Story: Radial: Unravel
Challenge: FOTD - intemerate; Fudge Ripple #29 - Shock
Toppings: Whipped Cream (Alex is 12)
Word Count: 1,055
Summary: Alex is finally getting over the side effects, but discovers something unexpected when he goes to change his shirt. Something that answers his questions... but he'd rather remain ignorant.
Notes: I did it. A whole seven days of FOTD... of Alex. I never thought I'd manage it. *dead*
The medic had been right: the nosebleeds had almost come to a stop now, content only to reappear at the most inconvenient times imaginable, like in the middle of his English lesson. The first he’d known about it had been the increasingly-familiar tickle on his upper lip, then a few small red splashes hit his essay; when he’d glanced down several more decided to spoil the perfect white of his shirt.
The teacher had sighed at the sight of Alex’s raised hand and gave him permission to change.
The corridors were eerie when empty. He was used to seeing them filled with his classmates as they moved from their studies room to their martial arts halls, or less bustling but still occupied in what little free time they had, but never bare and silent. It set him on edge; stupid, he knew. Even if there was anyone else walking around, they’d only be teachers or scientists, no threat. At home he could have walked around in the middle of the night without a single strange feeling. They were unfamiliar surroundings, that was all.
The dorm room door was ajar. He stared at it for a moment, not liking the feeling growing in his stomach; he was sure they’d shut it when they’d gone to class in the morning. Random inspection? Unlikely. Tentatively, he pushed it open.
The room was exactly as they’d left it. The four beds remained immaculate, the sheets smooth and the pillows neatly arranged; it really was just in his imagination. Alex shook his head and sighed, unbuttoning his stained shirt as he moved towards his wardrobe at the end of the room—and froze.
A shift of movement between his bed and the wall, a flash of dark hair just level with his sheets—
“My cupboard’s locked.” He did his best to keep his voice calm and level, even if it was the exact opposite of how he felt. “And I don’t have anything worth stealing.”
“Oh I can see that,” came the reply, a sickeningly familiar voice laced with mockery. The figure rose and turned.
Alex’s eyes widened in horror.
His doppelganger smirked at him, the expression terrifying when not on his own lips. “What’s wrong, seen a ghost?”
It might be his voice, but there was something familiar about the phrasing; he ignored it in favour of the more pertinent question. “Who the hell are you?”
“Can’t you see?” The stranger—his mirror version—rested his hands on his hips and gave Alex a solemn look. “I’m Alex Jaska. I like to humiliate people and make a fool of myself. The question is,” and he leaned forwards, the grin wider and more horrible than before, “who are you?”
For once his self control deserted him: his jaw dropped. “Kennet...”
The smug expression slid from his mirror’s face. “It’s no fun when you guess that quickly.” He sighed, brushing his hair—Alex’s hair; this was just wrong—from his face, and closed his eyes.
Alex stared as his clone’s face blurred and shifted, the hair lightening, shortening, until Kennet was standing in front of him, blue eyes dancing with clear amusement at the sight of the boy in front of him. “You’re a shapeshifter.”
“Top prize for Alex.” Kennet shoved his hands into his pockets, leaning back to assess his classmate. “And you’re a phase-shifter. Funny that it’s not in any of our library books. It’s sad you’re a bit of a crappy one.”
“How did you know?” He asked warily, fully aware that he wasn’t going to like the answer, particularly in light of the way Kennet was mirroring him now, without even intending to. “Your nose is bleeding.”
“Is it?” He dragged the heel of his hand under his nose and stared at the red trail. “Oh well. I guess I should have expected it. We’re the same height, it’s not difficult, but shifting into Mr. Smith, that was a bit tougher.”
“You looked at my records.”
Kennet grinned. “Went to get your key, saw them and couldn’t resist. I wanted to know what you were. And now I know and I’m not really impressed. I mean, I thought it was kinda cool when you just walked through that partition, and now I find you can’t even do that without running the risk of killing yourself.” He wiped his nose again, then cleaned his hand on Alex’s white bed sheets. “What use are you, really?”
Without... what? Alex swallowed. Even he hadn’t known that, and they were his records, his life. And here was someone he hated standing right in front of him, taunting him about it like it was funny he could have died just trying to get away from some jumped-up bully.
“I wonder why they’re keeping you around,” the other boy mused, gaze moving from Alex’s head to feet and back again. “Maybe they’ll experiment on you—”
Alex didn’t realise his fist was moving until it slammed into Kennet’s face. The blond staggered back, momentarily stunned; his loss: Alex had every intention of pressing his dominance. He managed to drive his knuckles into Kennet’s nose three more times before the other boy regained the wherewithal to jerk his foot up and kick Alex in the stomach, sending him reeling.
Pushing himself to his feet, the blood streaming down his face and streaking his shirt, Kennet was just as keen to take advantage of Alex’s stunned pause; Alex blocked the blow to his face but the one to his leg caught him by surprise.
Grabbing hold of Kennet’s collar as he fell took him by surprise too, dragging him down with him and giving him the opportunity to punch him a few more times before hands locked around his upper arms, yanking him upwards. He was barely aware of arms reaching down to haul the blond roughly to his feet too; Alex struggled and thrashed until a large palm flashed out and caught him hard across one cheek. “Calm down.”
He ceased to resist, going limp in the firm hold. As both he and Kennet were hauled from the room, surrounded by loud, angry adult voices, the only thing he could do was look down at the splashes and splatters across his half-bare chest and think that he’d just ruined a perfectly good, previously impeccable shirt.