Story: Radial: Unravel
Challenge: FOTD - Kibitzer; Fudge Ripple #8 - Annoyance; Blue Raspberry #27 - A Hint
Topping: Whipped Cream (Alex is 12)
Word Count: 935
Summary: Alex indulges in a little library-based research... and receives a (worryingly talkative) warning.
He liked the library. Not just for the books—although it had an impressive collection, including the always-fascinating scientific journals and studies he’d seen so much of back home—but for the three huge arched windows in the far wall. Light streamed through them, illuminating the desks beside them and down the middle of the room. He’d never seen anything so beautiful.
Beautiful enough that it was distracting. He was trying really hard to concentrate on the book propped open in front of him, but his gaze kept being dragged back to the lush gardens beyond. Gardens weren’t new, exactly... but the ones back at his department were used for experiments, not for pleasure, and he’d never been allowed inside them.
Alex caught himself staring out at them again, chin resting on the back of his fist— Damnit! This was getting him nowhere! He glared back down at the book, concentrating furiously on the text. It was interesting, it really was, but the grass, the sunlight—
He forced his attention back to the book. Honey Tongue, a latent kind of Beldame; a skill that used a low-level telepathy to bend others to their will. He’d finally figured where he should be looking in the middle of the night, staring up at the ceiling and pulling at what he knew about her until it finally gave way to him. Most of the chaos she’d caused in the first week was fixed now. They’d said they were only human as they reassigned her homework; he didn’t know when being human was synonymous with being stupid. But no matter: now he knew what she was, he could learn to avoid suffering at her hands again.
And speaking of suffering... He flicked through the book again, frowning down at the pages. There was still the none-too-small matter of Kennet. There was something about him, he was sure of it, but without any clues he was none the wiser. With no clues, he had nowhere to start searching.
He pulled his gaze reluctantly from the text and up to the speaker. A boy with short brown hair was standing at the head of the desk, shifting his weight from foot to foot, hands shoved deeply into his pockets. He looked like he was expecting a response. The best he was getting was a curt nod.
“You shouldn’t keep bothering Kennet, you know.” His fidgeting grew more intense, until Alex wanted to slap him. “Do you know what kinda person he is?”
“An irritating one.” He muttered, returning to his book.
The other boy snorted softly, then the chair beside Alex scraped across the floor with an ear-splitting screech. “What’re you doing?”
“Reading.” He thought it was obvious?
The brunet reached out and lifted one of the pages, squinting at the text. “The skills handbook? I heard about the kung fu class.”
He really thought Alex would be looking up his own skill? “It’s not in this edition.” True: his was in the sixth edition; why a well-stocked library only had the fifth was a mystery. He suspected it was another elaborate experiment, but it made him wonder what else was missing from this one? Who else was missing?
“This one is mine.” Without his permission the boy flipped back through the pages until he reached F, tapping his finger over the entry for Farshee. “It’s a bit rubbish really, but my supervisor said that with the right training it’ll be really useful, that’s why I’m here.” He gave Alex a broad, gap-toothed grin.
It explained a lot. Mostly why he was so irritating. “Tell Kennet I don’t care if I bother him.”
“Okay,” he said, making no effort to move. “Do you think Lucia’s skill is in there? I mean, I don’t know what it is yet, but it should be in there, shouldn’t it? Unless she’s like you, anyway.”
Alex thought Farshees were supposed to scream to kill people. He was pretty sure this one would manage it with never-ending gabble. “What’s your name?”
The boy looked surprised, as if he never expected Alex to take a proactive part in this so-called conversation. “Crevan. Why?”
The question distracted him enough that Alex was able to get his chair pushed back and be halfway out of it before he’d finished speaking. It was almost too difficult to resist the urge to say so I can be sure to avoid you in the future. “Don’t waste your time doing what Kennet says, Crevan.”
Crevan shrugged up at him. “I only passed his message on ’cause he wouldn’t leave me alone ’til I did. I don’t think he likes you too much.”
“Good.” He pushed the book towards him.
“You should watch it. I don’t think he’s really a nice person.” But Crevan was apparently easily distracted: he began to leaf through the pages almost immediately, aimlessly purposeful.
Alex suddenly felt an unexpected pang of pity for the poor Lucia, quickly quashed: if she couldn’t fend off an overamorous classmate she had no chance of survival. Luckily for him Crevan was now completely immersed in the book and barely even acknowledged him as he made for the exit with only one sad backward glance towards the window. Cold-blooded murder wouldn’t go down well with the teachers and that was how it would’ve gone if he’d spent another five minutes with the talkative boy, but still...
He sighed. There’d be time for staring out the window later, after homework and sparring. After research. And as far as Kennet went, he still had a lot of work to do on that front.