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alderwitch

Some Girls [IC]

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Late at night in the girls lavatory, there was no one to hear as Alex blew her nose on the toilet paper and let out a sad little hiccup. With her pink backpack hanging on the inside of the door and her sneakers drawn up under her ontop of the toilet, it would be nearly impossible to tell she was even in there. Except of course for the occasional sniffle. As if the results might have changed since the last time she'd poured over them, Alex smoothed out the crumpled papers and ran her fingers over it again. She hadn't made a mistake. For the thousandth time, she hadn't.

Mike was still sleeping soundly. She'd locked down her sheilds so tight that nothing would leak and Alex was glad for that small mercy. Otherwise he'd have been up here fretting and then she'd have told him and she could hardly do that.

Really, there was only one person to reach out for at midnight on a school night. Her mental voice drifted out forlornly to her best friend. 'Erin? I need help. I don't know what I'm going to do!'

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On the other side of campus, Erin ground to a sudden halt while running wind-sprints, sending up yards-long divots of soil with her heels. "I'm on my way," she said immediately, out loud. She couldn't project the way Alex could, and just talking out loud was the easiest way to get ideas to sit in the front of her head where Alex could find them. She began running towards the building at full speed, leaving her knapsack back by the bleachers. "Where are you?"

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The response came in the form of a map of the campus with a blipping light in the girl's dormitory one floor up. Erin got there just as Alex was moistening a stack of paper towels. Her eyes were red and puffy and her face was blotchy. Alex never had been able to do the pretty tears. She rarely cried, fortunately. Tonight though, it was clear that she'd had a doozy of a one.

Before Erin could ask, she waved a sheif of papers at her and burst out, "I'm too young to be anyone's mom." as tears started to trickle down her cheeks.

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Erin figured she might have drawn a little attention with her race up the stairs and down the corridor, but most people were asleep at this hour anyway, and it wouldn't be the first time or the tenth time a speedster came down the hallway in a blur. She ducked into the bathroom and shut the door behind her, taking in the scene quickly. "I thought you were going to ask me to help you when you decided to run the DNA tests," was the only thing that came to mind to say right away. As soon as it was said, she realized what she'd given away there. "I mean... those are lab results, right?"

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"Even if I wasn't planning to turn myself in tomorrow morning, the chances are very good that I would have been caught. As it was, in order to delay the alarm on the lab I had to play with the security system in some truly interesting ways. I didn't want to get you in trouble too." Alex paused to blow her nose. She didn't seem surprised that Erin was aware of who Zoe was or overly perturbed by that fact. "You'd end up with more Archer time and you hate him."

Chucking the toilet paper into the trash, Alex put the cold wet papertowel against her face in some futile effort to make the blotchy skin part go away. "I broke into the school lab, rerouted the alarm power, and stole the components to run a battery of illicit tests on a fellow student. Even with extenuating circumstances, I'll be working off demerits until Christmas. You wouldn't have even had the extenuating circumstances. So I didn't say anything. And, yes, these are the lab results."

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Erin wet some more paper towels and handed them over. "You still should've told me. It's not like I have anything better to do than work off a few demerits. I promised I'd go with you, didn't I?" She leaned back against the sink, studying Alex. "It doesn't have to change anything, you know. You could just forget about the test results and go on with your life. Nobody would blame you for it, and maybe it would make everything easier. I mean, what's Mike going to think?"

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Alex looked up over the tissue, her hazel eyes wide and frightened, "I can't do that! This is my responsibility. I'm not just going to walk away from this. I don't think I could. It might be the right choice for some people, but not for me."

She took a shuddery breath and accepted the new cool towels, "I've got options, I just need a new plan. This sorta dumps my ten-year-plan down the toilet."

Alex was quiet for a long moment before she said very softly and sadly, "I'll just have to break things off with Mark."

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"What?" Erin asked, baffled. "Why would you do that? I mean, I'm not going to say I'm his biggest fan, but he's your boyfriend. He should be around to support you when you need it, right? He's got at least that much responsibility. And maybe he'll have some ideas about what you can do. You probably don't want to talk to your parents about this, I'm guessing."

She leaned against the wall, chewing on her lip as she tried to think of something helpful. "Nothing needs to change right now, anyway. You're still going to finish school, you can still be a hero. You've still got all your friends around. If you really think this is a responsibility you have to take on, we'll do what we can to help."

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"I always knew this time of my life would be precious. I mean, that's why I've always just let myself be a kid, you know? It was a luxury, but it's not a luxury I can afford anymore. I'll need to get finances in order. If I juggle my schedule, I can leave Claremont and get my college degree in a matter of months instead of years. I'll need to cash out the college fund," Alex murmered, her mind clearly running at full tilt. She stopped to blow her nose a final time and straighten her shoulders that had curved as if under some invisible weight.

"Mark can't do that with me, or for me. I wish..." She trailed off and sighed. "It is what it is."

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Erin straightened up, putting both hands on Alex's shoulders and waiting for Alex to look at her. "Come on, Alex, you have to stop this," she demanded. "You're not thinking clearly and you of all people should know it. You can't make big life decisions when you're upset. There's no reason for you to leave school and no reason for you to start worrying about money right now. There are scholarships and things like that, it'll get taken care of."

She sighed, awkwardly patting Alex's shoulder. "Let's go back to the room, okay? I'll borrow the hot pot and we can have cocoa or something."

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Alex nodded and with uncharacteristically subdued posture, let herself be escorted out of the bathroom. She was too lost in her thoughts and Erin was too concerned about her friend for either of them to notice the shocked and absolutely maliciously amused presence down the hall.

--------------------

Before first period was over, rumors were flying. Unfortunately, Mike was oblivious enough and obnoxiously good enough that to really set him off took some personal handling. So it was Daisy Gibbons herself that sidled up to Mike in the cafeteria at lunch and fixed her most sympathetic smile on him as she leaned over his table. Once she'd caught his attention, she shifted to press one hand on his shoulder as she sweetly said, "I just want you to know that I don't believe the rumors, Mike. Alex isn't that kind of girl. She's so hardworking. So good."

Her pretty mouth turned down as she lowered her voice conspiritorially, "And if she is in, you know, trouble, it's got to be Mark's fault. I mean, he's used to girls who move faster than Alex. Don't worry. If she is, I'm sure he'll do what's right by her and the baby."

Her fingers slid over his shoulder almost carressingly as she gave him a 'sympathetic' squeeze. "He's that kind of guy."

Daisy sashayed off, sure that her little emotional nudges would do their usual trick. Bolt was going to be so very pleased with the end results, and, frankly, everyone had been curious as to what exactly Mike was holding back. She only hoped she'd have a front row seat on the quad.

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As the schools premier manipulator flounced off Mike tried to piece together what she had said. At first he was merely baffled, the obvious answer simply wasn't possible, was it? But as he mulled it over it became more and more clear that she had meant it exactly as it had come across. Any other girl and Mike would have written it off as viscious lies and slander against his friends, but Daisy Gibbons had a certain effect on the functioning of the male brain that Mike for all his self control was not immune to.

It may have taken longer than she had hoped but Student Body had achieved her desired result. The mangled remnants of his silverware were not surprising at all of course. The destinct hand print left in the now mangled handles of the cafeteria door less so. Counter to Mikes usualy passive way of moving through crowds he plowed glowering through the crowded quad looking for Mark.

As the crowd parted before his simmering anger he lifted off the ground and slammed into Mark his arms closing around the comparatively slight boy like a vise. "What in the damned HELL were you thinking?" he growled furiously as they came to a stop nearly twenty feet in the air.

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Mark's eyes popped open wide at his roomate's sudden onslaught, the cheerful Lucas boy taken thoroughly aback by Mike's attack. He was a cheerful sort of guy, but not immune to human fear by any means. Oh God! By the time they were in the air, he'd had time to think about it, though, and time to study Mike carefully. It's...it's a trick! This isn't the Mike I know! "Do your worst!" he fired back at Mike. "I'm not saying a thing to the likes of you!"

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Zöe seemed distracted a lot of the time, never focusing for too long on any one task. She was beginning to develop a reputation for being a bit of a "space cadet." Which really couldn't have been further from the truth. The fact was, at any given moment, she moved and processed input so fast that she could take in the fine details of an entire seen with a glance. So it didn't take her long to catch wind of the rumors flying about regarding her future mother's conduct.

No way. Not a chance. Zöe didn't believe it for a second, and was quick to say as much to anyone she caught discussing the subject. And she wasn't always cordial about it, either.

Of course, given the similar rumors that had been flying about regarding her relationship with Eddie (which were mostly true), some people were more skeptical than others, and told her so.

She almost came to blows over it, before she heard the mix of yelling and whispering that inevitably accompanies any potential combat situation at school. She dashed out into the quad, appearing at the front of the crowd in the blink of an eye as Mike yelled at Mark, high above their heads.

"What the fark are you guys doing?"

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Mikes eyes blazed with fury at Marks response, "Damit Mark!" he shouted, "This isn't some damn game or one of your dads stupid stories this is real life."

Mikes voice was quivering with rage, his iron grip not allowing Mark any real movement but still tightly controlled not even bruising him.

He dropped his voice to a low growl, "Play time is over, What are you going to do about Alex and the baby?"

Lost in his rage he didn't even seem to hear Zoe though she could easily feel the anger pouring across their psychic link.

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He's gone crazy! thought Mark, a little concerned by this fact, particularly given his current location. He was willing to keep him talking while help arrived from his friends, who would surely be here any minute, not to mention Mr. Summers or even the Next-Gen, so he played along with Mike's fevered dreams. "I'm going to take good care of them, Mike. We're going to have a wedding in the spring, when the flowers are blooming and the sky overhead is blue." He gave his friend a wide-eyed look. "I would have told you sooner, Mike, but I didn't quite know how to invite you...to be my best man." He put his hand on the other boy's. "Will you stand with me, and with Alex, on that glorious day?"

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But there is no baby! Mom wouldn't sleep with anyone right now! Least of all Mark! She's Little Miss Goody Two-Shoes right now. I don't know who started this, but Mike's got the wrong idea. And Mark is gonna get turned into a pretzel. I gotta do something!

"I'm going to take good care of them, Mike. We're going to have a wedding in the spring, when the flowers are blooming and the sky overhead is blue. I would have told you sooner, Mike, but I didn't quite know how to invite you...to be my best man. Will you stand with me, and with Alex, on that glorious day?"

Zöe opened her mouth to speak, then caught the words in her throat at the last second. Waitaminute. Why do I hafta do anything? This is Mark we're talking about here. He was a jerk to all his wives, he left a trail of broken homes around the farking globe, he always lets everyone down. Now he wants to do the same to Mom. AND make sure I'm never born. Maybe I should just let Mike kick his ass into the stratosphere...

She hesitated for a moment. No. It's not right. Besides, taking him down like this, in front of everybody, is just gonna get Dad in trouble. With Summers, and with Mom. Then she reached out to touch Mike's mind with her own.

Da- ...aamn, Mike. This is some farked-up sprak right here, I won't lie. But don't do this. You've spent your whole life trying to prove to Alex that you're not gonna hurt her. Don't un-do all those years of work in one minute. Not for this jerk. He's not worth it. C'mon. Put him down and let's talk about it. You can always kick his ass later if you have to. In fact, I'll hold him down for you. But not here. Not now.

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Unfortunately, Alex was not nearly as good at getting people to move out of her way especially when there was a fight boiling. She had to resort to some very un-Alex shoving to see what was going on in the middle of the quad. She did arrive to catch the very audible conversation. Of course, Alex had caught the rumors. She'd also dismissed them as rediculous and malicious.

Apparently not everyone had. After a bit of silently trying to shape words, Alex let out a very aggravated, "Oh!"

Cupping her hands around her mouth as clearly they were going to give everyone a scene, Alex shouted in an impressive bellow, "You can't get pregnant from having your breast touched, for goodness sake! Put him down!"

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Erin elbowed her way up behind Erin, moving considerably more easily through the crowd, for all it made her uncomfortable. She stared at the scene unfolding overhead. "Oh, crap," she muttered. She blinked a few times in surprise as Alex gave her impromptu biology lesson, then helpfully yelled, "Whatever you heard is a big misunderstanding, Mike!" She was sure that was probably true, at least.

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Mikes face went slack with confusion from all the different stories. He maintained his steely grip on Mark and turned towards Zoe and Alex. "But he just said ... Wait What?" he interupted himself as his brain caught up with the last of Alexs statement. He was strugging with all of the lies and counter stories he didn't know what to believe any more. 'You're right, this isn't the way. Thank You' he thought to Zoe though a fair bit likely drifted across to Alex as well.

He shook his head to refocus, "So you're not ... ? He didn't ... ?" Mike asked at a more reasonable decible range though clearly not convinced not to mention the unhappyness he felt at the concept of Mark and Alex in such a situation as she had admitted to though he chose to put aside the urge squeeze Mark until he popped in favor of clarifacation.

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Dang it, Alex, why do you have to argue with the crazy while he's still holding me? "Mike," he suggested gently, "why don't you put me down now and we talk about this on the ground?" The ground was a good distance beneath his feet, but not so far that he worried about it. "Maybe somewhere else, not in front of the quad?" he added, too quiet to be heard below.

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"Of course I'm not, and of course I didn't," Alex said, planting both hands on her hips and her chin jutting up so that she could look up at them both. Her flat denial of the possibility wasn't the most flattering for her erstwhile boyfriend but Alex wasn't exactly in the frame of mind to phrase things better. Her cheeks were flushed and the curls of her hair almost seemed to vibrate with her temper, "Oh, you can be so blind, you know that?"

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Mark could easily see the warring emotions on Mikes face as he pushed down on his anger and brought himself more under control. Mike dropped to the ground still not fully processing just what a scene he had made and set Mark perhaps a little more firmly on the ground then he intended.

After releasing Mark his hands went to rigidly to his sides as he let out a deep breath, trying to refocus as he walked towards where Alex, Erin, and Zoe stood. Though clearly calmer he was still struggling to maintain the carefull control that was his trademark and he didn't speak as he approached the others.

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Oh thank goodness, Alex must have fixed his crazy. Now that problem was over, Mark was left with what to do about Mike: that sort of display got you a talk with Dr. Marquez if you were unlucky! Though Mark wished Chris were here to give a good face to what he was about to do, he knew perfectly well that this was the sort of thing you had to handle yourself. At the top of his lungs, walking away from Mike, he shouted, "And that, ladies and gentlemen, is just the first scene from our new play The League of Freedom! It's got thrills, chills, spills, and a musical number starring my good friend Mr. James Prophet!" James is good for this. He'll cover for me. Mark thought hopefully. "Coming soon, to a theatre...near you!"

And with that, as the crowd reacted with mixtures of applause and other noise, Mark headed back over to join his friends.

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Zöe's mouth hung open for several moments as she stared at Mark and his improvisations. "Leave it to Mark to make up something that makes people ask 'Why would anyone make up something like that?'" She shook her head, then turned to Alex. She rubbed her hand on Alex's shoulder. "Why are people spreading rumors about you being pregnant? Have you and Mark even had sex? Did you piss off someone who doesn't have enough to do, or something? Or are people just getting confused about which red-head is 'a nasty skank who'll give it up to anybody?'"

Maybe this whole "sweet as apple pie" thing really was an act?

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