He should have died a long time ago.
Pale, borderline ghostly hands, gripped at the hood of his jacket as the wind around him picked up. He blinked rapidly, trying to prevent dust and dirt from getting into his eyes, but it was all in vain. Settling for his current situation, the redhead sighed and mentally prepared himself to get this over with. The sooner he knew their answer the better off he would be.
Green eyes tried their best to avoid the people on the streets. He was trying to keep away any kind of suspicion that he was in fact a new person in this town that reminded him of something those old western books talked about. A smile came onto his face at the thought that he had been plopped right into the middle of one. He might as well had been.
Angel’s Wing had been the name of the shop that he was looking for. All the redhead had to do was go in, get told no, and then turn back around to continue his track to nowhere. Going back home was not an option. Nonetheless, those same pale hands pushed the dark wooden double doors open as he walked inside, letting them close loudly behind him. Emerald green eyes searched in the dark for any kind of living person or thing in the workshop, but it was hard enough with all the tools and inventions hanging from the ceiling. Leather boots stopped on the hardwood floor, and eyes widened at the sight of an automaton standing in the middle of the room. He stuck his hand out to touch the invention-
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you.” A voice called, making the redhead stop in his movements. He jumped at least a good foot off of the ground, and then turned around to come face to face with a dark-haired man that carried a cane.
The redhead racked his brain, trying to figure out some kind of sentence as to why he was about to touch something that wasn’t finished. “I-I’m sorry.” He stammered. So much for coming in professionally and stating his case. “Nobody was around so I just came in and-“
“And started touching other people’s things?” The man replied sarcastically. His heart plummeted into his chest and his entire body froze. First impressions were everything, and he probably just butchered his because he couldn’t keep his curiosity at bay. The rollercoaster of emotions went up again as the man flashed a cheeky smile. “I’m just joking.” He affirmed. “What can I help you with?”
Unsure of where even to start his approach, the redhead got down on one knee with his head down in a bow. It was the best idea at the moment and sounded a lot better than ’Hi! Yes hello, I ran away from my hometown and was wondering if you could not only provide me shelter, but keep me hidden from my stepmother as well?’
Maybe this was a bad idea after all.
“I appreciate the sense of respect to your elders kid, but I’m not as old as I sound.” The man commented, making the teenager rise to his feet with his face flushed. Again, so much for first impressions.
“Are you Roy Hansen?” He asked, and then mentally punched himself in the face. Of course this man was Roy Hansen. There was nobody else in the building that could be him. The middle aged man, Hansen, nodded and moved the geared cane around to get a more balanced footing.
“With your permission I, Kyle Bates, would like to find work here in Pattson.” The redhead got out quickly and evenly. Sure he wasn’t good at the execution point of metalwork, but he was excellent in math. Give him variables and numbers and he could rattle off solutions like it was the only thing he knew how to do. Give him a the size of a nut or a bolt and he could figure out which bit would work and which one wouldn’t work.
Hansen stared at Kyle, making the seventeen year old wonder if this man was going to laugh in his face and send him on his way. His eyebrow quirked as Hansen pulled out a metal ball out of his pocket and whispered into it until said ball uncurled. The small sound of gears whirring sounded between the two as Hansen held out his hand for Kyle to see. Different metal pieces moved in an almost mesmerizing way, keeping Kyle entranced until the very end when it seemed to take the form of a bird.
The little metal creature fluttered its wings almost in the same fashion a hummingbird did until it took flight towards the second floor of the workshop. There was a beat of silence, followed by a yelp and a thud, and the metal bird was flying back as if nothing had happened. Hansen closed his eyes in impatience, and Kyle whipped around at the sound of whirring and two feet hitting the ground.
Kyle’s eyes widened at the sight of a girl around his age, with a lovely brown tone to her skin, and black hair that fell to her lower shoulders and... reflective green eyes?
“I could have been working on something revolutionary you know?” The girl chastised, removing the goggles from her head to expose deep brown eyes framed by thin lashes. He wasn’t staring at how beautiful this girl was (no he totally wasn’t), but rather the spot of black oil that seemed to dot her cheek.
“Jemma you, I, and the bird both know that you fell asleep because you were working on the same thing again.” Hansen replied smugly. “At least that’s what you said you were doing, but I’m pretty sure I heard you sneaking in late last night.” He added, making the girl’s cheeks flush a light red as she tried to look anywhere but the man in front of her. “What did I tell you about going to those fights?”
Jemma had a look of protesting on her face. “I won something really good last night.” She argued, not even acknowledging the fact that Kyle was standing right there. As if on cue, the sound of mechanical barking was heard and a large metal dog was running up to her side, wagging its tail happily. Then, Jemma pulled out a circular device and placed it on her chest, making her appearance change into a tall blond man with steel grey eyes. “Plus I always use this remember? So no one knows who I really am?” Despite her appearance, her voice was still the exact same.
Hansen and the girl kept their staring match for a while, making Kyle wonder if both of them just spaced out or were really standing their ground for that long. Finally, Hansen’s shoulders moved as he let out a deep sigh.
“You’re feeding the dog though.” He mumbled, and a wide grin broke out on Jemma’s face as she removed the circle and changed back into her self. “Introduce yourself to our guest.” He called sharply.
Jemma looked up from putting the circle into her pocket, brown eyes meeting with emerald ones, and her eyebrow quirked in question. That same look stayed on her face all the way until she was inches away from Kyle, and then her hand was stuck out.
“Jemma.” She started. “Jemmaline ‘Jemma’ Abalone.”
Kyle was frozen for a little bit. He had no idea what he expected the girl to do to him, but here she was, extending her hand with a smile that could easily copy the sun on her face. It made no sense. Kyle was always ready and alert, calm and collected, but here she was, breaking every single barrier of professionalism that he put up.
“Hansen, I think you broke him.” Jemma joked nervously. She took the initiative and grabbed Kyle’s hand, shaking it for the both of them.
“I think he broke staring at that oil stain on your face.” Hansen theorized. With her other hand Jemma was taking the goggles off of her belt and staring at herself in the lenses. Her face flushed another pale red in embarrassment.
He had to do something to relieve the awkwardness. His mouth was dry, but he still found the words to speak anyway. “Kyle.” The redhead choked out. “Kyle Bates. I was looking for work here.” As soon as the words left his lips, the grin on Jemma’s face widened. As if such a thing was possible.
Jemma turned towards Hansen again, who sighed another time and shrugged his shoulders. The dog barked excitedly from its spot in the room. “I haven’t told him anything yet.” He defended. The grin from her face still didn’t falter. “I was going to say yes alright?” He whined, and Jemma bounced on the balls of her feet like a kid receiving a present.
“Are you sure you want to work here?” She asked. Kyle nodded his head. This was the only way he could get out of their sights. All he had to do was not run into the wrong person in Pattson. “-.”
Kyle blinked a couple of time, taking in a few seconds to realize that he had completely missed whatever Jemma had said. The girl rolled her eyes.
“I asked how good your pain tolerance was and if you could build anything.” She repeated. Roy’s look had changed from one of contentment to one of embarrassment.
“It doesn’t hurt that much.” He argued. Kyle felt a sense of worry because he had no idea what these two quasi strangers were talking about. No, Kyle didn’t feel his heart leap into his chest when Jemma grabbed his hand and took him towards the back of the shop.
Kyle tried to ignore the conversation the two of them seemed to be having over pain tolerance, and instead tried to take their minds off whatever they were trying to do to him. “I’m not good at building anything.” He admitted sheepishly. Now that he had made it this far in a shop full of people that built things, his incapability seemed stupid. Why did Hansen agree to this in the first place again? How was he supposed to work in a metal working shop when he didn’t know how to metal work?
He should have suspected that he would turn into an errand boy at some point. Jemma had already been gone so many times running errands for Hansen and herself until one day where Hansen had asked if the boy would go along with her. It was better than wandering around the town without a purpose, so the boy immediately agreed to the situation.
It was an honest mistake. He hadn’t meant to bump into the man, but here he was, raising his arms as the man got closer and closer to him. This stranger was ready to fight, and Kyle wasn’t. He half wondered where Jemma was. Maybe she knew who this man, who had know knocked Kyle’s box of tools out of his hand, was. Their back and forth continued, and Kyle was completely oblivious to the larger than normal canines that the man was sporting. That and the fact that his eyes seemed to glow blue.
“Stop.” Jemma called sternly. Her voice alone was enough to send shivers and ice down Kyle’s spine, and he found himself completely freezing at her words.
The shorter girl moved in front of her redheaded companion, a sharp glare fixed on her face, as she pulled the hem of her skirt up. Kyle had seen her do it once before, while they were walking to a shop late at night, but he never had the immodesty to look or ask her what was under her skirt. Whatever it was, it had the ability to send grown men turning in the opposite direction.
He almost wished he had looked sooner though.
The two guns attached to her legs, held by their own respective holsters, were beautiful to look at. They were nothing less than custom made, maybe even by her. The glass on the sides shown the same green as her goggles did. Kyle only found himself not staring when the white ruffled skirt was put back down, and he looked up to see the man walking in the other direction.
“You need to be more careful around Nights.” Jemma commented simply. The tone of her voice was mostly gone with traces of the previous tone still there. It reminded him of a feral cat backed against a corner. A feral cat that somehow had the advantage of whatever was backing it into that corner. “I guess I should make you something to defend yourself with.” He heard her mumble under her breath.
Jemma was staring off into space, something she always did whenever she got a new idea. He wondered if whatever she was talking about would take a long time, and if it would look as beautiful as the ones she had.
“What’s a Night?” Kyle asked, picking the box off of the dusty ground. Other than being slightly bent and having dirt on it, nothing else seemed damaged or different. Jemma jumped as if she completely forgot that Kyle was there.
“A Night’s just a slang term.” She answered simply again, as if that magically helped Kyle understand what she was talking about. He was still in the dark.
Jemma looked over and rolled her eyes at the lost look in Kyle’s eyes. “How do you not know what a Night is? They’re literally everywhere.” Another beat of silence passed between the teenagers, and Jemma was sighing heavily in a way that reminded him of Roy. “It’s like an evolved form of a vampire I guess. They can be in the sun, eat garlic, and don’t need permission to enter places like those old books said.” She rambled. Kyle expected her to say something else to follow up on the explanation, but she was pulling a small black notebook out of her pocket.
Kyle watched again as she pressed a button on her glove, and a small silver point extended from the forefinger that she immediately began to write with. A small part of Kyle cursed himself for his inability to build anything. His life could be a lot more convenient, and graceful, if he had the ability to build like Jemma.
“Do you have it in you to visit one more shop or do you wanna head back?” She called over her shoulder. Kyle knew what this meant; about another half hour as Jemma fangirled over different parts and tools that he had no idea meant or did.
Still, he couldn’t find himself saying no as he trailed behind her.