In the weeks following his misadventures in Alomomola Bay, Vincent the Shroomish started to become a shell of his former self.
His partner was terribly injured and unable to stay awake for more than an hour at one time. Some days saw Declan completely bedridden and having to be forced awake to make sure he didn’t starve. On the rare days that the Sableye left his bed and attempted to socialise, he would often come close to passing out from exhaustion. Vincent partially blamed this on the egg that Declan was nursing, often commenting that the two were joined at the hip. The Sableye’s lack of exercise had only delayed the egg’s hatching, and cut even further into Declan’s sleeping time.
Whenever Vincent would force himself to get some fresh air and let Declan take care of himself for a while, he would quickly wish he hadn’t. The Shroomish was forced to watch the village be rebuilt around him- not that this was a bad thing, of course. It was obvious that when it was done, Tao would look ten times better than it did before. But the crushing feeling of being completely useless weighed down on Vincent often. He couldn’t build walls or carry materials, and he was small enough for people to not even notice his presence and trip over him. This anxiety, mixed with the Shroomish’s growing hopelessness, soon saw the Merchant start to dip into a depression.
There was one last thing, something that both stopped Vincent from completely giving up hope AND threatened to send him over the edge completely if not handled delicately- Jacques.
The Frenchman easily picked up on Vincent’s emotions- not that it was hard, since the Merchant wore them on his non-existent sleeves- and would immediately spring into action. For the past couple of months, happiness came in the form of surprise ice cream gifts, walks along the beach and long night talks with the Gastly. And they worked, staving off the depression long enough for Vincent to smile. In time, Vincent even managed to get over Declan rejecting his advances (if one could call the awkward confession an advance); after much thought, Vincent agreed that he and the Sableye were better as just friends. And for a time, Vincent was happy.
But as with most cures, it came with a side effect. With all the attention and (platonic) love being lavished upon him, it didn’t take Vincent long to fall head over heels for the Gastly.
“Nope. I can’t,” Vincent said to himself one night, curled up by the fireplace of the Black Bullet household as he stared into the flames. “Can’t tell him. Can’t be rejected again. Jacques wouldn’t accept. Not in a million years,” he chanted under his breath, like a mantra. A sad, almost loathsome smile crept onto Vincent’s small face, creasing his half-lidded eyes. “Too small. Too useless. Riddled with anxiety issues. Needy, clingy. No… definitely best if he avoids me,” he affirmed, snuggling down into a blanket to watch the fire as he fell asleep. Of course, the thought that he could better himself did occur to him. He could at least try to iron out his flaws—
“Vincent?” a familiar, French accented voice called from the hallway. Vincent froze; how long had Jacques been there? “Mon ami, are you alright? Vouz should not sleep on zhe floor…” the Gastly crooned, floating over to check the Shroomish over. Vincent allowed a more genuine smile to crease his features- Jacques had recently dropped the “monsieur” when speaking to him, which only fuelled Vincent’s wonder at what the Frenchman really thought of the Shroomish.
“No, no… I’m fine, Jacques. Honestly. It’s nice and warm by the fire, so…”
“Ah, oui. You are cold, zhen? I could fetch you anozher blanket. Some more pillows, per’aps? Maybe a hot drink to ‘elp you sleep?” Jacques replied, looking genuinely eager to help. For one brief, wonderful moment, Vincent’s self-loathing was purged from his mind.
“I’m fine as I am, Jacques, but thank you. You’re way too nice to me.”
“Non, Vincent!” the Gastly retorted, seeming somewhat offended. “I zhink after everyzhing zhat ‘as ‘appened, you deserve all zhe happiness you can get. So let me ‘elp vith zhat, yes?”
Of course, Vincent didn’t believe him. But it didn’t fail to make him smile. “…Alright,” he affirmed, snuggling down into the blankets and facing away from the Frenchman. He wasn’t sure how long he could keep his composure. A few moments of silence preceded a gesture that made Vincent choke up; Jacques floating over and tucking the blankets in around the Shroomish, patting the fabric down gently over Vincent’s tiny frame with his (optional) ghostly hands.
“Goodnight zhen, Vincent. See you in zhe morning!”
With Jacques’s touch still lingering on his body, Vincent snuggled down into the blanket once more and gave his friend a sweet little smile.
Sleep took him quickly, hastened along by the thought of pleasant dreams… for once.
i hate painting scenes with fire light in. oh my god. i don't think i'll ever be 100% happy with this, but its good practice at least?
Featuring a cameo from Jacques of Black Bullet!