Another Day in the Life of Simon Petrikov

Simon heard them muttering over the noise of the treadmill. He'd been walking for what felt like hours now, sweating and dying of thirst. His beard and hair clung to his face and bare upper body. Where their weird little sensors had been glued to his flesh, a dull itch plagued him, but he was scolded whenever he reached to scratch. It wouldn't be long till he passed out anyway. And that's what troubled Simon, was the thought that they were waiting to see where his breaking point was, how much his body could take before it simply shut down. He smacked his chapped lips as he thought of water. A misstep and one of his knees buckled slightly, nearly causing him to trip. One of the observers behind the glass hit the intercom and told him to keep walking… As if he could stop with his hands cuffed to the front of it. His choices were pretty simple; either he kept walking or he fell and hung from the darn thing till somebody came in to pull him off.

Eventually that's exactly what happened.

When people touched him, it was with thick, strange looking gloves. Probably because he was cold and blue and they thought perhaps he would give them some sort of disease, even though the DNA tests proved otherwise. Simon's head rolled to one side as two guards' drug him aside and put him on a stretcher. After fastening him down, rather tightly, they lifted Simon and carried him out of the room. Scientists trailed after his nearly unconscious body, scribbling notes on clipboards. In another room they hooked the stretcher into a machine. Simon's breath was raspy as they hit the button to move him inside the large, full body scanner. It wasn't the mechanical sound of the device that awoke Simon from his twilight moment, but the intense brightness of the lights and the heat that emanated from them. Gritting his teeth he groaned and struggled as his body rejected the temperature change. The light travelled up and down him, a searing irritation burning where it crossed over.

"Ah!" he hissed as he banged his head back against the stretcher. "Get me out of this thing! It's too hot! Too hot!"

The scientists finished their scan before they removed Simon from the machine. His readings were remarkable. They did notice, however, that their experiments had left him rather dehydrated- his body had developed for cold weather after all. Simon turned his head to the blurred figures coming to his side as they reached out for him. A small squeak left his lips as they poked his arm with something- a needle probably. He noted, because it was hard not to, that they jabbed him considerably hard and wondered if it was carelessness or necessity. Looking up, he watched the ceiling change and from the corner of his eyes he saw that now, beside his stretcher, a nurse guided a bag of fluids. Even if it was a small amount, the water entering his system helped Simon to relax. Exhausted, Simon turned his head to the doctor he knew to be in charge of overseeing and recording the tests, his voice hardly above a whisper, but loud enough to gather the man's attention,

"P-Pardon…" Simon exhaled out "Doctor… Doctor… I-" Simon chuckled tiredly as he realized he couldn't read the man's nametag without his glasses "I ap… apologize sir, I don't recall your name, but I was wondering…"

"You should be conserving your energy," the man told him distantly as he scribbled on his paper, "just try to relax Mr. Petrikov."

Simon heard one of the guards mutter something amongst a chuckle but couldn't quite make it out. It was a name of some sort, directed at him- a nickname probably, something to further separate him from everyone else. Rolling his head back, Simon closed his eyes and let his mind wander to something pleasant. What came at his beckoning was his princess's face, smiling warmly in his direction. Betty hadn't been back since that night she had snuck into his room. His heart ached to see her again. Simon understood what she risked just to see him though, and he didn't want her to get into trouble. Besides… perhaps Betty was attending to Marceline and that was why she hadn't come back. Or it was all a dream.

Simon shook his head, knocked the thought away. She had been there, his princess was real and alive and she… he remembered her willingness to touch his face and kiss his lips. This above everything else swelled Simon's heart with joy. As he came to an abrupt halt, Simon's sweet dreams were interrupted, replaced by the harshness of reality. The stretcher was lifted and placed on a table. Everyone left the room but the leading observer and a guard. After finishing his notes the tall, thin man adjusted his goggles and addressed Simon directly,

"The doctor should be in here soon," he looked over his notes and then added, "are you allergic to anything?"

"…Why?" Simon responded with hesitance, not entirely sure he wanted to know why he was being asked health related questions,

"Well you see…" the man began after clearing his throat, "the body scan results show some differences between your DNA… and human DNA," it was all very basic the way he explained it, but the implication behind his words worried Simon greatly, especially when he added, "we'd like to know how your body has adapted so well to these drastic changes, which requires more data…"

"Data?" Simon questioned feebly as a woman came into the room wearing a white coat, her hair tied up in a bun.

"Doctor Foster," the observer greeted in a tone more filled with life, "Come on in, don't look so jittery the subject is actually quite tame."

"I'm not a dog," Simon muttered as he tried to sit up; when the woman worriedly stepped beside the guard he felt bad for startling her, but also a little disheartened that someone would fear him so easily,

"O-Of course not…" the woman stuttered slightly as she gathered herself and walked up to him. Simon knew by the widening of her brown eyes that she was taking it all in; the face, the nose, beard, teeth, claws, skin… everything, "Is this a radiation based mutation?" she questioned, backing away half a step,

"Doesn't seem that way." the observer commented as he flipped through his notes again, "He does not show any traces of radiation. All we can assume is that something else caused this to happen… perhaps a rare condition or something yet to be discovered?" he offered,

"Nothing could turn a person into this, doctor… His symptoms and the alterations to his DNA are not natural… it's a mutation of some kind," she explained as she reached for something out of Simon's line of sight, "and I… heard about his body temperature… it's impossible…"

"Miss?" the gentleness in Simon's voice caught Dr. Foster off guard. She turned with a needle in her hand, looking to him with confusion as she responded with a quiet, "Y-Yes?"

"A mutation would imply that my transformation is… what I mean to say is…" Simon turned his head to her like an injured dog hoping for a kind word, "Can you… do you think if you figure out why, o-or how this has happened," he swallowed dryly and then asked with hope filling his white eyes, "then… you can… fix me?"

"I…" she pinched her brows as she examined his face and saw the broken man behind his eyes, "I cannot say…"

"What is that for?" he asked gently as she walked up beside the stretcher,

"This," she gestured to the needle, then fiddled with it in her hands a bit, focused on it before she looked back down at Simon, "it's a muscle relaxer… they want to move you back to the medical ward for observation,"

"Observation," Simon tested the word and chuckled nervously as he added, "I feel like I should be worried…"

"I don't think it will cause you much discomfort," Doctor Foster admitted as she hesitated to administer the shot, "they just want to see if they can get your body temperature back up…"

"That's not good," Simon told her as he felt the effects of the drug almost instantly, "I'm always cold… the heat negates my magic…"

"Magic?" she questioned, "Did you say magic?"

"I can see them…" Simon's voice trailed off as he saw a multicolored creature wrap around the doctor's neck like a scarf "the creatures…they're frightening…"

"Pardon?" she questioned as she backed away

"Mr. Petrikov was diagnosed as bipolar, depressed and possibly schizophrenic," the observer commented while jotting down more notes in his binder of data, "he sees things regularly, in the past few days those creatures, he talks about have been mentioned more frequently."

"I… see."

Simon felt his entire body go numb. It was different from the cold. It was actually kind of nice. He watched some guards enter the room and saw everything move as they lifted him up. In little time at all, he found himself back in a somewhat familiar setting. There were rows of hospital beds, and he familiarized this place with his reunion with Betty. However, as they unbuckled him from the stretcher and lifted his noodle body over to the bed, Simon saw that this place was filled with the transparent creatures. Some of them even resembled people. He struggled, albeit weakly against the men holding him and pleaded for release when they again cuffed him to the bedrails. Those things were all over him now, crawling on him- on his FACE. EVERYWHERE.

"Get them off me!" he pleaded, wiggling around, "Untie me… these things are everywhere!"

'Simon'

"Huh?" Simon paused and looked up at the man observing him with darkened circles under his eyes "Did… you say something?"

"I did not," the man responded as he transferred some notes from his clipboard to the medical chart, "Are you… hearing voices?" he asked it with indifference, which angered Simon more than it should have,

"I don't hear voices," he lied with narrowed eyes,

"And you don't see invisible creatures crawling all over everything either?"

"Oh… someone decided to put on their sass hat," Simon grumbled as he sunk his head back into the pillow, "and people say I'm the bearer of bad jokes…"

xxx

The blood warmer was uncomfortable as it forced Simon's body temperature to rise. He didn't like the feeling as his body stung with a sensation similar to an appendage waking up from sleep. That strange sting of being able to feel again was unbearable. Simon was quite irritable by the time he went through the bag, even more so when the nurses propped his bed up so he was forced to sit. A few government types were there, hardened eyes looking at him, judging him. Simon yanked on his still manacled wrists, annoyed that he was being treated like some kind of animal. But these people didn't know what to expect when it came to him, all they knew was what their tests had concluded and a half dozen fairytales about him being able to fly and shoot ice from his fingers.

"So… you're Mr. Petrikov," the man in the middle spoke with authority, giving Simon the impression that he should watch what he said, however nerves did weird things to Simon… like make him say stupid things,

"How nice that someone knows my name," he commented coolly, "I was beginning to think everyone here thought my name was 'Subject'."

"Let's not get off topic,"

"You came to talk to me for something specific, eh?" Simon nervously chortled, "I'm no mind reader, but lemme guess… it's about the crown, isn't it?"

"Are you some sort of biological terrorist, Mr. Petrikov?"

"Are you serious?" Simon laughed "That's what you came to talk to me about? Though the real question is why… my name or my looks? Either way it's profiling so no one will blame you, just me. I'm the black sheep."

"Some of my finest men have tried to do what others claim you did with that crown," the general commented factually, but with a bitter undertone at Simon's behavior, "they are no longer fit for service."

Simon's face fell.

"The crown is not to be messed with," he warned flatly, "it is as cruel as it is powerful… and you cannot simply replace the host,"

"You are the host," he nodded and rubbed his layered chin, "very well, boy. We will have to see how this works then."

"I'm not putting it on," Simon chuckled, "you don't understand… you don't know what it's like, what that thing has done to me in the name of power," Simon hissed as he shifted moods unexpectedly, "I didn't always look like this…"

"We aren't interested in the past," the man commented as he rose from his chair, his presence dominanting as he stood over Simon, "only the future."

xxx

Betty examined the crown for what felt like the hundredth time. Other people had warned her not to touch it, that it caused visions and bad things to happen. But as of yet, nothing like that had happened to her. Secretly she wondered if the crest was alive and that perhaps it remembered her from all those years ago. Maybe it knew that she was its only true way back to Simon. Betty set is aside, determined to focus on something else for a little while. She hadn't been able to visit Simon in days and the thought of him all alone in that room waiting up for her at night. It broke her heart. He was a loyal man, almost like a puppy at times. It made Betty smile.

GLOOP!

Betty turned her head to an open glass container. Inside was something collected from the same area as Simon, some weird mutated gum creature. Seeming harmless enough, Betty had removed the lid and found that the gum wasn't hostile in the slightest. Now she wasn't going to try and pet it or anything, though it seemed unable to move very well so keeping the lid off wasn't exactly dangerous. Peering over it, Betty tucked her hair behind her ear and smiled down at the brightly colored goop. When it smiled back she wasn't that surprised.

"Watchoo doin!?"

"AH!" Betty squeaked, flailing around at her station, only to find a rambunctious nurse so out of place in the lab with his scrubs on, a stupid grin plastered all over his face hovering over her shoulder "Mertins… not funny. I already told you to stop doing that"

"Noted… Betty, uh…" the man pointed to Betty's hand, which had gotten cut, "Aw, man I'm sorry,"

"You better be sorry," Betty grumbled as she scrambled for a tissue, a small red bead falling as she reached over the glass container to grab some paper towels "I cut it on the crown when I freaked out… what are you doing in here anyway?"

"Well you said to keep an eye on the little girl they brought in awhile ago?"

"The little girl?" Betty forgot about her cut and focused on her friend's face, "What about her, is it good?"

"She's waking up… but Betty… I was curious…" he was cut off by Betty stepping in to offer a friendly hug, a light blush dusting his cheeks, "You're welcome"

"Thanks, M," she said with a smile, eyes darting down and then up,

"What?" he commented, rolling his eyes, "I already know that look… what is it, spit it out!"

"Could… could I borrow your card again?" Betty asked sheepishly, twisting her foot against the tile floor, "It's… important."

"I… man, I could get…" it took one look at the hope in her eyes for him to buckle, "if a friend is in need… who am I to say no if I'm perfectly able to help? Sure, pick it up later,"

"Oh, thank you!" she jumped once and skipped off "You're the best!"

Mertins looked from Betty's frolicking leave to the contents of the table; a few specially marked beakers, a crown now tainted with some blood and a container filled with… gum? He leaned over the case and watched it move in amazement. A smiling face formed in the center, mimicking his facade and then shifting to resemble Betty. Marking it off as some weird experiment, Mertins left the lab without so much as a word about it.

Betty in the meanwhile…

She entered the quarantine zone of the sick bay and promptly walked past the containment chambers in search of the right one, tip toeing as to not be noticed by any of the orderlies. After a few mistaken identities, she found the one with the proper little girl in it. Marceline had been malnourished despite Simon's efforts to care for her. She was small for her age, but by Simon's recollection was very bright. Betty saw her breath fogging the glass as the eyelashes of her love's surrogate child fluttered, fighting to open. The disease she had acquired was shutting down her body, but according to her chart she suffered no brain damage or anything negative of the sort. Her recollection of the day's events would likely be skewed as she had been delirious with fever,

"Hello Marceline," Betty softly commented as the girl's eyes opened.

Marceline looked up at Betty and recognized the kind smile, but she didn't like the chamber and quickly began to panic. Her tiny but apparently strong hands swung, banging against the thick glass of the unit. It didn't break but a crack formed like lightning along the top. And though the encasement was mostly soundproof Betty could make out the word Marceline frantically called out,

"Simon!" she screamed with tears pricking her eyes, "SIMON!"

The failsafe kicked in and gas filled the chamber. Marceline fought the urge to sleep but was quickly knocked unconscious. Betty put her hand on the glass and Marceline looked at her through cracked eyes. Marceline slowly lifted her arm and placed her tiny hand on the opposite end of the glass before she blacked out. Betty knew this little girl wasn't normal, she was different… strong, resilient. Her people needed people like her. This was troubling, but also somewhat of a relief. If they had use for her, then Betty had some leverage. She'd request to run some tests on her tomorrow and meet the little girl who kept her Simon together all those years. Betty was certain she must be quite special to be so very brave to face what had become of the world.

xxx

Betty went to Simon that night to share the good news. Simon was exhausted, dressed in a white button up shirt they had provided along with gray slacks. He didn't care for the clothes, feeling they covered his body more.

"She's… quite strong," Betty commented as she paced by the door of Simon's holding chamber,

"Marceline is a very special girl…" Simon said with a smile, "Betty… can you make sure that they won't hurt her? Like me she's not quite human…"

"I'll do what I can," Betty offered a wink as she commented, "I have an eye in the medical ward so… maybe I can work something out,"

"I worry… all these years I protected her and…" he lowered his head into his hands, bringing them back to remove the bangs from his face, "and now I can't protect her. I failed her,"

"Nonsense," Betty cooed as she walked up to him, "don't say that…" she paused as she noticed how incredibly tired his eyes were, "You had a rough day, huh?"

"Unbelievably so," Simon groaned, "so many damn tests… I can't take it anymore…"

Stepping up to the edge of the bed Betty set her hand on the top of his bowed head. As Simon lifted his head up, her hand slid down to cup his cheek. She crawled up into his lap and put her arms around his shoulders. The embrace was warm and comforting. Simon closed his eyes and smelt her sweet hair as he hesitantly brought his hands up to her shoulders. He pulled her back and looked into her eyes. Simon wanted more than anything to let his inhibitions to the wind, but he knew he was getting weaker by the day. As it grew lonely, the crown became a harsh mistress and the bond between them was thick. It could reach him no matter where he found himself. Simon attempted to cup her flushed cheek, but the moment his frigid hands touched her, Betty jumped a little despite herself. She was so beautiful, so delicate… like a real princess. And all Simon wanted was to be with her.

"Betty… I can hear it talking to me," he confessed, "It wants me… b-but I can't take it anymore… I just want to go back to when we were together and happy and you made me hot chocolate…"

"You don't need to worry," Betty whispered against his forehead, "someday soon we'll be together like that again, Simon. For now… I'm here and pretty soon you'll see your baby girl again,"

"One big happy family," he chuckled tiredly.

Betty gently cupped his cheek, mirroring his own motions as she leaned forward. She closed her eyes as she pressed her lips to his, tensed when he wrapped his arms around her possessively. Nestled in his lap she began unbuttoning his shirt, and this time he let her. He knew he shouldn't, he was dangerous- he was cold and deformed and no longer human. But she wanted him still, and for all the reasons to stop, Simon couldn't argue with the one reason for him to keep going. In that moment, when her lips were pressed against his, her hands hastily pulling his button up shirt down over his shoulders, he closed his eyes and felt like his old self. Simon could imagine the two of them on the aged couch in their living room when he fell back and she was on top of him. And with that image in his mind he lost himself, pulled her body against his and kissed her in desperation to feel more. Betty breathed elated words into his mouth and he kept pulling her tighter against him. However, it was amongst his feverish kisses that Simon noticed a strange taste seep into his mouth. Betty squeaked and pulled away, her dainty hand covering her face. Simon watched with wide eyes as she lowered it, her fingers ghosting off her chin like a curtain revealing a terrible secret in a play. The cut on her lip made Simon gasp, his eyes widen with fear as he realized that he had hurt her.

"I-It's okay," she stammered when she noticed the pain in his eyes, and tried to hide the shock in her own when she saw the pink staining his teeth, "Simon, it doesn't hurt much."

Simon grabbed her by the shoulders and threw her off of him. But to his dismay, this action left red scratch marks on her pale arms. Sporadic breaths left his chest rising and falling in a panic as he wildly combed his hands through his hair. He sat up and bent in half. Disgusted with his body Simon brought his hand up and tightly pressed it over his mouth. How could he… not Betty… not his princess. The one thing Simon wanted more than anything, and he had hurt her. It wasn't intentional, but Simon felt horrible, he felt like he couldn't forgive himself. And maybe that was his depression talking but that was how he felt. He shook as he tried to keep himself together, but all that kept looping in his mind was… why?

Beside him Betty had collected herself on the small bed, propped herself up, discretely running her fingertips over the red marks on her arms. She surveyed Simon and the worry written all over him, with her own sorrow in her heart. Betty whispered his name as she reached out for his shoulder. Simon shook his head and woefully bellowed,

"Betty just stay away from me!" as he dug his fingers into his hair and struggled to hold back the tears, "I'm cursed… in more ways than one…" he whispered the last part, his voice heavy with sorrow, "Before all this… I used t-to think I was a good man. But I must have done something…"

"You are," she argued defiantly, "Simon, stop talking like this,"

"I'm a monster," he sobbed, "just look at what I've done to you!"

"It's not that big of a deal, you just have to be more careful," her voice was tender,

"No… I'm- you should go Betty," Simon whimpered, "I'm… not… I-I…"

"Is this because of the tests?" Betty questioned tenderly as she took a seat at the edge of the bed, "Simon they don't mean anything,"

"They mean everything," Simon told her as he peeked through his bangs, "today I found out that I'm not even human anymore. They don't know what I am, Betty, BUT I'M NOT HUMAN… it took everything from me. And now, this body," he hissed in disgust as he brought his frostbitten, talon hands out in front of his monstrous face, "I… I can't even hold you or kiss you, princess… without hurting you…"

Simon heard nothing but silence for what seemed like forever. But then the bed creaked. He felt a warm hand on his shoulder, it wrapped around and squeezed gently, guiding Simon's dead-pan stare to find her kind face. Without saying a word, she told him so much. It was her eyes, so forgiving and loving and beautiful. Betty opened her arms and he scooted into her like an injured animal, leaned his head on her shoulder and closed his eyes. She kissed his temple and cradled him despite how cold he was. Into his hair she whispered her thoughts on the matter and between every point, reminded him that she would love him no matter what anybody said. He was still a man and a good one… he had always been a good man…

"Stop worrying about what those people say Simon," she told him while petting his hair, "It doesn't matter."

"I just…" Simon's voice cracked and Betty knew he was crying in her arms, but let him continue without a word, "I didn't think… Betty it chased you away, it took my body… I'm afraid it's also taking my mind…" he sounded like he was finalizing his own death the way he carried on through his trembling sobs, "And Marceline… princess, she's depending on me to make everything better and you, you're here beside me, but I can't help but feel that somehow I'm already so lost…"

"Shhhh," she cooed gently as she rested her chin on the top of his head, "Relax… you had a rough day, but everything's going to be okay. All these thoughts… they're just… thoughts. Tomorrow will be a better day,"

"No," Simon's voice was absolute, "They want me to tell them how to use the crown. I-I already told them no, that its dangerous but they won't listen… They want me to put it on and sh-show…"

"Simon," Betty tried to hold him still as his hunched shoulders shook, "Calm down, please…you're worrying me,"

"You don't understand!" Simon sat up and his hallowed eyes looked into hers with desperation and fear, "When I wear the crown, it's not me… it's something else a-and I can't control it…"

"Hush now," Betty reached and gently rubbed his back till he stopped trembling, "fool me once shame on you. Fool me twice… shame on me," she smiled into his hair and added fondly, "You can't chase me away twice, Mr. Petrikov… I'm here to stay this time."

"I love you princess," Simon spoke these words with definition Betty admired, "if he- it ever did anything to hurt you… I would never forgive myself." Simon paused and looked up at her with tear streaked eyes, "Don't come near me when I wear it, Betty. Promise me… the man I become is…" Simon paused, shaking his head in desperation to get his point across, "I don't want him near you,"

"…I promise."

Simon dug his face into Betty's shoulder, nuzzling it as if all his answers were buried in her skin. And he felt the goose bumps and knew she was getting cold but he needed to feel her warmth.

"I'll talk to them," she assured him, "I'll tell them it's a bad idea and if we're lucky, they'll listen."

Simon nodded his head and agreed because what else could he do?

"I love you, princess,"

"I know, Simon," she whispered, "I love you too."

((Author's Notes))

Simon just can't catch a break, can he? Poor guy always seems to get the short end of the stick... I hope you enjoyed the angsty goodness and remember to R&R

Shout out to my awesome editor Scuro-Valzer! ^_^