So, this was originally inspired by GarGoyl's Black Bulgarian Rose, because both the story and concept are beautiful. It turned out quite different tho. This isn't beta'd, so if there's anything weird or wrong, feel free to mention it in a comment.

Alin-Romania
Tsvetan-Bulgaria


Alin's exhausted, stretching his arms up with a huff as he leans back in his chair, eyes closing momentarily. The university's library is full, packed to the brim, and when he takes off his heavy-duty headphones, the noise claws it's way in and pounds in Alin's head, forcing an involuntary wince out of him. He reaches up to smooth back his mussed hair, strawberry blonde strands flying into his face and eyes, and he yanks out the currently useless hair clip and clips the flyaway wisps back into place, securing it on top of his head.

There's a finished paper proudly displayed on the screen of his laptop, placed within a nest of black cords on the desk before him, and he can't quite find the energy to smile in relief as he scrolls through, checking for any last-minute edits before submitting it to the professor. No mistakes, thankfully, reasonably as well, considering the last time he remembers sleeping properly has to have been nearly a week ago, and he saves and closes his laptop feeling vaguely satisfied, somewhat relieved and all too ready to dive into the tiny bed in his tiny, cramped apartment.

He's blearily stuffing research material and cords into his black bag when his hand catches on something inside the bag, something sharp, that leaves a little tear in the skin of his little finger, barely larger than a paper cut, but far more painful. He winces as he raises the finger to his lips, sucking on it, and upon closer inspection, finds a small rip with jagged edges, beads of blood beginning to pool in the crease of his finger. Confused and more than a bit wary, Alin reaches in once more, tentatively, and finally, after a bit of nervous maneuvering, slowly pulls out a single, thorny orange rose.

Alin can feel his eyebrows knit as he turns it over in his hands, it's beautiful, fresh, only slightly rumpled by his bag, and he has no idea how it had gotten there. Had someone just… slipped it in without his notice…? Regardless, secret admirer or not, this is more than a bit creepy…

Alin sighs and lets his arms drop, it's just as likely that someone had placed it in the wrong bag when Alin had been in the washroom, or getting himself coffee. Alin shakes his head, swings the bag onto his left shoulder, stands, stretches, and heads off in the direction of the entrance, tossing the rose in the garbage on his way out.

The campus is possibly even more crowded than the library, just as Alin had dreaded, and after a moment of struggle, he pulls his headphones back on, only succeeding to muffle the noise to a dull shout, and prepares to push his way out. He's usually right at home in a crowded hallway, he has to be, considering the amount of people studying at this particular university, but after five sleepless nights, copious amounts of coffee and over two weeks of non-stop paper-writing, he wants nothing more than to just pass out on his bed. Without an entire town's worth of people screaming in his ears, thank you very much.

Being slight can be it's own curse sometimes, though, and his small form is easily shoved from side to side as he tries to weave through the throng of students, professors and probably some tourists as well. His destination, the law building, the building the nearest LRT station is at, is far enough from the library as it is, and he can't even seem to see enough to know where he's heading. He's pushed this way, then pulled that way, and after several long, unforgettable moments of being bruised and bitten, figuratively speaking, Alin finally manages to burst free from the mob.

He's stumbling through the thick, heavyset doors of some department building, and finds himself in a large, open hall, looking nothing like anything he's ever seen in the Humanities centre. Granted, most, if not all of the buildings in the university are connected, all of the department buildings boasting thin, glass passageways, with heating, thankfully, to the main building, where core courses are taken. With this layout, Alin is sure to have passed through this hall sometime or other…

This area in particular seems incredibly science-like though, all glass and metal and modern architecture, and the door to the right of Alin is open to reveal a long hallway with various labs, some empty, some with a few people, students, he supposes, still working away inside. Alin's never had much of a need to be in the science building, only passing through on his way to the other side of the campus, and especially with the science building being the farthest from both the law building and the humanities center, where most of his courses are held, as well as Alin's interest in the subject being… minimal, to say the least. He looks around, not seeing anyone near, and with a sigh of relief for both the safety of his ears and body, he heads semi-confidently towards where he thinks the entrance to the passageway might be.

Just then, the doors to the one of the closed labs opens. A bored looking young man walks out, pale, with short, dark hair ruffled and messy, holding a large, heavy-looking black laptop bag in one hand, as if it weighs nothing. Upon noticing Alin, his arm seems to drop a little, beginning to strain with the weight of the bag, and his expression quickly changes to become as tired as any student before Alin can even begin to speak. He's strangely familiar, with his sharp nose and olive coloured eyes, and Alin's staring, wondering. Alin's usually rather good at remembering people and names, but he just can't seem to get a solid grasp on this person in particular's identity.

The young man yawns, eyes squinting like a cat's, and as he glances at Alin with a confused, 'may I help you?', Alin brushes it off as tired delusions.

Alin offers a small smile, he's not known for hostility, after all, and he shifts his bag as he replies, "I was wondering if you knew how to get to the law building?" The young man manages a tired half-smile as he nods, "Follow me."

His voice is nice, Alin decides, a smooth, medium voice, soft, with a slight accent Alin can't quite place. Alin smiles again, properly this time, and falls into step with the young man as they head away from the lecture hall, in the opposite direction Alin had just traveled.

"My name is Alin, I'm a history major." Alin's honestly too tired to want any sort of conversation, but not one to be rude, he introduces himself.

"Tsvetan. Biosciences." The answer is short, abrupt, and Alin frowns, he's seems quite gloomy. Still, the silence that falls between them is far too awkward for Alin's liking, he waits a bit, before trying again.

"Tsvetans a nice name, it doesn't sound like it's from around here."

"It's not, and it's also none of your business." Rather than sound annoyed, it just sounds dull.

Alin wants to glare at him, he's so, so gloomy, and out of all the different types of people, that Héderváry bitch aside, Alin's the worst at interacting with gloomy people. Tsvetan's quiet though, hard to notice, even his footsteps are cat-like, the only sound being a soft, muffled pad, despite his boots against the tiled floors. Thankfully, it's not to hard to ignore his companion, and Alin focuses on the thought of his bed and sleeping, driving Tsvetan's presence from his mind.

They arrive at the station just before long, and Alin breathes a sigh of relief as he rushes towards the LRT, making it in just as the beeping starts, and that creepy robotic voice rings out, droning out warnings as the doors slide shut. He sits down on the nearest seat, his bag tossed carelessly onto the seat beside him.

Just as Alin's about to stretch, lean back and perhaps even close his eyes and drift off for a bit, he catches sight of dark hair in the seat a few feet from him. He feels dread start to build as he leans forward to look properly. He quickly leans back in his seat upon seeing the person, but Tsvetan looks up and sees him, giving a familiar questioning look before he can completely hide from view.

"I didn't know you took this one as well."

Tsvetan disinterestedly flips through his book, a textbook, it looks like.

"You didn't ask."

Alin leans back, not bothering to reply. Moving to slip his headphones onto his head, he's stopped by Tsvetan's voice.

"Where do you get off?" It's not just a strange question, the timing is also terrible - Alin's semi-sure Tsvetan waited for this exact moment on purpose, just to bother him - and Alin's sorely tempted not to reply. Tsvetan's been nothing but unpleasant, and Alin doesn't owe him any favors, either. Still, Alin doesn't like to hold grudges, and just ignoring someone after being addressed is a bit…

"Five stops from now."

Tsvetan sounds mildly interested, this time, as he replies with a simple, "What a coincidence, I do as well."

Alin grits his teeth.

Indeed, what a goddamn coincidence.


"Wake up." Alin jumps up, panicking, grabbing his bag as he looks around. The doors are shut, darkness whizzing past through the windows, and Tsvetan's standing in front of him, bag in hand.

"We're nearly there." Alin slings his bag over his shoulder with a shaky 'thank you', taking a moment to let his eyes adjust to the artificial white lights, shifting from right to left, legs weak and sensitive to the slightest movement. His finger's throbbing, and he carelessly scratches it with his thumb, barely holding back a yelp as sharp pain shoots up his arm. He brings his finger up to inspect, it's throbbing, and he remembers, with a sharp pang, of that orange rose. There's a rip in his pinkie, all red and brown with bits of dried blood, and strangely enough, a bit of fresh blood as well, slowly trickling down his finger.

"Are you okay?" Tsvetan looks strangely concerned, and when Alin replies with a short, 'yeah', he actually smiles as he expresses his relief.

"That's good. You weren't answering when I called before, I was a bit worried."

"Oh, sorry about that." Tsvetan shakes his head as he replies with a quiet, "It's fine." The LRT slowly slows to a stop, a hiss sounding in the otherwise silent compartment as the doors open, and they disembark in silence. Alin glances at Tsvetan strangely when Tsvetan continues on beside Alin, onto the station platform and towards the same doors. As they head onto the same road and turn the same corner at the same construction area sealed off with a chain-link fence, Alin wonders, for a second, if Tsvetan lives nearby.

Alin's apartment is in a rather isolated area, though, and Alin likes to think he knows most of the people living in the same complex. Tsvetan doesn't say anything, and Alin doesn't ask. They walk in silence for a while, it's a rather comfortable silence, and Tsvetan's seems quite a bit less gloomy.

He's a bit too different from before, though, from his expression, to the way he walks, footsteps ringing harshly against the stone, as if he's trying to sound more… normal, somehow.

Weird.

With his hazy state of mind, though, even with the sound of footsteps, it doesn't take long for Alin to forget Tsvetan, nearly dozing off on his feet several times as he walks. He just barely holds back a yawns as he approaches his apartment, tiredly searching his pockets for his keys when the door beside him opens.

His neighbor… Alin's never seen anyone come or go, he'd just assumed it was abandoned (and had taken full advantage of it by throwing huge, loud parties in his first year, when he still had energy and the will to live). He looks beside him, and Tsvetan looks just as surprised as he feels.

"I… didn't know you lived here as well."


Thanks for reading.