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Virgil sat there staring at his history textbook, reading the same page over and over and over again. He sighed, this was the 6th time he was re reading the page. He was frustrated to tears, but he was almost 15, he should be able to read a simple chapter in a simple history book. How couldn’t he read it. It was one simple fucking chapter in one simple fucking book. He had to finish that chapter he had to. He was scared to ask his parents for help, he didn’t feel like getting yelled at, it wasn’t worth it for a simple history chapter. He was tired and his head hurt, the words were all fuzzy and the letters kept jumping around the page, and to make matters worse when some of the words were in different colors they weren’t even the right colors, that made everything so much more frustrating. The teen sighed and grabbed his phone off the desk beside him and sent a message to his group chat, he really needed help with his homework. He looked at the names of the people in the group, Artemis, Athena, Eris, and Carson.

DarkAndStormyNight: Hey did any of you read the history chapter my brain wouldn’t let me

MaidenOfTheStars: Wait he had to read a chapter

LogicallyInclined: I can summarize it for you both in ways you’ll understand, I have the time

ChaosLord: See, Teach is the best

FireDad: Thank you Athena it means a lot to us

DarkAndStormyNight: Thanks so much you’re a lifesaver

 

Virgil set his phone down and breathed out a heavy sigh of relief, his shoulders relaxed and he finally got in bed. He looked at his phone and made sure his alarm was set for the next day. Then he grabbed a book off the shelf next to him and began reading, or rather he tried to, it was hard for him to even read for pleasure, the words were all the wrong colors and the letters were jumping all over the page. He felt like he was swimming, like his head was filling with water, he was drowning, drowning in ice. His head hurt, his blood was cold, his heart rate was speeding up and slowing down at the same time. He felt like his whole world was falling apart. He hated himself, everyone hated him, sure he had no concrete proof, but who wanted to be his friend? He was needy, he needed constant reassurance, his life was falling apart, no one needed that in their life, no one in their right mind wanted that. He didn’t even realize he was crying until he looked at the book he was holding, one of his favorite books, A Mango Shaped Space by Wendy Mass. The book spoke to him, not that it mattered to him much, still he set the book aside as he didn’t want to ruin it. The teen dried his tears and stopped choking on his own spit, which he hadn’t realized he’d been doing until a rush of cold air filled his lungs, relife. Bed time, he didn’t want to be awake anymore, he just wanted to stop thinking, stop crying, to stop being such a buzzkill. So, he grabbed his green teddy bear, turned off his light, and drifted off to sleep, some random cartoon or another playing in the background.
Darkness. All Virgil saw was darkness, there was nothing he could do about it, no matter how much he screamed, and begged for help he was left alone in the darkness. The sounds were so much worse, it made him feel like he was dying. Was he dying? Was this hell? When did he die? But then he heard it, the soul shattering scream of his friend Carson, the dad friend of the group. He felt broken. He decided to run in the direction of the screams.
“Carson!” he kept running his footsteps echoing as his feet hit the ground, but he seemed to be running to a dead end. He was nowhere near Carson, until he was and he saw his best friend. It was a sight to behold, and not a very good one. His eyes were turned inside out, and his tongue was barely attached to his mouth hanging on by a thread, blood gushing out of his mouth. Virgil couldn’t scream, his best friend looked awful, and the room he was in reeked of rotting flesh. He was too late, too too late. He couldn’t save his best friend, it was all his fault, but before he could even process what he was seeing, the setting changed, he was in a clearing, this was nice, this was peaceful, he thought to himself quietly. It was too good to be true. He looked over to his left and he saw a sight that was so horrible he gagged. One of his queer platonic partners, Eris was hanging from a noose, and his eyes were falling out of the sockets hanging on by a string, he was burnt badly and the entire meadow smelled of burnt flesh, he was gonna vomit. The brown haired teen began dry heaving, but once again before he could even mourn, things changed. And it went like this for each and every one of his friends in his friend group until he heard the blaring of his alarm waking him up for school.

Virgil got out of bed feeling like he hadn’t slept at all, he would rather he didn’t sleep at all, that would have been better than the torment he had to go through last night. He needed to take the edge off before school started. Well, he was walking today, he could leave early if he so chose, it didn’t make a difference to anyone one in the house anyways. So he left and as he walked to his school he passed a 7/11, he decided that he would go in and get a snack and maybe a pack of gum. So he did, he grabbed a small bag of candy, small enough to slip into one of his hoodie pockets, then he knocked over something in the back of the store and waited for the employee to leave the register unattended. Then he grabbed a few single carmels and a pack of gum. After he had his snacks he left the store without buying anything. He then continued on his way to school like nothing happened.

He found his friends waiting for him in the courtyard, Eris was the first one to mention his queer platonic partner’s lateness.
“Heya ViVi, where have ya been?” Eris asked, putting both arms around Virgil’s neck.
“I just went to 7/11,” Virgil said, pulling out his stolen merchandise. Athena looked intently and his suspicions were confirmed when a piece of paper didn’t come out of Virgil’s pockets along with the candy.
“Did you pay for that?” Athena asked his queer platonic partner. At the question, Virgil began fidgeting with a small fidget toy he keeps with him called a tangle. Suddenly, everyone’s attention was on Virgil who decided to change the subject.
“You know what is a great movie?” asked Virgil as he thought about things, “2005’s best chick flick winner Just Like Heaven starring Mark Ruffalo and Reese Witherspoon. This time it was Artemis who spoke,
“We’re not mad at you Virge, but we would like to know if you stole from the 7/11 and why you stole from the 7/11” at this the anxious teen visibly relaxed and fiddled with his hoodie strings.
“Yes I stole from the 7/11, why I did it is really none of your business, as long as I own up to it” That was all Virgil said before his boyfriends Janus and Logan came up to the table giving Virgil a kiss on either side of his face. He waved and shoved felt the weight of a carton of cigarettes in his jean pocket, the weight relaxed him, he had the option, “Hey my loves I’ll be back I just have to go do something for environmental science class before school” and with that Virgil was gone from the table of friends and behind the school in a flash. The anxious teen looked at his phone and sucked in a breath, he had 20 minutes before school started. He took the carton of cigarettes out of his pocket, and the lighter out of the other, a triple check no one was looking and he lit it up. The sensation of smoke filling his mouth and lungs, along with the taste of nicotine calmed him down, he finished up the cigarette pretty quickly and then put the butt out in the grass. 7 minutes until he had to get to his theater class. He made it early, reeking of smoke, sweat and guilt.

Virgil coasted through the day without much issue, he felt his heart squeeze and he just kept blinking over and over again hoping to suppress the tears threatening to spill. No matter, he had to make it to advisory class where his advisor, Mr.Sanders was waiting for him. He still smelled of smoke, and well, Mr.Sanders always called him on smelling like smoke. Virgil took in his teacher, he was wearing a green dress shirt, purple eyeshadow, black slacks, and a neatly groomed handlebar mustache. He was a rather eccentric teacher with a shrill voice, though the colors of it were calming whenever he spoke. It was an olive green with the texture of carpet, something so simple, yet so calming to the teen. It was nice, to him at the very least.
“Greetings spiderling” Mr.Sanders said, smiling brightly using the nickname for Virgil he always did.
“Hey Mr.S, how are ya?” Virgil asked, shifting his weight from foot to foot.
“I’m fine, just wondering why you smell like smoke, and you look like you slept on a bed of nails while hearing the screams of the damned” at that comment from the teacher, Virgil chuckled nervously as he tried to think of a response. He couldn’t, instead he left his teacher standing there and sat down at his desk, his favorite place to sit, in the back of the classroom in a corner near the wall, the perfect spot to draw without anyone questioning you. Perfectly perfect for him at least.

School has long since been over and Remus worried for his student, Virgil. He smelled like smoke more often than not, and always begged the teacher not to talk to his parents about anything. He always had thought he had seen a cinnamon sprinkling of freckles on the boy’s face, but it seemed rare, other days he swore the boy had bruises on his face or his arms, but could never really tell. He worried for the boy’s safety. The way Virgil flinched when anyone got too close, or the stimming he does when something excites him, but then a terrified look in his eye as if he was about to get slapped. Even more than that, when he handed in his history assignments (later than due), he had a shaking hand that made him look nervous. In short Remus Sanders worried about his student. He and his husband Roman have been talking about adoption and for some reason or another Roman had suggested Virgil. It was seemingly out of the blue, at least to Remus it was, but nonetheless, he thought it was a good idea. A good Idea to get that boy out of his home and into somewhere he doesn’t have to be afraid of anything.