Touch Starved III
So this was supposed to be fluffy. But then Morality ended up having a lot of emotions, and all, it didn’t stay that way. Sorry guys. Also my inspiration while writing this was “Sleepsong” by Secret Garden
As Anxiety shuffled into the dining room the next morning, he kept his eyes downcast and his shoulders hunched. A large part of him was hissing in the back of mind to flee, to hide away in his room. But he’d promised Prince he’d come out today. He’d also promised himself to try and let the others get this whole touch thing out of their system.
Also he hadn’t had the chance to eat last night after dropping the plate, so he was really freaking hungry. Truthfully that had been the only thing that had allowed him to work up the willpower to come down.
Still keeping his eyes firmly fixed on the floor, he slunk over to his seat, flopping down in it with a huff. Once sitting, he allowed his eyes to flick upwards. Logic was sitting across from him with a newspaper. Seeing Anxiety looking at him, he raised his cup in greeting.
“Salutations, Anxiety,” he said. “It’s good to see you again.”
“Sure,” Anxiety said flatly. “Whatever.”
Thankfully before Logic had a chance to reply and make the situation even more awkward, Morality swooped in with a plate covered in bacon.
“Good morning!” he sang out. “I made toast, bacon, eggs and sausages!”
“Do you have jam for the toast?” Prince asked, entering the room.
Morality hummed. “I’m not sure,” he said, “You can go check the cupboards though.”
Prince nodded and ducked into the kitchen. Logic had turned his attention more fully to his paper, which meant that the only person left for Morality to focus on was…
“Anxiety!” Morality beamed at him. “I’m glad you came down. Make sure to take as much food as you like, kiddo. And if you want something else, just ask, ok?”
Anxiety shifted uncomfortably. See all this fussing and special treatment was what he was trying to avoid.
“This is fine,” he muttered, reaching out to grab a slice of toast. He shoved it in his mouths without even bothering to butter it, too determined to have an excuse not to talk.
Morality wasn’t deterred though. He kept chattering on. “Well I’m glad! I’m really happy you cam down today, I was starting to get a bit worried. So do you have any plans for today?”
Anxiety squinted at Morality. Where was this going?
“No,” he eventually said slowly. “Not really.”
“Do you want to rematch the Lego Batman movie with me then?” Morality asked bouncing up and down in his seat. “Logic isn’t interested, and Roman said he was going to be busy coming up with video ideas today.”
Anxiety almost said no. But then he remembered his stupid promise.
“Yeah, sure I guess,” he mumbled. Just let them get it out of their system, he reminded himself. Then it will go back to normal. You’ll be left alone again.
“Yay!” Morality clapped his hands together. “I have to take care a few things first, but want to meet up in the common room after lunch.”
“Sounds great,” Anxiety replied, moodily poking at his bacon. At least he’d have time to mentally prepare himself.
After lunch, (they typically were on their own for lunch, with breakfast and dinner begin the designated “family” times), Anxiety made his way into the common room. Morality was already there, sitting on the couch, remote in hand.
“Hey, Anxiety,” he waved. “I’ve got the movie all set up, so just come sit down.”
Normally, Anxiety would have gone to one of the armchairs to sit. But this time he sat down right next to Morality, feeling their legs brush together. Morality looked a bit startled, but thankfully didn’t comment.
“I love this movie so much,” he chattered, “It’s just so cute!”
“It’s ok,” Anxiety said flatly. He did actually like the movie. Somehow it had ended up being more true to the comics than most movie portrayals of Batman were. That didn’t mean he had to be enthusiastic though. He’d already shown up, Morality wasn’t getting much more out of him.
Not fifteen minutes into the movie, Anxiety could feel Morality begin to fidget. He glanced out of the corner of his eye at the other side. He looked weirdly nervous.
After a few more minutes, Anxiety felt Morality shift again. His arm, which had previously been at his side, now stretched up and over, until it rested on the back of the couch. It wasn’t really touching Anxiety, but he was aware of its proximity, just a hair’s breadth away from being around his shoulders.
He could feel himself tense a little, but forced himself to relax. It was fine. It made Morality happy. He could deal with it.
As the movie went on, Anxiety found himself focusing less and less on Morality’s nearness to him. Mostly because he was having trouble keeping his eyes open. He hadn’t really slept much the night before. Sure, he’d tried, but he’d just ended up tossing and turning all night, his mind refusing to shut up.
And, well, sitting on the couch, the noise from the TV a comforting drone, who could blame him for struggling to stay awake. Soon, it became too much effort all together, and his exhaustion dragged him under.
There was some kind of noise above him. Still not opening his eyes, Anxiety tried to figure out where he was. He was lying on something warm, and moving?
As the fog in his mind lifted a little, he abruptly realized that at some point while he was sleeping he had leaned against Morality, and he was now partially lying on his chest, and Morality’s arm was now really wrapped around him. And that noise? That was Morality talking.
“You know I remember, when you first appeared in the mindscape,” Morality was saying softly. “You were so small, I just wanted to wrap you up in a blanket. But then you didn’t seem to want any of us near you, so I thought that maybe it was better to keep my distance. To let you make the first move.”
Morality took in a long shaky breath. He sounded as though he was on the verge of tears. Anxiety didn’t move. He wasn’t sure what to do. Morality clearly thought he was still asleep, and he wasn’t sure what the other would do if he realized Anxiety was awake. So he just stayed frozen, keeping careful control of his breathing.
“That was a mistake,” Morality whispered, his tone full of guilt and pain. “I should have known better. I should have made sure you knew you could reach out. Instead I just left you alone, for years. That’s not how a father should act.”
He paused again, sniffing softly. Was he actually crying now?
“And now,” he said sadly, “you’re too scared to even let us help you. You flinch every time we come near you, and you look so confused every time we so much as pat you on the back, like you can’t understand what or why we’re doing that.”
Anxiety felt the hand on his back rise to run its fingers through his hair.
“The only reason you’ve let me this close is because you’re asleep,” Morality continued, “And when you wake up, it’ll just be like before, you’’ll keep looking at us like you expect us to hurt you. And I hate that.”
Morality was definitely crying now.
“I hate that we did hurt you,” he sobbed. “I never wanted to hurt you. I wanted you to be safe. I wanted you to know that we would look out for you, no matter what. But we didn’t, and I know we’re trying to fix it, but I’m scared that maybe we were too late. God, I hope we weren’t too late.”
Despite the warm arms now clinging desperately to him, Anxiety felt cold. He’d known this hadn’t been a joke, Prince had made it pretty clear that they were serious about this. But this was way more than he had expected. Helpless in the face of what he was now realizing was more than just simple pity, he stayed silent and still.
Morality’s words weren’t intelligible anymore. He only let out sob-filled mumbles, as he pressed his face into Anxiety’s hair. Eventually, the sobbing trailed off.
“I love you, kiddo,” he whispered. “I hope you’ll figure that out someday. We all love you. You’re family, you’ll always be our family.”
Morality sighed, sounding weary.
“I should probably get you back to your room before you wake up,” he said. “I don’t- you’ll be happier if you wake up there.”
With that, Anxiety felt himself being gently lifted upwards, cradled in Morality’s arms. The other side began to walk, carrying him towards his room. The entire time, Anxiety kept his eyes shut.
After a brief fumble with the door, Morality let himself in, and Anxiety felt himself being placed on the bed. A hand brushed his bangs back, and a pair of lips gently pressed a kiss to his forehead.
“Sleep well, Anxiety,” Morality murmured. “I hope your dreams are happy. I hope they’re kinder to you than we’ve been.”
Anxiety heard him walk away, the door shutting behind him. Once he was sure Morality was gone, he sat up.
He stared at the now closed door in dismay. This-this wasn’t something he could just indulge for a few days and make it go away. They were- this wasn’t something small
What am I going to do? he thought. I didn’t- I never wanted Morality to cry because of me. But how do I handle this?
He pulled his knees up to his chest, his arms wrapping around them. He was Anxiety, he was supposed to be alone. But apparently the others had decided that wasn’t true.
Part of him wanted to say that it was all a lie, that if they were telling the truth, it would never have been like this in the first place. But a greater part of him knew that there was no dismissing what he had just heard. For better or for worse, the others were serious.
Which meant he was going to have to find a way to deal with it. Anxiety let himself think about what it was like being curled up in Morality’s arms. It-it hadn’t been terrible. It had been awkward, sure, especially since he’d had no idea what to do.
But, at the same time, when he had first been waking up, before he’d realized what Morality was saying, it had actually felt kind of nice.
Hesitantly, Anxiety tried to imagine what it would be like for the others to touch him, what it might be like to hug them. It was… a weird thought. Not bad necessarily, but it also felt kind of overwhelming.
Although, hadn’t Logic said that they’d work up to that? That they weren’t going to try and hug Anxiety right now because they knew it would be too much?
Anxiety chewed on his lower lip. Maybe this wouldn’t be bad? True, he still thought he would be fine without all this fuss and touchy-feely stuff. But, the others cared. And as much as he hated to admit it, knowing that actually made Anxiety feel good. He’d always just figured they’d hated him. After all, why wouldn’t they?
But if they didn’t hate him, and if this whole thing was more than just pity, if it was them maybe trying to show they cared. Then maybe, just maybe, he could let them in.
Anxiety really hoped this wouldn’t turn out to be a mistake. If it was, he knew he’d never get over it.