"Yeah, I know ....." Alex said into the phone as she sat cross-legged in the center of her bed, dressed in her pajamas. "Sure. I'll see you tomorrow at school .....And Hunter? I'm really sorry I wasn't around earlier when you called, but I'll explain everything to you tomorrow, o.k.? Bye".
Alex placed the phone back onto it's carriage on the nightstand between the beds. Annie was reading a book waiting for Alex to finish so she could turn off the light and go to sleep. She closed the book and set it down on the nightstand, rolled over, and looked at her younger sister.
"So, are you going to tell Hunter about your powers coming back when you see him at school tomorrow?" asked Annie. Alex cocked her head at Annie. "Well 'duh' Annie. He is like, my boyfriend. How could I possibly not tell him?"
Annie thought for a moment. "It's just that the less people who know about them, the less danger you will be in is all Alex".
"I know that Annie ....." Alex said, crawling up to the head of her bed, pulling back the covers, and nestling under them. "But, Hunter can be trusted. Anyway, he has a right to know". Annie sighed.
"So, does that apply to Nicole and Louis too?" Annie prodded. "You remember what happened when Louis found out a few days ago? You, mom, and dad almost wound up being blown to bits by Danielle and Lars in the plant's labs". Annie was referring to when Ms. Atron and her head scientist Lars Frederickson tried to eliminate the Macks when the plant learned that Alex was the "GC-161 Kid".
Alex's head sank back into her pillow. She sighed.
"I'll think of something Annie. But I just don't know if I can lie to all of my friends again. I mean, if Robyn wouldn't have walked in on us today, I'd be lying to her again right now per your orders".
"It's for your own good Alex" Annie pointed out.
"Yeah, yeah, yeah, 'it's for my own good'. I know Annie, I know....." Alex answered sarcastically.
Annie decided to change the subject. "So .....since we got back home, you've been on the phone with Hunter most of the evening. You never really told me what was said when you went to see Dave".
"There really wasn't much to it. All I could do was just watch. He was pretty out of it, but at least he's o.k.. I think he knew someone was there, but I'm pretty sure he didn't know it was me".
"Well, at least his chimp Oscar was at his mother's house and not in his trailer when it blew up" Annie added. Oscar was a chimpanzee that Dave attempted to give to Vince Carter for Christmas two years ago, but the mischievious chimp got loose in the plant, and ingested some GC-161. The chimp had powers just like Alex's for the last two years. When Mr. Mack developed the GC-161 antidote for Alex, he sent a vial to Dave to give to Oscar as well.
A question suddenly popped into Alex's head. "Hey! Since dad's antidote didn't work long on me, do you think it will wear off on Oscar?"
"Doesn't look like it Alex. Dave's mom called here a little while after we got back and told dad what happened to his trailer. Dad happened to ask if Oscar was exhibiting any more of the powers and Dave's mom said no. The GC-161 you were exposed to was the original compound, and not the same that Oscar ingested. He probably won't be zapping or melting again any time soon" Annie explained, leaning up and adjusting her pillows.
"Poor little guy. I hope he's alright. I miss him ....." Alex fretted quietly, looking up at the ceiling. With a thought, Alex willed the lamp between the beds to turn off. It momentarily startled Annie. She looked at Alex with a frown. "At least your powers seem to be under control again and you aren't exploding all over the place like you were this morning".
"Alex?" said Annie, but when no response came, she knew Alex had already drifted off to sleep. She knew her little sister was exhausted, so she didn't want to disturb her. She needed her rest.
But Annie wasn't finding it as easy to sleep. The FBI being involved in what happened to Dave was a pretty sure indicator that there was some foul play involved in his trailer blowing up, and it made her think that if someone tried to kill Dave, that Alex could be in similar danger too. She didn't want to say anything to Alex for fear that it would just put more undue stress on her.
Alex made it clear earlier that she wasn't a 'little girl' anymore, but to Annie, she was still her 'baby' sister.
Annie knew that there were a lot of big players behind the scenes who were involved in the illegal experimentation and production of GC-161, and those people stood to gain billions with it's distribution.
Was the attempt against Dave one of those people trying to exact revenge? Or could it have been an act of a more personal nature?
"Vince ....." Annie said softly, as the image of the former PV Chemical Head of Security materialized in her mind.
Alex slammed her locker door shut and leaned her head against it. She began to bang her head against it repeatedly. "I hate this, I hate this, I hate this!" she exclaimed angrily.
"I can't believe you're mad about all of this fame you're getting Alex. You're the talk of the town after what happened last Friday, and you're the most popular kid in school! Heck, you're the most popular kid in town! What's not to like?" Ray said, amazed.
"Yeah Alex. You're a celebrity now. Enjoy your fifteen minutes of fame" added Robyn.
"Fifteen minutes?" asked Louis. "This isn't going to die down for a while! Alex, I say you ought to have an autograph session and charge a twenty bucks a pop!"
It was Monday afternoon at Danielle Atron High School, as Alex was preparing to go to last period, World History. Since she had gotten to school that morning, Alex had not had a moment's peace. Everyone at school had smothered her since she arrived. It had been a madhouse.
It started when she stepped onto campus with Ray, Louis, and Hunter. A crowd of teens began gathering around them as they approached the main building. Alex still hadn't had the privacy to talk to Hunter about her powers, because she knew better than to tell him over the phone the night before.
If it hadn't been for a pair of sheriff deputies the school requested to help out in case of a mob scene, Alex would have never even made it to her locker. She was late getting to Home Room and to first class, but fortunately, the teachers were obviously prepared for this and no one got detention for it.
But right now, Alex was wishing for the serenity of Detention Hall. Her closest friends, Ray, Robyn, Nicole, Louis, and her boyfriend Hunter were the talk of the school, but it was Alex who was being driven crazy by the mania of being the legendary "Chemical Kid". There was nowhere in school that she could hide.
Oh, she enjoyed that she was popular now, but it was quickly becoming apparent to her that she would welcome falling back into sophomore obscurity again.
"I'm ready for it to be over. I just want to go home and get away from all of this" Alex complained.
"C'mon Mack, you can't be serious ..." Louis said as Alex and her friends started down the hall towards class. Kids packed the halls where her locker was, and passers-by were staring at her, waving at her, and talking and whispering about her.
"I'm dead serious Louis. I just want to be plain old Alex Mack again" she groaned, trying to ignore all of the attention on her.
"Mack, you never cease to amaze me. Later guys" Louis said as he turned down another hall to go to Chemistry class.
"Alex, don't let Louis bother you. You know how he is" Robyn said, trying to console her. She just nodded to Robyn in acknowledgement.
"Yeah, I know Robyn. Mom and dad warned me this was going to happen. I just didn't think it would be so .....intense. And I haven't even been able to spend hardly any time with Hunter today either. He must hate me right now".
Robyn patted Alex on the shoulder.
Then Alex happened to spot Brad Patterson, a tall, handsome, brown haired boy that lived in her neighborhood. He had fallen into line behind Ray and was on his way to History class as well.
During the summer, Alex developed a crush on Brad until Hunter Reeves came into her life several weeks ago. Alex still felt an attraction to Brad even though she was seeing Hunter, and sometimes, when she saw him at school, she couldn't help but feel guilty because of Hunter. She waved at him politely, but he suddenly looked away and fell back behind some other students. Alex considered that odd, as she knew Brad liked her too, and he was always very nice and open. Robyn saw Brad's reaction too.
"Alex Mack ..!" said a familiar voice very loudly to her left just past Robyn. Out of the crowd, stepped a beautiful dark haired girl with huge brown eyes. She cut in front of Robyn and grabbed Alex on the arm to stop her. Alex couldn't believe her eyes.
"Libby Flanders?!" said Alex, astonished. Libby Flanders was a classmate of Alex's in eight grade but moved away when her father got another job out of town. Two years ago, Libby befriended Alex in eight grade to use her friendship as a means to make her a scapegoat to get out of taking an important mid-term.
Libby set off the school's fire alarm to delay the test, and when Alex was innocently caught by a teacher by the activated alarm switch, she was wrongly accused for it. Alex discovered one of Libby's bracelets near the alarm box and confronted the popular girl with it, demanding that she admitted to her deed.
But Libby skillfully worked on Alex's gullibility and convinced her to take the blame for it.
Thinking Libby was sincere, Alex took responsibility for pulling the alarm, and Libby acted like a best friend to her. But several days later, Alex caught Libby setting the alarm off again, once more trying to delay the mid-term and frame Alex! Alex realized what a sucker Libby had played her for so she used her powers to teach Libby a lesson.
Alex telekinetically left one of Libby's bracelets on the fire alarm and locked the girl's feet onto the floor with a force field until a teacher arrived. Alex hid in a locker as Libby tried to accuse her of pulling the alarm and that she tried to stop her. When Libby opened the locker to prove to the teacher that Alex was hiding in it, she had vanished, having secretly morphed into her liquid form and flowed underneath the lockers. Libby was finally caught red-handed.
After school that day as Alex was leaving, Libby confronted her and warned Alex that she intended get even with her, but two weeks later, Libby left Danielle Atron Junior High when her family moved away.
Now, after two years, here was Libby Flanders again, standing right in front of Alex, staring hatefully into her eyes. Alex was stunned as Libby leaned close to her, almost nose to nose.
"Alex Mack. Surprised to see me? Well, I'm back" she snarled, bobbing her head side to side in menacing fashion. "I always wondered how you pulled that little disappearing trick of your's two years ago to set me up. I should have known that only some sort of mutated freak could pull that off". Ray stepped in between Alex and Libby. "Why don't you back off Libby?" he warned.
She glanced at Ray and then back at Alex. "What's the matter Alex? Need your boyfriend here to fight your battles?" Libby challenged. She stuck a finger in Alex's face around Ray. "Well, you better hide behind him all you can Alex. Since you don't have those powers anymore, things are even now, and I intend to get even!"
Ray pushed Libby's hand out of Alex's face as the girl moved off into the crowd. "Oh my God. I can't believe she did that!" Robyn gasped. "No kidding" Ray added. "I thought Paradise Valley had leash laws. Are you o.k. Alex?" Alex just looked at Ray. Her mouth opened to speak, but she couldn't say anything.
"C'mon Alex. It's o.k. Let's get to class" he offered softly, and led Alex down the hall.
Alex could feel a familiar warm flush coming over her, and she knew she was about to start glowing from the stress she was under. Robyn noticed the golden hue begin to slightly illuminate Alex's skin.
"Alex, you're starting to glow!" Robyn whispered loudly, looking concerned. Alex shook her head knowingly and looked at Ray, who also noticed her glow.
"Ray, cover for me while I duck into the bathroom for a few minutes!" she said quickly as she grabbed Robyn's wrist and led her down another hall away from the group heading to History class. They immediately came upon the girls' bathroom and entered.
Alex sighed in relief when she saw it was empty. In the mirror, she saw herself glowing brightly.
Robyn, who was always the one who looked at the worst side of anything, was not shaken and took prompt action by pulling several paper towels from the wall dispenser , neatly folding them, and wet them in the sink. She then began to wipe Alex's forehead, which was peppered with beads of sweat.
"My God Alex. Was this what it was like for you the last four years?" she asked.
"Yeah" Alex answered, breathing deeply and fanning herself with her hands in an attempt to calm herself. Her glow began to fade. "Every time I got stressed, scared, or excited I would start to glow like this. It's just something I guess I'm going to have to live with from now on". Robyn only shook her head, amazed.
"You should have caused the ceiling to drop on her" Robyn joked half-heartedly, finally finishing dabbing at Alex's forehead. Alex was touched at how much her friend seemed to care about her.
"The thought crossed my mind" Alex replied as Robyn discarded the wet paper towels into a trash can beside the sinks.
"Robyn?" continued Alex, changing the subject. "When we were headed to History class, did you happen to notice how Brad Patterson avoided saying anything to me when I waved to him?"
Robyn's concerned expression softened some. "Yes, I noticed ....." she replied in an uncomfortable tone.
"Why do you suppose he'd do that? We've been friends for a long time and I know he likes me" Alex said, feeling confused.
"Well Alex, I .... I'm not really sure ......" Robyn stuttered. "Alright Robyn" observed Alex. "I can tell when you're beating around the bush. Tell me what you're thinking". Robyn's gaze trailed off from Alex's as a guilty frown crossed her face.
"Alex, I don't mean to don't hurt your feelings, but I couldn't help but think that Brad seemed .....well .....sort of ..... afraid of you ....."
Libby Flanders strolled through the door into Study Hall as if she owned it and seated herself in a desk beside Patty Baker, one of her friends when she attended Atron Junior High two years ago. Patty was a pretty blond with big blue eyes.
Libby huffed as she plopped her books down, a hateful snarl on her face.
"Damn Libby. What's eatin' you?" asked Patty. "Alex Mack, that's who".
"Oh ..." responded Patty, rolling her eyes, sorry that she said anything. "Y'know Libby. What Alex did was a long time ago. Maybe you ought to just let it go ....."
"Forget hell. Alex Mack used her powers to make a laughing stock out of me in front of all of Atron Junior High, and I intend to get even with little 'miss popular'" hissed Libby.
"And just how do you intend to do that?" asked Patty.
"Any way I can" Libby replied confidently as she noticed Alex's boyfriend, Hunter Reeves, enter the Study Hall and sit three desks over. " .....and I think I have a good idea how" she added menacingly.