Sky felt nothing short of relief when his hands pushed open the french windows and a summer draft blew past him and into the room. The breath of fresh air felt a lot more precious to him after the time he had spent, even if a short amount, in the chemical wasteland that Fredrik had the audacity to call a bedroom.
A black Douc Langur leaped onto the window sill, its small hand, so human like, clutching the frame for balance before leaning forwards, nose twitching as it took in the chilly night air.
As far as he knew, Ink didn’t need to breathe, at least not in the same way as most animals did, but it was an amusing gesture that brought a fond smile to his lips.
Those big expressive eyes turned to the boy, studying him with its gentle and enigmatic gaze, tail swinging from side to side like a pendulum.
Suddenly, there was a shift in the air and a shiver ran up his spine as he felt a presence behind him. Something cold and hard was pressed against the back of his head, any doubt as to what it was vanishing as soon as he heard that unmistakable metal click.
“Always wanted to do that. Awfully dramatic, isn’t it?” the person behind him whispered in a drawn-out and low voice that did nothing to mask the sharpness and mirth that seemed to spill out of every word.
With slow movements, Sky turned around. The barrel of a gun, glinting in the light, stared him down, but the person holding it managed to look much more eerie. The feral grin, the pale skin and the fiery mane of hair that fell onto a wide set of eyes were all too familiar to him.
The redhead in front of him hummed in thought, grin fading into a distorted smile as light blue eyes glanced at the hundreds of sharp black edges pointed at him, all of them just a micro distance away from puncturing his skin and vital organs. A trickle of blood ran down from the middle of his forehead, were one of the bigger blades rested in deathly stillness.
“Well, you guys really can’t take a joke.” Fredrik’s mouth twitched but nothing louder than a chuckle left it, eyes fixed on the needle tip aimed at his heart. “Don’t worry, Ink. I would never hurt our little angel,” he joked, letting the black tendrils snatch the gun away from his hands.
Even as Skyler’s hand closed around the now safely returned revolver, the blades didn’t back down.
“Is that the same gun?” his friend asked, the serious tone surprising the blonde for a second.
“Yes,” he answered simply, turning the weapon over in his hands, wondering why his mother would have kept it in that bag, what message she was trying to send.
“The one you shot yourself with?”
“I didn’t shoot myself with it.”
“Sure looked like it from where I was standing.”
Skyler glared at the older boy, wanting nothing more than to punch that clownish grin off the other’s face.
He remembered that day, when Frederik found him with that gun in a place not very far from the school building. He wasn’t sure what exactly his friend saw, but he had never intended to shoot himself. At thirteen years old he had stolen his mother’s revolver for one reason and one reason only.
To know more about Ink; what it was, what it was made of, and more importantly, just how far it was willing to go to protect him.
But he was young back then, and so was Ink. The symbiont didn’t understand, couldn’t understand. There was a struggle and...
Let’s just say he was lucky to come out of it alive.
“That won’t ever happen again,” he said, not sure about who he was trying to convince; himself, Fredrik or his absent mother.
For the second time in Skyler’s life, he saw fear in Fredrik’s eyes when, in one quick and precise movement, he lifted the gun and pointed it at his own forehead.
“Sky, don’t you-!”
He pulled the trigger.
Only dead silence followed. Fredrik watched, his outstretched hands trembling, as Ink, no longer split in blades but a black viscous mass, slipped off the gun’s barrel and spit out an undamaged bullet, his host also alive and well.
“Well,” the redhead croaked, clearing his voice before continuing with a wavering smile. “You two have certainly brushed up your act. You should try flying next.”
It was Sky’s turn to smile. “Already did.”
“No way! You have to show me that sometime,” the other laughed, wiping the blood off his forehead with a rag he had picked up from the floor.
“Maybe next time. Can you do me a favor?”
“I thought I was already doing that, letting you stay here.”
“Another favor then.”
“That’s a lot of favors. What would dear old me get in return, hum?” Fredrik slumped on a chair, clearing his desk and taking off his rubber gloves before opening his laptop.
Ink, in the mean time, had changed into a large snake and had slithered up Sky’s offering arm, coiling around the boy’s neck and turning it’s reptile head to stare at the other strange human.
“What do you want?”
“For starters, to dissect Ink.”
The snake hissed, showing its sharp fangs.
“I think that’s a no,” Sky offered with a composed expression, holding the reptile close to calm it down.
“Fine, have it your way, but at least make an effort to control your pet,” Fredrik barked, jaws clenched but narrowed eyes avoiding the symbiont all together.
“He’s just trying to upset you.” Sky sat down on the single bed, uncoiling a hissing Ink from his neck. “He knows you don’t like snakes.”
“Fine, whatever, we’ll discuss payment later. What’s the favor then?”
“I heard that you know a few computer engineers back at campus.” Sky looked pointedly at his friend, to make sure he understood exactly where he was getting at. “I need some information about my mother’s company.”
Fredrik continued to stare at the screen, fingers coming to a halt atop the keyboard.
“... You seriously think they were the ones who kidnaped your mother? You’re going to take her delusions seriously?”
“I don’t know anything right now, Fredrik! All I know is my mother’s so called delusions have come true and that there has to be a reason why she never trusted her company.”
“Relax, my little angel, I understand.” Sky frowned at the nickname. It was something his mother used to call him and which Fredrik used all the time to tease him. It had stopped bothering him a long time ago, but now it seemed to pierce his heart, filling him with so much anger and frustration he felt like he would stop breathing.
Perhaps sensing the other’s turmoil, Fredrik cut right to the chase.
“I don’t know anyone good enough or even willing to do that job. Not to mention the fact that they would have to keep their mouths shut.”
Skyler sighted in frustration, burying his head in his hands, Ink brushing against his cheek in a silent gesture of comfort.
“But, I do know a girl. Actually, I don’t really know her, but the computer geeks won’t shut up about her. I think she’s your best bet.”
Sky didn’t seem convinced, but went on and asked anyway. “What’s her name?”