"… and the evil witch was defeated and the princess and her protectors lived happily ever after," Lillian announced at the end of story time.

Matt smiled at the little blond girl. "And they lived happily ever after," He agreed.

And for the most part, they had. In the year since the defeat of Nerissa, life in Heatherfield had pretty much returned to normal. Well, as normal as life could possibly be for the Guardians of the Veil and the Regents of Earth. They still had duties to attend to in these positions of course, but the war that had locked so many worlds in combat was done, and the teens were left to enjoy their own lives.

Matt glanced at the clock by Lillian's bed. 9 o' clock. The "VMJ" (he thought sarcastically in his head) concert would have just started. The girls were there as part of Cornelia's 15th birthday celebrations. Their parents had taken them, and as such, Matt was left to babysit Lillian. Not that he really minded.

Lillian yawned and Napoleon snuggled up next to her. "I think it's about time for princesses to head to bed," Matt chuckled, shifting off the bed and pulling the blankets to tuck Lillian in.

Lillian seemed to rouse herself at that. "But Matt, what happened to the witch's old minions?"

Matt furrowed his brow, "Which ones, princess?"

Lillian tried to sit up, disturbing Napoleon. "The evil angel and the monsters."

Matt paused and cringed at that, trying to remember how he had described his ordeal to the little girl. It wasn't something he liked to think about, but ever since he and the girls had decided to slowly fill Lillian in on their lives in the form of stories, he had had to come up with a way to make it make sense.

"The angel and his friends broke free from Nerissa's mind control, and then the Princess of Earth," He ruffed Lillian's hair as an attempt to distract himself from the memories, "Decided to make them her protectors, so that they could fight Nerissa." If only it had been that simple…

"So she had to mind control them all the time?" Lillian asked. "She didn't sleep?"

Matt's mind stuttered for a moment, remembering a dark room on an icy mountain. "The spell was very effective."

"But how…?"

"That's enough questions for tonight," Matt tried to cut her off as his heart began racing. He tried to get his breathing under control. It had been over a year since everything happened…

"But I wanna…"

"Lillian, please, it's time for bed," He started to get up. He needed to get away and get a hold of himself. He was fine, it had been a year…

"Matt, are you okay?" Lillian seemed to be picking up something was wrong.

"I'm fine," But he wasn't.

"Matt!" Lillian cried, and then the memories overtook him.

"Ugh, Lillian, you're messing up my video," Cornelia groaned, and Will saw her hit the decline button on her cell phone.

Vance Michael Justin was killing it. The girls had great seats for the concert, and had spent all of the last 45 minutes jumping and singing along to the music. Will turned her attention away from her friend and back to the event before she heard Cornelia groan again. "Lillian, stop it!"

"Hey, Cornelia, maybe you should pick up, something might be wrong," Will tried to interject, before her own phone started ringing. She glanced down at it to see Matt calling. Her stomach dropped.

She picked up quickly. "Matt…?"

"Will, Will, something's wrong with Matt, we were talking and then he started breathing hard and now he's yelling and not responding to me and I don't know what to do…" Lillian sounded like she was sobbing. Will's heart clenched. Cornelia must have seen the instant change come over her friend's face, as hers dropped too.

"What's going on?" Cornelia asked, suddenly worried, "Is Lillian okay?" She grabbed the phone from Will and spoke into it quickly, "Hey, Lill, you okay?" The other guardians turned to look at the two.

"Cornelia, come to the bathroom with me," Will grabbed her friend's arm. "Matt's in trouble," She told Taranee quickly before darting off to the bathroom with Cornelia, still attempting to talk to her sister.

She felt sick to her stomach. Wishing she could transform instantly, every person she had to pass made her more and more anxious. "Will, where are we going?" Cornelia asked, covering the mouthpiece.

"I'm taking us to your place." Will said firmly.

Finally breaking free of the crowd, Will pulled her friend into the nearest bathroom at breakneck pace. Shutting the door quickly behind them, Will pulled out the Heart of Kandrakar. "We're teleporting," She said.

Cornelia paused for a moment, before saying, "We'll be there in just a second Lill, we're actually almost home." She ended the call, and grabbed Will's shoulder. "Let's go."

The girls appeared in Cornelia's foyer, and both could immediate hear Matt's cries of pain and Lillian's panicked shrieks.

The girls sprinted to Lillian's room, finding Matt on the ground, and Lillian crying next to him as Napolean tried desperately to calm her down. "Matt, he, he, how did you get here…?" Lillian sobbed, and Cornelia scooped her sister into her arms.

"It's okay, we're here, we've got you," Cornelia said quickly.

Meanwhile, Will had fallen to her knees at Matt's head, pulling his head into her lap. "No!" He yelled, eyes open but not seeing her. His body thrashed at the contact. "Don't touch me, stop touching me, Nerissa please!" Will and Cornelia met wide eyes.

"I'm gonna take Lillian outside," Cornelia said evenly, seeing the agreement in Will's eyes, "Come on Lills, Will's got him now."

Will combed Matt's hair back from his face, trying to comfort her boyfriend as he whimpered with eyes screwed shut, all the while her mind whirling. As soon as the door closed to Lillian's room, Napoleon started talking.

"Matt was telling her stories about you girls and your fight against Nerissa," The cat's tail lashed back and forth in anxiety. "She started asking about when he was mind controlled and he started panicking. He's been having pretty bad flashbacks ever since." The familiar's voice lowered, "From what he's been saying she did some pretty messed up stuff to him that he hasn't told us."

Will felt as though someone had stabbed her in the gut. "Matt," Will whispered, stroking his face. "It's okay, you're here, you're safe. Nerissa is gone."

"Will," he whimpered, his whole body tensing and eyes flying open, "Don't hurt her, don't make me hurt her, hurt me instead…" And then he screamed, his back arching and hands grabbing at the carpet.

"Matt, please!" Will cried, tears starting to prick at her eyes. She pressed a hand over his heart. "You're safe, you're fine, I promise…"

It took about half an hour of soft touches and whispered assurances before Matt seemed to start to come back to himself. The yelling stopped sooner, but it took a while for the trembling boy to finally actually look Will in the eyes and whisper, "Hey."

Will sobbed and pulled her boyfriend into her arms. "You're okay, you're okay, you're okay…"

"Babe…" Matt breathed, and then shuddered heavily in her arms. "I am so sorry," He whispered into her shoulder.

"Don't apologize," Will shook him gently, tears still rolling down her cheeks. "God, what happened to you?" Sobs shook her body again. "God, what did she do to you?"

Matt froze. "It's fine," He insisted softly, but his voice was unsteady. "It was over a year ago, it's fine."

Will wasn't sure what did it. Probably the panic and sheer shock of the whole situation but she started laughing hysterically. "You just had a complete meltdown for like, almost an hour, you are not okay!"

Matt pulled back, his expression pained behind the tear-streaked face. "That long?" He asked, "What about Lillian…?"

"Cornelia's been taking care of her," Will informed him, and he let out a slight breath. "She was scared, but I think she's okay now."

"Kiddo's asleep," Napoleon informed them, surprising both. "I can sense it."

Matt nodded, still seeming anxious. His hands seemed to be checking over his body, seeming relieved at some unknown discovery.

Will took a deep breath, struggling to put her leader face on. Matt was hurt here. This was her time to be strong for him. "Napoleon told us what happened to cause… that," She faltered slightly, and Matt tensed up.

"I just want to forget about it." He whispered, pain in his voice.

Will reached forward to stroke his face, and almost missed the tiny flinch he gave at the contact. "Matt…" She whispered.

"You don't want to know," He said firmly, "I don't even want to remember."

"But…"

They were interrupted when Cornelia stuck her head in the door. "Doing okay?" She asked quietly. She turned her head to Matt, still looking worse for the wear. "Hey Matt."

"Hey," He said hoarsely, seeming glad to be given an excuse not to elaborate.

"So, hate to break up this little moment, but my parents and the others are almost home and they're going to want to know what the heck just happened." Cornelia said quickly. "Lillian's asleep in my room, but they're going to want to know why we're here and how we got here so fast."

Will nodded and Matt seemed to steel himself as the two pulled themselves to their feet. Looking between the two of them, Cornelia sighed. "If you two want to go, like, right now, I can try to cover by saying Matt had a panic attack and you paid for a taxi."

Will nodded, thankful that Cornelia understood. Matt too seemed to relax. "Thanks Corny," She said, and Cornelia nodded, not even offering back a snide remark like she might usually. Matt's state seemed to be sobering enough.

Will pulled out the Heart and folded Matt into her arms, teleporting them both out of Lillian's room.

Will noticed Matt's slight flinch as they teleported into her room. Why her room, she wasn't sure. But she needed somewhere fast, and her mom was out for the evening. He stumbled back from her and onto her bed, sitting at the edge and rubbing his face with his hands. "Matt, are you…?" She didn't know what to say. What could she say?

Matt seemed to be rallying. He looked at her and took a deep breath before continuing. "So… should we get this out of the way?"

Will tensed, still not sure how to reply. "I'm not sure I can tell the others," He said, "but… I think I can tell you. It's just…" He looked at his feet. "It's not pleasant."

"Well I didn't think it'd be a cake walk," Will said, trying to lighten the mood, but stopped at the somber look on his face. "Okay," She said, sitting next to him and grabbing one of his hands. "So… what happened?"

She knew the basics of course. Kidnapped, forced to feel hate, finally able to fight through Nerissa's control. But she didn't know much else. Matt hadn't been forthcoming and she had been too relieved at first to ask anything but the basics. Besides, they had been in the middle of a war and hadn't had the time to take away. After the war, Matt had insisted that everything was okay.

Today's fallout told her that it clearly wasn't.

"You know pretty much what happened," Matt said quietly. "I just, left out some details."

"Why?" Will had to ask, although she had a pretty good idea.

Matt shrugged. "I honestly didn't remember most of it until after everything. The parts I did remember, well... we were fighting Nerissa every day. There wasn't really time for me to have a breakdown. So I pushed through it. Almost lost it when Lillian turned me back into Shagon and I had to face her again…"

"What do you mean you didn't remember most of it?" Will asked, perplexed.

Matt shrugged again. "Just that. I didn't remember it. I guess I repressed a lot of it at first, I mean, I told you the bits and pieces I remembered but..." He seemed to struggle with his words for a moment.

"So… do you remember how Nerissa called Shagon "Dear Heart"?"

Will nodded, grimacing. "Yeah, it was really creepy." She didn't mention Irma's theory that Nerissa and Shagon had been getting it on at Mount Thanos, a thought that, though somewhat amusing at the time, had made her stomach clench when she had realized that Shagon was Matt.

There was another long pause. Will glanced over at her boyfriend, and saw indecision pass his face. "Matt…"

"Shagon wasn't always in control when we were there," Matt seemed to blurt out before he could think better of it. Will tensed, knowing this could be going nowhere good. "Sometimes, we didn't do very well, because you girls were so awesome," He tried to smile at her, but it came off as almost a grimace. She stroked his hand and he continued.

"When we didn't do what she wanted, which was pretty common she'd…"

A pause.

"Well, she'd punish us…" Matt looked back down at their hands. Will lifted her free hand to her mouth as he continued. "It started off she'd just torture Shagon and Kor. And that wasn't so bad because I wasn't in control so I could distance myself from it." Another pause. "And then…" He continued weakly, "She started torturing me."

Will's heart dropped. "She'd tell Shagon to back off and tell me to try to run, just try to escape. She'd let me think I was close, so close, and then," He clenched his free hand tight. "Then she'd just rip me back down, make me scream. As if it wasn't bad enough I didn't have free will over my own body, she'd torture me just for kicks and…" His voice broke.

"Matt, I'm so sorry…" Will tried to offer, but Matt shook his head, eyes beginning to shine with tears.

"That's not even the worst part," He whispered.

Will didn't know what could be worse at this point. She already wanted to hug Matt and not let him go out of her sight again.

Matt kept talking, but there was pain in every word, "I guess that torturing me in human form really got her all hot and bothered, because… because…" He seemed unable to continue, just sat gritting his teeth as tears began to fall down his face.

At first, Will didn't get it. It hadn't even passed in her mind that Nerissa might do something like that. But as she looked at Matt's face, and took in the context clues of his narration and the bits she had heard during his panic attack… "Oh my God…" She felt tears start to fill her own eyes. "You mean she… with you…?"

Matt nodded, blinking rapidly. "Used me for that like she used me for everything else…" He said sardonically.

Will tried not to picture it, she really did, but the image rose unbidden to her mind's eye anyway. Matt, pinned down against some ice slab, begging as Nerissa climbed all over him… She shuddered, tears breaking out of her eyes.

"Hey, I mean, I should be grateful right?" Matt said mockingly, "She always made sure I "enjoyed" it," He used air quotes in an attempt to be more lighthearted, but his voice breaking into a sob at the end really ruined the effect.

"Oh my God…" Will whispered, and then enveloped her boyfriend in the biggest hug she could manage.

He carded his fingers lightly through her hair. "Don't cry," He whispered through his own tears, "You're too beautiful to cry."

"Shut up," She retorted as her heart swelled with love and hurt for Matt, "You're the one who was hurt." She didn't know what to do. What did one even do in these kinds of scenarios? She wasn't a therapist or psychologist! She should add that to her resume: Will Vandom, can save the world from an estranged guardian set on world domination but can't protect her own boyfriend from being hurt in the most intimate way…

Matt seemed to be struggling to compose himself. "So that's… that's what happened," He said. "And when Lillian asked me about it… it brought everything back."

Matt's arms were loosening around her, so she drew back to look at his tear streaked face. Suddenly, a pressing thought hit her, so hard she gasped and had to ask, before she lost the courage.

"Did she ever use my face?" Will asked, and Matt froze again, his face turning white. "Did she ever hurt you with my face?"

Matt wouldn't meet her eyes, and Will had her answer. "She did, didn't she?"

"You want me to say she didn't?" Matt asked, no emotion in his voice.

Will almost threw herself off of him. How could he let her near him after that? She was starting to work herself into a full blow crisis when, "No, hey stop," Matt grabbed her wrist before she got too far. "Hey, hey. It wasn't you, come on, we went over this with Shagon and my Regent form." He pulled her towards him and gripped her shoulders tightly, "You don't hate me for what Shagon did while wearing me, and I don't hate you for what Nerissa did while wearing you. Come on Will, I love you. I love you so much. And I couldn't stand it if that witch took that away from me."

His eyes were running again, and he stared her in the eyes as he whispered, "You are what got me through that, and you are what gets me through every day."

She smiled through her tears. "I love you too Matt." She touched his face again, and this time, he didn't flinch. There was a moment of peace between the two teens. Will couldn't believe how she had gotten so lucky to have him in her life, as a support system for everything that she went through.

"I go back and forth," She murmured softly, stroking his face. "On one hand, I wish you had never found out about any of this and none of this had ever happened to you." His dark eyes were searching hers as she continued, "But on the other, I really don't know how I would get through this without you."

Matt nodded, reaching up to wipe and errant tear from her eyes. He didn't speak, but seemed to understand. "Thank you for telling me everything," Will said after a long pause. And she kissed him gently on the mouth.

Matt's hands drifted from her shoulders, one coming to rest on her lower back, the other gripping the back of her hair, first gently, but then tightened his grip as they continued to kiss, as though needing the physical reassurance. She pressed herself back against him, needing the physical comfort as much as he did.

After a while of heated, emotional fallout, Matt was the one to draw back, resting his forehead on hers. He chuckled slightly, "You are an amazing woman Will Vandom."

Will blushed. "I'm just me," She offered weakly, smiling.

Matt folded her into a hug. "That's all I ever wanted."


Just a random thing that inspired me.

Let me know what you think!