A Nightmare to Remember
A friend requested angst, and I did NOT hold back. Enjoy :)
Word Count: 1,649
Warnings: blood, sword injury, nightmares, brief anxiety attack
Virgil felt his breath knocked out of him as his back made solid contact with the wall. He scrabbled at the hand pinning his throat, struggling to put oxygen back into his body. The familiar hazel eyes looked alien to him, filled with rage and disgust as they were.
“Pathetic,” Roman spat, as he dropped a coughing, gasping Virgil to the ground. “I pretended to love you for so long, and you were desperate and stupid enough to believe me. Well, now I’m bored. You disgust me.” Virgil shook as Roman raised his sword with a twisted smile. “You will always be the villain, Anxiety.”
Fight or flight, fight or flight…
He froze. Virgil froze, looking up at Roman, the man he loved, bringing the sword down…
And suddenly he was in his bed, drenched in sweat, his mouth open in a scream that had torn his voice to shreds.
There were hands on his shoulders, and a voice, but he couldn’t make sense of what it was saying, and he looked up to see those hazel eyes. He jerked away, still caught up in his nightmare, not registering that those eyes were filled with concern rather than hatred.
He couldn’t breathe, all he could feel was a hand at his neck, squeezing, squeezing mercilessly. His clothes suddenly felt restricting, and he clawed off his soaked pajamas desperately.
He couldn’t breathe, he couldn’t breathe, then Roman was beside him, not daring to touch him again, but holding his hands up. Virgil still couldn’t process Roman’s voice, and he shook his head, scrabbling at his ears. Roman held up four fingers, then seven, then eight. 4, 7, 8… 4, 7, 8…
Virgil repeated the numbers to himself, counting out his breathing, failing, and starting over, until he had completed the pattern a few times. He could breathe again, he could hear again. Unfortunately, that included the nightmare echoing in his ears, “You’ll always be the villain, Anxiety.”
“Virgil,” Roman whispered. “Virgil, please. Please, my love, tell me what’s wrong.” Virgil just shook his head. “Let me get you some water. Will you be ok?” Virgil gave a stiff nod, and Roman left quickly.
Roman returned with a glass of water, and Virgil drank it all in one gulp. “Careful, love,” Roman cautioned. When Virgil had set the glass aside, he ventured, “Can you tell me what the nightmare was about?”
Virgil shook his head.
He shook his head again.
Roman sighed, sitting back on his heels. “Virgil, you haven’t slept properly in weeks because of these nightmares. Please, let me try to help you.”
Virgil shook his head again and promptly stood, pulling on his hoodie and some sweats, and walked to the kitchen, leaving Roman to sigh behind him.
It was just a dream. It wasn’t Roman, it wasn’t. Roman loved him…
He paced for several minutes, before Patton walked in. He jumped at the sight of Virgil, before laughing off his nervousness. “Oh, hey, Virgil. What are you doing up at this hour?” He frowned as he stepped closer. “You alright there, kiddo?”
Virgil hesitated, then shook his head. He couldn’t stand it, couldn’t stand seeing the man he loved try to kill him every night. He had to tell somebody. So he did.
He told Patton everything, the nightmares he had been having and for how long. “…And I know, I know he loves me, but it just feels so real, Patton. I can’t stand it, I don’t know why–”
He was cut off by a puffy-eyed Roman entering the kitchen. “So that’s why…that’s why you’ve been so scared of me.” Virgil couldn’t speak. Roman wasn’t supposed to hear. It wasn’t his fault, it was Virgil’s. “I didn’t want to bring it up, but did you think I didn’t notice how you flinch away from me? How you stiffen up if I touch you at all?”
Virgil finally took a step towards him. “Roman…”
Roman started stepping back, “N-no. Do you really believe I’d ever hurt you? How many ways do I have to show my love for you before you actually believe me?”
“No! Of course I don’t believe that! They’re just dreams! I can’t help them!” But Roman was already gone, the slam shut of his door echoing through Virgil’s bones, chilling him.
Virgil froze, his breathing shallow, then whirled around to face Patton, who had been watching silently. “What do I do?!”
Patton took a shaky breath, wiping away the tears that had gathered in his eyes. He moved forward to hug Virgil, whispering calmly, “First, we’re gonna get you to calm down. Breathe with me, buddy.”
Virgil struggled to maintain some deep breaths, scrabbling to push away his frenzied thoughts. He had ruined everything, he had hurt Roman, he had to find Roman. He had to… He sobbed heavily, sagging into Patton’s arms, who held and rocked him.
He finally managed to calm down, evening out his breathing, hiccupping some final shallow gasps. He pulled away from Patton, who smiled reassuringly at him. “Everything will be ok, kiddo.”
Virgil didn’t quite believe it, but forced himself to nod. He stood, steeling himself to find Roman, who had likely conjured some monsters to fight to vent his frustrations.
Virgil approached Roman’s room, turning the knob slowly, preparing himself for whatever dreamscape the other side had conjured. He stepped through to find…nothing.
There was an empty expanse all around him. “R-Roman?” he whispered. No response.
“Roman!” he called louder. Still nothing. Then…a chuckle.
The darkness seemed to shift, gathering around a form, then falling away to reveal Roman. Roman…but not his Roman, the real one. It couldn’t be.
This Roman was the same as the one in his nightmares, eyes burning with hatred and disgust. It gave Virgil a twisted smile, purring, “Aw, Hot Topic came looking for me.”
“Y-You’re not Roman.”
“Really? You’re having a hard time convincing yourself of that.”
“Sh-shut up! What have you done to Roman?”
“I haven’t done anything to him. He created me, presumably to fight me, but he underestimated the power of your fears, Virgil. If anyone’s done anything to him, it’s you. Once again, you’re the villain.”
Virgil’s heart dropped. Not-Roman took a step towards Virgil, who stepped back. Another step. And another. Until Virgil found himself backed against a wall. No. Not again.
A low, dark chuckle, “Looks like you have nowhere to go, Anxiety.” A sword raised.
Virgil closed his eyes, tears streaming down his cheeks. He didn’t want this Roman to be the last thing he saw. He braced himself for the end.
A clang burst against his ears, and his eyes flew open to see Roman, his Roman, the real Roman, struggling to keep his sword held steady against the other’s blade.
With an immense shove, Roman sent the doppelganger staggering backward. But the nightmare didn’t slow, it spun, bringing its sword down, as Roman parried, blocked, fainted left and right, until they moved so fast that Virgil couldn’t tell which was which.
Finally, Not-Roman fell, appearing unmoving, and Roman turned to Virgil with concern.
Virgil didn’t have time to say a word or even smile, as a silver blade suddenly drove itself through Roman, dark red blooming outwards from the wound, staining his white tunic.
“N-n-no!” Virgil released a choked scream as Roman fell to reveal the monster standing behind him. It was no longer smiling, just sneering down at Roman.
“You’re insufferable.” It kicked Roman once in the side for good measure, causing him to gasp out in pain.
Virgil ran forward, dropping down beside Roman, taking off his hoodie and using it to desperately press down on the wound.
“V-Virgil, you shouldn’t have c-come…” he tried to speak, but Virgil shushed him.
“Don’t talk, Roman, don’t talk. What were you thinking?!” Tears gathered, but Virgil furiously blinked them away. He had to help Roman.
Weakly, Roman reached up to cup his cheek. “I will always protect you, my love.”
Virgil watched as the last of the life drained from Roman’s eyes, felt his hand drop from his cheek, heard his last faint breath. “No,” he squeaked, “No, please, Roman, I love you.”
Above them, the monster snorted. “You’re both pitiful. And you’ll both die together.”
It raised its sword again, but froze as Virgil looked up at it. There was nothing less than pure rage in his eyes. “You’re gonna regret being created.”
Virgil grabbed Roman’s fallen sword, and stood. He had no idea how to use it, but he didn’t care. Adrenaline and anger spurred him on, carefully stepping around Roman before swinging furiously. He wasn’t strong, but he was fast, faster than Roman had been, faster than this monster was. He moved like lightning, and finally he struck, and it froze, glaring at him for a second before crumbling into dust.
Virgil ran back to Roman’s side, finally letting the tears fall. Around him, the darkness began fading away, and they were soon back in Roman’s room, any evidence of the dreamscape gone.
Roman gasped out as his wound closed and the blood faded from his tunic. He groaned, “I hate dying.” Virgil gave a stunned, teary laugh, hugging Roman so tightly, Roman thought he’d suffocate. “Can’t…Virge, gotta breathe.”
Virgil let him go instantly, mumbling, “Sorry.”
Roman’s eyes softened, “No, I’m sorry. It was stupid to blame you for something that wasn’t your fault. Will you forgive me?”
Virgil rolled his eyes, kissing him fiercely instead of answering. Roman gasped in surprise into the kiss, but returned it.
When they pulled away, Virgil said firmly, “Just don’t be so stupid to manifest my nightmares ever again, ok?”
Roman nodded, allowing Virgil to help him up onto the bed. Exhausted as they were, they fell asleep quickly, holding each other.
And for the first time in weeks, Virgil did not dream.