i wrote this for /dum/ too but i started to sour on the general and, let's not mince words here, completely forgot to finish this for almost a year. so it goes. [external copy]

asriel's not doing too well
you expected him to have a great time, he's always liked scary stuff, but...
there's a castle nearby, nothing that fancy or big, really just a couple old buildings and a lot of surrounding land
you're not sure if it's nationally protected like a park, privately owned and operated, or somewhere inbetween
every year it opens up on halloween for about what you’d expect
haunted tours, magicians and fire jugglers, the hedge maze gets decked out with fake cobwebs and some people in costumes
he held your hand a little tightly on the way to the maze, but he was adamant he was alright
that went out the window after the guy jumped out
the gimmick is simple: a guy in a costume "chases" you down the final corridor, making sure he never quite catches up
maybe it’d scare a kid, or someone with a phobia of whatever they’re dressed up as that year
asriel bolted and dragged you stumbling along with him, startling the attendant outside
taking a second to rest after your hand slips loose, making sure you hadn’t pulled anything getting yanked around like that, he kept on pacing
away from the maze, away from the pathways and people, off into the fields
you have to chase after him in the dark, and find him sitting on a rock just barely in range of lanternlight
he's shaking
muttering things to himself
"I'm sorry..."
"I wasn't myself, I never meant to..."
"It's over. It's over. We're all okay."
oh no
he's having, well he's definitely having something
you're no expert on episodes or flashbacks, but he hasn't even noticed you
his eyes look glassy, unfocused
something is wrong, and you don't know what to do
slowly, you kneel down next to him, tentatively reaching your hand to his shoulder
he flinches at the contact, but it seems to snap him out of it
he looks terrified
"...I'm sorry for ruining our night out."
he doesn't usually beat himself up like that, he's always so optimistic, so confident everything will turn out alright
it's like flicking a lightswitch
soothing words, stroking his back, you don't want to push your luck by getting too cozy, don't want him to feel trapped or cornered
he takes the initiative, all but leaping into you
not saying anything now, letting his body do the talking with every uncertain breath and shiver
you ask him if he wants to talk about it
there's something in his voice, like he's not happy with that answer
you don't push him, just do your best to soothe him
eventually, he seems comfortable standing, and you start to make your way back to the courtyard
he's not trying to hold back now, his hand constricting the bloodflow of yours
you wouldn't dream of asking him to ease up
you hole up at a table in the corner of the courtyard, just in time to hide under an awning and avoid the onset of rain
you get up to grab a drink from the cafe, and he bolts up to come with you, not wanting to be left alone
you grab some ice cream while you're there, he loves the stuff
it's calm in your corner, everybody who didn't bring a coat or umbrella scurrying indoors or back to their cars
it's a lot more private now - you turn to give him a quick kiss, and he stops you
the moment stretches on, his hand doesn't move from your chest, holding you at a distance
finally, he seems to land on "You deserve better."
it's all you can do not to laugh at the suggestion
he's the most wonderful person you've ever met
he senses you didn't take his words to heart, and with a lot of struggle, he starts to open up
it starts off slow, talking about his childhood
the buttercups, the plan
the determination machine
it’s more than you can really brace for
there's an edge in his voice as he describes the things he's done, uncertain flickers of pride mixed in
it's the acid dripping from him as he mutters out "Idiot." that really unbalances you
you've never heard him sound like that, and you can tell it’s aimed inwards
he hid it all so well
you’re not sure what to make of it
it sounds unbelievable, but before long you figure out what you want
you want to help him
whether he’s delusional or truthful and traumatized, it’s tearing at him all the same
your asriel, your wonderful, loving azzy
burning up
it’s awful to think about
he's shrinking into himself in the silence you’ve left, hunching up, almost on the verge of tears
you know what he expects out of you now
it's not for you to lean over and kiss him anyway
he doesn't really seem to parse it properly, at first
you're wondering if you should do it again, before he melts into you
soft laughter, quiet tears, and more shaking
it's different this time, though
he's releasing tension, not building it
you share the moment, and the next, and the next
you share a few more hours peoplewatching into the morning, another few on the train home and on the walk back, and about 15 minutes of stripping down and brushing your teeth before you both collapse
you share the night, contented knowing you'll share the morning too
asriel has nightmares
he never talks about them, he tries not to acknowledge them at all, but they've woken you up pretty often
you always try to comfort him, and now that he's opened up you're a lot more confident you know what to say
but if he has them tonight, it doesn't stir you
when you wake up next to him, he's smiling, calm and rested as can be
you wouldn't trade the moment for the world