grabbed Logan's shoulder. "Oh, Lo!"

"And they laughed! They laughed when they saw Virgil was labeled dangerous! Do they not understand that he will be killed if he's found?!"

He swallowed, squeezing his hand. "They may not...Susie didn't realize that until she was told."

“Even the ones that supposedly love us see us as nothing more than play things..."

He winced. "Yeah...Just like our Wishers..."

"They're all the same…”

He shook his head. "Not all..."

"I suppose one is different..."

Thomas glanced in from behind Logan's back, trying to judge the situation. Looked like they were in the reconciliation phrase. Couldn’t interrupt that.

Patton smiled. "And if there's one, there might be others."

"Perhaps...."

He squeezed his hands. "If we can't believe that, then there's no point in hoping our Wishers can change. Or that things can get better..." He sighed, then straightened up. "Hope at least gives us a reason to keep on, doesn't it?"

"If you have any…”

His eyes became stern. "I have any because of you."

"Because of me?"

"Yeah." He met his eyes. "Before you came, I didn't...I didn't really see a point in even continuing to live. I was, some, some non-real Pinocchio that thought he was a real boy, but actually wasn't. Instead, I was just something fake, made to be a friend for a sweet but lonely old woman." He then looked away, sadly chuckling. "And who somehow even failed at that..."

"Then I failed my purpose too…”

He looked back at him. "You were born to be Logan though. And you certainly don't fail at that..." He swallowed. "You were the one to teach me that it was alright to want things, because I was and always was real. You taught me, that we didn't need to only follow the purposes of our Wishers, but be who we want to be."

"While not even knowing what I want to be myself…”

"To be honest, I still don't know either." He brushed back his hair. "But we can find out together, long as we don't give up."

"You are willing to give me another chance?"

Patton smiled. "Of course I am, Lo."

"Then I am willing to try. Again, I apologize for my behavior..."

"I forgive ya, Lo. Though really, you had every reason to be upset too."

"I shouldn't have taken that out on you…”

"I was being silly over the apples though." He sighed. "It just felt, wasteful and wrong and...Got me thinking about Virge a bit."

Logan blinked. "How do apples relate to Virgil?”

"Just, they were being thrown away without even being given a chance...Much like, how WISH is set on killing Virgil, not giving him a chance."

"And it isn't fair that the apples were stored in a faulty crate..."

"Nor that no one else was even allowed to take them." He sighed. "We tried to buy the apples, but it was against the rules."

"Because they deem it a safety hazard, not accounting for the fact that we could bring the apples home and wash them..."

"And cut out any bruises." He gulped. "They could, they could have at least made a good apple pie..."

"Something to be enjoyed…”

"Bringing goodness to life after something bad happened..." Tears started building up in his eyes. "Things, things and people don't deserve to be thrown away for things outside their control..."

"Not at all." Logan held his hand. "And I will fight against that for as long as I live.”

He swallowed, gripping his hand back. "As will I. Much as I can."

"Perhaps one day, you could teach me to bake apple pie?"

He chuckled, his smile reaching his eyes. "Maybe one day soon."

"I would appreciate that."

"And I'd be happy to share. What are friends for?"

"Until I met you, I didn't know.”

He tilted his head, then grinned. "Roman didn't also teach you?"

"He certainly taught me some things..." Logan frowned and felt his face. "Why am I warm?"

Patton smirked. "Because you love him~"

"I... no..." Logan turned away, but Patton noticed it wasn't due to embarrassment. "It can't be like that..."

He frowned. "Why not?"

"Because of how I was made... I cannot fall in love with him..."

He blinked. "But you are. You feel just like how those cute couples do that would come in for service."

"I- how do you know what I'm feeling?”

"I just, do?" He hunched in. "Is that weird?"

"No it's just... did you feel anything when I danced with Roman?"

"Yeah. You both were so much in love." He smiled. "It started out playful, then there was that awakening, mixed in with some confusion and shock and how you both didn't really know what to do, but Roman was solely focused on you."

"But... why? Why me?" Logan gripped his head. "And how could I love him? I'm not supposed to!"

Patton frowned, then gripped his hand. "Hey, it's okay Lo. It's alright...Love isn't a math question."

"But she made me straight! She changed me so I would fall in love with her!"

He paused, then took off his seatbelt and moved closer. "No one can make anyone fall in love with them. It either happens or it doesn't. The heart..." He rested a hand where Logan's would be. "Is not something that likes to be controlled."

"But she... It was the only reason she brought me to life! Without it I'm- I'm obsolete!" Logan looked down at Patton's hand, shaking. "Am I...?"

"No." He shook his head. "You're just even more of a Logan than she meant for you to be..."

"Does that mean... a relationship with Roman is possible? My feelings could be real?"

"It does." He looked into his eyes. "Your feelings are real, Lo. It's now up to you if you want to pursue them."

"I... I believe I do..." Logan blinked and looked down. "But there are so many uncertainties..."

"There always are. We just push on anyway."

"But he deserves the best life... He's been hurt so much, more than he will admit."

Patton smiled more. "Who says you aren't the best?"

"I couldn't be..."

"Why not? You're not a Wisher."

"But I'm also just... I don't even know."

"Look, you want this, right?"

"I suppose I do..."

"If you don't know, you don't need to force yourself."

"I know I want our relationship to be better now as friends, and that I want to allow him time to heal "

"Both are good reasons. Just make sure Roman knows that."

"Then I will..."

"Great." Then he looked over. "We probably should let Thomas in...."

"What? How long has he been waiting?!”

"For a few minutes..."

"Oh, I'm sorry!" Logan quickly unlocked the door.

"All good." Thomas smiled as he climbed in. "Didn't want to get in the way of your talk."

"Still, we just left you outside. "

"It's alright." Thomas closed the door and buckled in. "Better I wait, then you guys not get a chance to make up. Which, you two did?"

"Yes; I believe we did." Logan smiled at Patton.

Patton smiled back. "Yeah we did!" Then squeezed his hand.

"Great." Thomas smiled, then turned on the ignition. "Let's celebrate with sandwiches then."

"Sandwiches do sound nice…”

"They sure do!" Patton sat back, buckling in.

Thomas grinned. "Go ahead and get everyone's orders then, Lo."

"Of course, let me call Roman." He pulled out the phone he'd been given, seeing that Roman had literally put a "Call Roman" button on it. Smiling to himself he pressed it and waited.

The phone rang, then quickly was picked up. "Hello?"

"Hello, it's Logan. Is everything alright there?"

"Yes, it's been pretty peaceful hands-On come on!"

"Are you well...?”

"I'm well. Philip Augustine the 3rd just got poisoned."

"I'm sorry, who?"

"Oh, he's my Mii son on the switch. I'm playing this game called Miitopia with him and Virgil's son. Can't wait for you to see them!"

"I see.... Well, I called because we were going to bring home sandwiches and needed to know what the three of you would like."

"Oh, chicken and mayonnaise for me. Or actually...Corned Beef and mayonnaise if that's an option. What about you, Virge?"

"Uh, I like turkey and cheese?"

"Okay. Emo wants turkey and cheese. What about you, sn-Janus?"

"I don't care."

"Right...Better do normal chicken and mayonnaise for him then."

"Alright, we will return shortly."

"Fantastic! We'll be here waiting, and hungry."

"I'll let you know when we're pulling up so you can help us bring in the groceries. The sooner we put them away, the sooner we can eat."

"Alright! You got everything?"

"We did, and had enough for a few extra things "

"Oh good! Did you get the caviar?"

"I did.”

"What? I was joking!"

"Oh, you were?"

"...You're joking, right?"

“I am not…”

"Oh gosh! I was joking! Caviar's expensive! I didn't think you'd actually-!”

"But it's what you wanted..."

"I didn't actually want it. Caviar's disgusting!" Roman's breath grew rapid. "Oh gosh."

"Oh I... I apologize…I'll throw it out..."

"No, wait!" Roman called through the phone. "I'll eat it! I'm sorry!"

"No you don't have to, you don't..."

"No, no I'll eat it!" Roman sighed. "Thank you. You, really didn't have to buy something like that for me."

"Roman, I won't force you..."

"No really. I asked for it. I'll eat it. Just, thanks Lo. You, really didn't need to spend that much on me."

"But you said it was gross!"

"It's, a real acquired taste. Maybe you'll like it, but I'll eat it if no one else does "

"But you don't have to!"

"I don't want the fact you actually bought it to go to waste. I...Much did that even cost? 50 bucks?"

"I had extra money saved..."

"And you, wasted that on me like that?!"

"That wasn't my intent..."

Patton shook his head, setting a hand on his shoulder. "He means he's surprised that you paid that much for him at all."

Thomas looked back. "We could try to return it for a refund."

"We could... It hasn't been opened..."

He could hear Roman swallow on the other side of the line. "I'm, sorry Lo. I, shouldn't have ever made a dumb joke like that. I, I really do appreciate the thought of it, thank you."

"No, I should have known it was a joke..."

"No. I, I just never thought you'd pay that much for me. I was making it a joke, because we always had something better to need money for than one of my, frivolous eccentricities."

"But you had to give up so much, I wanted to give something back..."

"I gained so much more just from being with you."He sighed. "There, are some minor things that I miss from that time. Stuff not worth bothering with. But, it all pales in comparison to the life you've given me. I could never repay or truly ask more of you than that."

"I..." Logan felt his face turning red. "I'm glad but... you still deserve some things to make you happy.. "

"I don't need much to make me happy. You deserve it far more...Just, refund it and treat yourself, please. I, I really couldn't ask you to buy something that pricey, especially something meant to be eaten."

"Okay I'll return it... but I don't regret wanting to buy you a gift..."

He paused. "...Buy me a milkshake then? On your way back?"

"What kind?"

"Chocolate. I, I know it's not healthy..."

"What size would you like?"

"...Lar-...Any size you choose is alright to me!"

"Very well. I will bring you one."

"Thanks Lo. And, sorry for the caviar thing..."

"No apology is necessary."

"But it is. You...You really went out of your way there for me..."

"I wanted to make you happy "

"You already do Lo...When you get back, we can make your son in this game. I really want to see how well he gets along with mine."

"I'm still not sure what you mean, but I would enjoy spending time with you."

"As would I, mi-Specs...See you when you get back."

"I will see you then."

"See you. Bye."

"Farewell." He hung up.

Thomas had already turned around. "You okay?"

"I feel rather foolish..."

Thomas softly chuckled. "No, you, you were trying to do something nice. Sounds like Roman just never thought you'd be able to afford something that nice."

"It helps that we haven't had to pay for a hotel... I had put money aside just in case we couldn't stay with you..."

Thomas swallowed. "So since he's probably done that joke before, and you finally had the money..."

"I thought it'd make him happy…”

"It sounds like it did, in a way." Patton rested a hand on Logan's shoulder. "It really isn't your fault, Lo. He, doesn't outright say what he likes often..."

"No, but I should have been able to tell that it was a joke..."

"It can be hard to tell when he's joking and when he's not..."

Thomas frowned. "Might also be because you wouldn't agree with the punchline..."

"The punchline?"

He turned back into the parking lot. "He didn't mean waste money like you had wasted money. More, that buying anything just for him, especially something like caviar, was a waste..."

"What? Why would that be?"

He shrugged, looking ahead. "Just that when people have low self-worth, they get to thinking that they need to earn anything that could make them happy somehow, or justify the purpose of getting it for some other reason than just their own enjoyment. With what little I know, I wouldn't be surprised if he didn't have the greatest self-esteem."

"I... I hadn't even considered the possibility..."

"You guys were on the run." He parked the car. "You had other stuff to worry about." Then he turned off the car and turned. "Now that you're in one place, I hope you all have the chance to heal."

"I hope so as well..."

"Great...I can head on in and get the refund."

"Or I could."

"Maybe...But we did use my credit card."

"Still...."

"Hey, it's okay. I can handle this. Besides...Might, be best for you and Patton to wait here in case that cashier is still there..."

"If you insist..."

"Thanks. Be right back." Then he got out and headed to the trunk, shaking his head. Caviar… Poor Logan, just trying his best. Not his fault he couldn't understand that Roman never even thought he'd actually buy it. He popped the lid open then looked around inside. Just where would that be...Ah ha! "Found it!"

"That's good..."

He jolted. "Oh, hey Lo." He scrambled back upright. "What're you doing out?"

"Just came to help if you needed it..."

"Well, I found it." He got out the caviar. "If, you want to try going in with me, you're free to do so..."

"I won't leave Patton..."

"Alright." He closed the lid. "I'll be back as soon as I can." Then he handed him the key. "Don't let anyone not me into the car, okay?"

"Of course."

"Good. See you soon." Then he headed on back into the store.

Logan sighed and got back in the car

Patton sat up as he came in. "You okay?"

"I'm well..."

He tilted his head. "Your face's still red..."

"Is it?”

He softly smiled. "It's alright to still be embarrassed..."

"I'm not... am I?"

Patton frowned, focusing in. "...Only somewhat." He swallowed. "Mostly, you feel bad because of how upset Roman was."

"I hadn't realized he was joking..."

"Hey, it's okay." He rested a hand on Logan's shoulder. "Roman is not very upfront about a lot of things."

"I felt bad for all the times I had to deny him something he wanted..."

He hummed. "And now you don't know how many of those times were him joking or not..."

"No…”

"That doesn't upset you?"

"It does a little..."

"Which is okay. It, can hurt to be lied to. Even when it wasn't meant to be a lie..."

"I don't blame him..."

He looked at him carefully. "You blame yourself."

"Yes…”

He frowned. "It's not really your fault though."

"I'm aware to an extent..."

"But that doesn't stop the feeling of it." He squeezed his shoulder.

"I just want to understand him..."

"Well, that would be something you work on with Roman...But I think I know some ways to tell when he actually really wants something."

"Really?”

"Yeah. He either actually fights for it, or if he can't even bring himself to ask, he looks longingly at it."

"I noticed..."

"He tries to not be obvious but it can be." He half chuckled. "The confusing one's though are when he either asks why would he want something like that, or the times he jokes, but then also looks longingly at it."

"Yes, it's hard to understand..."

"I mostly can tell because there's a difference in his emotions when he's joking and when he actually wants something."

"I don't have that ability..."

"I know. That's why it's easier for me. Just, try to learn the tells, and if you're not sure, you can either ask me, or try to ask him. He'll likely need to be coaxed to tell the truth. But you could ask him."

"I will. I hope he would be honest with me.”

"If he isn't, he usually can coax him into being so."

"I don't know why he would want to lie to me about the things he wants..."

Patton hummed. "It might not be about you."

"No?”

"He was with his Wisher before you..."

"That is true..."

"So, maybe his behavior also has something to do with his time with her."

"Which would make sense..."

"You just gotta figure out a way to ask him to find out."

"I would try a direct approach.”

"Which isn't a bad idea. Just, be direct but gentle..."

"Of course, I wouldn't want to upset him."

"Well, he might get upset either way. Be ready for that." Patton pushed up his glasses. "Gentle at least means it's less likely to feel like an attack."

"You're right..."

"But, since he does like you, it shouldn't be too bad!" Patton tried to grin.

"I would hope so..."

Thomas knocked on the door, waving through the window.

Logan looked up and unlocked it.

"Thanks." Thomas slid in. "Got it refunded, with only some hassle. Here's some of the cash back." He handed him some twenties.

"Oh, you could keep it."

"No, you can have it." He handed it over. "Just in case."

"Very well..." he accepted the money and put it back into an envelope.

"Thanks." He closed the door, then put the key in the engine. "So, off for sandwiches?"

"Yes, that should be our next course of action."

"Alright." He turned over the engine, then started off. "Any other stops you want to make?"

"Not for me.”

Thomas tilted his head. "Then for someone else...?"

"Roman did request a large, chocolate milkshake."

Thomas smiled. "I know where to get a good one." Then drove out of the parking lot.

Chapter Text

Back at home, Roman still held his head in his hands. "I can't believe it. I can't believe it!"

"Roman, it's okay, they said they could return it!" Virgil rubbed his back.

"But still!" He buried his head in his hands, shaking. "I never meant him to spend that much money of me! It, it was only a joke..."

"Well, he thought it was something you wanted. But it's okay! No need need get upset."

"Do you know how expensive caviar is?!" He shuddered. "Why would, There's no way he actually meant to spend that much on..."

"I think he did..."

He finally looked up at Virgil, eyes frantic. "But, why? Money's tight. I'm-It's a stupid thing to waste money on."

"You know he wouldn't have done it if we didn't have the funds..."

"But there's so many better things we can use it for." He shook. "New clothes. Food that everyone would eat. A hotel if we ever have to leave..."

"Roman, it'll be okay." Virgil hugged him. "No one's mad. I'm not mad; Logan isn't mad, no one is angry.”

He shuddered, leaning into the contact. "But, he, he wasted so much money...For a joke. I, I never thought he'd do that..."

"I mean, he might if he liked you a lot..."

Roman paused. "Some, sort of courting gift then?"

"Maybe?”

"...And I told him that I didn't like it." He shook. "I should have just not told him and eaten it!"

"Then how do you think he would have felt?"

"That I was appreciating his gift. He'd be pleased."

"If he found out you were forcing yourself to eat something you hated?"

He swallowed. "I'd, at least not be ungrateful..."

"But you're not!"

"But I was! I told him I didn't like what he spent so much to get me!"

"But you're not ungrateful! You always make sure to tell Logan how thankful you are for what he does! And you're always willing to help him out!"

"He never spent that much on me before!" He looked away, drawing from Virgil. "I need to make up for this..."

"Why?”

"Because I put him through so much trouble." His arms trembled. "What to do, what to do?"

"It wasn't trouble!”

"Yes it was! They had to get a refund for it!"

"So no money was lost! And they were still at the store! No harm done!"

"But..." He shook more. "But..."

"Roman, it's okay..." Virgil held his hand. "You're safe, no one is going to hurt you or be mad..."

He looked back at him. "You're, sure Lo won't be upset?"

"Positive."

He took deeper breaths. "Okay...Alright..."

"It's okay," Virgil smiled. "You're okay."

"It's, it's alright..."

"Yeah; everything's alright."

The front door loosened, then opened up. "We're back!"

"Thank goodness..." Janus muttered.

"Hey guys!" Virgil stood. "Need help bringing stuff in?"

"We probably could, kiddo." Patton came through the door.

"Then allow me to assist!" Roman bounded to his feet and hurried over.

"Me too," Virgil followed behind him, remembering to shift. "Roman! Disguises!"

"Oh, Right!" His hair grew gold and wavy as his eyes became a dark effervescent blue, then he continued on out to the car.
r.
Bumping right into Logan as he was carrying in groceries.

Roman startled, instinctually grabbing the groceries so they didn't fall. "Oh, my apologies."

"It's alright..." Logan went to help but couldn't take his eyes off of him.

Roman swallowed. "I...Thanks for-Sorry about the whole, thing with the caviar..."

"No apologies are necessary, as I said before...." Logan blinked. Why couldn't he stop looking at his eyes? They weren't even his normal chocolate brown. Though, he couldn't help but notice that they were his color...

"I, I know. But...You..." He swallowed more, face half turning, half stuck. "How were you able to even afford it?"

"I had some money saved, but Thomas got it back. Oh! Your milkshake!"

His eyes widened. "You actually got me one...?"

"Of course I did! It's in the car, large chocolate is what you wanted, right?"

"Ri, right..." He beamed, then hugged him close. "Thank you, mi corazon!"

Logan blinked. "W-What...?"

He then stilled, and pulled back. "Was that too much? I'm so sorry. I didn't intend to overstep-."

"What does that mean?"

"...Mi corazon? It's, Spanish for...my heart..." He looked down. "I'm sorry. I, it just popped out. I won't say it again if you don't want..."

"No it's alright," he adjusted his hold on the groceries, "I don't mind."

He sighed in relief. "That's, splendid." He looked up at Logan. "So I still get the milkshake then...?"

"Why wouldn't you? Though I would get it before it melts..."

He brightened again. "Thanks!" Then rushed to the car and grabbed it, taking in a nice, deep sip.

"Is it good?"

"Good?!" He turned to him. "It's delicious! Pure ambrosia from the gods!"

"I'm glad you like it," Logan smiled, "I hope your sandwich is just as good."

Roman smiled back, surprisingly shy. "I am quite sure it will be...Though first, it would unprincely of me to not help with the groceries." He took as many bags as he could with one arm while taking another sip.

"I appreciate it." Logan then made his way inside, Roman quickly coming in as well.

Thomas laid out the bags on the counter with a heave, taking a deep breath.

"Need help?" Janus asked from behind.

"Woah!" Thomas jolted, then he took a deep breath. "Hey, Janus...If you want to..."

"I do, just tell me where to put things."

"We-well...Milk and eggs go in the fridge..."

"Alright." He picked them up and headed to the fridge.

Thomas biting his lip and looking back at the bag. How was he able to just, appear?...Were they able to rise up? Shaking his head, he put away the flour and sugar. At least he was up and hanging around. Not just laying in bed.

"So uh..." He grabbed the baking soda as the others made trips from the car, Roman's straw slurping up his treat. "How're you doing?" He glanced over at Janus.

"I'm hungry "

He smiled. "Good. We got the sandwiches...We can get the stuff put away then eat."

"Very well."

"Great." He grabbed more stuff. "Well, guess you guys can take the bathroom stuff upstairs later." He put those in one bag.

"Think this is the last of it." Virgil set more bags on the table.

"That it is!" Patton put down a bag.

"Great!" Thomas turned. "Just gotta put those away then lunch time!"

"I can take the bathroom items upstairs." Logan shifted back to normal and gathered up the items.

"That can be done later." Thomas waved him off.

Roman closed and locked the door behind them.

"It won't be a problem. Besides, I'll enjoy my meal more knowing I won't have to to it after.”

He shrugged. "Suit yourself."

Logan took everything upstairs, meanwhile Virgil began inspecting the bag of sandwiches that had been brought in.

Thomas smiled. "Looking tasty?"

"Yeah, I'm starving!"

He chuckled. "Well, Lo shouldn't be too long coming down. Why don't you go ahead and hand out the sandwiches?"

"Okay!" He started digging in the bag, pulling out sandwiches as he went.

Roman and Patton made their way towards him and looked for theirs.

"Let's see... This is yours, Roman..." He handed him a sandwich.

"Ah." Roman grabbed it, grinning. "They did have corned beef."

"Yep!" Patton smiled. "Then here's yours, Virgil."

"Thanks!" He snatched it and ran off to go eat it.

Patton chuckled, shaking his head. Then he grabbed another one. "Here's yours, Janus."

He took it, but didn't sit down to eat. Instead, his eyes fixed on Thomas.

Thomas grabbed his own sandwich, glanced at Janus, then made his way over by Virgil and Roman, Janus following behind him.

Logan came downstairs, smiling. "I see everyone is settled."

"Indeed." Roman smiled back.

"And soon you'll be too." Patton handed him a sandwich. "Here's yours!"

"Thank you, Patton." He took it before joining the others.

Roman gestured to the seat by him. "So, how was the store?"

"Mostly uneventful..." he sat down and unwrapped his sandwich.

"That's good." Roman nodded as he got his sandwich out. "It was mostly uneventful here too...Though we have everything set up for you to create your Mii son."

"You did mention that on the phone..."

"I made one too!" Virgil grinned, sitting on the back of the couch.

Roman smiled. "Indeed." Then turned on the screen. "His is Anton, the most emo cautious mage you'll ever see."

"Oh my..." Logan's eyes widened. "I can certainly see the resemblance."

He grinned. "Undoubtedly. Then this is my son." He brought up Philip. "The energetic warrior."

"Oh they're adorable!" Patton squealed.

"They look like blobs..." Janus muttered.

Thomas looked at him, frowning. "They, don't?"

"They do."

"They're not." Patton looked over. "They're like little people."

Thomas hummed, then raised up three fingers. "How many fingers do I have up?"

Janus looked over. "Why do you ask?"

"Just checking something. How many fingers?"

He narrowed his eyes. "Four...?"

Thomas's brow furrowed.

Roman raised an eyebrow. "He has three up though..."

"He doesn't..." Janus quickly turned away. And here he was hoping maybe it was just the game that looked weird...

Thomas frowned. "No, I did...Do you need glasses?"

"No! I don't!"

"Aw, kiddo." Patton nudged closer. "There's no shame in wearing glasses."

"I don't need them!" He moved away. "I'm fine!"

Thomas swallowed, glancing towards Logan.

"Janus... We only want to help..."

"I don't need it!"

"Would you like it?"

"No!"

He swallowed. "...We're not going to hurt you. You know that, right?"

"How can I?!"

"Didn't you say you could tell when someone lies?" Virgil asked.

Thomas looked into his eyes. "Was I lying?"

Janus shook. "No..."

"Then you can know I mean it." He rested a hand on his shoulder. "Please let us help?"

"What would you do?"

Thomas hummed. "Well, we'd probably try to figure out what's going on with your eyes...Then we'd see what we can do about it. If you need glasses, we could try to go to an optician..."

"That's too risky," Logan pointed out. "They could discover what he was. And WISH has clinics superficial for treating characters, even if you claimed him as yours you'd be sent there and they'd be able to prove he wasn't.”

Thomas winced. "Well then, what can we do for him here?"

"I could probably make any equipment needed." Roman pointed out. "I would only need to learn what to make."

"And I could research how to use it and test him. Then I could find out what prescription he would need and we could purchase the glasses, or contacts if he would prefer those."

Thomas nodded. "Sounds good. Go ahead and use my laptop."

"Oh, I can summon Logan's." Roman snapped his fingers.

"I could have gotten it for you..."

Roman shrugged. "It's easier this way." Then handed it to Logan, taking another sip of the milkshake.

"Alright then, I'll begin searching for what we would need." He started typing away.

Patton looked at him. "Anything I can do?"

"Not at the moment."

"You could make your son," Virgil offered him a controller.

"Ooh." He brightened up, taking the controller. "I'll make someone precious."

"We're needing a 3rd party member anyway."

"I'll make him right away then." He went through the options. "There's so many things..."

"Yeah, there's really no limit."

"I could give him cat ears then?!"

"Uh, yeah?"

"Really?! How?!"

"Here, like this." Virgil took the controller and got to work.

Patton watched with rapt interest. "That's so cool!"

"Yup! There you go!" He handed the controller back.

"Thanks kiddo!" Then he took it back. "Okay. They can be gray cat ears. Then...oh that hair's cute." He chose one of the curlier options, having the forehead hair pointing right.

"Definitely looks like your son."

"I should gosh darn hope he does." He gave him light brown hair then round, gray eyes. "One of the cutest ones in the world! Other than you, kiddo."

"Aw; thanks pops."

He smiled. "No problem, Virgil." Then he lightly ruffled his hair. "Now. Should his name be Patton Jr., or Sam, or...?"

"Patswell?" Virgil suggested.

"That's perfect!" Patton grinned. "Welcome to the world, Patswell!"

"Interesting name..." Logan mused.

"Because he's an interesting guy!" He looked to the screen. "So, I now pick a character trait?"

"Yup! Then you'll pick a job "

"OK! Any ideas?"

"Kind would suit you..." Roman responded.

"Oh? Not airheaded?" Patton chuckled.

"We can all be a little airheaded." Virgil grinned.

"Then let's embrace it." And Pattswell became an airhead. "Oh, I can also choose a job!"

"Yup!"

"Great! Ooh. Can I be a cook? That looks fun."

"Why not? It suits you!"

"Great! Oh, he gets a chef hat and apron!"

Roman smirked. "Perfect for the adorable cat-eared son he is."

"We now have a cat chef!"

"That we do." Roman smiled as they watched Patswell be introduced to the party. "Then next we shall have a professor!"

"A professor?" Logan looked up.

"Well." He looked at Lo. "Depending on what you want your son to be...After you're done with your research."

"How is that going by the way?" Thomas asked.

"I'm almost finished, and I believe I've found two possible options."

"Oh good. What options?"

"Both would involve Roman creating equipment for me to test Janus's eyes of course. The first option would involve Janus getting a prescription so we could purchase glasses or contacts for him. The other would involve laser eye surgery, it should hypothetically fix his eyes permanently and he wouldn't be required to wear glasses."

Thomas's brow furrowed. "But that would require you to know how to do laser eye surgery..."

"Oh, Lo could learn it." Roman piped up. "Though why and how would you buy the prescription when we wouldn't have one?"

"That is the purpose of the eye exam. I will learn how prescriptions are determined, and will create one for him."

"But would anyone accept it? You're not a registered doctor."

"You can purchase glasses online. As long as you have your prescription, a doctor isn't necessary."

"We could at least try that." Thomas pointed out.

"But, I could make the glasses too..."

"Yes, but as we've seen before the things you create don't always last..."

He winced. "But maybe it would this time." He took another sip, eyes bright. "I feel more lively today."

"I don't think your health has anything to do with it..."

"No offense, Ro. But they'd have more of an idea what they're doing." Thomas sighed. "You can help Lo with the eye exam, then we'll order the contacts or glasses, whichever Janus prefers."

Roman simply sat back. "As you wish."

"Your help would be appreciated," Logan added. "Of course, the choice is up to Janus."

Thomas glanced over to Janus. "Well, what do you think? Would this way be alright?"

Janus frowned. "What if it doesn't work?"

"Then...We could try the laser idea or something else...Were your eyes always bad?"

"No..."

"Then, they maybe could get better over time...We may as well try glasses."

"I don't know..."

"...Then at least think about it." He took a bite of his sandwich. "You don't need to decide today."

"Of course not, I'm simply beginning my research."

"All you have to do today then is think about it, and relax."

"While Logan prepares to make his son." Then Roman's eyes widened. "The Great Sage...?"

"The who?" Virgil looked up.

"A new character for this story. Hmm..." Roman pursed his lips. "Who should be the dragon witch's mortal enemy besides us?"

"Uh, why not Thomas?"

Thomas sputtered. "What?"

"Why not?" Roman grinned. "It would certainly fit."

"But I'm, not really great sage material..."

"But you're a hero, in a way." Virgil pointed out.

"Yes, housing us, clothing us."

"You guys help in that though." Thomas swallowed. "I just, I haven't played this game all the way yet...But I think there's a chance to have even more party members after Logan's character. And I'd, like to be part of the party. Not some distant power guy."

"Oh, really?"

"If, you guys don't mind..."

"I wouldn't..." Roman looked to Virgil.

"Why not? We can put someone else there!"

"Very true." Roman hummed. "But who...?"

"...What about Joan?" Thomas finally let out. "They, would be good for the role."

"Oh, one of your friends?"

"They were in the Making Some Changes episode." Logan reminded him.

"Yeah." Thomas took the remote. "I still have their Mii on here. Really, they're as much responsible for you guys existing as I am."

"He's the friend I told you about earlier." Roman whispered to Virgil.

"Ohh..."

"Cool." Patton grinned. "Can we meet them too?"

"Well..." Thomas winced. "We'd have to go all the way to Vermont for that..." He selected Joan for the sage then watched as he stood up to the Dark Lord Dragon Witch. (Suspiciously having Rosa's eye color...).

"Oh." Patton responded. "That, wouldn't be an easy distance to visit, would it."

"And it could be risky to involve them..." Logan added.

Thomas's brow furrowed. "That it would be. Though...I don't think they'd mind meeting you when they could..."

"If that ever becomes a possibility..."

"Yeah. If it ever does..." He handed the control back to Virgil and Roman.

"On with the quest then..." Virgil continued to play.

"Yes." Roman leaned forward. "And onto adding Logan's son! After a trek through the forest."

"Where and how am I getting a son?" Logan asked.

"You'll see..." They played through a stage.

Roman smirked. "Ah. Philip and Anton are gushing over Joan."

"Isn't that adorable?" Virgil grinned.

"It is!" Patton grinned. "They're being so gosh darn cute about it too!"

"This game is sickeningly sweet, I can't believe I like it."

Roman chuckled. "Guess your soul really isn't as black as a dark cup of coffee."

"Guess not, and I'm kinda glad."

"I'm glad too, kiddo." Patton leaned up by him. "If you were just dark and mean, it'd be tough being around you..."

"It's almost like she expected me to be that way sometimes, but also saw me as helpless..."

Patton frowned, resting a hand on his shoulder. "That's on her. Not on you..."

"It just makes me wonder exactly how she made me..."

"That's only for her to know..." Thomas sighed. "I, do have some ideas of where how she saw you came from..."

"Really?" He looked over.

He nodded. "So, you know on the show, you're a bit of a sarcastic emo that's, not afraid to pull punches if you think they're warranted."

"Um, yeah?"

"However, you also represent my anxiety, and were depressed enough to try to duck out within the show. So...A lot of fans try to bury your, more jerkish traits to make you into a poor anxious cinnamon roll that they relate with, who was abused and isolated by the others in the past and so now is finally getting his chance to have a Cinderella-like fairy tale happen to him where he gets a loving family."

"So... Cara tried to make me into both?"

"In a way...She, maybe was going for you having an attitude like you had come from a bad environment, so she could then love you and then you would be soft and gentle with her while she also helped calm your fears."

"Well she did a shit job at that." He growled.

He winced as Patton hugged Virgil closer. "It's only a maybe. Doesn't mean that it was, or that she was good at what she was trying to do..."

"It's alright though." Patton rubbed circles on his back. "Virge is never going back to her again..."

"She doesn't even want me back! She wants me dead!"

"They're not getting you back either." He hugged him closer. "I promise."

"Right..." Virgil looked down, not returning the hug.

Logan frowned, glancing from him to Thomas, then getting an idea. "Well, Virgil, while we were out Thomas bought you the hair dye you were wanting to try."

He lifted his head. "Really?"

"Yeah." Thomas sat up. "It's within the bathroom stuff upstairs. We could, do that any time you want."

"Like, right now? Maybe?" He started to sit up. "If you wanted to..."

"Sure." Thomas sat up as well.

"Maybe after Logan makes his son?" Roman pursed his lip. "He's just come into play."

"Oh it's alright, hair dying takes awhile and it would be best if they started sooner rather than later."

"Alright..." Roman handed the remote to Logan. "You can start making him then while they're upstairs.

"I'll be back to see him! Don't worry!" Virgil jumped up. "Come on Thomas let's go!"

Thomas chuckled. "Alright." Then rushed up behind him.

"He's rather excited about that." Logan commented as they went up.

"It's a chance for him to truly express himself." Roman mused. "He could use that..."

"As we all could, to an extent." Logan frowned. "So I just, bring a person into being?"

Roman chuckled. "Not quite..." He directed him to what button to press. "You choose to make a Mii, a figure within the game system for you to play as. It's just like how it was when Patton made Patswell."

"I see... I suppose I'll figure this out..." he started messing around, going over all the different options.

Chapter Text

Meanwhile Thomas got things set up in the bathroom. Steam rose up from the warm water in the sink. The dyes were out by the sink along with towels rested by the side and... He had everything, right? Yeah, he had everything. "You ready for this, Virgil?"

"Ready if you are "

"Well I am." I think. "Just come up to the sink then. First step is getting a hair wash."

"Got it." He took off his hoodie and walked over.

"Great..." Thomas stood over the sink. "Just dip your head down now..."

"Okay..." he leaned over the sink and lowered his head. "Like this?"

"Yeah." Then Thomas got his hands into the water. "Just close your eyes and let me wash it."

"Right..." he squeezed his eyes shut, hands gripping the counter.

Thomas pursed his lips, then wet his hair, making sure it got good and soaked, then grabbed the shampoo and rubbed it into his scalp. Why did he feel so tense? He'd been excited when they came upstairs… Though, Virgil hadn't been alone with Thomas before...

"...You okay?"

"Hm? Oh, yeah, I'm fine..."

He looked at him carefully. "Well I'm just about finished with the shampoo...I'll be rinsing it out now." Then he went to get his hands back in the water.

"Okay... Go ahead...”

"Thanks." He took a cup and started pouring through his hair. "Let me know if anything starts to hurt or you want me to stop, for any reason."

"Why would I want you to stop...?"

"Because you're too uncomfortable...Or, anything at all, really. I don't want you to feel anxious while doing this."

"Heh... kinda always am..." He chuckled, but he was still trembling slightly.

He pursed his lips. "Still...I would say you can open your eyes if you want, but I can't imagine you'd want soap in your eyes either."

"Um, no..."

"So, what would help you then?"

"Help me what?"

"Help you, not be scared of me?"

"What? I'm not- I'm not scared..."

"Alright, then what are you feeling...?" He took a comb and combed out the remaining shampoo.

"I-I don't know..."

He frowned. "Why not...? It's alright if you are scared of me, you know."

"But why should I...? You're nice..."

"Thanks. But, you are stuck in a bathroom alone with me, eyes closed, having to trust that I don't mean you harm..." He winced. "I could see being a bit freaked out."

Virgil swallowed, gripping the sink tighter. "I-I want to trust you..."

"That doesn't mean you have to force yourself to where you're scared..." Thomas finished, then stepped back. "You have every right to not trust me, especially after living with your Wisher."

Virgil lifted his head, finally opening his eyes. He watched Thomas's reflection in the mirror, biting his lip.

Reflecting Thomas's own lip bite. "I don't know all the details, nor do I have to know. I know enough though to know that you don't deserve anything she did to you, nor to be a target to kill. If you're willing to trust me, that's good enough for me. But that doesn't mean that I don't still need to earn your trust, and prove it to you for more than a couple days."

Virgil looked at his own reflection again, hating how fearful he looked. "I was fifteen when she brought me home..."

Thomas's eyes widened. "Fifteen...?"

"She said she couldn't go younger, for some reason..." Virgil continued to stare ahead. "At first she treated me like her son, like she actually wanted to be my mom. She babied me a lot though... wouldn't let me do much..."

Thomas swallowed. "Only at first?"

"I turned sixteen and she changed... Stopped being as nurturing, was more harsh and angry..."

Thomas moved slightly closer. “Do you know why?”

"I don't know... She never explained then she started drinking more..."

Oh Virge... "And, was an angry drunk?"

"Really angry..."

Thomas paused, then carefully rested a hand on his shoulder. "She hurt you then..."

"Yeah..." he flinched slightly. "Hitting... throwing things...I learned how to hide... if she couldn't find me she'd just break things until she calmed down... then she'd fall asleep and I'd clean up. She wouldn't be angry anymore if the house was clean..."

He frowned. "But when she did find you?"

"Then... she'd either beat me or make me do things for her..."

"...Were you at least able to hide most of the time?"

"Yeah... she'd give up pretty fast..."

He swallowed. "Was that what was happening the night you ran?"

"Yeah... She'd been drinking and she'd found me... Asked me to give her a massage..."

Thomas's eyes fixed on him, care and horror filling every depth of them.

"She-She was gonna hurt me... I panicked and... and I kicked at her…"

"You were defending yourself. You had every damn right to panic."

"But... but now she wants me dead..."

"That's on her, not on you...Can I give you a hug?"

"If you want..."

Thomas then wrapped his arms around him, loose enough he could escape, but fiercely. "You're not to blame for what she did."

"I don't even know what I did…”

"It wasn't anything you did." His grip tightened. "You, you were just a convenient punching bag for her..."

Virgil shook, sinking into his arms. "Maybe it was her boyfriend..."

"She had one?"

"Yeah... he... wasn't nice..."

"Did he hurt you too?"

He nodded, clinging to him tighter. "It was the worst when he was drunk too..."

Thomas swallowed. "Would they, join forces in that?"

"Sometimes... but... then she stopped... she'd leave us alone..."

"...How far would it go?"

"I'd wake up sometimes on the floor. He'd be gone and it'd be morning... Cara would have bandaged me if she was awake, or I had to get up and do it myself..."

Thomas's eyes widened more, grip tightening back. "And she just let it happen? Not even protesting, or, caring?"

"I'd hear them fight sometimes... but one night they got into a really bad fight. They were screaming at each other then all of a sudden she was just quiet...."

"...And after that?"

"He came in..."

Thomas hugged him tighter, rubbing circles on his back.

Virgil trembled, staring ahead with a far off look in his eyes. "Am I broken?"

"You're hurt." Thomas tried to meet his eyes. "You've, been through things no one should have gone through, and you're still here."

"He said I wasn't real... It didn't matter what he did..."

"That's a lie!" He held him tighter, eyes frantic. "You are so vibrantly real. And what he did does matter...You matter, Virgil."

Virgil flinched, but he managed to keep his eyes on his. "Promise...?"

"I promise" Then he hugged him closer. "You matter so much, Virge. I'm, I'm glad you're still alive."

"Me too..." he snuggled in and closed his eyes. "Now I am..."

He softly smiled, sighing in some relief. "I hope that will hold true for some time to come..."

"So do I..."

He swallowed. "Thank you."

"Um, do we wanna finish?"

"If you want to..."

"Okay, I wanna finish."

He smiled. "Alright. Go ahead and sit on the toilet." He went and grabbed one of the dye kits. "Then we can either do this the proper way, or the quicker way."

"The proper way?"

"We dye your hair blonde first as a base, then we dye the dark and light blues for the rest."

"I want it to be done right."

He smiled. "Then let's get on with the blonde first." He came over, brush at the ready. "Ready?"

"Ready!"

"Great! Here goes." Then he started to dye his hair.

Virgil became a bit more relaxed, kicking his feet slightly and humming while he worked.

Thomas chuckled. "Feeling better?"

"Yeah! Thanks to you."

He shrugged. "You needed to let it off your chest." Then he covered more of the hair. "I just listened."

"More than most humans have done..."

He winced. "Yeah, people can be real dicks."

"At least you're good."

"I'm just doing what anyone should do..." His eyes softened. "You and the others all deserve so much better."

"They really do..."

"As do you..." He finished with the brushing. "Back to the sink."

"Okay." He stood and walked over, leaning his head over the sink.

"Great. Now we'll need to wash through your hair..." He started rinsing. "So, if there's anything I can do for you guys, I want to do it. You don't need to, make me out to be some kind of superman or anything."

"Superman?"

"...You don't know who Superman is?"

"No..."

"I'll have to show you sometime. Just, he's, a really powerful guy that uses his powers to be the ultimate superhero, fighting for 'truth, justice, and the American Way.' Basically then, he's about the ultimate ideal guy."

"Really?"

"Yeah. So, he's a guy easily put on a pedestal, or hero worshiped.”

"I feel that way about the others sometimes..."

"It makes sense. They were the first people to treat you right, weren't they?" He looked at the hair, then read through the instructions. "OK. I, think we'll be ready for the blue dyes now..."

"Back to the toilet?"

"Yep." He gestured him over. "Half dark blue, half light blue, right?"

"Yeah!"

He smiled. "Got it." He got ready the brushes then headed over. "So, it makes sense that you look up to them. They saved you from dying on the streets and have treated you like a person."

"Yeah, they're my heroes..."

"And it makes sense." He started to work with the dark blue, brushing it through. "You just have to be careful, when putting people on pedestals."

"Why?"

"Because people aren't perfect." He focused his attention on the hair. "They can try to be, but everyone has flaws. And sometimes, even the well meaning ones give into those flaws and hurt those around them."

"Oh... okay..."

"...You can definitely call Logan, Roman, Patton, and yourself heroes." He switched to the light blue on the other side. "But, don't see it as the end of the world, or the end of them being heroes if and when they do make mistakes, or stuff happens that show them to still be people."

"I mean I've already seen that..."

"With Logan?"

"Yeah..."

"...You can know with him that he is trying to do what he thinks is best."

"Of course I do. I see it."

"So, you can recognize what good he does, while also seeing that he's, well a person."

"A very tired person..."

He huffed. "Yeah. Hopefully, we can help him be less tired."

"You think Roman will help?"

He huffed. "I'd be surprised if he didn't. He definitely cares about Logan."

"Yeah, he loves him."

"It's a bit hard to miss..." He mildly chuckled. "Has he always been like that around Lo?”

"I mean the two were always closer, but I thought it was because they knew each other longer."

He shrugged. "No real reason it couldn't be both."

"Yeah, but we don't know if Logan likes him back."

"Yeah..." He did another dab with the brush. "At the very least though, we know that Logan cares about Roman, romantically or not." Probably not romantically though...

"I think it'd be cute.”

"It would be..." He softly smiled, then swallowed. "Though, they both would have, things to get out of the way before it could happen."

"Yeah, that's what I told Roman."

He tilted his head. "What did he say to that?"

"That he wants to try."

He fondly sighed. "Of course he does..."

"He just wants him to be okay..."

"That's really good..." He stopped for a moment, examining his work. "Logan wants that for him too."

"He does?"

"Yeah. What do you think the caviar and milkshake was all about?"

"Right... right... I should've figured..."

"But Roman's nerves affected your's?"

"Kinda? Not really... I was pretty calm."

"But he was nervous."

"He was."

"Kinda figured with how he was on the phone..." He stepped back. "Alright. Close your eyes, and let's wash your hair again."

"Okay." He walked back to the sink.

He smiled, then started on the washing. "How was he after that?"

"I talked to him, calmed him down, and soon you guys came home."

"I'm glad you were able to help him then..." He finished, then went for a quick towel dry. "Really, you're a decent hero in your own right."

"You think so?"

"I do..." He softly sighed. "Even after all you've been through, you've, you've been strong and kept going, even when you easily could have not, and you're kind, despite what you've gone through." He set down the towel. "It takes someone special to go through what you did, and still be like you."

Virgil blushed slightly. "Thank you..."

"No problem Virge." He rested a hand on his shoulder. "Now, open your eyes."

He did and stood up. "Is it done?”

He smiled. "Look in the mirror."

He turned and gasped, eyes widening.

Thomas swallowed. "You like it?"

"I-I love it!" He turned around and hugged him tightly.

Thomas blinked, then smiled and hugged him back. "I'm glad. It suits you."

"Thank you!" Virgil pulled back slightly, grinning. "Can I show the others?"

Thomas nodded. "Go right ahead. Just be careful. The dye has to dry."

"I will!" He hurried downstairs, the smile never leaving his face.

So different from the Virgil he portrayed in his series… But, he really didn't mind it. It was a good different. And hopefully, he'd see more of that as they continued living here.
Still... he was so young. Why? Why did she make him at seventeen? Was he, suppose to have been some child for her and her boyfriend to share? Some caretakers they turned out to be.

His hand clenched, then unclenched. He sighed then started cleaning up.

Had he been practice? Or had the two just wanted a punching bag to take their anger out on without getting in trouble? He hoped not. Though with her description of how she was earlier, maybe she had meant for him to be her child, but then something went wrong. Something that turned her to drink and had her let her boyfriend do whatever he wanted with him...Which involved beating him until he was unconscious...He shook. How could they do that? How could they hurt a sweet kid like Virgil, then say that what they were doing didn't matter? All because they didn't see him as real. Now WISH was going to kill him just for defending himself! How could so many people look at Virgil, a literal teenager, and not see-?

"Deep breathes, Thomas." He whispered to himself. "Deep breathes. You're not helping Virgil by getting mad."

Which meant he needed to find out what he could actually do to help Virgil. The others were already pretty tricky as they were adults, but Virgil, he was a kid… If he could get them to become citizens, they'd be protected by law, but Virgil would end up in foster care if they didn't accept the others as legal guardians. Which, they probably wouldn't. Not unless they suddenly got really stable jobs. About the only person that maybe could would be...He frowned. Would that work? He could already be seen as his father, in a way...
But would Virgil even want it? It'd have to be something he'd talk with him about, later. He headed down the stairs. Right now, he was going to see how he and the others reacted to his new hair.

When he got down the game had been paused while Virgil showed off his new hair, Roman and Patton smiling. "Oooh! It looks so cute on you, kiddo!" Patton cooed.

"It reminds me of cotton candy," Logan remarked. Then hastily added, "I mean that in a good way."

"I know L," Virgil chuckled. "Thanks guys."

"No thanks are needed, Virge." Roman smiled. "Your hair, uniquely suits you, being like waves in the sea."

"When it dries it'll look even better!"

Thomas nervously chuckled. "Well, it should..." He came down. "It will depend on how well I did..."

"I think you did great!”

He smiled. "Thanks..."

Roman leaned back. "Planning to keep the hair that way?"

"Maybe, it's a nice color."

"I should say it is." Patton giggled. "Wouldn't you, Lo?"

"Indeed, I am a fan." Logan frowned. "Not a fan as in a device that keeps one cool."

"We know what you mean, Specs." Roman lightly punched his arm. "I would be worried if you were a fan that blew cold air around."

"Technically I could learn to shift into one."

Thomas hummed. "Might not be a bad idea, honestly." Then headed over for the couch.

"Is that something you would like me to do?" Logan asked.

"...Only in case of another raid." Thomas sourly sat back.

"Ah, yes, that would be wise..."

Roman winced. "The, stuffed animals did seem to easily attract her attention..."

"Yeah, they did." Thomas sighed. "Even though stuffed animals honestly wouldn't be that bad an idea for store merch. It'd fit with the show."

"Glad we could inspire."

"Thanks for it..." He sighed, then looked back at Virgil's hair. "...It does kind of look like sea waves."

"I really do like it." Virgil smiled and sat by him. "Thanks."

He smiled back. "You're welcome, Virge. If you do ever want me to do it again, just let me know."

"I will!"

"Great!" He rested an arm on the couch behind Virgil. "It, really was nice doing that with you..."

"It was." He smiled up at him.

Thomas smiled back, swallowing back tears. How could anyone have seen him and wanted him hurt?

"Well, I'm certainly glad you two enjoyed that." Roman smiled, then turned to Logan. "Want to unveil your son?"

"Oh... of course..." he unpaused the game. "This is Tegan..."

Thomas turned to the screen. "Named after the teacher character?"

"Yes, actually…”

"Doesn't he look just so handsome." Roman leaned back.

Thomas chuckled. "That, he does. So, what's his personality and class?"

"A stubborn cleric..."

"Nice...A cleric's always good for a team."

"And stubborn suits him well." Roman smiled. "Always pushing to make sure the others are cared for and to not falter when he's needed."

"They claimed it fit me best, even though this is meant to by my metaphorical son and not myself."

Roman winced. "Well, the sons reflect the fathers in this case. Though if you really hate it, it can be changed..."

"I don't hate it." Logan frowned, "did my words imply that I did?"

"Well..." Roman swallowed.

"It was in how 'they claimed' sounds. It can mean that you don't really agree with that." Thomas shook his head fondly.

"Oh, I see. Well, they're right. I am stubborn."

"Yay!" Patton hugged him. "Great job Lo. You admitted you were stubborn.”

Logan blinked. "Yes...?"

Roman started to grin as well. "Not going to deny it at all?"

"I suppose not..."

"It's real character growth!" Patton hugged him more.

Thomas rolled his eyes. "It's not that out of-Unlike him."

"Character growth...?" Logan found himself sinking into Patton's arms.

Patton blinked. "...Well, I mean you wouldn't normally just admit that you're stubborn. You'd, more likely say that you're just right, or, something."

"Why would I...?"

Roman smirked. "Because of being stubborn and not wanting to admit you're wrong. Though honestly..." He sighed, resting a hand on his shoulder. "That's more show Logan's character, not your's."

"Really?" He laid his head on top of his hand.

Roman softly smiled. "Really..." Then he leaned to his ear. "Just between you and me, I much prefer you over the show Logan."

Logan's face turned red. "It helps that I'm real..."

He smirked. "It does at that..." He rested his head on top of Logan's.

And Logan melted into their touch, the controller slipping out of his hands.

"If he was a cat, he'd be purring right now," Virgil whispered to Thomas.

"That he would be." He smiled, then his eyes furrowed. Should Logan become complete jelly like that just with some cuddling?

He'd completely shut down, was he even aware of his surroundings? Was this a normal thing for them or did Patton and Roman not even know what was going on? They both seemed content to just be holding him the way he was… Clearly, just thinking the melting was him enjoying the touch. But, he knew he enjoyed touch, but it didn't leave him at all like that unless he was really touch-starved. Though of course, it could be something unique about Logan in this case. Something normal for him that wouldn't be for a regular human.

Of course... what would happen if the wrong type of person found out about this trait of his? They would use him, take advantage of him, or...
He stiffened. He, literally was made to order by someone who intended to make him her romantic partner... and if WISH was wanting 100% satisfaction…

Shit.

Patton looked over at Thomas, frowning. "You okay, Thomas?"

"Ye-yeah." Thomas swallowed. "I'm, I'm fine."

"Lie." Janus hissed.

"Yeah... You're kinda stressing out..." Virgil turned to him.

He shook, skin paling. "It's, It's nothing..."

"Lie." Janus repeated, glaring at him now.

"Hey, calm down..." Virgil put a hand on Thomas's shoulder. "It's okay..."

"It's-" He hunched into himself. He couldn't tell them. What would they think?!

Patton started to draw away from Logan. "Hey, hey. What's the matter?"

"Thomas hey, breathe..." Virgil rubbed his back. "You're okay, you're safe."

Thomas finally let out a breath. And he was allowing a kid to help him with his emotional turmoil. Great job. "So-Sorry..."

"Don't be, it's okay." Virgil smiled softly. "You can talk to us when you're ready."

He swallowed, forcing a smile. "Thanks..."

"Anytime." He patted his back.

Janus just narrowed his eyes, now focusing on Roman.

Head now up, watching Thomas with concern, but an arm still around Logan even after Patton had moved away. Logan still in a daze in his arms... The others might think he was just relaxed, enjoying being held, but Janus knew better... He was waiting for his orders, being the pliant little thing that would get all the attention he never wanted but sorely craved. And if Roman was in love with him as he claimed, regardless of Logan's feelings, it'd only be a matter of time...
Logan wouldn't resist what Roman wanted.

Not unless Roman was removed from the equation.

And Thomas, he knew. He knew but wouldn't say anything. If only he'd give him permission, he'd get Logan away from him! This made it official. He had to get on Thomas's good side. Fast.

For Logan's sake, clearly he was in danger here, and he'd always been kind to him… Even been willing to help him with his eyes. He could do this for Logan. Just needed to wait for the right moment, but not much longer… Tonight. He'd need to do it tonight. No matter what. It needed to be perfect, if he failed now, him and Logan would be doomed… And of all of them, Logan, really didn't deserve that...

Oh, if only he could get Roman to let him go. But Thomas would get angry, and there was no way any of them would let him pressure him into explaining why he was worried. Unless he did it in a way that wouldn't get him into trouble...

Patton frowned more, glancing now between Thomas and Janus as he settled back.

Logan snuggling into him as well.

"So, what now?" Virgil asked.

Thomas swallowed. "Now..." He glanced at the time. "We could, continue playing this, or those of you that want to could finish up watching Sanders Sides."

Patton beamed. "Virge and I could see what we've missed."

"Sounds good to me. Looks like the two of you won't be moving for awhile anyway..."

Roman smiled. "Unless this is some cue that he wants a nap." He turned to Logan. "Which would you want? Show or nap?"

"Hmm... snuggles..." he put his arms around Roman and cuddled in.

He chuckled. "As you wish then." Then started to lean forward, only to sigh and settle back. No...Forehead kisses should be savored for if they were to ever be in a relationship...Not right now.

Patton looked at Janus. "You going to join us too?"

"I'd rather not." He stood. "I'll go upstairs."

"Alright..." Patton smiled slightly. Why was he so angry? "Have fun."

He didn't respond and stomped up the stairs, a slamming door soon followed.

"Is he ever gonna be okay?" Virgil asked.

Roman shrugged. "Who knows?" Then saved the game before heading to YouTube.

Thomas looked up the stairs. Should he make sure he's alright...? Janus typically preferred to be left alone...

And with Logan in the state he was in...Someone in the know should stay around, just in case.

"Alright. It's about here we left off with you guys." Roman started it up.

"Great, let's see where this goes." Virgil settled in, careful to keep his hair off the couch.

Patton grinned, resting a hand on Virgil's shoulder. "This is going to be great!"

Thomas swallowed, as he on screen came in excited about the callback. This was going to be, interesting.

Chapter Text

Whaaaaat... is up, everybody?! Guess who just got a callback for an Alfred Hitchcoppolucas movie?!

Thomas sat back more. Oh boy...

Patton grinned. "Well, good for him. Whoever Alfred Hitchcoppolucas is..."

On screen Patton though soon winced. Mm, too soon and not late enough. He has a prior engagement... related engagement that day.

Ah, the wedding.

Thomas glanced over at Patton.

Patton frowned. "That would be more important..."

"It's a callback though. A once in a lifetime opportunity." Roman swallowed.

"What's a callback?" Virgil frowned.

"Oh," Thomas sighed. "It's when after someone auditions for a part, they're called back for a second round of auditions."

"Oh, a part for what?"

"The Godfather Space Wars." Roman said along with Roman.

"A made-up thing." Thomas answered. "Within the show, it's supposed to be a major role and, maybe what would finally get me fully into movies."

"Oh, and you have to decide whether to go to that or a wedding?"

"That's the episode."

"I see..."

"Staring, for the pro-callback side..." Roman gestured as Janus revealed himself.

"He's kinda funny." Virgil grinned.

Thomas smiled. "Yeah, he's a bit if a dramatic goof. Especially when people interrupt his entrance."

Virgil popped in

While Off screen Virgil winced. "I can see why Janus thinks I hate him..."

Thomas swallowed. "Well that's show Virgil, not you."

"Still..." Roman hummed. "You'd think he'd also worry about Logan hating him. With taking his place like this and all."

"Logan doesn't seem to hate anyone in this."

He winced. "That would be more later..."

The scene shifted to the courtroom, Janus extending out all his arms.

"Oh." Patton turned his head. "That's how he gets them."

"Oh yeah, he had those out the other night."

"Yeah." Thomas shifted about. "So he has one per Side."

"One to grab each of us if he wanted."

Thomas pursed his lips.

"Which could lead to him rescuing us!" Patton cheerily exclaimed.

"Yeah, there you go."

He sighed in relief. "Yeah. Exactly."

Patton settled in to watch, then frowned.

"Something wrong?" Virgil asked.

"Oh nothing. Just, I'm really not a good lawyer, am I."

"I don't think any of us are good at... whatever this is..." Virgil waved vaguely at the screen.

"I don't know." Roman frowned. "Janus seems pretty good at being an attorney.”

"Even if he is being sneaky about it."

"Indeed...What do you think, Lo?"

"Hm... butterfingers..."

Roman blinked. "Yes..."

Patton stared shocked as well. "Would you like butterfingers, Lo?"

"Uh huh..." he nodded slightly, eyes still closed.

"I'll go grab you some then." Then Patton got up to get them, leaving Thomas still worried.

This wasn't normal, Logan sounded drunk. Touch shouldn't be a drug! What was he going to do?! "Hey, Lo?"

"Hmmmyeah?"

Thomas swallowed. "What do, you think show Lo's reaction to all of this is?"

"Hmmmm.... Roman pretty..."

"What...?" Virgil's eyes widened.

Roman blinked. "Are, you alright there, Lo?"

"Okay here..." he smiled up at Roman, cupping his face. "Okay right here..."

Roman's eyes widened, then he blinked. "...How much sleep did you get last night?"

"Uhhh.... enough!"

He frowned. "I think you need more..." Then he adjusted his arms and lifted Logan up.

"Going uuuuuuppp!" He giggled.

He blinked more, looking at Thomas. "You didn't give him any, alcohol, did you?"

"None at all..." Thomas watched, shivering.

"Wanna have a drinks...?" Logan slumped against him. "We drinks and dances... kisses..."

He paled. "...I'm taking him up for bed." He then sharply headed up. "Goodnight."

"Good, night..." Patton came back, bowl of butterfingers in his hand.

"What... just happened…?" Virgil pointed at the stares, mouth hanging open.

"I don't know, kiddo..." Patton sat beside him, still with the butterfingers.

Thomas swallowed. "Has, Logan ever been like this before?"

"Not that I remember..."

"Not since I've been with them." He took one of the candies.

Thomas bit his lip. "That's definitely not normal then."

"No..." Patton looked up. "It's really not."

"But, why? Is it because he does like Roman?"

"I don't think-"

"Maybe?" Patton unwrapped a finger. "He does like him. And he knows it now..."

"He just called him pretty."

"Yeah, he did..." Patton took a bite.

Roman took a deep breath after closing the door. Janus wasn't here. Good. "Come on Lo. Let's get you to bed." He carried him on over.

"We snuggles together...?" He wrapped a hand around his sash. "So close...?"

He swallowed. "Let's get your shoes off first..." He laid him on the bed.

"Ooohhhh undress meeee~ kiss meeee under staaaarrrsss~" Logan sang, still giggling.

Roman stilled. "Not undressing you Lo." He lifted his hands away. "You need to rest."

"Awwww sleepy...?"

"You certainly are." He went and undid his shoes.

"Sleep with meeee?"

"Would that help?" He swallowed more, shoes now on the floor. If he wasn't drunk, he must be sleep deprived. But they had slept well last night...

"Wanna snuggles and cuddles with yoooouuuu~"

"Are you, certain?"

"Yup!"

He bit his lip. "You're drunk though." Then put him under the sheets. "You, you need to sleep off whatever's going on."

"I not drunks..."

He huffed. "That just proves it." Then he turned and started heading for the door.

"Where goin...?"

"Back out with the others." His hand rested on the door handle. "Goodnight Lo."

"Leave alone...?"

"Just until you're more, sober. We'll all be up later."

"But am sober..."

"You're obviously not though." He looked over. "What all did you have today?"

"Sandwiches…”

"What kind of sandwich? Did you, did you have anything to drink while you were out?"

"Nope!"

He bit his lip. "Then why are you acting like this? You'd, you'd never..."

"Never what...?"

"...Call me pretty..."

"But... you are..."

His fingers tightened around the knob. "You wouldn't say that sober..." He turned away. "And you certainly wouldn't joke about wanting to drink, kiss, and get naked either."

"Not... joking...?"

"You have to be joking though. I know you detest alcohol."

"I do..."

"Then why would you say we should?!"

"I don't... know..."

He turned back around. "Why would you want me to undress you?"

"I-I don't..." Logan began to curl up. "I don't..."

Roman's eyes furrowed. "Lo?"

"I... need sleep..."

His heart clenched. "Yeah. You do...I'll, I'll leave you to it..."

"Thank you..." he closed his eyes and covered himself.

Roman swallowed. "Sleep well, mi-Lo." Then headed out the door, closing it behind him. What was that?! Only the other day, he hadn't been sure that he did want to be with him. But now after only a little bit of cuddling-

....Cuddling...

He paled, then hurried into the bathroom, slamming the door behind him. He was just jumping to conclusions, right? He was just worried that was all, it was fine! But...There was no way a ham sandwich could be drugged like that. And if Logan had really not eaten anything else...

He shook, heading over to the sink and turning on the faucet. But he'd cuddled with Patton before and hadn't acted like this… Just gotten kind of, soft and really cuddly, like it was something he was needing since he'd been touch starving Logan for so long in their travels... That was part of why he'd felt free to cuddle with him last night when they slept.
But this was something entirely different. Logan had never acted like this before!

Think Roman, think. How was he this morning?

He'd been, well, completely normal. Organized, serious, quick to get things ready and done for the day. So, maybe it was something with having both him and Patton cuddling him. Except that he'd stayed like this even after Patton left...Had he changed Logan somehow? But he hadn't been trying! He'd just wanted to hold him… To, make up for all the time he'd left him touch starved... Had he, somehow unconsciously changed him to want his touch more? Or, was-Could he be forcing Logan to...? He'd accepted that Logan might not love him, right?!

What if he hadn't? What if part of him was causing Logan to act like this? He was the Side of Romance after all. He didn't know how that translated into the real world...
He shook, staring in the mirror. Did he, force Logan to fall in love with him?

Did he make Rosa?!

No... no he couldn't have! He wasn't like her!

And yet Logan had called him pretty, while being drunk. And, he was the only possible cause...

He gripped the sink, shaking more. It could have also happened with Rosa. Rosa might have genuinely wanted to be a friend, but he touched her too much and made her fall in love with him. His touch was poison! He was cursed! And he hadn't even considered the possibility! Now Logan was under his spell! A spell he didn't know how to break! And if Logan was, what would, what would happen with the others...? He couldn't touch any of them! They'd all be cursed too! But he already had, several times! The only way to break a curse was to...No, true love's kiss wouldn't work.

But killing the source...

The room started to darken around him, his image in the mirror flickering to Rosa, then back to him with her expression. Predatory, hungry...

Then all of a sudden, it vanished with a knock at the door, followed by Thomas's voice. "Roman? You in there?"

He blinked. "Uh, yeah?"

"Are you okay?"

"Per-perfectly." He bit his lip. "Why, wouldn't I be?"

"Just a hunch... Can I come in?"

Hastily, he turned off the faucet. "Cer-certainly. It, is your house."

"But if you need space..."

"No!" Desperately, he rushed and opened the door, doing his best to smile. "I am, quite alright..."

"Right..." Thomas stepped inside, clearly skeptical. "How's Logan?"

Roman closed the door behind him, biting his lip. "He's, asleep now...Should be his true self soon enough."

"Has he ever been like this before? They said you've known him longer..."

"No." He folded his arms behind him. "He, hasn't...He would avoid any and all alcohol, and certainly stayed as far away from any drug deals as we possibly could."

"And he wouldn't have had a chance to get any, except when he went off by himself in the store..."

"But he wouldn't!" Roman gripped his hands tighter. "He hates even the smell of it. He tried to be a bartender at one point, but was overwhelmed by the sheer smell."

"Then, what could have caused that?"

"I...I don't know..." He looked away.

Thomas frowned. "Roman, I'm just as worried as you are..."

He shook. Did he already suspect? "That doesn't mean I understand entirely what is happening either..."

"I know, but if we could come up with some idea..." Thomas rubbed his arms, as if he'd suddenly become cold. "Then, maybe we could prevent others from hurting him..."

He flinched. "What, do you think is going on...?"

"I don't know, all I saw was Logan completely shut down after you and Patton started holding him..."

He looked up. "Patton has nothing to do with this."

"He doesn't?"

"No..." He swallowed, stepping back. "You saw him cuddling with Logan before. You know that he doesn't have the same effect on Lo..."

"Then, maybe it was just the two of you at once?"

"Perhaps..." His back was to the sink.

Thomas studied him closely, his mouth stretching into a thin line. "Roman, you know I'm not going to hurt you, right.”

He stiffened, then rested his head down. "Perhaps you should..."

"What?" He stepped back slightly. "Why would I?"

"It's obvious, isn't it." He looked back up at Thomas. "We traveled together for over a month, and he never showed any sign of being attracted to me. We lightly cuddle and dance once, and Logan is struggling because he can't-doesn't understand where the feelings are coming from. After one night's sleep, he decides to waste money on caviar and gets me the large milkshake even though it's fattening and not healthy. And now, after a little more cuddling..."

"He ends up like this..." Thomas stared into his eyes. Roman braced himself for what was about to come. Would he start yelling first? Demand that he left? Would he turn him into WISH? Set the others on him? Or would he just do it himself...?

He bit back a whimper, swallowing. He could do this. He could be brave at least this once. Face his fate with dignity. Yet every part of him trembled.

So it was a complete shock to him when Thomas placed a hand on his shoulder, not tight and angry, but gentle and comforting. And when he spoke he didn't shout, his voice was soft, steady. "Roman, this isn't your fault."

His eyes widened. "Don't touch me!" Then batted the hand back and darted for the bathtub.

Thomas flinched back. "Sorry! Should've asked first..."

He barely heard, pressing against the wall. "Stay, stay back! You'll be cursed too!"

"Cursed? What are you talking about?"

"Don't you see?! Logan's cursed. My touch cursed him!"

"I... What...?" Thomas blinked. "Is that something you can even do?"

"It must be. You saw Logan...He barely knows if he's attracted to me. He certainly would not call me 'pretty'."

"I mean..." Thomas bit his lip. Did Roman know? If he didn't, was it his place to tell? Well, hopefully Logan would be telling him soon...

"He also was talking about kissing! And, and getting naked under the covers, and drinking! Logan wouldn't talk like that!"

"Well, maybe there's just, a part of him that reacts to physical contact that he's not aware of?"

"But he wasn't responding like that to Patton yesterday!"

"Then... Then maybe he does feel some way about you?”

Roman stilled. "What?"

"Look, downstairs, Patton mentioned having a talk with Logan about you..."

"About," he came down from against the wall. "About me?"

"Yeah... he wouldn't tell me specifics but, Logan definitely has some kind of feelings."

"Logan has..." He shook his head. "But he can't. It, it would be impossible."

"Why...?"

He bit his lip. "I, I cannot say. Just, believe when I say that it would be a far-fetched dream for Logan to actually even return romantic feelings for me."

"Right..." His brow furrowed. "But, do you really think you cursed him?"

"It would fit the facts. Then it, it could also explain Rosa..."

"Rosa?"

He pursed his lips, eyes downcast. "My Wisher..."

"The one that tried to marry you?"

He nodded. "She, had been my closest friend...Then all of the sudden, she expected us to be married within the week."

"And you think it's because you cursed her or something?"

"Well, now that Logan is acting this way...What else could it be?"

"I mean, maybe she always planned to marry you?"

He winced. "She, said that. But...But she had been so kind to me...Then she said she was in love with me, and..." He shook, curling into himself. "Maybe I did led her on or...Or maybe she was going to change her mind, but I proved too irresistible."

"I don't know..." Thomas sighed. "Considering Logan's Wisher got him for that reason..."

"But...But we were friends." He looked up at him, pleading, he didn't know what for. "Why, why would she want to hurt a friend?"

"Did she ever really think of you as one? Or just something she owned?"

"She-" He bit his lip. "...I, I don't know."

"Because... I don't think a real friend would force you into a marriage you didn't want..."

"But she...She'd always encourage my work, encourage me to exercise and be the best shape I could be, try new things...Of course, there were some moments of friction, but nothing, nothing major."

"Like what?"

He bit his lip, slumping down before sitting in the tub. "...She rarely let me just daydream. If I was laying down for too long, she'd be encouraging me up to try something else or to write the idea down...She was just looking out for me though. She was making sure I wasn't just a lazy bum."

"Is daydreaming something you like doing? Or even something you need to do as the embodiment of creativity?"

"It...helps..." He swallows. "Makes me feel less like my head is floaty, not able to focus on anything...It wasn't like she didn't allow me any time to daydream."

"And how did that affect you?"

He swallowed. "Sometimes like I had no real time to myself. But, I had plenty of that. I could daydream just as well on the treadmill."

"But how did it affect you physically? Or mentally?"

"...It made me feel trapped. Both restless, and exhausted. The only times I felt I had energy again was when I was doing something creative with her, and when she'd feed me her compliments and gifts..."

"And do you think it's possible that she was aware?"

"I...Maybe? She, sometimes seemed to lay things on thick..."

"It could have been a way to keep you under her control…”

He furrowed his brow. "But she didn't need to. She was my friend. I was grateful for everything she did for me, for giving me life."

"But why did she make you? And how did she respond when you didn't want to marry her?"

He froze, gasping for breath. "She...She wasn't pleased..."

"You were sounding a bit ungrateful there, Roman..." Her fingernails rested on his neck, looking firmly into his eyes. "Being ungrateful would make you a bad character. Do you know what happens to bad characters?"

Thomas moved a bit closer, taking care to not go too fast. "If she really cared... She would have respected your feelings... She would have let you choose."

"But..." His breath hitched. "I, I was ungrateful. I...I was a bad character..."

"How? Because you didn't want what she did?"

"She'd, she'd given me so much. How...How could I dare...?" His eyes started to glisten. "I didn't want it!"

"And you had every right to not want it..." Thomas knelt beside the tub. "Of course you were grateful for all she did, you thought you were friends. But she had no right to hold that over your head..."

A soft sob escaped. "I was reliant on her though. I tried to escape, but I couldn't. I, I had to be what she wanted."

"Because she left you no choice..." Thomas reached towards him but stopped, drawing his hand back. "That isn't what a friend does, Roman..."

He shook more, staring into his eyes. "...I'm not doing that to Logan, am I?"

"Well... If you really were like Rosa, you'd probably be in there now regardless of what he wanted..."

"But if I don't figure it out, this could happen again." He shook. "Logan's had enough of that..."

Thomas frowned. Part of him felt like there was more to that statement, more than Logan had shared with him, but now wasn't the time. "Then, Roman, you really need to talk to Logan."

Roman gulped. "Would he even want to?"

"He isn't one to avoid a problem..."

He huffed. "Not usually..." Unless it had to do with a certain time in a motel...

"Then, maybe when he wakes up, see if he'll talk to you about this."

"And if he doesn't?"

"Then... give him time..."

He blinked. "I shouldn't leave?"

"Why should you? Unless you wanted to, I wouldn't stop you..."

He blinked more. "Logan could want nothing to do with me after this."

"That's only if your theory proved true..."

"But if it does, then there's no way you'd want me around. I'm...Why would you want me if Logan doesn't?"

"I don't think you're evil, Roman. Or whatever you think you are." He smiled softly. "I know you're incredibly caring and sensitive to what the others need. You'd do anything to make them happy, and you'd protect them with all your strength. And I see how much they love you..."

He swallowed. "But I keep failing. What I make doesn't always work, and I haven't always protected them."

"And have Logan's plans always worked?"

"...They've only had issues a few times."

"And how is that any different? You all called Logan out on his idea that he had to be the sole protector for you guys. And if it shouldn't all fall onto him, why should it fall onto you?”

"Because..." He curled into himself. "I should be a prince, a true prince. Helping others with their troubles, protecting them from harm, warming them up with kindness and smiles. Giving back what is due to them for what they've done for me, then also giving them what their hearts desire. Make fairytales come true, even if only for them. Except I haven't. And, I don't know if I can."

"Are you sure about that?" Thomas smiled. "Because a little emo told me that he considers you his hero."

A small smile grew, regardless of how he tried to fight it. "Virgil, is surprisingly easy to please...He's had too much on his shoulders..."

"I know... but, you guys are literally the best thing to happen to him. You saved his life, gave him a real family."

"He deserves so much more though..."

"Maybe, but as far as he's concerned, he has everything he could ever want just from being with you guys."

Roman blinked. "Really?"

"Really," Thomas smiled. "He loves you, Roman. Just remember that."

He smiled more, then looked at Thomas. "And, you?"

"Honestly... I really like having you guys around. It's not as lonely anymore."

His eyes brightened. "You, like us?"

"Of course I do! How could I not?"

He shook, then lurched forward and hugged him. "Thank you."

Thomas nearly lost his balance for a moment, quickly wrapping his own arms around Roman to regain it, then he was able to relax to return the hug.
Roman himself was shaking all the while, hugging like Thomas would drop him then and there. "We won't let you down. I'll-We'll never give you a reason to take that back..."

"You don't have to earn anything Roman, and I'm going to help you guys. You deserve to be free..."

He looked him in the eyes. "Truly?"

"Truly. It won't be easy but, I can at least try and find a way to make it to where no one can bring any more of you to life."

He swallowed. "That would be for the best. Although..."

"Although?"

He sighed. "I, wonder what stories they would have. How, how we'd be different, but alike...I don't want them automatically in bondage when they awoke, or to experience the life I've had. But if there was a way for them to come to life without that..."

"Yeah... but I don't know... WISH seems to have a pattern of only dealing with the unsavory types.... and I doubt the people that would genuinely want you guys as friends would be able to afford it," Thomas sighed, "at the end of the day I'd feel more at ease knowing no one else would be forced into a bad situation..."

He nodded. "I get that...I just, I wish there was some way to take WISH out of the equation. For life to come, without being bought at all."

"I know... but at this point there just isn't..."

"I understand...Sorry."

"Why are you apologizing? Isn't your fault it's messed up from the get go.."

"I shouldn't even have brought that part up though. There's no better way than for WISH to be stopped..."

"No, it was a good point to bring up."

"It was?" Something vulnerable springing into his eyes.

"Yeah, it's good to have more than one opinion on things. Especially for a problem."

He bit his lip. "Logan's solidly on your side with the situation though. I don't want to cause unnecessary strife."

"I mean it's something we could all talk about. I mean, maybe in time WISH could have a new owner and there'd be laws in place to protect characters?"

"...Somehow, I rather doubt that. WISH is, quite powerful."

"Yeah... but we have to try."

He nodded. "For the sake of anyone that has felt their shadow..."

"And spare anyone else from experiencing it."

"Exactly..." He looked back at Thomas. "Thank you. For all you've done."

"No worries." He smiled. "So, it'll be dinner soon, and thought we could make nachos, sound good?"

He nodded. "That...That does sound good."

"Cool, Virgil and Patton are still Watching the videos, so I figured we could handle dinner."

He nodded. "We certainly could. I would not, truly miss the next couple..."

"Oh, what'd you think?"

"They're good episodes. They simply, are definitely not the most emotionally light on my show counterpart."

"Oh... no they're not..." Thomas winced.

"I know it has to happen." He quickly tried to reassure. "Patton needs his growth, and everyone needs to start recognizing the problems that are happening. It simply, can be hard to watch more than once..."

"Yeah, I understand. No need to force yourself"

"Helping with nachos will then be a good distraction. Es...pecially if I could have some headphones?"

"Oh yeah! I have a pair lying around."

He sighed in relief. "Thank you."

"No worries, I'll go get them." He stood. "You can come with if you want."

"Oh, right. Certainly." He stood up, gripping Thomas when he almost slipped in the tub.

"Whoops! Gotcha!" Thomas steadied him.

He chuckled. "Thank you." Then got out the tub. "Truly, I am the most graceful of princes."

"Hey I've had plenty of breakdowns in the tub that resulted in me slipping around." Thomas pointed above him. "I've had to replace that shower curtain many times."

He looked up as well. "Has that been costly?"

"Unfortunately..."

He frowned. "We could try to find something sturdier. That way, you won't have to continually replace it."

"Nah, it's okay." He waved his hand. "Stuff happens."

"That doesn't mean we have to continually allow it to." He furrowed his brow. "Perhaps a steel rod fully embedded into the wall, with Kevlar curtains..."

"I mean, not much I can do with an apartment."

He hummed. "Perhaps you should get a house then. Have true freedom to do what you want with the premises."

"Maybe someday..."

Roman nodded. "Perhaps sooner than you imagine."

"What makes you say that?" Thomas began walking out.

Roman following behind him. "Well, with us around, if we were to remain together, it would be, helpful to have more space...And with all of us, there's more chance for us to be able to pool resources."

"That's true, but there's no pressure."

"We know." He avoided looking towards the screen. "But still, we are able to help. I even could," he looked down. "Well, if you permit..."

"If it becomes necessary I'll be glad to have help, but there's no need for you guys to worry about that now." He found the headphones sitting on the coffee table and picked them up.

Roman quickly took them, covering his ears. "It wouldn't be us worrying about it. Especially if my story could get published."

"Your story?" He made his way into the kitchen.

He swallowed. "Yes...It's more in my head at this point. Little solidly written down, but it has been starting to grow."

"What's it about?" He started grabbing what they would need for nachos.

He hummed, grabbing out the plates. "It's about a prince who decides to go incognito on an adventure before the time would come where he would have to become king. As he traveled, he came across a mysterious stranger, desperately in need of aid. Through saving him, he learns of the dragon witch that rules a cruel neighboring kingdom. And so, his quest changes from a simple adventure to saving the other kingdom from their evil queen while also helping the man he saved heal while also slowly falling in love...It's, fairly standard fantasy fare..."

"It sounds interesting," Thomas smiled. "I'd like to read it when it's done."

He blushed. "You, don't have to say that if you don't mean it..."

"I do though! I really want to read it."

He blushed more. "I'll make sure to write it out then. It's sure to be a success!"

"I bet it will be!" Thomas smiled.

He smiled as well, then poured out the chips onto the pan.

"Let's see... anything you wouldn't want on nachos?"

He shrugged. "I can handle most things. As long as it's cheddar cheese."

"Got it, I could always bake the chips with the cheese and you can all add your own toppings."

He grinned. "Sounds good." Then started grating the cheese on.

"Let's see... Tomatoes... Olives... Peppers... What else do I have?"

"Do you have beef? Or, refried beans?"

"I do!"

"Fantastic!" Roman grinned. "Let's use that as well."

"I'll get the stove warmed up."

"While I get these bad boys in the oven." He turned up the heat.

"And by the time they're done we should have the meat and beans cooked and all the toppings set out."

"For a true nacho parfait!" He grabbed out bowls for the toppings, then popped the chips into the oven.

"Wanna cut up the vegetables?"

"Certainly." He grabbed the knife and started chopping, glancing over to Virgil and Patton on the couch.

The two were still watching the show, Virgil munching on butterfingers. Patton looking a little, tense.

He winced. Yeah, Patton also didn't go through this next part really unscathed either… How was Virgil of all people able to be so calm?

Probably because he was not the same age as his show counterpart. He could distance himself more from what was happening on screen. Both he and Patton though were quite similar to their show counterparts in many, many ways... How were they going to respond later after he and Patton had their disagreement?

He shivered. Guess they could only find out. They needed to watch if they were to also make playing their characters on camera work. At least Virgil wouldn't have a problem… Patton on the other hand...

He bit his lip tighter as the screen changed.

"Okay, meat and beans are cooking." Thomas grinned.

Roman blinked. "Excellent!" Then he looked at the chips. "The nachos themselves should be done soon."

"Yup! How are those toppings coming along?"

"Oh, they're...They're ready to be cooked!"

"Great!"

He smiled, then poured them into their respective pans.

Thomas humming as he stirred the beans. "You think Logan or Janus will come down?"

"...I don't know. Perhaps if they're told about dinner..."

"Maybe... though I wonder if they'd rather sleep..."

"That is also likely." Roman sighed. "It, likely would be wise to just let them sleep. I may do the same thing after dinner's over."

"That's fair, we can always leave leftovers."

"I'm certain they'd appreciate that...They're done!" He rushed for the oven mitts.

"Just in time! Dinner is ready!"

Patton looked over. "Dinner?"

"Yup! We made nachos!"

"That we're bringing right over!" Roman got them out onto a plate.

"Well they can come add their toppings."

"Great!" Patton rushed over, eyes suspiciously bright.

"On my way..." Virgil shuffled over. "Smells good."

Roman smiled. "You have Thomas to thank for that."

"And Roman, he helped a lot."

Roman smiled. "Only slightly."

"Well, it's delicious either way!" Patton chose out his toppings and started to eat. "So...How is, Logan?"

Roman pursed his lips. "Resting...He should be better by morning."

"Just needs time to himself..."

"Oh, good." He took a bite of the chips.

"Indeed...." Roman turned and made up his own plate.

Virgil doing the same. "Man, these episodes are getting longer..."

Thomas shrugged. "It lets us do a more involved story per episode." He looked towards the screen. "Where're you guys on now...?"

"Finished the courtroom episode, and learned that Roman here has a brother."

"Ah yes." Roman turned. "You've met Remus then."

"Yeah." Patton swallowed. "He's, pretty intense."

"He's a bit different..." Virgil bit down on a chip.

Roman huffed. "You don't need to be polite about it."

"Okay, he's weird."

"And, with some, kinda disturbing thoughts?" Patton turned to Thomas. "Does he actually enjoy them, or does he have to enjoy them?"

"Do you even know yet?"

Thomas swallowed. "I, think he enjoys it..." He bit down on his own nachos. "He is supposed to be the part of me that comes up with that stuff then wants to keep thinking about it."

"But what's he supposed to do? How is he good?"

"Well, he takes care of the darker aspects of my creativity." He swallowed. "Also in a way, he gets me to think about the things I just want to ignore. Recognize all my fears and get them out into the open, as well as the parts of myself that I'm not proud of...He's then an internal alarm clock, while you're an overall alarm clock."

"Hm, interesting." Virgil ate another chip, covered in cheese.

Patton glanced over. "He has to be an alarm clock though mostly because of-show Patton..."

Thomas tilted his head. "It's more...Show Patton was shaped by the raising I had. What caused the twins to split, was also what shaped you. It's not anyone's fault. It's just what happened."

"Like we're all shaped by life..." Virgil frowned as an olive fell off one of his chips. "You think anyone brought a Remus to life?"

Roman furrowed his brow. "I have no idea..."

Patton frowned. "Would, anyone want to?"

"I'm sure some would. I was surprised by how many people actually liked Remus." Thomas stared at the screen where it was paused on the character in question. "So many people didn't like Janus when he first came about, but they seemed to welcome Remus with open arms."

"I could see how people could like Remus..." Patton tilted his head. "But why would they be more hostile to Janus? Remus almost killed Roman his first scene. Janus never did anything like that to us..."

"Clearly I was actually fine." Roman pouted.

"I don't know, there was kind of a long pause between episodes and people were so caught up by having a new character they all just kinda... made their own ideas up about him..."

"Which the brother connection helped with." Roman looked down at his chips.

"In his case it kinda helped I guess, people liked the idea of Roman having a brother that could be there for him even if everyone else hated them. The only character Janus seemed to have any real history with was Virgil and it isn't implied to be good..."

Patton sighed. "Yeah..." He took another bite of the chips, glancing at Remus.

Definitely scary, with his head full of really, dreadful ideas. Yet, surprisingly funny. It was almost sad, he just wanted to be heard. Wasn't his fault he got stuck with all the bad stuff...

He swallowed. If he was on the show, he'd listen to Remus, regardless of what he was saying. He'd let him say all that he wanted. He'd make sure Janus and Remus were part of the family and help with making the family united again. Or, could he? Would he do the exact same things as show Pat? Be afraid and disgusted… Be so controlling of Thomas, of everyone. What kind of dad was that?

One that wasn't him... he was different from this Patton, and he didn't have to be like him. He was at least sure going to try. He glanced upstairs, then to Virgil. Virge and Janus both deserved to be loved and respected. And if Remus was alive too, so would he.
Wherever he was...

Roman set down his plate. "Well, I think I'll head up early. Goodnight you guys."

"Night Roman, thanks for the help." Thomas smiled.

"Patton and I clean up before we finish watching." Virgil offered.

"You wouldn't mind?"

"Not at all kiddo!" Patton grinned. "Sleep well!"

"I will." He waved at them, grabbed a blanket, then headed upstairs.

"Which means you could head up too if you wanted," Virgil told Thomas, "you've had a long day."

Thomas swallowed. "You guys wouldn't mind?"

"Not at all." Patton nodded.

"I've been lazing about all day. About time I did something." Virgil stood and started gathering dishes.

He raised an eyebrow. "Are you not counting cleaning my room?"

"I'm trying to erase that from my mind." Virgil shuddered.

He chuckled. "Then I suppose we won't count that then..." Then he headed up as well. "Goodnight."

"Goodnight!"

"See ya in the morning."

Thomas looked down. "See ya!" Then headed to his room.

Meanwhile, Roman entered their room, glancing over at Logan. Still fast asleep, curled under the blankets.

He fondly smiled. At least he was sleeping peacefully… He then swallowed, headed to the other side of the bed...Then rested the blanket on the floor and laid down. This was for the best, until they figured things out...

He couldn't put Logan at risk again. With that he curled up, then went to sleep....

Chapter Text

Thomas closed the door and let out a sigh. What a day. Finally got his room cleaned, did grocery shopping, had several breakthroughs with the others, made dinner, all in all a busy but somewhat successful day And now, he could finally get some sleep. After all, tomorrow was going to be another day.

With a yawn, he headed for his dresser, rummaging for his pjs. Part of him couldn't help but feel like he was being watched...

He paused, looking around. Everything was neat and orderly... Weird...

He shook his head. He was probably just being paranoid...Still, he closed the blinds first, then started to get ready for bed. Just had to go brush his teeth and wash his face...
He threw his day clothes towards the hamper then headed for the bathroom, glancing into the mirror. Still nothing off... but he couldn't shake the feeling of unease.

He turned on the faucet and stared, sighing. "I'm just getting old, aren't I."

"Not at all~"

He jumped, turning around. "Who's there?!"

No one. He was alone...

He just, had to be hearing things, right? He was just exhausted!

He shook, then turned back and splashed water into his face. Then took his toothbrush and resolvedly started to brush. Not thinking about how the voice had sounded, and felt like someone had been whispering into his ear...

He shivered, then scrubbed harder, looking hard into the mirror. He still saw nothing... Was he just going crazy now? If that were the case...

Nope! He wasn't going to think like that. He was going to get to sleep, and be alright in the morning. Mind made up, he spit out the toothpaste, rinsed, then turned and headed to bed, jumping onto the covers.

Where he suddenly felt them wrap around himself, along with a pair of arms. "Are you comfortable, darling?"

"Ahhh!" He thrashed out. "Let me go! Let me go!"

He was immediately released, the blanket falling away. "Sorry. Didn't mean to scare you."

Instantly, he sprang against the wall, looking desperately around the room. "Who are you?!"

"It's only me..." Janus sat up on the bed, partially covered without his hat on.

He shook, blinking. "You about gave me a heart attack..."

"Thomas?!" Roman called through the door. "You alright?!"

Janus glanced at the door then back at Thomas, shrinking under the covers. "I won't be trouble..." he whispered.

Thomas blinks more, then looks towards the door. "Yeah, I'm alright..."

"We heard a scream." Patton's voice came through too.

"It's nothing. Just, had the breeze hit me wrong...Sorry for the false alarm."

"As long as you're sure..." Virgil's voice sounded. "Patton and I will be up for a bit longer if you need us..."

Oh these guys..."I'll keep that in mind. Thanks."

"No problem kiddo...Goodnight."

"Goodnight."

The sounds of their footsteps headed away. Thomas looked to Janus. "Alright. The coast is clear."

"I apologize for startling you..." he sat up slightly, still holding the blanket close. "It wasn't my intent..."

He took a deep breath. "What were you trying to do then? Some kind of prank?"

"No..."

"Then what...?" Thomas furrowed his brow, studying Janus as he moved closer.

"I just wanted to see you..." Some of the covers fell away, revealing a shoulder covered in scales.

He blinked. "You've, been seeing me..." Why didn't Janus have his clothes on?

"I wanted to get closer with you..." he was definitely lying on his side, propped up by one arm as more of the blanket fell away.

He stopped, brow furrowed. "Closer....Wait a second." He took a deep breath. "Is this...Are you trying to seduce me?"

"Of course not..." he shifted slightly. "What gave you that idea?"

He stared at him. "You were naked under the bed covers. I can recognize that." Then he covered his eyes, groaning. "I was hoping to avoid this trope..."

"I'm not completely naked... Just the shirt..."

He gave him another look. "Were you expecting me to take it off?"

He hung his head. "If you wanted to...?"

"I don't."

"Then... We could... Do something else...?"

"Yes..." He sat on the edge of the bed. "Like talk. Why all this?"

"That isn't what I meant..." Janus stared down at the bed. "You weren't supposed to act this way..."

"What? I was supposed to see one unexposed shoulder and immediately want to jump you? Regardless of what you wanted?"

"It was supposed to entice you..."

He sighed. "Even if I was enticed, I wouldn't do anything to act on that right now."

"Why not...?"

He looked at him sadly. "Because you only recently got out of a very bad situation, still need to heal, and you're relying on me to feed and protect you... I have too much power over you right now. Doing what you're suggesting would make me just as bad as she was."

"But that's- that's the point! You're the one with the power, so you're the one I serve."

He shook his head. "I don't want to control you though. I just want you guys to heal, and get to where you don't need to rely on me anymore."

"But that's my purpose! It's why I exist!"

"It doesn't need to be though...You can do something different with your life. Something that you choose."

"And what if this is it?!"

"Somehow I doubt that..." He inched a hand closer.

Janus shook and snatched his hand, pulling him close. "I'll do anything you ask! Anything! Whatever it is! Just- Just don't let them hurt Logan! Or-Or you! I can protect you both! I can take care of you just- Just don't let them hurt me- Logan!”

He blinked. "They aren't going to hurt you..." Then shifted the rest of him closer. "Nor are they going to hurt Logan..."

"But they are! Didn't you see what they were doing to him?! It could be me- or you next!'

"...They wouldn't take advantage of Logan, or you." He placed his other hand over Janus's. "Roman's already figured it out and is going to make sure Lo doesn't get that way again."

"How can you trust them...? How...? You don't know them..."

"I don't know you guys well." He softly smiled. "But what I've seen, all of you have been through, a lot. None of you want anyone else to go through that either."

"No..." Janus stared at his hands. "But why keep me?"

"Because that desire also extends to you...You were in trouble, so they wanted to help."

"But why do you want to keep me? Shouldn't you hate me? The snake that's come to trick you into sinning..." his eyes filled with tears. "Ha... Like... Like I'm doing right now!"

Thomas frowned. "No, Janus." Raising a hand slightly before lowering it back down. "You were trying to protect yourself and Logan, at any price..." He met his eyes. "I don't hate you, because everything you do is to protect yourself, and help those you care about...Show Janus, just goes about it in an amoral way."

"And that's who I am... I'm the villain of the story..." He sunk down into himself. "I'm evil... Everyone hates me..."

"Except you're not." He squeezed his hands. "Janus seems to be a villain, but really is wanting to help Thomas in his own way, helping him to see the moral grey and that taking care of himself isn't wrong where Patton would have have Thomas see firmly in black and white, with being selfish as the ultimate evil. You're a Side just like everyone else."

"A Side no one wants..." Janus sniffled, tears falling onto the bed. "No one wants me..."

Thomas's eyes softened. "I want you..."

"But why? I have nothing to give you if you don't want this..."

He shook his head. "You have so much more to give than this...You don't tolerate nonsense. You care deeply for those you allow yourself to care about. You still have your own mind in there...Any one that just thought of you as a sex toy really didn't understand what they were missing."

"But there's nothing else... That's all I ever was..."

"Not anymore..." Thomas fought the urge to give him a hug. Probably a bad idea to even ask..."It was what your life was full of, but it doesn't need to define you now. You have a chance now to choose who and what you want to be..."

"I don't know how to do that... Everything in my life revolved around what she wanted..."

"I know...But, it doesn't now. Nor does it revolve around what I want...It now revolves around what you want, even if you don't know the answer to that yet."

"Then how do I find it?"

"You take time and figure it out..." He looked down at Janus's hands. "Start with the little things you do and don't want, then work towards the big things...Can't promise that everything you want will happen, but it's at least a start to recognize them."

Janus followed his gaze. His gloves were off for once, he had scales on his hands...

Thomas still couldn't believe how they actually looked. "...May I touch them?"

Janus blinked. "You want to?"

"Well, only if you're comfortable with that..." He swallowed. "I just. It's only makeup when I do this. I've, I've always been kind of curious about how actual scales would be like on you..."

"I didn't think you'd want to..." Janus held out a hand. "Go ahead..."

"Thank you." He glanced to him, then looked to the hand and rested his own on there carefully. They were smooth, almost like glass, but soft, and a beautiful dark, emerald green.

He couldn't help but gap. "Wow..."

"You like them...?"

"I-Yeah. They're beautiful."

"Beautiful...?"

"Yeah." He rubbed one slightly. "Like something from a fairy tale..."

"A monster?"

"No..." He shook his head. "More...More like a fae, beautiful in an unearthly way."

"A fae..." his hand started trembling. That had been one of her commissions...

He frowned. "Wrong thing to say?"

"N-No..." he pulled his hand away, the moment lost. "It's fine..."

Thomas bit his lip, drawing his hands back. "I'm sorry...The scales are, really cool though. Thanks for letting me touch them."

He stared down, unable to stop shaking. "You're welcome…”

Thomas frowned more. "It's alright to not be fine...That's a trigger word for you then."

"Trigger word?"

"A word that reminds you of past abuse. Drawing out unwanted memories..."

"Oh... I'd have a lot of those..."

"I know...So, we'll work on figuring out what they are, and how to avoid or learn to work past them."

"It'd be too much trouble..."

"It won't be. Whatever will help you is worth doing."

"Why?"

 

"Because you're worth it, Janus."
Janus narrowed his eyes, his tongue flickered out slightly. Was he trying to see if he was lying?

He sadly sighed. Hopefully he'd know he wasn't. "You're worth it. No matter what."

"If you say so..."

Oh Janus...How could she have done this to him?! "It's not just because I say so. It's, it's an objective truth. You're a person, with your own wants and desires, and you matter. No matter what she had you believe."

"But she wasn't lying..."

He frowned. "But, she was...What counts as a lie for your mouth?"

"What do you mean?"

"Just...If someone heard a lie and thought it was true, would you detect it as a lie or as the truth?"

"I... I don't know..."

Thomas swallowed. "That is a funny thing about truth and lies. There's objectively things that are true, but with beliefs, truth and lies get more subjective. Especially if she was only careful to voice out the things she could be sure you would take as true."

"Then... how do I know...?"

"It's, more something you'd have to figure out...I wasn't lying just now, was I?"

"No..."

"Then, at the very least you can know that I believe it's true, even if you doubt the overall truth of them."

Janus hung his head. "I suppose I should leave then..."

He tilted his head. "Do you not want to leave?"

He rubbed a finger over his scales, still not meeting his gaze. "No..."

"Then you don't have to."

"You still want me...?"

"Yeah, I do...Though, not in the sex way, at all. No sex tonight."

"Okay... do you want me to put on a shirt...?"

"...Whatever you're comfortable with." Thomas slowly started getting under the sheets. "Cuddles or no cuddles?"

“You want to...?"

"Only if you're okay with that." He looked at him evenly. "You can even tell me what areas you want me to avoid if you do choose cuddles."

"I...I wouldn't mind... Just not the legs... Or head..."

"Thank you." Then slowly, he shifted closer, watching Janus all the while.

He still avoided his gaze as he curled in. Geez he was cold. Did he have any internal body heat?!

His hand carefully rested on his side, before wrapping around behind him. "That okay?"

"Yeah..." he nodded and curled in, Thomas able to feel the scales on his back. The contrast between them and his actual bare skin...

He swallowed. "Good. Goodnight then." Then he rested his head on his other arm.

"Night..." Janus murmured, already falling asleep.

Thomas just watched him for a moment, taking in his features. Even when he was asleep he looked tense, his eyes looked like they'd fly open at any moment. And he had every right to. Poor guy had been through so much. Would he ever see him relaxed, at peace? Maybe one day, this already seemed like a good start, but how long had he been planning this?

Likely since day one if Patton and Virgil finding him in his mess of a room was anything to go by... He winced. Probably part if why he'd wrapped the arms around him the first night. Make sure he didn't do anything while Janus was asleep. Just in case he couldn't trust him... Why not do that tonight though? He was clearly still scared. Did he think that'd make him mad?

He'd looked like a kicked puppy once his plan fell through, had he thought Thomas would throw him out then and there? Maybe. Or give him to the others, who he was clearly also scared of. It honestly kinda amazing how little he showed how scared he really was. Must have been part of being Deceit… Hiding himself behind a different persona, just like in the show. Maybe in time he'd let his guard down, be able to relax. But for now, all he could do was hope they got a good night's sleep.
With that, he closed his own eyes and tried to drift off to slumberland.

Throughout the apartment, everyone else soon found themselves asleep as well. Patton and Virgil had dozed off with the show playing in the background. Virgil slumped against Patton, arms wrapped around him. While Patton's arms were around Virgil, body curled around him, as if he could protect him from anything to come. And up in the guest room Logan slept on the bed while Roman remained on the floor, finally able to fall asleep after a bit of tossing and turning.

And that's how they all remained until the sun began to rise...

Chapter Text

Within an austere office, a phone rang out as a woman looked over reports. She picked up the phone, not looking away from her screen. "This better be good news..."

"I'm afraid it isn't, ma'am" Her subordinate swallowed. "We've lost his trail in the woods."

"What?" She shot up, hand tightening around the phone. "His tracker should still be activated!"

"It is...But it is no longer in a place where it can help us."

"How? Where are you?" She started typing at her computer. "The signal can't just go dead!"

"A secluded wilderness area outside Fort Augustine." Footsteps through shrubbery could be heard in the background. "The problem with the tracker though isn't that it went dead. It is that we found it, outside the subject's body."

She froze as she pulled up the location. "He couldn't have torn it out. It would have killed him."

"That would be what we would have thought...Yet, we have the tracker, with traces of blood, skull bone, and other bodily substances around. Along with a trail that continues on deeper but then disappears at the creek."

"It had to have been an animal... There has to be more remains. Bones or clothes..."

The tracks are human tracks, ma'am. And the tracker matches the signal of the one in the escaped subject."

She growled and scanned over the area. "Is Stryker there yet?"

"We're waiting for him now."

"Tell him he has three days to find him, and if he can't capture him, kill him. I'm done with his games. Understand?"

"Understood...He is not going to be happy about this..."

"He has more to worry about than his runaway pet." She huffed and typed in a new location, bringing up footage of Thomas's apartment. "They've been sitting long enough. Send in the B team to take the five runaways."

"Will do. Any special orders?"

"Alive, all of them. Use any force necessary."

"Understood. Over and out." Then they hung up.

She set down the phone, staring at the feed. This entire situation was becoming a rather large thorn in her side, and she was just about ready to yank it out. Consequences be damned. But they couldn't disappoint their customers like that. Four of them had homes to return to. And the fifth…He'd be dealt with, she wasn't about to lose profit over this. Maybe the fight rings would take him. They always were a good market. He'd shown he could be strong, but that was Stryker's department, and he was focused on getting his "pet" back...

Well, they could hold him until Stryker was ready. They could decide things then. At least one of her problems would soon be solved. They believed they were safe so her team have the element of surprise. By tonight, they'd show them just how wrong they were to think themselves safe.

After this, no character would even dream of running again. And WISH could focus once again on it's research, and only deal with the minor trivialities that came with this line of funds. For now, she'd get her work done, monitor the containment operation, then notify the wishers that their runaways were being returned to them. After that, she could get back to her true work and leave this miserable chapter behind her.


Logan's eyes slowly blinked open, focusing on the clock sitting on the nightstand beside him. 7:45am... when had he fallen asleep? Must have been sometime around, 7:30 pm, or perhaps earlier. Some of that time was rather hazy… The last thing he remembered was playing that game. Had he fallen asleep while doing so?

He sat up in bed, feeling around for his glasses on the nightstand. Huh. They weren't there...Wait, they were still on his head. He'd slept with them on? That didn't sound like him. He started looking around. And, why was he alone in here? Where were the others? Hadn't they slept last night?

A soft snore rose up from the other side of the bed.

He frowned and peered over the side of the bed. "Roman?"

"What?" He jolted awake, bashing his head into the bed then grabbing it. "Ow!"

Logan winced. "My apologies..."

"No, you're fine..." Then he met his eyes. "Are you alright?"

"I'm well, just a bit confused as to how I ended up in bed. And why I'm alone and you are on the floor..."

He bit his lip. "What do you recall about last night?"

"I remember playing the game, not much else."

"You don't recall, cuddling?"

"I... don't..."

He visibly tensed. "Patton and I started cuddling you, then you, started to become rather unlike yourself Specs..."

"How so?"

His eyes dropped to the floor, cheeks the same shade as his sash. "You, acted drunkenly. Giggling, calling me pretty...I took you to bed, and you thought we were going to get frisky under the sheets."

"I... I what?" He squeaked.

He reddened more, gripping his hands. "You thought we were going to get frisky on the bed...Nothing happened though. I left you there to sleep. You were clearly drunk."

"Drunk? But I hadn't consumed any alcohol..."

"It wasn't from alcohol." He swallowed.

"Then how could I have been drunk?"

He bit his lip, refusing to look back up. Then sat back down. "When someone touches you, what does it feel like?"

"Depends on the person and how they are touching me..."

"...When Patton hugs you?"

"I, feel calm. Warm as well..."

He swallowed. "When I hug you?"

Logan looked down. "I, I don't know..."

"...Have you found yourself feeling unusual when touched by, anyone else?"

"A few..." Logan reached for his tie, relieved to find it still there but also wishing it wasn't, especially as he began tugging on it. "Sarah was one... especially after that first time..."

Roman bit his lip. "I'm sorry..."

"And... The hotel manager..."

He stiffened, looking up. "What would happen?"

"I'd... lose myself..."

"That's not your fault!" Roman shook. "You, you can't control this."

"I don't even know what "this" is..."

"I was afraid that it was something I was doing to you..." He swallowed. "Thomas though, suggested it may be more part of how you were made..."

"But why would I be made with something that would leave me defenseless at the touch of someone else?"

He blinked. "I would think that would be the more obvious part."

"But she said the only thing she changed was my sexuality..."

"Who says it was something she had them do. They probably knew the reason she was getting you."

"But... She hasn't asked for it..."

"Maybe she did and didn't say anything? Or maybe they thought they may as well do a two for one when they changed your sexuality...Make it so the 'romance' didn't drag on too long."

Logan shook. "Or, they knew it wouldn't work..."

Roman pursed his lips. "Maybe...It, likely is harder to change something as fundamental as a sexuality without something going wrong. Especially if everything else is supposed to stay the same."

"So they added that so I could still fall for her... Regardless of whether it was real or not..."

"Being sure that she wouldn't care either way as long as she got her wish..."

"And I had no idea..." Lo shook.

Roman's hand reached for him, before he stopped and retracted it back. "You, know now...Knowledge is power."

"But how do I control it?"

"...I don't know. Always wear long sleeves?"

"Clothes don't always make a difference..."

He swallowed. "Not let, anyone touch you?"

"I don't want to go without touch..."

"...Then maybe it will help for there to be some touch for you to get used to. Then, we ease the amount up until you're basically immune to the effects. Like how people get immune to poison."

"But your touch isn't poison..."

"The way you were reacting, my touch is basically a drug." He met his eyes. "If you want my touch, you're going to need to build a tolerance."

Logan stared back, hand still wrapped tightly around his tie. "Do you believe it is possible for me to love you?"

He bit his lip. "If it is, I need to know that it is you choosing to do so. I don't want to compel you to be my love."

"I spoke to Patton yesterday. He told me that during our dance, I was feeling something towards you. Something one might consider romantic attraction..."

"...Would you want it to be?"

"I..." Logan took a deep breath. "Before any steps towards a relationship of that nature are taken, I want to ensure our bond as friends are strengthened."

He blinked. "...Are you wanting to do some blood mixing ritual or something?"

"What?" Logan leaned back slightly. "Where did you draw that conclusion from?"

He helplessly shrugged. "I don't get what you mean by 'strengthening the friendship’. We are friends. You're definitely my closest friend. And, I certainly would never want to stop being friends with you unless you didn't want to be friends with me anymore."

"Well, yes, but... We are both still recovering from past trauma..."

He winced. "Yes...And likely are going to be doing so for the rest of our lives..."

"I believe it is too soon for either of us to attempt a more intimate relationship when we are still healing..."

He frowned. "Would you want to be intimate?"

"Perhaps... In time if it's something we're both comfortable with..." Logan fiddled with his tie. "I don't mind physical contact. In fact, I enjoy it."

Roman swallowed, a hand gripping his sash. "It's only due to you, Patton, and Virgil that I'm as comfortable with touch as I am. I...I'm not sure if I could ever be comfortable with anything further than that."

"Which I would understand..."

He sighed in some relief. "It, is nice cuddling with you, I'll admit. I simply...I don't want to have undue power over you."

"Neither would I."

He blinked. "You wouldn't though..."

"How do you know?"

He looked at him. "I certainly don't become drunk under your touch."

"So you believe that I am the one solely at risk..."

He frowned. "I have my troubles, but nothing that would be as exploitable as your weakness."

"Right..." Logan tugged harshly on the tie. "My weakness..."

Roman flinched. "Sorry. Is there, some other way you want to refer to it?"

"It's the most appropriate word..."

"True." He sighed. "...What are ways you worry that I am at risk?"

"What if I get carried away? I'm not myself when I'm "drunk" as you say. What if I no longer respect your boundaries?"

He blinked. "You didn't try anything last night. Besides, I'd be strong enough to push you off if you were."

Logan tugged on his tie. "Of course you would be..."

He bit his lip. "Honestly, I would view the fear to more be that I wouldn't respect your true boundaries in that state..."

"Why wouldn't you? You don't want to go farther yourself."

"...You truly trust I wouldn't?"

"Why shouldn't I?"

He swallowed. "Because I'm having this effect on you in the first place...? I'm not doing any of it intentionally though, honest."

"And I believe you. I know you wouldn't intentionally hurt me."

His eyes brightened. "You, really trust me on that?"

"Of course…” Logan allowed himself a smile. "You're one of the few I do trust."

And in return, he got a smile from Roman. "You trust me...You trust me!"

"I do, Roman." He moved a bit closer. "I trust you."

He let out a squeal, then rushed to hug him, before his eyes widened and he pulled back at the last minute. "I'm so sorry!"

"Roman, you're allowed to hug me..." he chuckled softly.

He looked at him carefully. "Are, are you sure?"

"I am."

"...Tell me when you need me to stop." Then he sat on the bed by him, looking firmly into his eyes.

"I will, I promise."

"Good." Then he swallowed, and slowly lifted up his arms and started to wrap them around him, watching Logan all the while. He leaned into him almost immediately, raising his own arms to hug him back as he closed his eyes.

Roman finished the wrap. "You still with me?"

"I am..."

"Good." He hugged him just the tiniest bit tighter. "Let me know the moment that starts to change."

"I will..." he murmured.

A slight huff escaped him. "I'm not sure I quite heard that..."

"Iwill..." he nuzzled into his neck a bit.

He chuckled, then froze. "...Lo, what's Pi?"

"Pie's yummy..."

"OK, we're done." Then he drew himself away.

"Hmm..." He made a pouty face before his eyes suddenly cleared. "What... did I pass out?"

Roman's eyes grew more concerned. "No...You, went drunk again..."

"...How long were we hugging...?"

"Two seconds? Maybe three."

"And I lost myself that quickly?"

He swallowed. "It would seem so...You didn't know what Pi was."

"I... I hadn't thought it was that bad..."

"Is it not usually that bad?"

"Not with anyone else I've come into contact with..."

His brow furrowed. "...Maybe because I touch starved you for about a month?"

"Or because I... Do have feelings towards you... And Sarah left me alone and ignored me for a while after she first kissed me..."

"You're kinda desperate for touch then."

"I suppose I am..."

He winced. "We definitely can't date if I can't hug you without you becoming like that."

"We can't...?" Logan looked at him, crestfallen. "I-I know I said we should wait but, I didn't want to completely disregard the possibility!"

Roman hunched in. "I wasn't saying completely disregard it! I was saying, we definitely need to find a workable solution to this. Or I will constantly have to be on guard whenever we even touch!"

"Then what could we do...?"

He swallowed. "The only thing I can think of is figure out how you can have a tolerance to my touch...Much like you would with poison."

"How do we that when I fall under so quickly?"

He furrowed his brow, then offered up his pinkie. "We start small."

Logan frowned. "You want me to take your pinkie...?"

"Just, touch your pinkie to mine and let's see how that works."

He frowned and carefully wrapped it around.

Roman's breath hitched, carefully watching Logan.

Logan took a deep breath. "I'm fine... I feel fine..."

Roman pursed his lips. "Should we stay like this, or try a full handhold?"

"We can try..."

"Alright. If it's too much, we'll go less." The pinkie slid down, then one, then more fingers joined.

Logan's fingers entwined around his, he looked up at Roman, smiling. "I feel fine."

Roman swallowed, a blush on his cheeks. "You're sure?"

"I couldn't lie to you."

His eyes dimmed. "That would be another thing to watch out for with you."

"Why? Wouldn't you want me to be honest?"

"I do. I simply don't like the idea that I can force you to say something you don't want to say."

"Oh...”

Roman bit his lip. "Any ideas on how I won’t be able to do that?"

"I'm not certain..."

"...Maybe you can give me some sign that you really don't want to answer that question."

"I could just, tell you?"

"That would work."

"Then I will."

He nodded. "Thank you."

Logan's smile faded slightly. "And what about you? We've been discussing ways to protect me and allow me to be comfortable in this relationship, but what about you?"

His brow furrowed. "As long as you're comfortable, I will be."

"And what about your bruises?"

He stilled. "They go away fairly quickly."

"But how can I avoid inflicting them on you?"

"There's no way to. Anything critical of me can become a bruise."

"Then how do I ease your pain?"

"...You," he bit his lip. "Give me compliments?"

"What else?"

"...Anything that can feed my ego can help. From words to, meaningful gifts."

"Alright," Logan began nodding. "I will take care of it."

"You, you don't have to though. It does heal over time...And, you don't need to be too extravagant with the gifts. Just, anything you deem worth giving me will do."

"Of course. I'd want to give you gifts and compliments regardless of the situation."

He blushed, ducking his head. "You...You would want to?"

"Of course. I enjoy seeing you happy.”

"I keep demanding such, silly trifles though."

"You have?"

"Yes. Like, milkshakes, and lollipops, and, and all those jokes about caviar."

"They're not silly... I understand the caviar was meant to be taken as a joke, but I'm happy to get you treats that you enjoy."

He blinked up at him. "They're childish though..." Then looked down to his stomach. "And fattening."

"Roman," he sat closer, "I'd love you no matter your appearance. If it's something you love, you should be allowed to enjoy it. Provided you balance it out, I wouldn't want you ill..."

Roman looked back up. "Certainly, I would balance it out. You really wouldn't mind..."

"Of course not." He smiled.

He grinned, but forced himself to stay in place. "I won't let you down."

"I will strive to do the same."

Roman shook his head. "You could never let me down, my love."

"I'm afraid that isn't possible, I am bound to make mistakes as I am not perfect "

"You wouldn't let me down by making mistakes...The only way you could do that would be for you to secretly be planning to trap me in a marriage that I would be unhappy with."

"Which I would never do. Even if that was my intent it would be impossible seeing as I doubt characters would be allowed to legally wed each other.”

"As of right now..." He sighed. "A true tragedy. There's so many romances that could happen..."

"Indeed..." Logan joined him in sighing. "Still, we should at least be grateful for our current freedom..."

"That we can be." A seriousness entered his eyes. "One that we can enjoy, if only for the sake of those that cannot."

"Yes..."

"...Do you think, things will ever get better?"

"I... cannot say..."

Roman pursed his lips. "That's alright. Before, even this would have seemed to be too good to be true."

"There was a chance I would have never met you..."

"Even if I had met you, I would have been stuck with Rosa." He half chuckled. "It would have had to amuse her if she was going to allow us to interact."

"Perhaps it would have, in some twisted way..."

"Maybe..." His grip tightened around Logan's hand. "I much prefer this way."

"As do I."

"And I will fight to keep it this way, as long as I live."

"As will I." He squeezed his hand.

He smiled back. "Which will partially include filming those videos." He started to stand up, pulling Logan up with him.

"And we should probably prepare breakfast..."

He smiled. "If Patton's still asleep, then definitely."

"Shall we go see?"

"Yes, I believe that would be good..." He went over and opened the door.

Logan following.

He glanced down the stairs and chuckled. "Well will you look at that."

"Look at what?" He followed his gaze.

"Them." He pointed to the couch. "Aren't they precious." And indeed they were, curled into each other as the screen stayed paused.

Logan smiled. "That is definitely what one would consider precious.”

"Yes..." Then he frowned. "Where's Janus then?"

Logan blinked. "I had assumed he was down here..."

"No, he went upstairs before I took you up..." He swallowed. "I had wondered why he wasn't in the room..."

"Then that means he either left or..."

"He's back in his room." He glanced to Thomas's door.

"Should we check on them...?

"Probably..." He inched towards it, taking a deep breath, Logan following close behind.

He rested his ear against the door. All was quiet... He swallowed, then eased the door open.

Inside he saw Thomas, still sleeping with his arms wrapped around Janus, the latter curled into him, both under a blanket.

He blinked. "What...?" A whisper escaped.

"They're asleep..."

"They are. Together..." He frowned.

"Indeed…”

"...That could explain Thomas's scream."

"If Janus had been hiding in there..."

"At least neither of them seem hurt."

"No..."

He glanced at Logan. "Should we try to get Janus away and make sure?"

"I don't know...."

"...I don't believe Thomas would hurt him." He bit his lip.

"No..." Logan took his hand.

Roman squeezed back. "Should we just, let them be? Make sure later?"

He nodded and began leading him out. Roman glanced back, then closed the door behind them. Logan silently made his way downstairs. Roman could only imagine what was going on in his head. His own head was busy as well. Thomas wouldn't hurt Janus on purpose, right? They were just cuddling?...Why was Janus cuddling with Thomas though? Why not with any of them? All the times they'd found Janus hiding in Thomas's room... had he been wanting this? Had they all done such a bad job with him that he really only felt comfortable with Thomas? He swallowed past the lump in his throat.

Janus had always been seeking out Thomas, ever since they first arrived… Perhaps then, they'd done something to fail him. He must have been the one to fail him! After all, what did he do better than failing- He bit down hard, other hand automatically hugging his torso.

He felt Logan's hand squeeze his as he was led into the kitchen. "Let's make French toast."

He quickly nodded. "Yes. Let's." Then he opened the cupboard for bread while Logan got eggs out of the fridge and set them on the counter before hunting for a pan and a bowl. Roman then got the vanilla from the shelf and set both on the counter, glancing at Logan.

He looked so calm as he started cracking eggs into the bowl. How could he control himself so easily? No matter how bad a situation could be, he'd rarely seen him upset. If only he could have that...

He went to the fridge to grab the milk.

Chapter Text

As he helped Logan around the kitchen, Roman couldn't help but relax somewhat. It was reassuring, in a way, knowing that he'd have Logan to lean on. But why couldn't he do the same for him?

He should be just as much a rock for him as he was for him. He should be able to help him, not have hugs that made him catatonic. He would find a way to help him with that, he shouldn't have to be afraid of something as simple as a hug. But how? He couldn't really be sure holding hands would help with that. Especially if Logan really wanted to be close to him... His brow furrowed. How could he figure this out then? Would a hug work if Logan initiated it?

They'd just have to keep experimenting And he'd have to stay on his toes for the moment Logan started being affected again.

"I've buttered the pan for the toast." Logan's voice interrupted his musings.

Roman blinked. "I'll get the bread soaking then." He made sure the mixture was mixed, then started putting the bread in.

"Is there anything you'd like to have with the toast?"

"I suppose orange juice...Perhaps whipped cream?"

"I'll see if we have any." He began rummaging through the fridge.

Roman blinked. "...So, you excited for your vid today?"

"My vid?"

"Yeah. We're starting filming on that today, right?"

"Oh, yes, I believe so.”

"So, how're you feeling about that?"

"Well, I'm willing to give it a try. I'm not sure what I'll be getting out of it."

"The chance to have fun?" He got the toast onto the pan. "Unless Sims really isn't your cup of tea."

"Of course it wouldn't, it is a video game. Not a cup of tea."

He let out a chuckle. "I really do love you."

Logan blinked. "I'm glad you do?"

"As am I." He smirked, then turned to Logan. "'Isn't your cup of tea' is an expression. It means it's not something you like, something you're not comfortable with."

"Oh, that does make sense."

"Most expressions are supposed to, if you can understand the connection or simile." He grabbed out the syrup.

"I suppose I'll have to do my research then, and remember ones I've already heard…”

Roman grinned. "Perhaps summon them as flashcards."

"Such as in the show?"

"Yes, exactly. If you can do it in the show, you can probably do it here."

"Maybe..."

"You'll never know until you try." He flipped the toast.

"But I've never summoned anything..."

"Have you tried?"

"Well, no."

"Maybe you should."

"How do you summon?"

"I just imagine what I want in my hand, then snap my fingers." He snapped, bringing his sword.

"So I simply imagine a flash card?"

"Along with what's on it."

"Of course..." he furrowed his brow and tried to picture it.

Just a plain notecard. 16×13. Lined. With a definition of one of those phrases... probably the tea one.
Not my cup of tea: Something not to my taste, I am comfortable with. Relating to how many varieties of ways to partake of tea there are.

Logan closed his eyes, held out his hand, and snapped his fingers.

Something papery seemed to be in his hands...

His eyes widened as he stared down at the paper. "I-I think I did it?"

Roman grinned, craning his neck. "I'd say you di-" He blinked.

"What?" Logan stared at the paper, his face immediately turning red. "Oh-Oh my..."

Roman. My beloved. The person whom I give all my affection to. Causes my heart to beat abnormally. Someone I strive to be as close to as possible. Attractive, very attractive. Can't look away.

Roman blinked more. "You find me attractive?"

"I... well…” He quickly stuffed the paper into his pocket. "Yes?"

He grinned. "I'm glad. I find you quite attractive as well."

"Oh..." his face reddened even further.

He chuckled. "Much as I'm glad for that reassurance of your love, I will say that at least your first ever summons was close to right."

"I at least brought the paper into being..."

"That you did." He went to rest a hand on his shoulder, then refrained. "Maybe the first step would be imagining blank cards?"

"Then I could write my own definitions."

"Exactly." He checked on breakfast. "Still, very good job for your first time."

"Thank you, I'm glad you think so."

He smiled. "It'll get easier with practice."

"I would hope so."

"You can take it from the voice of experience." Roman turned and grabbed plates, resting the toast on their before placing on the new slices.

"You seemed to pick everything up quickly, including shifting."

He shrugged. "I'm Creativity. That comes with being able to pick up quickly on the unnatural parts of our lives." He looked up at Logan. "It makes sense that stuff like that comes quickly to me, as other things have come more quickly for you."

"I suppose that is true, and perhaps in time we can help each other strengthen our weaknesses."

He squeezed his hand. "I'm sure we can."

On the couch, the sizzling began to rouse Patton from slumber, causing him to tiredly turn and yawn. Which in turn caused Virgil to hold him. "Five more minutes..."

He tiredly chuckled. "Not sure if we can, kiddo. Sounds like breakfast is cooking." Then he blinked, frowning. "Breakfast is..."

"But I'm sleepy..." he snuggled in more.

Patton blinked. "I, know..." Then he glanced to the kitchen.

Logan and Roman had resumed breakfast, Roman finishing up the toast while Logan set the table. Roman glanced over. "Oh. Good morning."

"Good, morning..." Patton started to sit up, letting out another yawn. "What time is it?"

"Almost 8:30am.”

"Already?" He glanced at the clock. Yeah, seemed right..."Sorry." He let out another yawn. "Ye could've woke me up."

"It's alright, I tend to wake up early anyways."

"But then I could've made breakfast." He slightly pouted.

"It's alright Padre." Roman got more of the toast off. "We don't mind making it."

"Besides, it doesn't look like Virgil wants to get up yet..."

Patton looked down, smiling as he hugged Virgil closer." No it doesn't..." He looked to Logan. "So you, feel better this morning?"

"I do, Roman explained what happened last night."

"Oh? So you know what's going on? We were kinda left in the dark."

"Yes... We believe WISH may have altered me in how I respond to touch, perhaps due to them being unable to change my sexuality."

His eyes widened. "So you don't actually want touch and cuddles?"

"No, I do. I just have to build up a tolerance so I don't lose myself completely."

"Starting with hand holding," Roman took his hand. "Then working our way up."

"Well, it doesn't affect me as severely with you."

He sighed in relief. "Good. I'd hate to stop giving you hugs. You just tell me when I need to stop, okay?"

"I will."

"Thanks."

Roman swallowed. "In the meantime, there's some tasty breakfast now on the table." He set the last things down.

"Yes, you could try to wake Virgil now."

"Alright." Patton looked down and smiled. "Wakey-Wakey, kiddo."

"Hmph... No..."

"Ah, come on." He leaned by his ear. "Ro and Lo fixed French Toast~"

"French Toast...?" His eyes started to open

"Yeah kiddo." Patton grinned more. "Yummy French toast."

"Hm...." he started to sit up.

Roman chuckled. "Good morning, sleeping prince."

"Toast..."

He chuckled. "Yes Virgil. French Toast. With all the syrups."

"Okay..." he got up and stumbled towards the table.

Patton chuckled, following after him.

Roman grinned as well, then frowned. "I probably should wake up the other two."

"Go ahead, we'll finish up here.” Logan got our everyone's cup.

"Very well." He squeezed his hand, then rushed upstairs. Hopefully they wouldn't mind him waking them... He swallowed, then knocked on the door.

Janus stirred slightly, then tightened his hold on Thomas and hissed.

Roman swallowed. "Sorry. But breakfast is ready downstairs. Thought you might like to know."

Thomas hummed, cuddling into Janus.

Janus opened his eyes and looked down at Thomas. He was okay, they were okay... "We'll be down in a moment..."

"Great! We're all ready for you." Then he walked away.

Thomas looked up, blinking. "Janus?"

"Breakfast is ready."

"Huh...Oh, right." He started to get up. "They, keep making breakfast."

"They're early risers." Janus sat up and went to get his clothes.

He sat as well, still blinking. "How are they early risers?" Then his cheeks reddened as he turned away from Janus.

"I don't know, they just are." He pulled his shirt on, keeping his back to him.

"Guess that's fair." He looked down. "Should I change?"

"You don't need my permission." He clasped on his cape and pulled his gloves on.

"I know." He finally stood up, stretching out. "Just asking myself. Change now, or eat then get into actual clothes."

"I suppose it's up to you." He put on his hat then turned around. "Do you want me to wait?"

He shrugged. "Whatever you want." Then went and grabbed his clothes. "I'll, go change in the restroom..."

"Very well, I'll be here."

He glanced back. "Alright." Then shut the door.

Well, he just spent the night with Janus, in his own bed… He shook his head, fumbling with his clothes. It was what Janus wanted. He hadn't forced it on him. It was alright then.

Right?

And had he himself wanted it?

He couldn't really lie and say it wasn't nice to sleep by someone else. He'd been half-dreading being alone in his own room again. And Janus was, interesting to say the least…
He definitely wasn't... unattractive... at all… And it wasn’t him being narcissistic. Even if it might be part of it, Janus was the one Side that definitely wouldn’t be true for. With the half snake features and some other subtle things in his face, the way he would roll his eyes if he viewed someone as being particularly dumb...

No, no no. No. This wasn't fanfiction! In real life, no one should ever let themselves fall for someone relying on them to help them. It wasn't a good thing, regardless of motive.
And he wasn't falling for Janus! He wasn't!

He couldn't let himself. He was just, really lonely and wanting someone to fill the void. Even if he was falling for him, there would be no way he could morally pursue. Not with how things were. Janus would need to know he could say no before he could even consider such a fantasy.

Not that he was...

He definitely wasn't. Stop it brain!

He doused his face with water then finished putting on his shirt. There. Done. He grabbed the pjs and headed back out.

Where Janus still stood waiting, hands clasped behind his back

Thomas blinked. "You, really didn't need to wait."

"I wanted to."

"Okay..." He raised an eyebrow. "Did you want to be doing it standing at attention like that?"

"This is just how I stand." He shrugged.

He blinked. "You know. Fair." He started for the room door. "Want to head down?"

"Might as well." He trailed behind him.

"Yeah." He looked behind him. "You're alright?"

"I am. I'm well rested."

"...Alright emotionally?"

"Remains to be seen..."

He nodded. "Alright. If you need to get out for your own good, you'll be free to do so. Okay?"

"Understood."

He swallowed. Maybe someday he'd talk without sounding so..."Good. Let's head down then." Then opened the door.

"Let's." He followed him down to where the others were waiting.

Roman's head instantly shot up, glancing over Janus carefully.

Patton just turned and grinned. "Well good morning you two."

"Morning." Thomas yawned again.

"They made food..." Virgil was pouring syrup onto his toast, hair disheveled and slumped in his chair.

Thomas smiled. "I see that." Then went for one of the chairs and sat down, looking at all of them. "So, how'd you guys sleep last night?"

"I slept well." Logan cut his toast in half.

"Fell asleep there…” Virgil pointed over his shoulder.

"Me too." Patton poured more syrup on his. "We finished the whole series last night."

"Oh, that's good." Thomas got syrup for himself.

"Glowy eyes..." Virgil mumbled and waved his fork at Logan. "What's that about...?"

"Oh." Thomas's own eyes brightened. "That's part of foreshadowing the next Side."

"There's another one...?"

"Yeah, the last one." He took a bite. "I can't wait to see what the fans make of him."

Logan frowned. "I would worry about him..."

Thomas swallowed. "Because of, all this?"

"Yes... it's possible he'd just be endangered..."

Roman swallowed. "He's already set in motion the new character though. He can't just stop now."

"I know... but perhaps he could wait...?"

"I can at least do that." Thomas finally responded. "I can wait till I got the legal paperwork through. He won't be able to be bought at all then."

Roman bit his lip. "That would be good."

"Please... I can't even imagine what he'd go through. Or even if Remus was brought to life..."

Thomas sadly nodded. "I'll do what I can to make sure he doesn't experience the life you've all had. I promise."

"Thank you." Logan seemed to sigh in relief as he finally began to eat.

Thomas swallowed. "No need to thank me." He focused on his own breakfast.

Patton swallowed, then turned to look towards Janus, taking small bites of his toast. He seemed, well, as normal as Janus could be. At least he seemed to be doing better though. Patton then looked over the others. "So, what're we doing today?"

"I believe Roman will assist me in recording a video for Thomas, one where I play the Sims." Logan spread some Crofters on his toast. "I'm sure it will be interesting."

"I'm sure it will be." Patton grinned. "...What are the Sims?"

Roman blinked, putting the whipped cream on his toast. "You don't know what the Sims are."

He shrugged. "Susie didn't game much."

"I believe it is a life simulation game, I did some reading on it."

Thomas blinked. "Then playing the game will be a real treat for you. And yeah, it's a life simulator. You play as people and choose how they go about their life, helping them achieve goals and dreams, or not. All depends on you."

"I see, I will strive to make it as entertaining as possible."

Thomas smiled. "You just need to play it as you would play it. That'll be enough for the fans watching."

"Well, if you say so." He took a bite, some of the jam spilled off the sides and got on his face.

Roman smirked.

"Jelly face…” Virgil giggled.

"Virgil." Patton lightly tapped his shoulder. "That's not very nice."

"What?" Logan asked, mouth full.

"You have some jam on your face." Roman tapped it on his own face.

"Oh!" He started searching for a napkin. "My apologies-"

“No. Don't apologize." Roman grabbed a napkin for him and held it out. "It's cute."

Logan blushed and took it. "Thank you..."

"Anything for you, my dear." Then he took a bite himself, whipped cream splattering on his chin.

Virgil frowned. "Are you dating now?"

Roman blushed "Well, not quite yet..."

"You just called him dear and said he was cute..."

"I believe that is what some may call flirting." Logan finished wiping off his face. "It's very effective..."

He smiled more. "I am quite glad, mi corazon. I would not know what to do with myself if you were utterly immune to my charms."

"You're not dating but you both like each other?" Virgil tilted his head. "I'm confused."

Roman winced. "Well, circumstances right now would not permit dating to be altogether sensible."

"We would rather wait until things are more stable." Logan added.

"And, other things can be figured out..."

Patton frowned. "What other things?"

"Just... There's a lot to consider..."

"Private things that need to be worked out for a relationship to work." Roman gave Pat a significant look.

Patton swallowed. "O, kay...Long as you two are doing okay, I'm all for it!"

"Thank you, Patton."

"You're welcome." Then he took another bite of his French Toast.

"What are you going to do today?" Virgil asked Patton.

"Oh uh...I, might make cookies?"

"Cookies sound great." Thomas smiled.

"Cool... I wanna play more video games"

"Well, we're kinda going to be set up in here..." Thomas looked around. "Though, you could use the switch's handhold form if you wanted. Plug in headphones to play."

"Sounds good."

"I'd rather be away from the filming..." Janus scratched at one of his gloves.

"That's alright." Thomas looked to him. "You could choose out a book to read, or something."

"Or you could join me in making cookies." Patton grinned.

"I'd rather go upstairs…”

Patton somewhat deflated. "Oh. Alright."

Thomas tilted his head. "I could join in after helping Lo and Ro set up."

He bit his lip. "I wouldn't need the help."

"But you just asked if I wanted to help..." Janus narrowed his eyes.

He swallowed. "That was, in case you wanted to join in making cookies...We, haven't really had a chance to do anything together yet, so if you'd wanted to..."

"That can happen at Janus's own pace." Thomas rested on hand on Patton's arm.

He looked down. "I know." Then took another bite.

"He can stay with me while I game," Virgil offered, "read or sleep or whatever he does."

Thomas pursed his lips. "Would you be okay with that, Jan?"

"I suppose..."

"Alright. Just call down if you need anything."

"Or I can always come get them." Virgil offered.

Thomas swallowed, then shrugged. "Whichever works best..."

"We're agreed then." Janus kept scratching for a bit longer before attempting to eat again.

Roman frowned. "Are you alright?"

"Just an itch..."

"I see..." His brow furrowed.

"Well, I'm done." Virgil patted his stomach. "Thanks guys!"

Roman turned to him and smiled. "I am glad you enjoyed it. Logan came up with the idea."

"And you know the drill." Virgil started gathering the empty plates. "You cooked, we'll clean.”

"Exactly!" Patton grinned as he gathered silverware.

Roman chuckled. "We can at least help somewhat."

"I suppose Roman and I can prepare for filming, if you could help us, Thomas?"

"Oh, sure." Thomas got up. "I'll get the camera and stuff ready."

"And we can assist, I'd be interested to know how it works." Logan stood.

"As would I." Roman rose up himself, whipped cream still on his chin.

"Oh, here." Logan picked up a napkin and wiped it off. "There you go."

Roman swallowed, eyes locked on Logan. "Why, thank you."

"It isn't a problem." He went to throw it away, not seeing Virgil hiding a grin behind his sleeve.

Roman just swallowed more. "Well, let's get on with the show."

"Yes, let's." He then followed Thomas out of the kitchen.

Roman followed right behind, eyes focused on Logan.

Patton helped get the dirty silverware to the sink.

"I'm going up..." Janus stood, hissing slightly.

Patton turned. "Are you okay?"

"Fine... I might have slept wrong..." he started towards the stairs. "I just need rest..."

Thomas turned himself, frowning. "You sure?"

"I'm just sore..." he looked back before going up. "I'll be fine..."

Thomas bit his lip. "If you say so..."

Roman blinked. "It couldn't be..." He whispered under his breath.

Logan frowned. What was he thinking?

Janus soon disappeared upstairs, shutting the guest room door.

Roman shook. "Well, let's get set up."

"Uh, yeah." Thomas turned away then headed for where he stored the camera.

Logan glanced at Roman, now wasn't the time or place to discuss this... Maybe if he could arrange something…

"Ah, there it is." He grabbed the camera rig out. "My old friend."

"Where will I be sitting?"

"At the table. That's where I have been setting up." He got the camera upright then pushed down its peds.

"Anything I could help with?"

"Yeah. You guys could get my computer set up."

"Of course." Logan went and got it while Roman followed with the power cord while The sounds of Patton scrubbing the dishes could be heard from the kitchen.

Virgil wiped down the counters, shaking his head. "You two sure made a mess over here!"

"Hey!" Roman retorted. "French Toast is messy."

"Sugar... syrup... eggs..." he tutted and shook his head.

"Don't forget milk, jam, and whipped cream." Patton piped up.

"It's all part of it!"

"And now it's all part of this rag!" Virgil held it up.

Roman sputtered. "You sacrifice cleanliness for deliciousness!"

"Okay. I'll give you that!”

"You had better! Or else we might just leave you your clean counters and make something dreadfully dull. Like lettuce."

"Oh gross!" He gagged.

Patton chuckled. "Hey, don't torture the child.”

Roman huffed. "Very well, padre."

"Maybe we'll start cooking and you can clean!"

He gasped. "Oh horror!"

Patton chuckled. "Or I can go back to cooking and cleaning...While you two have your spats."

"But that's no fair!" Virgil frowned. "You shouldn't have to do it all yourself!"

"Yeah." Roman turned. "You know we want to help, right?"

A nervous chuckle escaped him. "I don't need coddling, kiddos. I made the mess, so I should clean the mess. You can trust me with that."

"But you don't make Roman or Logan clean up their messes..."

"Because they usually have other things they need to do..." He swallowed. "I can at least take something off their workload."

"It really isn't a problem, Patton." Logan looked over. "We don't mind."

"We're quite prepared to do our own cleaning if you ever want." Roman frowned.

He stiffened. "No, really, I don't mind."

"We share the workload!" Virgil smiled.

"Exactly! No one is to be saddled with all the work."

"I'm not saddled here." Patton pushed up his glasses. "I'm just, doing my fair share!"

"Yeah! Some cook, then the others clean!"

Patton hunched in more. "But when Logan and Roman are doing other things, it's better to cook and clean while they get done what they need. That's the fair share."

"Well, maybe sometimes. But not always!"

"Yeah, Pat. Exactly that."

Patton kept looking to the sink, silently scrubbing.

Virgil frowned. "You okay?"

"Fine!" He looked back with a forced grin. "I'm perfectly fine, kiddo."

"Uh... You sure...?" Virgil stepped back.

"Yeah. I am."

"Okay..." he glanced at the others then hurried to grab the broom.

Patton kept scrubbing with the sponge, trying to get some particularly sticky syrup off.

Roman looked worriedly towards Logan and Thomas.

Thomas sighed and started into the kitchen, quietly telling Virgil (who was sweeping one spot over and over) to go on upstairs as he took the broom from him. He set it against a wall and walked towards Patton. "Um, hey Pat?"

Patton swallowed, tensing up further. "Yeah Thomas?"

"Think we could talk for a second?"

"Uh, sure. After I get done with this." He scrubbed harder.

"Is now okay? I think that plate is pretty clean..."

"It's just about done. Then I have to finish the rest of the dishes."

"Patton please..." Thomas reached for the plate. "It'll just be a-"

"No!" He pulled the plate back, shattering it into pieces.

Thomas hissed and quickly stepped back, gripping his hand as red ran down.

"Thomas!” Logan ran towards the kitchen while Roman just gapped. Had-Had Patton just shattered that plate...?

Patton then whipped around, eyes glowing. "Stop coddling me! I can do things myself. I'm not just some kid!"

"Patton, stop!" Roman vaulted over the countertop, standing between Thomas and him.

Patton then spotted the blood. His eyes returned to normal as he held his hands to his mouth and stepped back. "Oh gosh. Thomas, I'm, I'm sorry!"

Logan was checking Thomas's hand, moving him away from the glass despite his protests.

"Logan, I'm fine... It doesn't even hurt..."

"Let Logan be the judge of that." Roman turned towards him and followed.

Patton just shook, then fell to his knees, hands reaching shakily for the shattered remains.

"Don't let him use his hands!" Thomas insisted.

Logan looked back. "Please use the broom Patton..."

He shook. "I can clean it. I-No one needs to help me."

"Patton..." Roman grabbed the broom then started over.

Patton flinched back. "I can do it! You don't need to help!"

"We won't then. Just please don't use your hands..."

Roman swallowed. "I don't think he's processing that, Specs."

"Then could you put gloves on him?"

"I could try..." He snapped his fingers.

Light blue rubber gloves coated his hands as he continued to pick shards up then throw them in the trash, blood though already on the floor.

"We'll clean it up soon. We need to get this bandaged..." Logan guided Thomas upstairs.

Roman frowned. "What about Pat?"

"I don't think he's approachable right now..."

He swallowed. "You have a point there." Then he followed them up as well.

Leaving Patton to then start trying to clean the tiles of blood.

"Guys... seriously... it's not that bad!" Thomas continued to insist.

"Let us be the judge of that." Roman got him into the bathroom, then turned on the faucet.

"You guys... Patton's the one who needs help!"

"He won't let us near..." Logan held Thomas's hand under the water.

"We need to wait until he's calmed down." Roman looked back out the bathroom door.

"He's never done that before..." Logan stared at the blood as it ran down the drain.

"You've never seen that?"

"No." Roman shook his head. "He's never, exploded like that..."

"Or shown to possess abilities like that."

"Well, I guess the frog moment could technically count for this."

"I remember that, did his Wisher not change it?"

"I... I don't know..." Thomas frowned. "Would it have given strength if he did have it?"

"Why wouldn't it? Rage is often connected to increased strength."

"And I made him angry..."

Roman looked at Thomas. "That wasn't your fault."

"I had no idea he'd act like that. I just wanted to help..."

"To be fair, we didn't know either..." He leaned back. "I thought it was more a problem of him feeling like he needed to be useful, that it would helped by offers to help."

"But he'd just expressed to me that I shouldn't take on all responsibilities myself, yet he wants to do the same?" Logan frowned and inspected Thomas's hand. "Where are your bandages?"

"First aid is in the cabinet." Thomas pointed with his other hand.

"I've got it." Roman reached and grabbed it out. "Well, hypocrisy is a thing. Though I don't think it's quite what Patton thinks he's doing..."

"Then what is it?"

His brow furrowed, handing the bandages over. "Proving himself capable?"

"But we already know he is capable."

"Does he know we know? He, might still be a bit sore that he wasn't told about, what happened that night."

"He wanted to know?" Logan blinked.

Roman's eyes widened. "Uh, yeah? He wanted to know what had happened to you. Make sure you were okay."

"Oh, I thought I had explained though?" He started wrapping Thomas's hand.

He winced. "No. I basically blurted out some stuff in that one fight, then you confirmed for Patton what he already suspected. And that was about a week after the whole thing had already gone down."

"Oh... You're not referring to last night..."

He winced. "Well, last night probably also didn't help. Nor this morning..."

"I even told Thomas. But I haven't told him..."

"It's something really personal. I can get why you wouldn't want to talk about it."

"But he deserves to know..." Logan finished applying the bandage. "Could you summon a pair of scissors?"

"Certainly." He snapped his fingers, scissors in his hands. "You can tell him after we get the chance to treat his hands..."

"Yes..." He cut off the end of the bandage. "He will need tending to..."

"And I think I should talk to him, I don't want him thinking I'm upset with him."

Roman swallowed. "That likely is a good idea. If you're up for it..."

"I am, thanks Logan.”

"Just try not to use it much..." Logan added.

"We'll help you carry things around so you don't need to risk it."

"I appreciate it... So who's going down first?"

Roman looked between the two. "I could go..."

"I should as well..." Logan adjusted his tie. "Then, if you wished to speak to Patton we could send him to your room when we're done."

"Actually..." Thomas cleared his throat. "He might be more scared of you guys..."

Roman frowned. "Why would he be scared of us? We've travelled together."

"I know, but, maybe it would help if he knew he'd still be having a place here?"

The prince winced. "True...Being sent to you would sound more ominous."

"Yeah, so I could talk to him first then you guys can, that way I can assure him both you're not mad."

"I believe that would be for the best."

"Yeah." He handed Thomas the first aid kit. "Good luck."

"Thanks..." he took a deep breath and headed down.

Patton still knelt in the kitchen, eyes unfocused on the floor below.

"Um, hey Patton..." Thomas slowly approached him. "I brought a first aid kit..."

He flinched. "I'm sorry."

"No, it's okay... It's for your hands." He walked over and knelt down.

"But it's not. I," he shook. "I hurt you. And you've been so kind to me."

"Patton, it was an accident." he opened the kit and pulled out the bandages. "I don't even think you knew what happened."

He blinked, finally looking up. "You're not upset?"

"Of course not! Worried, yes, but I'm not angry." Taking the gloves off first, he started wrapping his hands.

"But," he frowned. "You're not frustrated? Sad that I refused your help?"

"No, I'm a little more frustrated at myself. I really shouldn't have tried to take it like that..." he focused on wrapping the bandage. "I was just worried..."

"But, why? I, I was cleaning it right, right? I didn't do anything wrong before I broke the dish."

"No, of course not. It had nothing to do with how you cleaned the plate." He tied off the bandage, he'd need to get scissors later, then began wrapping the other. "You've always done a great job cleaning Patton, but you were clearly upset and everyone was starting to worry..."

"But I was doing my job." He swallowed. "I was proving that my life is-" Then he bit his lip, looking back down.

"Proving your life is...?” Thomas tried to meet his gaze.

He shook. "...Worth it."

"What? Of course it is!" Thomas put a hand on his shoulder. "If their lives are worth it why shouldn't yours be?"

"Be," a sob let out. "Because...Logan and Roman are so sure in who they are and what they can do. And they can do so many things. But I," his head fell down more. "I can't. I'm barely able to cook or clean without anybody's help. I either get distracted, or too clumsy, or just make it so no one trusts me to do things on my own."

"You think no one trusts you?" Thomas blinked. "Patton, that couldn't be further from the truth!"

"Then why don't they trust me to do the dishes?!" Tears started rolling out. "Why don't they trust me with any of the secrets they keep between each other? Why does Janus hardly like being in the same room as me? Why did Virgil not even tell me what his age was?!"

"Okay one," Thomas wiped his eyes. "They do trust you to do the dishes. Or even cook! They just don't want you to have to do it all on your own, just like with Logan, remember?"

He blinked. "Re, really?"

"Yeah, if you want to cook some meals that's okay. But Virgil's right, it's fair to share the workload. That's what me and my brothers did all the time."

"But, cooking's the only thing I can do to help..."

"That's not true. Besides chores, you also take care of the others. Just look at Virgil, literally have you seen how brightly he smiles when you're around?"

"Ye, yeah..." Then he shook. "Oh kiddo...How badly did I scare him?"

"I think he left before any of that happened, but he's probably just as worried as Logan and Roman. Speaking of those two... they're not angry at all over this. They're worried just like me."

He swallowed. "What, kind of worried?"

"Just worried if you're okay... and, I know Logan regrets not telling you everything..."

He winced. "I shouldn't be prying..." A bitter chuckle escaped. "Silly Patton, not understanding when it's not good to ask questions."

"It's okay... I mean, I'm sure Logan had his reasons, but I think he's ready to talk about it now. He's been learning a lot about himself and it's just been... well... a lot to deal with. But he's processing it all."

He bit his lip. "He doesn't have to force himself to..."

"I don't think he is. He made the decision himself."

He swallowed. "Is he okay?"

"That's for him to say..."

"Oh. Okay..." He glanced at his hands. "Thanks, Thomas."

"No problem," Thomas smiled, "you know you're allowed to talk to me or any of us when you're upset, right?"

"Yeah...But most of my problems are silly." He shook his head.

"I think everyone feels that way to an extent."

"But mine actually are." He looked back up. "I should get by now that people don't want to tell me things. I shouldn't be so bothersome about it."

"Well in some cases it's not just you. Virgil didn't tell anyone about his age."

"We didn't even think to ask anyway..." He swallowed. "Not that asking ever does me good."

"Why do you say that?"

"Because even with Susie, it didn't." He huddled in. "I was, well supposed to be her friend, yet any time I asked about the story she was writing or the book she was reading, she'd just say I wouldn't like it and not tell me." He swallowed. "She wouldn't even let me decide for myself. She just, wouldn't say."

His brow furrowed. "Was she a bit overbearing?"

"Well, I'm not quite sure what overbearing means. But I do know that there was a lot she didn't trust me with. There were only certain things I was allowed to read or watch, which even included most of Sanders Sides until after Virgil came by. I wasn't allowed to talk with strangers even though I was the one to go to the grocery store. Any time I was cooking, baking, or cleaning, she'd step in to see if I was alright, then would often step in, whether I needed help or not. Even carrying plates out to the table was too much to trust me with, not helped by the times I was too clumsy to do it. Then she'd even not trust me to cut up my own food." He looked down at his hand. "Not that they're likely to trust me that far for a while now..."

"They still trust you, and they'd certainly never be like that." Thomas sighed. "It's one thing to try and protect someone, and another to completely shelter them to the point where they feel smothered. Or like you said, can't be trusted with anything."

He blinked. "Yeah. That's how it feels. Smothered..." He looked up at Thomas. "I want to show I don't have to be smothered anymore..."

"Well you can show, and definitely tell." He smiled. "Just be honest with them, I think they'll understand a bit more than you think."

"You think so? I...I never had the word for it before. I just thought it was me trying not to be a burden..."

"You're not a burden, Patton. None of you are." He held both of his hands, still smiling. "You guys being here has actually improved my mood a lot."

A sad smile broke through. "Even with all the trouble we've caused you?"

"Who said it was any trouble?" Thomas chuckled. "Just life throwing a curve ball at me."

The smile brightened with a chuckle of his own. "A really big curve ball...I'm glad to be here too. Thank you."

"Any time Pat." He patted his shoulder.

He smiled. "I hope, we can do even more to help you."

"And me you."

His eyes brightened. "...Can I hug you?"

"Why not?" He opened his arms. "Let's just be careful with our hands."

"Okay!" Then he wrapped his arms around Thomas and snuggled in.

He chuckled and pulled him close. Things at least made more sense now, poor Pat… Not understanding why he was angry, just knowing he would get upset when people kept wanting to help or to keep things away from him… But now that he knew, he could explain his feelings to the others. Starting with Roman and Logan upstairs… Patton's grip tightened.

"Hey, they just want to make sure you're okay."

Patton swallowed. "...Are they going to think I'm being childish?"

"Not at all."

He hummed. "But it does seem silly. They've done so much for me..."

"And they'll keep doing stuff for you, they love you."

"And I love them too." He started to pull away. "I, think I'm ready to face them..."

"Want me to send them down?"

"No...No, I can go up to them." He stood up.

"Okay, I'll give you guys some space."

He smiled. "Thanks." Then he took a deep breath, and started up the stairs.

Thomas watched him go, taking a deep breath. Hopefully things will go well. If it didn't, he could at least be here for the aftermath...

Patton swallowed more as he got up top, glancing for which room Lo and Ro were in.

He didn't have to look far though, seeing as the two were waiting in the hallway.

He stopped, then shakily smiled. "Hey guys..."

"Hello Padre." Roman tried to smile back, but failed.

"Are you alright?" Logan asked.

"Uh, yeah..." Patton ducked his head, carefully wrapping his arms around himself. "I'm, sorry about what happened downstairs..."

"It's alright," Logan glanced at his hands. "Oh, let me cut the ends off for you.”

"Oh." Patton held them out. "If, you want to..."

"I would, I wouldn't want them getting caught on anything." He took the scissors Roman had summoned and snipped the ends off.

He chuckled. "Clumsy me. They probably would get caught..."

"Accidents happen, clumsy or not." He pocketed the scissors then looked into his eyes. "Are you alright?"

"I..." He bit his lip. "I don't think so. Sorry."

"That's alright, Pat." Roman leaned forward. "You're allowed to not be alright..."

"It was rather obvious anyway. We wouldn't need Janus to know you were lying."

He winced. "You're right there..."

"So, do you wish to tell us what upset you?" Logan's gaze softened. "We are not angry in the slightest, and I'm sure Thomas assured you that he bears no ill will towards you either."

He swallowed. "Yeah, he did..." Then he slumped. "It's, kinda ridiculous..."

"Whatever made you that upset couldn't be ridiculous." Roman quickly urged.

"But it's...It's stuff based on what Susie would do. And, I know you guys aren't like Susie..."

Logan rubbed his arm. "Did you know Roman was scared of me when we first met?"

Patton looked up. "What?"

"As ashamed as I am to say it, it was true..." He crossed his arms together. "I, I only had how things had been with Rosa to really go off of..."

"As I did with Sarah. However it was clear I had the power in Roman's eyes, and he feared me for it."

Patton blinked. "Oh...No, I'm not scared of you guys."

"You aren't?"

"No. I was never scared of you. Or even so Susie..." He swallowed. "Susie was always sweet..."

"I had hoped you weren't, but that wasn't the reason I told you that." Logan glanced at Roman. "We've all had instances where we feared everyone else would simply become our Wishers. They were all we ever knew…”

"Exactly." Roman stepped by Logan, focused on Patton. "So, it makes sense if something we've done reminds you of her..."

"But, but you guys aren't really trying to smother me..."

"Has it felt that way?" Logan tilted his head.

"Well, at times..." He winced. "But I get it. Not all my questions need to be answered and you just want to make sure I don't overwork myself. It's not because you don't trust me, or, think less of me..."

"Which we don't, you're one of the few I do trust..." Logan looked down. "Which is why I'm sorry I hid this from you..."

He focused on Logan, blinking. "You don't have to apologize for that. I get it. You just didn't want to tell me..."

"Mostly because I was ashamed... and didn't want any of you to worry... I believed it was my job to provide for you all..."

Patton swallowed. "I was going to worry either way..." He carefully reached a hand out, gently touching Logan's shoulder. "I know you do a lot of things that the rest of us can't do, or can't do well. But, it was all our jobs to help each other however we could. You shouldn't have had to pay all that price..."

"I understand that now..." he glanced at Roman again, then back at Patton. "Do you really want to know? Or have you already guessed?"

Patton swallowed. "About you having sold yourself to that guy for him to give us the rooms?"

"Yes..." Logan gripped his tie. "I'd figured you'd realized…”

"Well, that time in the car confirmed it..." Patton sighed. "I'm sorry you felt like you had to do that."

"It isn't anyone's fault... and Roman saved me."

He sadly smiled. "Glad we decided that Roman should follow you that day..."

"Indeed..." Logan continued to tug his tie.

Patton rested his other hand over that one. "You alright?" Feeling out exactly what he was feeling.

Anxious, but trying desperately to push it down. Also anger though very brief, replaced by fear and then... pleasure...? Almost forced but...

He swallowed. "Hey, Lo. It's okay. You're not there any more..."

"I-I know. I know." His hand kept tightening around his tie. "I know..."

Ro swallowed, reaching out, but stopping himself.

Patton met Logan's eyes. "You still remember it though...You're remembering it right now?"

He nodded, biting down on his lip.

He nodded back. "Would it help if you grabbed my arm?"

"Your arm...?"

"Yeah...Ground yourself like you have Virgil do during an attack..."

He nodded and used his other hand to grab his arm.

Patton smiled. "Great job, Lo. Now...What are five things you can see?"

"You... Roman... the floor... that photo on the wall... the stairs..."

"Very good. Now, four things you can feel?"

"My tie... your arm... the floor under me... a weight in my chest..."

Patton's eyes saddened. "Three things you can hear?"

"Your voice... Roman's breathing... clothes rustling..."

He nodded. "Our clothes rustling here and now...Not from then...Two things you can taste..."

"I... I..." he shook and breathed in deeply. "Crofters... and French toast..."

"Yep. That should be right on your tongue." He forced a grin. "And something you smell?"

"Soap... lemon dish soap..."

"Yeah." He lightly chuckled. "I probably stink of that stuff right now...Now, breathe in..."

He inhaled and closed his eyes.

"And breathe out..."

He exhaled as the hand around his tie loosened.

"There you go...Would you like a hug?"

"Yes..."

He smiled. "Alright." Then he wrapped his arms around him, holding him close to his chest.

Logan leaning in. "Thank you..."

"No problem Lo." He hugged him closer. "Anytime you need that, please come to me, okay?"

"I will…”

"Thank you..." He looked down at him. "I'll always be here to help you, Lo."

"And I you..."

His smile softened. "Thanks Lo."

"Neither of us have to carry anything alone."

"No we don't...Especially not you, Lo."

He sighed and stood, adjusting his tie. "I'm better now."

He swallowed, then let him go. "I'm glad..."

"And, you?"

Patton nodded. "Much better..." Then he sighed, looking to the bedroom. "Now to make amends with Virgil..."

"I believe he's playing Thomas's switch, I passed it to him on his way up."

"That makes sense..." Patton sighed. "Poor kiddo..."

"You can go ahead, Roman and I should prepare for filming."

"Yes." Roman swallowed. "We, should."

"Okay..." Patton stood up straighter. "...Will he be scared?"

"I don't think so, I believe Janus is with him though…”

"I can see if Virge would prefer to talk in private then..." He went up to the guest door, knocking.

He heard some fumbling before Virgil answered. "Come in..."

Patton swallowed, then opened the door. "Hey kiddo. How are you?"

"I'm okay..." he whispered, pointing to a mound of blankets. "He's asleep..."

"Oh..." He whispered back, swallowing. "Well...Would you want to come out?"

"Yeah..." He carefully got up and made his way over.

Patton managed to stay still. "I just want to say...I'm sorry. I, shouldn't have broken down like that in front of you."

"Is anyone hurt...? I heard glass..."

He bit his lip. "Only somewhat..."

"Your hand is bandaged... Was there a fight...?"

"Oh, no kiddo. I just, accidently destroyed a plate..."

"Oh... dropped it?"

He winced. "Kinda rammed it against the sink when Thomas tried to grab it..."

"And hurt your hand...?"

"A bit...Though I mostly got it from picking up the fragments afterwards..."

"Okay..." he looked up at him. "You sure there was no fighting?"

"I promise, kiddo." He met his eyes. "I just got hurt from picking up the shards, while Thomas got a bit hurt from the shatter. Otherwise, we're alright. There was no fight. And we've all already talked about what caused me to do that..."

"What was it? I was scared you were hurt..."

"Oh, it was...Well, I just got worried that I was being coddled...That's all that was."

"Coddled?"

"Yeah...Just, issues that I have to work through..." He looked firmly at Virgil. "Something that now I am working on with the others, so, this shouldn't happen again."

"And no one's angry at each other?"

"No one's angry with each other." He sadly smiled. "I'm sorry I even exploded like that."

"It's okay... Thomas sent me up before anything bad happened and Logan gave me the switch..."

"But even before that..." He sighed. "You didn't deserve to see or fear any of that..."

"Yelling just, triggers my fight or flight..." he stuffed his hands in his hoodie pockets. "Always meant that something bad was about to happen..."

"I get that..." He sighed. "Even if we do get mad, we don't want to hurt you. We will do all we can to make sure you don't."

"Promise...?"

"I promise. You're safe with us, Virge. Now, and always."

"Okay... are they making their video now?"

"I think they're going to..." He glanced down the stairs.

"What will you do?"

"Well, I guess I can't make cookies now..." He glanced at his hands.

"And it would be loud... wanna watch me play? We could sit on the floor, and we don't have to talk so Janus can sleep."

Patton's eyes brightened. "I'd like that kiddo. Thanks."

"I'm playing something called Pokémon, you get to have these little monsters that are actually really cute..." he quietly led him back into the room.

"Aww." He whispered. "What kind of little monsters?"

"Um, I can show you..." he sat down on the floor.

Patton sat beside him, bouncing with excitement as he watched for the screen. All while Janus slept on the bed, occasionally tossing and turning, sometimes Patton could hear scratching...

Chapter Text

As the scratching came more and more often, Patton found he really couldn't ignore it. He looked up, frowning. That seemed like a very bad itch, whatever he was going through.

"He keeps doing it..." Virgil whispered.

"The whole time you've been up here?"

"Yeah..."

"That can't be good..." Patton got up then headed over.

"Are you sure that's a good idea...?"

Patton winced. "No, but it doesn't seem right to just leave him alone either..." He glanced over him carefully.

He was completely covered by blankets, Patton would have to move them... He swallowed, then cautiously whispered. "Janus?"

He hissed, followed by more scratching.

He frowned. "Are you okay there, kiddo?"

"Fine!"

"...You don't seem fine...If you have an itch, you shouldn't scratch it."

"Leave me alone!”

He winced. "You sure...?"

"Yes!"

He frowned. "You know we're not going to hurt you, right?"

He didn't answer, but Patton could see the blanket shaking.

Patton swallowed, squatting by the bed. "You don't need to be afraid..." Patton listened a bit closer. Was that crying...? Oh it was...

"Kiddo..." He moved in closer. "What's wrong?"

"I... I want Thomas..."

He nodded. "Alright." Then he stood up. "I'll get him right away." Then he rushed downstairs.

Downstairs the three were finishing Logan's set up, Roman helping get the game started while Thomas adjusted the camera.

Patton rushed over. "Thomas!"

"Pat?" He turned. "What's wrong?"

"Something's wrong with Janus!"

"Is he ill again?" Logan stood.

"I don't know. He wants Thomas! He's tossing and turning and scratching..."

"Scratching?" Roman straightened up.

"If he wants Thomas, then perhaps he should go alone. If you need us just call."

"Right." Then Thomas headed up, Patton right behind him.

Just as they were about to enter, Virgil burst out of the room. "He's peeling!"

"What?!" Thomas made his way in.

Roman facepalmed. "Of fricking course!"

"He's peeling...?" Logan looked up in confusion.

"His skin is falling off!"

Thomas rushed to Janus's side, seeing for himself.

"Because he's shedding!" Roman exclaimed. "We have a shedding half snake boy on our hands!"

Janus had torn his shirt off, furiously scratching at his scales. The bed was covered in pieces of shredded snake skin.

Thomas came closer. What was he going to do?! "Hey, Janus. Look up at me."

He turned to him, tears running down his face. "It hurts!"

"I know...Don't think this is a good way to go about it...A bath. Would a bath work?"

"Anything!”

"Alright. Let's give you a bath then." He rested on the bed. "May I carry you?"

He nodded frantically. "Just hurry!"

"Got it." Then he wrapped his arms around him, lifted up, then rushed to the bathroom.

Logan frowned, starting to follow behind them.

Thomas closed the door behind him and Janus then set him on the toliet. "Okay. I'll get the water ready. You...You'll need to strip."

"Well, it's all your skin peeling off, right?" He looked away, focused on turning the faucet and getting the water right. "We can't get to it if your clothes are on."

"Just... Need to take off my pants..." Janus grimaced, then bent down and hissed in pain.

He bit his lip. "Want me to help you?"

He hesitated, stuck bending over. He wanted to do it himself, but he could barely move!

"...I won't look or touch, if that helps."

"Okay..."

"Alright." He turned, then carefully looked towards his eyes as he began to help him out of his pants.

Janus continued to hiss in pain, more scales peeling off as the pants were removed.

Thomas winced. "Sorry...That, should do it now...There. Now, you can just, get off the boxers after I get you in." Then he started carrying him again.

Janus felt like he was burning. So much of his skin had been scratched raw.

Thomas held him as gently as he could, then rested him in the tub. "How's the temperature?"

"It's fine..."

He sighed. "Feel free to tell me if it isn't..." He winced as he looked at him. "Alright...I think I got aloe around here. It might help."

"Anything... I don't care..."

"You just want relief..." He swallowed. "Let's try it then." And he grabbed out the bottle, squeezing it onto his hand.

"Hurry..."

"I'm hurrying..." Once he had enough, he knelt down, then started to rub the worst of it on his chest.

Janus trembled, gripping the edge of the tub to resist scratching. "Why am I doing this...?"

"Because you're half snake..." He continued on. "Snakes shed their skin to let the new skin grow."

"But I'm not- I'm not a snake!"

"You still have scales." He got more aloe. "So, it's been common for the fans to think you have to deal with a shed too..."

"But it's not true! It's not- Why would I- Why does it hurt?!"

He winced as he began to rub again. "You have a shed the same reason Virgil's a kid and Logan can get drugged by touch. It's part of how you guys were made...As for why it hurts..." He frowned. "Is, this your first time?"

He nodded, stopping when the scales on his neck were disturbed. "I didn't know this would happen…”

He winced. "She likely knew though..." Then he started rubbing some of the aloe around his neck.

"Just waiting... probably had some sick photo shoot prepared..."

"Along with being another way you'd rely on her." He got out more aloe.

He shuddered. "I don't want to be a pet..."

"You aren't here." He started rubbing his arm. "And you never will be here."

"Never...?"

"Never." He looked into his eyes, then focused back on helping his poor skin. Just needed to get these scales off... Then he could rinse him off and get him back to bed.

He shook his head. "At least for next time, we know that scratching yourself is a bad idea."

"Noted..."

"...Is your other hand up for using the aloe?"

"No..." he lifted it up, showing the red hand.

He hissed. "Ouch...Well..." He glanced towards the leg. "This is going to be awkward then..."

Janus followed his gaze. "Do you have to...?"

"Well, it does seem the skin goes all the way down...All of it's going to need help."

"Can't we just... leave it...?"

"We could try, if you want...Not sure what that's going to do long term."

"As long as the scales are off..."

"OK..." He focused back on the torso. "We'll see if the bath is enough to help that."

"Hope so..."

"Yeah, me too..." He started rubbing it on more, checking on the shedding was going.

Scales were floating around in the water, the ones that remained on him looked even shinier than before. Which made sense. The new scales would look better. Made them look all the more impressive though. Like really shiny emeralds. It even looked like more had grown in, no wonder he'd be itching so much… It was like if new toenails suddenly grew in.

He shuddered, focusing on getting what was left of the old skin gently off. Gradually, Janus started to relax, closing his eyes and resting in the water. Thomas sighed in relief. At least he was finally starting to be not in pain...He kept rubbing on the aloe, carefully starting on his face.

Janus's eyes fluttered open slightly. "Thomas...?"

He stopped. "Is, this okay?"

Janus stared at him, not answering his question. "Do you think... you could ever love me...?"

He swallowed. "I already care about you..."

"Could you see me as more than a villain...?"

His eyes softened. "I already do..." Then he placed a light kiss to his forehead.

He sighed in relief, resting against the side of the tub. "Thank you..."

"No problem, Jan..." He kept rubbing the aloe. "You always have a place with me."

He hummed and curled into him, closing his eyes.

He fondly smiled. Good. He deserved the sleep...He settled in to keep watch over him. No one was going to hurt him again under his watch. No one.

Chapter Text

When it looked like most of the scales had finally been removed, he finished up the ones up top, then swallowed, glancing down at the leg. Maybe they'd come off when he dried him? Hopefully...He, did not want to go against his wishes on this...

Well, time to drain the water, then clean out these scales...How was he going to get the scales out? Those probably wouldn't be good to have go down the drain. One thing at a time...Dry Janus off. Get him comfy somewhere. Then deal with the bathtub. He grabbed a towel.

Maybe he should call in one of the others? They had cared for him when he was sick… He swallowed. Janus wouldn't want them to see him like this...He rested the towel on the ground, then picked him up and laid him on it, then grabbed another towel to lay on top of him.

How could someone want to see him suffer like this? He was right, he wasn't a snake, so why should he have to shed? Snake's shed as they grew. Janus shouldn't be growing any bigger. Even if there was somehow a good reason for him to shed, why did it have to be painful? He'd gone through enough suffering!
Had his wisher just enjoyed causing him pain? Given the artwork, maybe…

He swallowed, then started drying him off, being as non-invasive as he could. Fortunately most of the remaining scales came right off. Any that remained should come off on their own, he hoped. He bundled Janus into his arms, then got out the door. Here he found Roman helping Patton and Virgil clean the scales from the bed, Logan strangely absent.

Thomas winced. Was he okay...? He headed into his own room, glancing about.

That was where he found Logan fixing up the bed with his back turned towards Thomas.

He frowned. "Lo...?"

"Oh, Thomas." He turned around. "Forgive my intrusion, I was just trying to make a place for Janus that would be as comfortable as possible for him to sleep. I also got a change of clothes for him and set them on your dresser. Something loose that shouldn't aggravate his skin much."

"That's very considerate of you, Lo." He came forward and rested Janus on the bed. "Thank you."

"No need to thank me..." he went and retrieved the clothes, carrying them over. "How is he?"

"Finally not in pain." He took the clothes. "His shed's just about done, so he's taking a nap."

"That's good... I assume you'll be monitoring him?"

"Yeah..." He swallowed. "He, kinda trusts me the most right now...And would be freaked out by an empty room when he does wake up."

"I understand... he would be alarmed if he ever woke up alone..."

"Probably..." He turned to Logan. "Sorry. But unless you and Roman feel that you're able to run the camera on your own, we'll have to give today a raincheck."

"That's alright. Perhaps we could spend the day learning how to use it ourselves?"

"That could work. And maybe practice, so when you're ready, the video could be a livestream."

"Of course, whatever is necessary to help." Logan turned towards Janus. "We still don't understand why he fears us..."

He sadly sighed. "Likely the same reason he doesn't like seeing himself on screen. For him, he was only a villain on the show. Someone to hate, and hurt."

"But we never harmed him... We did everything to assure him he was safe, that we'd care for him..."

"I know." He rested a hand on Logan's shoulder. "It's, it's just a lot of change for him. He's been told one thing for so long. Now we're trying to tell him the opposite of it, and he can't quite trust it."

"He is also self-preservation... He'll be seeking to protect himself by any means necessary..."

"Which means, he distrusts you..." His eyes rested on Janus. "And he tries to befriend the 'top dog' so he has some protection."

"That's why he's been at your side since we arrived..."

"Yeah..." He sighed. "I think he's only just starting to realize that he doesn't need to please me to make sure that he doesn't get hurt, or abandoned."

"That's good..."

"Yeah...Maybe soon, he'll start also trusting you guys."

"I can only hope so," Logan turned around, "I'll leave him to rest."

"Alright...And, if it helps...He was also worried about you."

Logan stopped and glanced over his shoulder. "He was?"

"Yeah..." He slightly smiled. "He was scared Roman was about to take advantage of you and your, sensitivity to touch."

"Oh... He, knows Roman wouldn't do that, right?"

He winced. "I've assured him of that now. He, didn't know last night."

"That's good..."

He sighed. "How is that going?"

"We've acknowledged our feelings, and are attempting to find ways to help me not be so vulnerable. But we haven't officially become a couple yet."

"I heard that last part downstairs..." He nodded, then swallowed. "Does, my touch also do that?"

"Not that I've noticed. It tends to vary from person to person."

He sighed in relief. "Good. Well, not so good that other people can affect you that strongly. But still, good that it's not like I can use it against you..."

"Not that you would."

He smiled. "You really trust me that far."

"I suppose I do." He smiled back.

He grinned. "Thank you."

"Thank you for giving me a reason to."

"Well, I'm going to assist the others with cleaning. Let me know if you need anything."

"Just," he scratched his neck. "Doing my best to help."

"I will. Thanks."

Logan exited the room, leaving Thomas with a sleeping Janus.

Roman looked up as he did. "How is he?"

"He's sleeping, finally."

"Thank heavens."

"Yeah." Patton frowned towards the door. "Poor kiddo...He must have really been suffering."

"I'll say..." Virgil held up a small pile of scales. "These just came off him."

"Yes..." Roman looked to the bathroom. "And I can't imagine it's much better in there."

"I'll get started there then." Logan headed inside.

"Allow me to assist." Roman entered after him.

"Pat and I can get this all in the trash!" Virgil called.

"That we can." Patton tried to hold the bag.

"Thanks Pat." Roman smiled.

"We'll bring up more bags too!"

"That would be appreciated." Roman gazed at the tub.

"Yes..." Logan cringed.

He shook. "Well, nothing for it but to start cleaning."

"Indeed... Could you summon gloves?"

"Certainly." He snapped his fingers, gloves appearing on their hands.

"Thank you." He started gathering up the remains from the water, setting them on one of the towels Thomas had left.

Roman gathered another garbage bag. "Didn't even consider this fanfic cliché coming into this."

"Neither did I..."

"Yeah..." He grabbed a scale then looked it over. "We might have been prepared if we'd thought of it."

"There's so much we haven't been prepared for..."

"No one said life would be easy."

"I never expected it to be after we ran..."

"Hey," his hand reached, but then hesitated. "When we were on the run, we needed to focus on running. Now though, we're able to consider other things."

"Are we though? I can't help but sense that something is about to happen..."

Roman swallowed. "If something does happen, we'll figure it out. Just like we always have."

"And if we can't?"

He bit his lip. "We, figure some way anyway."

Logan stared down at the water, seeing a few more scales floating around. "I don't want to lose you..."

"I don't want to lose you either." He grasped his hand. "So, we won't let it happen."

"I just don't want any of you hurt either..."

"It's a bit late for that, Specs." He sighed. "We can though do what we can to make sure none of us are captured, trapped, or dead."

Logan took a deep breath. "I just can't let my guard down. Not yet."

"I know." Roman started scooping up the scales. "...Think these would be worth anything?"

"Probably not. And even if they were, I wouldn't dream of profiting off them."

He winced. "Fair enough..."

"Especially when there's a chance there'd only be profit from the wrong type of people…”

He bit down harder. "It was just a spontaneous idea. Some way that we'd not have to worry sooner."

"It's alright, I know you didn't have any ill intent." He squeezed his hand.

He sighed in relief. "I just need to learn to think before I speak..."

"It's alright. Personally, I enjoy hearing your ideas."

He turned, smiling. "No matter what they are?"

He smiled back. "As long as I get to hear your voice."

He blushed. "Why, thank you."

Logan's face turned red as he quickly turned back to the tub. "I believe we got them all out."

He blinked. "...So we did." He set the garbage bag on the ground, then let out the water.

"Hopefully they'll have another bag for us." He started scooping the remaining scales into the bag.

"They should have." Roman glanced behind them.

"We have!" Virgil appeared, holding out a new bag.

"Sorry we took so long." Patton came behind him.

"It's all good." Roman waved back. "We're just finishing up now."

"Ew... they look slimy!" Virgil made a face.

Roman chuckled. "Mostly because of the water. I think..."

"They are not this way by default." Logan placed the rest in the extra bag.

"Still looks gross..."

"Well, at least they're off him." Patton nodded.

"But will he do this again?" Virgil asked.

"It is likely, I'm afraid." Logan sighed and tied up the bag. "However, now that we are aware, we can be better prepared for the future.

"Yeah."

"Indeed." Roman nodded. "Potentially monthly."

"We will need to ask Janus how he wishes to be cared for during that time." Logan stood, the trash bag secure in his hands.

Patton frowned. "What happens if he doesn't want help from us?"

"He appeared to want help from Thomas..."

"Not from the rest of us though..."

"That may change by next time."

"If he can learn to trust us more."

"Meaning," Roman rose up. "We need to show that we can be trusted."

"But don't rush him, he'll come to us when he's ready." Logan began to walk out. "In the meantime, we can take these outside."

Roman frowned, following after. "Just in the trash can?”

"Well, I assume he has one outside in order to remove his trash."

"Yeah, probably. But what happens if anyone looks in?"

"Why would they?"

"Because they're suspicious...?"

"They're garbage bags... Roman..."

He swallowed. "Just over-thinking things..."

"I understand your concern, but, if we act suspicious, then we will appear suspicious..."

He sighed. "You're right." Then he shifted his form.

"I could help!" Virgil shifted as well. "We can take them out!"

"Me too!" Patton started to shift.

But Roman grinned, but shook his head. "We don't need more people to take out the trash, Pat. Besides, you need to rest your hand."

"Yes... What time is it anyway?" Logan asked.

"Uh..." Roman looked for the clock.

"Think it's some time after noon..."

"Are any of you wanting lunch? Or a small snack before dinner?"

"Why not both?" Virgil grinned.

Roman grinned as well. "Why not indeed?"

"It would spoil your appetite for one thing..."

Patton grinned. "We can do a late lunch, early dinner then..."

"Sounds good to me!"

"Then I suppose Patton and I could find something."

"While we take out the trash." Roman grabbed the bags.

"Alright, just take care."

"We will." Roman nodded, then led Virgil out.

Logan sighed. "I really should stop fretting so much..."

"It's alright, Lo." Patton rested an arm on his shoulder. "It's only been three days..."

"But they deserve to be happy, and they can't be happy if I'm constantly worrying."

"They can be, and are." Patton swallowed. "We don't ask you to not worry. Just that you don't need to be the only one worrying, or do everything yourself."

"I know..." Logan rubbed his arm. "And I know I'm not the only one worrying..."

"That you aren't..." He sighed. "It's, all felt a bit too good to be true."

"Especially with Roman and I..."

Patton smiled. "With you and Roman at least, you know that you both love each other and will love each other."

"Yes... but if he's taken away.... If he's hurt or I lose him..."

"I know..." Patton swallowed. "I can't say for sure that nothing will happen. But I can say...The two of you have made it this far. Whatever happens, you'll always find your way back to each other."

"How can you know?"

"Because I know the two of you. So I know, whatever happens, you won't give up on each other. You're both stubborn like that."

"Sometimes stubbornness isn't enough."

"True, but it does even the odds a bit."

"Perhaps..."

"At the very least. You two won't give up until you try."

"No... Of course not..."

He frowned. "You will. Despite the touch thing."

"Right..." Logan's lips stretched into a thin line. "I find it odd how much I enjoy physical contact despite that..."

"Well, we are still people. Patton shrugged. "And most people enjoy touch with those they like."

"With my condition, one would think I'd be more hesitant.”

"You also didn't know that was what was happening to you until this morning..."

"No... I didn't..."

He looked at him carefully. "...What did you think was happening?"

"I don't know, I lost all awareness..."

"So, you had only what he was saying to go off of..."

"Yes, and the vague memories leading up to it."

He met his eyes. "How much of what he said did you let get to you?"

"About what...?"

He swallowed, then hugged him close. "Doesn't really matter...Nothing that he said mattered."

"Roman...? Or... someone else...?"

He looked at him. "I should hope you realize I mean the hotel guy."

"I... I did..." Logan hung his head. "I just, I'd wanted to get you both a nice place... everywhere else we'd stayed had been, less than ideal. And you expressed how much you wanted to cook and he wanted a place to write his book..."

Patton hugged him closer. "I get it, Lo. You were doing it for us, and I can't help but be amazed that you would sacrifice that much for us. Neither of us though wanted you hurt like that...We would have been happy with less as long as you were okay."

"But I hadn't thought it would get that far. It started out as real work. I cleaned rooms, helped manage paperwork. I... I don't know what happened... Why it changed..."

"I, I don't know either...Don't get how he could see bright, brilliant you, and decide to do that to you instead...You didn't deserve it."

" I wasn't trying... Then he started bringing me gifts, giving extra money or not making me pay for our room... I didn't understand why until it was too late..." Logan's hand went towards his tie. "Then he started, saying things... I think he was attempting to flirt at times, but I was never interested... Then one day he just... put his arms around me, and I froze..."

Patton rested a bandaged hand on his. "Deep breaths...That wasn't your fault. None of that happened was your fault."

"I never told him to stop... I couldn't. Then he just kept doing more and more, until that's all I did for him..."

Patton hugged him tighter. "You couldn't tell him. And you're certainly not dealing with mean old hotel owners like him again."

"No... because we're here now..." His hand started to fall away from the tie, never even reaching it.

"Yes, we're here now. And Thomas isn't like that..." Patton looked up at him. "We're safe with him."

"And I'm safe with all of you..."

He smiled. "That you are. Roman won't hurt you like that. Thomas won't hurt you like that. Virgil certainly isn't going to hurt you like that, nor Janus...And I won't either."

"I believe you..."

"I'm glad. Things would be a whole lot tougher if you didn't."

"They certainly would..." Logan allowed himself a smile. "Thank you."

"You're welcome, Lo." He grinned, then took one of his hands and lightly touched his nose. "Bop."

Logan blinked. "What was that?"

He grinned more. "My secret Patton technique."

"What does it do?”

He grinned. "Show my love. Not the same type of love that you and Ro have, but, mine for you."

"Oh... That's an odd way of doing so."

He tilted his head. "Too odd to like?"

"Well, now that I understand its meaning, I rather enjoy it."

He grinned more. "I'm glad. Bop." Then did it again.

Logan chuckled. "Thank you, Patton."

"Anytime Lo." Then he turned to the kitchen. "Now to cook with no hands."

"I could be your hands, figuratively speaking."

He smirked. "If you're sure, you can hand-le it."

"I have cooked before, and we're only preparing a small meal."

He chuckled. "It was a pun, Logan. You're being my hands. Hand-le it.”

"Oh!" Logan blinked. "I should make a flash card for that…”

"You can do the flash card thing?" His eyes shone in awe.

"Well, I'm still learning. My first attempt was to make one for a phrase Roman said but..."

He grinned. "But you still summoned! I'm so proud of you!"

"Yes..." Logan rubbed his neck. "I suppose I'll need to keep practicing."

"But you'll get it. I know you will." He grinned, then looked towards his hands. Probably shouldn't try snapping anything right now...

"Well, let's get something made for those two. And we should probably begin planning dinner as well. I'm sure Thomas and Janus will be hungry later."

"So I'm sure they will." Patton headed for the kitchen. "What do you think would be good for Janus to have?"

"I don't know. He never told me if he had any favorite foods."

"True. But he might have foods that would be good for him to have after, all that.”

"Yes, I could always do some research."

"Sounds good. I'll see what we have." Then he carefully opened the fridge and looked through while Logan went to his laptop and began typing away What nutrients do snakes need for their scales? Once down, he read through the results. "Hm... Patton? We have eggs, correct?"

"Yep!"

"Do you think we could make a dinner with them?"

"We sure can! We could do hard boiled eggs, hard boiled egg sandwiches, soft boiled eggs, a soufflé...All sorts of things."

"Perhaps we could make omelets?"

"Sounds good! We could even have bacon to go with it."

"Perfect, we should get a snack for Roman and Virgil though..."

"Oh, they'd be happy with anything...We might even have leftovers from our nachos."

"That could work."

"I'm sure it will..." He furrowed his brow. "I, might need your help getting it out..."

"Of course." Logan stood and walked over. "Just tell me what to do."

"Nothing much. Just, grabbed those container of nacho toppings over there." He pointed them out. "Then maybe help make fresh nachos to put them on while they heat up."

"Of course." He gathered everything and set them on the counter.

"Thanks." Patton swallowed, then went to the microwave and opened it up.

"Are there any ingredients we should make more of?"

"Um...Definitely the nachos, so we need the cheese. Would there be any toppings you'd want?"

"Probably just some more vegetables."

"Well, we certainly can do that. Choose out what type you'd want."

"Of course." He went back to the fridge.

Patton meanwhile managed to get the microwave open and the first things inside, turning it on and warming it up.

Logan brought some more ingredients to the counter, grabbing a cutting board and knife.

Patton turned towards him, watching. Then checking his own hands again. Maybe they were better by now… Shouldn't push himself too far. Even if he felt a bit useless here...
He looked back to Logan, watching as he chopped some onions with a few peppers and tomatoes set aside. He cut so precisely, and quick. Like he couldn't mess up even if he wanted to. He probably had never sliced himself. Or had his Wisher grab his hand before he did. He was just allowed to do things, and it was no wonder as to why. He could be trusted to do things right...

He swallowed, hugging himself.

"Shouldn't they have been back by now?" Logan asked.

Patton blinked. "They should have..." He looked towards the door.

"Do you want to look out the window...?"

He bit his lip. "I better." He shifted, crept forward and peered out.

What he saw was... Virgil trying to coax a raccoon over, while Roman was hiding behind the trash can.

He blinked, then let out a giggle.

"What is it?" Logan walked over and blinked. "I wasn't expecting that..."

"Oh come on Roman! He's a friend!"

"He's a menace to society and I'm not letting him come towards me!" Roman pushed back more against the wall.

"Don't talk about my child that way!"

"You just met him today!"

"And he's my wonderful baby boy!"

He shook. "Why're you so set on having him?"

"I feel a connection! Come on... Come here little guy..." He made a clicking sound with his mouth and held out his hand. "Bring me some food!”

He shook his head. "No way is he actually going to do that..."

"Please Roman!"

“Oh…” He sighed. "Fine..." Then he looked to the window. "Yo!"

Logan flinched and shifted, quickly opening the window. "Yes?"

"Is there some spare food we can use? Virge's become a friend of nature to the most hideous thing possible."

"Um, I could check…”

"Thanks. He'll owe you one." He pointed to Virgil.

"I'm sure he will..." Logan turned to Patton. "I don't think Thomas would want a raccoon in his house..."

"I know, but it's cute." Patton pouted. "Maybe we could talk him into it?"

"It's a wild animal…”

"We could tame him."

"Patton..."

He sighed. "We could at least feed him...Maybe see if he visits again."

"Well, I wouldn't be opposed to that..."

He smiled. "Then let's get Virgil the food." He looked towards the leftovers. "What would Mr. Raccoon like?"

"I'm sure he'd eat just about anything."

"Oh for sure...Maybe some of the veggies." He grinned.

“Whatever you wish to try..."

"...If you would be upset by me using the veggies, I won't do it."

"No, it's fine. I just wouldn't want to make it sick..."

"So we'll use the hamburger meat then." He went to grab some, then stopped, looking at his bandages. Probably shouldn't get them dirty...

"Do you need help?"

He slumped. "Yeah...Did a pretty good job disarming myself, didn't I."

"It's alright, your cuts weren't too deep."

"So they'll heal fast?"

"Yes, I'd at least like to leave them on until tomorrow just to be safe."

He sighed in relief. "I didn't mess up that badly then. I thought they were going to stay on for at least a week."

"No, of course not."

He chuckled. "I thought I'd really damaged them. And yet I'll be out of these by tomorrow. That's probably the quickest bandage I've ever had!"

"We stopped you just in time."

He winced. "...Thanks, for doing that."

"Of course."

"I just, I wanted to do something right right then..." He ducked his head. "Make up for what I'd done."

"I understand," Logan placed a hand on his shoulder. "We just didn't want you hurt in the process."

He softly sighed. "I wasn't even thinking of the pain..."

"You just wanted to atone for what happened."

"Yeah..."

"I do hope you'd remember in the future that regardless of any mistakes you might make, none of us ever want you hurt as a result."

He softly smiled. "I'm sure I will."

Logan smiled back. "I am glad."

Just then the door opened and Virgil stomped through, sulking.

Patton paled. "Oh, Virge. We're sorry. We were on our way..."

"He got spooked by a dog and Roman said we needed to go inside..." Virgil pouted.

"I'm sorry, kiddo." He rested a hand around him. "Maybe next time..."

Roman came in after, shaking himself.

Logan walked over. "Are you alright?"

"Fine." He shifted back, then softly groaned. "Why couldn't Virgil have fallen for something more cuddly?"

"Could say the same about you." Virgil retorted, then frowned. "Wait... never mind... bad joke..."

Roman bit his lip. "It's fine."

Patton patted his back. "We'll get you better at jokes."

"Yeah... Sorry, just slipped out..." Virgil slunk into the living room.

Patton frowned, then followed him.

Roman anxiously swallowed. "So, I heard something about an afternoon snack..."

"Yes, we're warming up leftover nachos."

"That'll be great." He started for the kitchen.

"Should be almost done."

"Good. I'm starved." He started checking things, slightly fidgeting.

"Do you want to sit down?"

"Oh, no. I can help finish things up."

"Are you sure?"

"Positive. Patton's busy now with helping Virgil. I may as well help you here."

He frowned. “What does Virgil need help with?"

He glanced over to where Patton was hugging Virgil. "With having made an unintentionally, pointed comment."

"What comment?"

He winced. "Nothing worth remembering." Then went to make sure everything was warm.

"Very well."

He swallowed, glancing back at Lo. Virgil's comment wasn't even accurate. The problem wasn't that Logan wasn't huggable. It was that he was overly huggable, and so he had to refrain from doing so. Even though Logan wished to be close to him... It wasn't fair! Logan should be able to hug who he wanted without falling into that state! He shouldn't be easily taken advantage of like that! He'd do everything he could to find a cure, or at least help Logan build some sort of resistance to it. It was the least he could do for him, so that he could enjoy the touches he wanted without fear.

"Could you get the nachos out of the microwave?" Logan asked. "I believe they're done."

"Right away, my dear." He took them out instantly, laying it out on the counter.

"Thank you." He got out four plates for them.

"Anything for you, love." Then he squeezed his hand. "Lunch's ready!"

"Or late afternoon snack." Logan added.

"Or late afternoon snack! Whichever, it's hot."

Patton smiled. "Ready Virge?"

"Yeah, ready." He walked over with his hands in his pockets.

Patton came up behind him, sadly smiling. He only swam in that thing more when he was really tense.

Roman started laying out plates. "Definitely plenty of options here."

"I added some new toppings as well."

Patton smiled. "It all looks good." Then took a spoon and started to pile his plate. "Thanks guys."

"You helped as well." Logan began making a plate for himself.

He smiled harder. "Not much..."

"If Logan said you helped, then you helped." Roman looked towards Virgil as he made his own plate.

Virgil grabbed a few chips with cheese then sat down.

He winced. Then sighed and went over by Virgil. "You alright?"

"Yeah..." he poked at his food.

He sighed. "Look. I know you didn't mean anything by that comment. You were just reacting to what I was saying."

"Still shouldn't have said it though..."

"Maybe not, but it's not something you need to keep feeling guilty about...I forgive you, okay?"

"You do?"

"Yes."

"Um, thanks..."

"No need to thank me. Just, forgive yourself?"

"Okay, I will." He smiled.

He smiled back, then got into his nachos.

Logan sat across from him and did the same.

Patton joining as well, resting the rest of the nacho stuff on the coffee table in front of them.

"Why are leftovers so good?" Virgil asked.

Roman smirked. "Probably because they've had a chance to age nicely. Like fine wine."

"Wine? Bleh..." Virgil stuck his tongue out.

He chuckled. "Don't dis something until you try it."

"He won't be allowed to try it until he is of legal age." Logan pointed out.

He smirked more. "Technically, that rule doesn't apply at home, only in public settings. And technically, we don't have to follow the rules anyways."

"Still you don't know how it could affect him..."

"You're both talking like I even wanna try it."

"I'm sure you wouldn't." Roman patted his back, still smirking. "This, if you want to talk about how disgusting it really is, you have to try it for the cred."

"It smells bad! What further proof do I need?"

"...People who've tried it and agree with you." He winked.

"That's not fair!"

"Oh well. Life's tough." He leaned back. "Of course, you might find someone like that in this room."

"Like who?"

He smirked, taking a bite of his chips.

He blinked. "You?"

"What can I say? Wine actually does taste awful."

"You- but you- oh come on! Don't mess with me like that!"

He laughed out, smiling even more. "You're fun to mess with though!"

"This is war!”

He took another bite. "Bring it!"

"I will!”

"Not while we're eating... please..."

Patton grinned. "Yeah, no fighting at the dinner table now."

Roman dramatically sighed. "Yes Padre..."

"We'll fight later." Virgil grinned.

He grinned back, nodding. "Midnight tonight. We'll clear out the living room."

"Or you could settle it over a game?" Logan suggested.

"Indeed! Thanks for the suggestion, Lo." Then turned to Virgil. "Smash or Mario Kart?"

"Smash!”

He looked at him closely. "Positive?"

"Yeah! I think I'll be okay this time!"

"If you insist then...We'll do solely 1v1 mode this time."

"Okay!"

He grinned brighter. "Alright!" Then started eating his chips faster. Virgil doing the same.

Logan shook his head fondly as he ate. Thomas really didn't need the two wrestling in his home, especially due to Janus's condition. But it was good to see them at ease like this, heckling and competing. With Patton openly giggling at their antics, all three happy together, free...

It's all he ever wanted...

Roman finished first, then rushed for the game system. "Keeping with Dark Pit, emo?"

"Gotta get good with him!" Virgil abandoned a few remaining crumbs and darted after him.

"Oh you should wash your hands first!” Logan called.

"Yes Lo!" Then Roman ran for the sink, and began to scrub.

Patton chuckled, then brushed the crumbs into his hand. "Mind if we watch you two?"

"Yeah! You can cheer me on!" Virgil ran to the sink and tried to nudge Roman away.

Roman pushed back. "Wait your turn!"

"You've washed long enough!'"

"I'm making sure I'm clean, you heathen!" Then he finally pulled back and dried his hands. "There I'm done."

Virgil did a quick scrub and rinse, proceeding to flick water in Roman's direction.

Roman yelped. "Hey!"

"Boys, keep the fighting to the game!" Patton giggled.

"Sorry, just drying my hands~" Virgil smiled innocently.

Roman huffed. "Just drying your hands indeed." Then he trotted over to the couch and took up a remote. "Now I'm really going to own you here."

"Bring it on!" Virgil flopped beside him.

"I will!" Then he got the system on and booted up the game.

Patton chuckled, then started to carry plates over to the sink. Logan helping clean up the rest of the mess.

All while Ro and Virgil set up their game, choosing their challengers.

Roman grinned. "Ready?"

"Bring it!”

The countdown began...Then it was on!

Chrom thrusted for Pit.

"Ah!" Virgil ran to the opposite end of the map.

Roman stopped immediately. "You alright?"

"What? I'm not just gonna sit there! Evasive action!"

He smiled. "Oh of course." Then started to go closer, still keeping an eye on Virgil.

Virgil focused and went on the attack. He seemed much better without all the other fighters Which was understandable. Having to keep track of everything could get overwhelming fast.

Roman blocked and dodged, then went back for the attack himself.

Virgil pressing buttons randomly, trying to stay alive.

Logan began loading the dishwasher while Patton put the remaining food away. Once Pat was done, he closed the fridge then turned back around to watch them, smiling. He had a wonderful family.

Chapter Text

Upstairs, Thomas kept silent vigil over Janus. Meaning, he nodded off and had fell asleep... After a while though, he shook himself awake. Yikes. He really couldn't sleep sitting up anymore. Definitely wasn't doing his neck any favors. He let out a groan then started to rub there. Do something for the pain at least. Then he glanced down at Janus.

He was still asleep, but looked more relaxed, like he wasn't in as much pain.

He sighed in relief. Good. He, deserved to be out of pain... Thomas yawned, then shook his head. What time even was it? Looked like it was about to be dark out. Dad he really slept that long? It can't actually be that late. He stood up, then started hunting for his phone.

"Hmm... Thomas...?" Janus rolled over.

Thomas turned back to him. "Hey Jan." Then sat next to him on the bed. "How're you doing?"

"Thirsty... but I don't feel like I'm dying anymore..."

"That's a relief. Here, let me get you some water." Then he headed for his bathroom.

"Thank you..."

"Not a problem." He got in and filled up a glass of water.

"Maybe now I can stop being a burden..."

"Hey, no." He rushed back, water in hand. "No putting down yourself like that. You're not a burden."

"I've been dead weight ever since they found me. I haven't worked or done anything remotely useful.”

"You've been sick. Then you had this...You don't need to beat yourself up about it." Then he gave him the glass of water.

"If you insist..." He sat up and took the water.

"On this, I am." He sat back down. "Besides, even without the sickness and shedding, you're also healing in other ways as well. Take your time with it."

"But how much time can I afford to waste?"

"It's not a waste to heal. And as far as I'm concern, you have just as much time as you need."

"Do we? You know as well as we do that WISH could come knocking on that door at any moment," he sipped the water, "or they may not be so polite as to knock this time."

He winced. "They couldn't just barge in legally, right? Long as they don't find a way to for a while, I could save up the money for you guys."

"Do you even know how much you would need?"

"...Guessing over a thousand?"

"Well, yes. But probably much more."

He winced. "Well, the longer I take, the longer you'll have to stay hidden here..."

"And how long can you keep four adults and a child hidden?"

He swallowed. "I could start having Virgil pretend to be Gavin..."

"Gavin?"

"Oh. A kid I sometimes have stay over. His mom gets busy, so I basically become his uncle for a few days."

"I'm not sure how Virgil would feel about that..."

"It would be something though. Then I also could have you guys look like some of my friends when none of them are over. It could at least help cover tracks."

"And if your friends happened to drop by?"

"We, either have you guys hide before they come in, or we explain what's happening with them."

"And put them at risk?"

He swallowed. "...Surely they wouldn't be."

"But they could be."

"But, I'm the one harboring you guys. Not them."

"But if they knew and didn't report that runaways were being sheltered..."

He swallowed. "So, they can't know..."

"No. No one else can."

He winced. "Still, for everyone else, it'll be less suspicious if you guys look like them any time we have to go in and out."

"I suppose..." he set the empty glass on the nightstand.

"We, are going to need to figure out what to tell the rest though. At the very least, so they understand why I don't need a camera crew as much for filming you guys."

"Understandable..."

He sighed, leaning forward. "What should I tell them?"

"I don't know..."

"Hmmm...Could just say that I've figured out a new way to just do it on my own while we were all in lockdown."

"Or you're taking a more simple approach."

"Guess that would be true..."

"Or you're taking a break... Something has come up..."

"Except that we're planning to make videos. That excuse would be thin if I still made videos in the meantime."

"We could upload them later."

He shook his head. "I do need to be somewhat on time for my fans. And...If I am going to get the money, I can't delay the videos. Really, I need to get things sped up."

"Then we'll go with telling them you're sticking to simpler videos that you can film alone faster."

"Alright. Then we make sure that the videos remain simple."

"Precisely." Janus nodded.

"Something that might be hard to justify when you all literally can do all that the Sides can do..."

"We'll avoid that for now..."

"Oh for sure, if we can remember to."

"Just tell Logan, he'll remember..."

"Then he'll remind the others!" He turned to Janus, beaming. "Thanks Jan."

Janus stared at him. "You're welcome..."

He kept smiling, then got up. "We probably should tell them the plan before I forget..." He looked back outside. "They have to be starting on dinner by now."

"Did I sleep the entire day...?"

"Well...Basically, I guess..." He offered a hand. "To be fair, I joined you for half of it."

"You did?" He reached out and stopped. "Where are the gloves?"

"Oh. We had to take them off for the scales..." He blinked. Hadn't the clothes Logan provided included gloves? Didn't look like it. Just a loose black shirt and grey sweatpants...

He frowned. "They might still be in the bathroom."

"Could you check?"

"Yeah." He went to his door and opened it.

"Where did you leave my clothes...?"

"Just in the bathroom." He then went on over, listening for the others as he opened the bathroom door. Oh good, there they were. He sighed in relief, then grabbed them and the cape then started back for Janus. "Right where we left them."

"Good..." he sat up. "I just want the gloves for now..."

"Right here." He handed them to him. "If you think your hands are up for it."

"I'm sure they are..." he slowly pulled them on.

"If you say so." Then he looked downstairs.

He could hear Smash Bros on the tv, Roman and Virgil exchanging some interesting bouts of banter while something sizzled in the kitchen. He smiled. Things were really going well..."Sounds like dinner's cooking."

"Should we go down then?" Janus stood, wobbling slightly.

"If you're ready for it." He offered his arm.

"I think so..." he stared at the arm for a moment before taking it.

"Good." He smiled, then started to walk them down the stairs.

They entered just as Roman and Virgil reached the final seconds of their battle, both fighting to claim victory.

Roman hunched over the controller, eyes glued to the battle. "Come on Chrom..."

"I'm finally gonna win!" Virgil grinned. "Victory is mine!"

"Not if I snatch it from you!" Chrom jump slashed Pit.

"Blocked it!" Virgil grinned. "I just have to stay alive for ten more seconds!"

"Not if I stop you!" He kept swiping at him.

Virgil kept running, five more seconds!

Roman was sweating now, trying desperately to bring him down with every trick he knew.

Patton grinned. "Come on Virge!"

"Three seconds! Annnnnndddd..." Virgil jumped up. "I won! I actually won!"

"Way to go Virge!" Patton cheered.

"Now you two can end the game and come..." Logan trailed off as he saw Roman. He set down the stack of plates he'd been carrying and hurried over.

Roman shook himself then turned to Virgil, shoulders still tense. "Well done, for your first time."

"And you didn't even go easy on me!" Virgil was grinning brightly, but his smile faded when he saw the look on Roman's face. "You okay?"

"Of course." He forced a grin out, shaking himself more. "Perhaps next time I will actually beat you."

"But you have beat me before... Roman what's-"

"You both did a good job." Logan sat next to Roman and pulled him close. "And you were both good sports about it as well. Neither of you got angry at each other and you continued to have fun. That is very commendable."

Roman flinched, then forced himself to relax, looking up at his love. "Why thank you Logan." His eyes though flickered to his hands.

Logan followed his gaze and reached down to hold on, gently though in case Roman wanted to pull away. "You're welcome, and I am proud of you."

Roman blushed a bit, some of the tension easing. "I, should hope you're proud of me..." He flinched again though when he saw Patton coming closer out of the corner of his eye, mentally cursing himself. It wasn't going to happen here. Virgil promised.

Virgil's eyes suddenly widened. "Oh, Roman... you know nothing bad is gonna happen, right?"

"I know." He tried to take deeper breaths. He knew, he knew, he knew!

"Why would something bad happen...?" Patton frowned. "It's just a game..."

"Oh, uhh...." Virgil cringed. "Sorry Roman..."

"What is he talking about?" Logan rubbed circles onto the back of Roman's hand. "Take your time before answering, try to take deep breaths."

He swallowed. "It's, nothing..." He met Virgil's eyes, taking deep breathes. "It's all in the past..."

"Okay, you don't have to talk about it." Logan hugged him closer. "Just remember that you are safe here. No one here is going to hurt you or force you to do something you don't want to."

He took deeper breaths, looking up at him. "Thank you."

"Anything for you." Logan smiled softly.

Roman finally eased, smiling more. Then glanced over at Virgil. "Best two out of three."

"You're on!”

"After dinner, we made omelets."

"Omelets?"

"Yep! They're nice and hot."

"Sounds magnifique." Roman smirked up to Logan.

"Um, yes." He stood and offered a hand. "I'm sure they are."

Roman smiled more, then took his hand and stood. "Especially from your hands." Then rested a soft kiss on it.

Logan's face turned red. "Is... is it hot in here? I've become rather warm all of a sudden..."

"Ew, gross." Virgil hopped off the couch and into the kitchen. "I'll never fall in love and be that sappy."

Patton chuckled, following him. "Don't say it. You never really know."

Roman's eyes then locked on Logan, filled with concern. "Too much?"

"N-No. I'm fine." He tugged at his collar a bit. "Is this a romantic symptom?"

He smiled. "It can be. Your body heating up in love and anticipation..."

"Anticipation for what?"

"...A kiss?"

"Oh, um, that may be too soon... We're not even a couple yet, even though we keep acting like one... I wanted to wait but every time I'm near you I want to be closer... This isn't what I'd had in mind..."

Roman's smile softened, clasping his hand in his. "We will wait. We have plenty of time to make sure we're both ready before the plunge."

"We do? We don't have to just, do it?"

"We don't...Not when we're still learning your limits, and I still need time myself..."

"Of course, so we won't be together because it's expected."

"No we won't..." He swallowed. "Should I avoid flirting?"

"I wouldn't want you to."

He smiled. "Then I won't." Then he squeezed his hand again, then he blinked. "You hugged me..."

"Yes? You needed comfort."

"You weren't affected, at all?"

"No, all I cared about was comforting you."

"It doesn't affect you then when you're in charge of the touch." He grinned.

"Really?" Logan blinked. "Perhaps that's why I didn't lose control that night with her…”

"This is a true breakthrough." He went to grab his shoulder, but refrained.

Which Logan noticed. "Did you want to touch me?"

"Yeah..." He swallowed. "Don't want to spoil this though."

"I think it'll be alright."

"You're sure?"

"It's just on the shoulder."

"If you say so..." He swallowed. Then slowly rested his hand on Logan's shoulder.

Logan smiled. "See? No harm done."

Roman looked at him carefully. "You don't feel any different?"

"Not at all."

He sighed in relief. "Maybe there is hope."

"Perhaps there is." He smiled and led him into the kitchen, finally noticing Thomas and Janus. "Oh! I didn't see you there."

Thomas chuckled. "We were just on our way down. No worries."

"Good timing on your parts." Roman nodded. "And how are you, Janus?"

"Hungry..."

"Great!" Patton called out. "Dinner's hot and on the table!"

"Excellent." Logan led Roman over and pulled a chair out for him.

He blushed more as he sat down. "Why thank you."

Thomas grinned, helping Janus down to the table.

"Thank you..." he murmured, watching them warily.

Virgil was already digging in, still a bit hyper from his victory.

Patton just chuckled, helping himself more slowly.

Roman passed the eggs to Logan. "For you, my dear."

"Thank you." He got himself a serving then passed it along to Thomas.

"Thanks." Thomas got himself some, then passed the rest to Janus. "Here you are."

He nodded and scooped the rest onto his plate before setting it down.

Thomas nodded, getting the bowl out of the way, then started on his eggs. "So, sounds like it was a pretty exciting game."

"Yeah! Finally won after five rounds!"

"To be fair to him." Roman quickly jutted in. "Today was his first time playing."

Thomas nodded. "That's really an achievement then to win at all."

"And I'm gonna keep winning!" Virgil raised his fork triumphantly, accidentally flinging some of the eggs off in the process.

Roman grabbed the eggs, then smirked. "We'll see about that." Before promptly throwing them into his mouth.

"Oops..." Virgil quickly lowered the fork. "Sorry about that."

"All good." He grinned. "I can just get a little extra."

"And it didn't land on the floor or go to waste." Logan added.

"It's all good then kiddo." Patton rested a hand on Virgil's shoulder. "Just need to be careful where you fork that thing."

"Yeah... Sorry..."

Patton shrugged. "It's alright..." Then shook his head and continued to eat. He really needed to work on his jokes.

Logan glanced at Virgil. "You know, it would be nice to have someone teach me how to play."

"Oh?" He looked over. "Like who?"

Roman started to open his mouth, then noticed the look and shut his mouth. "Well, who was the one to win the last game?"

"Um, me I guess..."

"Would you care to show me how? I haven't played myself and perhaps insight from a fellow beginner would be beneficial."

Roman grinned. "I could have fun playing against both of you after you teach him."

"You really want me to teach you?" Virgil's eyes brightened.

"Of course," Logan smiled, "We'll have to work together if we hope to defeat him."

Roman gapped. "Hey!"

"Oh yeah! We'll bring him down!" Virgil grinned.

He huffed, taking another bite. "Don't think I'll take it easy just because you managed to get my love to betray me."

"Maybe you should get a team then!"

"Perhaps..." He looked to Patton. "Hey Pat, would you like to join this battle?"

He chuckled. "I would, kiddo. But..." He raised up his hands. "Maybe not today."

"Thomas could!"

Thomas blinked. "Yeah...I could..."

"Great!" Roman grinned. "We'll get that epic tournament set up then."

"How long will it take?" Janus asked.

Roman gestured to Virgil and Logan. "As long as it takes him to teach Logan how to play."

"I'm a fast learner."

"Logan's smart! He'll be better than all of us in no time!"

"We'll have to see about that." Roman took another bite.

"But how long will you be playing?" Janus asked, the question now directed towards Thomas.

"Well..." He shrugged. "I imagine that I'll be having to join after Logan's done learning. But, I probably won't be too long."

"Okay..."

He glanced at him. "Will you be alright?"

"Just... could I go upstairs...?"

"You can..." His brow furrowed. "It still going on?"

"A little..."

"...We could give Logan the night to learn the game if you'd like me up with you."

"Please?" Janus grabbed his wrist.

Thomas softly smiled. "Alright." He looked at the rest. "If, that's alright with you guys..."

"That's quite alright, I'll enjoy playing with Virgil for the evening "

He sighed in relief. "Thanks..."

"I can handle clean up then." Patton took a bite.

"Nope." Roman pointed with his fork. "I'll clean, while you watch them play."

"I can help!" Virgil chimed in. "Logan helped cook after all so I should help clean"

"You need to help Logan learn." He smirked. "Consider it the prize of the winner."

"Oh, you sure?"

"It was a simple dinner, there shouldn't be much to clean."

"I will be perfectly capable then of handling clean up." His smirk softened at Virgil. "And yes, I'm sure."

"Well... okay..." he grinned. "Ready Logan?"

"I certainly am." Logan stood and took his and Virgil's plates to the sink.

Roman then grabbed Patton, Thomas, and Janus's plates as they finished, piling them carefully. "Have fun then."

"Come on L, let's go!" Virgil grabbed his arm and tugged him over.

"Guess we're doing this now," Logan chuckled and let himself be dragged along.

Roman grinned, heading to the sink and starting to rinse them off.

Thomas turned to Janus. "Want to head up now?"

"Yes please..." He stood up.

"Alright." Then he offered his arm out and went with him upstairs.

Patton just grinned, then followed after Logan and Virgil on the couch. Virgil was already going over all the basics with Logan while he studied the controller intently. Patton sat back and watched along, smiling wider. Yeah, this was good… He wouldn't trade this for the world.

Upstairs Janus continued to lean on Thomas, his steps slow and every breath sounded like he was hissing.

Thomas winced. "Were you in this much pain when you woke up?"

"No... Just started..."

"Okay...Good. Well, not good you're hurting." He rested him on the bed. "Think it's what cramps would feel like?"

"Cramps...?" He laid down and curled up.

"What those assigned female at birth get monthly as part of their cycle." He winced. "Want me to get you some aspirin? Or, I may have Midol?"

"Drugs...?" Janus trembled.

"They're only painkillers. Meant to make the pain not feel as bad...I won't give them to you if you don't want them though."

"No... No I don't..."

"Then I won't force you to have them...The heating pad can also help..."

"I'll try that..."

"Alright...Be right back." He rushed over to the other bedroom.

"Okay..." Janus curled up. He didn't even want to imagine what would be happening to him if he was still with Evelyn right now... Didn't mean his mind got the memo though… Imaging her fingers through his hair. Her hands washing him in the tub. Everything a haze as the scales peeled off and...

"No!" he hissed and gripped his head. Why couldn't he just stop thinking about her?! He wasn't there! He should be getting over this!

"Janus!?" Thomas rushed back in, heating pad in hand.

He wasn't her toy! Her pet! She wasn't here anymore so why was he still so scared?!

Thomas plugged in the pad, then turned to Janus. "Janus, can you hear me?"

His eyes opened with a gasp, hands still tangled in his hair.

He swallowed. "There you are...Do you remember where you are?"

"I'm... with you... in your room..."

He smiled. "Yeah..." He came up closer. "And I'm not going to hurt you, or let anyone else hurt you."

"You won't... You're nice to me..."

He barely kept the smile up. "Yeah, I'm nice to you." Slowly, he handed him the heating pad. "This might help. Rest it over the worse of it."

He took it and wrapped it around himself, hugging it almost. "Thank you..."

"You're welcome Jan..." He sighed. "Anything I can do for you, I will."

"Why though...?"

"Because, I want to...And you didn't deserve to be treated that way in the first place."

"But it's what I was made for..."

He bit his lip. "Just because she bought you for that, doesn't mean it's what you deserved."

"But I gave in eventually... She was right... I broke..."

"That wasn't because of how you are...It's, what would happen to just about anyone in your situation."

"You don't know that... Others would have fought... They'd have gotten out or died trying..."

"Some others. Not all...Besides, they would know they would find help if they escaped. You didn't."

"Even then I didn't escape on my own... never took the chance like they did..." Janus muttered. "Virgil made it out and he's a child."

"His Wisher was also a drunk. And, half saw him as a child." He looked at Janus closely. "Did yours ever drink?"

"Never enough to be drunk enough to where I could escape. And if she was, she made sure I'd had just as much."

"So, you were doing all she could to make sure you couldn't escape. Virgil's didn't."

"Yes... She never let me leave her side..."

"So you literally didn't have a chance to. Until the others found you."

"The one time she left..."

"Because she also assumed that there would be no one to help you..."

"I was also in a suitcase..."

He blinked. What...? "...Something she was probably sure you couldn't escape, even if you tried."

"I was also tied up..."

"...More reason you wouldn't have been able to escape by yourself. You'd have needed to train for years to even have a chance."

"And... drugs..." Janus trembled. "So much "medicine" she claimed was good for me..."

Thomas swallowed. "Can I hold your hand?"

"Why...?" Janus shook.

His eyes softened. "So you can grip on to me and be reminded that you aren't there. You aren't with her."

"You won't... That's the only reason..?"

He nodded. "To give you as much comfort as I can. Yeah."

He looked at him then slowly reached out a hand...

Thomas then grasped it, holding it securely, but not too firmly. If he wanted to escape it, he could.

"Why do you care so much...? I'm not even real..."

He shook his head. "You are real though. If you weren't, I wouldn't be able to hold your hand like this."

"But I was made... I'm not... human..."

His eyes saddened. "You think and feel though. You care. You have hopes, and fears...Why would coming from some lab make you not real?"

"It's all I was ever told..."

"You were told wrong before..." His hand squeezed slightly. "By people who wanted you to feel like you deserved nothing more than what was done to you."

"Then what do I do now?”

He met his eyes. "That's up to you. You have choices now."

"Do I...?" He stared back.

He nodded. "Yeah. You can choose who you'll trust, and who you'll be wary of. You can choose what you'll try, and what you won't...You can figure out who you actually are and what you want."

"And you'll allow it?"

He bit his lip, but nodded again. "I will."

Janus looked down. "When she first showed me the series, I wondered what it would be like to live with you..."

He blinked, tilting his head. "Really...?"

"Yes...Eeven though she only showed me the parts where you- or at least your character- was upset with me or didn't trust me..."

Thomas winced. "...What did you imagine?"

 

"You'd be much kinder... Even if your character didn't like me much, he still allowed me to speak and be myself..."

...Was that really how low the bar was? "She didn't even allow you that?"

"No... not unless she was directing me..."

He swallowed. "...And now that you're here?"

"You're better than I thought you'd be..." he finally met his gaze. "You're kind to me, you, actually like me."

Thomas managed to keep his gaze. "Of course I like you, Janus. There's, a lot to like."

"Even when I've been... less than kind... to the others?"

"Even then. I don't blame you for being mistrustful. And I doubt they do either."

"I know they don't... if anyone would understand it'd be them..." Janus squeezed Thomas's hand. "I just don't know how to be brave…”

He softly smiled. "You do know how. You were last night."

"I was?"

"Yeah...Utterly terrified, yet still doing what you thought you had to for you and Logan's sake."

"You didn't think it was foolish?"

He shook his head. "Not with what you've known about the world...Bravery isn't acting without fear you know. It's doing the right thing despite fear."

"And if Logan had been in danger, would it have been the right thing?"

"Yeah. Because you were doing what you could to save him...From, something that would have been a threat with anyone but these guys."

"Well...I'm glad there was no real danger then..."

"As am I...If anything, it sounded like Ro was more worried about it then Lo."

"Oddly enough, Logan enjoys physical contact from what I've seen. He doesn't fear it..."

His lips pursed. "Might have been more something he experienced a lack of then used to purposely control him."

"Maybe his Wisher didn't know..."

"Maybe...We, really don't know..." He looked down. "Nor can really say..."

"No... and I really don't care to find out." Janus growled. "None of them deserve to see us again."

"That they don't." Thomas quickly nodded. "Which is why I'm going to do all I can to make this thing work."

"And we'll help you."

He slightly smiled. "Thanks...But don't push yourself over what you can do."

"I plan to recover first..."

"Good." He smiled. "Take all the time you need."

“Thank you..." he managed a small smile back

Thomas smiled as well. "No prob-"

Glass shattered from downstairs.

Janus shot up, hearing a scream. "No... no!"

Thomas's eyes widened. "Stay here." Then went racing down.

Chapter Text

"Get away from them!" Roman leapt towards the men, sword out.

Logan shielded the unconscious Virgil with his body, looking about. “Patton!” He called frantically.

Patton suddenly hugged Logan close, desperately looking around.

Roman jumped in front of them, sword in hand. "Lo, get them out of here!"

"Not without you!" Logan stood with Virgil, just as the front door was kicked down.

Roman's eyes widened.

"Okay men." Many of them prepared their guns. "Grab them."

"Stop!" Thomas raced down. "Leave them alone!"

"Thomas!" Logan's warning came too late as one of the soldiers slammed the hilt of his gun against Thomas's head.

Immediately, he fell to the floor, blood starting to rain out.

"NO!" Roman's eyes flared red as he charged for the soldier. "YOU MONSTER!"

Logan's eyes widened, the world around him seemed to move in slow motion as he reached one hand out in a vain attempt to stop him. Just as men came up from behind and grabbed Patton, tearing him away from Logan and forcing him down while others attempted to wrestle Virgil out of his hold.

"Logan!" Patton's eyes widened. Then he tried to pull towards him. "Let me go!"

Roman's sword made its swing...Only for the man to duck as tranquilizer darts shot Roman.

"No!" Logan screamed, trying to get to him as Virgil was torn away.

Arms then grabbed him. "Stop, unless you want the edgelord hurt."

"Please! Don't do this!" Logan turned to them, tears already falling. "You can't take us back! Please!"

The face he saw though was cold. "Would you prefer to be stunned or are you going to comply?"

"Lo..." Roman stretched out for him, collapsing to the ground.

His head turned back towards him, his heart shattering as his legs gave out. This wasn't happening... It couldn't be happening...

"That's only four of them," one soldier called out, "there's one more."

The one holding Logan gritted his teeth, gripping Logan's arms tighter. "Where's the last one?"

Logan gasped and grit his teeth. He couldn't tell... He couldn't...

His eyes hardened more. "Come on there. Tell us."

"No!" Patton continued to struggle. "Leave him alone!"

Thomas started to try to stand...

Logan shook, the answering burning in his chest and up to his throat. "He's... He is..."

"He's dead!" Thomas spat out.

Logan's head shot up, eyes widening.

"Do you really expect us to believe that?" One of them walked over. "How could he be dead?"

Thomas glared, still woozy. "What? It's a shock that someone locked in one place all their lives got sick and died because they never built up immunities?!"

One of the guards huffed. "He's probably just upstairs."

"We'll go look." Several of them made their way up.

Logan tried to meet Thomas's gaze. What if he was telling the truth? Janus had been sick for so long, and the shedding on top of that, he'd gone back to the room so suddenly...But Thomas collapsed back down, blood still dribbling from his skull.

"He's hurt..." Logan shook. "He needs help! He's hurt!"

The guy holding him shrugged. "Not our problem."

"If he dies, it will be!" Logan shouted, thrashing in his hold.

"Hey!" He pulled him into himself, then wrapped his arms tightly around him. "Settle down, wildcat."

Logan stiffened, blood running cold before he started thrashing again. "Let me go! Let me go!"

"Settle down now!"

And just like that, he froze, going completely still, eyes wide in terror.

The man behind him chuckled. "Good boy~." Then started to pet his hair.

"No..." He whimpered as he felt himself going limp. "No please..."

"Huh, they weren't kidding about that one." The man who was cuffing Patton commented.

"Yeah." He grinned more, taking the chance to cuff Logan as well, petting his head every chance he could. "They really should make more of these things have this feature."

Patton's eyes widened more. "How can you do this?!"

"Oh it's harmless. Just shuts him down for a bit." The man hauled Patton to his feet. "Don't have too much fun though. He still belongs to a Wisher."

"I know, I know." The other rolled his eyes, then kept petting his head. "I'm just seeing how it works. I've been saving for one myself for quite some time."

Patton shook. "You're a monster...You all are!"

"Oh hush." He gave him a little shake. "Keep talking and we'll rough the little one up a bit. He's gonna be terminated anyway..."

He froze, shaking now in terror. "No, please...You can't just let him die..."

"I said quiet." He squeezed his arm.

"Hm..." Logan looked up, vision blurry as he tried to focus. "Pat..."

Pat met Logan's eyes, starting to tear up himself.

Just then the others came downstairs, faces grim. "Guess he wasn't lying. There's no sign of him anywhere..."

One of the men swore. "Damn."

"What are we going to do?"

"Well, I think the last one's Wisher was already in the bidding for that one." His gaze centered on Patton, causing him to freeze more.

"Nothing else we can do then. Let's get these four out."

"Right." One guy got up and lifted the bound Roman over his shoulder.

"No..." Thomas tried to get up again. "Don't..."

"You had your chance to hand them over," the man dragged Patton past him, "Maybe if you had, that other one would still be alive."

Thomas bit his lip, trying to reach for Pat, only to have another guy kick him down, knocking him back to the ground.

"Let's go." The one holding Logan dragged him along.

Logan was almost completely limp, unable to stand on his own.

"Geez, he's like a cat." Another one slung Virgil over his shoulder.

The man holding Logan chuckled. "I know. I'm sure his Wisher must love making him purr."

"You know Stryker would have a field day with him. If he wasn't already in hot water with the director he'd probably find some way to get him..."

"Maybe." They left out the front door. "Though I can't imagine him keeping this guy for long. Stryke loves the cuties that put up more of a fight."

"Yeah... No challenge there."

Logan's gaze wandered around. Where were they taking them? Where was Roman...?

"Put those two in that truck. We'll take the ones with the glasses."

"Got it boss." Oh, there was Roman, and Virgil...Rested and tied down in the back of some car trunk before being closed in.

The man holding Logan held tighter as he led him to the other car. "This way, cutie."

Cutie...? Why was he calling him that? That's something Roman would say..."Ro... Want Ro..."

He chuckled. "Sorry. 'Ro' was a naughty boy, so he has to stay in the trunk." Then he dragged him along into a car. "You though are going to be a good boy for me, aren't you."

"Mm... good boy..." He slumped against him. "I'm a good boy..."

He grinned. "Yes you are..." Then started petting him more. "A very good boy."

"Mmm~" Logan hummed and leaned into his touch.

This was the sight Patton was greeted with as he was forced into the back seat, helpless to do anything. He shook more, trying desperately to reach for him.

"Stay still." He was forced back into his seat. "It's not too late to knock you out as well."

He bit his lip, glaring at the man. "You're just going to let him do that?"

He shrugged. "It's not hurting anyone."

"It's hurting Lo!" His hands tightened.

"Do you want to spend this trip in the trunk? Because I can still make that happen."

"With you pawing me if I don't?!"

His eyes narrowed as he struck Patton's face with the back of his hand. "That's not how I do things."

Patton hissed, biting down the ow that wanted to come out. "Then, why let him?"

"Because I could care less. Now shut your damn mouth or you'll get a dart in the neck."

He glared more, but bit down, every muscle tense.

Even if he couldn't talk it'd be worse if Logan had to go through this alone… At least this way....Logan might see him and know he's there... He looked back at Lo, anguish in his eyes.

Logan met his gaze, wearing a dazed smile on his lips while tears ran down his cheeks.

Patton shook, tears falling down his face as well. Why had things gone so wrong so fast?

The car engine turned, causing the two to sped away, leaving Thomas and his apartment far behind.

Back inside Thomas had been left abandoned on the floor. Broken glass littered half the living room, pillows had been thrown and the only light game from the glow of the TV, currently paused on Logan and Virgil's game...

Thomas groaned, shaking his head. They...They took them! He had to get them back. He got up on his hands, then tried to push himself to his feet.

He felt hands on his shoulders, gently easing him to a stop. "Slow down... You'll just collapse again..."

He shook. "Have, Have to get them. Promised they were safe!"

"Thomas please, calm down... You're still bleeding..."

"I can't leave them!"

"But there's nothing we can do right now! Not with you like this!"

He tried to look up, shaking. "I failed them! They were, were suppose to be safe!"

"It wasn't your fault!" Janus pulled him close. "You need to stop!"

He shook, falling into his arms. "What am I going to do?"

"I... I don't know..." Janus took in the state of the apartment, then saw the blood running down Thomas's face. "You need a doctor…”

He blinked. "Doctor...?"

"Your head... you need help..."

He blinked more. "Call 911...They, need help more..."

"Once we get you fixed up, we'll help them... Just don't say anything about WISH..." Janus reached into his pocket and found his phone. "I don't want you getting into more trouble..."

His eyes grew heavier. "Pretend, you're my brother..."

"I'll take care of it..." Janus dialed the number and waited. "Just try to hold on, okay?"

"I'll...Try..." His eyes started to close.

Everything started to fade around him, he could barely hear Janus talking on the phone, and felt one of his hands wrapped around his, holding it even as Thomas's grip loosened.
Sleep pulled him the rest of the way, no matter how he fought it. And soon, he only knew unconsciousness's embrace.

Chapter Text

The first thing he heard when he woke was beeping, and hushed voices murmuring around him. The air was cold and his head was pounding...

What happened?

Whatever happened, it was causing his head to feel like some guy was wailing in there with a sledgehammer. He groaned, trying to pick his hand up. Only to find that someone was holding it...

He frowned, then tried to open his eyes, blinking at the harsh light.

This definitely wasn't his room. Was this a hospital? Why would he be in a hospital? He was only just at home, with...

His eyes widened. "Janus."

"I'm here..." Someone who was, definitely not Janus, leaned towards the bed.

His eyes widened more. "Who're you?!"

"Calm down..." Janus let go, pulling out a small necklace with a golden snake from under his black shirt. "It's just me... It's Janus..."

"Janus..." He slumped back, eyes looking over him. "What happened?"

"You were unconscious so I called an ambulance... We're at the hospital..."

"Oh..." He looked around. He probably should have gathered that much, especially with the heart monitor..."How long have I been here?"

"Two hours..."

"They've had them for two hours already?"

"Yes..." Janus looked down. "They're definitely not back at WISH itself yet but... They still have to transport them there..."

He frowned. "We have to get them back."

"I know..." Janus looked towards the door. "Just keep your voice down..."

"Right..." He took a deep breath. "How much longer do I have to be in here?"

"I don't know, the doctor should be back soon..." he looked at him again. "I told them we had been playing video games when someone broke in..."

"Got it..." He tried to sit up. "Did you tell him anything else?"

"He asked what my relation to you was... and obviously I'm not your brother..."

"So what did you say?" He turned to Janus.

"I was very panicked on the phone... And I guess I hovered a bit... So they assumed that we were..." His face turned red.

His brow furrowed. "We were, what?"

"Well... A couple..."

"Oh..." Then his face reddened. "Oh!"

"I'm sorry! It just helped the story so I went along with it..."

"No, no, it's alright but...How are you about it?"

"Me? I'm fine! It's not as if it's real."

"But we're going to need to act couplely to keep pulling this off."

"Not too much... You've been hurt and I won't want to cause you any more pain."

"Yeah..." He swallowed. "So...Only arms and back for touch, right?"

"Yes... but please don't strain yourself..."

"I won't." He glanced to the door, composing himself.

He continued to hold his hand as a nurse walked in. "Oh, you're awake." She smiled and approached the bed. "How do you feel, Thomas?"

"Uh. Fine, nurse. Thanks."

"Good! I'll go ahead and bring the doctor in so he can check you over. There's a good chance we can release you in the morning." With that She turned around, leaving them alone once again.

He sighed in relief, gripping Janus's hand back.

"The police will want to speak to us... About the break in..."

"Oh boy..." He groaned. "There's no way we could try pressing charges on them, is there."

"No... and I already said we hadn't been able to identify who it was..."

"So, no go..." He sighed. "Okay. Surprised us while gaming. Can't recognize them, they were wearing masks...Anything else?”

"Nothing that you would have been conscious for. I gave them my side already..."

"Alright. Just my turn..."

"Just tell them exactly that. They knocked you unconscious before you could see anything else..."

"Got it. So I missed how you gallantly saved me."

"Which... You luckily have several "props" that could be considered weapons... I managed to hit one and scare them off with threats to call the police... If they ask you to recall any details say they seemed younger."

"Teen hooligans?"

"Essentially."

"Got it..." He took a deep breath. "I got this."

"They probably won't be here until morning. You'll have time to rest…”

He frowned. "We need to move soon though."

"They probably won't let you leave until morning. You might as well get some rest..."

He bit his lip. "And you?"

"I... I don't know..." Janus gripped his hand. "I'm the only one left..."

He looked at him. "Don't go after them yourself..."

"Of course not. I wouldn't stand a chance..."

"You wouldn't." He sighed. "I don't know how the two of us will..."

"They came so fast... with no warning... and just like that they were gone…”

He squeezed his hand again. "I'm sorry."

"I didn't even do anything to protect them... I hid..."

"If you'd come down, you'd have only been grabbed yourself..." He sighed. "I should have been more prepared."

"We let our guard down too soon..."

He sighed. "I needed to be more on guard. Maybe even move..."

"That would have been asking too much..."

"I still could have done more than that. Oh gosh..." He facepalmed. "What's the landlord going to say?"

"I... I don't know... I don't know about any of this..."

"Maybe if I'm lucky, he won't have me pay for the windows."

"Maybe..."

He sighed. "At worst, I'm going to need to move anyway."

"I'm sorry... We brought all this on you..."

"No." He looked at him. "I wanted to help. I just wish I could do more..."

"They were willing to let you die."

He huffed. "After how they let you all get treated, I'm honestly not that surprised."

"And if we go after them... It's possible they'll kill you..."

"If we don't though, they'll definitely kill Virgie." He shook. "We don't know how much time he has left."

Janus shook. "And if the rest have to go back to their Wishers..."

"I know...We'll need to figure out where..." Something was wrong with that statement though. What was-? His blood ran cold. "Patton wasn't going back to his Wisher."

"What do you mean?”

"I heard them talking. Since, they thought you were dead. They said, they pointed at Pat and said he would be given to yours instead.”

Janus froze, eyes widening in horror, for a brief moment his snake eye showed up before returning to a normal shade of brown. "No... No they can't do that! They can't!"

He squeezed Janus's hand, shaking himself. "We can check. Make sure. Maybe I misheard."

"No... If she thinks I'm dead, she'll want him.... She always talked about getting me a "play mate" when I was with her... Patton would have been perfect..."

He shook more. "I should have been down there. Gotten them some place to hide..."

"No... No, we have to stop..." He gripped his hand. "This won't help them, we need to convince the doctor to let you go as soon as possible..."

"Yeah. See if I can be too traumatized for the police investigation as well."

"Or make it go quickly with you hardly remembering anything..."

"Yeah, that too." He got himself to sit up more. "Not like I'll be adding much."

Janus helped ease him up, glancing at the door. "How long does it take to get a doctor?"

"Depends." He shrugs. "Either there's a lot of patients, or just paperwork."

"It better be soon..."

A door opened up. "Apologies for the delay." A man in a doctor's coat came in. The nurse right behind him.

"It's alright." Janus continued to hold Thomas's hand.

"Good." He nervously grinned, then glanced at his clipboard. "Fortunately, Mr. Sanders, you're a rather lucky man."

Thomas blinked. "Really?"

"Yes. There don't seem to be any long term effects for your injury. Though I'll go ahead and examine you to make certain."

"How long will that take?" Janus asked.

"Oh, it shouldn't take too long." He grabbed out a thing with a light at the end and started to shine it in Thomas's ears. "We can leave you with your boyfriend soon enough."

"He's refused to leave you alone." The nurse smiled. "You're lucky to have someone who cares so much."

Thomas shyly smiled. "Don't I know it."

"Looks good here. Open your mouth and say aw."

"Aw!" The light shined down his throat.

Janus kept a close eye on the doctor. Though he knew he wouldn't hurt Thomas he couldn't help the urge to make sure he didn't try anything, just in case. He was so vulnerable here...

The doctor stopped that part. "Alright. Now the reflex test." He grabbed a rubber mallet.

Janus stiffened. "Is that necessary...?"

He frowned. "We need to make sure there is no permanent brain damage to his motor nerves."

Thomas squeezed Janus's hand. "It's alright. It doesn't actually hurt."

"Okay... " he relaxed slightly. "You were just hit though... I simply wanted to make sure..."

"I know." He smiled. "It's all alright."

"May I continue?" He still held the mallet.

"Go ahead..."

"Thank you." Then he swung the mallet.

Thomas's leg immediately swung out.

Janus squeezed his hand. "Are you okay?"

"Yeah." He quickly reassured.

"Reflexes are good then..." The doctor noted down. Then got out his stethoscope. "Now take slow deep breaths." Then rested it in his chest.

"Do you think he'll be able to leave soon?"

"He could." The doctor frowned. "But having him leave too soon would not be advised though. He needs rest."

"He can rest at my place..."

He looked at Thomas. "Would that be alright with you?"

"Yes. Perfectly alright."

"Then my nurse will need you to sign him out, Mr. Roger."

"Okay..." he glanced at Thomas.

Thomas just bit his lip, humor in his eyes.

"Good. In the meantime, the police are ready to take your statement when you are ready, Mr. Sanders."

He swallowed. "Yeah. I'm ready."

"We'll be home soon... don't worry..." Janus assured him.

He smiled at him. "I know Jan. Thanks."

"I think the police are waiting, want me to bring them in?" The nurse asked.

Thomas swallowed. "Yeah. Bring them on in."

"Okay." Her smile softened as she walked out.

"And I will go ahead and have you sign the paperwork, Mr. Roger."

"Can I do it here?"

"Police usually prefer to talk with a witness alone..."

"But I was with him..."

"Still..."

"It, should be fine either way..." Thomas swallowed. "If I could though, could he stay here?"

"We'd have to see what the officer says..."

Just then the nurse returned, the officer behind her. "Mr. Sanders, glad to see you awake."

"Glad to be awake too." He did his best to smile and meet the officer's eyes.

"We've already interviewed your partner here, just gonna ask you a few questions if you're up for it.”

"Yeah." He sighed, sitting up straighter. "I'm up for it. Though, I didn't see much."

"Just tell me what you remember."

"Well...Jan and I were at my place for the night, having a mini Smash Tournament..." He swallowed, brow furrowed as if remembering. "Then...There was glass shattering. I looked up. These guys were there with full face masks." He swallowed more, gripping Janus's hand. "I...I was scared, so I tried to ask what they wanted...Then I don't...It's all dark after that."

"I see... matches up with what Mr. Roger here told us..." he sighed. "Sounds like your typical break in. Since they left and didn't take anything I can assume they were on the younger side. You live in a quiet neighborhood after all. Could have just been some kids causing trouble."

He swallowed. "Yeah. They, did seem pretty young...I just hope I can replace the glass."

"We'll do our best to find them, for now just worry about getting better." He turned to Janus. "You were pretty brave, defending him like that."

"He would have done the same for me." Janus replied evenly.

"Glad you feel that way about me, dear." Thomas looked up at him with a smile.

Janus looked back, not smiling but with a soft expression. "I don't want to lose you..."

"If that's all you have to say, I'll leave you to rest. Thank you both for your time."

Thomas looked back at him. "Thank you for your's. Have a good day."

He nodded and walked out.

Janus's eyes narrowed slightly.

The doctor cleared his throat, handing over a clipboard. "Sign here, Mr. Roger."

He turned and grabbed it, staring at the page and gripping the pen tightly.

Thomas swallowed. He knew how to read, right? Oh...The eye issue! He sat up a bit straighter, looking over and nudging Janus's hand towards the right place. The pen hovered there, but that didn't help if he couldn't see what he was writing!

The doctor hovered as well. "Are you alright...?"

"I... I can't see..." he admitted. "I forgot my glasses..."

"Oh...Well..."

"I can help him write it." Thomas offered.

"...That could work."

"Thank you..."

He shrugged. "I just want to make sure you're able to do what works best for the two of you."

Thomas got situated, then grabbed his hand. "Just follow my lead."

Janus nodded, keeping the pen steady.

Thomas then guided him through spelling out his false name. Janus, Roger.

"Thanks..." Janus handed it back.

"No problem." He looked it over. "Everything seems to be in order." Then he looked back. "Do you have a means of transportation?"

"I'm sure we can figure it out..."

"Good...With that, Mr. Sanders is now released into your care."

"Thank you..." Janus stood and helped Thomas to his feet.

Thomas swallowed. "Thanks." Then started to head off with him, leaning slightly on him.

Janus kept him close. "How are we getting back?" He whispered.

He frowned. "Take an Uber back so we can use my car?"

"Uber...?”

"A, thing where we hire a guy to drive us where we need to go."

"Oh, how do we call them?"

"With my phone...You have it?"

"Yeah, just in case."

"Good. Just need to get on the Uber app."

"Um, perhaps you should."

"Soon as you hand me my phone..." They got in an elevator.

"Got it..." he pulled it out of his pocket and handed it to him.

"Thanks." Thomas grabbed it then started contacting an Uber.

"That was too easy..."

"What? Were you expecting an assassination attempt?"

"No, but, he just believed the story…”

He frowned. "There's not, many reasons we would lie..."

"Still..."

Thomas swallowed. "Did he seem like he was lying?"

"I don't know. Maybe I'm just paranoid..."

"No. I got us into this mess by not being paranoid enough." He sighed. "...Why would teen hooligans attack my apartment in particular?"

"Exactly... It doesn't feel believable, especially then being able to knock you out and then leaving without anything..." The elevator chimed. The doors swooshed open.

Thomas frowned more as they walked out. "Nor that they would break the whole wall of glass just to get in..."

"Or the door..."

"Was he lying about not investigating further?"

"I don't know..." They made it outside.

Thomas sighed, checking his phone. "Whether they do or not, we should just get to the house...Maybe pack up the stuff real quick? Kinda wouldn't want to come back to find it all stolen..."

"We can try to cover the windows...."

"But it's not going to do much. Besides, the food might go bad while we're gone."

"Still..."

"I know...I don't want to feel like there's no home to get back to either..."

"And it's your home..."

"Not if I'm kicked out for this...And, I can't wait long enough to hear if I will be or not."

"We really don't have much time…”

"...Only small things then? Or, here..." He got up his texts. "I can tell one of my friends to pick things up."

"Whatever we need."

"Alright...Here," He got up his texts. "I can tell one of my friends to pick things up that we don't take with us. Just in case."

"How will you explain you leaving?"

"I'll, explain that I had a break in, and need someplace to store stuff for a couple days while I have to travel for a potential voice acting gig."

"You'd really want to do that after having your apartment broken into? It'd be more convincing to say you were staying at a hotel for a few days while police did their search around the area and while you wait to get your window fixed."

"Yeah. But, then one of them might insist I stay at their place."

"Which is why you say it was late and you didn't want to bother anyone."

"They'd still insist..." Then he frowned. "Or, well, maybe they won't..."

"It'll be fine, trust me..."

He slumped. "Joan would have insisted anyway..."

"Joan?"

"Yeah..." He swallowed. "Oh, looks like our Uber."

"Are you sure?" Janus turned towards the car, gripping Thomas's hand.

He looked at the description given. "It matches the car we're suppose to be meeting, down to the license plate." Then he put away his cellphone. "We'll be alright."

"I'm still keeping watch..."

"Fair enough."

The guy drove to the curb. "You two Roger and Sanders?"

"Yes..."

"Great. Hop on in." He opened his back door.

Janus helped Thomas get in then sat beside him.

Thomas looked at the guy in front. "Thanks a lot for this."

"No problem." He started to drive off. "Tough luck needing the hospital on date night."

"Date night...?"

"Well," Thomas reddened. "We know it was meant to be date night, honey."

"Oh... right..."

He sighed, looking up at the driver sheepishly. "It's been a long night."

"I bet...Some of the worst things seem to stop dates."

"I'll take care of him though..." Janus put an arm around him.

Thomas swallowed. "Yeah..." He rested against Janus's shoulder. "Just like he always does..."

He chuckled. "Young love."

"Right..." Janus looked down at him.

Thomas glanced up, blushing more. "Sorry about this." He whispered up to him.

"It's alright, just rest."

"...Alright." Then he closed his eyes and drifted off to sleep.

It only felt like a few seconds had passed when Janus gently shook him awake. "Thomas... We're here..."

"Huh...Oh." He got up, blinking.

He helped him out of the car. “Thank you.”

"No problem." Then the driver drove off.

Thomas blinked more, then winced as he saw his apartment. "Even looks bad out here..."

"Let's just hurry..."

"Yeah, let's." Then he headed on inside.

The TV was still on, the place still a mess. It felt cold and empty inside and not just because of the broken windows. He shivered then headed upstairs and got out his bag, beginning to pack. He'd contacted Dominic to ask for a stuff pick up. Janus looked for something to try and cover the glass, settling for hanging up a blanket over the damage. Then set about cleaning the glass off the floor. It was a painstaking process, but at least it was something to do to help." Take his mind off of how empty it was...

...It wasn't fair. They should still be here, continuing their stupid game, laughing at the stupid things they found funny. He never thought he'd miss hearing their voices so much... He'd barely known them for more than a week. He shouldn't already miss them like this. And he'd been so horrible to them... Never giving them a chance... If he'd only given them a chance...Maybe they could have… They could have still been here...

They would be safe…
\
He dumped the remaining glass into the trash can then approached the stairs. "Thomas...?" He called up.

"Yeah..." he started down the stairs, bag in hand.

"Ready to go?"

"Yeah..." He swallowed. "Wait..." He went over to the switch, paused, then got it packed up.

Janus didn't comment as he helped him carry the bag outside to the car.

Thomas swallowed, then threw it in back and got in the driver's seat, looking up the WISH headquarters on his phone.
Janus got in the passenger side, staring ahead. "Ready?"

He got up the directions, setting the phone on the dash. "Ready."

Janus took a deep breath. "Let's go..."

"Right." He turned on the engine, then drove off.

Completely silent as they made their way through the dark, where they could only hope they wouldn't be too late...

Chapter Text

Everything had gone wrong so fast...

Logan had been sitting beside Virgil as he explained the controls to him. It was pretty simple to memorize which ones were meant for attacking, blocking, and jumping, so all that came next was choosing a character. He remembered selecting a robot, which Roman had described as being "OP" whatever that meant... He'd begun a fight with Virgil, quickly analyzing his patterns and learning to counter him. They'd been having fun. Roman and Patton had joined in...The two were nearing the end of the fight when Virgil had suddenly paused the game, looking towards the sliding door that led to the back porch...

Everything had gone silent, they were all listening, Roman already had his sword and Virgil was summoning his shadows...Then an explosion of glass, Virgil crumbled into Logan's arms, a metal dart sticking out of his neck. Then the armed men stormed the apartment... they were all overwhelmed... Thomas had come downstairs... Saying Janus was dead...

They hurt Thomas...

And then... and then...

Logan shot up, gasping and looking around frantically with wide eyes. Where am ?! Where are the others!?!

Everywhere his eyes fell, he saw a sterile room with white sheets. Just, like the room he'd been 'born' in...

No... no no no no.... This wasn't happening! Logan shot to his feet. His heart beating like a hammer against his chest. "Roman?! Patton?! Virgil?!”

None of them were there...He was alone.

No! He wasn't going to let this happen! He ran towards the door and started banging on it with his fists. Not caring in the slightest that it was illogical and would get him nowhere "Let me out! Where are they?!"

"Logan?" A familiar voice came to the door. Her voice...

Logan staggered away from the door as if he'd been burned, eyes widening in terror. No...No she couldn't be!

The door opened, with an agent there along with Sarah. "Yes, this would be him...Emergency protocol delta-one-zero, stand at attention and await vocal registration."

"What are you- ah!" Logan's hands went up to his neck as a shock jolted through him, freezing when he felt metal underneath his fingers.

A collar? They put a collar on him?!

Sarah's eyes narrowed. "You said the new tracker wouldn't hurt him."

The agent shrugged. "It is a low voltage shock. As long as he obeys your commands and doesn't stray beyond the places you allow, it won't hurt him. Now, I need you to repeat his call sign then say your name for the collar to be registered to your voice."

Logan shook. "Sarah please... Don't do this..."

Sarah's eyes then met his, faltering.

The agent rolled her eyes. "If you do not want him now, we shall simply set him up for adoption with someone else."

She flinched. "Can I at least take him without the collar?"

"Given his shapeshifting properties, this is the only tracker that will work for him." She sighed. "I'm sorry ma'am. But since he has already escaped from you once, this countermeasure is necessary."

"I didn't have a choice!" Logan countered. "None of us did! We had to leave for our own safety! We did nothing wrong!"

She gave him a droll eye. "Of course if he continues to be this obstinate, termination may be the only solution."

"No!" Her eyes widened in terror. "I'll, I'll take him."

“Then say his callsign and your name."

"Don't... Please don't..."

"I'm sorry..." Then she swallowed. "Delta-one-zero, Sarah Winters."

Logan hissed, feeling the collar tightening slightly then a prick from what felt like a needle in the back of his neck. He felt his arms falling against his side and his posture straightening. Once he was in position, the collar loosened, but he was still aware of the metal against his neck.

Sarah swallowed more.

"And with that, we're done." The agent signed off on the clipboard. "You and Logan are free to leave."

"Thank you..." She turned away. "Come along, Lo."

He hesitated, only for a second when another shock was given to him, prompting his feet to move forward. He could see the wince in her shoulder, but she continued along, looking at the room numbers. Logan did the same, desperately searching for any sign of the others. He couldn't see any though...

Finally, she reached a door and knocked.

"Won't I be able to see them again...?" Logan asked. "Just one more time...?"

She paused. "I'm not sure of the ones set for termination...But, there might be hope for Patton."

"What do you mean...? Who's being terminated...?"

She bit her lip. "Virgil and Roman..."

"What?! Why Roman?!”

"He attacked the guards. And they learned of a mysterious murder where the weapon was a katana. After they told Rosa that, even she wasn't willing to demand him be released to her."

"No... No, he did it to protect us. Protect me!"

She bit her lip. "They don't care about that, Lo. I'm sorry."

"Don't tell me that!' He glared at her. "You're not sorry! You don't care!"

She winced, then knocked on the door again.

"Come in," a voice replied as Logan received another shock, effectively silencing him.

Sarah swallowed, then opened the door.

"Ah, Miss Winters." The man behind the desk smiled. "I see you've been reunited with your Logan."

"Yes, I have been." She swallowed. "I was wondering though about my application to adopt Patton."

"I was actually about to contact you about that. It seems that during the time these characters were gone, the Janus fell ill and died since he wasn't brought to one of our medical centers for characters."

Her brow furrowed. "Oh...What does, that have to do with my application?"

"Well, we decided that it would be best for the Patton to go to Miss Moore."

Her eyes widened. "What?!"

"Since her own character cannot return, and she has the space, it was for the best."

"You can't do that!" Logan stepped forward, hissed in pain then drew back.

Sarah shook. "I, have the space now too though. I set up the new apartment. Have rooms for both Logan and Patton already."

"I'm sorry. It's already been done. We would have offered the Roman up if he hadn't been scheduled for termination."

She tensed. "There's no way to take him off the schedule then?"

"Afraid not. My hands are tied..."

"...What about the Virgil then? He never killed anyone."

"He's still dangerous. Really ma'am this isn't my department... all I know is that an incident like this hasn't happened before. We're using it to learn how to prevent such a thing from happening again. We can't take any chances."

She swallowed. "Even if I was willing to pay...?"

"I'm afraid I can't accept a bribe."

"I wasn't considering a bribe." She scowled. "Who would I talk to about them?"

"Well, I suppose Miss Moore herself... The Patton is hers now..."

"Alright. And for Roman and Virgil. Whose department do they fall under?"

"I'm afraid that's classified..."

"Then who do I talk to?"

"Once a character has been scheduled for termination it cannot be taken back. If you really want them you could order a new version-"

"They can't be replaced!" Logan held back a hiss this time, but Sarah could see him flinch.

She swallowed. "Sorry for troubling you so much then. Thank you for your time." Then she started for the door. "Is it, also classified when the termination will happen?"

"I'm afraid so. Again, not really my department."

"I understand. Thanks anyway..." Then she took Logan's hand and started to walk off.

Logan immediately pulled his hand away. "Don't touch me..."

She froze, swallowing. Then rested down her hand and continued on.

Logan couldn't stop shaking as he followed her. What made her think she even had the right to touch him after what she did? The gall of her, to come here, claim him with the collar, spout her insincere lies... All while he knew what awaited his friends. His family... There had to be a way to stop this. They escaped once. They could again. But how? This collar... he could already tell he couldn't shape shift, couldn't summon anything. Not without getting shocked. The only way that maybe he could would be if she ordered him to do it. And even then... it might not be allowed… ...First order of business then was to figure out how to break this collar. She left him enough alone that he should be able to figure it out.

Alone... how long was she going to leave him for pulling this stunt? Until he broke? She was already doing her best to ignore him now… How long would he last? He, really didn't know. It'd been so long since that had even been a threat... They headed on into the main hallway, Sarah still looking straight forward.

Still he kept searching, hoping for one last glance of them. They exited out the front door, and there Patton was, unconscious in a woman's arms, the collar around his neck too.
"Patton..." Logan paled and started towards them. "Patton!"

"Logan, don't!" Sarah's eyes widened as she went after him.

Patton lightly stirred.

Logan felt the collar shock him but he kept going. He wasn't