With heavy breaths and their feet splashing through water on the ground, two figures were hurrying in order to escape the torrent of rain. Alongside this downpour were suitcases being dragged across the floor and the general bustle of people trying to get inside, causing it to be louder and busier in a much different way than the two new students had anticipated.
“I thought that we'd be greeted by people handing out fliers and all that,” the taller of the two, male and pulling a blue suitcase behind him, said breathlessly. “Not all this.”
“Even your like for rain doesn't include something like this,” the other said in agreement – female, and carrying an orange rucksack on her back. Luckily, they were soon inside the building, both sighing over the warmth it brought. Inside stood others – some were shivering and already running off to find where to dry themselves off, others were laughing in disbelief over how soaked through they were.
“Our hoods barely did anything,” said the boy, named Mikleo, running fingers through a swooped silver fringe. Drops of water fell from the strands and down his face. He smirked down at the girl, with her blonde hair stuck to her head. “You look like a drowned rat, Edna – ouch!”
The umbrella she had been holding, which had been used in vain against the heavy downpour and had almost been broken, jabbed into his side. “Watch it, Meebo.”
“Is that any way to treat your brother?”
Mikleo rolled his eyes. “Come on, let's find our dorm. We're meant to be sharing, right?”
She nodded. “They usually don't put girls and boys together,” she said as they began to walk. “Which I find hilarious, as you're not exactly going to sleep with a girl. But I think we're exceptions as we're siblings.”
“Not thought about whether one of us might want privacy?”
“For what? Trust me, I'm not going to be banging any losers here, and if you want to go ahead and do that, do it in their room.”
“Like I'd do it in ours. I never said I was going to do that anyway.”
Edna hummed apprehensively. “Maybe some guy will end up seducing you. Tall, dark, handsome.”
“I never said that was my type.”
She glanced him up and down, eyes taking in his stature and pale clothes. “Small, light, not handsome … don't opposites attract?”
“Hey! Not handsome?”
“Oh. I definitely meant that in a, 'I think you'd suit the word beautiful more' kind of way.”
“Of course you did.”
She smirked at him, before she pointed to a door with her spare hand. “There, that should be it. Do you have the key?”
“Yeah, hold on – ah, there it is.”
He pulled out the key from the inside pocket of a blazer, setting his suitcase down to one side to fit it into the lock. It opened, revealing a fairly small room, yet still spacious enough. Two twin beds laid inside, a bedside table between them. The door to an en suite bathroom was located on the far right wall.
“Not bad,” Edna commented, dropping her rucksack onto the ground with a thud. Her hands dug into the shoulders on which it had rested. “God, you have no idea how to treat a lady. You should have carried that for me.”
“It's not my fault you didn't use a suitcase instead,” said Mikleo, his gaze averting to the window, where drops of rain were splattering against it. “Plus, how would you have expected me to carry all that in this weather?”
“True. Poor little Meebo is too weak and feeble to carry too much luggage anyway.”
“I am this close to hitting you.”
“Oh no. Help me, I'm so scared.” Edna's own eyes fell on the window. “Really, it is strange that all this rain fell down so heavily. Like it's an omen.”
“Omen for what, exactly?”
“Halloween is next month. Plus, you've heard about some of the rumours here.”
Mikleo rolled his eyes. Anything supernatural was something he did not believe in – or at least, tried his best not to. He had always been driven by a mixture of emotion and logic, and if he did not have the latter, he'd be left feeling vulnerable and uncertain.
“There's no saying that any of that stuff is actually true.”
“Oh, I know. I was just saying. It's kinda interesting anyway.”
“For you as well.”
Mikleo did not answer, for he knew that there was truth in her words. After all, he had always had a thrill for any kind of adventure, and that usually came with some form of risk. If the rumours which he vaguely knew about were true, danger was certainly lurking here. One side of him was fascinated and excited by the thought.
The wait for their first classes to begin was relatively normal, what with exploring the campus, the city of Ladylake and simply enjoying some relaxing last few days before education would start once again. Settling into living on their own was also something they had to become accustomed to. Both were rather independent, but having an older brother in the same house allowed them to not have to complete chores everyday. Now, they were going to be looking after themselves completely.
The two were taking different courses on campus; Edna with Geography, and Mikleo with History. It was a little nerve-wrecking for both of them to not actually yet be close to anyone in either of their classes. During the few days of settling in, they had met other students, but they were more like acquaintances rather than friends. Both were too stubborn to admit that they'd feel a lot more comfortable if they shared the same class.
“I'll see you later, then,” Edna said on the morning of their first lesson, as they stood in the hallways of the university. “Try not to get lost. Or do. That's also a good option.”
Mikleo rolled his eyes, yet couldn't stop a small smile forming on his face. Her joke was helping to ease his nerves a little. Feeling a little more confident as they parted ways, he began to head in the direction of his class.
Thankfully, he managed to find it relatively easily, the only thing spiking his nerves being the moment he stepped through the doorway and saw that students were already filling in the rows. However, his eyes caught a blonde girl in the right hand corner, who gave him an inviting smile. Feeling welcomed by it, he hurried over, eyes landing on the figure who would come in between them – they were bent over, a head of brown hair resting on their arms.
“He's had a bit of a long night,” the girl said, giving him a small shake. “Sorey, wake up and introduce yourself.”
The figure stirred, Mikleo having to hold in a laugh when he rose his head sleepily, strands sticking up in numerous places. He blinked, and Mikleo was a little taken aback by how quickly his eyes seemed to become focused on him. He had never seen something quite like that from any person he knew.
Then the boy smiled, bearing white teeth – it was so beautiful that it seemed to vanish all of Mikleo's thoughts completely, aside from just how radiant that smile was, and the way it seemed to light up green eyes.
“Sorry about that, I didn't get much sleep!” Despite his words, his voice did not seem tired at all – in fact, it was cheerful and energetic. “My name's Sorey, what's yours?”
“Mikleo.” He blinked, remembering his manners as he held out his hand. “It's a pleasure to meet you.”
“The pleasure's mine!”
“And I'm Alisha,” said the girl from Sorey's side. “It's nice to meet you.”
“Same to you both. I've not seen you around yet – I suppose that you don't live on campus?”
“No, we live out in Ladylake,” said Sorey. “A short walk from here.”
“Oh, I see.”
“Good morning, class!” a voice suddenly called out from the front of the room, startling Mikleo slightly. His gaze fell on her, feeling as though he had to tear it away from Sorey and Alisha. He passed it off on how the two seemed to have an aura about them which was different than the rest of the class.
“My name is Lailah, and I will be your main tutor for your course,” the woman continued. She spoke in a welcoming and friendly manner. “It would have been normal for you to have already checked the details of the course beforehand, but to make sure that you're aware of everything …”
At first, Mikleo had no trouble focusing on the words she was speaking. Yet steadily, it dropped – he felt as though a pair of eyes were glancing at him every so often, and sure enough, his own soon met with them.
“What?” he whispered, watching as Sorey took a piece of paper and started to write on it, before sliding it towards him.
'Sorry, I didn't mean to stare or anything. You 're just really unique.'
Raising an eyebrow, Mikleo wrote a response underneath.
'Unique? What do you mean by that?'
'White hair, purple eyes, pale skin … I've never seen something like that before.'
'Well, now you have.'
Sorey did not write a response, merely choosing to smile instead. It strangely brought forward a type of nervousness that Mikleo had never experienced before. The feeling was not uncomfortable, yet still left him confused.
Regardless, he was soon immersed in their first lesson, as were Sorey and Alisha. The session was mostly to go over what the course would cover, and then a small introduction to what they were studying first, so it was fairly relaxed. Yet it still had the three excited. Mikleo was soon to learn that the two adored history just as much as he did, and they seemed to notice that about Mikleo, too.
“I mean, of course we'd be all be interested in it, considering we've taken the course,” said Sorey. “But you really do seem as passionate as we do!”
“It's how Sorey and I became friends,” Alisha continued. “We found that we had a fair bit in common, including this.”
Mikleo smiled, feeling his excitement for the class building up now he had two people similar to him. “I've always been passionate about history. My mother and uncle were very enthralled in it, and I was soon becoming interested myself.”
“Were?” Sorey questioned. “Are they not interested as much anymore? Or …”
“There was a large fire in my home village,” Mikleo explained, surprising himself over how little it got to him nowadays after repeatedly telling the story over the years. “Neither of them survived.”
“I'm so sorry to hear that!”
“It's fine, I was adopted after that. I went from being an only child to having two siblings. One is the same age as me, actually – she's taken Geography.”
“I'm sure she's lovely,” Alisha smiled, Mikleo letting out a small chuckle.
“Why not sit with us for lunch?” Sorey offered. “Then you could bring your sister!”
“O-Oh, well, I wouldn't want to intrude.”
“Well, I thought we were friends now, right? It'll be nice to get to know you some more.”
Mikleo's smile returned. “Yeah, that would be nice. All right, I'll go find her and ask her after this lesson.”
“Awesome!” Sorey grinned. His cheerfulness was certainly contagious, and by now, the temporary nerves that had swam in Mikleo's stomach seemed to have vanished entirely.
A few hours later, Edna was by Mikleo's side, the two of them heading towards the cafeteria. Apparently, her cute appearance had attracted the attention of many of her classmates, several of which thought she was too young to be there. After punching Mikleo's arm when he sniggered, she said that it would probably be a nice break to go with him and avoid her cooing classmates.
The cafeteria was bustling with students. The two had never been in a place of education which was so large and this crowded – neither were particularly fond of large crowds, yet strangely, this did not seem as bad. Perhaps it made them feel more like there were others who could relate to them here.
“Is that them?” Edna asked. “There's people waving to us.”
Mikleo followed the direction of her pointed finger, finding that there was indeed Sorey and Alisha sitting at a table. Accompanying them was a red-headed girl Mikleo did not recognise. Apparently Edna did, however.
“Oh, Rose is with them, too.”
“Yeah, she's in my Geography class. I didn't realise she was friends with your new pals.”
“Edna!” Rose shouted as the pair came closer. “These two were just telling me about your bro – I didn't realise that he was in the same class as them!”
“Yeah, he is.”
“This is Edna,” Mikleo said as he took a seat by Sorey, Edna opposite him. “Edna, these are Sorey and Alisha.”
“Nice to meet you,” Alisha smiled.
“Rose has been telling us about you!” said Sorey.
“Couldn't have been anything good – ouch, Edna!”
“Meebo isn't very nice to his sister,” said Edna as she removed a bottle of water from his head.
“Not like you're nice to me, either,” he grumbled, rubbing the spot where she had hit him and pouting as Sorey laughed.
“Well, that's certainly a nice sibling relationship.”
Despite how Sorey, Alisha and Rose had seemed to know each other for a long time already, Mikleo found that both he and Edna were getting along well with all three of them, almost as though it was natural for them to be there. The three had a presence about them which almost seemed like it could draw someone in. Perhaps it was how charismatic they were – most specifically, Mikleo sensed this from Sorey.
Soon, the conversation shifted to what he and Edna had discussed briefly on occasion, but not properly – the rumours that existed in regards to Ladylake University.
“So tell me, you two,” Rose grinned, leaning forward with her head resting in her hands. Alisha was quick to interrupt her, letting out a sigh before she spoke.
“Honestly Rose, are you going to question everyone about this?”
“Absolutely. Do you two know about the rumours of this place?”
Edna nodded. “I'm pretty sure everyone has at least heard about them.”
“It just doesn't seem believable to me, though,” said Mikleo. “I mean, sightings of vampires on the grounds? They don't even exist.”
“Or they do, but Meebo is too scared to admit that he might believe it even a little bit.
“Ugh! I'm not, shut up.”
“Awh, but why not?” Sorey asked, letting out a laugh. “Nothing's impossible, so they say.”
“Come on. Vampires on the campus? This isn't a TV show.”
“Fine, how about we make a bet?”
“A bet?” Alisha echoed, speaking the words that Mikleo was going to himself.
“Yup! I bet that vampires do exist, Mikleo, and you bet that they don't. How about we make that bet real?”
Mikleo raised an eyebrow. “Seriously?”
“One thing – how exactly are you going to prove that they're real?”
“All of the sightings are at night. Why don't we go out and see if we can find anything going on?”
“No way. That sounds dangerous.”
“But I thought you didn't believe in them anyway?” Rose chipped in.
“I – I don't. But I still don't exactly like the thought of going out at night and searching for trouble.”
“Come on, you'll be with me, so it's not like you'll be alone!” Sorey persisted. “It'll be fun. We can go tonight.”
“I …” Mikleo thought over this, cursing his competitive side for making him debate over this in the first place, as opposed to simply say no. “Well, if it's a bet, what exactly does the winner get?”
Sorey hummed. “How about … whatever the other one wants?”
“That's very vague.”
“Makes the will to win greater though, doesn't it?”
Mikleo paused, before he nodded. “All right, you're on. But I'm definitely going to win.”
“Nope, I'm going to!”
“Ugh, someone stop them already,” Edna groaned. “They've only known each other for a few hours and are already acting like a competitive couple.”
Mikleo was ignoring her words. Or more specifically, he barely heard them. For when determination had flickered in Sorey's eyes, mingled with something he could not quite put his finger on, he felt himself becoming strangely entranced.
For some time, their arrangement for that evening left Mikleo's mind. It was easy enough for it to do so with the continuation of their day. However, once lessons had ended and he and Edna had ate together, his thoughts drifted back to Sorey.
He was usually not the kind of person to recklessly accept an idea this easily. He barely knew Sorey at all, aside from hearing about his interests, and from what he could easily tell on the surface. Yet there was no denying some kind of chemistry between them already. In fact, Mikleo had never experienced something quite like it. Perhaps their personalities were simply a combination which went well together.
No matter the cause, he had still said yes. Even Edna's teasing about how he already had a 'first date' was not quite enough to fully distract himself from his nerves, either. They were building higher as the afternoon went on. But alongside it was excitement, as well as the sense of adventure he craved. Plus, though he would not dare to admit it aloud, he felt a little as though he had not yet spent enough time with Sorey.
Once a sunset tinted with red had been taken over by a dark night sky, he had thrown on a blue coat and was now heading outside. He shivered as cold air hit him, yet he found the night pleasant nonetheless. The cold was not too overbearing, and the sky was clear – he found himself lost looking at the half-moon and stars, until he was startled by the call of his name.
“Oh, I'm sorry!” said the voice of Sorey as he walked over. “Did I scare you?”
“Just startled me a bit. I was thinking about how beautiful the sky looks.”
Sorey's eyes peered up at it. “Yeah, it really does. I'm more of a night owl, really, so I always enjoy looking at the sky and such.” His gaze shifted to Mikleo, already existing grin growing. “Shall we go vampire hunting, then?”
Mikleo nodded, a small smirk growing on his face. “Well, hunting for nothing as opposed to a creature which doesn't exist.”
“Awh, come on! You can't be that determined to think that there's no chance at all.”
“Fine, I'm going to convince you otherwise. Just you wait!”
Mikleo rolled his eyes, yet still jogged a little faster to keep by Sorey's side as they walked through the darkness. He hoped he did not notice. If he did, he did not say anything about it. Perhaps it seemed as though Mikleo just wanted to keep up, as opposed to be closer to Sorey. The flickering of a lamp above their heads was making the scene feel a little bit more chilling.
“How long are we going to be out here for?” Mikleo asked, eyes glancing around.
“Are you scared already?”
“N-No!” Mikleo huffed. “It's just a bit cold, and I don't want to sleep too late.”
“I can give you my jacket, if it gets too much for you. I don't really feel the cold.”
Now that Sorey had mentioned it, Mikleo took note of how the only outer that Sorey was wearing was a hooded-top which did not seem to be very thick. It seemed to be worn more for fashion than to fight the cold.
“I'll be fine,” Mikleo responded. “It's not that bad.”
Sorey shrugged his shoulders. “Just know that the offer stands. We probably won't be searching for that long, anyway.”
“Oh, yeah? What makes you so sure?”
Mikleo stared at Sorey with a small amount of confusion. He was sure that the enthusiasm and confidence were fake – after all, surely Sorey could not be serious? But at the same time, Sorey must have been excellent at pretending, for his voice sounded genuine.
Was that why Mikleo's nerves had returned even stronger than before?
“Come on, let's go down that way,” said Sorey, gesturing to a clearing ahead. There was a lot less light there, and Mikleo found himself shaking his head.
“I … I don't think that's a good idea.”
“Why not?” Sorey asked, turning to him. “What's the matter?”
“I don't know. I'm nervous, I guess.”
A warm smile grew on Sorey's face. “Don't worry, I'm right here with you.”
Mikleo hesitated, before he said, “All right. Just for a bit.”
“Don't worry, we won't be that long.” A hand rested on Mikleo's back to guide him for a moment, before it settled back to Sorey's side. “Are you starting to change your mind?”
“About whether or not vampires exist.”
“I wouldn't say so.”
“Then why the nerves all of a sudden?”
Mikleo did not answer, for he had no answers to give. He was clueless himself about why his heart was beginning to beat faster, that goosebumps were forming on his skin.
“Maybe a better question to ask is … what is it that stops you from believing in them?”
“I don't know. Logic, I guess.” They were now drawing to a stop in the darkness – as his eyes adjusted, Mikleo could see that they were the only ones there. “I mean, there's no proof or anything that they exist.”
“So it's the lack of evidence that makes you not believe it?”
Mikleo nodded. “Exactly. I'm pretty sure that I'd only believe they were real if I actually had one right in front of me. Otherwise, it's just ridiculous to believe it.”
For some reason, this made Sorey chuckle. “Well, that's why I brought you out here. So you can see one with your own eyes.”
“Well, in case you couldn't tell, we're the only ones here.”
Despite the sarcastic tone, he was feeling uneasy inside, and he felt as though Sorey could sense that.
“That's true. But that doesn't mean anything.”
“What … what do you mean?”
“Have you really not guessed by now?”
“There's … there's n-nothing …” he stammered, steadily losing the ability to speak properly. “Sorey, stop playing around. This isn't a joke.”
“Who says I'm joking?”
“I … what …”
“Don't scream, okay? Please. You don't have to."
“S-Scream? But why would I …”
His words trailed off as Sorey lowered his head. He stayed silent, certain his heart was about to escape from his ribcage, as Sorey's head rose again. Slowly, eyes glowing crimson were revealed, and when he bore his teeth, perfectly white, pointed fangs.
“Please, don't scream,” Sorey repeated before Mikleo even had a chance to process doing so. After all, his voice felt trapped, as though he had no chance to use it at all. Yet he forced himself to, even if it shook immensely.
“Y-You're … you're a …”
“Well, these certainly aren't just for show,” Sorey said, pointing to his eyes with a grin. His fangs seemed even more prominent with his mouth stretched. “Looks like I win.”
“But … but this is insane! I would have never … I …”
“Hey, calm down.” His voice was gentle, which clashed with Mikleo's fear. “Don't you think I would have hurt you already if that's what I wanted?”
“Then why bring me all the way out here?” Mikleo was speaking quicker now, and louder, using anger and a defensive attitude to try and hide his fear.
“Well, what if you had ended up screaming? Plus, I've had a lot of fun.”
“A-Alisha and Rose, are they –”
“Vampires? Yeah, they are. Alisha was scolding me for playing around like this actually, but she doesn't really understand. No, not completely. She couldn't. Even I've never felt like this before.”
“What do you mean?”
“There's something about you, Mikleo. Something I've never felt from another human. It goes much deeper than the appearance I mentioned before.” He took Mikleo's hand, turning it over. “Perhaps the right word for it is … aura. I just knew instantly that I needed to get closer to you. It's crazy, and you might not believe a creature like me. I wouldn't blame you if you didn't." His fingers trailed across the veins prominent in a slender wrist, a shiver running down Mikleo's spine. “But Mikleo, do you remember our bet?”
Mikleo nodded, too fixed on watching the finger stroke over his veins to say any words. With his fear running high, he would have expected to snatch his wrist back by now, run and call for help off someone. Yet he didn't. He was fixed to the spot. He was caught back in the trance which seemed even more stronger now Sorey's eyes shone red.
“What was the prize for the person who won?”
“Anything they want,” Mikleo found himself saying from memory. He did not think about it, nor was there the tremble in his voice. The reply came without hesitation.
“Right. And what I really want from you,” said Sorey, bringing Mikleo's wrist up to his mouth to place a kiss onto it, “is for you to offer your blood to me.”
“Your blood, yes.” He released Mikleo's wrist, the red in his eyes beginning to fade. “But don't worry. I never feed on someone without their consent.”
“And … and how are you so sure I'd give you that consent?”
“Because I know you're as drawn to me as I am to you. I can sense it. You're already feeling a pull towards the bite, because of what that causes for a human. Without even realising what it was, you were desiring that.”
“But why? W-Why would I –”
“The bite is pleasurable for both the vampire and the human. It's natural for a human to be drawn to that without even knowing.” By now, Sorey had returned to normal, his voice also back to a lighter tone. “Of course, if you still end up saying no, then I can't push you, even if you'd be going against our bet. But I know you'll probably end up saying yes.”
He walked forward past Mikleo, turning back to him and gesturing over his shoulder. “Humans like you should be in bed at this time. Should we head back?”
Mikleo nodded slowly. Still in shock, he barely found the strength to walk again. He was not even sure how he felt anymore.
“Sorey,” he ended up saying quietly.
“Was the person I met today not you? Is this who you really are?”
Sorey's walking stopped. He turned around to Mikleo with a smile. “Both of them are me,” he answered. “I wasn't pretending or anything like that before. When my fangs grow, I tend to get a bit more … how do I describe it? Dark? But I promise nothing you saw today was fake.”
He carried on walking, Mikleo falling behind.
“I've simply craved you from the moment I saw you,” he continued. He looked over his shoulder at Mikleo, and for a moment, there seemed to be a red glimmer in his eyes. “And I don't give up on cravings easily.”