Scattercat - Succubus When Christina came back, things were a little strange at first. I wasn't sure what to say to her, or how to act around her. It had been so long since I'd even seen her. I’d nearly tripped over her. She was just sitting on the back stoop, her hair hanging over her face, her clothes soaked. It had stopped raining sometime yesterday morning, but she was as wet as if she'd just climbed out of a swimming pool. She was cold, too, icy to the touch. I found her there when I went to take out the trash. She didn't see me at first, and she seemed surprised when I threw my arms around her. Slowly, she reached out and hugged me back, and I knew it would be okay. Brad and Jenna couldn't believe it either. They'd talked to the police, too, all those months, and they'd been told the same thing I had. "After this long in a missing person case," Officer Trent had said, shaking his head and tugging at his earlobe, "well, it's best not to keep your hopes up." But he'd been wrong. They'd all been wrong. Christina had come back to me. I'd always known she would. She took some time to get back into the flow of things. She'd been traumatized. She couldn't remember some stuff. Like the bed. She wouldn't sleep on the waterbed at all, but just spent hours pressing it and watching the ripples. It seemed to calm her. I opened up the fold-a-bed couch and we slept there. And hamburgers. They threw her for a real loop. She screamed and hid her face when I brought them home. I gave her my fries so she wouldn't be hungry, but I had to eat my burger locked in the bathroom. She sat on the floor outside and sobbed until I finished. Her eyes were different. Brad was the first one to say something, but I'd already noticed. You can't expect someone to go through what she went through without any changes at all. Brad was really intense about it, though. I think he was still a little weirded out by Christina's disappearance; he hadn't quite gotten used to her being around again. He pulled me aside one day and whispered to me. I think he was scared of her overhearing. I told him not to be ridiculous, of course. Even if they weren't the same, I liked the new eyes just fine. The shade was very becoming on her, especially with her skin so pale. I think she'd been out of the sun for a long time. She never did get her tan back. She still loved the beach. She didn't spend any time sunbathing like she used to, though. Instead, she was in the water constantly. It used to be all I could do to get her to stand in the surf up to her ankles while I swam, but now she was always pulling me further and further out, until the lifeguards started blowing their whistles at us. You could feel the cold radiating up from the water, out where she swam now. Once I saw a fin that I swear was a shark. I was happy to have Christina back. I was even happier that we had more in common now. I can’t understand why Jenna started acting so weirdly. She and Christina used to be so close; shopping trips, lunches, vacations to the island. I thought maybe she was just trying to give Christina some space, but now I think maybe she was just a little jealous. I know it’s harsh, but Jenna’s never had anything on Christina when it comes to looks. Everyone knows Brad was pissed at me for getting Christina first. He settled; she knows it, I know it, and Christina knew it. She never made an issue of it, though. Christina was always so kind. Jenna couldn’t stand having her rival come back; all new and improved, no less. At any rate, she started avoiding Christina. She stopped coming by to take her out to buy clothes. She stopped calling on the phone. She even came by one day when Christina was out on her own – she did that sometimes, now that she’d came back – and gave me an earful. “It’s not Christina,” she said. “She’s not the same.” I told her she was being just as silly as Brad. You can’t expect someone to come out of such a harrowing experience exactly the same as she went in. Now THAT would be crazy. Jenna must have gotten Brad on her side. Probably played on that eye-shape thing that bothered him so much. Or maybe he was jealous, too; I told you how he’d always wanted Christina. “Where was she all those months?” they said. “What was it that really happened to her?” I told them we’d find out when Christina was ready to tell us, but they had to push it. You can’t blame Christina for what happened. She’d been through a lot. I told them not to interfere. I told them how happy we were together. I didn’t tell them everything, of course. I didn’t think they’d understand about all the differences of the new Christina. Besides, some things are private. I tried to keep them from poking around and upsetting her, but they did it anyway. I wish they hadn’t. I wish I’d been there. I could have stopped them. I could have saved Christina. Brad is the one who did it; he managed to get a shot off with that shotgun after she bit out his throat. He’d noticed her new allergy, too, and he’d loaded the gun with some custom shells. He was always a big firearms geek. He had a huge collection of Guns’n’Ammo. I think Jenna had gone in first, because there was less of her left. I hid the bodies, or at least the parts Christina hadn’t eaten before she died. Christina had made the perfect place for it, too. I tucked them all into the concealed closet, down in the nursery. The crib was still in there, from before Christina had disappeared. We’d been so happy, knowing our child was on the way. We still were, of course, though it was children, plural, now. I like to go in there at night and watch all the little bodies in their translucent sacs, glued to the wall and to each other with that foamy yellow gunk. They’re starting to move, now, and you can see the tiny, needle-like teeth. I wonder what they’ll be like, our children? I know you’ll be proud of them, Christina. They’ll be proud of you, too. I can’t wait for them to be born.