|Chunk of the next chapter
||[Aug. 27th, 2006|10:18 am]
|||||Avenue Q - The Internet Is for Porn||]|
Sneak peak at the upcoming chapter. :O ORIGINA CONTENT OMG
A Look into the Past! Zane vs. Alexis
Syrus frowned. No matter how loudly he sighed, no matter how tightly he folded back his ears, no matter how much he twiddled his thumbs and kicked his feet over the peer edge, he couldn’t stop worrying. If anything, his little display made it worse.
The tag-team match was tomorrow, and though he and Jaden had been practicing every day after class, he was a mess of nerves. It was one thing to face his friend, who he knew would never hurt him, when fighting was fun and there was no winning or losing. Going up against a pair of trained, professional fighters, though…
“I guess brooding runs in the family.”
His large ears picked up a smile in Alexis’s voice, and Syrus lifted his head to face her. He blushed faintly and quickly returned to staring at waves lapping at wooden posts. “Oh, hi, Alexis.”
The Gardevoir wasn’t dissuaded. She simply drifted around to his front, and he blinked a few times. Alexis smiled down at him, standing in the air over the ocean. “It’s okay. If it’s any consolation, Zane always comes out here to stare down the sunset before his big fights.”
“He’s probably trying to think of a victory speech,” Syrus muttered, tucking his legs up tightly.
“You of all people should know that Zane doesn’t do speeches,” Alexis chuckled and folded her legs. “You’ll be fine, Sy. Give yourself some credit. I’ve been watching you practice. You’re fast, and believe it or not, being small has its advantages.”
“But knowing Crowler, he probably hired a couple of huge Charizards or Gyrados for us to face! I don’t even have claws and Meowth kittens have sharper teeth than I do,” Syrus whimpered, looking at his hands, “What am I supposed to do against them with a giant pair of ears and a fluffy tail? I’m an Eevee!”
“Oh, come on,” Alexis shook her head, “I know of an Eevee that did pretty well at this school.”
Syrus looked up at her in confusion, and she grinned, winking at him.
“You… you knew my brother before he evolved?” The Eevee gaped.
Alexis nodded. “He only became an Umbreon this year.”
Syrus immediately forgot his trouble, sitting up straight. “Really? How did he evolve? He never told us…”
Something about that question caused Alexis to falter, and she shrugged quickly. “Oh, well, uh, I don’t know that.”
“Oh,” Syrus’s ears dropped, but she still had his interest. “How did you meet him, then?”
“In the arena.”
Syrus’s eyes widened, and Alexis leaned back in the air, smiling to herself as she remembered.
Some time ago…
“You know the conditions, Mr. Truesdale.”
Zane inclined his head slightly, the closest thing to a nod Crowler would get. The Jynx sniffed and raised his lip.
“Don’t get me wrong, your record is impressive, but Articuno admits only the most elite students,” Crowler brushed off his blue coat pointedly, puffing out his chest. “However, I’m willing to overlook the fact you still refuse to evolve and allow you admittance if you beat our best freshman student.”
“You’re putting me up against a freshman?” Zane’s eyes followed the strutting Jynx accompanying him down the hall towards the arena. “I must not have impressed you that much.”
“Tsk,” Crowler waved a bony finger at Zane, shaking his head, “Keep underestimating your opponents and you’ll never get into Articuno.”
Crowler flung the doors open, and Zane squinted against the wall of light and sound that poured into the hall. The hoots and chatter of hundreds of students of hundreds of different species filled the stadium, each and every one impatient and eager for the fight to begin. There were roars, squeaks, shouts and the clacking of horns and mandibles, alongside the usual verbal exchanges that accompany teenagers when they’re packed into close, uncomfortable seating.
Usually, Zane’s ears could pick up something as slight as a pin dropping in his downstairs neighbor’s room. In addition to the naturally acute senses of his species, he had fine-tuned his ears to focus on every audible detail of his opponent. No matter what kind of poker face they had, no matter their tough talk, no matter their speed or stealth, Zane always knew the exact condition and location of the other fighter. Their heartbeat, breathing, even the way the shifting of their weight; they were an open book to him. He could – and had – beat someone blindfolded.
But for once, he didn’t hear a thing.
His opponent stood – no, hovered – at the far end of the arena. The Gardevoir’s long hair fell over her eyes and swept down her back. Arms that were closer to ribbons than limbs were folded patiently behind her back, and the long swath of white that was her lower body ruffled two feet off the ground.
The most striking thing about her was her expression. Zane was used to opponents that were angry. Cocky. Arrogant. Full of vim and vigor. Enraged, terrified. High on adrenaline. Whatever they were, they were in the extreme. He had prided himself on being a pillar of stoicism, even in the middle of the most intense battle. It was only power, not emotions, that would win fights in his book. It’s what set him apart.
This time, an equally cool, calm gaze met his. She smiled politely and nodded a formal greeting.
It was unnerving.
“Unlike you,” Crowler preened, waving a hand towards the elegant Gardevoir, “Alexis is fully evolved!”
Zane stepped into place and drew himself up to his full height. Alexis mirrored him on her side of the arena. Crowler wisely cleared the battlefield and turned to address the audience. “Quiet! The match between Zane Truesdale and Alexis Rhodes begins now!”
He had never faced a Psychic before, and the lack of sound was as disturbing as her impassive face. Nonetheless, Zane shed his uncertainty. What he lacked in experience, he made up for in knowledge, and he knew Psychics were physically weak. One powerful blow could do her in, no matter how calm or quiet she was.
Or pretty, some uninvited thought chimed in. He bristled and, spurred on by it, launched into action.
Air whistled past his ears and swept his hair and fur back by its roots. Her still form sped into range as he all but flew across the arena, closing the space between them in the blink of an eye. “Swif—”
His strike hit crackling air. She was gone.
Teleport… Zane pinned his ears back and narrowed his eyes. This might be harder than he thought.
A quick scan of the arena yielded nothing, until he noticed an out of place shadow. The Eevee craned his head back, and saw his opponent hovering high in the air, hunched over, hands intricately folded together in intense meditation. Whorls of light started to rise from her form, and her hair drifted as if suspended underwater. He couldn’t tell if she was powering up an attack or raising her strength, but he wasn’t going to take the time to find out.
Zane’s knuckles cracked loudly as he twisted his hands, arching his fingers like he was clutching an invisible sphere. Neon blue energy spun out of the air between his palms, glowing brightly and growing exponentially until it cast a nearly blinding light in his face.
Alexis opened one eye and noticed what he was doing, jerking upright. He could barely make her out beyond the blaze of his mounting attack.
Zane threw his hands forward and unleashed an explosion of raw power. An arc of energy sliced through the air and crashed into Alexis with a burst of light. The audience was howling now, and some were chanting Zane’s name.
He dropped his hands, but kept his gaze squarely focused on Alexis’s position. The Hyper Beam dissipated, and Zane’s eyes widened slightly.
Though she looked drained, she was unaffected. Wisps of his fading attack curled away from an unseen globe around her form.
Barrier? That’s amazing, Zane lowered his ears. I didn’t hear her call out her attack…
“That’s because I haven’t yet,” Alexis slowly opened her eyes. Though she looked worn, she was grinning victoriously down at him. Zane blinked up at her, uncomprehending, until he realized she was reading his thoughts.
The Gardevoir spread her arms to the limits of the telekinetic sphere she had created. A shimmering light ran over the contours of her sphere, like a mirror catching the light. She’d been charging her next attack the entire time.
The dying trails of energy that had been Zane’s Hyper Beam suddenly coalesced again, light rushing into them. It danced and crackled around her as she seemingly turned back the clock, and his attack was going backwards like a reversed film. Only this time, he was the target.
Zane tried to whirl away at the last second, but the blast struck his side and sent him skidding across the floor. He came to a stop in a smoldering heap.
The Eevee grimaced, teal bangs falling in his face and obscuring his vision. He tried to fight past the pain and pull himself to the ground. There was a growing shadow approaching him, and he wretched his head to look over his shoulder.
Alexis was there, and her arms were lit up brilliantly with the beginnings of another attack. The air around her hands became twisted and distorted. “Confusi—”
Zane snarled and dug the claws in his feet into the sandy arena floor. With one strong kick, he sent a spray of dirt and small rocks at her. She yelped and lost her concentration, quickly rubbing her eyes.
“You should’ve stayed up in the air,” Zane muttered and rose to his feet. “Double team!”
Alexis opened one bleary eye, scowling at him, but the Psychic froze when she saw there were suddenly a dozen Zanes surrounding her.
The real Zane stepped between two of his clones and gathered his strength. Both casting Hyper Beam and being hit by it had taken its toll, but he pushed the pain and exhaustion out of his mind. This time, he summoned buzzing black energy. “Shadow Ball!”
The attack was fast enough to hit the disoriented Gardevoir’s back, and she fell out of the air, catching herself on her unseen knees and hands. Zane’s ears perked. Just the effort of blocking his Hyper Beam had drained her immensely, and he could hear her struggling to catch her breath.
Zane leapt at her, but again, his attack came down on solid dirt. Her waning strength limited her teleportation range, though, and she reappeared only feet away. He turned on his ankle to catch her, but she vanished again. Soon they were engaged in what looked like a strange game of tag, with Zane lunging as he tried to predict her next appearance and Alexis slipping in and out of reality.
Either way, the constant leaping and teleporting was more than the weak fighters could take. Zane crouched on the ground, panting and scanning the arena, ears swiveling for any indication of where she’d show up next. She was taking a while to appear this time…
His ears shot straight up when he heard her phase into place directly behind him. Zane straightened immediately, but the Gardevoir’s arms wound around his waist tightly like the sleeves of a tied sweater. She all but shouted her attack into his ear.
Zane jerked. Suddenly, a rush of pain and exhaustion not his own flooded his system as Alexis’s attack bound them together psychically. He felt an aching burn on his back in the place he’d struck her, and the immense headache blocking his Hyper Beam had given her. He heard a muffled, pained gasp from his opponent, and he imagined she, likewise, could feel strained muscles in legs she didn’t have giving out on her.
The mutual agony was more than they could bear. Zane collapsed, hitting the dirt of the arena floor. His vision became dark and fuzzy.
As he fainted, his only consolation was that he felt Alexis’s equally limp weight on his back.
There really wasn’t anything interesting outside the window, so Alexis wasn’t sure why she found herself staring out of it.
The match was days behind her. It had been declared a tie. Her opponent didn’t get to move into Articuno Blue, and she hadn’t really proven anything. The whole thing had been a waste of everyone’s time.
Or had it?
She had heard of Zane – it was hard not to. The boys murmured about his swift victories and ruthless tactics. The girls tittered about him for entirely different reasons. His silent standoffishness and cool style seemed to earn him plenty of admirers. If nothing else, he was infamous for his refusal to evolve even though he was well into his second year. He stood in defiance to both peer and administrative pressure to conform and give up being an Eevee for something greater.
He was kinda cute, Alexis thought absently before she caught herself. She scowled and shook her head fiercely. She was not a twitterpated fan girl like her roommates. Even now, those two were off scouring the campus for potential dates. The Gardevoir snorted and turned away from the window. Despite their attempts, she refused to join them on their rendezvous. She was perfectly content to…
She glanced around the large, empty room. Evening was falling fast outside, and the shadows grew long in the gray light.
Alexis’s shoulders slumped and she drifted a bit lower.
Alexis lifted her head. She had distantly picked up the quiet urge of someone to talk to her on the psychic waves, but hadn’t recognized the mind.
She waved her leaf-like fingers, and the door opened itself. In her doorway stood Zane, with a solemn expression. He said nothing.
“Uh…” Alexis hovered up to him, tilting her head. “Hi there.”
There was a twitch on Zane’s otherwise impassive face. His eyes were glued to the ground as he mentally fought with something.
Alexis had a personal policy of not prying into people’s personal thoughts outside of battle, so she kept her powers at bay and waited for him to decide to share what was on his mind. Still, it couldn’t hurt to make small talk.
“That was a good fight back there,” she stated, bowing her head slightly, “You deserve to be in Blue. Crowler’s stupid prejudice against pre-evolutions isn’t fair. You’ll get here eventually.”
“…Thank you,” Zane spoke quietly but forcefully, as if he had to wrench the words out of his throat.
The silence started to grow long, so Alexis swept the door closed and started towards the miniature kitchen her room was equipped with. “So, did you just come up here to get an idea of what your future dorm room will look like? They really pull out all the stops in Articuno. It’s more like an apartment, really.”
The Gardevoir turned on the oven range, and the cupboard behind her opened of its own accord. Two cups drifted out, lifted by invisible hands, and settled onto a tray. The tea kettle glowed with an abnormal heat and soon started whistling. It rose up from the burner to pour its contents into the two waiting cups, all while Alexis motioned Zane to a small couch by the door. The tray followed Alexis and set itself on a coffee table.
“You don’t have to do that, I’m fine—” Zane tried to protest, but found one of the steaming cup hovering in front of his face. His nose twitched slightly.
“...no sugar or milk. You knew that’s how I drink tea?” the Eevee wondered, taking his cup out of the air and sitting.
“No,” Alexis grinned, sitting in the air across the coffee table from Zane. “That’s how I drink it.”
Zane’s ears lowered with faint embarrassment. “My apologies, I shouldn’t make assumptions like that. I’ve never… dealt with psychics before.”
Alexis waved off his apology and sipped from her own cup. “Don’t worry about it. I’m surprised you haven’t met my brother yet. Not even I can deal with him.”
Alexis nodded. If Zane was infamous for not evolving, Atticus was infamous for too many crimes to list.
The moonlight shone into the quiet room. Zane stared into his cup, and Alexis waited patiently. Finally, frustration creased his brow.
“Aren’t you going to ask me why I’m here?”
“Nah,” Alexis leaned back in her invisible chair with a small smile. “You’ll tell me when you’re ready.”
One of Zane’s ears twitched again. Alexis knew she was confusing him. She suspected he had never run into someone who not intimidated by him, infatuated with him, or jealous of him.
“You were…” He began slowly, gripping his cup tightly and visibly trying to focus his willpower to make himself speak, “You were unlike any opponent I have ever faced. Our match may have officially been declared a tie, but I threw everything I had at you, and you barely attacked me. I think… that makes it obvious which one of us is superior.”
Alexis nodded, lowering her head strategically, so her long bangs would cover her blushing cheeks. “It’s just a matter of approach, Zane. You were skilled in your own right.”
“Still, I…” The Eevee closed his eyes, setting his long ears flat behind his head, “I think I could learn a lot from you.”
Alexis nearly lost her concentration. She blinked and lifted her head, genuinely stunned; being psychic, this was rare for her. “You want me to… Mentor you?”
Zane nodded slightly, obviously swallowing enough pride to choke a horse. Here he was, the top-ranked second year student, talk of the entire school, and he was asking her, a freshman often eclipsed by her boisterous brother, for help.
“I…” She took a deep breath, determined not to lose her cool in front of him, “I’m… truly flattered, Zane. Honored, even. I’d be glad to do what I could.”
Zane managed to tear his gaze from his tea and meet her gaze.
“I won’t tell anyone, either.” Her smile turned a bit wry, and one of his eyebrows rose. That, she figured, was as close as she’d get to a smile from him.