Slender Blind

Aftermath

"You okay, buddy?" Kevin asks. Trevor hears the grass softly rustle and knows his friend just sat down next to him.

Trevor lifts his shoulders halfheartedly, keeps his arms wrapped around his knees.

"You wanna go for pizza?"

"No."

"Wanna go for a walk through the woods, or somethin'?"

Trevor shakes his head, keeping a stoic face.

He feels a hand pat his shoulder. "I know you miss James, but Margareta and Victor said they'd get back to us as soon as they could about the Mender Slender clan and James."

"It's been five days since they came," Trevor says, his eyes staring into space and his voice hollow. "They fixed us up in a jiff and said they would do the same to James when they took him away. He should be better by now - if he even made it."

"Don't talk like that, buddy. You know that-"

"Think about it, Kevin!" Trevor jerks away and slightly turns his head to the left, where his friend sits. "The Mender clan couldn't heal him, and Margareta and Victor don't want to tell us the bad news! Why else would they keep quiet for the past few days?"

"Maybe they just...or maybe...you know, I bet they..." Kevin sighs.

"See? There's no other reason than that James is dead." Trevor sighs and lies down on the grass.

Silence passes for a minute, even the woods beyond the blind boy's backyard are missing the usual bird calls or cicada buzzing. Finally, the grass whispers as Kevin stands up. "I'm heading back inside your house. Want me to get you anything? Your mom's making cookies. They're chocolate chip," he adds in a sing-song voice.

"No thanks," Trevor moans.

"...'Kay. Feel better, buddy." Trevor listens to his friend's footfalls as they get farther and farther away, hears the back door slide open and shut.

He lies there in his backyard in silence. It is hard to believe only a week ago he met James Slenderman. So much has happened since then. It is going to feel weird not having that tall, skinny lug around anymore. Tears come to his eyes at the thought that he will not get to hang out with his new friend. Trevor sniffs and covers his eye with an arm.

His nose twitches at the smell of cookie dough. "I said I don't want anything," he snaps.

"Not even a hug?" Harry Splendorman's voice says.

Trevor moves his arm and opens his eyes. "Harry? What are you doing here?"

Strong hands slip under his head and back and help him sit up. "I just came from Ricky's house," he says cheerfully. "We were having ice cream sundaes with sprinkles and candy on top. What are you doing?"

Trevor slouches. "I miss James."

After a moment's pause, Harry says, "I know just the thing to cheer you up."

"Hey!" Trevor cries out when he feels himself be picked up. "What are you doing?"

"Don't worry," Harry chirps. "I even have your walking stick."

"Dude, I'm not in the mood for this," the blind boy gripes.

"Trust me, you'll love this."

Suddenly, the pressure around them changes. Trevor's nose twitches with the scent of pine. "Why are we in the middle of a forest?"

Harry sets him down and straightens the boy, placing the walking stick in his hand. "You'll see." He giggles.

"Seriously, what's going on?"

A voice says, "I'll take it from here, Harry."

If Trevor's eyes could widen, they would. "James?" His mouth twitches. Dare he believe that -

"Hello again, Trevor," James says, pulling the boy in for a hug.

"James! You're alive!" Trevor throws his arms around the Slender and hugs him tight, a happy, goofy smile on his face. A few tears escape as he says, "I thought you were dead! No one told me anything!"

"Sorry about that," he says, wiping the boy's tears away and rubbing his back. "It took me longer to recover than the healers thought. They summoned my father, and he was happy to see me alive - but he said he didn't want me seeing you guys again."

Trevor frowns. "Come on, I thought we were past all that!"

"Oh, he trusts you all," James says, breaking free of the hug and slipping an arm around Trevor's shoulders, gently guiding the human along as they walk through the woods. "He doesn't feel like it would be safe for you humans if you stayed too close to us. Lily's sister and mother were killed because of us, so-"

"It was not because of you," Trevor says to the air in front of him, wagging his finger at empty space. James holds back a chuckle. "It was the Black Circle that did all those bad things."

"Yes, but they hurt people that had connections to us. We think it's better if we disappeared."

"You sure it's not your dad who most thinks that?"

James leads Trevor around a tree. "I won't lie to you, it's mostly my father. I still think there's a chance we can live alongside humans peacefully, but I don't think it's going to be any time soon."

"Why not? Just make friends one by one with humans you meet. It worked with us." Trevor beams.

The Slender shrugs. "We still need a home. With that one forest completely burnt down, we have one less hiding spot. Not to mention the Gardener Slenders in that area will start losing their powers."

"My mom works in a plant nursery," the blind boy says, tapping the ground with his stick. "I can convince her to help replant some of the forest - ooh, or maybe a new forest, somewhere no one can hurt you or bother you again!" He smiles wider.

James' stomach flutters. Is it possible to work with humans to regrow the forests? "That might work," he agrees. "We just have to make sure humans stop destroying our homes. I understand they need wood and tree products, but there has to be some way for them to get their goods and leave our homes alone."

"We'll come up with something," Trevor says. "Right now, let's just celebrate you being back." He leans into the Slender.

He looks down at the boy. "...Trevor, there's something I want to ask you."

"Oh, I see how it is." Trevor stops and smirks. "You get me all alone and say you want to ask me something. What's next, you have a ring box?"

James freezes. "I-I wasn't thinking that at all."

"I'm flattered and all, but you should do something like this for Margareta instead."

Good thing Slenders cannot blush, because James would have a tomato head right now. "H-How, I mean-"

"I'm kidding," Trevor says, strolling forward. "Man, Slenders can't take a joke. You're so boring."

"Oh, really?" James says, a smile in his voice. He stretches his arms around the boy and pulls him to his chest, maintaining a tight grip.

"Hey! Let me go!" Trevor says, pushing at James' arms. He tries to hide the grin on his face and fails miserably. "C'mon, let me go, you Jack Skellington-wannabe!"

"Do you know what we Slenders do to humans who wind up in our forests?" James' voice says very close to the boy's ear.

"Tell them they won the game and show them the exit?" Trevor says.

"Nope...we do this!" His long, white fingers poke Trevor's sides and stomach.

Trevor laughs and squirms, losing hold of his walking stick. "Stop! Stohahap!" he says, pushing even harder.

"Still think we're boring?" James says, a grin in his voice.

"No!" Trevor says as well as he can through laughing.

"Good." James stops tickling his friend, picks him up, and throws him over his shoulder.

"Aw, c'mon!" Trevor says good-heartedly. He playfully thrashes around. "Let me down!"

James lowers a tentacle to grab the walking stick, spinning the boy around. "How's the view up there, Trevor?"

If the blind boy could narrow his eyes, he would. "Is that the best you got?"

"Is that a challenge?" James says. "Gyah!" He stops when Margareta appears in front of him.

She cries out, too. "James, what are you doing here?" she says. "I thought you were supposed to be resting until the pain was fully gone."

"You're still hurting?" Trevor asks, frowning a little.

"I can't teleport or use my clan powers without getting a headache," he says, setting Trevor down and giving him his walking stick back. "But I can walk and use regular Slender abilities just fine. That's why I had Harry bring you here instead of me meeting you in your backyard."

"But you're getting better, right?"

James nods and says, "Yes, I am. I still have a scar on my face from where the killer slashed me, but the Mender clan said it should heal and vanish within a week or two."

"That fast?" Trevor's jaw drops.

"They have remarkable healing powers," Margareta says, a hand on her hip.

"What brings you here, Margareta?" James says, his heart beating faster.

"You said to meet you in this part of the forest at three o'clock." She crosses her arms and tilts her head. If she had a face, she would be looking up at him through her lashes, a teasing grin on her face. "You didn't forget, did you?"

"No, of course not." His words rush out of his mouth. "I just wanted to see Trevor today, too, let him know I'm alright."

"And now I know," Trevor says proudly, both hands on his walking stick like a posh guy. His stomach growls loudly. "Really?" he says to his stomach while the Slenders laugh.

Margareta steps forward, lays a hand on his shoulder and says, "I can take you home if you're hungry."

"Sounds good. Hey, James," he says, turning to his right. All that is there is a tree, but Trevor continues, "We should hang out sometime later this week. Maybe you can meet my mom and you guys can talk about growing a forest."

"Possibly." James turns his friend around to give him one last hug. "Goodbye for now, Trevor."

"Bye, Slender Man," Trevor smirks.

James ruffles the boy's brown hair before Margareta disappears with him. He quickly checks his inner breast pocket, makes sure for the millionth time that it is still there. He would hate to reach inside the pocket to find it was gone. He had to have Charlie get it for him, he cannot lose it again. Straightening his jacket, he puts a hand to his chin and paces, wondering how he is going to say this.

A warm tingle spreading through his body alerts him she is back. He turns and says, "Ready for our walk?"

"Of course." Grabbing hands, they stroll through the forest. "I saw Jenna today."

"Did you give her back Mittens?" James asks.

Margareta nods. "I told her how some Slenders found her hiding under a burnt bush and brought her to the Menders to heal her burns. She was excited to see her cat again."

"I bet she was. And, since we're on the topic of returning things..." James lets go of her hand to reach inside his jacket to pull out a piece of gray cloth.

One that Margareta recognizes instantly. "My jacket."

James steps behind her and holds it while she slips her arms through the sleeves. "You told me to hang on to it until we met again. Now that the danger's passed and we're together again, I thought I'd give it back."

With her jacket fully on, Margareta turns around and cups his cheek, bringing his head down to hers so she can kiss him. James' heart skips a beat, and he wraps an arm around her, pressing her closer to him. They break apart from their kiss and press their foreheads together. "Never leave again," she whispers.

He thinks about the Grobman clan helping him after he lost his clan, about Victor coming to help them in the mine, about meeting Trevor and the other humans, reuniting with his father and his clan, finding Margareta, the Slender clans coming together to stop the bad guys, finding an ally in an ex-Black Circle member of all people. How he wishes he could smile. "I'm never leaving again."

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