“I’m so proud of you two,” his mother was saying as she stopped in front of the Vesper University front gate. Incoming students like Aldis and Fiana were unloading their belongings, hugging, and generally engaging in tearful good byes.
Aldis emerged from the semi-limo after his sister, lifted his camera and snapped a picture of the crystalline silver gate and the crowd gathered in front before anyone noticed him. From the front seat his step-father stepped out and gasps sounded from the crowd. In a moment, when his mother appeared into view these gasps would turn into squeals and screams.
Ducking behind the car, Aldis grabbed his backpack, toolbox and a jacket from the trunk before his mother enveloped him in a hug. He smelled alcohol and perfume and pursed his lips.
“Bye Mom,” he murmured. Take care of yourself.
“Take care of Fiana,” she fussed. “Be nice to your roommate and your classmates and professors.”
“Watch your grades but don’t forget to have fun every so often. And write me—I’ll except an update every so often”
She held him at arms length. “I do love you, you know. I do care.”
How many times had he heard her say that while she was drunk?
She planted a kiss on his head and let him leave for the registration desks beyond the gate. “Your father would be so proud of you.”
“Ye—“ he was about to scoff when he realized who she was talking about. No way would his famous film-critic stepdad be proud of him. Ivian Tallwater never quite liked him, and after the last couple of years, Aldis thought he could safely say he hated him. No. His mom had meant his dad—his real father.
He didn’t have time to mull over it too much though, as the crowd was already pushing its way towards the limo for a chance to speak to the famous film critic or his equally famous movie-star wife. As he passed the other side of the car, he caught Fiana’s eye and a silent exchange passed between them in an instant. Pulling his hood over his green hair and slipped away.
When Aldis opened the door to his new dorm room, Vesper Jinan Wisteria was already unpacking. Green sheets and golden blankets covered one bed, and half of the room’s walls were covered in awards, plaques, and pictured with famous scientists and magicians.
As soon as the door closed, the person named in half the hanged items strode forward and offered his hand. “You must be Aldis Maur,” he greeted, his voice clear and loud. The brown-haired boy threw his cropped brown-black hair back, his olive eyes catching the light. At barely 5’6”, Vesper knew he was a good four inches shorter than his new roommate, but was assured that his superior intellect would dominate this tall, green-haired, yellow-eyed, pale-skinned, and obviously less intelligent being that he had to live with. “I’m a fan of your stepfather’s.”
Aldis almost smirked. He shifted his jackets to the other arm to shake his new roommate’s hand. “And you must be…Vesper Jinan Wisteria.” He peered at a nearby trophy to read the name before dumping his bag on the other bed. Unlike Vesper’s his voice quality was soft, but firm and strong.
“Oh.” Vesper might have sobered from his arrogant demeanor, but if so, then just a little, and only for an instant. “You don’t mind, do you?”
“Not at all.” Aldis replied. He unzipped the bag, hung the few shirts and pants stashed inside in the closet, along with the bundles of jackets. A few cases of gears from his packpack and the toolbox went into the dresser drawers. He swung the lightened backpack over his shoulder, checked his camera batteries and turned to leave the room. He paused.
“Actually, d’you have any more…awards?”
Vesper pointed at one of the crates littering the floor.
Aldis really did smirk this time. “By all means then, please put them all up.”
“Really?” Vesper’s delight was evident. “Don’t you have anything to hang up?”
“N’really. I’m not the type…to get a bunch of awards,” He chuckled and clicked the camera, capturing the room as it was. “And I’m sure all those awards deserve a spot on the wall,” he said. With Vesper still standing there, plaque in hand and brows furrowed at what exactly just happened, Aldis left with a little wave.