Part 16 – New Kid.

Argh! Argh! Argh! Argh, Argh, Argh, Argh, Argh! Just when Adelaide was flipping going to reform the flipping team, just when she’d been reinvigorated by flipping Agent Price and was ready to fight some flipping crime for flipping real this time, flipping school just had to get in the flipping way!

“Adelaide? Are you with us? Are you in the land of the living?” Mr Curst watched her over the top of the glasses. Adelaide looked up at him and realised that she’d become slumped over her table. She hastily straightened herself. The rest of the class were staring at her. A few giggles rippled amongst them. Adelaide groaned inwardly and glanced distractedly at the clock. How on earth were they only ten minutes into the lesson?

“Well,” Mr Curst walked up to the board, “it’s nice to know you care so much Adelaide.”

“Sorry sir,” Adelaide blushed.

After the lesson had finished, after what felt like hours of Mr Curst glaring at her and giggles bouncing around the classroom, Adelaide stood in the hallway, desperately searching through the faces of those that went past. Eventually she spotted Francis’ unruly hair poking over the top of the sea of heads and began to push through the morass towards him.

“Francis!” She shouted as she got near and he looked up, startled that anyone in the school should remember his name. Seeing her his eyes widened and he ducked out of the crowd into the shelter provided by the gap between two lockers.

“Adelaide,” he said as she squeezed in next to him, “I’ve been calling you for ages. Why didn’t you answer?”

“Sorry,” she smiled sheepishly, “I took the fight kind of badly I’ve got to admit, but we need to get back together and get training. We can totally do this!”

“Nice to see you’ve got your energy back,” Francis’ face darkened, “but I think we’ll have a few problems to continued.

Adelaide looked at him, eyebrow raised.

“What, with Emma?” She said, “Just pull the blackmail trick again.”

“No, actually,” Francis replied, “believe it or not Emma’s actually showing willing, which surprised me too, I’ll admit. Lee worked his magic on her somehow. No, Lydia’s the problem.”

“Lydia?”

“Yeah,” Francis frowned, “turns out she secretly really hates Emma. From what I can gather Emma said something that really annoyed her. She just stormed off. None of us have seen or heard from her since.”

“Right,” Adelaide frowned and peered over the top of the crowd of heads, “well she’ll be here somewhere. We need to find her, talk to her.”

“Okay,” Francis nodded, determination in his features, “we should split up, we don’t have long until lunch break is over.”

Adelaide grinned at him then split off into the crowd, moving away amongst the throng, scanning the people around her for scales or forked tongues.

Turning the corner to head into the English department Adelaide caught a glimpse of a figure out of the corner of her eye, huddled in a heap in the corner. It was getting odd glances from passers by, but no one had stopped to examine it. Adelaide moved through the crowd, walking against the flow with some difficulty, towards the shape. Tripping up as she pulled herself out of the current she stumbled onto her knees in the figure’s lap. With a muffled shriek they rocked backward and sprawled onto the floor.

Getting hurriedly to her feet Adelaide stared down at the person she’d fallen on top of, who lay unmoving on his back, arms splayed out either side. She’d been expecting it to be Lydia, so the sight of a boy without any noticeable scales was surprising.

“Hey,” she said, giving him a little wave.

“Hi,” he didn’t even look at her, just stared up at the ceiling, eyes glazed over.

“Can I help you up?”

“Why not?”

He stuck his hand vertically into the air and she grabbed it and hauled him to his feet. He brushed himself off idly and nodded to her.

“Thanks.”

There was a long silence. Adelaide looked at him. He didn’t return her gaze, instead he seemed to be scanning the crowd that passed them.

“My name’s… Adelaide,” she said, a little unnerved. He looked at her as though seeing her for the first time.

“Oh,” he extended his hand, “Alexis.”

They shook. Adelaide let go of his hand as quickly as she possibly could. There was something she couldn’t quite place about him that made her really uncomfortable.

“Hey,” she said after a while, “I haven’t seen you around are you…?”

“I’m new,” he said his focus drifting away again.

“Hey Adelaide!” Both of their heads turned and Francis walked over to them. The after-lessons crowd had thinned a little. Behind Francis walked Lydia. Her jaw had healed entirely.

“Found her,” Francis looked pleased with himself.

“Cool, thanks Francis,” Adelaide looked at Lydia, “how are you?”

“I’m…” Lydia seemed to think about it, “I’m fine thanks. I… I just… uh… I’m fine.”

“Good,” Adelaide slapped her on the back, “well I’m glad we got that all sorted out. Listen Lydia I was thinking we could gather this weekend, discuss tactics, what we did wrong. We can totally improve.”

But Lydia was not listening to her. She was looking at Alexis. He was staring back at her, his mouth hanging half open, eyes wide and unblinking.

“H-hello,” said Lydia hesitantly.

“You are beautiful,” said Alexis quietly.

“I’m sorry?” Lydia put her head to one side.

“Beautiful,” said Alexis slowly, drawing out the word, “stunning. Words cannot describe how much I am in awe of you. Your face, your eyes, your mouth… everything. You’re wonderful.”

There was a long, embarrassed hush. Lydia, Francis and Adelaide stared together at Alexis in complete and leaden silence. Suddenly, without warning, Lydia had turned and was running, pushing past people in her desperation to get out of there. Francis watched her go, all colour drained from his face. Then he rounded on Alexis, seething.

“What the hell is wrong with you!” He said, “Was that your idea of a joke? Because it wasn’t funny, it was sick. Look what you’ve done you… you… flipping moron!”

Alexis wilted under his gaze. Francis turned and ran off after Lydia, passing through people as if they were little more than mist. Adelaide moved to call him back but thought better of it. She turned back to Alexis.

“Well,” He murmured, looking back at her, “that didn’t really work did it?”

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