New Swan Memories
The year was 1977, nearly twelve years since Asen and Renata had first moved to Black Swan Bay, The two Romanova children were excelling in their training, along with the other students, although most children got sicker as years went on, everyone continued to live past everyone’s expectations, In the Swan Hall everyone was eating and conversing amongst themselves, Asen was making his way towards the table to hear everyone’s conversation. He made a seat beside Ivan, who greeted them warmly as Anton’s obnoxious voice spoke
“And that’s when I knocked the dummy high across the training ground, in one swift blow it was in the tree!” He proclaimed proudly
“Oooh Anton tell them about the professor, go on-” Khorkina egged him on, her hands wrapped around Anton’s arm lovingly, the two were lovebirds from the start, childhood sweethearts to teenage lovers Anton was one of the older teens around Renata’s age, Asen was the youngest of the group being only fifteen where the other kids were 16-17 they loved to tease Asen for it.
“Right! and the Professor, hah! He was so proud, saying how well I’ve excelled in the Academy! I’ll be going to the capital for sure!” he laughed obnoxiously, Asen couldn’t help but roll his eyes,
“All bark, no bite, You’ll never make it to the capital” A voice echoed. they all turned towards Z. The boy who never left Renata’s side, the two were best friends. Over the years the lost boy grew quite a bit, very knowledgeable, and had a tongue that shot arrows. He never joins training, sleeps most of the day, and always sticks his nose where it didn’t belong, as far as anyone was aware, Z wasn’t a hybrid, he showed no powers or proof in being so, but he was very skilled, knowing tons of knowledge about dragon history.
“And what do you know Z? Huh? Tell me this, do I see you ever out on the grounds! Maybe if you weren’t on your ass all the time!” Anton Scoffed
“At least I know where my powers lie, I don’t need to overcompensate for what I’m lacking” Z replied, a smirk forming on his face.
Asen nearly choked on his food and Ivan did a clear spit-take, everyone in the Swan Hall was now snickering at Z’s Comment.
Aton’s lips kept flapping like a fish despite no words coming out, his face a bright red scarlet. After a moment to process, he shot himself upwards to stand, slamming his hands on the table.
“Yeah Yeah go on! Why are you even here anyway, you aren’t even a hybrid! You’re just a lazy ass macho! At least some of us try-” Anton shouted before storming out, Khorkina in tow trying to comfort her partner outside,
Z just gave a small scoff before proceeding to eat what was on his plate,
Renata broke the silence and spoke up
“You may have been a little harsh on Anton, Z” She sighed
Ivan perked up with a small chortle “Who Cares, It was funny, he was getting too full of himself anyways~”
Asen just sat quietly as he ate, thinking to himself
“Thank you, Ivan, See Renata, Ivan found my joke amusing” Z glanced over to Asen and gave a small hum
“Hey, Asen, what did you think?” Z called out.
Asen looked up towards Z’s direction indifferently, “Think about what?” He muttered
“Do you think I was too harsh on poor Anton?” Z questioned
Asen swallowed the food in his mouth and let out a small sigh,
“I think we should treat the family with more respect-”
“Were not family Asen, were all stuck here because people didn’t want us” Z explained, Everyone went silent upon that statement, the air was tense now,
“I-I kinda thought of us all like a really weird family,” Ivan mumbled under his breath.
“I did too..” Asen stood up, clearly bothered
“Hey- Where ya’ goin’?” Ivan questioned before standing up to follow Asen out,
“Now look what you did Z, You need to be nicer here,” Renata nagged
“Renata my darling look around, I speak nothing but the truth, Orphans here are only used as experiments, you can’t seriously believe we’re a family here.”
Renata fell quiet, silently eating her food before speaking again
“I care about you Z, a lot, and I care for my brother, and the professor-” She began
“Oh please-” Z rolled his eyes, leaning back
“What now? Can’t you drop this act? I like you when you’re you, not when you’re trying to show off! If this is how you’ll behave then we can be done.” Renata stood up, taking herself towards the door
“Renata wait-” Z stood up and grabbed onto her wrist, holding her back. Renata whipped her head around, her frost blue eyes stared coldly towards the Albino kid.
“What Z?” She huffed
“I’m-..I’m sorry, Renata, I never intended to upset you,” Z explained in a hushed tone
“Well, what were you intending?” Renata said with a huff,
“I don’t know...I just tend to be too blunt sometimes.” He mumbled,
“Please forgive me,” He continued, looking at her with a gentle expression. Renata simply sighed and turned to him, pinching his nose lightly
“Be nicer Z, People here aren’t like out there, we try to look out for one another, alright?” She explained
“Alright Alright, I’ll dial it down” Z agrees, wincing at his nose being pinched.
“Good, now, I have to go find my brother and make sure he’s alright” she explained leaning up to kiss Z’s cheek, lightly squeezing his hands that were now in her own.
“When will you tell him about us?” Z asked
“Are you kidding? Asen can’t stand you, he would totally flip out if he knew” Renata explained
“Now we’ll talk later, alright?” She said with a small smile, Z just nodded as she made her way out from the Swan Hall.
Renata walked through the snow, heading towards the Serdtse Cabin where She and Asen stayed. As she opened the door she was greeted by a ghostly presence in Asen’s shape, it was a spitting image of him, being pearly white and completely translucent.
“Hello Comet,” She cooed giving a small nod to the soul,
“Hiya Renata! I missed you!” The presence echoed,
“I know I didn’t see you with Asen in the Swan Hall, Did you want to stay in here?” She asked
“The Snow is colder today, so I wanted to stay in the cabin,” they explained.
“That’s Understandable, Say, Where Is Asen, have you seen him?” She questioned,
“I know he’s by the Father Tree, the one you decorate for holidays!” Comet exclaimed, pointing towards the window in the direction.
“Thank you Comet, we’ll talk later,” She hummed enthusiastically. Comet happily swirled around her, like a gust of wind before leaving her be to exit as she wished.
Renata went back outside down the trail to find Asen alone by the trunk, playing with his small hand-made guitar. The plate of half-eaten food was now cold. He was grumpily playing with his guitar, tuning the strings, each note he placed in between was out of tune, he continued to try to fix it.
Renata gave a small call, a melody the two used as if a secret code to call one another, Asen perked up to see her at the top of the hill, he just gave a half-hearted wave and signaled her to come down. Renata made her way down the hill to the base of the tree, standing over where Asen was sitting,
“Hey Mr. down-in-the-dumps” She teased lightly
“I thought you were busy hanging with your best friend” He air quotes, refusing to look up from his guitar.
“Asen--” She spoke before being cut off
“Why do you hang out with that guy, he’s rude, snarky, and just snide! He’s no fun at all” Asen complained
“Asen, I don’t want him isolated, he’s rough around the edges but he’s trying to be better, he’s had a hard life, you understand don’t you?” She sat beside him, placing a hand on his shoulder
“We’ve all had rough lives, were orphans, but that shouldn’t excuse him to be mean to the rest of us.” Asen huffed, slumping back against the tree
“Asen, Patience is a strong virtue, give him time, I’m sure he’ll come around, as for now, I’m trying to teach him to be nicer to the rest of us, will you trust me?” She begged
“Alright alright, I got it, but I still don’t like the guy, I wish he’d just hurry up and fix himself already” Asen grumbled.
the whir of the plane was suddenly heard, the fighter plane Hertzog used was overhead, coasting through to the mountain’s landing point
“The professor is back, we should greet him together,” Renata extends her hand towards Asen, which he reluctantly takes, walking together on the trail to meet up with Hertzog from his travels, leaving his guitar by the base of the tree.
As the plane made a safe landing towards the top of the mountain he turned it off and waited for the propeller to stop spinning so it would be safe to exit. Once it had He stepped from the plane, carrying his supplies over one arm, opening the door in the back for three girls to step outside that were placed in the back.
As Asen, Renata and Ivan made their way towards the top to greet the professor the three noticed the girls all beside Hertzog,
“Welcome home Professor” Renata greeted, taking the bags off of the older man’s shoulder, then standing beside him
“Hello, you three must be new here, you’ll love it here,” She smiled proudly, looking between them,
“Go on, introduce yourselves,” Hertzog encouraged warmly, the first was a younger girl, with blonde hair tied up, it was very curly, her eyes were like roses, bright pink and two heart-shaped birthmarks below her left eye, she patted down her clothes before happily placing her hands on her hips
“I’m Holly Jane! Everyone calls me HJ, The doc took me away from an awful school, I’m just happy to be out of there” She confidently stated, her eyes meeting Ivan’s gaze, the two almost sparked as her cheeks dusted a light pink, Hertzog noticed this and gave a light chuckle
“Well, Ivan will be happy to show you around,” He said, Ivan immediately stood up straight and nodded, like an eager puppy.
“Yes of course HJ! Come with me” Ivan offered his hand out to her. HJ chuckled and did a cute curtsey before they walked back towards the orphanage, hand in hand.
Hertzog just laughed, watching the two lovebirds happily go down the mountain. He then turned to the brunette, a shorter girl quite nervous around the whole thing she was rather stubborn to talk
“I’m Solace...I can take my stuff now” She says quietly, taking her bags from Renata, the two share a small look before she leaves herself towards the mountain following the same footsteps of Ivan and HJ.
Solace was a young girl wearing Yellow, she had a similar birthmark to HJ, with her hair reaching her back in neat pigtails and tied with a yellow bow. Her eyes were like cherry blossoms that glinted against the snow’s reflection.
Hertzog gave a small sigh as he watched her head down, “She’s not very eager, I didn’t find her under the best circumstances..”
“Like us?” Renata questioned,
“Not quite, Her mother took her to me, explaining how her hybrid genetics caused a rift in the household” Hertzog explained, turning towards the last girl, very shy, looking far younger than she appeared, she had short blonde hair, one side in a bun, her skin was tanner than the rest of the children, looking more European than Russian. She wore a pink winter cape, with a peach dress, and she had bright green eyes that shined like emeralds.
She clutched onto Hertzog’s coat and stood behind him, visibly scared.
“It’s alright Vera, everyone is nice here..” Hertzog comforted. As Renata turned towards her brother she noticed how fixated he was on Vera, his eyes watched her movements and his cheeks were dusted crimson, he wasn’t processing properly what he was feeling. his hands were shaking, from anxiety probably, he wanted to talk to her so badly but couldn’t find the words. Renata smiled and gently nudged him,
“C’mon she’s shy, let her get settled in” She suggested, Asen found himself out of that trance and nodded meekly,
“R-right..” he muttered, taking some of the bags from Renata’s arms and heading down the mountain. The two never broke eye contact, Vera was still there, curiously peering behind Hertzog as Asen walked down with Renata.
Once he was out of range he let a small exhale to calm his nerves, thinking to himself about the girl, she was everything he adored, Asen never felt this way, he wasn’t sure what to feel. He felt sick and happy at the same time, his heart was racing far faster than it should.
“You seem to like her” Renata hummed, Asen flushed a bright red once Renata called him out
“I-I wouldn’t say that...” He stammered
“Right, you don’t like her, you love her~” She teased, this caused Asen to go redder, his head sinking into his coat in embarrassment, this caused Renata to laugh.
“No, How can I--I just met her and...and-” Asen couldn’t find the words to protest, the boy was head over heels for her and couldn’t even process it.
“Love at first sight,” She explained, “One look and you knew, she’s the one.” She explained, heading towards the now empty Swan Hall to set all the stuff down, Comet was there beside him, very giddy, very happy, swirling around the both of them.
“Oh to be in love, I love this feeling so much, I can’t wait for you two to talk and to hold hands and to get married someday!” Comet rambled before Asen forced Comet to disperse. Renata just laughed as she unpacked all the supplies,
“Asen you should go talk to her.” Renata encouraged
“But she needs time, you saw how scared she looks, I don’t wanna spring so much on her at once,” He sat down, defeated
“Then talk to her later, it doesn’t have to be today, you’re the only one who seems eager” She snickered, Asen just huffed and crossed his arms,
“Well, I am gonna wait! Until she gets settled like the rest of us!” he proclaimed before hastily unpacking items and organizing the supplies, Renata just smiled to herself and finished unpacking the rest of the supplies.
Hertzog soon enters within the hall to find the Romanova kids nearly finished with sorting the supplies,
“Thank you, children, I appreciate your help,” He says kindly
“How’s Vera?” Asen asked worriedly
“She’s a little shy, She ran all the way from France it seems, She has the Hybrid genetics but due to her stature, she cannot unlock them” Hertzog explains
“How old is she?” Asen asked
“Despite her appearance, she is indeed fourteen, just a year younger than you, my boy, but she’s very malnourished, not very healthy. The orphanage I found them at, didn’t care for them. Vera got the worst of it due to her French heritage,”
Asen’s expression softened and leaned back “I see...Because of the war, you fought in?” Asen asked
“Precisely, but that’s not her fault, she wasn’t even alive at the time of the war, to take it out on her is nothing short of just cruelty, that’s just another reason why I took her here to Black Swan Bay” Hertzog explained.
The three were now met with silence, processing the situation Vera was now in
“I take it you should be kind to her, She can use a few friends,” Hertzog asked
Asen nods in response and looks up towards Hertzog
“I’ll make sure to protect her, no matter what” He states confidently. This makes Hertzog smile, folding his arms behind his back
“Good boy, Now where is Z? I have things to discuss with him” Hertzog explained
“He should be in the Klyuv,” Renata gestured. Hertzog gave a small nod in appreciation before turning his heel to make his exit. Once he left the two siblings were left to put away the rest of the supplies. Asen continues to think about Vera, such as what she’s like, he has yet to meet her truly, for the following days and nights he will nonstop think about her.
Because of this, the next week was rather tame. The snow wasn’t as harsh and just for a fraction of the second, you could see the leaves without snow coating them. The summer air hit the cold brisk snow and offered a gentle morning. The new children had just got settled into their new place and things calmed down.
It currently was at 7:30 in the morning, bright and early as Ivan liked it, Asen was more of a night owl than an early bird, but on Sundays, he promised to help Ivan with the dogs.
So, the two were up, feeding the dogs and preparing in the Swan Hall. Comet also was accompanying them, just floating by Asen’s side as the two worked. Ivan was talking to the animals, almost having full-length conversations with the canines.
“Sometimes I forget that you can understand the dogs..” Asen mumbled cutting the meats up as Ivan made sure the animals stayed put.
“Yeah, it’s not as special as healing or Comet here, but I like it! It makes my job much easier!” Ivan chimes happily, placing the dishes out and explaining to the six dogs where to go.
“So...~” Ivan starts, a mischievous grin on his innocent face,
“Have you talked to her yet? C’mon we all know you’re head over heels for her, spill it! Did you ask her out yet?” he continued.
Asen just rolled his eyes and shoved Ivan off of him, “No I haven’t” He huffed.
Ivan bounced back up no problem, his chin resting in between his thumb and index finger,
“I see the secret type, wanna keep it down low, I understand~ such a player Asen~” Ivan bit his lip, the corners of his mouth tugging upwards. Asen just watched him with an unamused expression Comet innocently mimicked Ivan’s expression,
“You look stupid. Comet, stop that,” He said coldly, Comet gave an echoic laugh and stopped as he was told to.
“Oh lighten up, why are you so steamed about this,?” Ivan pried
“Because I haven’t talked to her yet okay??” His cheeks dusted scarlet, growing quiet.
Meanwhile, Vera was making her way towards the Swan Hall. Upon hearing the dogs, she spots Asen and Ivan. She loomed around the doorway, afraid to go in, both were unaware of her presence,
“C’mon man, you got to talk to her sometime, it’s been a whole week, I’m sure she’s adjusted by now-” Ivan suggested
“It’s not that simple, Vera seems so...Nervous, you didn’t see the fear she had when she looked at me..” Asen mumbled, his expression laced with confusion and worry. Vera listened sympathetically as the brunette spoke.
“Ivan I want her to trust me, I want her to see me as approachable. How am I supposed to do that if I’m badgering her when she’s in a new place, with new people?” He continued, handing the dogs dishes for Ivan to serve.
“I guess you have a point, she does seem pretty meek” Ivan replied, setting the dog’s dishes down, watching the huskies rush to their meals and practically wolf it down. Vera grew a small pout on her face, watching Asen sheepishly, she felt a tad guilty for not socializing with anyone other than HJ. She just didn’t know them yet. Suddenly Comet appeared behind her and swerved to the front, his ghostly face practically beaming.
“You’re so pretty~” the Gemini whispered, admiring her quietly,
Vera practically yipped, being startled she fell into the snow, causing the barrels outside to topple near her. The whole area made such a loud commotion. Comet, clearly laced with guilt dispersed into thin air.
The noise alerted both Ivan and Asen, and the two went outside to investigate. When the boys made it outside Nobody was in sight, just a bunch of rummage sprawled across the snow.
Ivan gave a small huff and placed his hands on his hips, “Damn foxes, always causing a mess..” He grumbled, bending down to pick up the clutter.
Asen also helped in picking up the mess before noticing small footprints that led to the side of the Swan hall. Asen’s brow furrowed in confusion, and his curiosity got the better to him, he began following the tracks in the snow. Vera was on the other side of the Hall, back against the wooden walls, practically trembling from embarrassment, she was about to get caught. Asen was just about to turn the corner when Ivan called out to him,
“Hey, Asen? Where ya goin?”
Asen stopped on the tracks and hesitated, before turning back towards Ivan, “It’s nothing” He offered a sheepish smile, rubbing the back of his head shyly before walking back towards Ivan.
The dog-boy just watched Asen with a puzzled look, before shrugging it off and putting the rest of the materials away. The two boys made it back inside. Once safe, Vera peered out to double-check the coast is clear. She let out a small sigh, carefully walking back to the Krylo cabin where she was now living. She made it back to a few children sleeping, but HJ was wide awake, hands on her hips,
“What were you doing??” She whispered aggressively, this startled poor Vera and caused her to jump back a bit
“I- was...out-” She whispered back, trying to avoid waking the rest of the children up.
“Like hell you were, What were you doing? Snooping??” She pried. She and Ivan were perfect for each other, similar and all.
“A...A little....” She admits sheepishly. HJ grew a snide grin, proud on cracking the case. she stood up, linked arms with Vera, and made her way outside so they could talk freely
“So, what were you up to?” She pressured in a normal voice once outside,
“I-I was walking to..to the Swan Hall because-because I heard barking...and I found the two boys I-Ivan and...the other one, with- the green hair in the front but b-brown in the back” She mumbled.
HJ Gasped now very Intrigued, “What did they say?? Good things right? If not I’ll kick their asses” She snickered proudly
“He was telling...Ivan how he w-wanted to talk to me, but he was too worried of-of...scaring me away” She stammered, her hands stuffed into her pink dress pockets,
“Awh!! That’s so cute! he’s a keeper for sure Vera, you got to reel him in now when you have the chance!” HJ twirled smiling proudly to encourage her friend, Vera turned bright red, hiding her face in her hands and shaking her head
“Oh no! not like t-that...Even if it was like that...I-I want to be his f-friend first..” She explained
HJ sighed and placed her hands on her hips, “Got it got it...but mysh-mysh you need to talk to him, that’s the first step, you know how he feels, he’s never gonna come up to you, you gotta set yourself first Vera!” She egged on
“I-I don’t know about-” Vera spoke but HJ cuts her off
“Today! At breakfast sit next to him, just at least get his name! C’mon, you can do that, pleeeease~?” HJ laced her fingers together practically begging Vera for this accomplishment. Vera feeling pressured turned redder, looking away, but the blonde’s begging eyes loomed over her like an ominous shadow
“A-alright...okay...I’ll sit by him for breakfast..” She murmured
“That’s my girl!” She cheered, wrapping her arms around Vera tightly, “Now let’s get you ready!” She smiled, leading Vera back inside to await Breakfast.
10:00 am eventually rolled around. Most children were up by that time. Anton and Khorkina were snarking off to Ivan outside since he lent an ear. Solace recently started to bond with Kyndall, despite her Gemini frightening her, she learned to adapt and be comfortable with it. Z was nowhere to be seen as most mornings,
And of course. Jung Hertzog and the Romanova siblings were three of a pair, setting up the Swan Hall for the first meal of the day. Asen set the table for each child in the orphanage where Renata was preparing food with Hertzog’s help. The three were commonly known to be a great team. Once everything was set and food was placed Hertzog called out for the children to meet at the Swan Hall, which within minutes most of the children were indeed there. HJ and Vera were hovering outside peering in as they watched Asen helping out his sister.
Vera shook her head and backed up nervously,
“I-I can’t do this...this is too soon!” She stammered, fidgeting with her hands
“Yes you can, Vera you promised! C’mon, you already know how he feels, what’s there to worry about?” She comforted
After a few shaky breaths Vera eventually calmed down and walked in, timidly looking around,
HJ just watched by the open door as Ivan was walking past.
“Mornin’ HJ” he gave a small whistle before walking through, without a second thought HJ yanked him back by pulling the fur trim on his coat. He gave a surprised yelp and freed himself
“What What?? He huffed adjusting his now uneven jacket
“You usually sit by Asen, right??” She questioned
“Well yeah-” He responded
“Can I ask a teensy weensy favor??” HJ pleaded
“Anything for you my Lil sunflower~” He teased, she whacked him shortly after,
“Look- Vera wants to sit by Asen, to talk to him, can you leave that spot open for her?” She pleaded once more
Ivan instantly lit up “No way! Totally! this will be great for them!” he cheered
“Good- Great! Thank you, Ivan,” She beamed happily, then gently shoved Ivan inside to find a new spot.
Asen didn’t question it, being rather thick-headed, he just simply sat down once everything was done being set up. Vera looked towards the empty spot nervously, glancing towards HJ. Both her and Ivan were practically glowing. They shined with pride and support, providing thumbs up in encouragement.
She huffed and adjusted her hair before sitting beside Asen, sitting rather nervously, Asen didn’t notice at first, expecting his friend as usual,
“Hey Ivan” He mumbled, taking a fork-full of food to his mouth, Comet then took this moment to appear, looking Vera up and down happily
“Hello again~” he cooed, admiring her completely lovestruck
Asen took a second glance and noticed Vera, looking straight at him again, her eyes such a pretty shade of green, gentle, timid, and loving. His face immediately flushed scarlet, his mouthful of food where he almost choked. Vera snickered a little as Asen turned redder. He composed himself before speaking,
“V-Vera- Uhm hi! I didn’t think you’d be here- usually, Ivan sits...” His gaze went upwards to find Ivan, with the smuggest look known to the universe, Asen suddenly clicked he was set up, the glare Asen made sent chills down Ivan’s spine from across the room.
“Uhm...Hi- y-you know my name...I- uh I uh don’t know yours...I-I’m sorry” the quaint voice caught Asen’s attention, he frantically shook his head
“No no! Don’t be sorry! My name is Asen- Romanova...” He introduced,
“Asen...That’s such a pretty name..” she fiddled with the broach that held her coat together like a cape over her shoulders.
The Brunette turned redder at that statement, looking down shyly, “Thank you...” He replied, rubbing the back of his neck.
Vera picked at her food before speaking up, “How...How long have you been here Asen...?” She asked
“Oh me? Oh ever since I was little-Professor Oppai practically raised me and my sister” Asen explained,
“Oppai?” She tilted her head “I thought his name was Hertzog” She questioned
“Huh? Oh! Yeah-it is, but that’s just what I call him sometimes. I never knew my parents as my sister did...Hertzog is pretty much the closest thing to a father I have I suppose.” He shrugged
“Do a lot of people call him that?” She continued
“No, just me, but he also treats me and Renata differently, he bonds with us more. Don’t get me wrong- he loves all of the kids here, but with my sister and I, He acts like were actually his kids...and most people of the orphanage just kinda think we are, we help run this place with him...I don’t mind helping, I enjoy living here with him.” Asen explains. listening to the indistinct chatter of the other children as she processed what he said,
“You know nothing about your family?” she pressed
“Well...I knew we had a mother when I was young, and My father fought in the war, but other than that, no- Renata does, but I don’t question it, I miss them sure, but not as much as she does, My family is here.” He rambled on, Vera just listened
“What about you?” He asked, taking a mouthful of food from his plate
“Uhm... My mother and father split when I was young, My father didn’t want to raise me because of my French genes and my mother wasn’t fit to raise me, so she put me up for adoption, and I stayed there for years, b-bullied, and beaten...HJ was my only friend..” She placed her hands in her lap as she spoke, her eyes grew misty upon the thought of her past.
Asen watched her, his entire expression filled with concern, he hesitated but eventually put a hand over hers, smiling gently
“Vera I promise nobody here is like that, we’re good people, we don’t care where you’re from...we’re all Hybrids and we all are here to learn. Sure people can be a little obnoxious and teasing, but it’s just what family does.” He offered a warm smile
“Family...?” She questioned
“Yeah- sure we’re not related, some of us grow and learn, and even love, but that’s what family is all about! You don’t have to call this your family, but just know we’re ready to include you whenever you’re ready...”
Vera gazed across the hall, watching everyone; Anton trying to impress the room, Ivan and HJ practically flirting with one another, Renata saying something to make Hertzog laugh. Everyone was enjoying themselves, no fear, no yelling, just people, talking, enjoying themselves. Vera suddenly noticed the tears rolling down her cheek, her fingertips gently pressed against the streak to feel the warm salt water, she looked back at Asen, tearing up more before rushing into his arms, hugging him tightly. Asen was rather taken back by this but gently held her, offering the comfort she deserved.
The two sat there with their food half-eaten and slowly growing cold, Khorkina noticed the two and smirked.
“Awwww~ how sweet~” She teased gathering most of the table’s attention, both were now scarlet red and broke from the embrace,
Ivan huffed and spoke up “Sure beats the view of you sucking face with Anton!”
Khorkina turned bright red and stammered before shoving food into her mouth, the hall erupted with light-hearted laughter
Hertzog called out above the ruckus and rolled his eyes “Enough everyone, how about you just enjoy the meal and affections can go later.” He sighed, and that calmed the Hall down. Asen gave a small nod in thanks to Ivan for sticking up for him. Vera and Asen continued small talk throughout the rest of breakfast, solidifying their new friendship.
The following week went rather uneventful, Asen was training more that week to try to find a breakthrough, all of the kids were, none were successful though, causing a lack of nominations for this year’s capital, Asen was in the Serdtse, sitting on his bed and tuning his guitar. The boy had a talent for it, often playing music for himself, occasionally when he was younger he’d play for Hertzog since it was a Christmas gift for his tenth birthday. Asen was humming to himself, writing soft music before hearing the door open, a light ding from the bell to signal the door, In the doorway, Vera Appeared, her hair neatly brushed with a small scrunchie on the side her pink, hooded cape draped over her shoulders and her hands laced behind her back
“Oh- Hi Vera!” Asen welcomed cheerfully, inviting her in as he set the guitar down by the bedframe,
“H-Hi Asen..” She greeted, giving a small wave to Comet who was looming by the fireplace, the embers simply blew through it, illuminating the room nicely.
“What can I do for you moya dusha?” he hummed, walking up to her, Asen was rather tall for his age, their height difference made her look like an acorn to an oak tree,
“You said you had s-something for me?” She reminded him, clasping her hands together curiously,
That gave Asen a spark of memory as he lit up “Oh right! Lemme’ go grab it!” He spoke cheerfully, rushing towards his bedside table, opening the drawer to pull out a small trinket he made. It was a little dinged up but painted to look new,
“It’s a kalimba! you play it like a piano and it makes music since it’s hollow! Renata helped me mold it and I tried to make it look pretty...but now you can play music with me! I know how much you wanted to..” He explained, Vera’s eyes lit up like stars, her entire expression was shimmering with pure joy. Enthusiastically she jumped up and down before racing towards Asen’s arms. Asen happily hugged her, lifting her up and twirling her around, the both of them laughing from glee.
“I Love it!” She exclaimed, “Thank you so..so much!”
Asen chuckled, setting her down and smiling down at her, “I’m glad you do! Let’s play something right now!” He suggested
Vera very eagerly nods in agreement “Ok!” She cheered, walking over to sit on his bed. Asen sat beside her and began teaching her how to play, which notes made what sounds, and so on.
Vera patiently listened, watching him as he explained. The French girl turned a soft shade of red as she admired his facial features, his concentration, his happiness, the way the sun-kissed his freckles in the morning light.
She shyly leaned on his shoulder as he talked, admiring the thumb piano in her hands. Once Asen finished teaching the two played soft notes together, making music and being carefree as children should.
After about an hour Hertzog calls over the intercom, a small static buzzing before the speaker is put on
“Asen can you meet me at my Quarters,” and with a small burst of static it was gone, Asen sighed and stood up offering a small smile to Vera
“We should do this again! I gotta go see what he wants” he smiled
Vera nods understandingly, waving Asen off “Go go! I’ll be here for you when you return~!” She grinned, Asen gave a small nod and then left the Serdtse, making his way towards Hertzog’s quarters
As he walked through the snow he knocked lightly upon the door, a stern “Come In” could be heard as he walked in through the home. Asen headed towards the study where Kyndall sat on the desk, looking rather uncomfortable as Hertzog had a cart full of different tubes full of a wide array of colored liquids, the room was very different than what Asen was used to, something was wrong. Really wrong.
“Goodman, now I need you to provide a Heal-Source for her so I can test some things,” Hertzog explained
Asen looked towards Kyndall then back to the professor, rather hesitant, the air suddenly felt very thick, his once joy was melting into concern.
“Professor I-I don’t think that’s very wise, I can only heal after a pain has been inflicted-” Asen explained before being cut off
“I said make a Heal-Source!” Hertzog snapped, Asen taken back by the sudden harsh tone reluctantly does so, providing a Heal-Source, the floor emitted a warm glow with green essence flowing through the air, not latching to anything but due to no wounds being found,
Hertzog gave a small huff “Now was that so hard?” He grumbled
Jung then grabbed a syringe, filling it with one of the tubes’ elixirs. Kyndall winced with the needle being inserted and Asen watched as the purple-hued liquid drained from the tube. Hertzog removed the needle and waited, Kyndall rather quickly began to wince, scales forming on her arms and she writhed in pain, Asen’s source instantly went to cure it and relieved the pain, all went to plan until the scales began forming quicker than Asen could heal, Kyndall let out a small cry in pain, Asen continued to put a stronger source but it began to falter.
“Professor you need to antidote her- I can’t match the pace-” He pleaded, Hertzog didn’t reply, he just stared, watching her intently as if waiting for something to happen
“Professor the Antidote-” He rushed, Kyndall cried louder, tears threatening to fall, still nothing, like a trance in anticipation, Hertzog was stuck.
“Oppai the drug!” Asen shouted, snapping Hertzog out of it, Jung noticed how much pain she was in and immediately grabbed the antidote and pushed it into her bloodstream, within minutes the scales receded and Asen’s source managed all the wounds, healing her both internally and externally, Kyndall sat there trembling as Asen comforted her, reassuring her that she was alright and that everything was fine. She looked towards Hertzog rather bitterly and asked to leave, which He allowed, she stood up and rushed out of the home, Physically healed, but mentally scarred.
Asen turned back towards Hertzog and shot him a glare,
“What the hell was that??” He demanded
“A lack of breakthrough-” Hertzog huffed, turning to the window, hands behind his back
“You were hurting her! She was terrified” Asen protested
“In the name of science, Asen-I needed a breakthrough to fund for the corporation-” Hertzog replied
“At the expense of harming her? That’s not right-” He argued
“Asen-” He started, turning towards him
“No! Professor that wasn’t science that was torture!” He said angrily,
“I know! I don’t have time!” Hertzog snapped, a sudden strike in his heart caused him to tumble, Asen suddenly alarmed rushed to his side, picking him up and assisting him to a nearby chair, opening a Heal-Source, Asen suddenly softened as he realized Hertzog’s situation,
“...I’m running out of time, Asen..” Hertzog said quietly
Asen found his hands shaking, confused with the emotions he was feeling, He healed Hertzog’s heart enough to stop the issues he was currently having, causing Jung to relax a little, there was a moment of silence between the two of them
“Oppai...What’s gonna happen to you..” He muttered out
“I don’t know Asen- I” Hertzog began before being cut off
“Why didn’t you tell us! We could figure something out! we can-”
“Asen-” The professor placed a hand on his shoulder before lifting his chin to meet his gaze
“I’m getting up there... At my age there’s not much you can do...but If I’m gone, and a breakthrough doesn’t get through, Hydra will stop funding us, and you children are left without any protection, I need to get a breakthrough in my research, otherwise, I can’t save you, kids..” Hertzog coughed out.
Asen looked down, averting his gaze to think, “I know but...Professor you can’t harm others to get research...That’s not right, you’re not protecting anyone that way, That’s not what Black Swan is about...” Asen replied, looking back up to him, Hertzog’s expression lacing with guilt
“I-I know, I know. I don’t know what got into me...I’m sorry you had to see that Asen, but, you did wonderfully in that situation, even when I wasn’t there to fully handle it, I’m proud of you” Hertzog pats his shoulder weakly, Asen tears up and wraps his arms around Hertzog suddenly, taking the professor by surprise,
“Please don’t do something like that again...” Asen stuttered, holding Hertzog tightly
Jung let out a soft sigh and rubbed his back gently, “I’m sorry I frightened you so my boy, I won’t test like that again, I promise..” He swore
Asen let him go and stood up slowly, offering a hand out to the professor. Both of them got up and cleaned up the mess, and Hertzog set out to find Kyndall to apologize to hopefully make right to her, Asen went out for a walk on the trail to clear his thoughts, unsure what even just happened.
After a bit of talking with Kyndall, Jung heads over to the mountain, unlocking a cave structure hidden from the rest of the orphanage, locking it behind him, Inside laid all of his old research, boards pinned with dozens of papers supporting the theories on Hybrids and what they can do, upon the table Z was bound by rope, shirtless and bruised all over, looking visibly pale and disoriented
Hertzog pulled out his cart to the table, filled with similar-looking elixirs from before, Emotionless he looks down at Z, his amber eyes staring down into Z’s soul
“I guess I only have you to work with, Z, I need to save my kids...”
The cave pans out to echoes of Z’s frail protests as Hertzog continues to test the elixirs he had yet to try, Z once again was an experiment just like in his youth. From inside the mountain, not a sound could be heard.