GFD Among the Hidden: Chapter 4: Orphan’s Exile

by Orphan

Lucas frowned, scribbling down a few last answers to the test. He hated history, always had. It seemed like these questions were simply there to confuse him. He sighed, turning in the test, before heading out the door of the classroom to the gym to get ready for soccer practice. As he reached the gym, he quickly pulled on his practice jersey and shorts, stuffed his school stuff in his locker, grabbed his cleats and ball and headed to the field, determined to get some touches on the ball before the rest of the team got there.  He flicked the ball onto the field with his foot, before doing a few leg stretches individually.  He ran to where the ball had stopped, lining up quickly and placing a shot in the top corner, hearing the sharp SWISH of the net and smiling. He sprinted quickly to retrieve his ball, before dribbling around, pulling a few trick moves, making sure to focus on improving his technique, staying light on his feet, only on the balls of his feet.

He slowed to a stop, before looking around, seeing his coach looking at him intently. Making eye contact, he approached, looking for his coach’s advice. “Good moves out there Ramey, but work on keeping your movements more fluid. Don’t think about it, just do it,” his coach said, smiling encouragingly.

He reached an arm out to pat Lucas’ shoulder. Lucas quickly dodged the arm, nodding and quietly whispering ‘Thanks’ as he headed to grab a drink of water. He’d grown appreciative of Coach Henderson’s coaching style recently, and it had made his game better, even in the space of 6 months.  The rest of general practice went well, and he noticed that he was on top of his game today. His shots hit their mark more often than not, and his mood reflected it. After practice, as usual, Coach Henderson pulled him aside. Most of the time, it was just stuff he could do to improve his play more. This time, it was more serious.

“Lucas… You’re… You’ve got a lot of potential,” he started, before adding, “A few weeks ago, I sent out a few videos of your games, and some practices, to some scouting friends of mine. I just heard back, and… well, check your mail,” he said, smiling softly.  Lucas nodded, just dodging the compliment. He stepped off the field, grabbing his stuff and heading to the front of the school, to wait for his ride, whenever his parents decided to come pick him up. He hoped he wouldn’t have to wait 2 hours again today, like last week.

He jumped up, seeing the familiar truck of his teammate pull around the front, the passenger window rolled down. “Hop in, man, I’ll drive ya home!” the older teen said, and Lucas quickly agreed, opening the door and throwing his stuff on the floorboards before taking a seat and buckling his seatbelt.

“Thanks Adam, I appreciate it,” he said quietly, looking to the senior as he spoke.

“Not a problem bud, it’s on my way anyways. So what’d Coach say to you today? I noticed he always talks to you after practice. You did good by the way, but you gotta work on getting through defenders. ‘Course, they’re all gonna be bigger than you pretty much since you’re on Varsity, but still…” He rambled on, before resuming his talk, not ending until they pulled to the front of Lucas’ house.

“Thanks again,” Lucas mumbled, grabbing his bags and hopping out of the truck. He waved as the teen drove away. He checked the mail, seeing a motley assortment of bills, advertisements, and…  his heart skipped a beat. A thick letter, addressed to him, from the Houston Dynamo! He ran excitedly inside his house, slamming the door behind him. He tossed the rest of the mail on the counter, before eagerly ripping open the letter, and reading it twice through. “MOOOOM!!” he yelled, running to find her in her bedroom, reading a book. “I got invited to a tryout for the Houston Dynamo in San Antonio! It’s from the coach, he says that even though I’m really young they wanna see what I can do in person!” he exclaimed happily.

“That’s nice,” his mom stated simply, not turning to look at him.

His heart fell, and he asked cautiously, “Well can I go?” hoping for a yes, hoping to get out of the house and follow his dreams, as visions of himself in a professional jersey overtook him

“Sure, whatever,” he heard from his mother behind him, since he’d already spun around to head to his room. His thoughts slowed to a crawl inside his mind, darkening thoughts filling his mind as he realized, once again, his parents really didn’t care. He wondered silently what it was like, to be loved or hated – to him, anything was better than simple indifference.

He sat down on his bed and reflected on who he was, what he’d done to cause his parents to… just ignore him. It seemed they didn’t treat his brother like that, they were okay with him, and really liked him. He DID always get his way, after all; and not only that, but he got it with a smile from his parents.   He sighed, his mood somewhat dampened by yet another rejection from his parents. If it’d been Matt, he was sure his Mom would’ve been jumping through the roof with happiness, the best he could do was a ‘whatever’. He sat down on his bed, and hung his head, again wondering what he’d done to his parents to deserve this kind of treatment. He put on his favorite Avenged Sevenfold CD, and then lay down on his bed, losing himself to the lyrics and music and escaping his misery. How he wished he could just… disappear to the world, just simply hide forever from his pain.

He heard his father’s sports car approaching the house and got up, irrationally believing that his father would be… more enamored with his accomplishment than his mother was. He grabbed the letter from where he’d thrown it, and headed downstairs, finding his father looking through the mail.

“Dad, guess what!” he exclaimed.

“Hang on, Lucas,” his father said, tearing into a bill. “How could they charge us $12,000 over factory for the Mustang? I paid them in advance!”

“Dad, I got invited to…”

“That’s great, Lucas, where ever you’re going, just be safe,” his father said, grabbing the stack of mail and going into his office.

“…San Antonio,” he finished, sighing. He needed one of his parents to sign a permission form, so he followed his father and put the form onto the mahogany desk. “I need you to sign this, Dad,” he said softly. His father didn’t even read it, he just signed it and handed it back.

“Enjoy yourself,” he said dismissively. Lucas mumbled something and went back to his room to pack.

‘What did you expect to happen, you idiot? That they’d wake up and see what they’d been doing?’ he asked himself, tears falling down his face as he shoved clothes into a suitcase. The next few days were even more torturous than that, his parents basically treated him like he was already gone, so much so that when the day for him to leave actually came, there were no tears, no hugs, no other demonstrative shows of affection (and who needed them, anyway? Honestly he hated any sort of… shows of affection). His father just drove him to the airport and told him to have fun, and then left, not even staying until the plane took off.

As he disembarked the plane, he looked around as he cautiously avoided coming into contact with anyone. He slung his bag over his shoulder as he headed out front to find a taxi that would take him to the hotel the coaches had recommended. He argued a bit with the clerk at the front desk, who was refusing to rent rooms out to anyone below 18, until he showed her that he was part of the Dynamo’s tryouts, and that his parents had signed the form granting him the right to make his own decisions. He opened the door to his room, finally, and tossed his bag on the bed then jumping after it, laying his body lengthwise on the bed.

As he lay there, his thoughts turned in his mind, and he realized that finally, he was alone. He’d effectively disappeared from his school, his family, like he’d wished so many times. This realization hit him hard, as it also meant that truly, nobody was around that cared about him. Before he’d always had friends, teammates, but now, at least until he met the others at the tryouts, he had nobody. He hung around the hotel that night, the TV playing some senseless movies while he wasn’t even paying attention, until he just dozed off.

The next day came, and he showered and eagerly dressed up in a soccer jersey and shorts, before grabbing his cleats, shin-guards, and his ball, tossing them in his duffel bag and heading out the door. He jogged the mile or so to the fields, before finally meeting the coaches responsible for inviting him to the tryouts.

“You must be Lucas!” the head coach turned and addressed him, offering his hand.

“Uh… Yes sir, I am,” he responded quietly, quickly shaking the offered hand then letting it go again. “Thanks for… Uh… Inviting me here,” he added.

“Well, I ain’t gonna lie, you’re definitely younger than anyone else here, but what we saw from those videos, well… If you play like that, you belong here for sure!” he enthused, before turning to the rest of the guys who were stretching. “Guys, this here’s Lucas. He’s joining us now, so… He’s a teammate of y’alls. Treat him that way!” he commanded, before turning back to the young boy and nodding with finality, dismissing the young boy as he turned back to the other coaches.

Lucas turned to the older guys and jogged over to them, joining them in their stretches, not daring to address them.

“So kid, you think you got what it takes to just waltz in here like that? Think you’re gonna show us all up or somethin’?” One of the guys had a sneer on his face as he spoke, until he was rebuked by another.

“Ahh, just shut it already Grips, kid’s gotta be good if he’s here, y’know?” This new one turned to Lucas and offered a handshake. “Name’s Twister. Or, well, I’m Ryan, but we usually just use our nicknames.” He looked Lucas up and down, before asking, “Uh… You look really young… If you don’t mind my asking, just how old ARE you?”

“Fourteen,” Lucas quickly replied as he shook Twister’s hand quickly before dropping it, then turning back and looking resolutely at ‘Grips’ and keeping eye contact.

“Got it… Fourteen, okay, well, that’s older than I woulda thought. Uh, what position you play? And where’re your parents?” Twister asked again, looking around at his other teammates since they were all backed up, apparently refusing to involve themselves with this new kid.

“I’m a striker, and I’m done with my parents,” Lucas answered, shaking his head emphatically. He didn’t offer any more details, since he really didn’t know or trust Twister or any of his new teammates, but he did like that Twister seemed genuinely interested in him as a person. It was refreshing, actually.

“Okay, so… No parents, you’re like… You an orphan or something?” he asked, before shaking his head. “Nevermind, doesn’t matter… Well, you’ll be Orphan to us, k? Like I said, we use nicknames a lot. Now, uh, lemme introduce you to the guys,” Twister said as he put an arm around the newly-dubbed Orphan’s shoulders (which the young teen quickly shook off, drawing a questioning look from his new friend), and started naming off the team members. “Okay, that’s Trapper, that’s Richie, you already kinda know Grips, ya got Burner over there, next to him’s Goggles, and last one’s Sunshine,” Twister finished gesturing to each of the guys, before turning to Lucas.

And so the weeks went. At first, his teammates were hesitant to accept him, with the exception of Twister. Eventually, he’d come to be taken in as one of their own, as he was getting used to the way they played; he came to earn the reputation his coaches had given him. He was the fastest on the field (which greatly frustrated Burner) and had amazing shots on goal (to Grips’ dismay). He still made mistakes that sometimes had the coaches get on his case big time, until he fixed them. He got closest to Twister though, since the teen always went out of his way to involve Lucas, to include him, both on the field and off the field.

Over the weeks, he’d gone out a few times with his teammates, downtown to the riverwalk. Sometimes they were lucky enough to be let into a club, which gave him his first experiences with alcohol. Other times, they just went out to be rowdy, until the local police came and warned them to quiet down. During those nights when the team didn’t go hang out, however, he’d slip out of the hotel and head downtown by himself. There, he met an older guy named Caden, and surprisingly, the two got close. It seemed, for the first time in his life, he had an actual father figure, one that genuinely cared about him, that really liked talking to him. He didn’t trust him at first, but over time Caden kept showing respect, and Orphan got to trust him, at least, in the parental sense.

“Alright guys, that’s enough for today. Y’all go hit the showers now, good job in the scrimmage,” Coach yelled to the group. “And Ramey, I need ta see you before you go,” the coach was pointing at Lucas, a stern expression on his face.

“Yessir?” Orphan asked worriedly, a fearful expression on his face. He knew he’d done something to displease the coach, that much was obvious from the look on the man’s face.

“Look son, when you first got here you was really good and all, and I knew I’d made a good move inviting you. Nowadays though, I’m not so sure. I mean, I seen your skill, and honestly I know you got it in you to play professionally, and I’d sign you now if I could. But for several days you’re just not there. It’s like your heart’s not in it, and I can’t have that here. So… I’m gonna give you a few more days to straighten out, but I gotta cut you if this keeps up. Straighten your shit out, son. I’m serious,” Coach finished rambling, dismissing the young teen with a serious nod, before turning away, leaving Orphan behind him, deep in thought as the boy walked to the showers.

“Is it true he’s got no parents? And what’s wrong with him anyways, he’s like… Always quiet, he needs to fuckin’ loosen up, man, like… Have you seen him freak out if you try to just touch him? He’s so weird!” Lucas heard hushed voices coming from the locker room as he approached. Slowing his walk to be quieter, he turned the corner into the room. There, he saw a group of all his teammates, including what he thought was his closest friend Twister all huddled together, whispering. Pushing back tears, he quickly gathered his stuff without dressing out and sprinted as fast as he could back to his hotel room. He needed one thing right now, some reassurance; and as unlikely as it seemed, the only source he knew to turn to was his parents. Before he left, he’d never have considered them, but he figured: he’d been gone a good while, they ought to be missing him, right?

Wrong. He picked up the hotel phone and called his home number long distance, all the while twirling the phone cord nervously in his hands. “Hello?” the male voice on the other end answered.

“He…Hey dad, it’s me!” He replied anxiously.

“Oh,” his dad said, sounding disappointed. He heard some scuffling on the receiver as his dad tried to cover up the sound piece, then a muffled “It’s just Lucas honey… He probably failed out or something and needs us to buy him a ticket back.”

“I… Uh… I just…” he stammered out, feeling his heart drop even lower.

“What, they kick you out? Ask for another chance, see if you can stay there longer,” his dad interrupted his mumbling, totally disheartening him.

“I… No, I’m still on the team, I just… Uh… I guess I’ll go then. Bye dad…” he sadly said, as tears sprang to his eyes. He hung up the phone, then collapsed on the bed, crying liberally as he felt totally alone, once more.

Lying there for several minutes more, Orphan made up his mind – he was done with the tryouts. He obviously wasn’t wanted there, and wasn’t wanted back at home. He figured… he could up and go to another city, maybe earn a try-out there. In his mind he started throwing out options for places he could travel, as he left the hotel, mentally saying goodbye. He was headed out to the riverwalk, to the place where he’d usually met Caden those several nights. He quickly wondered if it was late enough, he knew the older man only showed up an hour or two after darkness fell. Satisfied that it was, he hoped that just watching the water move on, waves always rippling the surface, would help him like it always did.

 

Lucas screamed in pain, his yells echoing through the deserted warehouse he found himself in. He tossed about, writhing in agony at the thousand hot knives cutting through his flesh, until finally the pain receded. Panting, he slowly got up, rubbing his eyes and noticing that he had perfect vision, even in the pitch-black dark. He groaned, stood up and headed to the door, as he tried to figure out what had happened to him. He curiously pulled the door open, his senses assaulted by the increased vision, hearing, and smelling he was experiencing. “What… happened?” he thought to himself, kicking a rock on the ground much harder than he’d thought, sending it flying. “Where am I?” The thoughts ran through his head as he made his way over to the riverwalk, by way of the soccer fields he’d played at.

Orphan looked over at the familiar fields, gazing longingly over the grass. He could smell the familiar scents of freshly mowed grass and paint, noticing that they were almost overpowering. He ducked his head, shuffling his feet more as he continued his way into town. Arriving into town, his ears ringing from all the sounds and his eyes aching from the lights, he collapsed to the ground. He lay there writhing, as he tried to get his senses used to the constant assault.

Before he knew it, there was a crowd of people around him, and an arm appeared on his shoulder and a voice whispered, “Relax. I can explain everything to you,” then spoke loudly, “Sorry guys! My little brother gets bad headaches all the time, I’m just gonna get him home now.” The stranger turned to him and asked “Are you okay?”

He felt himself get pulled up and dragged roughly out of the group of lookers-on before he shook off the contact and jumped several feet away, snapping a quick “Not so loud!” He gazed suspiciously at the newcomer, before casting an appraising glance at the dark alley he’d been led to. “Look, I… I’m fine,” he stated simply, his eyes darting left and right as he scanned the alleyway.

“Look you don’t trust me, I don’t trust you either, but if you go out there not knowing what you are, it’s painfully obvious you don’t, then you’ll get killed and well…that’d suck,” the older teen said as he grabbed a seat on a nearby dumpster. “I can try and help you with the whole hearing thing too if you’d like.”

Lucas backed up until he felt the grimy wall of the next building at his back, and he mumbled, “What…” He frowned, understanding that his stranger had information he obviously needed, though he hated to be in a position that left him depending on someone else. “What’d you mean, what I am?” he asked rudely, a scoff showing on his face.

The next thing he knew, his hearing was shut off completely, and the stranger was rubbing his temples strangely. He shook his head madly, an inaudible gasp escaping his lips as he fell to his knees, feeling that if this stranger was somehow responsible, Orphan would probably be better off taking his chances alone.

He saw the older teen throw up his arms, and he felt his hearing return. “Oh come on! It was a magic trick, hello? Give me five minutes of your time and I’ll tell you everything you need to know and then you can ditch me, but I have a feeling you won’t want to,” the stranger said.

He rose unsteadily to his feet and whispered, “fine…” then raised his eyebrow and quizzically asked, “A… A magic trick? But I couldn’t hear, that was you?” He cringed, hating that he’d admitted a weakness.

The stranger nodded. “Yes. That’s right, a magic trick. You’ll get one too in about a month, you were turned into a vampire. Hence the whole heightened senses and mad, deep thirst for human blood.”

Orphan shook his head vehemently “No, that can’t be… I… I don’t wanna drink blood or anything, I’m just not hungry,” he said, trying to rationalize this stranger’s knowledge of his senses. “And… I… My senses are okay, I just woke up and I had no idea where, which is why I’m hearing strange things. K? Vampires don’t… They don’t exist!”

The deranged stranger jumped off the dumpster. “They don’t exist?” The stranger asked, before he grinned wickedly, wincing as two huge fangs suddenly sprouted from his gums. “Fuck that still hurts…but explain that. You’ll get them too soon!”

“Dodge, put those away, the poor boy’s about to wet himself,” another voice said, as its owner stepped into view while walking into the alleyway. “You’ll find a lot of things that don’t exist you can see if you look hard enough, kid. I’m Cole, by the way. And you are?”

The younger of the two, this ‘Dodge,’ huffed and pouted, saying, “I wasn’t scaring him. He ASKED to see them! I saved him from a group of humans. I think his sire left him, but he won’t tell me much.”

Orphan clamped his jaw shut, fear written clearly in his eyes as he was surrounded by this Cole and his friend. He tried to step back, further into the wall, just wishing he could disappear. He opened his mouth quickly and whispered “I’m Lu… Uh… Orphan,” he said, looking suspiciously at the two vampires.

“I’m Dodger,” the first stranger (the younger of the two) said with a shrug, shoving his hands into his pockets. “I know this is scary and stuff, but it’s not all that bad…and if you stick with us we can teach you a lot of cool things.”

The older one, Cole, added, “He’s right, and you don’t have to be scared of us or anything. We won’t bite. Someone already took care of that for us. But we can teach you how to survive… it’s hard being alone. I–I… it’s hard being alone.”

Orphan shook his head. “Just… tell me how to survive, tell me what I am. If you’re right, I’m a vampire, I… What’s that mean?” He shrugged. “And I don’t mind being alone. I’m… I’m used to it,” he said off-handedly, thinking that he didn’t want to have to place his trust in these two if he could avoid it. Cole, the older one, seemed more trustworthy, he was at least approachable. Dodger, on the other hand, seemed more confrontational. The younger vampire had proven that by using his ‘magic trick’ on him, knowing he was younger and defenseless.

He frowned, averting his gaze and attention as the two shared a moment that confirmed his suspicions. They were gay, and together, he assumed, as he saw the younger one wrap his arms around Cole’s waist to pull them closer together. He used the moment to think over what he’d heard about fictional vampires, hoping some of it was at least accurate.

“I was alone for a while after my change, Orphan. It gets lonely having an eternity in darkness if you don’t have someone to share it with,” Cole said, hugging Dodger tight. “You’ll find that out quick… but go ahead, Dodge. Tell him how to survive. Then he can decide if he wants to go or not. I have a feeling he’ll stay. Especially since that first feeding next month will be pretty brutal alone… and the aftermath…”

Orphan focused his gaze on Cole’s eyes, searching for a tell, before he glanced to ‘Dodger’. “Eternity?” he asked, wondering if he’d heard right.

“Yeah…we live forever. Unless you damage your heart or stay out in the sun,” Dodger said as he played with one of the strings on his hoodie. “We also can’t eat human food, except suckers or jolly ranchers. You’ll need to feed in about a month, then you’ll get your extra. Anything else?” Dodger asked, looking at Cole before back at Orphan. “Should I write this all down for you?”

Orphan blanched, too busy trying to memorize the list to acknowledge the sarcasm “Feed… Like… on a human?” he asked, before closing his eyes. “What’s an extra?” he asked, as he got to that part. “Otherwise, no sun, don’t get hurt, no food? No sodas?” He sighed in desperation, feeling overwhelmed by these new laws of nature thrust upon him.

“You have to make sure you’re somewhere without any light during the day. It’s part of our physiology, since we can’t let sun touch our skin we literally drop unconscious at sunrise. So prepare early, and make sure you’re in a safe place. Some vampires wake up early, some don’t sleep at all, and they love to collect anything you’ve got into their personal collections when you’re passed out on the floor. No food –“ Cole spoke, until he was interrupted by his partner.

“And no biting people with a tattoo on their neck, no telling people, no hunting important people,” Dodger paused to glare at his Cole, as they shared something between just the both of them. The younger vampire turned his gaze back to Orphan and continued.  “And watch out for vampires that eat other vampires, and raiders who steal your stuff. No going back home,” Dodger once again turned to Cole, an angry glare seemingly on his face. “And crying makes your eyeballs glow.”

“No food. No soda. Blood, though. And we do tend to have a thing for alcohol, though that might just be Dodge and I here,” Cole said. “Feeding on a human… well.. don’t think of it like that. Think of it as a donation to keep you alive. By a very, very bad person who deserves to die. You know there are more than a few out there, dude.”

Lucas sighed, turning to pace back and forth a few yards. “Uh… This is getting to be a lot… How do you guys know these things? Like… D’you have a poster or something to remind you?” He stuffed his hands in his pockets, wondering if he’d be able to remember everything.

 

Dodger shrugged. “He taught me everything; he saved me, changed me, and well, now he’s stuck with me forever.”

Cole smiled at Dodger and pulled him closer, kissing the top of his head. “It took years to learn it all. I had to visit a lot of cities, make a lot of mistakes, almost got myself killed more than once. Like I said, it was hard to be alone. I couldn’t let that happen to Dodge, you know? And that’s why we’re offering for you to come with us too.”

Orphan shook his head saying quickly and avoided looking in the couples’ direction. The PDAs were getting to be too much for him to handle – he couldn’t see the point of shoving every unhappy person’s face with your success at finding someone else. He stiffened slightly, focusing on pushing the rising depression back into the recesses of his mind. He knew, however, that he’d never be that happy. He’d never be lucky enough to have someone that WOULD want him like that, that would love him. He sighed, before remembering the couple’s offer.  “You don’t know me, and I don’t know you. I… I can’t. I gotta tough this alone,” he said as he continued pacing back and forth.

“At least stick with us through your first feeding…we can find you somewhere to live after we teach you how to hunt,” Dodger said, looking at him intently.

“He’s right, you know. Do you know what happens to a vampire when he doesn’t indulge in his need to feed, Orphan?” Cole asked, a smirk appearing on his face as he spoke. “And trust me… your first time… rarely ever is anyone willing to indulge their need to feed. And when that happens, the hunger pains will become so strong, you won’t be able to control yourself. Your visceral instincts kick in. You attack the first source of blood you can find, vampire or human, good or bad, protected or not. And what happens if you kill and drink from a protected human? The elders will kill you on site. A high profile killing? You’d never survive. We have to be careful, we have to be secretive, and we have to obey the laws or else death could come to us and anyone the elders think encouraged us. Stick with us. We’ll show you how to find deserving donors, and how to not take good lives, how to find shelter and protect yourself. If you choose to be on your own… well… good luck to you. I don’t recommend it.”

Orphan shuddered, trying to understand everything Cole had mentioned in his speech. “I… I guess I could, uh… Tag along. I don’t got anywhere to stay, but… Wouldn’t I impose? You two look like… Well, uh… I mean…” He stammered off, not wanting to accentuate their obvious sexuality, and still not really trusting the couple. After all, they were both vampires, and though they may seem to genuinely care about his survival, there was no way to tell, and he really wasn’t sure about the younger one. He shuddered, his last memories of being a human playing on the forefront of his mind. He definitely couldn’t handle another betrayal, another rejection like that.

“Yes, we’re a couple, no, we’re not going to have sex in front of you. Unless you like it,” Cole winked. “You’re making the right choice, now come on, it’s nearly bedtime and we need to find a place to sleep.”

Orphan blanched at Cole’s direct approach to their homosexuality “I.. Uh… I…” he stammered, trying to find words. He shook his head slightly and changed the subject, “I… I’ll follow you guys, for now. Where do you stay?” he asked.

“Right now we’re jumping from hotel to hotel. We’ve been looking for a warehouse or something, but that adventure is for another night,” Dodger explained as he waved Orphan over towards the exit to the alley. “We’re not too far away.”

“And tomorrow, you can come with us and help Dodge practice his extra. A newblood will be perfect for him to start off working on vampires, and you can get to see all the cool new tricks you might be able to learn now that you’re one of us,” Cole added, grinning at him.

“He’s already seen my extra,” Dodger said with a smirk. “I’m getting really good at it.”

Orphan shrugged, frowning a bit and crossing his arms in front of him. He nodded once, before stepping off the wall and looking from one to the other vampire. “Great, he’ll shut off my hearing again” he mumbled to himself quietly, as he shifted his head to face downwards. He mentally noted that as soon as he knew all the rules and how to survive, he’d leave this couple. He didn’t wanna bother them, and he didn’t trust ’em, so… Better to just leave.

“Getting good at it, eh? Well then. I guess you’ve graduated to trying it out on me, instead. Can’t wait to see what you can throw at me,” Cole grinned as he spoke. “But right now, it’s getting late, so let’s head back to that hotel we used last night. Stocked minibar, you know. We’ll even let you get your own room Orphan, if you promise not to run out on us tomorrow. How does that sound?”

Orphan nodded, knowing he had no choice but to stick around, until he knew he could survive by himself. Unfortunately, until then, it meant they had something he needed: vital knowledge. He hated that it left him feeling at a disadvantage, but that’s how it was. “I promise,” he said simply, turning to the leader of the couple.

Dodger, the younger vampire turned and led them out of the alleyway, following a few side roads until they approached a worn down hotel. He’d had a whispered conversation with Cole on the way, so faint Orphan couldn’t hear what was said, but he assumed it was about him. ‘It figures’ he thought to himself, a frown appearing on his face. This was turning out to be exactly like what happened with his team, exactly what he expected.

As they reached the hotel, Cole gestured to him to stay outside, before turning and following Dodger inside, presumably to go rent another room. He saw Cole return a few minutes later, and the older vampire handed him a key, saying, “There ya go, buddy, all taken care of.”

Orphan nodded, whispering a soft “Thanks,” as he looked at the key in his hands. He twirled it slowly. “Uh… What room? And… It wasn’t too expensive right?” he sighed, hating to feel indebted to this new acquaintance of his, but he didn’t have anywhere near enough money to pay for a hotel room.

“It’s fine, dude. And it’s the room right over there on the left,” Cole replied, pointing to a room on the second floor.

“Uh… Thanks again, I’m… I’mma go shower,” he said, feeling Cole needed an explanation as he turned and jogged up the stairs and opened the door to his room, closing it behind him. He quickly stripped and readied the shower, the day’s… Night’s? strange events replaying in his mind. He was DEFINITLY going to need some time to think all this through, and really get to know those other two. His first impression was that they didn’t intend any harm, but… He still couldn’t trust them, not yet.

After his shower, he dried himself and put on a fresh pair of underwear, laying on the bed as he suddenly felt very sleepy. He sighed and turned on his side, closing his eyes as he fell into sleep.

He’d survived his first night in darkness, the first of many. Hopefully, they wouldn’t all be as confusing, as thought-provoking as this one had turned out to be.

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