Word Count: 1,119
Summary: Parts of Alex's childhood occasionally return via his sleeping mind, but it's not too hard to distract sleepy bedmates from asking awkward questions.
"Come on, Alex. We're ready to take another sample now."
"Come on, Alex. We're ready to take another sample now."
The boy stared up at him with those dark, serious eyes that always sent a shudder of revulsion down his spine, and slid from his bed to kneel beside it with his bare back presented to the scientist.
He stared critically at the kid’s pale skin, assessing the raw patches already removed. They seemed to be healing just fine, no complaints there, and taking these samples carried the added bonus that he didn't have to face the weird brat.
He knelt behind him, unrolling the fabric strip that carried all the tools he required, and pulled out the little bottle of disinfectant with its attendant swab. This was part of the problem with the creepy little shit: his pain threshold was through the roof. The higher-ups were fascinated by it, even though they'd probably caused it in the first place, and as he smeared the brownish fluid over the kid's shoulder blade he realised he really wasn't relishing this part. It wasn't the incision, he'd done more than enough of those to cease caring; it wasn't that he had to peel a small square from the child's back. It was that when he slid the scalpel from the protective packaging and drew the blade slowly along the boy's flesh, he didn't make a sound. Not a squeak.
It wasn't normal.
Scratch that. It was fucking freakish. He just knelt there, arms folded on his duvet, head resting in the crook of his elbow as three squares were carved from his skin and peeled free, each dropped into their own perspex containers.
It turned his stomach. It wouldn't be so bad if they anaesthetised him like they did the others, but they'd decreed a year ago that none should be used on the brat. It didn't seem to make a difference anyway. He took it all without a sound. There was obviously something wrong with him, something the higher-ups wanted to exploit, but he wanted no part in it. Shame he didn't get a choice. "Okay, I'm done."
The boy raised his head and, without a word, climbed back into the bed before he was able to do anything about the blood trickling down his back.
For one second he was ready to shout to him, call him back and clean away the striking crimson rivulets, but even as he watched, open-mouthed, the child reached for a thick packet of cotton wool on the table beside his bed.
Freaky. No child should start to treat their own wounds, face as impassive as when the whole debacle began. He shuddered again and turned away, busying himself instead with packaging the skin samples into the plastic Ziploc bag, ready to be sent off to R&D. The less he looked at the monster they'd raised, the less he'd be disturbed by him, and the faster these samples were ready to be sent off the less time he was forced to spend in his company.
He looked up a final time—and came face to face with those black eyes staring straight at him. He'd bet his soul on it: there was something wrong with that boy. "Go to sleep now, Alex."
The boy stared at him for a moment longer, then slid between his sheets, ensuring the fabric didn't reach his newly-skinned shoulder. He remained crouched beside the bed until the child's eyes fell slowly closed, only rising to leave when his breathing evened out.
That boy was easily the scariest of the group.
* * *
A hand gripped his shoulder, shaking him back into consciousness. "Huh?"
"Are you okay?" The concern in the voice couldn't be more evident, no matter how hard he tried to hide it.
Which was odd. Normally, the scientists couldn't wait to be away from him, even after their studies were successful. Of course, it was unusual they left him on the floor too: at the very least they encouraged him to return to bed afterwards.
"Alex," the voice tried again, an edge to it he couldn't entirely place, "are you awake?"
He forced himself to raise his head, to find Milos's worried hazel eyes staring into his own. "Yeah? What's the problem?"
"...You're kneeling on the floor." Came the almost inaudible reply, an impressive feat considering their proximity. The elf was trying his hardest to look unconcerned but was doing a terrible job of it. "Is something wrong?"
It was a valid question, he supposed, even if he did have the sudden urge to smack him. "No." He pushed himself to his feet, giving his shoulder an experimental flex as he rose, half-expecting a flare of pain. Nothing, of course. That was all in the past now.
Milos remained where he was, kneeling completely naked on top of the quilt, his eyes locked on Alex's face. He'd normally find the pose appealing; all he saw right now was that he was blocking his return to bed. "You're sure you're okay?"
By way of an answer, he reached out and pushed Milos backwards.
The elf let out a yip as he toppled over, legs slipping sideways, leaving a space for Alex to climb back beneath the sheets. "What the—"
He looped an arm around Milos's waist, dragging him easily over the quilt to him. He was still far too light; Alex really needed to discuss that with someone. "Come here."
"Augh—cold! Let me get under the—" His words were muffled as, without warning, he was buried under Alex's side of the quilt. "Wha—"
Alex shoved him over to his side of the bed, yanking the other half of the quilt out from underneath him. "Better?" Not that he intended to let him reply, pulling him towards him beneath the sheets again until the elf's back was pressed to his chest. "Or are you going to keep on complaining?"
Judging from the incomprehensible mumbling and the way he relaxed against him, the answer was no.
And it had the added bonus that it shut him up perfectly. No more awkward questions would be forthcoming and that suited him perfectly; Milos had demonstrated plenty of times before that he didn't understand. As if he didn't make enough noises in his sleep to prove Alex had nothing on him for bad dreams.
He felt himself relax too, the elf's body heat seeping into his skin. Milos had spoken in the past about investing in a heater to scare away the semi-permanent chill of the room; Alex smirked to himself as his eyes started to close of their own accord. He wouldn't. Not while he could use the cold as an excuse to sleep like this. He'd make sure of it.