What Do You Mean I'm a Fledgling?
As Aaron began to stir, unimaginable pain pulsed through his body. His exhales sharpened and his back arched. With the pain came the heat. His body was flooded with a feverish warmth that made him sick to his stomach. His predicament was bad enough, but it got even worse when he heard the sound of a door clicking open. The sound echoed with such intensity that it hit his ears with a piercing screech. The sudden, violent sensation made him bolt awake. Aaron looked around the room, his vision blurry. It was dark, but he could make out a shadowy silhouette of a figure walking towards him from an open doorway. The light from behind them made his head pound with sharp stabs of pain. Aaron closed his eyes in attempt to dull the throbbing in his temples. When he opened them again, his vision cleared. The figure sat next to him on the bed and he could now see it was the boy from before. Due to the pain that flooded his body, it took him a minute to remember the boy’s name. His name was Alex. Alex’s smooth raven hair fell over his naturally reddish orbs. He wore a frown, but his eyes were warm. He raised his pale hand to Aaron’s cheek, the coldness that radiated from his skin made him flinch. As Alex came closer to him, he could hear his blood pumping through his veins. The smell was irresistible. His throat suddenly dried and the urge for liquid made him sit from his lying position. The urge intensified until Aaron lunged at his classmate.
He didn’t get far, however, for the chains around his arms kept him still. His fleshed burned as it came in contact with the metal. Aaron hissed and retracted back into his pillow. As the boy laid there, dazed with confusion, Alex stood and flicked on the bedside lamp, before sitting again at his side. The light hurt his eyes at first, but they soon adjusted enough for him to scan his surroundings. The bedroom was small, but decorated in a gothic style. The walls were paneled with dark stained wood and over them hung several paintings, most of which depicted death in someway. From this, it was probably safe to say they were Renaissance era pieces. The room itself was barren. There was a large dresser next to the door. On top held a large vanity. Opposite of that was the bed that Aaron was chained to. The covers that draped over him were pure black, which matched the canopy above him. To either side of the bed was a small table, each with its own lamp. The boy’s confusion only strengthened as he looked around. There was no way this was a dorm room. Finally, he locked gaze with Alex, who sat quietly, seemingly waiting for Aaron to find his bearings. As he stared into those amber spheres, his vision was flooded with the events of the previous night and his throat swelled with residual pain. He could remember everything, from the pain to his lungs filling with blood, all while that girl smiled down at him. His eyes widened and his heart skipped a beat as the memories played in his mind. “I died...” He whispered, more to himself. The student shifted his weight and thought of how to phrase his response. “I’m sorry, Aaron, that you got caught in all this. This is my fault...I...I should’ve done something.” Aaron tried to follow his logic, but couldn’t. “That girl....she killed me...how am I still here?” Alex sighed, “that’s...complicated.”
The boy with the raven hair raised his hands to the silver chains, that kept Aaron bound to the backboard, when the door clicked open again. A thin boy with pale skin, bouncy blonde hair, and light blue eyes pushed open the door until his entire body was visible. “I’m sorry to interrupt, but your sister’s on the phone. She says it’s important.” The boy spoke with a soft voice. He too had an interesting accent, that Aaron had never heard before. Alex exhaled a long, annoyed breath as he stood and retrieved the phone from the boy’s hand. “Tarje, untie him while I handle this.” He said, putting the phone to his ear and walking into the room connected to the bedroom. The blonde-haired boy by the name of Tarje (tar-hey) turned to Alex as he strolled past him. His face held the look of concern and caution. “Are you sure? He hasn’t eaten yet.” The muffled voice of Alex drifted into the room. “Don’t tell me you’re afraid of a fledgling.” His tone seemed to mock the boy’s fears. Tarje’s face was that of little amusement, as he turned back to Aaron. “What’s a fledgling?” The boy with the golden head seemed confused by his question. Tarje walked across the room and sat next to the young man. As he came closer, the same urge returned to Aaron’s instincts. His dry throat ached. He heard the throbbing of the boy’s heart in his ears. Now that his thinking was sharper than when he first awakened, he wondered how this was even possible. “How can I hear your heartbeat?” Tarje looked at the boy with new found understanding. “He didn’t explain anything, did he?” “Not really, no.” Tarje sighed, as he grabbed a pair of black kevlar gloves from the nightstand. “Figured.” He took a minute to slip the gloves over his hands, before he got to work uncoiling the chains. “Well, to answer your first question, a fledgling is the transitional stage between a human and a vampire and...” Tarje trailed off as he saw Aaron’s distrusting glare. “What?” “You can’t be serious.” The boy titled his head in confusion, the mop of blonde hair fell to one side of his face. “You were killed, weren’t you? And yet, you’re still here. I can’t believe that accepting the existence of vampires is the hardest thing about your situation.” Aaron was quiet as he thought. He was right. “Anyway, the answer to your second question is that vampires tend to have heightened abilities. Enhanced eyesight, hearing, smell, speed. I’m sure there’s others, but I haven’t exactly thought about it in awhile.” The boy rambled on as he pulled the chains off Aaron’s right hand. The boy examined the burn marks on his wrist. His eyes widened in shock as his skin closed and lightened before his eyes. Aaron looked to Tarje with confused awe. “Oh, I forgot to mention the healing,” he said with a smile, as he focused his attention on his left hand. “It comes in handy surprisingly often. Especially your healing.” “My healing?” “Fledglings often have stronger abilities. They’re motivated by a strong thirst for human blood. That adrenaline fuels their bodies to achieve that goal.” As he mentioned the creature’s instinct, his body ached once more. His throat was so dry that it hurt and his mind could only focus on one thing. “Their aggression also tends to be more intense.” Tarje finished untying the chain and began unwrapping the metal coil from the boy’s arm. The blonde-haired boy chattered on, but Aaron was no longer listening. He couldn’t think of anything else. “Fledglings are dangerous and unpredictable, which is why they’re considered taboo-” Tarje’s lecture was cut short as Aaron suddenly lunged at the boy. This time, his full power was not hindered. The raven-haired boy pinned his counterpart to the bed. His body flooded with an infectious heat. His teeth grew until they were sharp points, ripping through his gums. His own blood filled his mouth, but he paid little attention to this. Using his fangs, he bit down on boy’s pale neck. Tarje seemed uncomfortable with a teenage boy sitting on top of him, but he didn’t stop the process. He let Aaron take as much as he needed. With the amount of blood that he felt leaving his system, he could tell the fledgling had not eaten since he awakened.
Tarje sighed as he laid face up on the bed. He heard the door behind him creak open and he moved his gaze until he saw an upside down Alex in the doorway. He held a small smile as he stumbled into the scene. The blonde glared at him. “You see, this is why you feed your projects before untying them.” “He’s not one of my ‘projects’. It was an accident, more or less.” As he heard Alex’s voice, Aaron raised his head. Feeling sense return to him, he got off of Tarje. As he moved, he saw a flash of red in his peripheral vision. He looked up to the vanity mirror opposite him. What he saw shook him more than anything else that happened. He saw his reflection, but the eyes that stared back at him was not his own. Instead of blue, the hue of his orbs were glowing crimson and his mouth was stained red. The scene shocked him to the extent that his entire body froze. “What do you mean by ′accident’?” Tarje asked as he sat on the edge of the bed, removing his now blood-soaked sweater. Instead of answering him, Alex walked over the stunned boy, who had not taken his eyes off the reflection. He put a hand on his shoulder, gentle as not to scare him. The sudden feeling broke the contact Aaron had with the mirror. He turned to the older boy, his gaze was heavy with the information he now possessed. His eyes were still red, but they were duller than they were before. “Alex?” His voice was so quiet, it was almost nonexistent. “Are you alright?” He responded. Aaron’s vision dropped to the floor as he thought of the answer. “I’m not sure. This is all happening so fast.” The student felted his shoulders tensed. He refused to look Alex in the eyes. Aaron seemed very uncomfortable with his current situation. The Romanian grabbed the decorative bedspread and draped it over the raven-haired boy. “Come,” He said as he gripped the boy’s arm. “I think you’re in need of a change of scenery.” Alex lead Aaron towards the door and Tarje followed behind them.
As Alex opened the door, Aaron’s sensitive eyes were flooded with warm light. He closed them to prevent them from burning any further. The student turned to his friend and the light was quickly concealed by heavy, velvet curtains, allowing Aaron to examine the room. The living corridors was even more lavish than the bedroom. The room in front of him was large, with the same wooden paneling on the walls with the ceiling was rounded to a point. The layout consisted of three facing sofas in the middle of the room, with a coffee table and another chair. The wall to the right was bare, besides the three windows that were now covered in velvet. The very back of the living room was a kitchenette, with a small fridge, narrow stove, and various cabinets. To the left of him, was four more doors, one was clearly a bathroom, and the one in the center of the west wall was probably the exit. The room itself was incredibly ornate in it’s design. The thing that immediately caught his eye was the chandelier above the configuration of couches. “What is this place?” Aaron asked. The boy let Alex lead him to the couch. As he sat down, he noticed there was a girl laying on the sofa next to him. “We’re still on the school grounds. In the Locus Lunae.” Alex saw the confusion in Aaron’s vision and rephrased his answer. “One of the night dorms, for vampires.” He said as he stuffed his hands in his pockets. When his fingers came in contact with the soft petals of the Belladonna flower, he remembered why he retrieved it. “There’s more vampires here?” Alex walked over to the kitchen before responding. “The Lunae Dorm houses vampires, mostly those of the Tepes faction and their branch families.” Aaron couldn’t piece together what he was saying, but he didn’t question further. Instead, he directed his attention to the girl, who had not spoken nor looked up. Like her acquaintances, she too had pale skin. She had long, blue hair, that was tied in twin pigtails with two, flowery hair ties. Her small face was hidden behind her phone, but he could see her brown eyes. They were locked to her screen, but they held little interest. Her uniform was much different than that of Alex. Black, long sleeve silk shirt, the collar of which was tied with a red ribbon. She had a knee length black skirt with a red and white plaid design. Underneath her skirt, were black leggings. Every once in awhile, when she thought Aaron wasn’t looking, she would scan him up and down.
“Speaking of family,” Tarje said as Alex revealed a mortar and pestle from a cabinet. “What did Anya want?” The blonde boy watched as he ground the white flower against the stone bowl. “She noticed that Celeste was absent at dinner last night, she was worried.” A flashback to the night before flooded his vision for a moment. “She probably should’ve warned me sooner.” “Why is that?” Alex glanced to Aaron, “she attacked me in the garden. I could’ve taken care of her, but...” When his sentence drifted off, Tarje could tell he was deeply resentful about something. He followed his gaze and found new understanding for the emotion he saw. The blonde’s light blue eyes drifted to the ground. He felt immense guilt. “I see...She must have forced your hand...I’m sorry, it was very inappropriate for her to seek her revenge in a safe zone.” Alex simply waved him away, “there’s no need to apologize. It’s not like you can control her.” Tarje sighed. “You don’t have to remind me of that, she does so everyday.” Alex smiled as he finished crushing the flower into a fine powder. He scooped up the remnants into a metal bottle and mixed the components into the water. When he completed his strange concoction, he gave it to Tarje, who accepted it, attaching the metal bottle to a loop on his belt. “Thanks, but I don’t think seraphs are at the top of our priority list.” The boy with mop of corn silk hair said as he turned back to Aaron.
The raven-haired British boy continued to look at the blue-haired, brown-eyed girl sitting in the corner of the couch. He was confused as to why no one had addressed girl or even noticed she was there. She didn’t pay any attention to her classmates that were messing around in the kitchen. The only one that she had any interest in was Aaron, but neither of them made eye contact. Hearing subtle whispers that drifted from the back of the room, the boy raised his orbs, which had faded back to its original color, before locking gaze with Tarje for a moment. The blonde student quickly turned around, as not to attract attention to their private conversation. Alex nodded in agreement to his friend’s comment as he opened the narrow fridge and pulled a large glass wine bottle, filled with a dark red liquid. Tarje aided by placing glasses on the island in front of him. Curiously, there were only three. The boy, at first, mistaken the substance as wine, but as the seal on the lid was broken, the smell of blood drifted towards him. Of course it was blood, they’re vampires.
The boy was mildly distracted by his thoughts. However, they quickly dispersed. He looked up to Alex pouring the blood into the glasses in front of him. The smell was different from Tarje’s blood and from that he could conclude it wasn’t from a vampire. As the odor of the liquid reached his lungs, the blood became all he could focus on. The girl, that was facing him, looked up from her screen as Aaron’s eyes lit up with intensity. Her gaze wandered behind her and she sighed at what she saw. It seemed that the two had completely forgotten the hungry child. As thoughts clouded his head, he quickly stood from his sitting position. His mind was then swarmed by the worst migraine he’d ever had. So bad, in fact, that the pain visualized itself as flashes of light in his gaze. His knees soon gave way and the last thing he saw was the ground falling towards him.
“Idiots.” Alex and Tarje turned to the source of the calm, feminine voice. The girl with the long, blue pigtails was now kneeling on the ground, her arms full with the body of the half conscious teen. She glared back at the two. “Are your heads so thick that you really forgot to feed a fledgling? Both of you should know how intense their hunger is.” Tarje threw his hands up in a defensive manner, “I did feed him. You can look at my shirt for proof.” He said, gesturing to his white dress shirt that was covered in splatters of blood. Her glare strengthened. “Human blood, you jackass. His body can’t process your blood, not for long anyway.” Alex stepped in between the conversation and raised a calm, quiet hand up, palm facing the girl. Within seconds, their bickering stopped. “We have to wait to give him human blood until we get off campus. We agreed to that when we came here and we can’t afford to break the rules of the treaty.” The girl’s brownish eyes lowered until they were but slits. She then held out her hand to him. “Fine, give me that bottle then.” “Awe, come on.” Tarje interrupted with a slightly whiny tone. “This is our last until next week.” She simply sat there, her arm outstretched. Without question, Alex walked the glass vial to where the girl was sitting, Aaron’s head was laying on her lap. He crouched beside her, transferring the bottle to her hands. She barely looked at the boy, focusing all her attention on the fledgling. “You two are so stupid sometimes.” The girl whispered under her breath. “I’m sorry, Natsumi. I know the boy’s condition is very similar to your own. I understand why you would be sympathetic.” There was a silence in the air as Natsumi poured the blood into the mouth of the unconscious boy. She waited to respond until Aaron’s eyes opened. As they did so, his blurry vision cleared, and he saw the girl from before staring down at him. His crimson eyes finally faded back to an azure hue. “No, you really don’t get it. Your royal ass was born this way, you could never understand how it feels to truly suffer.” Alex sensed her frustration and backed up a bit, giving her space.
“Alex?” All in the room directed their attention to Aaron, who finally became aware. The only thing in his vision was the woman. She smiled warmly at him. “Good morning, Aaron. Are you feeling better?” Her voice was very smooth; the pitch was high, but calming. She had the only accent that was consistent with a Japanese heritage. “I guess a little. Who are you?” He rubbed his azure eyes and sat up to face the girl. “My name is Natsumi Kobayashi, and, in case he forgot to introduce himself, the blonde dumbass in the back is Tarje Nystrom.” “For the record, I did introduce myself.” Tarje interjected as he joined the group in the living room. “You’ve already met Alex, we’re his friends. We’ve been looking after you since you passed out last night.” Natsumi finished her thought. “I wouldn’t say ‘passed out’ is the most accurate description of what happened.” The girl glared at the blonde as he sat down on one of the facing couches. “Could you be a little more sensitive for just a second?” Tarje didn’t seem to appreciate the girl’s tone, as he responded with his own anger. “If your idea of sensitive is obscuring the truth, then no.” The two exchanged glares so toxic, Aaron expected them to start throwing punches any minute. The boy stood in the awkward silence. “Well, I appreciate what you’ve done for me. Whatever that is, but-” He looked down at his watch. The worn face read 10:34 AM. “Shit, I’ve been gone for nine hours. Em’s gonna kill me.” Aaron started towards the door with a quickened pace. “Wait, Aaron. You can’t just leave. Not in your condition.” Natsumi grabbed his arm, stopping his stride. “For once, we agree on something.” Tarje gave the girl a passing glance before turning to Aaron. “It would be safer, for everyone, if you stay here.” The British boy removed Natsumi’s arm before responding. “Look, I’m grateful that you saved my life, really.” He looked past Tarje to Alex. “But, I don’t want anything to do with this fledgling thing.” The blonde haired boy looked up to the oldest of the three. “You’re not going to let him get away, are you?” Aaron again turned to the door, but as his hand touched the doorknob, a weird feeling flooded his system. ”Aaron.” His body completely froze against his own will, as he felt a fiery gaze on his back. ”Turn around." Those words rattled around his head until it was all he could think about. The tone held so much authority over him that he had no choice but to obey. Aaron turned to face the Romanian’s eyes, which were now an incandescent red. That shade shook him to his very core. With a heart full of confusion as to how this was even happening, he waited for the situation to continue. Alex sighed, his eyes faded to their normal hue. “Are you sure you want to leave without knowing important information?” Aaron seemed to be uncomfortable with this loaded question. His azure eyes drifted towards the ground. “No offense, but I just want to forget everything that happened...I want things to go back to the way they were before.” He raised his gaze to meet Alex’s serious eyes. It was hard to describe how intimidating he was to the boy. Aaron felt inherit sense of power from the Romanian. Just as he felt that aura, Alex’s attitude suddenly shifted. “Then you should go, whoever this Em is is probably worried that you’ve been missing for several hours.” Alex directed his next point to Natsumi. “Could you escort Aaron to the lobby?” She responded with a small nod and lead the blue-eyed boy out the door.
As soon as the door shut behind them, Tarje turned to his counterpart. “You’re going to let him rejoin society without supervision?” The student sat quietly on the couch, seemingly ignoring him. “That might be the stupidest, most dangerous thing you’ve ever done and that’s saying something.” The little blonde’s anger flared, a fact his tone reflected. “Of course I’m not sending him loose without oversight.” “Well, then.” Tarje Nystrom sat across from Alexandru Tepes. “Who gets the bad news?” Alex looked up to him, silent. Tarje sighed. “Of course.” He stood once again. “I’m going to get some sleep. I’m gonna need it.” With that, he walked through a door connecting the main room with his own bedroom, shutting it behind him.
Aaron followed the back of the blue-haired girl as she descended down the staircase into the lobby. When he laid eyes on foyer, he stopped dead on the stairs. He looked around the long hallway. The walls were almost entirely decorated with gold paint and there were several places where ornate sculptures and designs were carved into them. Paintings, taller than him, hung from silver frames. As he looked up, he saw a beautiful mural depicting a meeting between angels and demons, painted on the ceiling. Everything about the lobby was so stylized, it was hard not to stare. “Where are we?” Natsumi reached the last step and, realizing Aaron was no longer following her, turned on her heels to face him. She seemed confused by his question. “Didn’t we go over this? We’re still at the school.” “Yeah, I know. It’s just, this place is so much different than my dorm.” “This dorm is much older than yours, by centuries.” She said with a passing glance as she continued down the elongated hallway towards the front. Aaron followed closely behind her as they past the barren lobby. As they walked out into the spring morning, he realized just how empty this place was for the middle of the day. He had not seen one person in the hallway.
As Aaron strolled to the end of the porch, he noticed that he stood alone. He turned to see Natsumi still by the door. Her tired eyes were struggling to stay open in the brightness. In her hand was the hilt of a large, black umbrella. “Take this, you’ll need it.” Natsumi held out the umbrella to him, which he took, but not without questioning her reasoning. “Um, I don’t think it’s gonna rain anytime soon.” She smiled at his ignorance. “Stick your hand out of the porch, make sure you’re in direct light.” “Why?” Her grin turn mischievous, “I’m curious.” Confused and a bit concerned, Aaron obeyed and stepped into the sun, his hand was washed in the beams of light. Almost immediately, he could feel his skin began to burn. “What the hell?” He quickly retracted his hand from the sunlight. He turned to face Natsumi and her devilish smirk with a glare of his own. “A vampire’s greatest enemy, the sun. You’re just lucky a noble like Alexandru turned you. If you were a commoner, you would’ve burst into flames.” The blue-eyed boy’s glare deepened. “I have no idea what you’re talking about, but I’ll take your word for it.” He opened the umbrella over his head and stepped into the morning, half expecting himself to catch fire. “Anything else I should know about?” The girl put a finger on her chin, as if contemplating. “You should stay away from silver, that stuff will eat away your flesh in no time. That’s pretty much it.” “Noted,” he said as he waved the blue haired, brown eyed Natsumi goodbye.
After several minutes of walking the grounds, clueless to where he was, Aaron finally made it to a familiar looking building. His dorm. He spent most of that time trying to retrace his steps from last night. With each memory, came fifty that he didn’t want to see. Those memories would probably haunt him for the rest of his life. He sighed as he pushed the door open to his dorm room. Startled by the sudden movement, Emilia quickly stood from the kitchen chair she was sitting on. “Where the hell were you?!” Her screeching pitch caused the throbbing pain to return to Aaron’s temples. As his blue eyes locked with her greenish ones, he could see the edges of her irises were red and puffy. She had been crying. “I’m sorry, Em. I-um...lost track of time.” The glare she gave him indicated that she didn’t believe his excuse. Emi sat back in her seat in defeat. “Seriously, don’t scare me like that. You could’ve at least called me.” Aaron rummaged through his pockets to find them empty. “Damnit,” he whispered under his breath, but loud enough so she could hear. “What?” “I think I lost my phone.” Em sighed. “Unbelievable.” Aaron could sense her heated frustration and with his new sensitivity, he could physically feel her emotional pain. The boy did the only thing he could and attempted to mend the situation. He wrapped his arms around her neck, comforting her form with his warmth. “I really am sorry. I got...caught up in something, but that’s no excuse for making you worry about me. You can hit me if you want, I probably deserve it.” Emi turned over her shoulder to meet his face. From the tears that started to form in her eyes, it was clear she was still overwhelmed with feelings, but she quickly wiped them away and smiled. “I know you are.” She leaned in and her lips connected with his. “How about I make it up to you by taking a little field trip to Akihabara sometime and you can get anything you want, on me.” She gasped and her eyes filled with excitement. “You shouldn’t give me so much power, next thing you know and I’ll buy the entire block.” “Ok, maybe not anything you want.” Aaron teased. She smiled, “fine, but you have to cook all the meals for the next couple of weeks.” The boy stood, “that’s fair.” He said and immediately flopped onto his bed, neglecting to take off any piece of clothing including his shoes. The girl looked at him with complete confusion. “Babe?” “hm?” His voice was muffled by the covers his face was buried in. “it’s almost noon.” “So?” Emi shrugged, “Good point, just try not to over sleep. We gotta get up early tomorrow.” Quickly after their conversation, Aaron’s consciousness drifted off into the darkness.
Aaron was suddenly awoken by the second most potent pain that he’d ever experienced, beaten only by when he first awoke in Alex’s bedroom. The infectious agony spread throughout his entire body until he had no choice but to open his eyes. Even though it was dark, he could clearly see the sleeping form of his girlfriend laying next to him. Her back was to him and, because the bed was not made for two people, Aaron was completely trapped between her and the wall. As he laid eyes upon her, the aching in his throat returned, desperately begging for liquid. With the pain came the familiar thoughts that flooded his mind. He quickly climbed over Emi, but careful not to wake her. Luckily, she was one of the heaviest sleepers he’d ever known. He walked over to the sliding door, trying to purge his brain of those horrible instincts, but all that did was make them stronger. He turned back to Emilia, he was losing this fight. Aaron started towards the sleeping girl, but before he could even get close, he was suddenly pinned to the opposite wall. He looked up to see Alex, his glowing eyes were calm. The boy struggled against his strength, but he couldn’t seem to break his grip. The hunger driving this violence only got stronger until the British man plunged his fangs, that now protruded from his gums, into the neck of his counterpart. Alex stood still as the fledgling stole blood from his veins. When Aaron pulled away from him, his eyes were even brighter then they were previously. He looked up to the Romanian, dazed and confused. ”Sleep.” Alex commanded and almost immediately, the boy’s eyes shut and his body went limp. As he caught Aaron’s body, he heard movement from behind him. “You see, this is exactly what I’m talking about.” Picking up the unconscious boy, he turned to face Tarje. Alex walked past his blonde acquaintance, lying the fledgling next to the girl. “You’re really going to leave him with a human after he just tried to attack her?” “He’ll be fine for tonight.” The blonde’s crystal eyes glared at the student’s back. “Yeah, that’s not what I meant.” Alex stood and walked to the open sliding door. “He said he didn’t want anything else to do with us, so we’ll leave him for now.” “That doesn’t mean you have to listen!” He whisper-yelled. “You’re the one with the power here.” Tarje finished his sentence, but Alex was already gone. He glared at nothing in particular and, with a sigh and a passing glance at the sleeping couple, he left as well.