Disclaimer: Characters belong to their respectful owners
Fandom: Wasted on the Young x The Originals
Pairing: Trilijah – Elijah Mikaelson x Tristan de Martel (though they merely appear around the end)
Genres: fanfiction, canon divergence
As long as Darren was dead and unreal, he could deal with those spontaneous ‘visits’. Ride through them like he had ridden through a mediocre college and a mediocre decree and this mediocre auto repair shop in this mediocre backwater no-where.
As long as Darren wasn’t flesh and blood.
Until he was.
Set after the end of Wasted on the Young
In his regular darkest, loneliest hours, filled with cheap booze and nicotine, Zack allowed his thoughts to cling onto the tendrils of smoke and wandered from his addled head. Somehow, no matter where they strayed to, when the tobacco bags were crumpled and the bottles drained, smashed, they all spiraled back to one subject: Darren.
Zack had experienced his very first dark and lonely hours with Darren. Darren who had bound him to the couch and sat next to him, silent as a ghost waiting for the light of heaven. Before them was the device Darren might have intended for the end-of-year project, yet Zack was sure as hell no criteria had been associated with a loaded pistol that pointed at each of them every time a vote was counted. While Zack’s confidence was chipped by the seconds, for the number of times the gun directed its mouth to him was as many as the number it did Darren, his step brother’s expressions were serene as when he was playing one of his favorite computer games. His hands, whole and broken, folded on his laps, and his blue eyes seemed to emit a soft, eerie glow as he gazed into the gun’s hole as though it were something to be adored, lost to the world at large.
Zack wasn’t above begging him to stop, although all his pleas went deaf in Darren’s ears. He had been adamant in his murderous attempt.
The gun pointed at Zack and he squeezed his eyes shut, expecting a sharp, charring pain between his eyes to signal the abrupt conclusion of his life. Then he heard a “click” sound and felt the sticky warmth plastered on half of his face. Too warm that his skin felt burning. When he dare open his eyes, the gory sight scene of Darren’s head lolled to a side, blood gushing out from where his left eye used to be was enough to haunt him for life.
The gun veered at him, its muzzle a grotesque eye staring questioningly at him. Zack was torn between the suspense that the gun would fire and the flimsy hope that it would not.
He saw the trigger move, and nothing came out. There had only been a single bullet in its chamber.
Zack spent the next hour in the company of a corpse, finding himself unable to stop staring in Darren’s wide-open, remaining blue eye and wondering whether it was his own life rather than Zack’s that his step-brother had planned to snuff in the first place. All the menacing speech and the voting had merely been a farce.
It may have been Darren’s greatest and most well-played farce.
Zack got out of it clean, just as he had gotten out of every of his mess clean. The evidence was clear – Darren’s handprints all over the gun and device, Zack being immobilized and the party goers’ witness – so the case was quickly closed, or rather, silenced by Zack’s father. And Xandrie’s shaky video too, while he was at it. The perk of having a hugely influential father with an enormous account. Cassi didn’t buy it though. She screamed and screamed and might have torn Zack’s face off with her bare, bony hands but for the police officers’ restraining and sedating her. Gave her enough to tranquilize a horse, he heard the officers mutter. It never occurred to him that the gold digger loved her son that much, judging from the abundant time she had left him to his own device, quite literally, for partying and fucking men. Zack supposed it would surprise Darren also, were he alive to witness his estranged mother’s love and grief.
Zack heard that Cassi had been sent to an institution and died soon afterwards. Somehow she had managed to sneak a razor blade into her room. Perhaps a visitor had given it to her, no one knew. What happened next was a poor cliché: a staff member saw her to bed safely and found dear old Cassi a rigid cadaver the next morning when he came in to check on her. Had cut her own wrists sometime in the death of the night and bled all over the sterile white floor. Left a nastiest stain as a souvenir for the janitor. Like mother, like son. All nut jobs. When Cassi’s news reached him, Zack wondered, like he had wondered many a time about Darren and Xandrie, if they were ever united in the afterlife, or whichever place the dead would go to.
Zack stretched his arm and reached into the old, worn hardwood drawer. His fingers rummaged for a few good seconds before they found the object of his drunken scavenger hunt – a sleek, black gun, the same model as the one Xandrie and later Darren had held against his face. Inside the chamber a single bullet was lodged.
He held the gun to his left temple, his forefinger toying with the trigger while his mind conjuring the myriad scenarios in which his corpse would be found. “Not today,” he mumbled to no one in particular, repeated it in louder volume and finally shouted. No one would hear him since the auto repair shop was only inhabited by homeless ghosts and Zack at this odd hour. Some day, yes, but not today. He put the gun into his drawer and locked it securely.
Zack purchased it some days after Darren had come back to haunt him. Not the kind of 24/7 haunting though. Sometimes his step-brother popped out from the middle of nowhere, across the street, at the table in the darkest corner, behind the shop’s smudgy glass door, in the broken mirror. Sometimes he was with Xandrie, the two of them in big matching hoodies that hid away most of their faces save huge, sunken eyes that drilled into Zack, and sometimes he was alone. Sometimes he appeared whole, sometimes with a bloody hole going all the way into his skull for an eye. He did nothing, merely looking until Zack could take no more and shouted at him, smashing every surface Darren could use to make his presence known, and then he simply vanished. Another day, or another month, and he would appear once again – the cycle never ended. Heck, this sapped sanity quicker than quick sand. So guess what? No scholarship for a nutty boy who had survived a trauma architected by his step brother: people pitied him and said all kind, encouraging words to him in front of his face and yet, when they turned their back, none would want to take a ghost-seeing student into their college. Zack guessed it was fair and square – after all he could no longer give them any medals. Swimming champion now became hydrophobic – the biggest irony. Couldn’t even go anywhere near water. Truth be told, it wasn’t water that scared the shit out of him. Not all kinds of water anyway. It was the pool that did, really. The pool with its chloride-filled water that no matter how he looked, it was nothing but Darren’s huge eye.
Nevertheless, Zack could live with that, as the last thread of rationality in him was able to determine that the ‘Darren’ he saw again and again was not real, but rather a fragment of… of what? He would not call it guilt, for if he did, it only meant that little fucker had won and Zack, no matter how messed and failed his life had become after Darren, would not lose to a teenage apparition. As long as Darren was dead and unreal, he could deal with those spontaneous ‘visits’. Ride through them like he had ridden through a mediocre college and a mediocre decree and this mediocre auto repair shop in this mediocre backwater no-where.
As long as Darren wasn’t flesh and blood.
Until he was.
Zack’s cloudy eyes lit up at the sight of a sleek black Ford steering towards him and making a halt. It was the first car to stop at Zack’s shop after a whole morning and half the afternoon of idleness, and a very fine one at that. The door open and from the inside a man stepped down, all in black and handsome as the vehicle itself. Probably a CEO or some important figure, judging by his designer suit, his cuff links and his watch. Heck, Zack used to possess the exact same one – daddy’s big present to compensate for his absence at his son’s coming-of-age birthday. He had loved it until the day he was forced to sell it.
He eyed the man with some fascination as the opposite door opened and another figure came into his sight. Designer suit again, adorned with gold cuff links flashing blindingly in the intense July sun. Zack had to squint his eyes in order to get a relatively decent view of the second man’s face.
He wished he hadn’t. In fact, he’d rather be blind than see that face.
Darren’s face. An exact duplication save few minor modifications. He looked older, for one, his face’s being a man’s instead of an adolescent’s, and there were some stubbles on his chin – a fully grown man – while Darren’s had been smooth. But the eyes were the same, a winter blue that seemed to pierce to Zack’s soul when his gaze glided over Zack.
There was not the slightest hint of recognition in those irises. Yet Zack was shivering despite the glaring heat.
Things processed like a hazy fever dream. Darren and his companion gave some instructions regarding their car – the usual maintenance job, gas fill and a wash. Zack found himself nodding but not really listening. He wondered if they took notice of his staring – couldn’t peel his eyes off that haunting face. Even if they did, Zack had a distinct impression that they wouldn’t give a damn about it. Men in expensive suits like them avoided unnecessary quarrels like germs: getting worked up over something as trivial as an inappropriate look was just too beneath them.
While they spent their wait in a poor excuse for a fast food stall at the back of the auto repair shop and ordered food out of politeness rather than necessity, Zack found himself wandering back to his locker. He unlocked the rusty drawer, rummaged through various trinkets and papers to seek for one thing.
A single gun. A single bullet.
“This is the day,” a voice whispered to him. “This is the day,” he repeated.
Wendy was dozing at the counter and her only two customers were having a chat in soft voice when Zack stalked to their seats, the pistol in his hand – safety lock flipped, ready to shoot. Darren’s companion saw him first. His dark eyes fell upon Zack’s face, then his arm, his fingers clenched around the grip. He must have noticed the strange thing in his hand too, for his eyes widened just a bit. Mildly surprised, not scared though. Strange man. Zack had half expected him to freak out.
Only when he paid attention to the subtle change in his partner’s countenance did Darren’s ghost turn his head, eyes slightly enlarged as if only now had Zack’s existence been registered to his brain. Funny how that used to be the other way around during high school: Zack, captain of the swimming team, the school’s golden boy and Darren an awkward nerd mostly invisible. Look at them now: the golden boy had become an alcoholic barely holding his job in a no-name shop and the nerd at the top of the world. Are you satisfied, Darren?
Zack laughed an ugly laugh and pulled the trigger.
The bullet drilled into Darren’s left eye and burst through the wall behind, giving its greasy surface a new coat of crimson. Avant-garde, that was the only word in Zack’s head, Zack who had basically skipped every art class. But, like some wise man once said, you could not appreciate art until you’d seen true art.
This was true art: the wall wet with Darren’s blood and Darren a warm cadaver sprawled face-down on the dusty floor.
…Except Darren hadn’t fallen. The force of a close-ranged bullet caused him to stagger a few steps back and that was it: Darren, standing and blatantly living in spite of a hole in his skull. His face, half-painted in blood, was relatively calm.
Mildly surprised, the same as his partner’s.
Zack wanted to scream his lungs out; nonetheless, his screams were muffed before they were released out of his throat.
Then Zack was laughing out loud, the kind of laughter that was no different than howl. He was witnessing the most bizarre freak show in the world and it was too amusing he wouldn’t want to stop laughing: Darren’s damaged flesh was restored like a movie clip in rewinding, his eye and face becoming whole and perfect as if nothing had happened.
Perhaps no event had truly occurred and everything was in Zack’s head. He blinked, feeling acutely the ache of having strained his eyes for too long. He looked down at his right hand, which was still holding the gun, his index finger hooking the trigger. Wendy was still dozing while Darren’s ghost and his friend were still sitting at the table, the food in front of them hardly touched. The space around him was him was buzzing with the old, familiar sounds of this auto repair shop he had called home for the last seven years.
Had his mind finally given in to his madness named ‘Darren’?
Shortly after the Ford left, disappearing beyond the never-ending highway, Zack saw Darren again. Sitting at the corner table where the pair had been and donning a costly dark suit instead of his usual hoodie. The face, however, was the teenage face Zack had gotten used to seeing.
Zack laughed, pressing the gun’s muzzle to his temple…
… and found it an empty gun.
Tristan loosened the cerulean tie around his neck. The air-conditioner in their car seemed powerless against this diabolical heat.
He started to regret taking this ‘runaway’ adventure with Elijah. A break from sire line war and constant family drama, with crazy sister and psycho brother to boot, Elijah had told him and he had been convinced. He must have been under compulsion back then, for now he regretted it deeply, along with the sour fact that neither of them had brought anything other than suits.
“You missed a spot,” Elijah casually remarked, holding out a handkerchief with one hand while the other was on the wheel.
Tristan flipped down a mirror attached to the roof and checked for said spot. Yet even when his face was clean, his jacket and shirt were beyond help.
Vampire blood was a nasty thing.
With an exasperated huff, Tristan ripped his tie, took off his jacket and carelessly threw them on the back seat. He considered getting rid of the shirt too but decided against it the very next second the idea was formed. Spending the rest of the journey in half-naked state wasn’t something he felt comfortable with.
“Well, it’s not every day that we stop at a backwater shop and I get shot in the face,” Tristan bleated. “Certainly a rare novelty.”
Elijah sniggered. “He had his eyes on you the moment we walked in. Still, I hadn’t imagined that he would do something to such extreme.”
“From what I saw from his mind, I wouldn’t call it ‘extreme’. That alone prompted me to spare his miserable life. Not without a small souvenir, of course.”
“What was it that you saw?”
Tristan smiled, reaching for the flask he kept in the car. He untwisted the cap and drank leisurely, using the time to stir Elijah’s curiosity.
“What if I told you that madman had been haunted by a ghost… one that was an adolescent doppelgänger of mine?”