Disclaimer: Characters belong to their respectful owners
Fandom: Wasted on the Young x The Originals
Pairing: sort of Elijah Mikaelson (The Originals) x Darren (Wasted on the Young)
Genres: fanfiction, canon divergence
Preview: “You are too young, Darren, too young to put a stop to your life when you have yet to take advantage of what this vast world can offer. But I have no right to stop you either – revenge is a noble cause. So, this is my offer, Darren, to keep seeing this world, albeit through non-human eyes.”
Mr. Mikaelson was unlike any teacher Darren had studied with.
He was young, for one, while most Darren’s teachers had long passed 30s. Some had even passed 50s. Darren heard from the senior students the school had made it policy that no freshly graduated teacher could get a teaching position here. Ripe fruits were required, not green grass, so to say. Although Mr. Mikaelson wasn’t graduated yesterday, he couldn’t be older than 30 – how he got the entrance ticket was as mysterious as his person, but he could be a rare case of looking younger than his real age, of which none seemed to be sure. Still, in contrast with his youthful countenance, his speech and manners were similar to those of a man living in a century past.
A classic gentleman straight out of Jane Austen’s novels, Xandrie commented. The 21st-century Mr. Darcy. She might have had a little crush on their history teacher, too, if she wasn’t teasing Darren when she confided her “little” secret to him. Darren saw nothing wrong with it, though, if you asked him. He himself was much fascinated with Mr. Mikaelson.
Mr. Mikaelson taught history, a subject that was forever deemed a yawn by the majority of kids in this school. Granted, history teacher here all fell victim to a grievous plague of uncreative, tedious teaching – having students recite passage after passage from the textbook, giving comments on their ability to remember details rather than their understanding, and the long, never-ending exams. It took great love in history for both Xandrie and Darren to find the courage not to doze off in history classes.
Nonetheless, Mr. Mikaelson was vastly different. The moment he strode confidently in the classroom he traded the text book for his unlimited resources of illustrious stories. In his pleasant cadence, history was no longer dead figures with names, dates and a few descriptions; they came alive with passionate zeal to change the world. He wasn’t teaching anything, he said it himself, merely playing the role of a storyteller. How the stories, its characters and their motives were to be interpreted was up to the students. There was no telling whether his method had successfully instilled the knowledge in his students; however, the students all agreed on one thing: with Mr. Mikaelson around, history classes were much less intolerable.
For those with a love of history like Xandrie (and Darren, too, when he wasn’t busy trying to show that he loved physics more), Mr. Mikaelson’s presence was god-sent. Not only was he an inspiring teacher, he was also willing to stay for hours if a student wanted to discuss something. Thus, Xandrie took advantage of this and stalked (her own word) him around the campus so that she could talk to him about her history project, more often than not dragging along a mildly reluctant, mildly interested Darren. Mr. Mikaelson was practically a gold mine for Viking history and culture, which Xandrie’s project focused on and better still, he showed as much enthusiasm about the subject as she did. Before long, Darren unknowingly found himself drawn into the discussion although his prior knowledge of the Viking was limited to the Norse pantheon, and even that was due to his favorite RPG game featuring some Norse mythology.
And, unlike any of Xandrie and Darren’s teachers, Mr. Mikaelson didn’t stick around. Though rumor had it that he was only a temp, no one knew exactly why he wasn’t kept around, regarding his fast-grown, immense popularity with the students. One day their old, boring history teacher returned, and the same tedious cycle of reciting and ridiculously long tests was resumed like Mr. Mikaelson had been merely a transient breeze over an everlasting dessert.
Xandrie actually cried a lot that day and Darren had lost his interest in just about everything for a whole week. Perhaps it would have been better if he had just left without a word as other kids believed – that way Xandrie and Darren would just simply hate him, and hatred was so much easier than sadness. The last of their session together, Mr. Mikaelson had taken them to an elegant café hidden in a bustling street, where he had given each of them a farewell gift. A well-preserved old book with voluminous descriptions and gilded illustrations of the Norse gods for the Viking-obsessed Xandrie and a cream-colored envelope in which Darren’s name was scripted in sleek black ink. It wasn’t until he had gotten to his own private world that he dared open his present: an extremely rare edition of a single he had only dreamed of, with the singer’s signature to boot. Later he would remember clutching the CD to his chest till he fell into sweet dream.
No matter how much the two of them had angsted over his leave, Mr. Mikaelson wasn’t likely to return – not in the near future at least, and thus they carried on with the mundanity of their high school life while nurturing tiny hope for a spark of another brilliant teacher.
Not everything looked bleak, though. On a slightly happier note, Xandrie and Darren had gotten much less awkward around each other, all thanks to prolonged sessions of Viking history. Xandrie was determined to finish her project, saying it was her “homage” to Mr. Mikaelson and Darren, shyly, offered his help in putting together a video for her presentation. Their combined effort, with no small thanks to Mr. Mikaelson’s previous help, was a success.
For a while they did think that somehow they would make the most out of their remaining days in high school. They would go to college together, Xandrie to pursue a literature major and Darren a degree in physics. Then Xandrie would become a writer and Darren would apply to an international corporation, perhaps Apple. The brief period with Mr. Mikaelson had emboldened them in such a way that they believed they could, and they would succeed with the right motivation and effort put in.
To have so much hope for the future, that was where their flaws like, for fate was an uncontrollable factor that was the major force behind just about everything. Zack happened. That horrendous party happened, and their lives spiraled out of control. Out of sanity. For Darren, the future ended in that afternoon when he, all beaten up and bloodied, fell to his knees beside Xandrie’s still-warm body.
At that moment he didn’t cry, nor did he in her funeral a few days afterwards.
School didn’t matter, end-of-year project didn’t matter and his recently demoted status never had a place in his mind. His routine never changed: he went to school and went straight home – not home now, house – no training or hanging out at his favorite spot in the park, locking himself in his own dark, private world where the only light was Mr. Mikaelson’s parting gift. And that tiny beam was not enough to light up his mind, dark and hopeless as his world.
In that vast darkness only one thought resided, and Darren intended to carry it out.
Quite unexpectedly, he saw Mr. Mikaelson again one evening on his long walk home, still very handsome and dapper as his memory of the man served, and that twisted a knife in Darren’s wound, reminding him of their brief happy time together, of Xandrie as a bright and living girl.
He felt Mr. Mikaelson’s gaze a tad longer than normal on his face the moment their sights met. Probably because of the fading purple bruises.
“Family business,” Mr. Mikaelson explained first thing after they sat down at a quiet table as a way of reducing awkwardness. “I only arrived this morning. How was Xandrie’s project?”
“It was good,” replied Darren, stirring the steaming milk coffee in front of him. The smell was pleasant, but he wasn’t going to indulge the taste. Milk coffee was Xandrie’s choice drink and he ordered it simply because he didn’t know what else to choose.
“Are you coming back?”
“I’m only passing by, I’m afraid, to see how the two of you are going.”
Darren could feel Mr. Mikaelson’s eyes gliding over his cast before he continued, “Did something happen while I wasn’t here? Some months ago I rarely saw you without Xandrie.”
Heat and moist pooled around the rims of Darren’s eyes. Though he could fight the tears, he wasn’t able to edit the quiver out of his voice as he stated, rather monotonously, “If you had arrived a week earlier, you could have attended her funeral.”
Of the brief time Darren had known Mr. Mikaelson, he had not seen many of the man’s expressions that were outside the spectrum of politeness. The safe ones for a high school teacher, as he had told them. Now he was witnessing a storm gathering in the depth of his dark eyes. He looked saturnine, sort of intimidating, and if Darren hadn’t known better, he would probably fear that he was the unfortunate subject of Mr. Mikaelson’s less-than-pleasant emotion.
Yet the foreboding storm only gave hints and never came, for the next moment his eyes were serene again. No, not serene, just calm and entirely different prior to the news of Xandrie’s death.
“You know, Mr. Mikaelson is very nice but he’s someone you should never cross,” Xandrie said.
“How can you tell? Did you get on his bad side?”
“He seems to be always in control with his manners and emotions and someone who does that all the time is someone you shouldn’t mess with.”
“How did she pass away?” Mr. Mikaelson asked.
At his question Darren experienced an emotional stab. There it was again, the irrational and somehow not entirely unjustified distrust for the adults that had prompted him to lie about the real cause of Xandrie’s suicide. To the police, to the school counselor, to every grownup that felt the need to inquire him. Would they have cared had he spoken the truth? Would they have done anything to give Xandrie the late-served justice she no longer cried for? Would anything change?
Darren wasn’t sure whether Mr. Mikaelson was any different; however, he wanted an ear.
“She shot herself with a gun stolen from her dad…” he spoke at last “… was what they wrote on the paper…”
He barely held himself together at the end of the first sentence. His voice was shaky, his throat clogged and his vision blurred with the strain he imposed on himself to halt the tears once again.
Mr. Mikaelson’s hands on his heated cheeks felt so pleasantly cool that Darren didn’t question the purpose of his strange gesture. He found himself involuntarily leaning in.
“If words are too difficult, you can show me. Relax. Open your mind to me.”
It wasn’t Mr. Mikaelson’s words that did the trick, Darren was vaguely aware. It was the soothing cadence of his voice that sipped into the various cracks on the barren surface of Darren’s mind, gentle as a stream of water and just as penetrating. It was a false safety of an alluring dreamless sleep that his exhausted mind didn’t want to fight, so he gave in entirely, allowing its wave to crash gently on his shore and wash away the footprints.
When he came to himself again, Mr. Mikaelson’s expressions had changed. The calmness that masked his face did nothing to veil the dark storm of understanding that had returned to his eyes.
“Wasted on the young,” he mumbled, breathing a sigh. “Is there any other way?”
“Is there?” Darren repeated, with a hint of query. Somehow he knew Mr. Mikaelson had learnt not only what had happened but also what would happen in that prolonged touch, although he had no idea how exactly.
As if having found an incredible idea or just hearing something very funny, Mr. Mikaelson laughed. “Do you know what a false dilemma is, Darren?”
“I don’t.” Neither did he have the faintest reason of Mr. Mikaelson’s sudden change of mood.
“It is what you think you have, Darren while there is always another option…” he said in that confident tone used in a classroom Darren had found inspirational, but right now its charm was lost to the only student in vicinity. Smoothly Mr. Mikaelson undid his cuff link, rolled up the sleeves of his jacket and shirt just enough to bare his wrist. While Darren was pondering what he was having in his mind, Mr. Mikaelson took a butter knife and… slid it against his exposed wrist.
Blood, red and flowing just like Xandrie’s, filled the small cup. Darren’s heart was tattooing again his thin ribs.
“… which is what I can offer.” Mr. Mikaelson’s voice was firmly assuring as he placed the cup on a saucer and arranged it in front of Darren as though a cup of tea served.
“If I told you to drink it, would you?”
Just seeing the redness made nausea rise in Darren’s throat. “It’s your blood,” he stated matter-of-factly.
“Is it? What proof do you have to decide that it’s blood? It could be tomato sauce.”
“It came from your—”
Darren’s speech halted as if the air to his pharynx experienced an abrupt block. He was staring at Mr. Mikaelson’s wrist that had been brought forward so that he could get a better look. The skin was whole, smooth, indicating no recently inflicted wound. Like a magic trick, except that it was terrifyingly confusing rather than fascinating.
“I did slice it open,” Mr. Mikaelson said, cocking his head to the side, “there’s trace on the knife if you want evidence. However, it healed in a matter of seconds.” He fixed the sleeves of his jacket and shirt to their former state. “As do most physical damages on me.”
Darren wasn’t sure if he was hearing right. Things had become a tad hazy after Mr. Mikaelson’s telepathic touch.
Paying little attention to Darren’s wide eyes, Mr. Mikaelson continued, “Mine is a kind of existence that is very far from yours or Xandrie’s, or any human’s in the school for that matter. If I really have to put a name to it, I’d say ‘vampire’.”
Darren supposed he should have some sort of reaction, freaking out perhaps, at the mention of something as ridiculous and unreal as “vampire”. Never a fan of Twilight he was. Instead, his rationality seemed to take it as a matter of fact, no question nor denial.
“You are too young, Darren, too young to put a stop to your life when you have yet to take advantage of what this vast world can offer. But I have no right to stop you either – revenge is a noble cause. So, this is my offer, Darren, to keep seeing this world, albeit through non-human eyes.”
“If I drank your blood, I would be like you?”
Again, he was less than certain why he had uttered such a ludicrous question.
“If your human life ends in the next 24 hours, absolutely,” he said. “In case you are wondering, it’s not my habit to go around and give my blood to every human I meet.”
“Then… why me?”
“There are reasons, some of which I can tell you, and some, I cannot. You, for example, look like someone I’ve known for a long time. Like a spitting image yet younger, purer… kinder. On top of that, you have a light about you that I do not wish to see snuffed out.”
When Darren looked into Mr. Mikaelson’s dark eyes and what awaited him was nothing but sincerity. His eyes hurt so much that he needed not a mirror to tell the whites had become red as if they could drip blood.
“Would you give Xandrie this option, too, if she were here?”
“Had I known what was to happen, both of you wouldn’t have been human on the day I took my leave.”
At those words, Darren’s restraint shattered and like a broken dam, he wept.
Darren kept the cast on in spite of the perfectly healed bones and muscles underneath. Mr. Mikaelson’s blood had restored all damaged tissues and as he was walking home now, it was humming in his veins like a strong drug.
Was this how it was like to get high? Was this how he would feel always after this night?
He couldn’t know yet, and he didn’t want to either. He wanted to focus all his mind on the task at hand.
He kept the cast on so that he wouldn’t draw attention from Zack or any party-goers. Not now, at least. His recently demoted status actually served his plan.
Quietly, diligently, Darren set everything into motion.
The soft buzzing from the device was more pleasant to his ears than he had thought. If only Zack hadn’t made so much noise every time the gun pointed at him though.
It wasn’t out of his expectation at all, how Zack would still retain that many sycophants even after his unclean deeds had been exposed. Loyalty was not something Darren fathomed they would possess; still, he wasn’t surprised to be proven wrong. He was calm as if he had never known calmness in his life.
If he concentrated hard enough, he could block out all sounds to listen to the melody of Mr. Mikaelson’s blood mingling with his own. Together they sang of a chance.
It would be a tie but for one vote, and one was enough to decide who should carry on with his life. The device ceased its momentum, and the gun shot its only bullet.
When Darren next opened his eyes, he was lying on a cold metal surface, stripped naked and burning with a thirst he had never felt before. As he clambered off the examination table, his limbs made rigid by the low temperature in this room and thus clumsy, a pair of arms gently caught him.
“I read the news,” a voice said, its cadence so mellifluous to his ears that he wouldn’t mind hearing it again and again, no matter its contents. “So I knew you would be brought here. Drink it and you’ll be fine.”
A blood bag was handed to him and he ripped it open without questioning why the sight and thick, metallic smell of blood aroused him rather than nauseated. Curiously he took a small sip. The cold taste seared through his tongue like a blade, awakening the still-slumbering cells it touched. It was abominable, the last thread of his former self protested, to drink human blood like he did a Coke, but he simply couldn’t stop until the bag was dried.
That he had never felt more alive than in this moment was an overused cliché Darren realized he was mentally repeating. A new sense of awareness washed over him, making sense of all the alien changes going through him. This scorching thirst. The tang of blood on his tongue and surrounding his nose. Not even his reflection on the polished surface, blood-red dying the whites, making his pale blue irises extra-freakish and dark veins crisscrossing the area around his eyes, was the least unnerving.
“Come to New Orleans with me, Darren.”
As Mr. Mikaelson’s beckon, he reached out.
This is how I imagine Elijah’s pastime would be when he isn’t caught in his family drama: being a history teacher who infiltrates schools or universities now and then to mingle with the young and bright minds.