friendly reminder that Jacob Peralta knew he was going to propose to Amy Santiago when they babysat Terry’s kids in Moo Moo (and he was probably imaging their own kids), when he held her hair back in Cop-Con, when he found her on the roof and encouraged her to take the Sargeant’s exam even though he knew it would change their relationship, when she talked about them going away together and that she’d wait for him, when he was sent to jail, when she visited him in jail and when he literally risked his life in prison just for a chance to talk to her i’m fine
Notes: Written for @abstractedthinking who is having a hard time. Just a short little thing. Sorry if it’s a little rough around the edges, I’ve got a pretty bad headache today D:<
Patton hadn’t seen Virgil all day.
That by itself wasn’t terribly alarming, but then there’d been the anxious side’s behavior before he’d disappeared: withdrawn, uncertain around the others, more likely to shy away from physical contact. The clues were subtle, but Patton had learned to spot them long ago. Combined with his all-day disappearing act, there was no doubt in Patton’s mind: Virgil was having an episode.
He waited until Logan and Roman had retired for the evening before seeking Virgil. It was always better to confront him when there was less likelihood of being interrupted. He knew Virgil wouldn’t be asleep; he rarely slept anyway, and during the episode, there would be…distractions, keeping him awake.
Patton’s jaw firmed a little as he climbed the stairs. Distractions, indeed. A familiar curl of anger uncoiled in his gut, but he suppressed it. Now was not the time for his own emotional response; now was the time to be there for Virgil.
He didn’t knock when he reached the anxious side’s door. But he did pull out the key Virgil had given him, all those months ago. He’d pressed it into Patton’s hand, eyes averted, and mumbled, “Just in case.”
Patton hadn’t asked ‘in case what.’ He’d suspected he’d know, when the time came to use the key.
He pushed the key into the lock and opened Virgil’s door, slipping inside and closing it behind him. He blinked, willing his eyes to adjust. “Virgil?”
A soft whimper met his ears, and he squinted, trying to see through the shadows. They eventually resolved themselves just enough to see the vague lumpy shape of Virgil’s bed–and the dark shape of Virgil, curled up in its center.
Patton reluctantly let go of the doorknob and stepped into the unnatural black. It wasn’t just the absence of light that made Virgil’s room like this sometimes, he knew, but an invasion of shadows: the darker thoughts, doubts, and fears that Virgil worked so hard to keep from Thomas.
And he did an amazing job, he really did. But sometimes they overcame him all the same, and he’d confided to Patton, not long ago, that they could hound him for days or even weeks at a time, if no one intervened.
Patton’s heart had broken, thinking of all the times no one had. Of all the times in the past that Virgil had vanished, and the’yd all chalked it up to the anxious side simply being ‘emo,’ or ‘broody.’ Not once had any of them thought to check on him–to find out if he needed help.
Guilt tried to choke Patton’s throat and pushed, burning, at the back of his eyes. We left him alone for so long, he thought sorrowfully. He suffered so much, and it was our fault. My fault. I could’ve–
Patton’s mouth twisted into a silent snarl, and he forced the thoughts from his mind. The shadows were subtle, but he’d learned to recognize them, when they began to work at him. And he’d learned ways to resist.
Virgil. Focus on Virgil. Guilt doesn’t matter. Yes, I made mistakes, but they’re in the past. They don’t matter now.
(…you left him to suffer, you ignored him, you hurt him, you…)
–won’t make the same mistake twice.
The voices relented some, sullen, and Patton nodded, satisfied he’d shut them up for the time being. He moved forward, doing his best to ignore the vague, ominous hissing as the shadows slithered past him, trying to coil around his limbs. He clenched his fists and focused his attention on his goal: Virgil. He thought, clear and confident, I am going to get to Virgil. I am going to comfort Virgil. I am going to reach my son.
The shadows hissed angrily, furious at his steadfast resolve, but it was enough: they retreated a little. Enough for Patton to catch a glimpse of Virgil, sitting wide-eyed and curled in on himself, tears streaking his face and hands clamped to his ears as he tried to drown out the voices. Patton’s heart broke again, and he eased himself onto the mattress in front of the anxious side, reaching out to touch his arm gently.
Virgil started, badly, drawing away and staring at Patton. For a moment there was no recognition in his eyes–just horror, fear, and a kind of desperate despair–but after a few moments, he blinked, and his eyes cleared just a little.
“P-pat–Dad?” he said, and his voice broke badly on the single syllable word. There was so much hope in that word, but so much fear, too–that Patton might not be real, that he might simply be a figment conjured by the shadows, sent to torment him further.
“Yeah, kiddo,” Patton murmured, giving Virgil the brightest smile he could in an effort to dispel those doubts. “I’m here.”
Virgil stared for only a moment longer before flinging himself forward, launching himself into Patton’s arms and whimpering as fresh tears spilled onto his cheeks.
“Dad,” he sobbed. “I’m…scared. Dad, I’m so scared.”
“I know, kiddo. I know,” Patton whispered, wrapping Virgil up tight in his arms and cupping the back of his head. He felt his own tears threatening once more, and this time he let them fall. He pressed a kiss to Virgil’s hair, then another, and another. He began to rock him back and forth, soothing him, even as the oppressive weight of the shadows tried to bear down around them.
“They–th-they say you guys don’t really…c-care about me,” Virgil whimpered into Patton’s neck. “They s-s-say you’re just buh-being nice…th-they…”
“They’re lying,” Patton said firmly, but gently. It was, after all, no good scolding Virgil for these thoughts and fears: he didn’t ask for them, and he didn’t want to believe them, either. “They’re telling you lies. We love you very much.”
It took a few more repetitions of those gentle reminders before Virgil finally calmed down, and the shadows retreated a little bit more. Not completely–Patton knew they might not go for hours yet–but they did at least withdraw a little, leaving the pair of them with some breathing room.
Virgil sighed, ducking his head and hiding it under Patton’s chin. “I’m s-sorry,” he whispered. “I…I know y-you must get…tired of dealing with all of this…”
“Hey. No,” Patton murmured, drawing back far enough to take Virgil’s face between his hands, easing his head up to look at Patton. “Never,” he said firmly, stroking Virgil’s cheeks with his thumbs and brushing away the tears. “I only wish you didn’t have to go through this, Virgil. But I’ll ride it out with you every time. And I’ll never get tired of reminding you just how much you’re loved.” He smiled and tapped Virgil’s nose with his thumb, then bent to press a kiss in the same spot. “Okay, bugaboo?”
Virgil smiled. It wasn’t a solid smile; it wavered, like a reflection in a pool of water whose surface had been disturbed by drops of rain or a casually tossed stone. But it was there. And it was a start.
“Okay,” Virgil whispered.
Patton leaned down again and kissed Virgil’s forehead firmly. “I’m proud of you, Virgil. I love you.”
Virgil drew a shaky breath. “Love you too, Dad,” he whispered, curling in closer and wrapping his arms around Patton’s waist.
And Patton held him that way until dawn, whispering gentle praises and words of love and support and comfort until the shadows finally began to abate, and Virgil drifted, at last, to sleep in Patton’s arms.