So, I decided to just move right on from the train wreck that was the last chapter and keep right on a-truckin'.

And what have I moved on to? More of Remy's rapidly disintegrating sanity. This one hurt to write, but at least we're getting back to the plot after . . . ten chapters of nonsensical

There's quite a bit of swearing in this chapter . . . Just a heads up.

TRIGGER WARNING once again for this chapter. This one has mentions of rape and gore and is all around nausea inducing . . . Seriously, what compels me to write this crap?

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The Librarian

Chapter 18

Another Sleepless Night

~*~*~Remy~*~*~

It was really heard to look Sven in the eye the rest of the day. Of course, it helped that he wasn't making many efforts to look me in the eye, either. Neither of us was sure what to say, so we ended up just avoiding each other. Sven spent most of the day in the kitchen or doing laundry, and I stayed in the guest room, not doing a whole lot of anything except talking to Joe or my jellyfish clock or, failing that, staring at the wall. Even during dinner, we hardly spoke, and completely avoided making eye contact. It was the most awkward dinner we'd had since I'd been here. For the first time since I'd met her (and I couldn't believe I was even thinking this), I wished Sam had shown up for dinner, just to brake the awkward silence, but she stayed in her apartment, yelling at the repairman. (And yes, I was sure she was yelling at him. She's very loud.)

Needless to say, we went to bed early that night. As in, nine o'clock early. Considering we'd stayed up until after midnight or later every night since I'd been here, that was pretty early.

I laid in bed for a long time, just staring at the ceiling and clutching Joe to my chest.

"Well, Joe," I said after a while. "How do we feel about this? I mean, I like Sven. I like being with him. But do I like him touching me?" I took a deep breath and blew my bangs out of my face. "Yeah . . . I think I kind of do. But I'm still scared." I buried my nose in Joe's blue plushiness. "I don't want him to hurt me. I mean, I know he'd never do anything to hurt me intentionally. I might not know everything about him, but I know he wouldn't hurt me. I just don't know what I'd do if we actually did something and he somehow did something to me that hurt . . . I trust him more than I've trusted anyone in a long time, Joe, and that's really scary." No kidding it was scary. I felt like I was setting myself up for heartache. Not that it would be the first time, but that didn't exactly make me feel any better.

"I don't know, Joe. I mean, I like the idea of sex and romance and that kind of stuff with Sven, but I just don't want to, you know . . . do any of it. I'm scared. I want a boyfriend, but I also really don't want one. It's too nerve-wracking, trying not to make myself not look like a total freak in front of another person all the time." I sighed. "Who am I kidding, he already knows I'm a total freak. But then again, he has put up with me so far, and he doesn't seem to mind it too much." I held Joe up so I could look into his big plastic eyes. "I guess that says something, right? If he's still willing to be around me after all the crap I've put him through. He seems to still like me, even though he knows I'm kind of . . . crazy." But would he still feel that way if he knew everything? Relationships are just too complicated sometimes . . .

I curled up on my side, still hugging Joe. "I'm too tired for this tonight. Let's talk in the morning, 'kay, Joe?"

I snuggled in under the blankets, expecting to get a least a little sleep. Yeah, no. I should have been expecting nightmares, but I wasn't. Of course . . .

'I can't move . . . Why can't I move?'

"Hello, Remy."

'Oh, no . . .'

I felt his arms go around me, hands slithering up my thighs, my chest, up to stroke my throat. "I missed you, Remy." His breath rustled the hair by my ear.

"Stop. Please, stop it."

"Why? I love you, Remy. You know I love you." He kissed behind my ear. "Come on, be nice. If you're nice to me, I'll be nice to you."

"What do you want? Why can't you just leave me alone?"

His hand twisted in my hair before shoving me to the ground. "Why do you always do this?" Crap, now I'd made him mad. He grabbed my arm and flipped me over, slamming me back into the ground. His hands went around my throat and squeezed. "You always do this, Remy. Why can't you just do what you're told? I'd be nicer to you if you would just be nicer to me."

"Let me go! Let me up!"

"Shut up!" He jerked me up by my throat before slamming me back down. "Shut up! Just shut up!" He glared down at me while he choked me. Those damned eyes . . . I hated his stupid green and brown or hazel or whatever the hell they were called eyes. Always, when he did this, he made me look at him, made me look him in the eye while he tried to choke the life out of me. I hated it. When I'd met him, I could remember thinking how cool his eyes looked, green around the pupil with brown at the edges. And then that day right after he and my mom were married . . . Mom had actually left the house for once. She was actually sober for the first time in almost as long as I could remember, and she wanted to make waffles, of all things, to celebrate our new family. We needed milk . . . He'd asked me to come to his room, said he had something to show me . . . The knife he kept in the bedside drawer . . . That God damned knife and his stupid fucking eyes!

I clawed at his hands, trying to pry his fingers loose. "Let go!" I could barely get the words out, barely breathe. His grip tightened. This was it, this was how I was going to die . . .

And then suddenly it stopped. The world shifted, colors swirled around me before settling into a solid form . . . There was someone there . . .

'Sven?'

He smiled that sweet, goofy smile, the one that made his eyes crinkle at the corners. He was standing there, surrounded by swirling darkness and colors that never quite solidified into anything corporeal, just smiling at me, like he was waiting for me to come over.

I tried to get up so I could go to him, but I still couldn't move, not even my arms. It was like I'd been super-glued to the ground.

Something moved in the swirl of colors behind Sven. A figure started to take shape, one I knew too well. Those eyes came into focus first, then slowly the rest of him solidified. I saw the glint of light off something in his hand . . .

I tried to yell at Sven to move, tried to warn him, to tell him to get away, but I suddenly found I had no voice. It was like the hands were wrapped around my throat again, cutting off my air, but there was no one there. I couldn't speak, I couldn't move, I could only lay there and watch.

The hand with the knife come up. I thought he was going to stab Sven in the back, but I couldn't have been more wrong . . .

Light flashed across Sven's throat. He jerked, startled, eyes going wide for a moment, before blood started to gush from the wound. His hands came up, trying to stop the flow of blood, as he fell to his knees. He looked down at the blood pooling around him, then up at me, confusion shining in his frightened brown eyes . . .

I jerked awake, unable to sit up, or even to scream. My pajamas were soaked with a cold sweat. I couldn't breathe, couldn't speak. I pushed myself up on shaking arms, just trying to make sense of what had just happened. My heart felt like it was going to burst out of my chest.

'A dream. I was all just a dream.'

So why did my throat hurt so much? I raised a shaking hand to touch it, flinching at the pain the action caused. I threw the blankets back and stood up, legs threatening to buckle under me as I stumbled to the bathroom and flicked on the light, staring at my reflection in the mirror in shock.

My throat was bright red, like . . . Like someone had tried to strangle me . . . But that wasn't possible. There was no one else in the room when I woke up. So unless I . . .

Had I . . . Had I somehow tried to strangle myself in my sleep? No, that was stupid. I wasn't possible, was it? What if what had happened hadn't all be a dream though, my brain reasoned. What if Sven-

Sven! Oh, God, no . . .

I dashed out of the bathroom, through the bedroom and the living room, stopping just outside Sven's bedroom door. I hadn't been in here the entire time I'd been here. I had felt like some kind of unspoken rule, that this was Sven's space, like the guest room was mine. But I had to know. I had to see that he was okay, even if, rationally, I knew what had happened was just a dream.

~*~*~Sven~*~*~

"Fuck!"

I flopped back onto my bed with an aggravated sigh.

"You idiot. What the hell were you thinking? Of course he freaked out. He always freaks out when you touch him, you stupid- Gah!" I beat my fists against my head. "Stupid, stupid, stupid. Why did I do that? I should have known better. What am I saying, I did know better." I shoved my hand back through my hair. "Why? Why did I push him like that? Now he won't even look at me. I had him almost comfortable around me, and now I've completely fucked it all up because I got too carried away. Now he's never going to want anything to do with me again, and I deserve it."

I was such an idiot. I mean, for God's sake, Remy flinched away any time someone laid a hand on him.

I sighed. "I'm an idiot. I'm an idiot. What is wrong with me?"

'So how do I make this up to him?' Maybe I could cook him something special. The way to Remy's heart did seem to be through his stomach, after all . . . But no, that wasn't enough. I'd seriously messed up this time. This wasn't just letting stupid words slip through the filter on my mouth, this was serious. He probably didn't trust me to be in the same room with him now.

'God, I'm so tired.' I crawled up higher in the bed to lie down. Maybe some sleep would help clear my head.

I was just dozing off when I heard the bedroom door creak. My eyes immediately shot open and I started to sit up. "Remy?"

I could barely see him, hiding behind the door. I reached over to turn on the lamp, whatever I was going to say dying in my throat as I saw his face.

His eyes were red and swollen, face raw from crying. He was a mess, his hair all tangled and stuck to his sweaty face. He kept opening his mouth like he wanted to speak, but the only sounds that came out were choked noises and strangled coughs. He just kept staring at me like he was lost.

I swung my feet over the edge of the bed, ready to stand and go to him when he suddenly bolted forward. I had just enough time to open my arms to him before he threw himself against my chest, sobbing and uttering incoherent nonsense.

"Shhh, it's all right," I told him, petting his tangled hair as I pulled him up onto the bed and held him. "It's all right, don't cry. What's going on?" I shouldn't have been getting used to this . . . It wasn't normal for a person to constantly be having these kinds of breakdowns-

"Can I use your bathroom?" he asked suddenly.

"Uh, yeah, of course, it's through that door-" I didn't even finish speaking before he sprinted for the bathroom, leaving me sitting there very dazed and confused. Within seconds, however, I understood why he'd run to the bathroom so quickly.

I sprinted in after him. He was still crying and coughing, choking as he vomited into the toilet. I knelt beside him, pulling his hair away from his sweaty face and rubbing his back, trying to think of anything I could say to calm him down.

"I'll get you some water," I told him once his gagging had finally ceased and he reached up to flush the toilet. I filled the glass I kept on the sink with water and handed it to him. "Here. Rinse your mouth." I petted his hair while he did, spitting the water into the toilet. "You wanna tell me what happened?"

He just looked at me like he was lost. He seemed to try to speak, but nothing came out but a few nonsensical sounds. He chewed at his lip, still just staring at me, utterly helpless, letting out a series of soft whimpers. I sat down beside him, reaching out to hold him, pausing for just an instant to make sure he was okay with my touching him before I drew him into my arms. He wrapped his arms around my back, burying his face against my chest as he started crying again. His breath came in choking sobs, body quaking.

"Shh, it's all right. I'm here, I've got you." I kept petting his hair. "Just breathe, Remy, you're okay. I've got you."

" . . . d . . . dream . . ." he mumbled in between his coughing and sobbing.

Dream? "Did you have another nightmare?"

He nodded, eyes wide but not actually looking at me. "H-he kill-lled you," he hiccuped.

"Who killed me?"

"M-my ste-step-fa-father. He wa-was going to-" he launched into a coughing fit that ended with him gagging and had me worrying for a moment he was going to be ill again, but he finally continued. "He tried to choke me. He was going to rape me and he started choking me and then you were there and he slit your throat and there was blood everywhere and-" He was talking so quickly by the end that his words all ran together and I couldn't understand anymore, but I'd heard one thing that definitely caught my interest.

"Your step-father was going to rape you?" I had heard that right, hadn't I?

He clamped his hand over his mouth, apparently realizing what he'd said. He kept staring at me for several long seconds, fresh tears coming to his eyes . . . And then suddenly he pushed away from me and stood up, stumbling several steps as he tried to get his wobbling legs under him.

"I'm sorry, I'm so sorry, I'll go, I'll find somewhere else to stay tomorrow, I promise, I'll leave, you-you won't have to-" He buried his face in his hands, his back to me. "I'm sorry," he said again just before a sob stole away his breath.

I stood up as well. "Whoa, whoa, who said anything about you leaving? And why are you apologizing to me?" God, it was too late at night for this . . .

He shook his head, face still in his hands. "I'm sorry. I should have told you. I just liked spending time with you so much. Please don't be mad at me. I'm sorry I didn't tell you . . ."

"Tell me wha-?" And then it finally clicked, and when it did it was was about as subtle as a brick to the face. "Remy." I laid a hand gently on his shoulder, trying not to startle him. I lowered my voice when I spoke again. "Your step-father . . . He hurt you, didn't he?"

He lowered his hands away from his face, back still facing me, hugging his arms tight around himself. "Yes," he managed to choke out.

"And . . . not jut the scars. He . . ." I tried to figure out how to say this. "He touched you, didn't he?"

The only answer I got this time was a broken sob, but it was all the answer I needed.

"Not just in your dream, either. He actually . . ."

"He raped me. He married my mother when I was eight, and from then right up until the time I left home, he- he-" His legs gave out then and he collapsed to his knees, holding his head in his hands once more. "Why? Why did he do it? I was a little kid. God, it hurt so much . . . And the knife . . . Why did he-?" He let out a strangled gasp, body going rigid when I put my arms around him, kneeling beside him on the floor.

"I don't know," I told him. I could feel tears forming in my own eyes. "I don't know, Remy. I just don't know. I wish I could give you a reason why . . ." I tucked his head under my chin, kissing the top of his head. "I just don't know."

"I'll look for somewhere else to stay tomorrow," he said again, barely able to speak thought his crying. "I promise, so please just let me stay here for tonight."

"Why do you keep saying that? Who said you have to leave?"

He looked up at me with his swollen, raw eyes. "I didn't think you'd want me here anymore. Not- Not knowing . . ." He doubled over in a coughing fit then.

I held him in my arms, rubbing his back while he regained his breath. "I'm not going to make you leave, Remy. I don't care about this. I mean I do, but not like that, or- Oh, fuck it, I don't even know what I'm trying to say." I scrubbed at my eyes before I looked at him again. "What I'm saying is, this doesn't change how I feel about you. I still care about you. I don't care about what someone else did to you. Or, yes, I do, but-" I raked a hand through my hair in exasperation. "Oh, damn it, you know what I mean." Yes, it was definitely way too late and I was way too tired for this.

"But . . ." He wiped at his raw eyes, for all the good it did. His face was soaked with tears, and more quickly replaced the ones he'd wiped away. "But don't you think I'm dirty or something for-"

"Stop. I know what you're about to do, Remy. You're going to blame yourself for what happened to you. It wasn't your fault, you understand?"

He didn't speak, but the tears kept falling. I pulled him against me and held him, petting his hair and rubbing his back. I felt hims shudder before the sobbing began again. All I could do was hold him, letting him cry it out while I tried to think. So this was it . . . This was why he was so skittish when I touched him. This was why he always seemed so quiet and sad . . . And maybe . . .

"Is this why you cut your arms?" I asked him after a while, once the sobs had subsided again and he was left hiccuping quietly as he tried to catch his breath.

"Partly," he confessed. He sounded so tired . . . He heaved a sigh, shoving his bangs out of his face in agitation before continuing. "I've just . . . I've got a lot of shit going on in my life right now, okay?" I could tell he was about to cry again.

"Hey, now," I said, petting his hair, "don't get defensive. I'm not judging. I'm just trying to understand."

"The only thing to 'understand' is that I'm a completely fucked up freak whose step-daddy used to use him as a fuck toy, okay?!" He glared at me, but there was more pain than anger in his eyes. It wasn't me he was mad at, I realized. He just needed an outlet for his anger before he completely exploded.

Oh, boy, this was going to be a long night . . . I smoothed his hair back again. "Hey now, there's no reason to yell, all right?" I wasn't trying to sound mean. I was too tired for mean.

"I'll yell if I want to, damn it!" And yell he did, trying to shove his way out of my arms. "You didn't have to go through what I did! You didn't have to lay there, scared and confused with no clue what the fuck was going on while someone you thought you could trust held you down and-!"

Something in me snapped then. Maybe it was because I was so tired. Maybe it was because I was already mad over what had happened to him. Maybe I'd just spent too many years keeping my own problems bottled up. For whatever reason, though, for just a moment, I snapped. "Will you shut up for a minute?!" My voice rang off the bathroom walls. "What the hell do you know?! You don't know a damn thing about me! You have no idea what the hell I've-" I cut myself off when I saw his face. His wide eyes, the way he'd gone totally pale. He was scared. Scared of me . . .

'Stop it, you ass! Don't make this about you. You can deal with what happened to you. He clearly can't. You're just trying to invalidate his experiences with your own. Quit trying to outdo him! This isn't a contest, and if it was, it isn't one you'd want to win. And besides that, you're being a complete asshole.'

God, I was too damn tired for this tonight.

"I'm sorry," I told him after taking just a second to breathe and calm down. "I wasn't trying to be mean. I'm just being hateful because I'm tired. I really didn't mean it . . ."

But he still looked scared.

"Please don't look at me like that. I didn't mean to scare you, really. I'm just so tired right now. I haven't slept well for the past few days." Days? More like weeks. I hadn't slept well since Remy had moved in here. "I get grouchy and hateful when I haven't slept. It's nothing against you. I wasn't trying to say that what happened to you didn't matter or make it seem like I didn't care, I just- Well- Oh, fuck it, I don't know." I closed my eyes and let my head thump back against the sink cabinet. "I'm just going to shut up before I screw this up any worse."

"You're not screwing it up, Sven," he said after a long pause. "I understand. I usually don't sleep well, either. Things are always worse when I don't."

I barely turned my head so I could look at him. "What do you mean, things are always worse?"

"I mean that if I'm really tired, it seems like my nightmares get worse for some reason, and I'm really cranky with people."

I raised an eyebrow at him. "But . . . Doesn't the nightmares being worse mean that you don't sleep, then?"

He shrugged. "Yeah, kinda."

I could only stare at him. This was a paradox if I'd ever heard one.

"I know, it's kind of ironic . . . The fact that I can't sleep makes my nightmares worse, which wakes me up at night . . ." He laid his head against my shoulder and closed his eyes. "I've tried sleep medication, but it doesn't help me sleep through the night. It just makes me even more exhausted when I wake up from the nightmares, or makes the nightmares more vivid."

"Is this something that happens every night?"

He nodded. "Most nights. Some are worse than others. Some nights I don't wake up in the middle of the night, some nights I do. The nights I actually sleep through are the good ones, even if I'm still tired in the morning."

"And is it always the same thing? Your dreams I mean. Always your stepfather . . ." I couldn't finish the question, couldn't bring myself to say it.

He nodded again. His voice sounded so tired when he spoke. "Yeah, it's always the same, in one way or another."

I chewed the inside of my cheek for a moment, debating whether to ask the question that kept nagging me. "How often . . . I mean . . . I don't mean to pry, but I'm curious-" I shook my head. "Forget it, I shouldn't-"

"Most days," he cut in. "He didn't always force sex on me, but most days he either touched me or made me touch him." I saw tears start to form in his lashes. "Holidays were always the worst-" His voice suddenly broke and he turned his head, burying his face against my chest. "I'm sorry, I just-" He cut off, biting his lip as he tried to hold it together.

"Shh, it's all right." I kept petting his hair. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have asked you something so personal."

He shook his head, finally looking up at me. "No, I'm glad you did. It kind of . . . It feels good to talk to someone about this. I've never told anyone before, not everything. I told one guy I was dating that my step-father had touched me, and that's why I felt so weird about having sex with him, and he told me I was nasty for letting him do that. B-but I didn't ju-just let him do it, he-" He started to lose it again at the end there.

I put my arms around him and squeezed. "Remy, anyone who would say something like that to you is the awful one, not you."

He turned those big, sad eyes up at me, tears leaking down his face. "S-so you don't think there's something wrong with me because of what he did?"

I shook my head, pulling him closer so I could tuck his head under my chin and kiss the top of his hair. "No, Remy, there's nothing wrong with you. Is that what that other boy told you?"

I felt him nod. "He said no one could ever love me if I told them about it, so I never did." His voice sounded ready to break again.

My next words came without thinking. "I still love you, Remy."

He went very still then, and for a moment I was afraid I'd said something wrong. Finally, he looked back up at me, still looking scared and sad, but now more than a little confused. "You love me?"

I nodded. "Yes. God help both of us, but yes, I do."

"But . . . Why? What is there about me to love? I'm completely uninteresting, and I'm weird, and I'm completely nuts."

"You do realize everything you just said is a contradiction, don't you? And why do you think you're nuts?"

He pulled back his sleeve to show me the mass of scar tissue on his forearm. The cuts had finally healed, but the skin was still angry and red where they'd been. "This."

I shook my head, covering his arm with my hand. His skin felt chilled against mine. "I don't think you're nuts, Remy. I think you're hurting, and you're trying to find a way to let it out." I laced my fingers through his and lifted his arm to kiss his wrist. His face had gone red when I looked at him again. "I do wish you'd stop this, though. Can't you find a safer way to channel that hurt?"

He lowered his eyes. "I've tried. I've tried painting when I'm sad, or reading, or anything that I thought might help, but nothing else does. Nothing makes it feel better. The little rush of adrenaline I get from it helps settle my nerves."

"Why don't you come to me next time? We can talk about what's wrong."

He shook his head, further mussing his black curls. "Believe me, there is way too much going on in my life right now to talk about with you, and you definitely wouldn't want to hear about it, anyway."

"How do you know if you don't ask?"

He sighed. "Just trust me. My life's basically one big fluster cluck right now, and you don't want to know all the dirty details."

"Is part of that 'fluster cluck' how you got those God awful bruises?"

He nodded, running his fingers back through his bangs. "Yeah. I just . . . I don't know. I don't know what's going on, anymore. I'm so exhausted all the time. And even when I'm not banged up, I always hurt."

"You're depressed."

"Tell me about it," he sighed, letting his head fall back against my shoulder.

I straightened a bit where I was leaning against the sink. "No, I mean it. You're depressed. You most likely actually have depression. Feeling tired and aches and pains are signs of depression. It makes sense, when you think about it, considering everything you've been through. Why don't you try talking to a doctor?"

He barked a laugh at that. "Yeah, right, like I can go see a doctor about any of this? They'd take one look at my arms and throw me in the looney bin."

"Not if you went to them, rather then them being called to see you. Doctors tend to be a little more understanding when you ask for help, rather than being sent to them."

His eyes narrowed at me. "And how would you know?"

I sighed. No way in hell I was going into that story tonight . . . "Will you at least consider it?"

"No, I won't," he snapped. "I know what they'll do to me Sven. They'll lock me up and never let me out again. Besides, even if they didn't, I can't afford to start seeing some shrink."

I was too tired to argue with him tonight, so I conceded defeat. "All right, all right, I'll drop it. For now. But you could at least consider talking to the school's counselor-"

"I am never talking to that hateful bitch again!" he snapped.

"Okay, okay, now stop yelling at me! For God's sake, I'm just trying to help you here." Oh my God, I was ready to strangle him . . . Or at least slip him a sleeping pill or something. Surely I had some NyQuil or something around here.

"I don't need, or want, your help." He started to push away and stand up, but I snaked an arm around his waist and pulled him back down.

"Get back here. You're not going anywhere until you calm down." God, did my voice sound like a tired mother's to anyone else?

"I am calm!" he yelled. He was crying again. He beat his fists weakly against my chest, pushing his hands against my face when that didn't work.

I chose to ignore his childishness and instead just sighed. "No, you're not."

"Oh, what do you care?" His lip trembled when he looked up at me.

"I care because I don't want you to go stomping back to your room, go to bed mad, and end up having another nightmare."

"Oh? So just what do you want me to do? Go see the school counselor? Tell her about my feelings? Sit in her stupid, overstuffed armchair while she tells me that all my 'problems' are just nerves from being in a strange new place, so far from home?" His chest heaved with the force of his breathing by the time he was done.

God, my head was starting to hurt. "No. All I want from you right now is for you to stop yelling at me, take a deep breath, and calm down before you have an asthma attack."

He bit his lip, but at least he stopped yelling.

"Now, deep breath."

He drew in a breath through his nose, slowly letting it out.

"Feel better?"

"A little," he admitted, though begrudgingly.

"Good." I ran my fingers through his hair. "Now, are you ready for bed?"

He shook his head, leaning into me again. "Can we sit like this a little longer? I don't wanna be alone right now," he admitted after a moment's hesitation. "I feel like I'm shaking on the inside. I think I'm gonna be sick again."

I ran a hand down his back. "I wasn't planning on sending you back to your room. I thought you could sleep in my bed tonight."

He went totally rigid at that, gaze shooting to my face.

I kissed his forehead. "Relax. I'm not trying to trick you into bed with me. I just don't want to leave you alone right now. I'm worried about you."

"So you're not just trying to get me into bed?"

I shook my head.

"Can you . . . Do you think you can carry me? I don't think I can stand up right now . . ." If his quivering voice was anything to go by, I didn't think he could stand up either.

I nodded, standing and easily hefting him into my arms. He curled against me, clinging to my shirt.

I carried him back to my room, laying him on the bed. "Let me change really quick, okay?"

He nodded. He looked scared to death.

Okay, so by "change", I meant shedding everything but my boxers and pulling on an old T-shirt to sleep in, but oh well. I slid into bed beside Remy, pulling the blankets up to tuck around him before wrapping an arm around his back, pulling him closer.

"You okay?"

He nodded. "Yeah. This is actually okay, I think. I mean, I don't feel all weird, if that makes since."

"You're not afraid of me."

He turned those big eyes up to me again, just staring. "Huh?"

I shrugged as best I could while laying down. "Maybe you trust me more than the other guys you've been with."

"That's not really saying much. Most of the guys I've dated before were kind of . . . not that great. One of them tried to get me drunk and sleep with me, and another one got mad because I was so squeamish about kissing. In my defense, it would have helped his cause if he'd taken the time to pop a mint."

I couldn't help it, I laughed a little, mostly because he smiled when he said it. Finally, I'd been hoping he to see that smile again. I loved it when he smiled, even when he looked so tired. When he smiled, really smiled, not just the fake smile I'd seen too often while he'd been here when he was trying to convince me that everything was fine, when he looked at me with those sad, broken eyes, and I could see that it was taking everything he had just to hold it together, well, it made my heart do a little flutter to see it. The way it it made his eyes light up so bright when he smiled, I jut loved seeing it, even if it was rare. Maybe being such a rare thing was what made it so beautiful and special.

I reached up to tuck a strand of hair behind his ear, smiling to myself when it curled around my finger. "I love your hair, you know that?"

He blinked in disbelief. "Why? I hate it. It's so frizzy and annoying."

I shrugged a shoulder. "I like the way it curls around my fingers when I run my hands through it."

I saw his face flush in the light from the lamp. "My last ex hated my hair. He kept telling me I should get it cut short, but it's even harder to manage when it's short. He said he didn't like longer hair on guys."

"He's an idiot."

He snorted a laugh. "Yeah, I got sick of him after a couple of dates. He was one of the few guys I actually broke up with, rather than the other way around or them avoiding me after a while." He curled farther under the blankets. "Or after they found out about . . . you know." His eyes met mine, and I saw the fear there again. The fear that I might still push him away.

I kissed his forehead. "They were idiots. But I'm grateful to them."

"Huh?"

"If they hadn't been so stupid, I wouldn't have had a chance with you." I smiled at him. "So I'm glad they were foolish enough to let you go."

I saw his face heating up again as he tried to hide under the blankets, but I could tell he was smiling. "You're embarrassing me."

I grinned at him. "I'm you're boyfriend. It's my job."

He stared at me while I started stroking my fingers through his hair again. "Do you really still want to go out with me after all this?" he asked after a while. "I'll understand if you changed your mind."

I wrapped my arms around him and pulled him closer, kissing his forehead again. I felt him tense against me for just a moment before he let out a breath and relaxed again. "Yes, I still want to go out with you, Remy. I love spending time with you. I love just being with you. The past doesn't make a difference to me. I still care about you, regardless of what happened to you."

I felt him shiver, and after a moment I realized he was crying again.

I panicked for a moment. "What's wrong? Did I say something wrong?" Was I really still that incompetent with the English language?

He shook his head. I was going to ask what was wrong again, but his next words silenced me.

"Thank you." The words were strained and said through tears, but I understood them.

I didn't know what to say, so I just held him like that until he finally fell asleep.

XxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxX

Demon, you wanted the boys to talk. You wanted Remy to tell Sven about his past. Now you have to deal with the drama that comes with it. And the Remy vomit.

Rainbow, I know I originally hadn't planned on revealing all this just yet, but the story sort of took over and wrote itself, and this felt like the right time. Not sure what I'm gonna use as a plot device now, though. O-O Guess I'll ave to unfreeze the boys and send them back to school . . . Or have it be Christmas. Yeah, that sounds like a better idea.

In all honesty, though, this one was painful to write. Not jut because I feel Remy's pain, but getting that dream scene anywhere close to what I wanted was tough.

Seriously, though, can any of you think of a sadder scene than Sven and Remy just sitting on the floor of Sven's bathroom, crying?

I can't believe I wrote most of this while listening to Wakko's United States capitols song from The Animaniacs . . . Seriously, there is something wrong with me. Why do you people read the insanity I write?

Let me know if there are any typos, please. I hope everyone had a happy winter holiday of their choice!