After the confrontation with Nerissa at the mall and the subsequent bet, W.I.T.C.H. knew they had to prepare for the upcoming battle. But first, they had other business to settle. Cornelia and Irma both had to baby-sit for a couple of hours, Will was supposed to have dinner with her dad and Serina, and Taranee needed to find Nigel, presumably to remind him just who his girlfriend was. With fire. However, they were all hesitant to leave Hay Lin on her own, but Matt had the solution to that and pulled Will aside.
"Hey, don't worry about Hay Lin," he insisted. "I'll stay with her while the rest of you get ready for your battle."
Will smiled in relief. "Thanks, Matt. I know this has to be hard on you, not being able to help…"
"No problem," he assured. "I know I'll be a lot more use to you trying to help Hay Lin than trying to fight. But I'm still coming to back you up while Caleb's not around." He then walked over to Hay Lin and put an arm around her. "Come on, Hay Lin. I think I know something that might cheer you up." Turning back to the others, he said, "I'll see you later. I'm going to walk Hay Lin home."
Instead of heading to the Silver Dragon, Matt took Hay Lin to his house, where he first retrieved Mr. Huggles before grabbing his guitar. The dormouse crawled onto his shoulder as he tuned the guitar, muttering comments about Shagon letting it get into bad shape.
"So, any requests?" he asked Hay Lin.
"Thanks for trying to cheer me up," she murmured. "But I don't think this is going to help."
"Sure it will," he insisted. "I think I've got the perfect song for you."
He started strumming the chords to "American Pie," and Hay Lin was ready to tune him out. She knew the song well enough because it was so old. But the lyrics that came out of Matt's mouth were a surprise and definitely not part of the original:
"Bye-bye, oh Nerissa, goodbye
Maybe later then a gator will eat you in one try
And when that happens, no Hay Lin, she won't cry
La-dee-dee, la-dee-dee, la-dee-dai…"
Matt grinned sheepishly as he strummed the last chord. "To tell you the truth, I never finished it. I only came up with that today."
Hay Lin had a weak smile on her face as she admitted, "It's kind of lame."
"Yeah, but it served its purpose. You're not crying anymore." He stretched out his arm toward her as Huggles ran down his arm and leapt into Hay Lin's hands.
"It's just hard," she admitted, gently stroking Huggles's fur. "How did you take it after you changed back from Shagon?"
Matt blinked, caught off-guard by the question. But he settled down easily enough and absently started strumming "The Demon in Me." "I've got to tell you, it wasn't easy. When I first came back, I was so relieved. Shagon and I had been fighting over my mind for the past few months, and he was going to kill me and take my mind and body for his own. But it didn't take long for me to start feeling the effects of what I'd done, all the things Nerissa made Shagon do. Yeah, Shagon was another personality, but he was still part of me. For Huggles, it was just following orders—my orders. Khor answered more to me than to Nerissa, and that was why she had to make Shagon a part of my personality. Khor wouldn't listen otherwise."
"Oh," Hay Lin answered, looking at Mr. Huggles in a new light. But the little dormouse didn't show any sign of the turmoil Matt hinted toward. Still, feeling a newfound sympathy for him, Hay Lin set him down, reached over to the box of Mouse Munchies, and gave him a treat. Huggles started nibbling on it immediately, looking extremely happy. Hay Lin couldn't help but smile.
"Nerissa's hurt all of us," Matt reminded her. "She turned me and Huggles against you guys, she betrayed Caleb and his dad, she's taken over all of her old friends, and now she's focusing on you. I'm not going to tell you not to let her get to you—that'd make be the biggest hypocrite on Earth, and Meridian too for that matter. But don't let her make you think that just because she can hurt you that you're weak. It means you're stronger than she is."
"How?" she asked.
"You'll figure that one out on your own, just like I did and just like Caleb's probably doing right now," he answered. "But don't forget, we're all here for you. That's one thing Nerissa can't take away. Sure, she can try and she may come close, but she'll never get us entirely. Look at me, I'm living proof."
"Yeah," she whispered. "And Grandma's in there somewhere, and Eric too."
"Exactly," he replied. "They're still there and they still love you. They're just hidden underneath the spell Nerissa put on them. You'll get them back—we'll get them back, as soon as we can."
She closed her eyes to hold back the tears that came and smiled. "Thanks, Matt."
"Don't start crying again," he said lightly, coming over to sit next to her. "I just got you to stop."
But when she hugged him tightly, crying into his chest, he didn't mind. Instead, he patted her on the back and let Huggles run up his shoulder as they both gave her as much comfort as they could.
As always, I don't own W.I.T.C.H. This plotbunny came about when I saw how much Matt was trying to help Hay Lin in "T is for Trauma," but I didn't convince myself to write it until I very randomly came up with the "American Pie" parody seen above.