He felt a tear slip down his cheek. I thought… I knew that they’d understand. No. I trusted that they would. They had to. But they didn’t.
“All this time? All this time, and you were just…”
“You’re not just anything!” Lynn’s words had stung. But Lillian? He had needed her. He still needs her. “You are a practically-all-powerful mage alien who has lied to our souls as we bared them to you.”
The others had begun to try to interrupt, but silenced. Lillian had stated their turmoil as well as one could.
“We… We might have accepted you. I know I can’t swear that we would’ve, and I know that you being you must have thought it would be better for us to love part of you than to reject you—but is that even you?”
“It would have been a slower process, but we could have learned to see you as the terrifyingly more mature, better traveled alien and learned to accept you, and come to understand you, even if we had to trust your word on things, and we could have been the crazy group of kids who befriended YOU, not some snooty façade you put on to make us more comfortable, or why ever you thought this course of action was sensible, and… and…” Lillian’s mouth caught up with her mind and she trailed off into silence. It was broken a moment later by her brother. He always saw the details she missed.
“You were so prideful you believed that you knew what was best for us better than we did, and you never questioned your own faulty reasoning because you were so selfish you didn’t want to give up what little you had by quitting the lie and coming clean.”
“No!” Lucas instantly asserted. “I couldn’t tell you. I can weave a lie, but I am not so skilled… I am not very good at the unweaving. And—and I swear to you, my past is truly not important! I have set it aside. It has not until now affected you, and I never saw that this moment could come. Truly, it—“
“I can see through that! If your past was unimportant, you wouldn’t be trembling in fear right now, man. And I see you straighten up now, but come on.” Lynn stepped closer. “And don’t you tell me for a second that you don’t know how important stories are to Lillian.”
“I couldn’t tell just—“
Lynn stepped closer. She had to peer up to see Loki’s face, now. “And you could never have missed the fact that Lillian would never tell a whisper to the wind of anything you don’t want her to, and you know that we don’t push when she keeps a secret, because it’s never her own.” Another step. Their faces were inches apart, both twisting into fury. Physical harm was moments away. “You know that you could have told Lillian any step of the way and she would’ve forgiven you for the time you kept it to yourself. She would’ve tried to comfort you, and she would’ve listened, and loved, and you know that and have known that.” His fist clenched. “If you weren’t currently thrusting this on us while attempting to lie to us, treating us like toys or kids or pets or something, like it’s no big deal when it is, if you weren’t turning your back on us and our trust, and trying to elevate yourself above us in your head to handle it, like you did when you first came, if you were still treating us like your friends and genuinely wanting us to forgive you and trusting us to, like when any of us have admitted our granted lesser but our deepest, most painful secret…
“Lillian still would.
“But you aren’t, are you? You’re just a spoiled little boy who’s trying to cope with pain by shoving everyone below himself, instead of letting them have a foothold to hurt you, and trusting that they’ll love you instead.”
In the moment that Lynn finished speaking, Loki lunged forward, Lynn prepared to punch, and the others stepped forward to interfere, a soft sob was heard that seemed to stop time.
Heads turned to see Lillian staring at the ground, eyes tightly closed and leaking tears. Loki stiffened, and the lesson Lynn had been trying to hit him in the head with hit his heart instead.
He had become so entirely obsessed with his own misfortune, and selfishly “dealing” with his own pain, that he had not once remembered how thin the thread was that Lillian’s self-esteem hung on. Nor just how loving she was.
Loki suddenly knew that she was going to take everything that had happened and love him for it all the more and hate herself and blame herself and even when not actively putting herself down, he had shattered the foundation she had formed for herself. He had shattered it.
Claiming to love her with all his soul, he had selfishly shattered hers.
Two days later, Crystal, Jacob, Lynn, Miles, and Faith were done. With life. With love. And largely, with Lucas.
Lillian had been trying, but she had gone into robot “say what they want, do what they want, be what they want” mode, but at the same time it was clear she wanted to cry or cut or rut or something other than be composed and around people. So Miles and Faith were working on keeping her somewhat sane and calm while wrapped up in blankets and pillows eating ice cream and watching movies, knowing that they were really just stalling, because someone like Lillian needed closure if she was ever going to get better.
Meanwhile, Loki had locked himself in a maintenance closet and somehow spelled (?) the door closed.
The group had actually seen this before. Lillian coped by blaming herself for all evil and being torn between wanting to work and help other people until she felt better and locking herself in a dark room and railing on herself, and was logical enough to try the former, but the desire for the latter always distracted her from doing the former well and made her think worse of herself. Lucas always coped by literally starving himself and screaming at himself in mirrors until he snapped and sought out the person who he saw to be capable of fixing this issue and had a very dramatic soliloquy to deliver that they would receive well, and all would be fine.
But at the moment, it seemed reconciliation would be a bit harder than normal.
“She’s… fading,” Miles commented. “I dunno how to put it, exactly…”
“Lili isn’t going to be content with Princess Bride for much longer,” Faith cut in. “She’s hurting and she’s been holding herself from serious self-destructing but she needs Lucas to come and work with her on making this better. Or it’s not going to be better.”
“…That,” Miles agreed.
“Easy, then,” Lynn commented, tone bordering furious and frosty, “We drag the loser out of his hole and make him fix this.”
“Won’t fix it. He’s worn so thin by now, I’m sure, that he’ll snap and get angry, and hurt her more, and then feel even more guilty, and flee back to the closet. But he needs to feel regret, not guilt,” Faith pointed out calmly.
“I’ll talk to him,” Jacob said flatly.
“Ummm…” Crystal started. “I thought our seer-in-training (Crys, for the thousandth time, I am NOT…) just said that was a bad idea. Should we maybe have Lillian go to Luc?”
Everyone fell silent.
“While I think Jacob actually would handle this relatively well…” Faith started, “That is a really good idea,” Lynn finished.
“Aw man. No brother yelling at could-have-been-boyfriend moment,” Miles complained.
“Okay, well, Jacob, do you want to go…?” Lynn suggested pointedly. Jacob smiled wryly, clearly thinking something he didn’t plan to share, but he stood up nodding anyway. The others watched him go and prayed.
“You want to reverse the natural order.”
“I have ears. Y’all can’t whisper.”
“…Lil, you think the natural order is baloney, and have been known to agree with Crystal that the concept was invented to be defied. How bad are you exactly?”
“…I demand another fresh tub of the chocolatiest ice cream you can find. And that everyone go to wherever is as far away as from where Lucas and I’ll be as is possible. No cameras. No recording devices.”
“…You are concerning me, but that’s not abnormal, I guess. Give me twenty minutes for the ice cream and forty to move Lynn.”
He didn’t get the desired chuckle, but considered the conversation mostly successful.
Lucas heard knocking on the door, and was about to recast the silencing spell so he could keep thinking until his mind resembled the aftermath of trench warfare, but froze with his hand midair as he heard the last thing he could possibly have expected.
He jerkily undid the spells and threw open the closet door, narrowly avoiding Lillian. She jumped back, but then held her ground. They both stood staring at each other, at a loss, until she nudged a step forward and held out her arms a little. “Ice cream?”
A few minutes later they were back in the closet with the door spelled, eating ice cream. They both felt more comfortable crammed into this tiny room than they would’ve in the large living room beyond the door, and both adored chocolate ice cream. So, as unresolved as their issues were, and as platonic as their friendship was the last time either checked, she was curled up in his lap using his chest as a pillow while he fed her ice cream anytime he wasn’t feeding himself some.
“Yes?” He purposely didn’t glance at the large (gorgeous) brown eyes looking up at his face, and he tried to ignore how soft and small her voice was.
“I…” She nuzzled into his chest. “This isn’t about me, though. I can’t fix it. You have to.” He stiffened, and she quickly finished “But please, please say something, anything, I can’t keep doing this, and I still love you and I’ll forgive you and I’ll love you and everyone else might not but I do and I will, Lucas, I will.”
Tears slowly wet his shirt as they finished the ice cream. It was hours later that she was awoken by his voice.
“I was a prince. Spurned. Far too young. I did not know what to do with myself. I had never even learned how I truly ought to conduct myself. But…” Another expanse of time passed, and she was drowsy again when he next spoke. “I came across the lot of you, and I learned. And I should have told you, and I should not have handled any of this the way I did, and… I believe if I were to relive my past, I know what to do differently in order to purge myself of these sins I have committed against you.”
He smiled down at her. She was exhausted, but finally felt safe and was relaxing and could not stay awake. Nor was he going to ask her to. “I love you, darling, and I beseech thee for any kindness you could find in your heart for me. I shall endeavor to give you my fond kindnesses, as well.” He felt like a sap. Oh well. It must be said somehow, sooner or later.
“Mmmmmmmmm.” That sounded like it meant something, but Lucas did not have the faintest idea what. “Are… Do you wanna court?” Luc stiffened. He knew Lillian well enough to know she waited for men express their interest in her rather than approaching them herself. “I know… I know that you’d never ask me, even if you wanted to, so I asked you, while I’m… sleepy… enough… to have an excuse.”
By the time he had been able to calm his silent laughter (mixed with tears. Her pain was his fault, but she was alive, and she’d be well) and murmur a firm affirmative, Lillian was sound asleep. On his chest.
Loki smiled to himself. This was not a turn he had planned for his life—fantasizing about and planning were different—but he was well pleased with it.