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Little One

Title: Little One
Author: jaune_chat
Fandom: Sky High
Characters: Magenta, Will, Zack, Layla, Warren, Ethan, Mr. Grayson/Stitches
Rating: R
Word Count: 4,470
Spoilers: All of the film
Warnings: Horror story, implied gore and other things of a disturbing nature.
Disclaimer: Sky High is owned by Disney. I make no money.
Notes: This story was inspired by the movies Saw, The Hole, and Ravenous. This is a through-and-through horror tale. Bad things happen to our favorite characters and there is no happy ending. You’ve been warned.
Summary: Woken up in a trap. No way out. And only one way to survive...



“Little one… little one, wake up.”
She stirred slowly, her body aching, muscles sore, hurting even to breathe; even her hair hurt. She felt weighted down, compressed, as if squeezed into clothing two sizes too small, and made of lead to boot. Groggily she opened her eyes, staring blearily around her. Someplace dim, someplace made of cement with round walls, like a basement maybe, or a well. And everything was so big!

Wait, no. She was shifted.

“Magenta?”

She blinked and got her eyes to focus properly, turning a little to see Zack’s glowing form. He grinned at her wanly, and reached out to pick her up. She suffered that from nobody except him, and only during very special moments. Or when she was scared out of her mind. This counted.

Zack’s glow was illuminating the room a lot better now, and she looked around, feeling her eyes growing wider with each second. A large inverted fishbowl, set in fresh cement, a hairline crack on the front the only opening contained an orange blob that must have been Ethan. Warren was over on the other side of the room, and Layla a little distance from him, sleeping on what looked to be a bed of vines.

Magenta immediately understood why no one had tried to leave yet. One: there was no door. Two: Zack, Warren, and Layla all had one wrist and one ankle shackled to the wall.

“Where’s Will?” she asked, and Zack pointed upward. Will was floating above them, shouldering a slab of stone the exact size of the cell, creating a ceiling. He looked down at them, frightened and shaking. Magenta wasn’t feeling much better, and had to fight hard to stop herself from squeaking in distress. What was going on? How had they gotten here?

It was the week before Halloween. The gang had all decided to go to a haunted house, dragging Warren along grumbling about lameness and Ethan protesting that he had to study. There had been a maze outside, with a lot of people jumping out and scaring them. Some of the walls were able to move, and Magenta remembered getting separated and then…

Nothing.

“You ok man?” Zack asked, and Will nodded, trembling.

“I mean, not really, but I’m not going to fall.” Will bit his lip for a second. “I don’t think I can fall.”

“I hope not dude! I don’t wanna get plastered!” Zack joked. He always joked when he was nervous. If he started a stand-up comedy routine, Magenta would know he was seriously frightened.

“Can you fly up?” Magenta asked, ignoring the peanut gallery for now.

“No,” Will shook his head. “I’m trying, but it just won’t go any higher than this. If… If I try to land, it might land on you, and if I break it, the pieces could crush you!”

He said the last in just short of a wail, and Magenta couldn’t blame him. Will was the strongest guy in school, and to be in a position where he couldn’t even use that…

“Can you get through the walls?” she persisted. She hated the stupid way her voice sounded while she was shifted, but it was very comforting being cradled by Zack right now and didn’t want to shift back.

“This thing is balanced pretty well. It’s ok if I stay in the middle, but if I move-.” He shifted himself a bit to the side, and the whole slab titled alarmingly with a loud grating of stone. He quickly slid to the middle again, biting his lip hard. Magenta thought he might be holding back tears.

At the sound of stone on stone, Warren and Layla stirred. Since she had been looking right at them, she saw the second Warren opened his eyes that his hands and arms burst into flame, and the vines Layla was on began to writhe and grow slowly as she awoke.

“What-?” Layla asked, blinking, sitting upright in shock as her chains clinked together.
Warren said something loudly in Mandarin, probably a curse, given his expression, and pulled hard on the chains. Layla’s vines tried the same thing, and both finally had to sit back, faces red with exertion.

“What the hell is going on?” Warren finally demanded. “We were at the haunted house and-.”

“Woke up here, yeah, I know. Hey, is Ethan awake?” Zack asked suddenly. Magenta looked hard at the oversized fishbowl, and watched as the orange blob writhed a bit, sloshing back and forth.

“Is that a yes?”

More sloshing.

“I guess so. Can you get out?”

Ethan pressed against the bottom of the bowl, trying to move it from its cement bed, and then tried to press against the hairline crack. Nothing happened. Ethan was too viscous to get out through the crack and not strong enough to move the bowl otherwise.

“Screw this,” Warren growled, and flared up hard, pulling on his chains as he let the fire rage on his hands. Everyone winced at bit as the heat spiked in the small chamber, but no one protested as he tried to weaken his bonds. But after several long minutes, Warren was starting to look tired and the rest of the group was sweating and overheated.

“Warren! Give it a rest man. Power down, save your strength,” Will called. Cursing, Warren let the flames die and sagged against the wall. Curiously, Magenta noticed that small flames still kept flickering along his hands.

“Warren, you’re still on fire,” she pointed out.

Warren cracked open an eye and looked at his hands. He frowned at them, furrowing his brow, and the flames died a little more. But not entirely.

“Dude, seriously, power down, it’s hot in here,” Zack said.

Warren looked at Zack in confusion.

“I can’t,” he said, with a rising note of concern bordering on panic. “Guys, I can’t.”

“I thought it was just me,” Will said from above, also trying to suppress fear and failing. “I… I can’t come down, I really, really, can’t fly down.”

“Guys?” Warren asked everyone else. Layla only managed to slow the growth of her vines by just a little, and Zack managed to dim in glow a bit, but came back strong as ever. Magenta concentrated hard enough to make spots dance in front of her eyes, but couldn’t shift out of her guinea pig form. Ethan sloshed around enthusiastically, but didn’t resolidify.

Everyone finally looked at each other for several long minutes.

“I think we’re in trouble,” Will said finally.

-------------------

There were about five minutes of pure panic as everyone searched for a way out. Layla frantically tried to grow something strong enough to hold up the ceiling slab, so Will could help, but was stymied by having only thin ivy vines and nearly no dirt to grow them strong enough. Magenta circled and circled their cell, trying to find a hole, a hidden door, anything, but finally had to concede that there was none. Layla pressed her vines against the walls hard, trying to find a weak spot, but had to stop when she nearly passed out.

Warren and Zack hauled hard on their chains, but only succeeded in nearly wrenching their limbs out of their sockets. Even trying to pick the relatively crude locks didn’t work. Whoever had captured them had taken their shoes, belts, jewelry, watches, the contents of their pockets, anything that could have been useful. The only features of their cell were a water-filled depression in the center and a faint bit of light leaking out from the edges of the ceiling slab.

Maybe Ethan might have recognized this set-up, or could have figured out who had captured them and why, if only he had been able to talk. He couldn’t even pantomime or make much noise while melted, and had spent their panic time pressing hard against his prison, trying to break the glass. When he finally subsided, he only looked a few shades paler with nothing to show for his efforts.

Magenta felt her heart sink in despair as each possible option was tried and failed. She was cold, hungry, and felt terribly vulnerable. The gang often thought her to be tough, unshakable, which is why she was desperately trying to stop herself from squeaking piteously. The smallest person in her family, with the smallest shapeshifted form of all her relatives, she had put on her attitude to stop people from thinking her weak. She wasn’t, no matter her powers, but…

“Oh God,” she squeaked finally, giving into her panic for a second, not caring how it sounded, and buried her head in Zack’s jacket.

“Dudette, relax, they’ll be back,” Zack said almost cheerfully. Everyone looked at him with astonishment.

“Guys, supervillains have to gloat, it’s like a universal rule! Whoever it is’ll be back later to talk to us,” he pointed out. “Then we can start kicking some ass!”

Everyone relaxed simultaneously. That was so true it wasn’t even funny. Even if their captors were messing with their powers somehow, they’d have to stop by to monologue eventually.
With forcible cheer, they tried to speculate who might have brought them here and how. They might not know as much as Ethan, but at least they could some up with some ideas.

“I want to know how they’re doing this,” Zack said at one point, gesturing to his glowing face.

“If the detention room can neutralize powers, I bet something else can keep them on,” Warren said after a moment of thought.

They kicked around a few names of some people who might be able to do that, but conversation kept falling flat as Warren started to look pinched and pale.

“I’m thirsty,” he rasped finally, and Magenta could hear how much of a toll his powers were taking on him. She’d never seen him stay powered up for more than fifteen minutes at a stretch, and it had been a lot longer than that by now, hours at least.

Surreptitiously she looked around at the others, wondering how staying powered up for so long was affecting them. Did Layla look paler than normal? Was Zack’s glow a little dimmer? Had Will dropped a few inches? Would Warren actually burn out?

Fear clutched her for a second as she considered the implications. As a shapeshifter, she wouldn’t really run out of power, not unless she kept trying to shift back and forth. But there were other dangers. Staying too long in animal form affected the mind. Her parents had warned her against that; her animal instincts could start to overwhelm her human conscience, to the point where food, shelter, and survival were all that mattered. But since she knew it, she could fight against it. She was honestly more worried about the others. And right now Warren needed water.

“Ok, then let’s get you water,” Layla said, stretching her vines over to the puddle in the middle of the floor and trying to press them together to form a cup. The vines shook though, and the water spilled back out. She tried a few more times, getting more and more frustrated with each attempt, until she finally looked on the verge of bursting into tears.

“It’s ok, don’t worry about it,” Warren said quickly.

“Layla, Layla, it’s ok,” Will said nearly on top of him. It was killing him to be able to even comfort his girlfriend, and Will wasn’t always the best with words.

“I can do it,” Magenta piped up, seeing a solution after a second of thought. Almost anything was worth keeping Layla from crying. “If you don’t mind a little guinea pig spit.”

There was a heartbeat of pause while everyone figured out what she was getting at.

“That’s kind of, um…” Zack muttered, probably trying to find a polite synonym for “disgusting” without insulting his girlfriend.

“You see anything else around here? Cup? Canteen? Full-service bar?” Magenta quipped.

“I don’t care,” Warren said weakly, and Magenta scuttled over to the puddle. It didn’t smell bad at all, which was something she had been afraid of, and after a couple of false starts, managed to fill her mouth up with water. Crawling over to Warren, she spelunked up his chest and pressed her mouth to his, letting her tiny mouthful of water trickle past his lips. He felt warm, feverish, even for him, and his skin looked dry and cracked. His powers were already eating him up.

“More,” he said, carefully keeping his flaming hands away from her. Magenta went back again and again until he finally told her to help Layla and Zack too. Everyone needed water; they had no idea exactly how long they had been here or how long they would stay, and they couldn’t afford to get too weak if they wanted to jump their captor when he showed up.

Layla accepted her water without protest, even as she tried to keep the vines’ growth as slow as she could. They mounded up around her now, spreading across the wall before curling back. Magenta looked up briefly at Will, but he was far too high up for her to help, and Layla’s shaky control of her vines didn’t make her wild to try any experiments. Poor Ethan was sealed away from anything she could do.

Zack kept giving her a playful little kiss with each mouthful she gave him, and she tickled him with her whiskers. It was the only real fun she had had since she woke up.

“You didn’t let him kiss you, did you?” he asked jokingly, jerking his head towards Warren.
“Hey, I’m not that dumb,” Warren protested. “She could have bit my face.”

Magenta squeaked indignantly, and there was a chorus of weak chuckles. Tired from running back and forth, she curled up on Zack’s lap. She was hungry, but there wasn’t a thing to eat, not even for her. None of the vines Layla was growing were edible, and no one else had so much as a raisin in their pockets. She had filled her stomach with water, but it hadn’t helped that much. Fitfully she fell into sleep.

--------------------

“Little one, little one, you’ll be fine. You’ll be safe.” There was a feeling of comforting hands, of warmth and security. “You need your strength, little one. You must survive. The little ones are always the toughest.”

Magenta’s eyes snapped open at the sound of stone on stone.

“Will, what the hell?” she demanded irritably. Her dreams had been weird, but a far sight better than being trapped in a room with no exit and being unable to even use her powers normally.

Layla was crying, and she could tell Zack was struggling not to vomit. Will had his eyes closed and was nearly hyperventilating. The room was cold. Slowly, reluctantly, she turned her eyes to Warren. He was still, lying on his side, his face to the wall. His flames had finally burned out.

He was gone.

Squealing shrilly, she buried herself in Zack’s jacket, poking her head out again reluctantly. Will had dropped nearly two feet, and Layla had retracted her ever-thickening vines away from Warren. Ethan was lying very still in his prison, but had turned an unpleasant shade of pea-green.

“Did they want this to happen?” Layla sobbed in a small voice. Magenta’s empty stomach clenched on itself, and she reeled from a combination of nausea of hunger and nausea of what had just happened. Forcibly she stopped herself from squealing again. Guinea pigs couldn’t cry, which she thought was very cruel.

“I don’t know,” Will whispered, not opening his eyes. Ethan was frantically swirling around in his fishbowl, but finally subsided, his message uncommunicated. Magenta knew it had to be killing him not to be able to talk in any way. He might have even figured a way out but hadn’t been able to tell him, and if he had Warren might not be-.

No. She better not even think that right now. If she wore herself down with speculations and might-have-beens, she’d just end up whimpering in a corner. She had to focus on trying to keep herself and her friends alive. No one could talk after Will spoke; no one knew what to say. Quietly she tucked herself close to Zack and fell asleep again.

-------------

“Little one, you must survive. For your friends and for your family. You’re a survivor! Don’t accept death little one. You know what you need.” Comforting hands and a low voice, security and protection…

Magenta woke again, her dream echoing in her head.

My subconscious is working overtime, she thought, even as her stomach awoke to painful hunger. She was chilled and starving, shivering and nauseous. Shapeshifters had an active metabolism, and though she didn’t need much food as a guinea pig, she still had to have it fairly regularly. Everyone else was large, with plenty of reserves. She didn’t have any.

She cautiously opened her eyes, seeing Will floating at the ceiling, the stone against his shoulders, his eyes closed. Zack and Layla were still asleep, and Ethan was at least still, if not asleep as well. At any rate, he wouldn’t be able to tell the others what she was about to do.

Anger warmed her as she worked herself up. She would probably last the longest of anyone, if their enemies kept them using their powers like this, if she could keep herself from starving to death first. Whoever had thrown them in here would probably come back, maybe when Will finally failed. And she intended to be the one to avenge them all, if worst came to worst.
And right now, she was facing the worst. She closed her eyes; Warren wouldn’t have wanted them to be sentimental. Gathering her courage and swallowing her gorge, she crept over to Warren’s still form. She was careful; his clothing would hide what she had done.

Several minutes later, she crept back to Zack’s side, after washing herself to remove evidence. She was no longer hungry, and was finally feeling warm again.

--------------

Ethan went next. He just turned into inert water and seeped out through the crack in his prison, adding to the water in the middle of the room. Zack and Layla wouldn’t drink after that, and Will stopped talking entirely. Magenta drank her fill when they were asleep and tried not to whimper. She had to survive. She had to.

Consciously or unconsciously, when Layla went, she surrounded herself with a cocoon of vines so at least her friends wouldn’t have to look at her. Will dropped halfway to the floor when he realized what had happened, and it was only Zack and Magenta’s frantic pleas that kept him from dropping the stone right then and there.

Magenta had never bought into the idea that grief could age someone, until she saw Will. Fourteen years old, and it looked like there were lines actually carved into his face. But he was too dehydrated to cry. Both of the boys were. Magenta waited until they were both asleep before burrowing through the vines.

She hesitated a long moment, wracked with guilt. Layla, Warren, and Ethan had been her friends. Would they have done the same if…?”

“Little one, you would survive this. Prove that their gifts were needed. Let your friends live on in you.”

Shaking her head from her reverie, Magenta realized she was right. In me, she thought sadly. Yeah, that’s exactly where they are. And she was still so very hungry. It had been a long time since-. She couldn’t exactly see what she was doing in the darkness of the vine cocoon, and it was just as well.

She crept back to Zack after eating and drinking her fill, and felt his sleepy hand unconsciously cradle her. Full and warm, she fell asleep again. She fitfully woke a few more times, Zack usually asleep or listlessly awake, maybe a tad less bright than he had been, and Will had been dropping slowly but steadily every time she opened her eyes. Sleep held far fewer horrors than wakefulness, and she tried to say in her comforting dreams as much as she could.

----------------

When she awoke again, the light had gone out.

Will started awake only long after she had satisfied the gnawing hunger in her stomach, and she had started to cry as well as she could. She hadn’t been going out with Zack for very long, but he had always made her laugh, always made her feel safe in a way that hadn’t insulted her independence. She had loved him.

“I’m so sorry,” Will whispered weakly. It was the first words he had spoke since Ethan. He was only a few feet from the floor now, barely visible in the dim light remaining.
Magenta could only curl up on the floor and whimper. It was then she noticed that it was no longer dim at all. Pale purple light emanated from her fur.

“Magenta, what did you do?” Will asked. He was trying to sound accusatory, but exhaustion made him sound resigned.

“I didn’t hurt them. I couldn’t hurt them. They were already-,” she choked on the last word. Will was quiet for a long minute as she saw him look at Layla.

“They were your friends. Zack loved you!” he cried, and had to pause to breathe. Magenta’s mind raced even as painful hunger redoubled.

“Little one, your friends will help you if you let them.”

Magenta didn’t even notice that she was still awake as she let something inside of her relax, directed by that voice.

Vines raced over to cradle her, though she was feeling so warm that she needed no cover. Cleverness seized her (Ethan’s maybe) as she stared up at Will. He was dehydrated, starving, and losing power by the minute.

“When you die, I die, and I’m all you’ve got Will.”

Will was breathing raggedly, not thinking clearly.

“You’re about to fall. That rock is so damn heavy.”

Will dropped another couple of feet involuntarily, almost bringing him in contact with the floor.

“You have to eat and drink or you’ll die.”

Complete despair crowded his face and Magenta could plainly see his spirit was broken. Strongest superhero of his generation, and he couldn’t even save his friends.

“You’re a survivor little one. You’ll live, if you have the will.”

“I can’t,” Will said, as he finally made contact with the floor, propping himself up on hands and knees, his jeans soaking through from the puddle on the floor. Magenta was squeaking with distress. She desperately wanted someone to comfort her, to tell her things would be all right. But they wouldn’t. Not ever again. She had to survive this first. And she knew how.


“I can make it quick,” she said, and Will started to sob, collapsing on the floor, the huge stone pushing air out of his lungs and finally bracing itself partially against the wall. It was only by the virtue of Magenta’s small size that she was still alive in the now-tiny space.

“Layla,” he whispered, and Magenta let one of the vines grow close to his hand so he could feel it.

“Can you even…?” Will trailed off, wheezing into the puddle as his clothes soaked through. Magenta went to his hand and took an experimental nip. Not to her surprise, his powers were so faded she was able to break his skin. Will cried then, and Magenta let him, even though she wanted comfort herself so badly it hurt. She knew he was saying goodbye to everything.

“It’ll be all right little one, be brave.”

Magenta lifted her chin and carefully positioned herself at Will’s neck, waiting until he gave her the nod.

“You’ve been a good friend,” he whispered.

“You too.”

“Use it wisely,” he said at last, and nodded.

It was messy and painful, but infinitely less so than starvation or suffocation and far faster. She waited until he was gone, her eyes closed, until hunger drove her to action.
After that she no longer felt hungry.

She didn’t know how long she waited in the purple-lit dark, but eventually she slept.

-----------------

She woke up sometime later, glowing fiercely and glaring at the stone just above her head. Taking a deep breath, she shoved at it hard. It cracked under her strength.

Thanks Will, she thought. Again and again, and on the fourth hit, the stone cracked through. Above, a single cable on a winch had held up the stone. It was no wonder Will hadn’t been able to fly upwards; the ceiling had been solid. Except for a single hatch. As she stared at it in wonder, it opened, white light silhouetting a single man.

Anger filled her, along with Warren’s rush of heat, and she found herself flying at him in pure rage.

“Little one,” he said quietly as she came nearly level to him. She stopped in shock, staring at the short, thin, balding man. That voice- that had been the voice that had kept her sane, whole, alive down there. “I’ll keep you safe.”

Squeaking piteously, she landed in his hands, letting him fold them over her, protecting her. She didn’t care who he was, and as she found herself shifting back and being laid on a bed, she found herself relaxing into normal sleep for the first time in a while.

When she woke up, he was waiting there for her, just like he promised. He fed her royally, let her drink her fill, even as she found herself staring around the bedroom, feeling the flame of the candle by the bedside, sensing the health of the potted plant across the room.

“I had a little one of my own once,” he said to her, before she could even formulate any questions of her own.

“What happened?” Magenta asked curiously.

“She was taken from me. Daddy’s little girl, put into a cage and locked in.”

Magenta felt fiery hot anger at the thought of anyone else being trapped anywhere, and could feel Warren’s fire and Layla’s plants answering to her rage.

“Will you help me little one? You can go where I can’t, do what I never could. You could save her. Be a hero. And I’ll keep you safe.”

She could honor her friends by helping her rescuer. Someone that would make sure she was never trapped again. And that she was always safe.

“Yes,” she said, standing slowly. He hugged her in thanks, smiling, and Magenta carefully locked down everything else in her mind, shoving it all away. She was safe here and now, and she would help rescue someone else, to keep them safe. She would help them survive. And no one would stop her from doing it.

After all, no one expected the little one.

------------

Onto the sequel: Little One, Fly Away

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