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Built on a Lie

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Prompt: I like the possible idea of Janus being a absolutely crushed to find Roman bleeding out due to a bruised ego in his room after pof was uploaded. After all most Sander Sides Fans hated Roman after he mocked Janus's Name.




The wedding is tough.


After the wedding is an ordeal.


After after the wedding…hurts.


The Mindscape is all but deserted. No one wants to come out to the common areas for risk of running into someone who they had…disagreements with or getting swept up in a painfully awkward conversation. Patton lingers in the kitchen, Virgil almost never opens his door, Logan works, and Remus, well…Remus is the only one still behaving as normal.


Janus is grateful for his consistency.


In all honesty, and oh, the irony, he doesn’t enjoy this. He doesn’t enjoy the others walking on eggshells constantly, nor does he thrill at how they seem to jump at everyone, not just him. His point was made. That is his job.


But he’s not so sure he fully anticipated the cost.


At the very least, Logan seems to get over their troubles first. He approaches Janus a few days after the wedding and offers one of his philosophy books. Janus accepts it gratefully and by the time he’s finished it, Logan starts talking again. It’s not the greatest thing for the Mindscape that Logan is willing to talk to the others again.


Patton comes around next, simply because he’s the kindest. Janus pities him a little for it. But sure enough, the common areas start to ring again, drawing Remus out from the depths to cause his chaos.


Virgil appears next, summoned by the repeated calling of Remus’s antics and Janus’s exasperation. And sometimes, well, sometimes it seems like they’re back in their hallway, with Patton and Logan looking on with the air of some bemused anthropologists.


All the Sides reemerge and start trying to figure out what’s going on except for Roman.


Roman is nowhere to be found.


“He…he just needs some more time, I’m sure.”


“Roman is prone to fits of dramatics. It is unsurprising that he chooses to have a repeat performance.”


“Princey’s a bit of an asshole, it’s gonna take him a while to own up to what he did.”


“Catch!”


Janus grunts and staggers under Remus’s weight, eventually getting them both with their feet back under them on the floor. He adjusts his hat and looks disapprovingly at the amount of slime Remus has managed to get all over himself.


“What were you even doing?


“Exploring the precise relationship of viscera to ventricles inside the heart of a blue whale!” Remus shakes his sleeve. “They lied about how bit the veins and arteries are.”


“How did you—nevermind,” Janus sighs, “I don’t want to know. Now, will you answer my question or not?”


Remus shrugs. “Dunno. Not paying attention.”


“…Roman’s not or you’re not?”


“I’m not!” He flicks some slime at Janus’s hat. “But you should be!”


“Yes, well, when slime starts to emerge from every corner again, I’ll chase you down.”


“Ooh, promises, promises.”


Janus doesn’t hurl some of the slime at Remus as he sinks out.


Roman still hasn’t appeared and the others are starting to notice. Thomas isn’t exactly in a position to do a whole lot of things, but at the very least he’s not doing what he perhaps should have been capable of. Logan notices and at first, chalks it up to the fact that they are in a pandemic; lapses in peak physical and mental performance are not unexpected, but it quickly becomes clear that it’s a little more than that.


The Mindscape grows dimmer, more sluggish. Thomas doesn’t seem to want to do much of anything, let alone work.


“I don’t understand,” Patton mumbles one afternoon when they meet—sans Roman—to try and figure out what’s going on, “I know I’m having a few—um, it’s not Thomas’s feelings that are causing us problems.”


Janus doesn’t make a note of how Virgil quickly presses his arm against Patton’s shoulder.


“There are certain things that are to be expected under times of great stress,” Logan muses, “and certainly any pre-existing problems will be exacerbated, but…this was not anticipated.”


Remus cranks the chainsaw and sets about carving up a new slice of…whatever he’s working on. “We’re in a pandemic, Spectacles!”


“I am wildly aware.”


Virgil stares at the chainsaw—which is fair—then up to Remus. “You ever been in a pandemic before, Remus?”


“Nope!”


Virgil rolls his eyes. “Okay, so that makes sense. But L’s right, this feels…weird. Like we’re missing something pretty big.”


In unison, they all look towards Roman’s seat.


The room falls as quiet as it can with Remus’s chainsaw still in the background.


The big, red, overstuffed armchair looks…different, without Roman lounging in it. The blinds aren’t drawn but it looks like the coloring has faded significantly, as though it’s been out in the sun for far too long. The seams look as though they’re struggling and there’s a dark imprint on one of the arms.


It’s not a shock to Janus to discover he’s never really looked at the chair before.


“Has anyone heard from Roman,” Logan asks quietly, “since the wedding?”


Virgil shakes his head, glancing around. Patton looks down at his chest.


“You think this is Roman.” It’s not a question.


“HIs tantrums do not normally last for this long,” Logan continues, adjusting his tie, “and whilst I admit that perhaps our circumstances have contributed more than I anticipated, I do not believe that is how Roman feels.”


“Princey has been away for a really long time.”


“Thomas is starting to get hurt by it,” Patton mumbles, laying a hand on his chest, “I can—I’m starting to feel it a little.”


“So we need to get Princey’s head out of his ass again.”


Logan sighs. “Most likely.”


“I didn’t want to rush it,” Patton says, glancing at Janus, “but you guys are right. I think he’s being selfish now.”


At the word ‘selfish,’ Remus freezes.


The chainsaw splutters and dies to the floor with a heavy clunk.


“Remus,” Patton scolds, “be careful with the…”


He trails off when he notices what the rest of them have.


Remus is standing completely still—an impossibility for Remus—his head tilted back, eyes fixed on a point in the ceiling. His nose quivers, almost like a bloodhound.


His nose twitches.


His lip curls up into a snarl.


His morning star appears in his hand with a growl as he tears off toward the stairs.


“Remus? Remus!”


“Wait!”


“What the fuck is going on?”


Remus!


Janus closes his eyes, reaching out to see if he can tell where Remus is going. His eyes shoot open.


“Roman’s room. Now.”


Virgil grabs Logan and Patton and sinks out.


Janus tries to appear in Roman’s room only to hit something burning cold. He hisses and flinches away from it, only to realize that he hasn’t materialized properly and is stuck. The burning cold reaches further, further, into his scales, digging under them, until Janus yanks himself away and appears, panting, in the hallway outside Roman’s door.


Virgil appears too, still holding the others. “What the fuck was that?”


“Did he block us out?”


“None of us have the ability to do that, other than Thomas.”


“Did he get Thomas to block us out?”


“I don’t know!”


A loud crash jerks their attention to Remus. He raises his morning star again and drives the spikes deep into the bright red of Roman’s door.


…that isn’t nearly as bright as it should be.


Remus snarls again and wails against the door. The wood starts to creak and buckle under the onslaught. He hefts the weapon again and shatters the door with a thunderous crack.


The morning star is hastily flung aside as Remus claws at the splintered wood, yanking it away from the hole he’s made.


The door groans and yields.


Remus rushes through, Virgil on his heels. Patton and Logan attempt to follow only to run smack into both of them.


“Why’d you stop, kiddos, we can’t—“


“Let us through, why did you—“


When those two fight their way through and into silence, Janus sighs and gingerly steps through, nudging Logan and Virgil aside to look at what’s got them so shocked. Roman in the middle of a sobbing mess of tissues, probably, or an empty room signifying he’s gone off on some quest in the Imagination, or even a pouting Roman glaring at them for ruining his door.


He gets around Virgil’s shoulder and his blood runs cold. Burning cold.


If they weren’t in Roman’s room, he’s not sure he’d be able to recognize this as Roman.


His pristine white costume is stained an ugly brown. The gold trimmings fall limply off, hating on by barely a thread. His hair sticks to the floor in horrid, matted clumps. His hands are speckled and stained with more blood, some congealed and crusted from the puddle on the floor. His legs bend at awkward and uncomfortable angles. One of his arms is stretched away from, reaching for something.


Or anything.


They dare not move. They dare hardly breathe.


Remus takes a step forward. Then another. Then another. He circles the body on the floor, not caring about stepping in the blood, crouching down on the far side. His face is drawn, paler than Janus has ever seen it go, he looks sick.


If…if Remus looks this bad—


Remus looks up at the others. His face darkens.


“Explain,” he whispers, his voice low and soft and dangerous, “now.”


No one can find words to even try.


When no one says anything, Remus crouches down and, with a tenderness that shocks Janus, lays his hand on Roman’s side.


“Roman,” he whispers, almost inaudibly, “Roman, can you hear me?”


“...Re?”


“Yeah, Ro-Bro, it’s—it’s me.”


“Wha’re you…here?”


“I wasn’t paying attention,” Remus growls, looking up at them again, “maybe no one was.”


“’S fine.”


“Roman, it is about the furthest from fine that it could be.”


“…’ve had worse.”


“…okay I was wrong. That is the furthest from fine it could be.”


Judging by the way Roman’s body slumps, his eyes must fall closed again. “You c’n go. D’n’t have to stay.”


“Not on your life.”


’S fine, Re,” Roman slurs, “the others will…wonder where you are.”


Remus stiffens. His hand tenses on Roman’s side.


“No,” he says softly, “they won’t.”


Roman twitches, his head rolling up. “‘M sorry, Re.”


“What the absolute fuck are you apologizing to me for?”


“Thought they’d…care.” Roman’s head waivers and drop back down. “‘Bout you.”


Patton can’t stifle his whimper.


Roman twitches again. “Wha…”


“They’re not gonna wonder where I am,” Remus growls, “because they’re here.


Roman’s going to panic. He’s going to freak out and they’ll have to reassure him. Or Roman’s going to be angry and they’ll have to stop him from hurting himself. Or he won’t believe Remus and that…that might be the worst.


…Janus should really stop thinking that.


“Why?”


“Why what?


“Why’re they here, Re,” Roman mumbles, his body sagging to the floor again, “‘m I late for s’mething?”


Remus snarls and Roman flinches.


“Don’ be mad, Re, please, ‘m sorry—“


“I’m not mad at you, Roman.”


“But you’re mad.”


“No.” Remus stares at them, his voice still even and soft. “I’m enraged.”


Before they can say anything, Roman hisses and jerks. Remus’s hands instantly flit to Roman, searching for whatever’s hurt him.


“What’s happening, Ro,” he growls, “whose ass do I need to kick?”


“You can’t,” Roman wheezes, “can’ stop it.”


“The hell I can.”


“No, you—you actually can’t,” Roman says, reaching for Remus’s hand, “help—help me sit up?”


“Ro, you’re—I don’t know if that’s a good idea.”


“’S fine.”


“I don’t think it is!”


“Please?”


Remus sighs, gingerly wrapping his arms around Roman’s bruised and bloody body. “Come on then.”


Roman’s costume clings to the floor and his back as they sit up, the stain darkening and drying on the belly of his tunic. His head lolls against Remus’s chest, breathing heavily for a moment before he finally looks up.


Oh, his face…


It’s an absolute mess. Blood and salt and other things Janus couldn’t hope to figure out cling to every scrap of skin they can as he squints at them.


“You broke my door.”


“You were in trouble,” Remus replies easily, hoisting Roman to sit properly.


Roman sighs, his breath rattling. “Did I miss a meeting?”


“We…” Logan swallows. “We just came from one.”


“Oh.” Roman closes his eyes. “I’ll…gimme a minute, I’ll—“


“You’re not going anywhere.


“I gotta do the meeting, Re.”


“The hell you do.”


“You—you don’t have to worry about the meeting, Roman,” Logan says firmly, taking a step closer, “we—what happened to you?”


“What d’you mean?”


“What does he mean?” Virgil explodes. “Roman, what the fuck is wrong with you?”


Roman hisses again. “Don’ have to shout, Virgil.”


“Of fucking course I have to shout! Look at you!”


“I believe that might be more of a reason not to shout,” Logan says quietly. Virgil huffs, balling his hands up into fists.


“What the fuck happened, Roman,” Virgil repeats, “and don’t pretend like you don’t know what we’re talking about.”


Roman sighs again, something whistling, what happened to him?—and sits up away from Remus. “I can’ shout, come closer.”


Logan and Virgil immediately walk forward, crouching down a respectful distance away. Patton takes a moment longer, creeping forward and reaching out a trembling hand toward Roman.


“K-kiddo,” he mumbles, “I’m so—so sorry, I didn’t know—“


“’S okay,” Roman slurs, leaning back against Remus, “’s okay, Pat.”


“Patton?” Logan turns. “What do you know?”


“Yeah, Patton,” Remus growls, “why don’t you tell us.”


Patton shrinks back. “I—I—“


“Shh,” Roman mumbles, clumsily patting Remus’s hand, “don’ do that, ’s okay.”


“No, Roman, it’s not.


“...kiddo?”


Roman nods.


Patton takes a deep breath. “You guys know that—how Roman gets hurt sometimes when Thomas does something that, uh, doesn’t turn out great?”


“We all get hurt, Pat,” Virgil says, “that doesn’t explain this.


As if on cue, Roman hisses again.


“No, no, Virgil,” Patton mumbles, “it’s—Roman’s the only one who gets physically hurt when this stuff happens.”


Logan’s eyes widen as he looks at Roman’s injuries. “Of course…”


Despite everything, Roman smiles tiredly up at him. “Figure it out?”


“You’re the Ego,” Logan mumbles, “and thus it follows that you would get…bruised.”


“Wait, that’s a literal thing?


“Apparently so.”


“Jeez, Princey,” Virgil mumbles, “you coulda told me.”


“You were busy, didn’t wanna give you anything else to worry ‘bout.”


“That’s not—Roman—“


“But Thomas has been inside,” Logan interjects quickly, “alone, he hasn’t—we haven’t done anything since the pandemic began.”


“It’s a pandemic, Lo,” Roman says, “no one’s doing much of anything…besides staying inside, reading things, watching things…”


“So how is this happening to you, Roman,” Patton says, wringing his hands, “what—what’s doing this to Thomas?”


Fuck,” Virgil says, burying his hands in his hair, “Princey has this been happening to you since the wedding?


“Mm,” Roman hums, leaning heavily against Remus.


“People are watching the video,” Logan whispers, “and they’re—well, they’re talking about it.”


“Are they—are they still saying Thomas should’ve…” Paton gulps. “Done something different?”


Logan shakes his head. “I’m sure they are but Thomas…Thomas hasn’t been looking at the comments from the video, not really. Virgil and I have specifically told him not to.”


“So then why is Thomas still being hurt by it? Why are people still attacking Thomas?”


“Not—“ their heads all jerk around to look at Roman— “not Thomas.”


He waves a hand at himself.


“Wouldn’t be like this if it were them attacking Thomas.”


“Then what—“


“They’re attacking you?” Virgil’s eyes go wide as they scan over Roman’s injuries. “Directly?


“Mm.”


“Oh, kiddo—“


“Princey, what the hell—“


“Why didn’t you tell us? We could’ve—“


“What for?


In response, Roman’s eyes raise slowly, and look at Janus.


Everyone else follows, looking back toward the door, realizing that Janus hadn’t moved closer with the rest of them.


Roman’s gaze isn’t cold, but it makes him feel cold.


Oh.


Oh.


Oh, no.


“My name,” Janus breathes, “it’s…they’re mad at you because of me.


“Told you,” Roman slurs as his eyes close again, “gotta come closer. Can’ shout like this.”


Janus swallows heavily, his throat dry, clutching his cloak tightly around him as he edges closer. Roman mumbles to himself until Janus is close enough to hear him.


“There we go…” He cracks a bloodied eye open. “You’re right. They’re angry at me. Rightfully so, but…yeah.”


“Because you made fun of my name?”


They all rush forward as Roman keens, his hand flying to his gut and hissing.


“Fuck, Princey, is it—is it still happening?


“Mhm.”


“How do we—how do we stop it?”


“Can’t,” Roman mumbles, “wasn’t lying. Nothing you can do. Not until it’s over.”


“It’s been ages since the wedding, Roman, how much longer is this going to go on?”


Roman makes a vague noise of ‘I don’t know.’


“But—but—“ Logan looks frantically back and forth between them— “surely they can’t all be angry at you, that would be—“


“They’re not,” Roman mumbles, “not all of them, but it’s—it’s most of them.”


“How is that possible?”


“Some of them really don’t like me—“ Roman hisses again— “some of them really like J-Janus or Remus or…or Logan, or Patton—“


What?”


What does that have to do with—“


“And some of them just think that it’s—what I did was—“ Roman stifles a whimper, biting his lip— “really bad.”


“But then why…why aren’t the rest of us being affected like this?”


“You’re not the Ego.”


Remus snarls again as Roman jerks, a new bruise blooming on the underside of his neck.


“…ow.”


“We have to get you cleaned up,” Logan mutters shakily, trying to stand.


“Not much point right now,” Roman sighs, absentmindedly nuzzling into Remus, who tightens his grip protectively around Roman, “‘m just gonna get all messy again.”


“Not if we stay with you,” Logan promises, “not if we help.


“…don’ have to.”


“What the hell are you—“ Virgil shakes his head. “Of course, we’re gonna help you, Roman.”


Roman just looks at them and closes his eyes.


“Ro—kiddo,” Patton says, reaching out for him, “why don’t you believe us?”


“You haven’t exactly…done that before.”


“We didn’t know!


“You did.”


Patton’s retort dies in his throat. He looks desperately around for something, anything—


Janus is in shock.


Roman…oh, Roman…Janus knew Roman was the Ego, but he didn’t—he hadn’t—


Fuck, were the bruises from what he said still there? Not—not just that awful, awful thing about comparing Roman to Remus, but…from before?


How many times had Janus hurt Roman…and hadn’t cared?


“…I’m sorry, Roman,” Logan murmurs, breaking the silence, “will you let me help now?


Roman looks up at him. “I’ve been awful to you,” he mumbles, “you don’—don’ have to apologize.”


“Yes, I do,” Logan says, “because you’ve been wonderful to me too…and I am not blameless in this either.”


“But they don’t know that.”


“I do,” Logan says firmly, “and they will.


The smallest smile tugs at the corners of Roman’s mouth as Logan stands up to go fetch the first aid kit.


“Princey, I—Roman,” Virgil stammers, “fuck, you—oh my god—“


“I’ve been awful to you too, Virgil.”


“And I’ve been fucking worse right back!” Virgil squeezes his hands tight. “And I—you’re the only one who gets yelled at for it. Fuck, I’m—I’m so fucking sorry, I’m gonna—can I help too?”


“…if you want.”


“I’m gonna go help Logan get the shit,” Virgil mutters, getting to his feet and tearing out after Logan.


“…oh, kiddo…”


Patton’s eyes begin to tear up.


“I thought—I thought you needed more time—“


“Don’t beat yourself up over it, Pat,” Roman manages, “it’s not fun, trust me.”


Patton’s laugh comes out more like a sob.


“I won’t hold it against you, and you can—“ Roman hisses again— “help if you want.”


“Do you think you can drink something?”


“…I’ll try.”


Patton’s gone in a flash.


Janus looks at Remus. Remus glares at him and pulls Roman closer.


“…we should…try and get some of that off,” Janus tries, “so we can see what, um…”


Remus’s stony silence as Roman starts to drift again cuts off Janus’s words.


“…Remus…”


“You are very, very lucky,” Remus whispers, cutting him off, “that I’m not about to leave my brother’s side for a long time.”


Janus nods.


“Start on the buttons,” Remus says, “at his wrists. I’m not sure how much of this we can save.”


He immediately sets to work, trying to communicate how sorry, sorry, sorry he is with every gentle brush of his fingers against Roman’s skin. Remus summons something for them to lean Roman against as they start to gingerly remove the tunic. It’s worse than Janus thought.


Roman is one big pulsing wound, little nicks here and there and varying shades of purple, red, green, yellow, all coming from one massive sore in the center of him. As they watch, more injuries appear, little bruises that make his breath hitch, and occasionally a small swipe along his ribs. As Janus works the cuff over his wrist, one of his fingers blackens and swells as it breaks.


“Oh, Roman…”


“Sit up, Ro,” Remus whispers tenderly, peeling and unsticking the tunic from his back, “okay, there we go. Are most of them…up here?”


“They all look to be coming from…that,” Janus says, indicating the giant wound, “so…”


And indeed, as they watch, Roman keens again and the wound deepens, more blood beginning to trickle out.


“Are all of these—“ Janus indicates the injuries littering Roman’s body— “comments?”


“Mm.”


“Then what—why is this one…?”


Roman’s eyes drift closed and his head lolls back.


“’Oh, Roman, thank god you don't have a mustache.”


No.


No.


“’Otherwise, between you and Remus—‘” Roman winces as the wound digs deeper— “‘I wouldn't know who the evil twin is.’”


…no…


Janus reaches out a trembling hand and lays it next to the wound. It’s…it’s warm under his touch but…wrong.


A snarl jerks his hand back and he looks up to see Remus glaring at him.


“Remus—“


“Save it.” Remus glances toward the door. “The others will be back in a moment anyway.”


Sure enough, Logan and Virgil bust through the broken door, their hands full. Logan immediately sweeps his gaze over Roman and kneels down, reaching out.


“May I touch you, Roman?”


“Mm.”


“Thank you.” Logan slots a hand gently behind Roman’s hand. “We’re going to try and get the blood off of you first, alright?”


“Mm.”


“This might sting,” Logan cautions, starting to rub an antiseptic towel down Roman’s arm, “my apologies.”


Virgil takes another one and carefully cleans Roman’s other arm, mindful of his broken finger. As they work, Patton reappears, holding a bottle of water and a glass of juice.


“Come on, kiddo,” he says softly, taking Logan’s place behind Roman’s head, “drink this for me?”


Roman manages a few sips of each.


“Good job, kiddo, there you go…” Patton glances down. “Does it seem to be stopping at all?”


As if it can hear him, the wound starts to bleed again.


“Oh, Roman…”


Logan glances between the wound and Janus, his brow furrowed.


Please, Logan, for once…don’t be so smart.


The way Logan’s eyes widen and narrow say that it’s too late.


“This one seems to be the origin,” Logan says instead, turning away, “all the others seem to stem from it.”


“Okay,” Virgil mutters, “so what’s that one?”


Janus’s mouth runs dry as Logan turns to him expectantly.


“Well,” Remus growls, “go on.”


“I don’t—what if it just makes it worse?”


“That didn’t stop you before.”


“I didn’t—“


“Oh, shut up,” Remus cuts him off, “you knew. You knew.”


“Remus—“


“You wanna know how I know that?” Remus draws away from Roman just enough to clench his fists. “Because I found you after the wedding. You were all curled up on the floor and you were so upset.


Roman stirs. “…Re…”


“And I asked you why, and you said it was because Roman made fun of your name,” Remus continues, “and I thought: ‘huh, that feels a little weird. Where have I heard that before?’”


Patton shrinks out of Remus’s line of sight.


“Then I remembered! The courtroom,” Remus continues, a manic smile on his face, “and your little plan to make sure Roman felt like he had no idea what was going on.


“…J, what is he talking about?”


“Oh, he’s not going to tell you,” Remus says, “but I will.”


“Remus—“


“You said that you knew Roman,” Remus says, talking right over him, “and you knew that if you pushed him in the right direction, you’d be able to get him to listen to you easily.


Even Logan pauses.


“Do you remember what you said, Janny?” Remus’s eyes bore into Janus’s mind. “Do you?”


“…Remus, please.


Remus’s grin drops.


“You said,” he whispers, “that if you just fucked with his name, he’d be in the palm of your hand.”


And he was.


"Conveniently, everyone seems to have forgotten that. Forgotten what you did. Or they don't care."


Remus tightens his grip on Roman. 


"But not me."


Guilt presses hot and thick against Janus’s throat. Unbidden, huge, fat tears start to form in his eyes as he stares at the wound on Roman’s gasping chest. Distantly, he thinks he can hear the others muttering but all he can think about is how much of this is a lie.


Roman isn’t the evil twin.


Roman isn’t Remus.


Roman isn’t stupid.


Roman isn’t worthless.


Roman isn’t a toy or a puppet or a tool.


Roman isn’t selfish or greedy or arrogant.


Roman is hurt and scared and Janus is so, so sorry.


He lets out a growl of his own and presses his hand hard to the wound.


Lie. Lie.


This is a lie.


Truth is hard and unyielding and painful but nothing is more painful than knowing that all of this is built on a lie.


Janus grits his teeth and concentrates, his hands trembling as he presses it against the wound, searching, searching for—


There.


He closes his fist around the lie and yanks, pulling the words and the hurt and the ache out of Roman’s chest in a bright flash.


When it’s gone, Roman’s chest is heaving, bruises still littering his torso, but the big wound is nowhere to be seen.


Panting, Janus clenches his fist until the lie shatters into pieces, the shard disappearing into harmless puffs of air.


He looks back.


Logan and Patton are staring at him open-mouthed. Virgil has his hands bunched up in his hoodie. Remus just stares at him, his face unreadable.


And Roman…


Roman looks up at him, panting too, but it doesn’t feel quite so wrong anymore.


“I can’t promise that this one won’t hurt you ever anymore,” he vows, “but I can promise that it will never have that much power again.”


Roman reaches out a hand. Janus lets him pull him closer.


“For what it’s worth,” he says, “I’m sorry.


Janus huffs. “I can also promise that you’re not nearly as sorry as I am.”


They let their eyes fall closed as Janus’s hands steady Roman, landing lightly on his sides and just resting there. Roman tips forward and his forehead lands against Janus’s.


For a second, the room just breathes.


“Can we clean you up,” Janus whispers, “the rest of the way?”


“L-Logan?”


“I’m right here, Roman,” Logan says instantly, “what do you need?”


“Can I—wanna sleep.”


“I don’t think you’ve got a concussion, so that should be alright…” Logan glances at Patton. “Let’s have you drink a little more and then you can rest, hmm?”


“Okay.”


“Come on, kiddo,” Patton coaxes, “here we go…”


As Virgil and Logan set about cleaning again, Janus runs his hands slowly over every injury he can, plucking out what little lies there are and sending them away. He can tell by the weight of Remus’s stare on him that he’s not in the clear yet, but the way Roman starts to sag slowly makes it easier.


“Alright,” Logan murmurs after a while, “I think that’s all we can do.”


“…sleep?”


“Yes, Roman, you can sleep now. Would you like us to help you to your bed?”


Roman blinks, his hand reaching out for— “Re?”


“I gotcha, Ro-Bro.”


“Re…” Roman mumbles sleepily as he all but collapses into Remus.


“…yeah I’m okay with that.”


Logan jerks his head towards Roman’s mattress. Together, they drag it down to the floor and help Remus get Roman onto it. Logan murmurs that he’s going to go put the first aid kit away, but that he’ll be right back. Patton gathers up the glasses and leaves with the same promise.


Virgil glances back and forth between Remus and Janus.


“…you guys remember that this is about what Roman needs, right?”


“Yes.”


“Yeah.”


“Okay good.”


Virgil reaches out to brush a little of Roman’s hair out of his face.


“Well, I’m not going anywhere.”


“Neither am I.”


Logan and Patton reappear at the door and slot themselves in around the mattress. Remus looks at Janus.


Janus deliberately sits between Roman and the door, something he’s seen Remus do too many times.


Remus nods.


This conversation is far from over, but right now…


Right now, Roman mumbles sleepily and grabs onto Remus’s sleeve.


There is truly so much that they never see, isn’t there? Logan wasn’t wrong, the amount of Roman that’s never been on camera is truly staggering.


Janus has let that lie of omission cause too much damage for too long.


Right now, he’s got work to do.