Dorothy sits idly on the edge of her bed, fingers and toes curling against the comforter and carpet respectively, internal tension from boredom slowly building.
Alice is off tutoring underprivileged children or whatever, always looking for that ever important footnote on a college application. None of their friends are replying to any of her messages, there isn't a damn thing on TV or the internet worth paying attention to, and the thought of talking to either one of her parents merely for the sake of interaction is so depressing, she may as well just open her window and leap.
She crosses the hall into Alice's room, pausing ever so briefly at the momentary sensation that she isn't supposed to be there, before moving toward the closet and sliding open the door. Frowning slightly at the sight of all the cardigans, sensible blouses, and pencil skirts, (all perfectly arranged by season, style, and color.) Dorothy scoffs aloud as her fingers rummage through the clothes.
"Yeah, you're a genius," she mutters to herself. "Does that mean you have to dress like a librarian?"
There's yellow, so much yellow, pink and blue. Dorothy must not have been paying very much attention to Alice's fashion choices outside of their Constance uniforms lately, because there is no way she can allow her sister to continue to dress like a carton full of Easter eggs.
All the shoes, mostly Mary Jane style flats with a strap, are all arranged meticulously into little cubbies set on the floor.
Dorothy's face pinches in disappointment at just how dull this snoop is turning out to be. No secret diary or shrine to some embarrassing pop star she'd never admit liking to be found. Just the typical by the book organization that has come to match her sister's personality set apart from her own.
Her finger pauses on a particular sweater that, on closer inspection, doesn't appear to be completely terrible. Pulling it up to her chest, Dorothy turns toward the vanity on the opposite side of the room and holds it up. A small rose is embroidered over the left breast, her finger moving to touch the raised thread, and allows herself the vacant thought that she could pull this look off.
Not bad, she muses pulling it from the hanger to put on properly. Not bad at all.
The skirt Dorothy has on doesn't match, but the one coordinated with it from the closest does completely, and she switches them without a second thought. Though her stockings definitely give the ensemble a bit more pop that Alice would ever concede to, Dorothy likes what she sees.
Taking a step closer to the mirror, she picks up a comb and proceeds to brush out all her carefully crafted curls. Once done, she reaches for one of the numerous headbands perfectly displayed on a velvet covered arm jutting out from the side of the vanity.
The sight of her reflection causes a sound that can only be described as banshee-esque, one hand immediately slapping over her mouth. She's a twin, and an uncanny resemblance to her sister is an expectation that comes with such genetic coincidence. But this is the first time since they were little, and one of their grandparents would get away with dressing them alike, that she has ever truly looked like Alice without uniforms forced upon them by means of their education.
Dorothy takes a pair of glasses resting on a white piece of linen and puts them on, her reflection immediately blurring.
Looking over to the bed where Alice's stuffed rabbit is always carefully perched, she takes a step left to pluck it from the comforter. The obsession her sister holds with this story is just something Dorothy herself will never understand, thankful for Dad's revelation that her own name wasn't plucked from the pages of a storybook, even if the scheme is sadly sugar coated.
"Yes, I am Alice," she says with a giggle. "Curiouser and curiouser!"
She almost wants to take a picture, post it to the internet, and ask all the anonymous weirdos if they can tell who is who. Instead she walks out into the kitchen, where Mom sits at the table with her laptop, and pours a glass of pomegranate juice.
"Thought you were at the library," Mom says without looking up.
Dorothy shrugs a reply, making sure to take a big gulp so she doesn't have to speak, knowing that her mother could tell the difference with the indicator.
"Do us a favor sweetheart," Mom says, eyes still focused on her work. "And check on your sister. She's been quiet entirely too long, and I think we both know what kind of mischief that can lead to."
She nearly draws blood from biting her tongue, because really, what is that supposed to mean? Do she and Alice have some sort of secret pact of checks and balances about her?
She takes another careful shot of juice, swallows down the anger with the tart, and allows a clipped 'okay' before walking back down the hall.
In Alice's room again, placing her cup on the desk, she moves toward the vanity. Though the blurred vision is starting to wear on her eyes, she leaves the glasses on.
Check on your sister, she thinks. Quiet for too long. Mischief.
God, they really have no clue what their precious little Alice is capable of.
The reflection makes her scowl, a sweet as pie kind of girl who no one would ever suspect of any wrong doing, staring back.
"I'm Alice," she mutters through a forced smile. "I'm so nice. I'm so pure. I'm so smart."
Placing a finger on her temple, she recites "The sum of the square roots of any two sides of an isosceles triangle is equal to the square root of the remaining side."
"Actually," Alice says behind her. "That's a right triangle."
Dorothy freezes in the mirror, watching her sister in the reflection as drops her backpack onto its designated spot next to the door, then moves in front of the closet to remove her shoes and place them in the lone empty cubby.
"Why are you quoting that line anyway?" she asks, shedding her jacket and placing it neatly on a hanger. "You hate the movie."
Dorothy doesn't answer, staying perfectly still, not even attempting to take the glasses off her face.
"Is that my sweater?" Alice asks, finally turning around and getting a good look at her sister. "Wait, what are you doing?"
Finally coming unglued, Dorothy takes off the glasses, shrugs and offers a sheepish smile. "I was bored."
Expecting some kind of backlash, Dorothy braces for the verbal barrage no doubt to come, but Alice just steps quietly forward and takes her glasses out of Dorothy's hand.
"If you want to switch," she says, hands moving to smooth out her sister's hair, continuing the action to some wrinkles on the sweater's shoulders. "Let me know ahead of time, okay?"
She grabs a different pair of glasses from the vanity, and carefully places them on Dorothy's face. "These don't have my prescription," she explains. "So your eyes won't hurt if you wear them for awhile."
Despite how odd it seems that Alice has a contingency plan for switching places any time they please, Dorothy grins.
"You're not mad?"
"You wearing my clothes without a gun to your head is too funny to be mad at," Alice replies. "Now, Mom informed me that Dad will bringing Thai home for dinner. So be sure to use the fork with your left hand."
"Come on," Alice continues, pulling Dorothy's hands and leading them across the hall. "We should have just enough time to find something convincing for me to wear."
"Wait," Dorothy says, pulling them to a stop. "Mom said something earlier. You don't like, narc on me or anything right?"
"Of course not," Alice replies. "I tell her the kind of rapscallion escapades she'd expect from the children of Blair Waldorf. If she knew what we really got into, we wouldn't be allowed to leave the house."
Dorothy smiles. "I'm keeping this sweater."
Alice rolls her eyes. "Fine."
Alice sighs as Dorothy sheds a few heartbroken tears onto her leg. Idly stroking her sister's hair, head cradled carefully in her lap, Alice tries not to let her own opinion spill out in a scathing commentary. Rogers, that ass, had broken up with Dorothy due to a few shoddy photos and unfounded bits of hearsay.
The act itself isn't all that surprising, rumors had been surrounding the couple for the last few weeks, but despite Dorothy's insistence to the contrary all it took to finally push Rogers away was the blurred image of someone that, could have been, kind of resembled, her.
As if she would just make out with some random guy at a party they weren't even at. A detail that the masses seem to be conveniently ignoring, the truth never so interesting as the lie, especially when when concerning the reigning queen of Constance.
So here they are.
Dorothy is still in mourning, not yet in the mindset of a dish best served cold, but the gears in Alice's mind are already turning. She has a pretty good idea of who posted the photo, but getting solid proof is going to take time.
Dorothy lets out a shaking breath, and Alice leans forward, pressing her forehead against her sister's hair.
"We'll get who did this," she whispers firmly. "We'll have their head."
Next morning in the quad, she sits in her usual spot to Dorothy's left, minions spread in a semi circle behind them. The tablet rests carefully in the crook of her elbow, as she scrolls through all the information freshly hacked from everyone's phones.
Dorothy sits idle, not even bothering with the yogurt in hand, while everyone prattles on about this and that. She didn't even want to come to school today, but Alice convinced her that queens don't hide, they hold their heads high no matter what scandal attempts to disgrace them.
So she's here, but is not looking especially happy about it.
Alice mentally goes through the list of suspects, instinct telling her it was one of their own. First, Rosalie Stillford. A Freshman who's still green and grateful just to have ascended to their ranks, but the only salacious things on her phone a few dirty texts with some guy whose name she doesn't recognize, and a some pictures of herself in her underwear.
Next up, Amber and Riley Bishop. Sisters a year apart almost to the day. Their phones turn up plenty on rumor mill material, but spreading them is kind of their thing, and none of it is particularly malicious nor directed at Dorothy.
Follow that by Mirabelle Lebowitz. Alice doubts her ambitions lie in a hostile takeover, because she hardly ever talks, and addressing the masses seem like the girl's worst fear. Her quietness does lead to near invisibility, and all the sweetest gossip comes from what she overhears.
Last is Evelyn Takahashi. The only reason Alice has a slight doubt in her mind about this girl is that it seems a little too obvious. She was Queen Bee at her last school, is the only one here who ever second guesses any of the groups plots and scandals, and would easily slide into Dorothy's place should anything ever manage to take her down. Her phone reveals nothing. Which tilts Alice's suspicions all the more.
"He won't stop staring at you," Alice says, still combing through the digital evidence.
Dorothy looks up to where Rogers is grouped with all the drama kids, hands in his pockets, looking straight back.
"He's hurt," Dorothy says.
"From a lie," Alice retorts. "One he chose to believe even though he should know better."
Dorothy doesn't respond, only pushes the lunch tray away.
"You're better off," Alice insists.
"And you're just saying that because you hate him."
"His current behavior isn't bringing out any endearing sides."
Dorothy has no reply to that.
"You any closer to answers?" She asks after a few minutes.
"Narrowing it down."
"What's taking so long?"
"Uh, how about the fact that we use our phones for everything? There's a ridiculous amount of data here, and despite how they act sometimes, none of the girls are idiots. If it's here, it's buried."
"Find it," Dorothy says in a tone that's all business, looking back to where Rogers and his group have vacated.
When the picture turns up in the recently deleted file of a photo archive the group is known to use, the person who the account belongs to gives Alice a second of pause ever though she'd suspected just about everyone.
She doesn't tell Dorothy. Doesn't even let on that she's found something. Instead she digs for dirt, deep and endless, that will not only cease any further attempts at subterfuge but decree a warning as well. You mess with Dorothy and there are no limits to what will happen in retribution.
When Alice approaches Riley in the hall, paused in front of a drinking fountain with phone ever present in her hand, she gasps at the sudden appearance.
"You're clever," Alice says, no hint of malice in her voice. "I'll give you that."
"Using your sister's phone to upload the picture. Tricky, tricky."
Riley balks a second, unable to hide that fact that she knows exactly what Alice is referring to from her eyes.
"I don't know what you're talking about," she dodges anyway.
"Oh, let's not play that game," Alice says. "Like I said, clever with a different phone, but it was still your account linked to the picture. Still your sticky little finger prints all over it."
"So what do you want?" Riley asks. "If you were going to rat me out, you would have just done so."
"I want you to confess," Alice answers. "I want you to stand in front of my sister and to her face, tell her what a manipulative little bitch you turned out to be and ask forgiveness."
Riley shifts uncomfortably, and Alice knows it's because she never talks like this. She's never so aggressive. The girl knows it's deadly serious but still attempts a defense.
"You know just as I do, we're always the afterthought in people's minds. First born, first in line, that's how it works."
"Oh, is that why you did this?" Alice inquires. "Is that why you used Amber's phone? Taking out both with one scandal?"
"I just wanted-"
"I know what you wanted. And for the moment I'm going to ignore just how truly pathetic wanting to step out from the shadows of an elder sibling is. The spotlight isn't made for people like you. Or me. We're not the ones who get to shine."
For a moment, Riley actually looks remorseful, but blood is already in the water and she's caught the scent.
"You're going to apologize," Alice repeats. "Beg if you have to. And if I think one syllable isn't sincere, well, actions will be taken."
Riley is taken aback.
"What do you mean?"
Alice calmly hands over her tablet, watches as Riley scrolls through the contents given, her expression dropping further the more she sees.
"How did you-"
"I'm very motivated pushed," Alice replies. "And perfectly willing to ignore what a cliché sneaking around with your sister's boyfriend is. But just this once, if you do exactly what I say."
Riley numbly hands back the tablet.
"God, you'd never think it," Riley says softly. "Looking at you."
Alice allows the smallest smile.
"That's kind of the point."