AUTHOR'S NOTE: Just a reminder, in case you haven't read my profile; I've edited and rewritten many chapters in this story, you may want to reread it from the beginning to keep track of the changes. Thank you for your patience, I hope everyone has a nice weekend!

-VV

Chapter Thirty Six

Prying Spiders

Four days snuck by, barely noticed, and I still hadn't talked to Morden. I knew that he was there, I'd see him looking out his window at night when I'd walk home, but I'd pretend I hadn't and keep walking.

It wasn't like I was just avoiding him. I'd spent New Years with my Mom, for the first time in years. We went to a restaurant downtown. I ended up meeting Henry after all. He wasn't a bad guy. He was loud and cheerful, a good fit for her. The next day I spent with the guys. Luke had recovered, except for the amnesia, and we all went to Julian's house to celebrate. Even Rik came along. He blended in seamlessly with everyone, like he'd always been part of the group. And I actually had fun. Just an average, non-life-threatening good time. Video games, pop and chips, ragging on each other, just like old times. It was weird, was this how normal people did things? It seemed like over the past few months I'd forgotten.

After that I had to make sure all of my homework was done. Christmas break was ending, and I had school again in a few days. I had to help Rik with his homework too, so it took WAY longer. But honestly, I enjoyed the process. I enjoyed the mundane. It was a nice break from all of the emotional chaos that I'd been a part of lately. I knew I couldn't run away forever. This wasn't a solution. This was just coming up for air.

The personal time had also allowed me to finally figure out what I wanted to say to Morden, and the questions that I needed to ask. In a way I didn't want to know the answers, but I wouldn't be able to talk to him normally if we didn't open up to each other again. Honesty was the only option.

Rik had been evasive on the issue at first, and I thought that he'd made his opinion on Morden's behaviour quite clear. But when were coming home from spending time with the boys he'd openly brought up the Noir family. Nothing forgiving or pushy. Just one sentence.

"So, we ever gonna find out what was so great about that Hespet guy?"

I think it was his way of asking when we were going to visit them again. I'd just said "Eventually" and he let it go, but it was nice to know that he really did care.

I contemplated this as I lay in bed. It was past midnight, but my biological clock had been used to late nights for so long that it had gotten hard to fall asleep. I rolled over, frustrated, and opened my eyes. Something was off. A lump of shadow that didn't belong. I froze, then sat up slowly. Red eyes opened at looked at me.

"…Simon?"

The eyes closed. There was silence, and then I felt a weight on my bed. The weight moved closer, until I felt breath on my shoulder.

"Simon?" I asked. My voice was more urgent this time.

"…sorry." Simon's voice whispered, and my entire body relaxed.

"You scared me for a minute there!"

"…sorry…" I felt him lean into the crook of my neck, "…don't be mad."

"Haha, were you trying to sneak into Rik's room again? Simon?"

I reached up instinctively to stroke his hair. It was greasy again, and I chuckled.

"I think you need another bath." I said, grinning at the joke.

Simon didn't laugh. He moved his head and his red eyes moved up close to mine. I could smell is breath, coppery and sour.

"Pfft, a breath mint wouldn't hurt either." I added, but still Simon didn't laugh.

"If I do, will you come back?" he asked.

"I'm coming back anyway," I said, "I just got busy. That, and I needed time to think."

"But you were having fun, right? With your other mom, and your other friends." He sounded guilty, "I saw. I didn't tell brother, but I saw."

"Simon…" I bit my lip, "Man, you should stop spying on me like that."

He was quiet and I shifted, pushing off some of my blankets.

"Look, I can have other friends and family, that doesn't make you unimportant."

"No, that's not what I mean." I felt his hand find mine in the dark, "Lionel…you're not afraid of them. You can be calm with them. Even Rik is ordinary compared to us. He's not…" Simon paused for a moment, "He's not damaged the same way."

"What are you talking about? You're not-"

"We hurt you." He said quietly, and I couldn't disagree. "We're damaged and we hurt you, Lionel. You don't deserve that."

I stared intently at Simon's glowing eyes. He was completely lucid again, like he'd been when he'd saved me from the Slayer. It creeped me out when he became like this, and it was happening more and more frequently. I should have been pleased, but I couldn't help feeling that I had more to worry about now that his mind was whole.

"You…it's not your fault." I started saying, "I mean, your situation…"

"It would be easier without us." Simon continued, his voice softer, "We both know that. Morden knows too. But even so…even so…" Simon's voice became smaller, so small that I had to bend my head in the direction that his mouth seemed to be.

"I don't want you to go."

My heart ached. I wrapped an arm around Simon.

"I know it's not fair..." he whispered, "It's selfish, but please…please don't go away. I get better when you're around. I can make sense when you're around…"

"Hey…" I said, "I'm not going anywhere."

He leaned in urgently and spoke into my ear.

"It's like there are spiders in my head, and when I see you they get scared away." His voice was weak, almost pleading, "I almost feel human again."

I stroked his back, alarmed by this revelation.

"You and Morden, you both keep saying that you're not the same person as, you know, the Simon that died. That you're just a demon that looks like him. But there's more to it, isn't there?"

Simon was quiet.

"Am I right?"

"I'm not him." He stated clearly, pulling far enough back to make eye contact, "You have to understand, no matter how hard I try, I won't be him. I'm a demon, and I have his memories, but I'm not him. I ate all that was left, but there wasn't enough."

This conversation was getting more and more disturbing, and I tensed my fingers into the blanket beside me.

"I…I remember sometimes," he continued, "What it was like to be him. Just a bit. It's like, a new colour, one that I couldn't see before. I notice it, but then it's gone. I can't see it again when I look for it."

He lifted his lips to my ear.

"Without you, the spiders come back. They crawl and pick and pry until I want to rip and bite and tear at everything that I used to be. That's why I ate humans for so long." He lowered his gaze, "Before I met you, it was the only way to feel what being human was like."

"Before me?" I asked, swallowing, "Does that mean that you've stopped eating people?"

To my utmost relief, Simon nodded.

"The last person I ate was the one that you brought me. I've been eating little animals since then," he said sheepishly, fiddling with the blanket, "Rats, birds, sometimes cats. I don't need human flesh anymore."

My entire body relaxed and I dropped my face into my hands, laughing quietly to myself. I'd been wrestling with morality when it came to Simon, worrying and fussing over whether or not liking him was acceptable, all because I thought that he was prowling the streets for victims every night. It felt like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I wiped my hands down the sides of my face and sighed happily.

"That's…that's the best news I've heard in a while Simon. Honestly." I reached out and grabbed his hand, "That's…man, I feel so much better knowing that."

My eyes had adjusted to the dark and I could see Simon smile weakly, but then his face fell.

"I wish Morden hadn't come home."

Shocked, I pulled away and squinted at his face.

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"I know it's bad to want that. Bad for you, bad for Mama. But…I want to be that important."

"That important…?"

"I want to matter that much…I want to be the special…"

"You are!"

"I'm not." He said suddenly. "I'm…Simon saves you, protects you, helps you, Simon would never hurt you, never has. Simon cares about how you feel, and listens when you say stop. So why can't Simon…why can't I…?"

It was strange, hearing Simon's speech devolve back into the third person and come back out in first person again. But it wasn't frightening this time. It was sweet.

"I take you for granted, don't I."

Finally, Simon laughed.

"Yeah."

"You're right, and I'm going to spend more time with you, I promise. But you don't have to snoop around being invisible and watching me spend time with other people to feel close to me."

He bowed his head and stared down at his hands, and I leaned my face close to his to make him look at me.

"If you want to spend time with me, with just me, then say so. You don't have to hide away like a dirty secret. To be honest, the following me around bit kind of freaks me out." I said, wincing.

"…Sorry." Simon said, hunching his shoulders like a scolded child.

"How about you promise to stop that, and I promise to spend more time with just you, what do you say?"

"But…I could just keep doing it and just not tell you. I could lie." Simon said with a small smile.

"Nah, I trust you." I said with a grin, "After all, you're the 'Simon that saves me and protects me and helps me'…" Simon tried to suppress a pleased smile, "And you 'would never hurt me and care about my feelings' and all the rest. Right? So I trust you."

I could see a small, grateful smile on Simon's face. He leaned in.

"In that case, Simon will help you sleep."

The last thing I remember was a tap on the forehead

The next morning I woke up when I heard the shower stop running. I sat up and looked around for Simon. I glanced around the room and realized something alarming. Simon was not in the room. His shorts, on the other hand, were sitting on my dresser.

His shorts were on my dresser.

His shorts.

He wasn't wearing his shorts.

Wherever he was, the shorts were not on him.

And then he walked into the room soaking wet and stark naked with a towel wrapped around his hair like some pre-Madonna.

"S-Simon!" I shouted, "You don't just walk around naked!"

Simon looked baffled.

"Is that why Puppy ran away when I said 'hi' to him?" he asked, hands on his hips.

A visual of a horrified Rik fleeing down the hall came to mind. I laughed in disbelief and I scrambled off my bed and dug through my drawers.

"Yes, that's—geez Simon, you better not have chased him!" I said over my shoulder as I dug out some fresh underwear and jeans, then I tossed them at him, "Look, just put these on while I go find Rik."

Simon caught the pants and examined them like they were a foreign object. I hurried out to locate the traumatized werewolf and explain things to him. I was halfway down the hall before I had the sense to run back in and tell him that the underwear went on under the pants and not over them.

This is my life now, I thought as I shook my head. So much for 'normal'.


End of Chapter Thirty-Six.

I hope that you enjoyed this new chapter and I look forward to your reviews :)