[Cảm nhận] Wasted on the Young, The Mystery of a Hansom Cab & Blinder

Gọi cái này là giới thiệu phim/ cảm nhận/ gì cũng được.

Đã có một giai đoạn bạn Joel cuồng Michael FassbenderJames McAvoy (X-men: First Class) đến nỗi đi kiếm phim của hai anh già ấy về xem, bất kể phim từ thời nẫm (torrent với tốc độ rùa bò phải gọi là cụ cố ~.~) hay genre có hợp sở thích mình hay không. Bây giờ, cơn cuồng ấy đã quay lại, chỉ là không phải với Michael hay James mà với Oliver Ackland, diễn viên xứ sở chuột túi thủ vai ma cà rồng Pháp Tristan de Martel (người tình ngàn năm firstborn của Elijah Mikaelson) mới xuất hiện ở phần 3 The Originals.

Nhưng khác với phim của Michael hay James, phim của Oli không nổi bằng (vì Úc sản xuất cho người Úc coi =,.=) và tất nhiên là khó kiếm hơn nhiều. Bạn Joel mới xem được ba phim và đang miệt mài kéo torrent cho bộ mini-series Party Tricks (2014) – torrent ba ngày rồi nhưng mới được… 8.7%, vậy nên trong bài này bạn Joel sẽ nói chút cảm nghĩ về ba phim đó: Wasted on the Young (2010), The Mystery of a Hansom Cab (2012) và Blinder (2013).

(bạn Joel vừa nhận ra mình đã xem phim theo đúng trình tự thời gian)

Chú ý: spoilers không ít, ngôn ngữ thiếu nghiêm túc, spam ảnh là chính và nhận xét về phim là phụ. Ảnh là bạn tự ghép với công nghệ ACDSee, Paint và filter do Photobucket đóng góp.

Wasted on the Young (2010) Oliver Ackland, Adelaide Clemens, Alex Russell

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Wasted on the Young là một bộ phim tuổi teen lấy bối cảnh một trường trung học tư thục và tất cả nhân vật đều là học sinh cấp ba. Nói đến phim tuổi teen, bạn nghĩ ngay đến học tập, thi cử, thể thao, party, tình tay ba tay tư, những tuyến nhân vật như hot boy, hot girl, nerd… không thể cliché hơn? Wasted on the Young có tất cả những điều ấy, chỉ là nếu bạn nghĩ nó sẽ đi theo hướng Highschool Musical, Cinderella hay hàng ngàn phim tuổi teen khác, với kết thúc không thể viên mãn và Hollywood hơn, thì bạn sẽ bị shock với hướng đi của kịch bản Wasted on the Young. Nói đơn giản thì Wasted on the Young là một phim tuổi teen đã trải qua một đợt phẫu thuật tàn bạo dưới bàn tay của Ben C. Lucas để gọt bỏ hết tất cả hường phấn và còn lại toàn những mảng tối của học đường mà những phim nhắm tới giải Oscar thường ưa thích: thuốc kích thích, sex, bạo lực học đường, học sinh chia bè kéo cánh… Oliver thủ vai Darren, một cậu học sinh sống chung nhà và học chung trường với ông anh kế Zack. Trong khi Zack là hot boy của trường, ở ‘top of the food chain’ thì Darren ở gần dưới đáy vì ít bạn bè, ít giao tiếp, hay ngượng và ngoài học thì chỉ cắm mặt vào màn hình vi tính – một dạng Hollywood nerd vì kiểu tóc hơi ngố không khiến Darren bớt xinh trai đi bao nhiêu. Vấn đề bắt đầu khi Zack để ý Xandrie nhưng Xandrie dù rất xinh những não không hề ngắn nên không để ý Zack mà chỉ thích Darren. Và như đã nói ở trên, Wasted on the Young, đúng như tựa đề của mình, sẽ chọn hướng tăm tối nhất để phát triển và giải quyết chuyện tình tay ba ‘trẻ con’ này, để rồi khán giả, tức bạn Joel, sau khi xem hết hơn 90 phút đã ngẩn mặt ra và tự hỏi: “Ủa, vậy là sao?” Thật may là khi google, bạn Joel được an ủi khi nhận thấy khá đông người xem cũng không hiểu rốt cuộc phim kết thúc ra sao – do cái kết quá vague chứ không phải tại không đủ IQ để hiểu thâm ý của kịch bản.

Btw, đó là kết thúc mở − tùy bạn theo hướng tích cực hay tiêu cực để chọn cái kết cho số phận Darren và Zack.

Điều đáng chú ý: Oli khi đó đã hơn 30 tuổi và vào vai một Darren mới 17 tuổi và không google thì chẳng ai biết tuổi thật của anh già bởi khuôn mặt baby với đôi mắt to quá lừa tình.

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mà Darren là nhân vật chính.

The Mystery of a Hansom Cab (2012)Oliver Ackland, Jessica De Gouw, John Waters

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The Mystery of a Hansom Cab là phim chuyển thể từ một tiểu thuyết cùng tên đã có khá nhiều phiên bản chuyển thể trước đó. Khi lên youtube xem trailer thì bạn Joel để ý thấy bình luận chia làm hai hướng: một bên khen phim xuất sắc còn một bên chê phim không tiếc lời. Bạn Joel chưa đọc tác phẩm gốc (và cũng không có ý định đọc), cũng không xem các phiên bản trước đó nên cũng không dám nói phim bám sát nguyên tác hay chế đến mức chỉ còn lại tên nhân vật, nhưng cá nhân bạn Joel cho rằng phim không hẳn xuất sắc nhưng tất nhiên không tệ đến mức phải ném đá — từ mà bạn sẽ dùng để nói về nhận xét phim là ‘decent’. Nhân vật của Oli là Brian Fitzgerald, một doanh nhân người Ireland chuẩn bị kết hôn với con gái một người vô cùng giàu có là Madge. Anh yêu Madge, Madge yêu anh và chuyện tình yêu của hai người được gia đình ủng hộ, chuyện sẽ xuôi chèo mát mái nếu không xuất hiện kẻ thứ ba và tệ hơn, kẻ thứ ba bị sát hại chỉ vài ngày sau khi tranh cãi nảy lửa với Brian. Như mọi phim murder mystery khác, chúng ta sẽ có cảnh sát lười – chỉ cần nhìn vài chi tiết là kết luận Brian là hung thủ và cảnh sát chăm – người nắm rõ quy luật của thể loại phim murder mystery: người khả nghi nhất 9.5/10 trường hợp không phải hung thủ và kiên quyết tìm ra thủ phạm thật sự. Những yếu tố trinh thám thường thấy như manh mối giả, nhân chứng khó tìm (hễ là nhân chứng quan trọng thường rất khó tìm và nếu tìm được thì nhất định sẽ có vấn đề gì đó)… đều xuất hiện nhưng tất cả chỉ làm nền cho một bi kịch trong quá khứ mà dư âm kéo dài đến hiện tại. Kết thúc phim đẹp, có hậu và hoàn toàn không đánh đố người xem như Wasted on the Young.

Điều đáng chú ý: Chị Jessica De Gouw đóng Mina Murray/ Ilona trong series Dracula  của đài NBC. Trong The Mystery of a Hansom Cab, chị đóng vợ một người tương lai sẽ thành ma cà rồng còn trong phim kia chị đóng vợ/love interest của một ma cà rồng – chị thật có duyên với ma cà rồng.

Blinder (2013)Oliver Ackland, Jack Thompson, Josh Helman

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Blinder là một tựa phim khó hiểu đến nỗi trước khi vào phim, người ta phải dành hẳn vài giây để nói về định nghĩa của từ ‘blinder’ và trong phim phải cho nhân vật nhắc lại từ ấy để người xem khỏi quên. May là câu chuyện phim sẽ kể không đến mức rắc rối như tựa phim: Tommy Dunn (Oliver Ackland) là một cầu thủ đầy triển vọng nhưng không may dính vào một scandal khiến sự nghiệp tiêu tan. Anh rời quê nhà đến Mỹ làm huấn luyện viên và suốt mười năm không hề quay lại Torquay, cho đến một ngày, anh nghe tin huấn luyện viên năm xưa của anh qua đời. Trở về dự tang lễ, Tommy gặp lại các bạn, nhen lại tình yêu với thể thao cũng như nối lại quan hệ với một cô gái. Vì đây là phim thể thao plot nên cũng khá ‘thẳng’, chú trọng vào tinh thần thể thao và các trận đấu hơn là twist (tuy nhiên không phải không có twist). Mạch phim đan xen giữa quá khứ và hiện tại – điều gì đã dẫn tới scandal làm tiêu tan sự nghiệp của Tommy và các bạn ngày xưa và họ đối mặt với sai lầm đó như thế nào ngày nay. Cũng như hai phim trên, bạn Joel không dám nói Blinder là phim xuất sắc nhưng ít nhất đây là một bộ phim khá hấp dẫn và xem xong bạn không phải la lớn: “Trả lại 1 tiếng 42 phút cuộc đời đây!!” Phim thể thao là loại phim bạn Joel ít muốn xem nhất và bạn đã rất ngạc nhiên khi xem xong và nhận ra mình rất thích Blinder (không phải vì cảnh khỏa thân [khá dài] của Oli đâu, thật đấy!).

Điều đáng chú ý: Cảnh thiên nhiên trong phim rất, rất đẹp và dù chèn hơi nhiều bài hát nhưng ít ra nhạc cũng không tệ. Josh Helman đóng thiếu tá William Stryker trong X-Men: Days of Future Past. Chưa hết, trải qua mười năm mà hầu hết các anh trai nhìn vẫn như thế, không già đi tý nào, thật quá hư cấu.

 

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fanservice…
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Nếu Tristan một ngày nào đó nổi hứng đi chơi thể thao thì nhìn sẽ như vầy…

[Trilijah] Untitled 07

07

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Continuing after Offer

Part 1     Part 2     Part 3     Part 4     Part 5

Christmas in general wasn’t an event which Darren would get too excited about. Maybe years and years ago he had had a true Christmas, complete with a decorated tree, glittering ornaments hanging around the house, big meals and the anticipation of Santa Claus’s arrival churning in his little tummy, but it was such a once-upon-a-time that the vague memories seemed like someone’s fairytale, not even Darren’s. His less-opaque experiences of Christmas were comprised of his father’s lack of presence and his mother’s sore absence until it was well over. Off to celebrate with somebody else other than her only son, obviously. He hadn’t had even a proper dinner, let alone decorations and presents. His last Christmas as a human had been spectacularly dismal. Being the swimming team’s captain and the school’s golden boy, Zack had the responsibility to uphold his status by throwing the biggest party in town… right under Darren’s room for two days straight. God knew Darren had had to bar the door to prevent his room from being mistaken as some makeshift fuck-space. The voracious noise guaranteed that he wouldn’t have any decent sleep without the blaring music penetrating his dreams. And don’t even mention the glorious mess afterwards.

It was funny how his first Christmas as a non-human was truer in both sense and spirit than his many dulled and meaningless ones. The Mikaelsons were many things, Original vampires, founding fathers and mother of New Orleans, ancient monsters with a millennium’s worth of blood and more often than not harbingers of misfortune and disasters, but none could say they didn’t possess a merry spirit. That spirit particularly flared when it came to celebrations. Celebrating in proper manners and style was just as deadly serious as any other business to them, those ancient beings whom young ones would think as having gone through too many lifetimes to even care for the differences between Christmas and Thanksgiving. Darren had had the exact same expression and was then proven very wrong when he woke up one morning to witness the biggest Christmas tree of his life so far erected in the middle of the yard. The holiday spirit hung thick in the air with the influx of servants rushing in and out of the compound to meet their wealthy employers’ many elaborate demands. His legs moved on their own why his mind was so entranced by the atmosphere that it got a temporary shutdown, and he blended right in with the human servants and offered his vampiric hand to the job. None questioned his sudden appearance nor his preternatural abilities on blatant display, wordlessly accepting him as another helper. Conveniently compelled, all of them.

“My my, aren’t you a helpful one?”

He heard Rebekah’s footsteps on the stairs and her voice rang in his vampire ears like clear silver bells amongst the sea of indistinct noises. She looked a little less than her best, having just returned from a foreign trip and in the middle of adjusting to the time zone by burying herself under her blankets. In fact, these were her very first words to Darren since she laid eyes on him upon her return. He had noticed the sharp edge in her tired eyes at once, being too accustomed to that mildly-surprised and doubtful look people often gave him thanks to a certain ancient doppelgänger.

“You’re Darren, aren’t you? The kid Elijah picked up during his ‘fun’ time as a history teacher? God, my brother actually thought being a teacher was fun,” Rebekah said, leaning against the wooden rail.

“Yeah, I guess so,” Darren replied. He was thankful that Rebekah didn’t refer to him as his former history teacher’s pet. If only he got a dollar every time he heard such…

“Didn’t you have a home? Were your parents OK with their son’s turning into a vampire?”

“Well, my dad fled from my mom and my mom fled from me,” said Darren with a shrug. Bringing her up hurt less these days, and it was surprising even to him how he could mention her in such a nonchalant tone. “I think she’s better off without a child anyway. She remarried after all, and suddenly I had a hotter and undeniably wealthier dad than my biological one.”

“You sound bloody like Flowers in the Attic, don’t you know that? Tell me, have you any siblings?”

“No, not really,” Darren sounded uncertain, “I was the only child, unless you count my ex-stepbrother. What’s Flowers in the Attic anyway?”

Rebekah waved her hand. “Nevermind. I heard you recently became one of The Strix.”

Darren nodded while hanging golden and silver tinsel on a branch. “I still had no idea whatsoever why I was qualified as ‘passed’.”

One blink ago Rebekah was leaning against the rails and in the next, she was standing by Darren’s side with one hand on her jean-clad hip, startling him.

“Did you know Tristan had me staked and cursed and then Aurora bloody dumped me at the bottom of the ocean? Those two bloody loons,” Rebekah asked, her blue eyes squinting.

Of course Darren knew all about it. One of the first things Tristan had drilled into him on day one was the significant events with the Mikaelsons from past to present. It was like going through History 101 all over again, except that his ‘teacher’ was extra-homicidal and would prefer to send him home with a neck snapped than a bad grade. The number of surprise tests being taken up to eleven was yet another spice added into the hellish stew.

In sum, yes, Darren knew all about the nasty things Tristan and Aurora had done to the Original sister, and how she had retaliated afterwards. What he didn’t understand was why Rebekah brought it up to him merely after some minutes of idle conversations. It caused anxiety to rise in the pit of his stomach.

“I did,” he replied, glancing warily at Rebekah and expecting a blow. He would consider himself extremely lucky to get away with only a broken neck.

Rebekah’s unexpected slap on his taut back caused him to lose his balance and tumbled down, only to get caught by her arms.

“Don’t give me that eye as if I were about to bloody bash your skull,” she chided him, not harshly. “I’m mean, true, but not that mean. Plus, even if I wanted to, I would never hear the end of it if I so much as lay a finger on Elijah’s boy.”

Just when he thought not being referred as ‘pet’ was an improvement…

“You’re having your arms around me, not your finger.”

Smiling, Rebekah released him from her grip. “You’re witty, aren’t you? I like that. The thing is, kid, you’d do better to stay far away from that bloody lot, especially Aurora and that stuck-up twit who might be your distant ‘relative’. I would have stuck that bloody cursed stake right up his arse if my brother hadn’t already done so for as long as I could remember.”

Darren’s face put on an expression that could only be classified as ‘comically horrified’. “I’m pretty sure I don’t want details.”

“About the stake-up-arse part or the other?”

Her feigned innocence couldn’t fool a kid, let alone a straight A teenager.

“Neither,” he said, trying not to sound like a huff. “Moreover, why are many people assuming I’m related to Tristan? It’s been more than a thousand years and right now most high school students know the gene pool is not limitless.”

There was that elder’s half disappointed and half amused look like Aya often gave him again. Well, at least Rebekah didn’t overact like Aurora.

“Have you ever heard the name Tatia? It must have popped up somewhere in your Strix’s supernatural Wikipedia, huhm?”

Darren nodded. “She was the reason why we are here and not six feet under?”

“Not bad for a high school student,” said Rebekah with a smile. “Tatia was but one link of a long chain of related people magically looking like carbon copy of one another. Want to hear more about that bloodline?”

“Something tells me that involves racing through basically every shop in New Orleans in a late Christmas shopping.”

He had learnt that Rebekah was Aurora’s sire, and if Aurora was a terminal shopaholic, he didn’t see why Rebekah was any different.

“I’m liking you more and more, kiddo. Now you wait a few minutes while I freshen up and you’ll help me get my niece a nice present.”

“Alright,” Darren replied, sounding a little defeat.

Nice kids got presents from Santa Claus while naughty ones got none, that was common knowledge. For years and years Darren had been convinced that his name was forever on Santa’s naughty list, for rarely had he received a present that wasn’t from the online game developers. To be fair, Zack did give him a present in their first Christmas, which was nice if you overlooked the tiny fact that he had gotten it from one of his many admirers at school. There was even a Merry-Christmas card directed to him inside the box.

Fortunately Darren had made good use of that hand-knit scarf.

This year was different though. Darren supposed somehow he had miraculously gotten off the naughty list and even made it to the other one. He had started the day by helping with decorating the house and then escorted Rebekah on her shopping escapade as she raided the shops in Nola − not yet an expert but he had acquired excessive experience from countless times playing Aurora’s bag-carrying boy. He spent the other half of the day babysitting Hope so that Hayley could do a late Christmas shopping for her in-laws, who happened to be plenty, while being involuntary accomplice in Freya’s arson. Moral of the story: never allow a witch and a baby vamp in the kitchen. Period. Compulsion and money existed for the sole purpose of preventing these incidents. The only good thing to come out of it was their providing quite an entertainment for the little hybrid girl.

So, Darren had been a “good, extra-helpful kid” as per Rebekah’s words and thus was entitled to receive a number of presents on Christmas night, much more than all the gifts he had been given in his entire human life. Hayley brought him some homemade desserts from her in-laws in the bayou and, unlike Freya’s failed attempt, they were edible and actually delectable. Point taken: Wolves cooked much better than vampires and (ancient) witches because they had to do it on a daily basis instead of staring into a chef’s eyes for some seconds or having absurdly wealthy vampire siblings. For helping Freya, whether in burning down the kitchen or cleaning up the mess afterwards, the Mikaelson witch had made it so that his daylight ring was firmly attached to his finger, thus no more worry about dropping or having it stolen by some elder vampire bullies. Aya sent him a black envelope containing a sleek black card that granted him access to The Strix’s exclusive bar and a whole year of free-drinking. Not keen on another hour-long lecture about underage drinking from his former history teacher slash sire slash unofficial guardian, he tucked the card in the depth of his jeans pocket with the intention to pay it some visits in the near future. The most unexpected gift was from Klaus, who had ordered a complete set of flat-screened TV, surrounding stereo system plus gaming arcade installed in his room. “You entertained my sisters well and since it’s Christmas, I can be charitable,” he nonchalantly declared, stunning Darren. Somehow the set had occupied most of his living space but being the self-entitled hikkomori who could stay inside for days to play a new video game that Darren was, he couldn’t really complain.

“You’ve got quite a huge Christmas stocking, haven’t you?”

A large hand on his shoulders woke Darren from his trance of contemplating the massive wardrobe Tristan and Aurora had delivered to the Mikaelson compound when the clock struck twelve. The elegant card that accompanied this extravagance read: “Dress well when you’re back to school. PS: The ties are entirely Aurora’s contributions.”

Yes, Darren was coming back to school in spring because according to Tristan, “A Strix without at least two degrees is no Strix at all.” If Darren wasn’t a nerdy kid who had spent most his life devoted to studying and playing games, he felt that he would revolt and run away − one didn’t simply become an undead in order to come back toiling at school.

“Can I just wear the hoodies and jeans Rebekah bought me?” Darren asked Elijah, who had just entered his room with a tumbler of bourbon in his hand. “Not these suits and funny ties?”

He finally understood why Tristan, who wore mostly grim and solid colors would opt for ties that appeared so out-of-character. They all came from Aurora, no wonder. Somehow Darren was convinced even if Aurora gave him jester’s outfits, Tristan would wear them with his head held high because they were his sister’s gifts imbued with love.

“You wear whatever makes you feel comfortable,” replied Elijah with a smile. “Take that little weasel’s words for reference, not commandment.”

“Aren’t you and him wearing suits 24/7?”

As far as Darren could observe, that style was strictly instilled in every member of The Strix. As (reluctant) one himself, he thought he was no exception.

“Out of choice, Darren, which I think should apply to you also. “Speaking of Christmas gift…”

A carefully wrapped box was laid next to Darren, startling the newbie vampire. “…mine is a bit humble being put next to these grandiose displays, so I thought I’d wait until deep in the night to give it to you personally.”

“Elijah…I…”

“Come one, Darren, open it,” he urged.

Darren’s eyes widened with every layer of the bordeaux-colored wrapping being peeled off. He was rendered speechless with what he was holding in his hands.

“Judging from your expressions, I can safely say I’ve chosen a decent gift. Being newly introduced to vampirism can be such an overwhelming experience that you’ve neglected what you loved. This fourth installment of the series is to be released a week later, but as I have some acquaintances in the company…”

Since his wording procession had come to a block, Darren sought to express his heart-swelling attitude in a tight hug. “It’s… perfect… Thank you, Elijah,” he murmured in the front of his sire’s jacket.

“What do you say we put Niklaus’s present to good use right now? The night is still much young,” said Elijah with gentle pat on Darren’s back. “But before that, would you kindly surrender Aya’s black card? I believe we’ve already discussed extensively about underage drinking.”

End

 

[Trilijah] Untitled 06

06

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Continuing after Offer

Part 1     Part 2     Part 3     Part 4

Panting with exertion and clutching his side, Darren took a step back and scanned his opponent through blood-veiled eyes: five feet seven in height, built like a goddess of war and standing in her immaculate outfit without a single bead of sweat – the perfect opposite of his current state: mussed hair, bloodied face and dirty clothes. As soon as he felt his ribs putting themselves back together, he charged at her with all the strength and speed his infant vampire body could muster.

So close. He was so close in landing a blow on her that he could actually feel the texture of her sleeve through his fist when she flashed behind him to land a kick on his back, sending Darren across the dome room and into the steel wall.

He took small comfort in the dent he made in that mass of metal. At least his spine didn’t break for nothing.

“OK,” a voice said, or boomed, judging from where he was lying, flushed against the concrete floor and next to a pair of killer heels. “Time out, please. I want to borrow Darren.”

No one ever said Aurora’s timing wasn’t flawless.

“Sorry, Aurora,” Darren bleated, turning his head to the other side so it didn’t look like he was gazing up her mini-skirt. “I’m a little busy here. Do you mind coming back at another time?”

She was probably hit with the urge to ravage every boutique shop in New Orleans… again. Since Tristan was always busy dealing with one business or another, Aurora felt entirely justified to grab the closest thing, ahem, person to her brother for substitution.

Aya held out her hand in front of him, which Darren unceremoniously took. As she helped him to his feet, more like pulled him to his feet, she smiled and said, “That was actually an improvement, kid. Next time, try to be less obvious about your aim.”

“Thanks,” replied Darren with a slight groan, straightening his back. There was no pain like a broken spine; he was sure to remember it for the rest of his un-life.

“A Strix who cannot at least defend themself is no Strix at all,” Tristan had told him after Darren’s admission to The Strix with a gentle pat on his shoulder. While the high-schooler-turn-vampire wasn’t particular enthusiastic about his newly granted membership of this douche (Elijah’s implication) organization, he too agreed that he should find a way to be stronger. According to Tristan, Elijah had tons of enemies and who knew some of them might see “Elijah’s little pet” (he hated it when Tristan referred to him as such) as possible leverage. If there was a role for him in the Crescent city, the last thing Darren wanted was for it to be the damsel in distress’s.

‘Twas the brief summary of how he had ended in this special training room with the strict Aya as his coach. Looking out for our baby brother as she said, hence a variety of wounds and broken bones Darren hadn’t known were possible on a body until he experienced them on his own.

So much beating had he taken in these weeks that he forgot to ask sometime whether Elijah had trained her in the same way back in her early vampire years.

“Aurora, we’ve agreed that Darren’s training time is sacrosanct,” Tristan, who occasionally joined their session to monitor Darren’s progress, spoke from his chair.

“That’s what you said. I didn’t say a thing. Come on, let the poor boy catch a breath!”

“Whatever you say, sister.” Tristan was defeated.

“So, Darren, what’s your last name?”

“Uhm… Hayward,” Darren answered while wiping his face with a towel.

Aurora scribbled something down on a large sheet. “Good, that means your father is a Hayward. And your grandfather’s?”

“…Hayward, too.”

“Great grandfather’s?”

This was getting weird. “Possibly Hayward?”

“Charming. And your great-great grandfather’s?”

“How should I know?” Honestly all except his own last name were mere guesses. He had never met his grandfather for goodness’s sake and researching his paternal family’s legacy wasn’t exactly his pastime so…

“How could you not know?” Aurora was positively offended. “As you ancestor, I am very disappointed.”

Darren rolled his eyes at her. “Since when you became my ancestor?”

The look on Aurora’s face suggested that Darren had just said something so retarded she was rendered speechless.

Well, nobody would say Aurora didn’t possess a dramatic flair. She would make a perfect drama queen if she didn’t have a tendency to eat her co-stars.

“Oh please, Aurora,” Tristan sighed. “Would you be so kind to us as to abort this ridiculous and futile research of yours?”

“Excuse me, what is that research?” asked Aya, whose interest just got piqued.

“My dear brother, have a little faith,” Aurora said, flinging an arm around Darren’s shoulders. “Isn’t this little one a profound reminder that we should discover our lost and scattered bloodline?”

“You mean the de Martels?”

“Yes, Aya, our family whom we had involuntarily left behind thanks to a certain Original jerk.”

“There’s no concrete evidence that Darren is our descendant. It may turn out to be a case of looking alike, which happens all around the earth as we speak.”

“Looking alike? Please, have you looked in the mirror recently, Tristan? Anyone with half an eye can tell he’s your spitting image, down to those large blue eyes. Doppelgänger blood runs in the family.”

Tristan looked as if he would prefer to embed himself into the wall than further engage in this discussion with Aurora. Darren, in the other hand, was interested.

“How is your process so far?” Aya asked, glancing at Aurora’s sheet. “Oh, a family tree with… not many branches.”

Darren tried to contain his laughter. Aurora’s accomplishment so far was putting up their parents’ names on top, followed by hers and Tristan’s with a glaring blank space between them and Darren’s name near the bottom.

“I got blocked right here. Tristan, do you remember our cousin Maria? She was expecting a baby when we left.”

“As I recall, we had many cousins from both our paternal and maternal sides.”

“Is there any chance that Tristan had sired a bastard, or several, before he was turned?”

“What makes you think so, Aya?” Tristan’s voice was edged with frost.

Still, Aya was unfazed. “No offense to your person but isn’t that the common way of noble sons back then? Going around and bedding any fair village maiden that caught their eyes?”

“I will have to defend my brother’s honor in this matter, Aya,” said Aurora. “Unlike those lecherous noble dicks, my brother had never done such thing, and this sometimes prompted our lord father to question whether Tristan was truly his son.”

Aya squinted her dark eyes. “Not once?”

“Absolutely. He had taken a personal vow of chastity until marriage and meant to uphold it.”

“Meant to?” Darren echoed, and got a chill from Tristan’s glare.

“Then along came Eli—”

“The training session ends for the day,” Tristan cut her short. “Aya, would you please see to it that Darren gets home safe?”

“Hey, I still want to ask him a few more—”

With a slight jerk of his head, Tristan instructed them to ignore his sister. Aya gave a small nod and took Darren’s arm. “Let us go, kid.”

Once they were out in the hallway, Darren finally gave in to his laughter. Aya couldn’t help a few larger-than-usual smiles despite her trademark stoicism.

“Are they always like that?”

Aya nodded. “Aurora loves to make Tristan uncomfortable and it doesn’t help when Tristan’s all oversensitive about his millennium-old affair with you-know-who, despite it is no longer a secret to everyone around.”

Darren agreed. With Aurora’s spilling the tea at such frequency, it would be very strange if there was a Strix who didn’t know.

“Thanks to the boss, we still have a few hours to spare before I give you a ride back to Elijah. Do you feel like going for a drink?”

“I think I’m capable of escorting myself back to the Mikaelson compound, Aya.”

“I’m doing my job, kid. One thing you should bear in mind: here insubordination isn’t taken too well, no matter how small the deed.”

“All right,” Darren muttered. “But isn’t it a bit early to go to a club?”

To tell the truth, Darren hadn’t really been a club-goer in his human days, and neither had he been a drinker. A few sips from time to time at Zack’s constant parties and that was all. He would rather hole himself up in his room and play the newest video game all night then go out and drink. That must have been the reason for his near-bottom status at the school.

Aya’s lips formed a tiny amused smile. “If you’re thinking about all those noisy squalors littered the French Quarter, no. Let me introduce you to our private bar, where only the best spirits and blood are served.”

“Do they have, like, age restriction?”

“No admission of vampires under three hundred.”

“Maybe I’ll come back three centuries later,” Darren replied.

“Fortunately I’m old enough for the both of us,” said Aya, ruffling his mussy black hair.

Hours later, Elijah wasn’t nowhere pleased to see a stone-drunk Darren delivered home. In reply to his question, “Whose idea was it?”, Aya merely shrugged.

Needless to say, he would definitely have a few words with his youngest protégé about underage drinking.

End

[Trilijah] Untitled 05

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Continuing after Offer

Part 1     Part 2     Part 3

“You should do best to stay away from him… and put a shorter leash on your psychotic sister or God help me—”

“You yourself know Aurora doesn’t like to be controlled and it’s not that I can restrain her either. I say it again, as I’ve said it before, it’s in my best intention to protect my sire line, your sire line, Elijah. Perhaps you could do the same.”

Over the distance of a very large room, their bickering voices were still booming in Darren’s ears. Turning to Aya, the dark-skinned beauty Tristan had assigned to look after him (not that he needed, or wanted for that matter, any ‘babysitting’), Darren asked nervously, “Is there any possibility that Tristan and Elijah might end up killing each other?”

The tension between those two was so palpable it could be cut with a knife.

Aya smirked, ruffling Darren’s hair, much to the younger vampire’s chagrin. “That’s what I love about newbies. Their naïveté and ignorance are truly adorable.”

“I don’t think it’s amusing that someone doesn’t know something just because they’re new to the game,” he rebuked.

“You’re quick-tongued, aren’t you? I could see why Elijah sired you, aside from the visible truth that you’re Tristan’s doppelgänger. You might turn out to be his descendant.”

Darren truly didn’t want to think of it that way, that Elijah made him because he was a carbon copy of Tristan, but he started to believe it was indeed the case. Plus, Aurora’s earlier question and Aya’s ambiguous tone were leading him to an uncomfortable conclusion.

“To answer your earlier question, no. Since we are all sired by Elijah, if he dies, unfortunately so will every one of us, young or old. As for Tristan, Elijah will not kill him no matter how Tristan has annoyed him, merely juggling with threats and promises of tortures. In reality, there has never been any serious bloodshed known between them. The two of them have been that way since our first encounter.”

“When was that?”

“Take your age and multiply it by a few dozens. Shortly after that, Elijah sired me. Just so you know, Tristan’s age nearly doubles mine.”

Darren mouthed an impressed “wow.” He still found it a little challenging to adapt to the concept of vampiric age. Seeing those ancient beings with youthful faces like Elijah, Aurora, Tristan and now, Aya wasn’t exactly helpful either.

“I think they have stopped quarreling.”

Aya’s stern-looking face suddenly sported a mischievous smile. “They’re far from done, kid. Just switched to a… less linguistic activity.”

Darren was about to ask “What does that mean?” when he saw a flash of redhead.

Aurora. Again. Dressed in a fiery dress to match her fiery hair and beaming with a smile so bright the sunlit room went dark for a moment.

Her undeniable beauty was a sight for sore eyes, yet Darren’s eyes weren’t sore and her presence sorrily embittered the blood he had been sipping from a blood bag provided by Aya. It was still too fresh in his memory to not recall the ‘fun’ they had had as Aurora brought him along on her one-day New Orleans tour.

“Aya, where’s my brother?” Aurora asked, leaning against the wall.

Aya shrugged and cocked her head slightly to the side. “Elijah’s here.”

A perfect eyebrow raised. “How long has he been here?”

“Long.”

“Shagging each other again, no doubt,” she muttered with a huge dark cloud eclipsing her beaming face.

Darren was glad he wasn’t chewing anything, otherwise he might bite off his tongue. That didn’t mean the air to his nasal passage wasn’t blocked for a few good seconds.

Seeing his face going beet-red, Aya couldn’t help a smile while Aurora started her evil cackles. “Oh my, I shouldn’t have said so bluntly in front of children. Should go for euphemism next time.”

“Your tact is hardly renowned, Aurora,” Aya commented.

Aurora promptly ignored her and gleefully took Darren’s arms. “I was going to have my brother go shopping with me but since his afternoon and evening are booked, you’re coming with me, mini-Tristan.”

Aya might object to Aurora’s whims, saying something like she had been instructed to keep an eye on their newest member; nonetheless, before she had a chance to open her mouth, Aurora had teleported Darren out of the mansion.

Well, so much for ‘babysitting’.

End

[Trilijah] Untitled 04

04

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Continuing after Offer

Part 1     Part 2

“It may seem ‘cool’ to your standard, this so-called secret, elite society, Darren, but do take my advice to heart and be choosy about the company with which you hang out in the future.”

A dull thud was caught in Darren’s ears, followed by the immediate sight of a red fleshy glob in front of his eyes. Darren had to blink a few times in order to recognize the thing was actually an unfortunate bloody heart. No pun intended.

He tried to swallow the wave of nausea that was rising in his throat.

While Elijah now was standing in his usual elegant pose, Darren was lying face-flat on the floor and staining the polished white marble with the red fluid oozing out of his numerous wounds. Although he felt the injuries closing up on themselves – the perk of having ancient vampire blood in his veins – there was simply no supernatural painkiller for the ache raking all over his tattered body. It was as if he was going through the beating in high school once again, although Brook’s fist was nowhere close to the vampire one that had been punching the breath out of him in the last minutes. And while Zack’s sidekick had had no other intention other than to teach him a tough lesson, this vampire had meant to severe his mortal coil once more, this time for real. Had Elijah been a minute late, it would have been Darren’s heart that lay discarded on the floor.

That chilling thought successfully subdued the feeling of sickness in him.

Darren suppressed a groan as Elijah helped him to his feet; the broken thighbone jabbing into his muscles should take a few more minutes to heal. Nasty wound. He was immensely grateful that his sire silently took the hint and supported most of his weight.

“Well, aren’t you on time, Elijah?” Tristan de Martel, who exuded a cold air of wickedness despite his façade of civility, said. A doppelgänger of Darren, with a millennium-gap in between, he was the reason Darren was in this mansion, all beaten up and had nearly lost his un-life.

Still, if Darren really had to blame someone for his peril, he only had his own foolish naiveté to blame.

“Keep your vultures’ talons off him, or don’t complain when I feed you every one of them, Tristan.”

The half-smile Tristan had been wearing since the beginning didn’t waver in the face of Elijah’s threats. He sauntered to them, took out a handkerchief from his breast pocket and gently wiped the clotting blood on Darren’s face. Darren shuddered at the touch but didn’t make any visible protest.

In front of Elijah, Tristan would curb all his vicious trickery, or so Darren was told. It turned out very close to the truth.

The fabric smelled of cologne that Darren didn’t quite attach with a brand, only knew it to be very expensive. Strangely, he remembered catching this scent on Elijah sometimes.

“Rest assured, Elijah,” Tristan said, “it has never been in my intention to harm your precious little boy. I merely wish to place him under my wings for better protection. This lovely city has never been a particularly safe and nurturing ground for fledging vampires.”

“By reducing him to a bloody pulp? Your demonstration of self-proclaimed goodwill is most peculiar, Tristan.”

“For me to take better care of him, he must be one of us. The rule is the rule, Elijah, and as far as I’m concerned, it was you who created and imposed it,” Tristan explained, his half-smile widening into a full one. “No exception. Jonathan here only adhered to it. A shame he had to lose his life.”

Tristan picked up the daylight ring the vampire Jonathan had stolen from Darren earlier. He presented it to Darren together with Jonathan’s own.

“Congratulations on passing the test, Darren. This shall be your first trophy.”

“But I didn’t—”

“I said ‘by any means’, and that doesn’t exclude the hand of our sire. Welcome to The Strix, Darren. You’re one of us now.”

While Darren was still trying to process Tristan’s unconventional logic, Tristan reached into his pocket and took out a cell phone.

“You dropped your phone a while ago,” he said, handing the item to Darren. “Better be careful next time.”

Darren didn’t realize its thievery until his phone was returned to him. Must have been Jonathan’s ‘clever’ hand.

There was a strange message he knew he hadn’t sent. It said nothing but the address of this mansion.

The receiver was his sire, Elijah.

End

[Trilijah] Untitled 03

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Elijah Mikaelson (The Originals) & Darren (Wasted on the Young)

Continuing after Offer

Part 1

“Oh la la, it’s really true as the rumors spread,” cried the beautiful redhead that popped out of nowhere. It took a crushing bear hug from her for Darren to realize she was referring to him (who else in this empty yard?). Feeling a little suffocated (as if he needed to breathe), Darren tried to wriggle out of her iron embrace without unfavorably hurting her with his new vampiric strength, and only when he failed epically did a realization strike him: she was no ordinary woman but a supernatural being – a vampire like him – with God-know-how-many years in difference. She looked slim, yet Darren wagered she had to be at least thrice his strength, probably more.

Well, this was New Orleans, where the Original family dwelled, so it was unsurprising to find bloodsuckers lurking at any corner. His first lesson learnt here.

And if this diabolical strength confined in a fragile-looking figure was not convincing enough as proof of her vampirism, her demonic speed as she grabbed him by the waist and teleported them both from where they were standing was another stamping piece of evidence.

Darren was sauntering around the Mikaelsons’ compound, leisurely weighing his options to have a beignet or a blood bag for breakfast when she materialized like a David Copperfield trick, dressed to the nines and wearing a wide grin. The next thing Darren knew was that he had been practically kidnapped by a much-older vampire whose intention for him was as vague as her supernatural age.

“You’re a fan of beignets?” she casually asked in her sing-song tone after dropping a puzzled Darren in front of a shop. And not waiting for a decent reply, or any reply at all, she grabbed the infant vampire by the arm, leading him inside.

Even when he was seated in a very nice table basking in the early morning sun, on which placed practically every type of beignets the house could offer, Darren was still a little behind what was really going on.

You have to excuse him though, since it wasn’t every day he was abducted by an elder who was going to murder him alive with too many choices of beignets and a diabetic amount of ground sugar.

“I’m Aurora,” she cheerfully introduced herself, reaching for a beignet and rolling it in the plate of sugar before taking a happy, large bite. “And you?” she asked once she had finished swallowing.

“Darren,” he answered warily, his eyes alternating between the vampire Aurora and the sweets.

“Well, Darren, don’t be shy. Beignets in this shop are the most heavenly. It’s not like you’re going to gain any pound. Or…”

Aurora glanced around and beckoned a waitress to her side. “Or… you want something less in cholesterol and a little richer in nutrition? After all you’re growing, aren’t you?”

Again, Darren had no idea what this vampire meant until the waiter grasped a knife and stoically spilled her blood. With wide eyes and suppressed gasp he watched red juice fill two cups.

The sporadic few patrons in the shop seemed not to notice anything unusual. Probably compelled, all of them.

Placing one cup in front of Darren, Aurora dismissed the waitress, now looking a bit paler. She took a sip and sighed. “A little salty but not too bad. You know, my old friend Lucien said Cajun people taste better than others, probably the best. I think he was bluffing. Do you? He couldn’t have tasted all the world, could he? Oh, have your food, Darren. Haven’t you been taught not to stare at a lady while she’s eating? I’ll be embarrassed.”

Darren had no choice but to bring the cup to his lips like an obedient child who was told to drink his milk. Too busy to watch out for Aurora’s move at the corner of his eyes (not that he could try anything if she wanted to do something) that Darren lost the chance to savor the blood as he normally did. Breakfast was the most important meal of the day, human or vampire.

“May I ask why you abducted me?”

The surprises look on Aurora’s face was as if only now did she realize she had kidnapped him. “Oh, you’re not over 18 right? Is that a crime?”

Darren would turn 18 in two months from now, but thanks to Elijah, he would never pass 17.

He nodded.

“That’s too bad,” Aurora sounded like she was moaning. “I’m so, so sorry. I still have to take you with me though.”

“Why? It’s not like I’ve known you, let alone offended you.”

Aurora looked at him with a spark in her eyes and smiled a smile so sweet Darren actually felt uncomfortable. He shifted his eyes to the array of beignets and tried to busy himself with which choice to make.

“Did I tell you look like someone?”

“No, you didn’t,” he replied truthfully. “But since I came here I’ve been receiving a lot of curious looks from the local vampires although I have practically never met them in my life.”

“Did Elijah tell you anything?”

“He once said I looked like someone he’d known for a long time. I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to probe into—”

Darren’s speech was interrupted by Aurora’s giggles. “What’s so funny?”

Only when her giggles subdued did she answer, or rather, ask him, “Has he bedded you yet?”

Darren gloriously choked on the piece of beignet he had been chewing in waiting for Aurora’s reply.

“You’re bit too young but who knows? Maybe that depraved Original fancies green grass. You’re certainly the type, especially with these huge blue eyes of yours. Kind of like a puppy. Oh how I wish he could look so cute like you.”

“No!” protested Darren. “There’s nothing like that. What made you think so?”

“No?” Aurora echoed with a surprise note in her tone. “He’s been worrying himself sick over nothing, that silly boy,” she muttered under her breath.

Not that Darren couldn’t hear her. “Who’s ‘he’?”

“You’ll get to know soon enough,” she said in normal volume. “You see, Elijah kind of likes you and I kind of hate his guts, so you can’t blame me if I want to have him running amok searching for his favorite pet for a day. Or two. In the mean time, I’m going to bring you to ‘him’.”

“What business does ‘he’ have with me?” Darren asked incredulously.

Aurora shrugged. “I haven’t a clue. He may kill you, you know, rip out your heart like Elijah so loves to make his kill. His jealousy is tyrannical, as they say.”

Darren clenched the fork in his hand so hard it snapped into two.

“But I doubt it so. That silly brother of mine treasures his sire line more than they actually deserve. Ah ah, don’t think about calling Elijah,” she warned, seeing him sneaking a hand into his jeans’ pocket. “I can break both of your hands quicker than you can pull it out. Or I can simply twist your daylight ring off your finger and let the sun work its magic.”

Darren grunted and put his hands back on the table.

“That’s a good boy. Now I can offer you two choices.”

Darren smirked. “Now I even have a choice. Awesome.”

To his surprise, and embarrassment, Aurora pinched his cheek with her manicured hand. “Aw, you look much cuter than him when you do this smirk. And yes, darling, you do. You can choose to behave and eat your beignets and we’ll happily go on a city tour before we come to him. Strongly advised. The second option is simpler: I snap your neck and drag you to him like a dumb potato sack.”

Defeated, Darren reached out for a beignet and bit off an angry, frustrating chunk. Aurora’s smile deepened.

“Tristan, oh, Tristan,” Aurora called with deafening volume once they entered a mansion, the final destination of their ‘happy’ New Orleans tour. “Come and see what I’ve brought for you, dear brother.”

“For a thousand times, dear sister, I strongly dislike beignets,” a male voice spoke, accompanied by steady footsteps.

Darren looked around, seeking the source. When he found it, his eyes enlarged with disbelief.

It wasn’t “look like” as Aurora and Elijah had said; this man, Tristan, was how Darren would probably look ten years later, unarguably much more refined. The dream version of himself. In fact, he doubted if he would ever reach this man’s level, no matter how many years added.

By the slight expression on his face, Darren could tell the initial surprise was mutual, although Tristan handled it more elegantly.

“The rumors are true, after all, that Elijah brought home a mini-you to be his pet.”

Tristan smiled, but unlike Aurora’s honeyed smile, Tristan’s was cold and didn’t reach his winter-blue eyes. “You know the Mikaelsons are notorious for their peculiar pastimes. And I do prefer this to your sugary beignets, sister.”

Turning his gaze to Darren, Tristan added, “I’ve heard so much about the doppelgänger legend, but never once have I thought that I would have one myself. Tell me, how are you called, my shadow self?”

End

[Trilijah] Untitled 02

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Elijah Mikaelson (The Originals) & Darren (Wasted on the Young)

Continuing after Offer

“It… It can’t be…” Zack squeezed out a few words with great difficulty, half due to his throat being caught in an absurdly strong hand and half due to the horror of seeing a living dead person.

“Life’s full of surprises, isn’t it?” Darren stated, monotonously. Glowing electrically in the dim light of the garage, Darren’s blue eyes drilled into Zack’s face, drinking in the fear that etched into his enlarged pupils, his hollow cheeks and his mouth slightly agape.

Even his perspiration stank of dread. Darren could smell it.

When Elijah – hid former history teacher had insisted on first name basis on day one of Darren’s life as a vampire – proposed to take him to New Orleans, Darren agreed without a thought. There was nothing left for him in this town but the grotesque shadows of his ex-life. Still, before their scheduled departure, he had to collect one item from his old dwelling. He couldn’t bear to let it fall into a fate it never deserved – discarded in some trash heap and crushed into thousands plastic pieces.

With his newfound abilities, Darren found it easy as cake to jump through the high gate and bypass the surveillance cameras. He crushed them nonetheless, heeding Elijah’s instructions for avoiding unnecessary complications.

He saw feeble light emitting from the garage, where he found Zack alone and drinking to the brink of wasted. It was rare to see him without his sidekicks and in such pathetic state. Darren guessed although he had survived thanks to his devoted sycophants, at the same time he had lost a fair number of them. Brook and Jonathan, for instance.

“In another reality I should be lying in the morgue at the moment but instead here I am. You want to know why?”

“What are you? A ghost? Zombie”

Darren’s gaze landed on the artery on Zack’s neck, bulging and prominent due to the force of Darren’s hold. The fluid inside was rushing and it was as if the vampire in him had injected itself into the vein and was swimming along the bloodstream. His gums itched, were tore open and he didn’t need a reflective surface to check for the characteristic gray veins gathering around his sockets.

“You tell me,” Darren said in icy sultriness, deliberately baring the best, or worst, truth of his existence.

And he drank his step-brother’s terror as though he did Zack’s blood.

The thirst felt like sandpaper rubbing his throat. The pain of a newborn he suffered so often.

Darren supposed he could kill Zack at this very moment, ripping out his head or heart with his bare hands, making a genuine horror show for the cops to discover. The idea swung back and forth in his mind like a pendulum, and each time it returned to the murder point, his fingers unconsciously tightened. Zack gagged, clawing at his forearm with desperate and futile strength.

With a sigh only his mind could hear, Darren loosened his grip, causing Zack to flop down on the sofa, boneless and empty as though a sack in which all the rice had flooded out. In the end his rationality had won over his instinct, fueled by the hunger to sink his fangs into Zack’s vein. Zack was the way he was simply because everyone around kind of let him. If Darren wanted vengeance, he might just kill the whole school, teachers and students, and even such a large-scale massacre was pointless since neither Xandrie could come back to life nor Darren could return to the high school boy he used to be.

Darren leaned in, almost pressing Zack fast against the leather sofa. He locked gaze with Zack’s, his blue, glowing eyes dilating as he pronounced each word as clearly as he could with the thirst clawing inside him. “I won’t kill you – I had no such intention when I came here – but that doesn’t mean I will leave you without a parting gift, my brother…”

Compulsion was a curious thing. Elijah had praised him for having a decent command of it in a matter of hours after his transformation.

Now it was his intended means to exact vengeance.

They came searching for Zack since he hadn’t shown up at school nor at the swimming club for days and when they entered the house, they found him alone in the dark basement, dehydrated and malnourished, with dazed eyes and mouth that wouldn’t stop murmuring gibberish.

There was only one word they could make out: Darren.

“I am surprised that you didn’t kill him,” Elijah said after doing a quick scan of his newest protégé and finding him free of blood…

…and in dire need of some, so he gave him a blood bag. O negative and freshly out of the hospital, thus compensating enough for warm fluid from the vein.

Darren gave a small nod in gratitude before he ripped the seal and gulped down the content. Elijah sure knew how needy infant vampires were. “I came to retrieve my thing. It wasn’t in my plan to murder him,” Darren said once his throat no longer felt like being rubbed by sandpaper, reaching into his pocket and took out a carefully wrapped CD.

A tiny smile crept up Elijah’s lips when he turned to the chauffeur, who had been compelled to stay deaf and mute to the two vampires’ exchanged words, and told him to ignite the engine.

“We’re still a little early for schedule. Is there any particular place to which you want to pay a visit?”

“Yes,” he answered after a pause, somewhat hesitantly. “Could we stop at the cemetery?”

End

[Trilijah] Offer

Disclaimer: Characters belong to their respectful owners

Fandom: Wasted on the Young x The Originals

Rating: T

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.”

Offer

Extras: 01   02   03   04   05   06

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.

End

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.

[Trilijah] Haunting

Haunting

Disclaimer: Characters belong to their respectful owners

Fandom: Wasted on the Young x The Originals

Rating: T

Pairing: Trilijah – Elijah Mikaelson x Tristan de Martel (though they merely appear around the end)

Genres: fanfiction, canon divergence

Preview:

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.

Epilogue

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?”

End

[Trilijah] Untitled 01

01

Joel Goran (Saving Hope) & Darren (Wasted on the Young)

Set after Xandrie’s suicide (Wasted on the Young)

The first time Joel Goran saw that kid, it was at his hospital. Joel had just finished a real nasty case and was on his way for some refreshment when he spotted a boy sitting alone on one of the scattered benches along the hallway. His uniform all crumpled, his face bruised and his right hand basically smashed, he was waiting to be admitted in with his head hung low and his eyes staring blankly into the wall in front.

Maybe it was the boy’s lonesome state, maybe it was the subtle yet blatant hints of a huge mess he had gotten himself into, or maybe Joel Goran was generally a nice guy, Joel found himself buying an extra juice box and approached the boy.

Up close, the boy’s eyes were really large, giving him a child-like look. The irises were a striking blue, made all the more prominent by the red rims around his eyes.

Strangely enough, there were no visible tear stains on his face.

“Hey,” he called out.

Joel’s voice pulled the kid out of his trance and he lifted his head to eye the stranger speaking to him.

“I’m Joel Goran. Orthopedic doctor here,” Joel greeted, holding out the juice box.

The boy appeared somewhat hesitant to receive Joel’s treat. Stranger-danger or simply unaccustomed to kindness?

“Thank you,” he muttered, hoarsely. “I’m Darren.”

Since he had some difficulty attaching the straw to the box with only one hand, Joel offered to aid him. More hesitance. Joel just shrugged.

Darren finished it in a long gulp.

“You alone, Darren?”

“My friend’s filling up the forms,” replied Darren, his voice no longer raw but still quivering. So were his shoulders. He clenched the fist of his good hand so hard that the juice box was reduced to half its original size and his knuckles all went snow-white.

How small and helpless he looked.

“Hey, easy, easy! Are you all right?”

Something in this high schooler spelt a profound sadness that was injected into Joel’s veins like a drug so strong that it gathered heat at the corner of his eyes. “Are you in pain?” he asked out of concern, putting his hand on Darren in an act of reassurance.

And somehow that small act flipped a switch inside Darren, for he burst into tears the next moment. His good hand clung to the front of Joel’s surgical gown as he pressed his face into the doctor’s firm shoulders.

It was awkward, Joel knew, as he had never encountered such a situation before, nor had he been well trained to deal with it. Couldn’t say it did not catch him off guard.

Perhaps it was just a hunch, but Joel could clearly tell Darren wasn’t crying out of pains. Well, not the physical ones – wounds big and small littered on his face which could be treated with prescribed medicine – anyway.

The doctor Joel might not know what to do in this circumstance but the human Joel did. So he acted on his humane instinct, wrapping his arm around Darren’s small form.

“There, there,” he cooed, giving Darren gentle pats on the back. Worked every time with his child patients. “It’s alright. Just let it out and you’ll be fine.”

He dared not ask the kid what had happened, fearing he would carelessly probe into a purulent wound and worsen it.

Darren’s cry softened, turning into sobs, and sobs eventually ceased. When he looked up to Joel, his face was the very definition of ‘mess.’

Joel left and came back with some wet tissues for Darren to clean up.

He wished to stay with him a little longer, but by the time Darren had finished wiping his tears and snots, Madeleine’s red head poked from behind the door and called Darren in.

“Take care of him,” Joel mouthed to Madeleine before leaving himself. Summoned by the siren reverberating around the hall.

Work heaped upon work and Joel mostly forgot about the kid named Darren. By the time he did, it was already 3 in the morning. Darren must have gone home long ago.

Joel wondered what the boy’s parents would say about his injuries. Or worse, what they wouldn’t say. No matter how he looked, Darren fitted the image of a child neglected to a T.

Some time passed and when Joel saw Darren again, it was in a small black-and-white photo on the third page of that day’s newspaper. What he learned about the kid weighed heavily on his heart and mind for longer than he would wish.

The brief title read: “High schooler’s Firearm Suicide.”

End