rionaleonhart: the mentalist: lisbon, afraid but brave, makes an important call. (it's been an honour)
Riona ([personal profile] rionaleonhart) wrote2017-01-20 10:29 pm

Fanfiction: Rebuild (Oxenfree)

I finished Oxenfree last night! Twenty-four hours later, here I am, posting fanfiction. Incredibly spoilery fanfiction. I'm not sure I can even write a summary for this one.


Title: Rebuild
Fandom: Oxenfree
Rating: PG-13
Wordcount: 2,600
Summary: Spoilers! I'd recommend not reading this unless you have at least an idea of the major possible ending differences. But it's about (step)sibling relationships.



She hasn’t seen Jonas since the island. The first couple of weeks she was just so happy, so ecstatic to have Michael back that she barely thought about it, but...

Well. It’s starting to bug her, that’s all.

She’d been nervous, in the run-up to the island trip. Hadn’t known what her new stepbrother would be like, hadn’t known how she felt about the word stepbrother. That night, though, even when they were going through hell, she’d really started to feel like, yes, this was someone she could be happy to have in her life. You know, assuming they both got out alive.

She’d accepted him as part of her family, and now he’s just... gone from it, he’s just some guy who doesn’t know her. They spent that whole night helping each other out; they screwed things up together, and then they worked together to fix it. She stood in the room while he peed, for God’s sake. Surely that’s not the kind of bond that can just break.

But he doesn’t remember any of it, does he?

Her first thought is that she could just turn up at his door, but oh, yeah, there’s a flaw in that plan. She doesn’t know where he lives. She knows where he was supposed to be living by now; he was supposed to be living with her. In this new, rewritten reality where their parents aren’t together? She doesn’t have a clue.

“Jonas?” Michael echoes, when she asks him about it. He’s just lounging in front of the television, being alive. It’s incredible. “Sorry, I don’t really know him at all. He’s just a guy Ren brought along. Isn’t he on Facebook? Or Twitter, or anything?”

She shakes her head. “Already looked.”

“Wait, seriously?”

“He doesn’t really seem... up with the times.” Maybe it’s something to do with his time in juvie.

“Okay,” Michael says, dubiously. “Why d’you want to find him?”

She shrugs. “I don’t know. He seemed cool.”

“I guess I’d want to keep tabs on someone if I’d saved their life, too.”

Alex laughs, awkwardly. “I didn’t—”

“Alex. I was there. I saw you talking down those ghosts. You saved all our butts that night.”

You weren’t there, she wants to say. I love you, Michael, but you weren’t there, I was on my own, Jonas had just fucking disappeared and I was freaking out and—

“Okay, yeah, I might’ve saved a couple of butts,” she says.

“And I understand the desire to keep track of those butts,” Michael says. “If I hear anything about Jonas, I’ll let you know.”

-

She tries asking Ren.

“Hey, Ren, do you still hang out with Jonas?”

“I’m not sure we ever really hung out,” Ren says. “We spent one terrifying night on an evil ghost island together. Is that hanging out? Would you say that qualifies as hanging out?” He pulls out his phone. “Let me look this up.”

“That’s a no, then?”

Hang out,” Ren reads from his screen. “Intransitive, idiomatic, slang. To spend time doing nothing in particular. Now, I would argue that we were doing something in particular, and the particular thing we were doing was being harassed by ghosts.”

“Great,” Alex says. “Thanks for clearing that up. You can’t put me in touch with him, then?”

“Well, I still have his phone number, if that’s what you need. Are you planning a We Survived Edwards Island reunion party already?”

“I don’t know what I’m planning,” Alex mutters.

“Well, one hundred percent of events we’ve invited him to have turned out to be horrible ghostly possession-fests, so don’t be surprised if he doesn’t trip over his feet to meet up. I swear that guy’s been crossing the street to avoid me. Me. When I’m so charming and lovable.”

-

She texts him. Hey, it’s Alex, from the island. Can we talk?

He doesn’t answer.

She tries calling him a few days later. He doesn’t pick up.

And then, a week after that, she sees him from her bedroom window and charges down the stairs.

-

“Jonas!”

Jonas turns around, startled. “Alex?”

“Hey,” Alex says, breathless. “Hey, sorry, I saw you go by, I was up in my room—”

“This is your house?” Jonas asks, and Alex has a weird moment of realising that of course he wouldn’t know that.

“Yeah! Yeah, and I thought I’d just come out, say hi, shit—”

“Okay,” Jonas says. “You can do two of those things, I guess. Maybe don’t do the third right here on the sidewalk.”

Alex looks back at her front door. Yep: closed, and it locks automatically. She presses both hands to her forehead. “Ugh. I came out here without my keys.”

Jonas is looking increasingly discomfited. “There’s no one who can let you in?”

“Our parents are away for a few days.” Our parents. It’s so strange to say, Mom and Dad still together, still parents to two children, when she’d thought that was a part of her life she was cut off from forever. “And Mike’s out with Clarissa.”

“So you’ve locked yourself out,” Jonas says. “In your slippers.”

“In my slippers.” She hadn’t even noticed.

“Your Pikachu slippers.”

“Hey, don’t judge.”

There’s a moment’s silence.

“Do you want to use my phone?” Jonas asks. “Call your brother?”

“What, no, let’s talk! I haven’t seen you since, you know, since everything happened.”

He gives her a very strange look. “Wouldn’t you prefer to, uh, not be locked out of your house without shoes?”

“Well, yeah, it’ll probably ruin my slippers,” Alex says. “So what? I can always get new ones. I just really think we should catch up.”

More silence. God, why is it so much harder to bond with people when you’re not in mortal danger?

“Look,” Jonas says, “don’t get me wrong, you seem nice, but...”

“Okay, where is this going?”

Jonas shrugs helplessly. “I kind of just want to forget about Island Hell Night.”

“So do I,” Alex says. “Believe me, so do I. We don’t have to talk about that.”

“Well, I guess you can’t really get away from it,” Jonas says. “Because it was your brother and your friends who were involved. And that sucks, and I’m sorry.” He shifts on his feet. “But I just moved here, you know? I’m not part of your group.”

“You could be.” It’s an effort not to say I want you to be. She’s probably creeped him out enough already.

Jonas scratches the back of his neck. “I don’t know. I don’t know if I can cope with the people I see every day just being... huge reminders of the time I got possessed by ghosts.”

Alex opens her mouth. Closes it again.

Is there a counterargument to this? She doesn’t know if there’s a counterargument to this. But there has to be something, because otherwise he’s going to leave, and maybe she’ll never be able to talk to him again.

“Look, Alex, you seem cool,” Jonas says. “And you saved my life, and I’m not planning to forget that. I’d like to be friends with you. I just...” He lets out a long breath. “I don’t know if I can. Not right now.”

-

“Sorry you had to wait,” Michael says, when he eventually shows up to let her in. “How did you even manage to – whoa, you okay?”

Alex stands from the doorstep, brushing off her jeans. Jonas left forty minutes ago, right after letting her call Michael and tell him about her stupid plight. She’s spent the time since then biting down on her tongue, hard, to distract herself from the urge to cry.

Maybe her plan to look composed and cheerful by the time Michael appeared wasn’t a complete success.

“What’s wrong?” Michael asks, pulling her into his arms.

“I’m fine,” Alex says. It... yeah, even to her own ears it doesn’t sound convincing.

“I’m sorry. I got here as quick as I could.”

Alex shakes her head, as he moves away from her and unlocks the door. “It’s not that. It was my own fault for being stupid enough to lock myself out.” She follows him into the lounge. “Uh, sorry for dragging you away from your date.”

He laughs. “Don’t worry about it. You might owe Clarissa chocolates.”

Alex manages a smile as she sits on the couch. “God, she probably thinks I owe her an entire chocolate shop. I’ll settle up with her.”

“Very wise,” Michael says, sitting next to her. “So how did you get yourself locked out, anyway?”

Alex groans and closes her eyes. “It’s stupid. I – I saw Jonas walking by the house.”

“You ran out to talk to him?”

“Yeah. I mean, he wasn’t returning my texts or my calls or anything, not like...” It hurts to say it. “Not like I was getting to talk to him any other way.”

Michael is silent for so long that she opens her eyes to look at him.

“And that’s why you’re so upset?” he asks.

Alex sighs. “He said he didn’t want to be friends.”

“What? What an asshole.”

“No, no, he – had reasons. Like, he doesn’t want anything reminding him of, you know, what happened. I get why he feels that way. I just... wish he didn’t.”

Michael goes quiet again.

“You know,” he says, after a long moment, “there are... a lot of guys out there. I guarantee you are going to meet loads of guys who are crazy about you. I mean, you’re one of the most amazing people I know. If Jonas can’t see that—”

“What?” Alex asks, sitting up sharply. “I’m not – oh, my God, Michael, I’m not into him.”

“Oh.” Michael pauses. “Are you, uh, sure?”

How are they even having this conversation? It’s Jonas. “Why would I lie?”

“Well, I just found you crying over him, and you went after him with this kind of... laser focus when you’d just met once, and I just thought it seemed like—”

“He’s my brother!

There’s a strange, thick silence. Alex can feel it on her skin.

“Step,” she says. “Stepbrother.” But that’s not right either, is it? “I mean—”

“Alex,” Michael says, quietly, “are we okay? Did I... do something to upset you, or...?”

“No! No, Michael, God, I’m sorry. We’re fine. I don’t – I don’t know what I was saying, I don’t know why I said that.”

“Okay,” Michael says. He lets out a breath. “Good. You know you can talk to me, right? If I screw up?”

Alex nudges his shoulder with hers. “I know.”

After a moment, Michael clears his throat. “So, you’re not into him?” It’s a light, teasing tone, but Alex knows neither of them has forgotten what just happened.

She snorts. “Definitely not.”

“Well, just so you know, he might think you are. You could be less... intense.”

Wow. Okay. That would be an awkward misunderstanding. “I guess I’ll try.”

-

She’s been respecting Jonas’s wishes. She hasn’t tried to contact him; she hasn’t even tried to catch his eye when they’ve passed on the street. It’s... it’s difficult, but she’s tried to distract herself by spending time with the friends who remember her, by reminding herself of how lucky she is to have Michael around.

And then the flickers start.

They don’t seem like anything at first, just occasional flashes of movement in the corner of her eye, the music she’s listening to occasionally unnaturally dipping in pitch, and oh, God, no, no. She knows what’s happening. It can’t be happening; it’s impossible. They left it behind. But she knows.

What the fuck is she supposed to do?

Michael and Clarissa are out of town, on a ‘romantic getaway’. Ren is visiting Nona. There’s no one she can go to for help with this.

No one but Jonas.

She calls him five times in a row. The fifth time, he picks up.

“Is something wrong?” he asks, in the voice of someone who’s about to be very pissed off if it isn’t.

“Something is very wrong,” Alex says. “Please, Jonas, this is really important. You know how the time loops felt? I mean, just before they happened?”

There’s a pause. “Uh, kind of. I don’t... remember the loops very well.”

“It’s happening to me,” Alex says. “Right now. The build-up, the... glitchiness.”

“You think you’re about to loop?”

“I can feel it. Shit, Jonas, I am – I am freaking out right now, tell me—”

“Okay,” Jonas says. “Just – try to calm down, it’ll be – what does this mean? The ghosts followed us?”

“I don’t know,” Alex says. She’s gripping the phone so hard her fingers will probably ache when she lets it go.

“Okay. Okay, I – are you at home? I don’t know if I’ll be able to get over to you before it happens, I don’t know if there’s anything I can do. I mean, we didn’t normally get much warning, did we?”

“No,” Alex says. “This is different, it feels different, it feels like it’s... building up slowly, I guess. I think it could take hours before it kicks in.”

“Oh,” Jonas says. “Is that... good?”

“It’s really bad,” Alex says. She doesn’t know where this knowledge is coming from, it’s coming to her so clearly that it’s like this has happened before, and the sickening thought hits her that maybe... “The loops on the island? They were a few seconds of build-up, and they sent us back minutes. This is taking hours to build up, and I think it’s going to send us back weeks.”

“Weeks?” Jonas echoes.

“Before the island.”

“Shit,” Jonas breathes, and then, “Wait, so you could warn us? You could stop it happening?”

“I don’t think I’ll remember it, Jonas,” Alex says. There’s a low buzz of white noise in her head, a rising waterline that’s eventually going to drown her. “I think this has happened before.”

Shit,” Jonas says, again. “Can we stop the loop?”

“I don’t know. I don’t know! I guess we must be... in a loop already? And we always used those weird tape players to get out, but, I don’t know about you, Jonas, I’m not seeing one around—”

She cuts herself off.

“Alex?” Jonas asks, hesitantly. “You still there?”

“There was one outside the loops,” Alex says, quietly. “In the underground shelter.”

“The one you went into with Michael?”

Alex shakes her head. “Fuck, but it – it disappeared when you did. Shit!”

“When I did what?”

“When you disappeared, Jonas. When we heard your – the voice from the tape player and I used the radio and you went back in time or whatever.”

“That... uh, that never happened. I never went into the underground shelter.”

Alex draws in a sharp breath. “Because I went in with Michael instead.”

“Alex, are you okay? I mean, besides the obvious?”

“Which means the tape player is still there,” Alex says. She breaks into laughter. “It’s still there! I mean, maybe it won’t work, but at least it’s a chance, you know?” What time is it? It shouldn’t be too late to catch the last ferry. “Okay, I’ve gotta get down to the docks.”

“What, you’re going back there?” Jonas asks, disbelief written into his voice. “By yourself?”

“What’s the alternative, Jonas? Go back and relive that night again? Maybe not be able to save everyone this time?” She’s already pulling on her shoes.

There’s a silence so long she almost hangs up.

“Okay,” Jonas says. “Maybe you have to go. You don’t have to go alone. I’ll meet you at the docks.”

And, okay, maybe a friendship with Jonas isn’t currently the most important thing on her wishlist. Maybe she’d trade any chance of it right now if it would break her out of this loop.

That doesn’t keep her from smiling when she says, “Yeah. See you there.”