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She wasn't eating. Claimed she wasn't hungry. Lost appetite. And a bunch of other excuses after those.
Not that Derek cared. With one less person chowing down on their limited foodstuff, that meant there was more for him. And he needed that extra food. So what if Simon glared when he took Chloe's helping of lunch? It wasn't like she was going to eat it. She did say she had an upset stomach. No sense in letting her eat then puke it all back up an hour later. Wasted food. Not good.
He wasn't worried, really. Chloe would eat when she wanted to eat. There was no use in trying to force her to do something she didn't want to do. So there was really no reason for him to lie awake at night, stomach feeling weighed down by dinner and realizing that down the hall, someone else's had nothing in it at all.
Hand curled into a fist, he thumped it against his pillow, an attempt to make it more comfortable. He should be sleeping, not thinking about how Chloe had lately taken to staring out windows. Far away look in her eyes, she seemed to be searching for something, anything, that wasn't even there.
It could only be her aunt. Ever since escaping the Edison Group at Andrew's place and glimpsing her Aunt Lauren in the woods, Chloe hadn't been exactly the sharpest tool in the toolbox. Along with the window-gazing and the not-eating, it took her minutes at a time to respond to normal things, such as when Simon was talking to her or when Tori made yet another slicing remark. Derek refrained from his usual yelling and biting her head off, only because he realized it wasn't of any use to do so. If she wasn't even going to process it in her head, why bother?
She wasn't sleeping that well, either. Right now, he heard her tossing and turning-a more accurate description, however, would be thrashing-in her bed. Tomorrow, she wouldn't look well-rested at all. The growing darkness under her eyes would have increased again, and he guessed it would be the same the next night as well.
Huffing, he turned on his side and stuffed the pillow on top of his head. Sleep. Don't worry about Chloe. He needed to sleep.
Breakfast came and went the next morning. Chloe wasn't hungry again, big surprise. Meaning that made it the third day. The third day since arriving at Andrew's "safe house for supernaturals", as Simon called it. And the third day since Chloe stopped eating.
Derek ate her breakfast, again. He hadn't even needed to ask for it this time. One look at the fork held in her hand, poking mindlessly at her waffles and she had pushed the plate across the table to him. He had only been looking to see if she was going to maybe, just maybe, take a bite of something. But no. All he got was another plate of food and a swift kick to the shin under the table, courtesy of Simon. The kick didn't really hurt, but still. It wasn't like he planned on taking her food.
Later in the day, hunger approached upon him once more, an inward call for him to go raid the kitchen. For the fourth time that afternoon.
Chloe was sitting at the kitchen table when he entered. She was doing that thing again, where she stared off into space. In front of her was placed a bowl of applesauce.
Seeing the food, his stomach grumbled, reminding him that he was standing in a kitchen and yes, it was stocked with things to eat. Not many things, but still enough for a quick, hearty snack.
Chloe didn't stir, even as Derek opened and slammed the kitchen cabinets. Only dust greeted him. And possibly a couple of moths and cobwebs. No one had inhabited the house for awhile, Andrew had explained, so it was slim pickings when it came to meals. Which really sucked for Derek. He lived for big meals. He was a growing wolf boy, after all.
Frustrated, he stomped over to the table and jabbed his finger on the rim of the bowl of applesauce so hard that it tipped and spilled a little bit on the table. Chloe started, her eyes coming back into focus as she stared at Derek's looming figure.
"Where," he said through clenched teeth, trying hard not to just grab the bowl and run away with it, which his wolf instincts were yelling at him to do. He was so hungry. "did you get this?"
"Simon wants me to eat it," she answered, waving to a cabinet by the fridge. "He got it from there, I think."
It was there. And almost full jar of applesauce, his for the taking. Derek found it wedged between two boxes of oatmeal, so far back in the cabinet it was almost hidden. Dammit, Simon. Trying to hold out on him, just because Chloe refused to eat. That was cruel, especially because it involved food.
Popping off the top of the jar, Derek shuffled through a drawer until he found a clean spoon. Then, settling himself down in a chair opposite Chloe's, he reached forward and pulled the bowl in front of her towards him.
"Hey," Chloe exclaimed, but her heart wasn't in it. She leaned back and mumbled, "Simon wanted me to eat that."
"But you weren't going to, now were you?" Derek asked offhandedly, eying the bowl, deciding there wasn't enough applesauce in it and added some more form the jar. Really. What was Simon thinking? Only filling it halfway. What a joke.
Silence from the other side of the table. Then, small voice, "I was saving room for lunch."
"But by then you wouldn't be hungry anymore."
She didn't say anything more. Derek stuffed a spoonful of applesauce into his mouth. Not a very filling snack, but it would have to suffice under the circumstances. He was hungry and the wolf inside him didn't care what he ate so long as he just ate.
He had just finished his first bowl and was about to refill when he realized Chloe was staring at him, eyes wide and unbelieving. Shoulders hunching back in defense, he snapped, "What?"
"You just ate that entire bowl."
"In under five minutes."
He shrugged, as if to say 'That's all?'. So what. "Unlike you, some of us still feel the urge to maintain a full stomach." Then he poured more applesauce and resumed eating.
They sat in silence, the only sound being Derek's spoon hitting the side of the bowl as he shoveled applesauce into his mouth. He finished his second bowl in about the same amount of time as his first. When he reached for the jar for a third helping, he noticed Chloe had gone back into lala-land mode. Sighing, he set the jar down.
"Is it your aunt?" He tried not to roll his eyes as she jumped. Just the sound of his voice could startle her.
"Your aunt? Is she the reason why you've been such a zombie these past couple of days? Do you miss her or something?"
"A zombie?" His hand stalled midway to his mouth, applesauce dripping form the spoon with little wet 'plop sounds.
Coughing, he set the spoon back in the bowl. "Bad word."
"Bad Derek," she said under her breath, probably forgetting that he heard her clearly. But he did, and he ignored her comment. A moment later, after letting out a shaky sigh, she replied, "I'm scared."
He didn't say anything, just let her continue as he consumed his food.
"I think…everything is finally catching up to me now. I'm s-scared. The Edison Group. Being on the run. Supernaturals. Zombies." Here she let out a small hiccup that sounded suspiciously like a sarcastic snort…well, as sarcastic as Chloe could get. "But out of all those things, I'm…I…I-I'm a-afraid of m-myself."
"I c-c-can raise the dead and talk to gh-ghosts. I didn't-couldn't-do those things before a c-couple of weeks ago. And n-now…th-this is who I-I am."
She was close to tears, he could see, the stress and worries that plagued her mind now manifesting physically as she spoke. Fingers trembling on the table, voice wavering, and stuttering erratic. She was upset. And he wanted to help her, but he didn't know how.
"I-I can't sleep." She announced and he stopped himself from saying that he knew that already. "I-I k-k-keep thinking of that man. The h-homeless one. Wh-wha-what if I-I do it again? R-raise s-s-someone in m-my sleep?"
Her stuttering was growing worse. But he couldn't even bring himself to tell her to slow down, like he normally would. He couldn't say anything because if he did, he knew he'd tell her to shut up. He wanted her to stop, to cease telling him all of…this. Where was Simon? She should be telling him this, not Derek. Didn't he specifically tell her to talk to Simon about these things?
"A-and Aunt L-Lau-L-L-" One shaking hand rose to cover her mouth, unable to voice out her aunt's name. But then she recovered, shook her head, and clenched her fingers tightly so that they turned stark white. "I-I-I d-d-don't know what's h-happened to her. Only that the Edison Group got her. Wha-what if they take ev-everyone I l-love? A-an-a-and what i-if A-aunt Lau-Lauren is-it'd be m-my fault i-if s-she's d-d-dea-de-"
She stopped this time, not because of her failing speech, but because of the spoonful of applesauce in her mouth.
"Good applesauce," were the words he left with her as he got out of his chair and walked out of the room, applesauce forgotten and spoon shoved past Chloe's lips.
He didn't want to look back at her. Because by letting out her worries and her fears, it had shed light on his own. He did not want to dwell on those kind of things, did not want to even acknowledge them. He only wanted to eat his food in peace. But that was ruined, by both her confessions and his own struggles to not reach out for her hand or wrap her up in his arms. Another stuttered word from her mouth and he would have done something stupid like that.
He didn't want to look back. No. Didn't want to look. Couldn't. Wouldn't. But he did.
She was pulling the spoon from her mouth, and then she just stared at it. Like she didn't know what it was, what it was doing there, as if she was surprised by its very existence. Then, tentatively, she reached for the bowl of applesauce. Scooped some up with the spoon. Led it to her mouth. Swallowed. Reached again. And again and again.
He left then.
At lunch, she ate half of what was presented before her. At dinner, she ate a whole plate. Everyone but Derek stared as though a miracle had happened before their very eyes. Simon, in particular, beamed in triumph, like he had actually done something. For the first time in his life, Derek wanted to punch his own brother. But he shrugged off the feeling quickly.
A small bit of the wolf in him whined, a little downcast at this turn of events. No more extra meals. No seconds helpings. Or thirds.
But another, larger part of the wolf was happy. With each slow chew and swallow, there was a growing feeling of pride. He had done that. He took care of her, of the one woman he was supposed to take care of. He caused her to start eating again. Which was good because not eating was such a crime, and he wouldn't have his ma-Chloe, he supplied for the wolf, rebuffing the use of that word-not eating.
But he ignored all those thoughts. He didn't want to think them. He didn't want to be the reason why she began eating. He couldn't be. That would mean something important, something meaningful. But that couldn't be. It was impossible.
Staring down at his soup, he stirred his spoon around once, then twice. Then he gave up and set the spoon aside. He wasn't hungry anymore.
Authoress's Notes: I wrote this awhile ago on a different account. But that account is no longer in use, so I thought I'd put it up here! Don't worry, all my faithful readers, I will get to the next chapter of Really Nice Eyes soon. My hectic schedule just got a little less hectic. I promise to try not to keep you all waiting in suspense forever!
Anyways, not sure how I feel about this story. I mean, I like it and everything. But it was before The Reckoning came out. So, it doesn't really fit in with the actual timeline of the books. Oh, well. Hope you all enjoyed reading this!