Who is Fletcher Renn?
Valkyrie was pacing up and down at a speed that even Skulduggery was impressed at.
"Valkyrie Cain will you please just sit down and listen to me!" He grabbed her shoulders and stopped her in her tracks. Even through her specially-made black jacket and Skulduggery's gloves she could feel the harsh grip of his bony-fingers.
"Seriously Skulduggery, let go. I'm not in the mood." Valkyries voice was cold and he reluctantly released her and returned to his chair in the corner of his living-room. "So... What you're trying to tell me, is that Fletch is, erm, not coming back?" She looked down as she muttered these words and took a seat on the coffee table, wanting to believe that this was all some twisted joke that Fletcher was playing on her. She cleared her throat, fidgeted uncomfortably and looked Skulduggery dead in they eye. Well, eye-socket.
"No." Valkyrie's eyes lit up with hope. "I'm telling you he doesn't exist. You're the only one who knows who the hell he is. Tanith, Ghastly and I are really worried about you, Valkyrie. Not to mention China who thinks you're suffering some mental illness." her hopeful expression was hastily replaced with one that showed both confusion and complete heart-break, as well as a slight resentment towards the skeleton.
"You're joking. You have to be. You know Fletcher, Skulduggery. Fletcher Renn. The last teleporter! He helped us-"
"Yeah, he helped us save the world. You've already told me, but that never happened. Honest." Skulduggery walked over to the table where Valkyrie was now rocking slightly, with her knees under chin. He wrapped an arm around her shoulders. "Valkyrie." she looked up, dark hair messily arranged around her pale face, "there's no such thing as teleportation." Skulduggery's features didn't change (because they couldn't) but Valkyrie could guess that if he had a face, it would be supporting a concerned but reassuring smile. She smiled hesitantly back at him and stood.
"So what you're telling me is that I'm completely insane?" laughing a little, Valkyrie shuffled her way to the door of the room, "brilliant!" she sighed as she exited. Skulduggery did not follow.
Valkyrie made her way home herself, deciding that being in the Bentley with Skulduggery would just make her want to ask more and more unanswerable questions. Pulling her coat around her to protect herself from those harsh Irish winds, her mind began to make a list of facts.
One, Fletcher Renn, my boyfriend, is the last teleporter around and his obnoxious attitude is even larger than his outrageous hair. Two, Skulduggery hates him because of his obnoxious attitude - see above point. Three, he doesn't exist and no one has a clue who he is apart from me.
The more she thought about Fletcher, the more confused she became. If he didn't exist, why could she remember him so clearly? She refused to believe she was wrong so Valkyrie turned the situation around. Why couldn't anyone remember Fletch? She let her imagination run wild into all possible explanations and some impossible ones until she arrived home. Using the front door instead of her window for a change, Valkyrie entered her house. It was empty, as she had expected, and she made her way to her room. After a quick shower, she sat on her bed in her room and thought some more. The impossibility of Fletcher just disappearing seemed ridiculous so she pinched herself to make sure this wasn't a dream. It wasn't. Just then she felt a disturbance in the air behind her and she turned quickly to see a boy stood in her room, pointy blonde hair stuck out at odd angles and a cocky smirk on his lips.
Completely forgetting that she was only wearing a towel, Valkyrie threw herself at him and held him in a tight embrace.
"Nice to see you too, Val!" he laughed, hugging her back.
"You're real!" she squealed, releasing the boy. Her hands went to her head in disbelief, "you're really real!" Fletcher looked both confused and amused.
"Yeah, I'm really real Val!" he said, twirling to prove the point. He looked his girlfriend up and down, "And, erm, you're really naked..." he looked away from her, reluctantly granting her the privacy she obviously wanted.
"Shit!" laughed Valkyrie, grabbing her towel that had fallen off at some point during their hug, "shit!" she ran to the bathroom and dressed quickly in black jeans and a white vest before returning. "So Fletch-" she said as she walked through her bedroom door, but she was greeted by an empty room. He was gone.
Valkyrie's instant reaction was to ring Skulduggery. After dialling the number incorrectly twice, she finally got through.
"Skulduggery?" Valkyrie's heart was beating rapidly and she was nervously jumping from foot to foot.
"Valkyrie?" he answered with a worried tone, "Are you okay?"
"Yes. Well, no actually," she let out a shaky laugh, "I think I'm going mad."
Skulduggery drove quickly, as usual, ignoring all the speed signs that were annoyingly everywhere. He arrived at the Edgley residence to find Tanith had beaten him there and was currently comforting a rather shook-up Valkyrie.
"She says she saw him, Skulduggery," Tanith said, standing to greet the skeleton, "the Hetcher boy."
"Fletcher." corrected Valkyrie, who didn't moved from her bed where he was sitting. "He's called Fletcher." Skulduggery and Tanith's worried eyes met silently as Valkyrie turned around to talk to them. "He's called Fletcher and I did see him!" an awkward silence pursued.
"Valkyrie..." Skulduggery began, but she was through listening to his stories. She sighed and made to leave.
"No, Skulduggery. Don't. Don't go into your stupid stories of how he doesn't exist and how he was never real because they're wrong! You're wrong, Detective Pleasant!" she stormed off down the stairs and left her two friends to worry about her on they're own.
Anger was cursing through her blood and her hands had curled up into fists. She felt a strange chill on her bare arms that caused her to shiver slightly as she paced purposelessly around the small perimeter of her living room, and then she heard a quiet mischievous giggle from the corner of the room. Her head instinctively snapped around to see what had caused the shrill sound. Nothing. Whilst continuing her pointless pacing, she went over her list of facts and added another.
Four, I'm going completely mental.
The laugh sounded again, from the direction of the kitchen. Valkyrie didn't move. This time, the laugh was followed by a cough, which completely ruined the spooky atmosphere. Valkyrie smirked to herself, confidence rebooted.
"Okay, whoever the hell you are I suggest you get the heck out of my house." she said, not raising her voice in case she caught Skulduggery's attention. No response. "Hello?" she slowly tiptoed towards the entrance of the kitchen. The light in the living room flickered off which caused Valkyrie to spin on her heals. Eyes still adjusting to the new lighting, she saw a round figure - no bigger than a bowling ball - completely vanish in a shroud of what seemed to be purple smoke. Hands on her hips, and a 'what-the-hell' look on her face, she stood facing the room. "Well that was pathetic."
By the time Skulduggery and Tanith came downstairs, Valkyrie had made herself a sandwich and was eating it in front of the telly, flicking through the mind-numbingly boring rubbish-ness that was on screen.
"Ya'll right?" she mumbled through a mouthful of bread, chicken and lettuce.
"Erm, yeah, sure," Tanith said, sitting next to her friend on the sofa, "are you?" Valkyrie raised an eyebrow at her then at Skulduggery.
"Really, Skulduggery? Trying to use Tanith so I'll spill my feelings? That's poor even for you." she rose and took her plate and remaining sandwich into the kitchen.
"Sorry, Skulduggery," said Tanith, standing, "I tried." the skeleton sighed.
"Yeah, I suppose you did," he patted her on he shoulder and then cocked his head to the side slightly, "better luck next time, eh?" he walked off chuckling to himself as Tanith stood there, mouth open.
"Next time? Skulduggery you know full well I don't do heart to hearts!" she yelled, storming after him in the direction of the kitchen. Skulduggery simply laughed.
"Look, Valkyrie," he began, sitting at the table where she was also sat, "don't tell us how your feeling, fine!"
"I won't." she said, maintaining eye contact with the skeleton. He once again cocked his head to the side.
"There's something you're not telling us, isn't there?" Tanith said, seeing Skulduggery's movement. Valkyrie blinked and looked down at her sandwich, "Haha! Busted. So what are you hiding?"
"Nothing! I'm just emotional, that's all! My boyfriend's just disappeared off the face of the Earth! Leave me alone!" her voice rose as she shouted, as did she. A stunned silence fell across the room as she stormed out, sighing.
"Good going, genius." Skulduggery muttered, following the fuming teenage girl out of the room. Tanish sighed and sat down. Why was she always blamed for everything?
"Look Valkyrie, this is about the third time you've stormed off in the middle of Fletcher discussion. A... Fletchussion." Valkyrie laughed slightly at Skulduggery's attempt to sound cool.
"A 'Fletchussion'? Really?" she laughed some more, the tension between the two vanishing instantly, and looked up at the skeleton detective. She was sat on the bottom step so she had to crane her neck even more than usual to look at him. "Look, it's not that I don't want to talk about it. It's just... Well I don't want to talk about it." she looked down again.
"Okay, so you don't want to talk about not talking about it. That's fine. But, Valkyrie..." she heard the quiet but unmistakable crack of bone which told her that he had knelt down to her eye level. She looked up. "I'm sorry for bugging you about this. It must be hard for someone you love to just not be real anymore. But if you are hiding something that could be of vital importance to finding Fletcher, we need to know."
Valkyrie blinked at him, not sure what to say. She'd never quite heard Skulduggery care so much. After a few moments of contemplating what to do, she stood. Skulduggery stepped back and Tanith joined him.
"Okay then, Mr. I'm-so-good-at-everything," she began, resting her hand casually in her jeans pockets and raising an eyebrow challengingly, "what can you tell me of tiny, laughing men disappearing in clouds of purple smoke?"