When Cyborg decides to talk about his feelings, it comes out
of nowhere. It’s much more frequent than he personally could ever find
comfortable. Confessions of anger, joy, or depression bubble up with little to
no prompting. It was hard at first learning to deal with somebody who liked to
talk through problems. If it wasn’t world-threatening, issues of all sizes went
happily ignored in the Doom Patrol. Even after all this time, it still throws him
for a loop at how easily Cyborg will talk about the serious stuff. They’ll be
moving through their day as usual when something will click in his best
friend’s head and the discussion will start whether or not he’s ready for it.
“You know, for a
couple of months, I hated your guts.”
He kind of hates it a little bit. It’s great that Cy likes
talking and trusts him enough to talk to him. Honestly, he loves that part. That
part is exactly what he always imagined having a best friend would be like. He
hates it because it’s can never be just Cy talking. Because when Cyborg decides
it’s time to talk through thoughts and emotions with him, it means he’s
eventually supposed to return the gesture. Even if he isn’t sure what they are
sharing or why.
He chanced a glance at his teammate. Eyes still glued to the
screen, not a pause in the skillful button mashing, and the normal small smirk
that normally means he’s losing at their game is still firmly in place. Cy
hadn’t sounded angry or even vaguely upset either. But you never can be too
sure. Hopefully this wasn’t going to lead to him being in too much trouble. As
his full attention swung back to the digital horde of monsters they are slaying
together, he realized Cy was waiting for him to say something.
“Really?” It wasn’t really a good answer but it was usually
enough for his friend. The brief distraction is enough to not only securely
give Cy the lead, but also leave him surrounded by snarling mouths and lashing
“Oh yeah. I absolutely hated you. Just the sight of you made
me so mad.” Cyborg’s character turned around. It was a little strange, watching
himself be destroyed from the split viewpoint of both victim and witness.
He doesn’t want to know. He already knows. So many people
have already made sure he knows exactly what’s wrong with him. Doesn’t need to
hear the person who knows him best tell him too. He’s not sure he can handle
his best friend in the entire world cutting his self-esteem along the handily
“Oh…why?” There’s a dim, unhappy kind of pride in the
fact that his voice doesn’t shake when he asks anyway. Because honestly, he had
known the whole time. Could see it Cyborg’s face. Heard the anger ringing
through in every tight lipped sentence. Read it in the tight lines of his
shoulders and clenched fists. Of course he had known the older teen was mad.
What he hadn’t wanted to accept was the fact it was all his fault.
But then it’s always his fault anyway. He should just stop
In the quiet, easy synchronization that they’ve always
managed to slip into, he senses his best friend’s shrug before it happens.
Knows he’s not going to have to start this level again before his teammate
begins mowing down the monsters that have him cornered. It takes a couple seconds
of very focused combos, but eventually they’ve got the hallway cleared. Only
once they start moving again does Cyborg continue dragging the conversation
“Because you were always so damn happy. I mean, about
everything. It was like you just refused to acknowledge the fact that I was
upset about this,” Cyborg made a vague movement he guessed was supposed to
reference the cybernetics. “I had just lost everything. And there you were,
always laughing your head off at something. Always pushing me to just move on. It
was like you didn’t know what it was like to lose something that important or
to hurt. You were just some kid, how on earth were you supposed to get it? What
it really meant to be in pain, you know?”
His grip on the controller tightened reflexively. His best
friend’s tone was still gentle and easy. Not meant to hurt. Cy is obviously
trying not to spook him. But Cy’s words, no matter how kind, still shake him
pretty hard. Because he does know.
Please, please, please. Anything but this.
Anything at all, but please, don’t let this be when he’s
expected to share too.
“But one night I was sitting in my room hating myself and
this life and everything. And I don’t know why, but some dumb thing you said
came to mind. I don’t remember what it was or why I remembered it, but it made
me laugh.” Something in Cy’s voice tells him that maybe today isn’t going to
end in an attempt to dig up the landmines of his past. Again. Still the tension
he was fighting to keep out his shoulders is slow to disappear. Cy is still
talking and it’s not getting any better.
“It wasn’t until I got to know you a little better, like
later on, that I realized that you were trying to help. You saw how dark a
place I was right then. You were trying to bring a little light in. When I just
wanted to talk about how I hated everything, you kept trying to show me why I
shouldn’t. That I shouldn’t give up on myself. But that just made you seem so
much better, you know?” His focus is split between their video game and
attempting to shove all the sharp-edged thoughts back where they belong.
Cy doesn’t know but he does. Forgetting the bad things and
thinking of the better, brighter things instead is better. Maybe sometimes you
might have to make your own better things, but it still works. Sometimes you
have to pile up all those shiny new better things as high as you possibly can
before it will work. But eventually it works. That’s really what counts.
Cy laughed dryly as their avatars leapt across a chasm. A
subtle gleam ahead beckoned them forwards. They were finally drawing in on the
level’s prize. Or maybe it was another save point or just another boss fight. Or
hope against hopes, it was finally the right castle and the princess was just
around the corner. The storylines and quests from all the different games they
are working through are hard to separate. It’s all a really big blur of
expansion packs and power ups at this point.
“Honestly, that made me even madder at you. I didn’t like
you because you were trying to help me. Which just made you try even harder.” The
quiet laughter continued as they crept across a tiny bridge lit by flickering
“It’s not a big deal.” He mumbles, trying to sound distracted
and not uncomfortable. Because it isn’t a big deal. All he’s ever wanted was to
help. Even if he’s not very good at being helpful, he still likes to try. So he
gives fumbling lessons in slang he doesn’t completely understand. He deals with
aching shoulders from repeated joint locks and ices friction burns. Sits
against a shared wall and thinks thoughts so bright, it makes his eyes sting.
He figures out combo strings and tries not to accidently destroy their battered
game station again. It’s not a big deal but it’s all he can do.
“Well maybe not to you,” Cy’s tone is still mostly kind but
there is something else in his voice. Something that makes the spaces between
his words louder. “Because that’s just how you are. But it was a big deal to
me. You are always there, even when I don’t want you to be. And I never
remember to thank you.”
He doesn’t know what to credit the stress in Cy’s voice to.
He doesn’t know why Cy likes to pull this stuff up from the past. But he does
know this whole conversation is stressing him out and his discomfort is
starting to bleed through. And his turn to share is rapidly approaching unless
So he flips the little mental panic switch in his head.
“Dude, like I said, it’s not a big deal!” Bright and
cheerful, just like the smile. Not too tense or too forced, just enough to show
he’s at ease. Chin up, throat bared to show confidence. Relaxed shoulders,
fingers settling with confidence around the controller in his hands. He sinks
into a slouch, practiced comfort in every loose line.
Maybe he should talk. It couldn’t be that horrible to stop
running away from this kind discussion. Especially with Cy. His best friend who
has kept his secrets and shared in so much of his life. It shouldn’t be this
difficult to just talk. Nobody can run from their issues forever. But he lets
his character race towards the light now sparkling from the entrance of this
level’s final stage instead.