Story: Radial: Unravel
Challenge: Flavor of the Day - Brabble
Topping: Whipped Cream (Alex is 12)
Word Count: 678
Summary: A little lunch-time altercation tells Alex that Kennet is starting to become troublesome.
“Stop pushing me!”
Alex stared at Kennet, then down at the distance between his food tray and Kennet’s. “I’m not.”
“You were,” the other boy snapped, jerking his tray back into Alex’s. “Don’t lie!”
Alex looked back to his tray and shook his head. He’d only got half of his appointed portions. Still, a day on half-rations wouldn’t kill him, he’d got by on worse for clinical trials; he picked it up and turned away from both the queue and Kennet.
“If you stick your elbow in me one more time, I’m gonna smack you.”
He paused, gripping the cheap plastic tightly. “I’m not touching you.”
“You jostled my drink.” Kennet balanced his tray on one hand and gestured to the plastic container. “You’re doing it on purpose, aren’t you?”
Taking a deep breath, Alex tried again. “I’m nowhere near your drink.” For once he wished that he’d been allowed to spend more time with other children. Maybe these situations wouldn’t feel so alien.
Kennet gave him a steady, impassive stare. With a deliberate gesture, he raised his free hand again and tipped over the tumbler. “See? Now you’ve knocked it over.”
Alex stared at the yellow liquid spreading across the plastic. Just because he hadn’t cheated in the martial arts class, Kennet felt like he could cheat everywhere else. It wasn’t fair, and he had no idea what to do about it.
“Aren’t you gonna apologise?” Kennet’s taunting voice intruded on his thoughts.
For one moment the blond’s eyes widened and Alex had a sudden impression that he hadn’t been expecting him to say it. “What did you say?”
Alex raised his chin and met his cold blue eyes. “No. I’m not going to apologise.”
Kennet looked around at the other kids, many of whom were now staring openly at the pair, then back at Alex with the kind of condescending smirk just programmed to push all the wrong buttons. “You just spilled my drink and you aren’t gonna apologise?”
This situation was getting rapidly out of hand. Why should he take the blame for something he didn’t do anyway? “I didn’t spill your drink. I won’t apologise.” He paused, assessing Kennet’s position and stance, then added, “get out my way.”
“Or you’ll do what?” Kennet sneered.
Some of the surrounding diners were glancing at the back of the food counter, but any adults were conspicuous by their absence. They might be fetching their superiors, but Alex suspected it was more to do with letting them sort out their own problems. No matter. He was used to getting by on his own. And it would be so easy to hit or kick Kennet, particularly in close quarters; so satisfying.; wouldn’t solve anything. Instead he raised his tray above his head, closed his eyes, biting the inside of his cheek hard enough to draw blood, and stepped sideways into the partition .
The thing he’d done with Kennet had been easy enough. This felt... nasty. Bitter. Iron-like. He had to blink a few times to clear his head and be sure that he’d really done it—and acknowledge that he’d just done it in front of everyone in his year, not just the people in his martial arts class. They were staring at him open-mouthed.
That was their issue. The best thing to do now was keep his head up and act like nothing had happened, just like he did at home. Sitting at a nearby and mercifully empty table, he busied himself with what there was of his food rather than other people’s gawping. From beyond the partition he could hear Kennet’s choice words; whatever he was, it wasn’t the same as him. It didn’t narrow down the field much.
Now everyone knew what he could do, and he was no closer to finding out Kennet’s skill. He frowned down at his plate, ignoring the way the silence gave way to chatter as he ceased to be so interesting.
Somehow he knew that he needed to find out soon, before it came back to bite him.