Chapter 3: The Other-self and Get-togethers

a/n; I don't own anything

Flashback

7 years ago

"Oh yes, just drag him off into the alley."

The Doppleganger mocked as Gwen pulled and tugged the armored body away from the open area. The Doppleganger watched in amusement, while she ignored the hallucination.

"I must give you props. I didn't think meek Gwendolyn would ever have the guts to take a life."

The Doppleganger laughed merrily and hopped up on a nearby dumpster, not a squeak was made- further indicating how much of a figment this thing was. Gwen heaved as she got the body toward the dumpster's bottom, she stood up straight to recollect herself- sinking further into understanding on what she just done.

"It was an accident, I didn't- I couldn't stop- It was you who…." Gwen began to hyperventilate, the appropriate reaction to such events- even if it was slightly delayed. The Doppleganger's eyes widened in mock innocence and pointed to itself as if to confirm it was being blamed.

"If it makes you feel so much better, by all means- blame moi." The Doppleganger said leaning back against the dumpster lid casually, "You'd still be blaming yourself."

For Gwen the tears came instantly, she had taken a life. Sure it may have been an enemy but they deserved as much a right to be alive as she did. The worse part about it, she felt the Mana she absorbed from him pulsing in her veins, giving her energy she begged to have previously. Remorse gripped her fragile heart, guilt came in waves, it threatened to choke her. She dropped to the pavement and bawled. What was she to do now? Who could she turn to? Her head began to spin, frantic for a solution. Perhaps this was a dream, the hallucination of herself seemed to add weight to that theory- maybe she'd wake up soon.

"Oh you're wide awake, I assure you. But crying, blaming, and ignoring me isn't going to make it any better." The Doppleganger commented as it jumped off the dumpster and stood right above her.

'Gwen!" Called a male voice, far off in the distance, it brought Gwen off of her knees instantly.

"They can't find me here, I have to…I have to get out of here!" She repeated the last lines to herself like a mantra, and with new-found strength she sprinted in the opposite direction. The Doppleganger vanishing as she ran off, and the forever knight hidden in the alley.

_____________________

Present- Higher Asylum

Max Tennyson finished filling out the release papers just incase things looked optimistic. He had hoped that his granddaughter would have improved, and at one point she had. Visiting her every month for the last seven years had been a trying experience, even more so since Ben refused to visit. Verdona had thought it best that he be the one to visit, Gwen knew he'd show no judgment outright. The Anodite council had been the ones to order the energy inhibiter implants, and declared Gwen to be stripped of her power usage indefinitely.

But the power was apart of Gwen, she had weaved herself to it as soon as she discovered it. It slowly killed her inside each day she couldn't feel the Mana flowing through her. These manifestations she claims she sees had troubled Max when he first heard of them. It was the law that mentally unstable Higher Asylum prisoners were to be 'euthanized' should they prove untreatable. It was harsh, but a certain fail safe from them accidentally let loose on society. It was crucial that he smuggle his way back tomorrow to talk more sense into her.

The guard outside the door signaled for him to leave as the clock ticked to ten minutes after visiting hours.

"Sorry, but rules are rules."

"No, it's alright, I've been here long enough." Max said as he folded the papers and stuffed them in his pocket.

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Flashback

"Where did you go?" Ben half yelled.

"We looked for you for an hour!" Kevin actually yelled.

Gwen had ran back to the car, and was sitting curled up in the back seat. She had fallen asleep rather quickly from all the crying. When the boys got a better view of her, they saw the wreck she was in.

Her tear stained face and puffy red eyes looked to her cousin and friend.

"Whoa, are you alright?" Kevin asked, worry etched in both of their faces.

"I just had a nightmare is all." said Gwen, convincing herself more then Ben and Kevin. "Yes, I had a nightmare. I…I came back after I patrolled, I found nothing, I fell asleep… " Gwen explained, her head moving with every word to further explain it to herself.

"Let's take you home, you need rest." Kevin said as he motioned for her to lie down fully in the backseat.

"No more patrolling for you for a while." Ben added as he hopped in the front seat. Kevin started the car and began to pull onto the highway, heading toward her house.

"Yeah, perhaps too much work is making me see things." She whispered but sat herself up to look out the window, the dark sky and highway lights caused a reflection of her image in the window. But she didn't see just one image- but two. Her head whipped around so quickly it could have snapped.

There was the Doppleganger sitting primly next to her, her smile patronizing. Gwen's eyes widened in alarm and her breathing hitched, it caused the boys up front to look back at her.

"Are you okay, Gwen?" Ben asked as he peered back at her from the passenger seat, Kevin looked at her through the rearview mirror. She looked from them to the Doppleganger that still sat demurely across from her, it smiled coyly.

"You don't…" She began to ask, but was cut off.

"Don't bother, they can't see me. You may want to relax- you're scaring them." The Doppleganger toyed with a lock of it's hair and hummed a tune, both guys upfront oblivious to it's existence.

Gwen sat back in her seat, still staring at the Doppleganger with her jaw open.

"Gwen?….GWEN?!" Ben yelled for her attention, snapping his fingers in front of her eyes to snap her out of her reverie. In that instant of blinking, the Doppleganger disappeared.

"What?…Oh I just need a sleeping pill, I'm a bit out of it." she responded.

"A bit?" Kevin retorted from the driver's seat.

Present-

Kevin walked down the streets of Bellwood, his mind still jumping hurdles around his problems. He couldn't understand why he still kept to this town, but his subconscious had an idea. The light of midday and the heat caused beads of sweat to trickle down his forehead, he'd been outside for a good while. He could see the tall sign of "Mr. Smoothie" tower over the houses from blocks away.

"A coke sounds good right now." Thought Kevin.

Perhaps Argit could help him afterall, but the thought flew out the window as soon as he'd thought of it. Argit would just leave him stranded in the Null Void at some point. He went down the list in his head of his connections….Cooper! If anyone could invent, build, or find away inside it would be him. But he'd lost contact with the guy several years back….another wall crossed.

Mr. Smoothies came into view, his thirst crying out to be satisfied. 'Could it be so hot out?'

Kevin approached the order window, passing the outside tables that were filled with a rather large amount of people. The girl at the window smiled at him appreciatively and gave a flirtatious wink.

"What can I get for you?" she asked. Kevin looked at the menu dully and without much excitement, "A coke is fine." He pulled out a five and handed it to her. The girl snatched a Styrofoam cup and held it under the dispenser for ice and coke, she popped a lid on and stuffed a straw in the lid. She took another few seconds to grab a piece of paper, perhaps the receipt. When handing him the drink, Kevin noticed a piece of paper had slid from her fingers to his.

He took the coke and paper and went to sit at a table in the far off corner, opening the piece of paper it revealed what he had suspected- her number. Looking up he spied the girl staring at him from the window, giving him a wave. He shook his head and had no qualms of throwing the piece of paper in the trash while she was looking.

She stopped staring after that.

Kevin sat there a minute, sipping on his coke and devising plans in his head.

"Kevin?" a feminine voice called from behind him. He spun around to see the familiar faces of Julie and Ben.

He felt happy to see his old friends, he felt grateful that perhaps he found someone to help him, he also felt that long standing urge to punch Ben right in the face.- and never to deny himself of his selfish needs, he did just that.

A crack of knuckle, a gasp of pain, Ben stumbled back holding his bleeding nose.

"I've been waiting for this little get-together for five years, Tennyson."

Next Time: Chapter 4: What was never said, and how it started.