Survive him, Thrive with him.

Claire Mathews had a particulary normal life; good friends, nice education. The only things thatmade her different was her paranoid friends, and complicated family life.
She never really experienced more than her little secluded box of life and comfort.
In an eventful short period of time, that little box is stretched far and wide, opening up past what her mind can comprehend and bringing her 'normal' life to a screeching halt. She wasn't Claire Mathews anymore, and she wasn't the same girl who did all her homework and kissed her mother goodnight over the telephone.
What happened? A certain man of myth decided to knock on her door.
A certain man with surprising news and a shocking, if not believable, story to tell.
A certain man with no face.

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13. Chapter thirteen

By the time I get to my mom's house, I was all over the news. Reporters fled to the fresh scene of child abuse, asking questions along the lines of how long it has been going on, and the worst thing he did. I tried to keep things simple, tried to make him seem like he just had anger issues instead of the sex offender some reporters asked if he was. I denied their worst questions and only requested a ferry home from the police as I watched my father get shoved into the cop car for domestic violence.

 

I didn't care anymore. I didn't care if he was put into jail or set free, I just didn't want him to be in control of my life anymore.

 

I was old enough to handle things by my self, yet he still tried to lock me in a box.

 

No more.

 

I knock on her door and she answers it several minutes later. I could hear my voice on her TV, and she smiles when she sees me, pulling me in for a hug.

 

"Hey! When did you drop off your stuff?" She asks as I step inside, leaving my shoes by the door. She was a wealthy person, a good lawyer who won cases as much as I won state fair art competitions. She had a dominant personality and wasn't afraid to show her opinion, which is why her and dad broke up right after I was born.

 

I'm fine with it, though.

 

"A friend brought it over." I explain, thinking of Slenderman. She passively nods her head and presses a button on her ear phone, arguing with someone, not even thinking that a person just walked into her house with my stuff.

 

That's just how my mom is, passive in some things, cut throat observer in others.

 

Now, if I brought up a boy...

 

I smile to myself and shake my head. I wasn't willing to be sat down and interrogated anytime soon.

 

I step into the entry way and watch as mom goes upstairs. I've been here for selected holidays over the years, enough to know where everything was. I'm guessing that I was going to be staying in the room that I usually slept in whenever I came over.

 

My thinking comes to a complete stop when I hear a male's voice from upstairs. I kick off my shoes by the door and quietly pad up the stairs, peeking over the top to see what was going on.

 

A man, new stubble on his jaw, brown hair loose gelled down, was casually sitting in the kitchen, glass in hand. His business suite was crisp, but his socked feet didn't fit the picture. Was he a friend? Colleague?

 

No, mom doesn't do stuff like that. He was important, he had to be.

 

"Hello." I awkwardly greet. He looks at me and smiles, standing up as mom walks over to him, clicking her ear phone again. I never knew what those were called.

 

"Claire, this is Devon Goodspeed. One of the best lawyers at the firm, other than myself." She muses.

 

"Why is he here?" I ask, straight forward.

 

"He's my boyfriend." Mom quickly rushes out bracing herself for my response. I cock and eye brow and narrow my eyes playfully.

 

"Oh, mother. I hope I'm not interrupting anything." I tease, continuing up the stairs and stepping into the hallway right next to them. My room was down the hall, next to the other guest room.

 

When I open the door and walk in, I know that I'm going to have a lot of work to be done. White walls ached for color, and the brown carpet screamed lifeless. This wasn't going to do, this wasn't going to work for me at all. I needed to fix this.

 

I ponder what I will do in the future as I spot my bags on the brown colored bed. I would have to fix that later as well.

 

I'm not sure why, but I wanted to make this look like a tree house. Have a platform bed, make it whimsical and earthy with twisted vines carved into the wood, paint everything green. Add details of a forest.

 

I can see it all right now.

 

Shaking my head, I walk over to my bag and pull out my phone, seeing that Jacob has been non-stop texting and calling me. I press the green cal button and put it to my ear.

 

"HELLO?!" Jacob practically screams into my ear.

 

"Ah! I would like to continue hearing, Jacob." I scold.

 

"Oh my God, Claire! I never knew that your Father abused you!" He exclaims.

 

"Why did you think that I was only me when he was gone?" I ask.

 

"I thought...I don't really know." He ponders.

 

"Thanks. Well, anyways, I moved to my mom's house, so we'll have to use better transportation methods to see each other." I explain.

 

"Guess it's time to actually use my driver's license." He muses.

 

"Ha, yeah. Me too." I agree, squashing the phone between my head and my shoulder as I walk to one of my bags, starting to take out clothes I brutally shoved in them.

 

"Wait, pull the phone away from your ear." Jacob orders. I sigh and stop unpacking, doing as he says. His face appears on the screen and he waves enthusiastically.

 

"Video chat!" He cries happily.

 

"Who's that?" I hear in the background and the phone angles to show Bryan sitting on Jacob's floor, Will next to him.

 

"Claire. Oh shoot, I seem to have forgotten your name. Do you know?" Jacob asks with horrible acting. I narrow my eyes at him.

 

"Go to hell." I hiss.

 

"Okay, okay. I'm sorry. I'm sorry that we both saw two different things that night, and it's because we let Slenderman brainwash you." He replies.

 

"Don't make me say it again." I grumble, still staring him down.

 

"Claire, we seriously need to talk about protecting you. Have you been experiencing any vomitting, bleeding from the mouth, eyes, or nose, fevers, disorientation, or odd behavior where you talk about the Slender Man?" Derek suddenly asks, taking over the phone.

 

"What if she's a proxy?" Will asks.

 

"We would have to stay away from her then! She could make us his next victims!" Bryan exclaims.

 

"Calm down! Lets pretend this thing is real, and lets pretend that what you say is true. Wouldn't this 'Slenderman' be using your paranoia against you? Do you think he's using me to freak you out? Maybe for amusement?" I question.

 

"Ha! So you do believe!" Jacob exclaims in the background. I see his finger pointing in the camera.

 

"I said pretend." I remind him.

 

"I even knew that." Will pipes in.

 

"Guys, I need to unpack. It would be nice if you could just let me." I mumble.

 

"Set the phone down. I want to talk." Jacob whines. I sigh and find a picture frame, angling the phone in it so they could see. All of their faces appear in the camera, smiling.

 

"Happy?" I ask and roll my eyes when they nod. I go back to the bags on my bed and start pulling things out, placing them in piles of season and type.

 

"So, where is your mom's house?" Jacob asks.

 

"Is your dad going to jail?" Will questions.

 

I pick up an orange tank top when I feel something behind me. My back straightens and the guys fall silent, meaning one thing.

 

I pretend I don't have a clue and fall into rhythm again, picking up, and placing.

 

"Claire." Bryan whispers.

 

"Claire, do you see him?" Derek asks.

 

"We're going to di-" Will is cut of abruptly and I look at the phone, hands covering his mouth.

 

"I honestly don't know what you are talking about. See what?" I ask.

 

"Spin in a circle." Jacob orders. I gulp and slowly do as he says, spotting Slenderman in the corner of the room, calmly watching me. I keep spinning without missing a beat and look back at the phone.

 

"Okay. Did that have a purpose?" I ask.

 

"Uh....I'll need to talk to you later." He replies, voice higher than normal. The phone clicks and goes blank.

 

"Hello, Slenderman." I greet, turning to face him again.

 

"I don't like it when you talk to them." He states.

 

"Well, neither do I. Not together, anyways." I muse.

 

"They're trying to keep you from me." He continues.

 

"They're scared of you, and they fear that your taking my life. They're also childish and paranoid." I reply, going back to my bags and taking out the last few pieces of clothing. There were several other bags that probably held treasures and assorted everything else. I'm trusting Slenderman to know what to grab, since he's been so nice.

 

Why was he being so nice? It can't just be because I won, he made sure that I knew that.

 

"I am taking your life." He responds. I stop and turn to him.

 

"You're going to kill me?" I ask, my voice feathery.

 

"No, but you are mine, so your life is mine also. And I will not allow anyone to take away what belongs to me." He growls.

 

What? Since when was I his? I thought we were an odd version of friends, did he suddenly take an interest in me?

 

"I...I'm not understanding." I stammer. Slenderman suddenly gets closer, making me fall backwards and sit on the bed in surprise. His lanky arms trap me without barely leaning down.

 

"There is a saying that has been with me since the beginning of time. Whoever can survive me, can thrive with me." He replies.

 

Survive him? Like his game? If you survive the game, you can thrive with him? What does that mean?

 

You survive the game, then it means that living around him and being with him wouldn't be a problem. I was the first to survive the game...

 

I was the only one who was surely going to live if Slenderman befriended me. He was going to make sure that I stayed with him.

 

"I survived you." I repeat and Slenderman retracts his arms.

 

"You are the only one who has accepted me." He mutters sadly, turning his head away to look out the only window in the room.

 

"Earlier you said you left because of my innocence. Is that why people say you take kids? You take them because they are more accepting and open, but then they grow up and reject you, so you kill them?" I ask, more of a conclusion. Slenderman doesn't answer, but I know it was the truth by the feeling of abandonment coming off of him.

 

"I know most people hate pity, but I think you deserve just a little bit. You've gone your entire life trying to get people to accept you, yet they don't because of who you are, what you've done. They're twisted and sick to not see the real man underneath." I exclaim, standing to my feet again.

 

"I'm a demon. I don't have a life. I'm not any sort of man, and I don't get pity." Slenderman sharply corrects me.

 

"That's just the anger talking. You hate pity just like everyone else." I insist, poking his black jacket. It feels like skin under my fingertip, and I cock my head, placing my entire hand onto it. Slenderman turns his head to face me, but I can't tell what he's thinking by expression.

 

I was his? Did that mean he was mine? I knew he was saying that because he wasn't going to let the only person who survived go easily, but I can't help but feel like something more was there.

 

I accepted him when I was young, and he was the one who left me, which meant that I continued to accept him. Even now I still do. He shouldn't have to worry about anything.

 

He said he was a demon. How does that play into any of this, other than explaining how he was here.

 

"Why do you stay?" He softly asks.

 

Why do I stay? I wasn't even sure of the answer myself.

 

"I'm comfortable around you. You don't show me harm. You help me. You're a friend, a good one, despite what other people have said about you." I reply. One of his tendrils floats forward and pauses in the air. I reach up my finger and poke it, watching with a smile as it wraps around my hand gently, leaving the texture of a hand instead of the slickness that I expected. I flex my hand in his hold and hear footsteps coming to my door, pulling my hand back and turning to my bags.

 

There's a short knock.

 

"Come in." I call and the door opens, revealing my mom. She's about to walk in when she stops and looks at Slenderman alarming me.

 

What was he doing?!

 

"Oh, I didn't know you had company." She mumbles with a forced smile.

 

"Uh...yeah. I thought you saw him walk in a few minutes ago." I lie, confused. I look to Slenderman and swear that, if he had a face, he would be winking.

 

"Can I know his name?" Mom asks. I nod my head and glance between the two of them, trying not to show my nervousness.

 

"Mom, this is..Dislen." I grit out.

 

"Dislen, sounds French. Does he have a last name?"

 

"Oh, yeah. Dermen." I reply.

 

"Dislen Dermen, nice to meet you." She smiles, holding out her hand. I watch with wide eyes as he shakes it calmly.

 

How was he doing this? Did she know something I didn't?

 

"I didn't mean to be keeping you from anything. Oh! Claire, Devon's son will be coming over tomorrow night. I expect you to be unpacked by then." She informs, slipping out the door and back to her boyfriend.

 

I don't want to see his son! I wasn't even sure if I liked this Devon yet. The daughter has to help make the final decision!

 

But, then again, I'm tired of dealing with my parents. The police probably were wanting to know if I was going to press charges, or something.

 

I turn on Slenderman.

 

"What were you doing?" I hiss.

 

"I choose what she saw, and she saw a teenage boy." He explains.

 

"Thanks for making me give you a name!" I respond, going back to my piles of clothes and opening up the drawers to the wooden dresser, configuring where everything would go.

 

Underwear on the top, then shirts, shirts, shorts, and pants.

 

"Very creative." Slenderman whispers as I start putting things away.
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