Janus being accepted by the others had been absolutely amazing for Virgil.
Initially, they had had a long discussion, filled with explanations and tearful apologies that ended with the two deciding to pick up their relationship where they had left off, and god Virgil had missed it. He couldn’t believe he had forgotten how wonderful their shared gentle touches could be, or how fun it was to openly tease each other knowing there was no actual hatred behind their words. Everything seemed near perfect, until he realized one side appeared to take issue with them being together.
It took a while for him to catch on to the looks Patton would give them. The first few times he caught him frowning at them in disapproval he chalked it up to coincidence, or to him misinterpreting and overreacting to nothing. But the pattern seemed to continue. Janus would ruffle his hair in the morning, noting how nice it looked, and Patton would look up from where he was flipping pancakes with a cold expression. Janus would call him cute and he’d catch Patton’s head whip around and glare at them embracing. It baffled Virgil. Patton had never let on that he had any problem with Janus. If anything, he had been the side to most quickly accept and welcome him. Virgil wondered if he should question him about it, until it culminated during movie night.
The pair were cuddling on the couch, paying more attention to each other than Little Shop of Horrors (the compromise choice between the twins).
“Do you really think it looks alright?” Virgil asked, referring to the streaks of purple and black he had put in his hair.
“If we can shapeshift, you definitely shouldn’t take advantage of it,” Janus said, carding his fingers through it. “I love it, and I’m sure Thomas will feel the same”
Virgil smiled and began to lean into his chest, stopping when he caught the look Patton was throwing their way.
“Hey Virge,” he said, his voice carrying its usual bubbly tone despite it clashing with the harsh expression he wore, “why don’t you come help me make some more popcorn real quick?”
This was his chance to get to the bottom of things.
“Be right back,” he said to Janus, following Patton into the kitchen.
“Okay,” he began the moment the door shut, “what's wrong with you lately? Every time Janus and I are together, you act like you have some sort of problem with it.”
Patton sighed. “Look kiddo, I just don’t want to see you get hurt by all of this.”
Patton fiddled with the ends of his cardigan. “It's just... I know Janus is here to help Thomas with his mental health, but he's still Deceit.”
“And?” Virgil glowered. Of course he was. Just like he was still Anxiety, and Remus still controlled intrusive thoughts. He had thought they were past this.
“And,” Patton said, “I don’t like watching him lie to you all the time.”
Seeing Virgil’s face turn confused as well as upset, he continued.
“Like in there, for example. Him saying you should take advantage of being able to shape shift? Isn’t that kind of insulting, it’s like saying you should change how you look? Especially since then he said he hates it, and that Thomas will too.”
“That isn’t what he mea-”
“But how can we be sure? How can you be sure?” Patton cut in. “Anything he says could be a lie, right? And it sure seems like he does it an awful lot, and with the issues you two have had in the past… I’m just worried this might be something underhanded Virge, and I don’t like watching him say such awful things to you.”
Virgil faltered a moment but pushed it down, raising his voice in his disgust that Patton would consider such a thing. “Thats-Thats not what he’s doing at all, okay?! I don’t need your input. We’ve known each other longer than you’ve known either of us, and I know Janus wouldn’t lie about anything like that, so whatever your problem is, leave us out of it!”
He stormed out, slamming the door behind him. He flopped back down next to Janus, who didn’t bother to ask why he came out without the popcorn Patton had mentioned in his half-asleep state. Instead, he lazily extended his extra arms out, pulling Virgil in closer.
He couldn’t believe Patton would even suggest something like that, especially after things seemed to be getting so much better between everyone. It was ridiculous, and probably nothing more than Patton clinging onto his old ideas about morality. There was nothing to worry about at all. Still, despite the swarm of justifications and reasonings that filled his mind, he couldn’t help a hint of uneasiness creeping in among them.
The feeling only got worse after the movie was over and everyone retreated to their rooms for the night. Janus had given him a small kiss before they went to bed like always, but this time something felt... off. A chill of discomfort ran through his body. He broke away quicker than usual, saying his good night and rushing to his room.
All night he struggled to fall asleep, but his mind wouldn’t stop fighting with itself, Patton’s words poisoning everything that had felt so wonderful and right just a few hours ago. He tried everything on his checklist to calm down, but no amount of breathing exercises seemed to help.
This is stupid.
But maybe it's not.
He loves me.
He hated me.
He could be lying.
He doesn’t lie all the time.
But he might.
But he might.
What if everything's been a lie?
Trying to trick us all.
Janus might not even be his real name.
The following days didn't help shake the feeling. Every word Janus said brought a new wave of uneasiness for Virgil, and he internally cringed with each kiss and touch they shared.
One afternoon after experimenting with one of Remus’s eyeshadow palettes, Janus complimented the shimmery smokey purple on his eyelids. He spent a whole half hour in the bathroom after that, examining it in the mirror and with each passing moment regretting more and more ever putting it on. He finally scrubbed it all off and spent the rest of the day shut up in his room.
The worst incident had to be the day Janus had made a blackberry pie. He had always been a wonderful baker and even Virgil in his conflicted state of mind couldn’t resist having a slice. When Janus saw how much he seemed to enjoy it he smiled.
“Go ahead and have more if you want Stormcloud,” he said, before sinking out to see what Thomas needed him for.
The comment sent a wave of nausea over him. He was eating too much. Especially sweets. He ate too many sweets. He should stop eating them. He should stop eating.
He skipped dinner that night, staying in his room once more.
It didn’t take Janus long to catch on that something was wrong. At first he waved it off as Virgil just being on edge for one reason or another, but when he noticed after a week he was still acting strange he decided he should approach him about it.
“Stormcloud?” he asked after the other nearly shuddered when he placed his hand on him, “Is something wrong.”
“And think very carefully before you answer,” he cut in, “I can tell if you’re lying.”
It was like something snapped in Virgil.
“Because that's what you’re good at, right? You’re the oh-so-sly “Lord of the Lies,” as you called it. And you’ve been lying to Thomas, and you’ve been lying to the others, and you’ve been lying to me!” There was a frantic, almost hysteric edge to his voice as he finally shouted the accusations that had been growing and haunting him for days now.
Janus looked taken aback. “Virgil, what are you talking about? I thought we’d already discussed this.”
“But how am I supposed to know that wasn’t just another lie? How are any of us supposed to know? Maybe everything you ever told me was a lie!” His voice began to distort as he descended into full-on panic. “You don’t actually love me, you hate me, and think I’m horrible and disgusting, and you want to get rid of me and-”
He felt a soft touch on his cheek and was gently brought to eye contact with Janus, his voice remaining calm and soft despite the tears that were threatening to fall from his eyes.
Virgil’s heavy breathing slipped into a slightly more regular pattern at the sight.
“Virgil, what on Earth made you think all that?”
A twinge of guilt set in at how hurt Janus looked, and the small voice screaming “distrust” in the back of his mind shrunk a bit.
Janus’s eyes narrowed, but he didn’t say a word, simply letting Virgil speak.
“Patton told me that he thought maybe you were still lying, and that you had been faking everything because you were still mad at me.”
Janus pushed down the bubbling anger he felt knowing that after everything that had happened Patton would still think something like that of him, instead focusing on Virgil.
“Virgil, I’m so sorry if I did anything to make you think that.” He paused a moment. “I don’t know what I can say to convince you of my honesty, other than reassure you that it’s there. We can all take our roles too far, but I would never do anything to hurt Thomas or the others, especially not you. And,” he sighed, trying to restrain his bitterness, “that's something that might take some time for Patton to get used to fully accepting.”
It was Virgil’s turn to tear up, now overwhelmed by guilt for ever considering anything malicious of Janus.
“I’m so sorry,” he choked out, head hanging low.
Janus wrapped his arms around him, pulling them into a hug.
“It's alright, love. Just please, tell me if anything like this comes up again.”
Virgil nodded, “I will.”
This time when the two kissed there were no feelings of distrust or unease, only trust and the warm feeling of love.