When a spider chose its web, it did so very carefully. After all, it would spend hours spinning; it wanted to ascertain that it would be in the perfect spot. It needed to catch its fly. It needed to be able to get from spot A to spot B and paralyse that fly as soon as possible. There could be no room for error.

Matt Reid was fairly certain that his mother was the perfect spider.

He stepped into the web cautiously enough, picking up his cell phone and greeting her with a cordial, "Hello, Mother." Not Mom, but Mother. That should please her. Jennifer loved propriety, something Matt often forgot. It wouldn't be long before he slipped into 'Mom', but meanwhile, he was off to a proper start.

"Matthew." She was the only one that called him Matthew, and was quite displeased by the fact that he went by Matt. That didn't bother him; he was used to it. It was the way that she said his name that bothered him. She sounded cheery. She sounded positively ecstatic. This meant that her senses were as acute as ever.

There were many things about Matt's life that Jennifer couldn't stand. He was a photographer, for one; he'd even gone to an arts college for this particular profession. Who could make a living being a photographer? And then from there, he was living in New York. New York was the place for slums and homeless people. A Reid should not be caught dead anywhere in New York but Broadway and Fifth Avenue. Matt lived in Bronx with two other people (as far as she knew).

Most importantly, there was the fact that he was single.

Matt was okay with most of these things, most of the time. He accepted them because he was doing what had to be done. Eventually, he'd settle down in a qualityapartment, by himself. He'd have the money to live comfortably enough, and he might even find a girl. That last part was doubtful, but-well, anything could happen. The point was that he was happy, most of the time. Occasionally, however, things started to weigh down on him, and he started to question them.

Jennifer seemed to have a radar for when the exceptions were occurring.

He realised as his thoughts circled back that she'd said something and he'd missed it. It was easy to tell because, even over the phone and from a few hundred miles away, Jennifer's silence had a presence. You could tell from what she wasn't saying what she was thinking more than her words would ever let you know.

"I'm sorry, Mom. I was thinking. What were you saying?"

She made a small, annoyed noise in her throat. "I was asking how your day is going. Or maybe you could tell me about the last week and a half, because I've missed all of that. Is your phone broken?"

Well, hell. He was stuck already, wasn't he? "My…phone?"

"Yes, your phone. It could be that it has some sort of defect where you cannot call out. I was led to believe that you could call and receive calls, but one never knows, do they?" She was so cordial that one couldn't form any sort of response that so much as verged on being rude.

"Uhm…no, Mom. My phone's not broken. I just…" I've just been avoiding you, for obvious reasons. "I've been really busy. I picked up a few extra shifts at work." That was fairly well the opposite of the truth. He worked with a roommate, Kelly, at his friend's book-store. The book-store, unfortunately, was dying, and therefore he was taking less shifts. As Kelly was the one who had gotten him the job, Matt figured it was only fair that he would be the one to keep the shifts.

"Are you still working at that book-store?" One could very easily picture the adjective "dreadful" between the latter two words.

"Yes, Mom. I'm still working at the book-store. And I'm still living in the same apartment, and I'm still working with photography." Matt listed off all of the things that she would have slowly and cordially dragged out of him, figuring that it was best to simply get all of this out of the way.

"Matthew, please do not use that tone with me," she responded genially. "I was simply inquiring. Should I not want to know about my own son's life?"

"No." He sighed. "I mean, you have the right to ask. I'm sorry, it's just…I'm in a hurry…" Was he in a hurry? To a point. He was in a hurry to be off the phone with her; did that count? As for actually going places…well, the jeans he was wearing were the jeans he'd worn yesterday, and a shirt was nowhere in sight. No, he was notgoing anywhere. That didn't mean that he wanted to spend all of his free time talking to his mother about all of the things that he hadn't done yet.

"Oh. Well, I'll make this short," she replied, and suddenly he wished he didhave hours to talk. This, he could tell, was what he'd been saving up for. This was the paralysing bite that would slowly but surely kill him. "I was wondering, dear, if you've gotten Elliot's wedding invitation."

Elliot, his younger brother, who was studying to be a psychiatrist. Elliot, who was getting married at twenty-one with a girl from a respectable family. Elliot, whose papers were already stirring curiosity in spite of the fact that he hadn't even graduated. Jennifer couldn't get enough of Elliot. Matt himself loved his brother; he couldn't help it. Regardless of that, the fact remained that Elliot was what his mother dangled over his head.

"I haven't had time to check the mail, Mom." Actually, Will hadn't gotten around to it. It wasn't his week to look, and he honestly didn't think he'd get anything important enough to bother looking. Although, if Elliot's invitation had come in, he should probably go and look…

"That's a shame." Jennifer brought him back to the present with a light sigh. "It's quite a unique thing. Cadence has a taste….not quite like any other. She and Elliot complement each other so very well, don't you think?" She didn't exactly like Cadence's taste, but Cadence was respectable enough, and more importantly, she would be marrying into the family. Elliot was on the odd side as well. They meshed perfectly; that was one thing that even Jennifer couldn't deny.

"I'm sure that it's unique," he responded, "and I'm in agreement that they do complement each other well." This wasn't all. Reminding him that he was lonely may have been enough, but he could tell from the tone in her voice that she wasn't quite finished with him yet.

"They most definitely do." There was silence for a moment, and then Jennifer inhaled lightly, as if in surprise. "Oh! I've almost forgotten, silly me. I wanted to mention that Caroline would be at the wedding. Do you remember Caroline? You dated her once."

Matt let his eyes close slowly at that. Damn, damn, damn. "I remember Caroline." He couldn't bring himself to sound anything close to polite. He was lucky that his tone remained as flat as it was. It wasn't that he'd been particularly attached to Caroline; it was more that his mother was bringing her up, trying to play matchmaker. Matt didn't want her to play matchmaker. He didn't want to date anyone.

"Good! Whatever happened to her; she was such a nice girl?" Jennifer knew that she'd made her kill, and so like all spiders did, she would leave him there to suffer until she was actually hungry. "Oh, dear. I've forgotten that you're in a rush, and I have an appointment to make. Do try to remember that your phone can call, Matthew."

"Okay. Goodbye, Mom." He didn't want to argue. He would let her get away with this because of that fact. He didn't have the energyto argue.

"Goodbye." Matt began to lower the phone from his ear, but she was speaking again. "And Matt?" Shit. She called him Matt. Hang up now. Hang. Up. Now. His hand wouldn't listen. "Caroline said to make sure you saved a dance for her." Then, and only then, did the phone go dead at last.

Matt's hand still refused to cooperate. He listened to the silence fade into dial tone, and only when the dial tone began to get annoying did he hang up at last. From there, he set his phone carefully on the table and then slowly leaned back on the couch he occupied. The ceiling was the kind of white that had yellowed gently over the years. There was a water stain directly in the middle, and near to that, a crack that spread outwards. He followed the crack absentmindedly with his eyes, thinking that they should probably call maintenance for that. He wondered why he'd never noticed that before. Maybe they should paint…they could paint, couldn't they? It would add value…but then again, it would cost them. He didn't think any of them could cough up enough money to justify that.

He thought about these mundane things because he had to. He was too angry to go over the conversation in his mind. So, he let himself think about the ceiling, and how they could maybe repaint, and were you supposedto paint the ceiling, anyway, with the factors of gravity added in? He considered the fact that if they didpaint they'd have to avoid the fumes, and maybe ventilate, and considering the fact that it was the middle of summer they couldn't ventilate; it was too hot. He waited until his mind was numb, and then he forced himself to cogitate not the conversation itself, but the topics and meanings behind it. At this moment, he could almost see how she'd occasionally verged on nearly making points-which was as close to agreeing with his mother that he would ever come. There were some things that he needed to think over.

What else was there to do? He was a nice, dead little fly, after all.

Stretching out a bit more on the sofa, he decided to start with the easiest: His job. He needed to find a new one. He didn't exactly buy much beside the necessities, and he didn't really go anywhere that required money, so he had a moderate amount of money. That would go away quickly enough, though; this was New York, after all. He knew that his dwindling shifts at the book-store would continue to dwindle, until they disappeared completely….and he certainly couldn't support himself with the minor amount of cash that he was making from his photographs. Mostly, friends bought his prints, and a few would pay to have pictures taken. His roommates scrounged up relatives that needed their photos taken for senior year or other, minor reasons, and that did bring in some cash. But…well, he needed more than the occasional job, sporadically purchased prints, and infrequent shifts at a book-store. He would have to start looking…

He couldn't do this. The thought of making money was weighing down on him enough that he knew he couldn't begin to consider the other topics that had been alluded to. It wasn't as if his mind would let him, anyway, because realising that contemplating was not a good idea was synonymous with his thoughts spiraling out of control.

God, what was he doing, anyway? He was twenty-three freaking years old. He'd been out of college for two years, and he was still scrambling to make ends meet. He didn't have a steady job, and his photography wasn't taking off nearly as well as it should be. He spent his times laying around in a cheap apartment and trying to think of…what, inspiration? That big shot that would go viral and suddenly make him famous? There were people everywhere with cameras, snapping pictures as cheerily as could be. It wasn't a big thing. What was the need for photographers when there were hand-held digital cameras? No one wanted to look at prints haphazardly deemed artistic, anyway. This was a new century. People didn't care about art. They cared about technology, and money-making, and all of the other things that he had nothing to do with. They-

"Oh, hell."

He was almost annoyed by this interruption of his thoughts. Letting out a small groan, he glanced up-and up, and up-to meet the gaze of his roommate. Standing at 6'5" appearing almost malnourished, and possessing incredibly pale skin with an overgrown mop of tumbleweed-brown hair, Kelly Rhodes may as well have been a walking skeleton. Matt watched as the male pushed up his square-framed black glasses and gave a bit of a sigh. "What did she have to say?"

Having roomed with Matt for roughly five years, he knew well enough the signs of Jennifer Poisoning. He was also fairly proficient when it came to dealing with it.

Matt looked at the male for another moment before allowing his gaze to wander to the ceiling. "Are we allowed to paint the ceiling? Can you paint the ceiling?"

"You can, but you'd need a tarp," Kelly responded automatically. He knew the answer to fairly well any question one could ask, which was equal parts convenient and annoying. Matt listened as his roommate settled into the chair next to the sofa. "It must have been bad."

"Hm. I bet tarps are expensive." Matt allowed himself to sit up slowly, running a hand through his hair. The dark mass would never lay straight, anyway; what was the point in taking precautions to make it do so? He was about to respond, but then he heard a few muffled thumps. Curiosity made him add, "Is Meg here?"

"Yeah. She's in the kitchen," Kelly responded. Matt glanced towards the male, raising a brow, but he didn't seem to notice. "It must have been awful."

"Kelly," Matt began slowly.

He didn't get very far. "Okay, call me nosy, but I'm pretty sure that I'm the only person you talk to. I've heard lots worse than whatever she can bring up, anyway. I've seen lots worse. I've seen you drunk off your ass." He was getting defensive, which verged on being amusing. Kelly was terrible at being defensive or angry. It was something he and Matt had in common.

Matt chuckled a bit. "I wasn't going to talk about that, but thanks for the reminder."

"Oh." Kelly relaxed visibly. "Good. What, then?"

Matt allowed a bit of a grin to creep onto his face. "You let Meghan in the kitchen alone?"

Kelly stared blankly at him for a few seconds, and in those few seconds there was the sound of something china being dropped, followed by a feminine voice crying, "Oops!" Matt watched as his roommate's dark eyes widened comically. Uttering a four-letter word that very rarely escaped the male's mouth, he stood up quickly enough that it was a miracle he didn't fall flat. "Meg!" he called as he scrambled off. "Meghan, what are you doing?"

There was a girlish giggle, followed by, "I'm making toast!"

"Let me help you with that. Please," was Kelly's response.

Matt couldn't help but grin as their voices died down to murmurs. Meghan was Kelly's girlfriend, and had been living with them for the past six months. Officially, anyway. Matt had seen her sneaking out in the mornings, although "sneaking out" was used very loosely. Meghan couldn't sneak. She didn't know how. Eventually, they had all simply decided that the charade was ridiculous, and at that time Meghan had moved in. The arrangement worked well. Kelly was happy, Matt and Meghan got along well, and Will…well, Will was never around long enough to gather an opinion of the girl, although if asked he was sure to grunt something about less rent to pay, but that was just Will for you. As comfortable as they all were with the arrangement, however, there was no way that Jennifer would find out about this. It would just be something else to hang over his head.

The toaster must have been efficient, because as he wrapped up this train of thought, the two walked in, Meghan clutching a piece of toast slathered in jelly. She gave a pause as she saw Matt, beaming at him and giving a bit of a wave.

Matt couldn't help but give a smile back. No one could avoid smiling at Meghan. She was a child trapped in a young woman's body, happy no matter what was tossed on her and a frighteningly helpless optimist. She dressed as a child would, too-today it was some sort of dress that flared out as a ballerina's skirt would, melon-coloured tights, and shoes that, again fit the ballerina dress code. She didn't look like a child, though. She was pretty, with wide golden eyes and straight, auburn hair. Bangs came down to her brows, and she was forever blowing them off her forehead. It was easy to see what had made Kelly fall in love with her.

It was equally easy to see what made other people want to strangle her, sometimes.

Kelly settled into the chair again, and Meghan immediately flopped down onto his lap. She wasn't exactly short-she hit about 5'7"-but compared to Kelly, she was a doll. Compared to Kelly, almost anyone was a doll. She didn't seem to mind, nestling into him as a cat would before she looked again to Matt. "Hi, Matt!"

Matt watched her take a delighted nibble of her toast. "Hey, Meg." Conversation should not be instigated with Meghan. She would talk about whatever was on her mind, and if the subject one brought up did not match what she wanted to talk about, it would die rather quickly.

She chewed the toast carefully before speaking. "It's really nice outside. You should go out there! I know, I know, there's no reason to, but it is nice, and you should go. It's bad to just sit on the couch and mope, you know. But you should put on a shirt before you do all that. Not that you look bad without a shirt, but people will give you funny looks, and that's not always fun." She said all of this without taking a breath, but this wasn't a surprise. Meghan always talked in long, bright bursts without any breath.

"Meghan," Kelly warned. Matt was grateful for that. He wasn't sure how he could have responded to that statement.

"Well! I'm just saying. I mean, if he mopes he can't be happy, can he? He'll just get sadder and sadder and then we'll start getting sad because he's sad and we will just all be unhappy. I don't want him to be sad, Kelly." She finished this with a determined bite of her toast.

Kelly was clearly about to warn her to stop, but Matt gave a shrug. "It's okay, Kelly." He met Meghan's bright eyes. "I'm not sad."

"You are so. You're mopey and stuff." She looked down, frowning. "Oh, crumbs!" It was impossible to tell whether she was saying 'crumbs' as an expletive or noting their existence. Either way, she took another bite of the toast before she began to delicately brush herself off.

Sometimes, it was hard to formulate a response with Meghan. When it came to Kelly, or any other human being for that matter, they gave you wiggle room. Meghan was honest, though. She stated whatever thought was in her head as a child would.

"Maybe a little 'mopey'," he admitted slowly. "I'm not sad, though. I'll get over it."

"It's a temporary condition, you see," Kelly noted in a tone that was oddly bright and dark at the same time, probably a result of exposure to Meghan and his own sarcastic nature. Matt favoured him with a Look, to which responded with an innocent enough shrug.

Meghan spoke up in a reverent tone. "Uh-oh. You two need to Talk, don't you?" Matt was about to say that guys didn't 'Talk', or something along those lines, but Meghan pressed on. "Don't go and tell me you're too manly for that, you and Kelly aren't even that manly, and besides, even 'men' have to talk sometimes because you're humans and it helps you feel better. I know you need to talk, and I know Kelly will help you out, and so I'm going to get on my laptop and let you two do that talking thing that needs to be done." She stood up as she finished, and then turned to face Kelly. "Kiss me."

"But you taste like grape jelly," Kelly teased, grinning slowly. "I hate grape jelly."

She bent slowly, so that they were at eye level. "Kiss me," she repeated solemnly. Matt watched an affectionate look cross Kelly's face as he looped an arm around her, pulling her to him and giving her the kiss she'd asked for. And maybe another one. Whatever the case, the exchange was private enough that Matt looked away.

He waited until he heard Meghan's quick, light steps to look back at Kelly. He didn't do anything but raise a brow, but it was enough to make a blush cross Kelly's face. "Sorry."

"For what? Having a life?" Matt asked pointedly.

"Well…" He frowned, and was silent for a moment. Matt thought for a moment that that would be it, but Kelly changed the subject. Of course. "You know, Meg's almost right. You should…talk out the poison."

"You're more of a girl than she is," Matt noted, grinning slowly. Kelly rolled his eyes, pushing the plastic glasses up his nose. As he always did when Kelly performed this action, Matt was suddenly grateful for his perfect vision. "Anyway, if you want to know so badly what happened, she called and was herself."

"It's apocalyptic already," Kelly observed.

Matt gave a snort of amusement, although a not-so-amusing thought had occurred. Kelly wouldn't let this go. He'd just get it out of the way. Looking at the floor, he gave the rundown: "She called, and she noted poignantly that I hadn't called. She then asked if I was still working at a bookstore. I told her everything was the same. She asked if Elliot's wedding invitation had come in the mail. She told me that Caroline was coming to the wedding. And then, very politely, she hung up."

Kelly was silent for long enough that Matt raised his gaze to the male. He was running a hand through that mop of hair, looking right back. Matt raised a brow. Kelly gave a sigh. "And that explains the someone-just-died mentality."

"I do not have a someone-just died mentality," Matt responded defensively.

"Yes," Kelly replied slowly, "you do. I would know." Matt immediately snapped his mouth shut, causing Kelly to give a bit of a sigh. "Sorry. That was me trying to guilt you into agreeing with me."

"Well…you may be a little right." A little right? More like extremely correct. He was on the couch, in yesterday's jeans, doing nothing. He didn't even have the television on. Was that moping? Probably. Resisting the urge to groan in annoyance, he admitted, "Maybe Meghan was right. I should go do something. What time is it?"

Kelly glanced down at the plain, black watch that he wore constantly. Matt didn't bother with watches. It wasn't as if he had anywhere to be most of the time. "It's only eleven."

"Good." Matt stood slowly, pausing to stretch towards the ceiling. "I'm going to go shower. And then I'm going out. I don't know where the hell I'm going, but I'm not going to be here."

"All right." Kelly didn't question or complain; in fact, he seemed to jump right on that idea. Then again, he would want to be alone with Meghan. What Kelly and Meghan did while they were alone…well, ick. He didn't want to know.

He moved to stop by his bedroom, but something made him pause and give his phone a glare. It wasn't like his phone was to blame for accepting her calls. It didn't know any better.

However, he really wished it did.