In which Grays is licked by the supernatural, and Collin may or may not be lying.
As always, you can catch up on the entire story (for free!) here: Inkling
An Ongoing Flash Fiction Serial
Grays was in over his head. He didn’t really know what they’d come here for, if the store wasn’t some kind of safe harbor. Arguing with an unseen, unwelcoming host didn’t seem prudent.
“I’ve renounced my blood, if that makes any difference.” Collin finally spoke up for himself, pulling his arm free from Grayson’s now-slackened hold. “My uncle is hunting me, and I need to hide.” His voice never wavered, even when his lip curled over the last few words.
“Your uncle will hunt you right through my doors, as long as there’s still blood in your veins. He doesn’t care if you run away from home, and neither do I.”
Collin’s expression turned hard, and he nodded, an almost imperceptible bob of his head. “I’m going, and I’m sorry if it brings you any trouble.” He turned without hesitation, and Grays didn’t think twice about following suit. The door they’d come through a few minutes ago was only a few feet away, and there was a woman sitting at the counter, her eyes narrow and fixed on them.
Something furry and heavy leaned against his legs, and Grayson shuddered when it licked his fingers, looking down without thinking about it. The fox was huge, larger than any coyote or wolf he’d ever seen, and its acid-green eyes were a bright contrast with the copper fur being shed all over his jeans. When it caught Grays looking, it slurped his fingers again, and he yanked his hand back. “Oh, gross.” The fox laid its ears back.
“You should go first.” Grays looked back up to Collin, and he suspected he was making a face that someone kind might call “inquisitive”, and someone honest might call “constipated”.
“Oh, fuck that. You still owe me gas money and a burrito.” There was no reason for him to stay, and a multitude of reasons he never should have come with at all, but Grays resisted the idea of leaving Collin there when it was obvious he wasn’t going to get any help. “Is there another safehouse I can take you to?”
The woman behind the counter laughed loud enough that the fox yipped in response, slinking back a step. “Got yourself a fresh one, Bastion?” Her fingers twitched, and the strong scent of tobacco filled the air, no doubt rising from the lit cigarette that appeared in her hand. She gestured at Grays with it, the smoke curling into shapes around her. “There’s not a soul of magic in the entire valley that would so much as piss on him if he was on fire, and you’d do well to make a run for it now. If he’s bound you somehow, just say the word, and I’ll be happy to sever it.” Another twitch of her fingers, and a tiny brass knife materialized on the counter between them. Grays didn’t want to think about the dark stain curved along the edge of the blade, and where it had probably come from.
Collin sighed, his voice low with secrets when he answered her. “I can’t bind him to me, Emygdia. I bargained with my uncle. All the magic in my body, and he’d let me live a normal life.”
Something like pity crossed her face, quickly erased. “And what bargain has he ever honored?” The fox moved, and Grays tried to divide his attention between the three of them. It circled Collin, sniffing at him, and whined before trotting behind the counter. Emygdia reached down to stroke its ears, but she looked like she was listening to someone speaking. “He says you smell of magic. Your own magic, but not.” Her dark brows lifted, hidden by her raven-black bangs. “So how does that work, little liar?”