Written with whitetyger123. There was no room in the summary. :(
After a quick greeting, Antonio sat down on the over-stuffed chair that he had grown so used to over the past few months. "I've been taking the medication and meditating, just like you told me." Because he would do anything to get over this, to be normal. Or at least… as normal as possible.
Behind his wide, polished red oak desk, Dr. Weilschmidt regarded him without judgment or bias. The German nodded. "And how are you fairing, Antonio?"
"Not very well," the Spaniard admitted. "It just doesn't seem to be helping. I mean, he just came out yesterday at the supermarket." He bit his lip, remembering how he had suddenly lost control, just like it always happened, and right in front of a pretty woman! Ludwig pulled the glasses from behind his ears and folded them neatly, setting them on the desktop.
"You're right. That isn't good at all." He folded his hands in his lap. "Have you figured out what triggers 'Spain?'"
Suddenly the painting behind the psychiatrist became very interesting. Antonio never really liked talking about his 'problem' with such a direct approach. "No, I can never tell. I mean… he always comes out when it is a high stress situation, but then there are times, like at the supermarket when he will just come out of his own accord."
"And none of the treatments and exercises have worked?" he asked, just to clarify. "I know you're not fond of discussing this, but I'm here to help you. I can only help you if you talk to me."
Antonio sighed, because he knew very well. He had been to many doctors in his life, and Dr. Weilschmidt was one of the few good ones. "Well, I'm pretty sure 'Spain' hasn't hit anyone for a while, so maybe they're making him more docile? But he still comes out!" He leaned back in his chair, and looked down. "I haven't trusted myself to have a relationship for over a year, since I'm always too afraid to tell them that I have two personalities."
The psychiatrist nodded and leaned back in his chair. "I understand. You have quite a bit to worry over with your disorder, which is why it's important to find the trigger. I know I don't have to tell you how rare it is for someone with multiple personality disorder to have only one other personality to fret over, and rarer still that the two share one stream of consciousness. You are terribly lucky, sir, and I do not believe in luck."
Yes, he knew everyone said he was lucky, and he knew that everyone else he had met with multiple personalities had it harder than he did, but that didn't mean that his situation wasn't still problematic. "I still want him gone. Do you know how many people 'Spain' has pissed off, and then they end up taking it out on me! And the whole one stream of consciousness thing isn't completely true either. Sometimes he will just block me out completely." Usually he could see everything 'Spain' could see, but he couldn't do anything about it.
Ludwig regarded Antonio with deep blue calculating eyes in a fashion that did not pry out of malicious intent- rather, he aimed to see through any barriers the Spaniard was putting up, searching for a place unguarded that he might bring forth answers like water from a well. "Do you think he would speak with me now?"
For a minute, Antonio tried. He really did! He thought of every instance he could think of when 'Spain' had come out, but nothing happened. Finally he gave up. "Sorry, he usually only shows up when he wants to. I can't really get him to talk to you." It wasn't that 'Spain' didn't like Ludwig. Their likes and dislikes were the same. It was just that the other personality liked being difficult.
Ludwig nodded shortly. "It's fine, don't stress yourself. I just wanted to see if you could." He sighed, leaning forward with his elbows on his desk. "We have tried every orthodox method in the book," he said finally after a long moment of thought, picking and choosing his words as carefully as one chooses eggs at the supermarket. "It obviously hasn't helped. I can think of no other way than to try something unorthodox." He paused. "But only if that's alright with you."
"Well, as long as it's not shock therapy or something, then I would be fine with pretty much anything. As long as I get over this." After all, he had had this disorder since he was a child, and was sick and tired of it. Antonio wished more than anything that 'Spain' would just disappear.
Ludwig nodded. "I've given it a lot of thought," he said sincerely, "and though it may not exactly be a trigger in specific terms, you've told me that 'Spain' only appeared in the past during moments of extreme agitation or exhaustion. Is that correct?" When Antonio nodded, he went on. "So it stands to reason that you might find the specific trigger if you are paying attention under extreme duress, would it not?"
The brunet thought it over. It was certainly something he had never tried before. "Alright, so what exactly do you mean by that? Now I don't have as many stressful situations as when I was a teenager." But if he found the trigger, if there even was one, then he would maybe be able to avoid it.
Ludwig stood and began to pace slowly- walking helped his thought process, but he'd been told many times that quick pacing only served to make people nervous. "What if you were under near constant pressure? I know it doesn't sound pleasant, but if you think about it long-term, it might prove to be beneficial. If you were under continuous stress, would it not serve to strengthen your tolerance over time? And would it not help, at least in the beginning, to offer 'Spain' more room to take over, so you could watch his moves and see what makes him weak, and what makes him strong?"
"Well... as long as it doesn't interfere with my job. I don't want to be stressed out when dealing with the kids." As a pediatric physical therapist, he needed to be focused. That was another reason he wanted to get 'Spain' under control. He would die if his other personality got out around the kids. Luckily he hadn't so far, but then, he had only been in the career for a little over a year.
"Of course," Ludwig said with a short nod. "Now, all we need is to find a highly stressful environment for you to immerse yourself in. But only if you're sure." He looked to Antonio for certainty. "Do you really want to try this? It's completely based on theory, and nothing else. If your situation diminishes, I will personally make sure never to put you in such a situation again."
Just when Antonio was about to answer that yes, he was willing to try it, the door burst open and the cute Italian boy that was working as the secretary fell in. "Ludwig! I'm sorry, I wasn't listening, I just heard, I swear I wouldn't listen in! But, uh, I have an idea, because you need something stressful, ve?"
Ludwig frowned at his secretary and looked down at Antonio, who didn't seem to mind. "With Mr. Carriedo's permission, Feliciano," he conceded shortly.
The Italian clapped his hands and went further into the room. "Well, it just happens that my brother -you remember my brother right Ludwig? He's the one that threw coffee on that one client when he brought my lunch. Well, he's looking for a roommate because his last tenant moved out. So if you moved in with him, it would be a constant stressful situation! Like you need!"
Ludwig leaned against the desk, folding his arms over his chest. He considered it thoughtfully. When Antonio looked up at him, he nodded a little to himself. "Yes... living with Lovino wouldbe a highly stressful situation indeed... it would take quite a bit of willpower to live with him." Ludwig glanced over toward Feliciano and gave him a short smile as if to tell him that no, he didn't approve of him listening in, but he did appreciate the very appropriate suggestion. "If you'd like, Antonio, Mr. Vargas may be able to arrange a meeting with his brother if you would like to explore this option. I would be there with you, of course, just in case Spain decided to emerge."
Antonio thought about his large condo, recently varnished, with a beautiful view. It was a nice place to live, but he did always find it fairly lonely. But did he really want to give it up for living with a man he didn't know, who sounded like he was very unpleasant? That didn't sound like a very good option. But he needed to fix this. For the kids. For himself. Besides, he was hardly home anyway.
"Yes, alright. I'll meet him."
It took all of two days for Feliciano to bed his brother's audience, which only served to wear on the Spaniard's nerves. When it came down to it, really, it was entirely up to the man he'd never met to let him, a man on the verge of psychosis, share his living space. He didn't blame the Italian for being skeptical or uncertain, but it didn't help his own anxiety.
Fortunately, forty-eight hours later found a tall German, a wreck of a Spaniard, and a bouncy Italian before the door of a fairly classy apartment. Feliciano knocked on the door cheerfully. "Fratello, it's me! Open up, per favore!"
He knocked continuously and the moment Ludwig decided to grab his wrist to silence him was the moment that the door opened to reveal a man that looked rather like an extremely cranky Feliciano. "Really, Feli? You have to be that obnoxious in eight in the fuckingmorning?"
"Good morning, Lovi!" Feliciano said cheerfully, not perturbed at all by the harsh language as he leaned forward, kissing Lovino on both of his cheeks before waltzing into the apartment.
Lovino stepped aside so they could walk in, his eyes glancing up and down Antonio's body. When the Spaniard tried to greet him cheerfully with his hand outstretched, the Italian took it slowly. "So you're the crazy bastard Feli told me about over the phone."
Antonio held up his hand to silence the secretary, since he really should make a good impression. "It's alright. I admit that I'm not… of sound mind, as you might say." Besides, wasn't this the whole point of coming to live with this guy? He needed to be in a stressful situation, and this seemed to be just that. "It's nice to meet you! My name is Antonio but you can call me Toni if you want. And you're Lovi? That's such a nice name!"
Ludwig tried to warn him, before Lovino punched the Spaniard right in the face, but it was too late. "Um, sorry. I should have warned you. Only Feliciano can call him... that."
"Che," Lovino tutted, folding his arms over his chest. "Rule number one, you crazy motherfucker- don't get overly familiar. I'm your landlord while you're here, and don't you ever forget it."
Rubbing his sore cheek, Antonio gave a pout. "But I thought we would be roommates! That sounds way better than you being my landlord. You were told why I needed to live with you right?" If he was just his landlord, then didn't that mean he would hardly ever be there? For him to be stressed out, then Lovino would actually have to be there.
"Don't backtalk me, dipshit; I've got friends in low places." He huffed, retreating towards the kitchen. "As long as that crazy-ass motherfucker inside of you understands that I'm not playing around, I'll explain everything to you over coffee."
He glanced over his shoulder and turned a little red at the odd attention being paid toward him by the other three in the room. "Do you want the fucking coffee or not?"
Ludwig cleared his voice and ushered the other two into the kitchen. "I am glad you have considered this, Lovino. I believe it will really help his case." Well, hopefully. It was true that there was not a much more stressful situation than living with the older of the Italian twins, and maybe this would be just what it would take to make a breakthrough.
"Wow, this is a nice kitchen." Antonio looked around at all the supplies. "You must be a very good cook."
At that, Lovino turned his face away, feeling it warm pleasantly at the unfounded compliment. "Of course I'm a good cook," he mumbled, taking a few mugs from a polished cabinet and pouring steaming coffee into them from the rather large pot. "I don't allow shit in my kitchen. Half the reason why I told that last asshole to get the fuck out." He smirked, filling two of the cups with sugar and lots of creamer. "Couldn't cook worth a shit."
Well, maybe this was his chance to earn a few Brownie points. "Well, I'm very good at cooking. Especially if what I'm cooking calls for tomatoes, so I hope you like them." And if he didn't like them, Antonio supposed they could each cook their own meals separately. They all sat down at the counter on the stools. Feliciano seemed to be sitting really close to Ludwig, but he wasn't one to judge.
Lovino slid one of the heavily doctored coffees over to Feliciano and carelessly passed the two dark ones to his other guests without much finesse, nudging the sugar and creamer into the middle of the island. "Well, as long as you make lots of tomato dishes, we might just do a passable job of getting along. So tell me about yourself- not that I really care, but my little brother isn't exactly focused or coherent half the time, so I'm not sure I caught all of what he was trying to tell me."
"Hey!" Feliciano pouted, glancing to Ludwig for affirmation.
So Antonio started on the story that he had perfected with many doctor visits, the story that he was so used to telling that it was almost automatic. "When I was a kid, I was always interested in men, so I figured out that I was gay quite early. But my father started beating me because he didn't want a gay son, so I tried very hard to be straight, even going as far as kissing a girl when I was seven. But I soon developed this other personality that I called Spain because we had just moved away from my homeland. 'Spain' would act out what I wanted but was too afraid to do, or he would come out when my father would beat me. When I went into foster care as a teenager, I explored my sexuality, so Spain only came out when I was in trouble, or when I wouldn't speak up for myself. It was all in moderation for most of my life, until now. Lately, he has been coming out at any time, and since he is more angry and rude, it is a problem for me. So I want him gone."
"Damn." Lovino took a sip of the hot coffee. "You always so open with the less sunny parts of your past? I mean, your choice who you tell, but I just met you."
At this, the Spaniard grinned and leaned a bit closer. "But I will have to trust you, right? I mean, if you are going to help me, you have to know, don't you?" Besides, so many people knew his story already, what would one more hurt? He was no longer embarrassed about his past; it was just a fact of life.
The Italian shrugged. "I guess so." Quickly thereafter he scowled. "But if you think that that's grounds to make me spill anything about myself, you're gonna be disappointed."
He smiled kindly and heard two sighs of relief from Ludwig and Feliciano. "I don't mind, but it really isn't me you should be worrying about. 'Spain' doesn't consider anything too personal, so just be on guard for some of his questions. Or… really, anything he says."
The elder Vargas just rolled his eyes. "Whatever. If he tries anything, I'll break his legs at the knees. Be ready for that," he warned, taking another drink. He hoped to high heaven that whatever was inside of the stupid Spaniard was listening and buying into the bluffs; no way was he going to let anyone know that the prospect of getting accosted by a crazy made his hands shake. But he needed the money, and Antonio seemed like the type who could be suckered into housework and cooking.
Antonio's eyes widened, and he almost dropped his cup. "NO! Please don't! Spain is... well there aren't many people who can beat him in a fight! He would not hit someone unless provoked, but if he has reason to he will hurt you badly. I don't like seeing when he has hurt people." And then he fully caught up to the conversation, and gave a pleading smile to Lovino. "Besides, they are my legs as well. You wouldn't hurt me, would you?"
Lovino shot a look at Ludwig, who'd been silent the entire time, simply observing the interaction between the two. The German looked back at Lovino with a short nod. "That's what you're getting into," he said shortly.
Lovino looked back and forth between them, his expression one of something akin to frustration before he heaved a sigh. "You'd better be the shit at cooking."