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When It's Cold Out

 

 

"So you've seriously never been, before?

Have you roller-skated at least..?"

 

Nikokas questioned as he walked along. The sidewalk not taking them too far from his own side of the city, hands shoved into the pockets of his coat where the cold couldn't reach as easily. Agnes was wearing warmer clothes as well, dark jeans with grey snow boots. She wore a band tee under a thick black coat. She shook her head.

"Never was interested enough."

 

"Well, maybe after today you will be." He responded rather cheerfully, a smile present despite his eyes being set forward. "Beats hiding inside, if you'd ask me." Nik added. Ahead of them, the streets had given way to what was a small park ahead. At one corner, rested the frozen surface that was the ice skating rink. An outbuilding stood with it midst the trees' clearing, where an occasional person would walk out with rented skates.

 

Now that she thought about it, Agnes had always made sure she had stable footing wherever she was. An uneasiness began to settle in her stomach. "Maybe this isn't such a good idea." Agnes spoke casually, looking calm on the surface. Sure it was something new, but she didn't want to die in a such a mediocre way by tripping and suddenly blacking out.

 

 

"C'mooon..." He responded in what was a whining tone. An elbow nudged her once as they walked. "I wouldn't steer you wrong. Besides. I'll fall before I let you fall. Promise." Nikolas added reassuringly. Was that what it was? He liked to think so anyway. Pulling the door open to the building, he held it for her to go in before following after. "Counter to the left there, tell them your shoe size." He gestured in that direction. A teenager stood leaning behind the counter, cubbies and bins of skates behind him, ordered by size. There wasn't even time for a rebuttal once they reached the ice rink. Slower than how she normally walked, Agnes trudged to the counter. "Eight and a half." She muttered to the teenager behind the counter.

"Eleven." Nikolas was soon to follow. A ten-dollar bill left on top of the countertop, one by one the skates were handed over. Taking his, he gestured to a set of benches on the far corner of the room, rows of lockers and cubbies lining the wall. "You've got the whole demon thing going on, that has to help some with balance, doesn't it?" He questioned curiously, sitting down on the edge of a bench, starting to unlace his shoes.

 Agnes frowned. "It helps with my basic senses; it has nothing to do with balance." She said as she sat on the bench and untied her boots, only to slip on the ice skates. "My tail isn't long enough like my dad's for balance, and the skull would scare the shit out of everyone here."

 "You just have to give it a little practice and it gets easier as you go." He tried again, that reassuring voice coming back again. In the meanwhile, there was no missing excitement on his part as he laced up the skates diligently. By the time she had finished one, he was already standing. Waiting to hold out a hand when she'd finish.

 

"What are you, my mom?"

 

Agnes took her sweet fucking time, Nikki could wait. When she finished, Agnes pouted when she looked up at him, as if to say 'I didn't fucking agree to this' through expression. She grabbed his hand to find her balance, her legs were stiff when she stood. Agnes took baby steps closer to the ice, she wouldn't dare to bend her knees.

 

"No... but if I were, I promise you would've done this years ago."

 

He was grinning broadly, seemingly nothing could be done to change it. He waited patiently for her to finish, hand outstretched when needed, which... he had a feeling she'd be needing it. One step after the other, out a second door they went. Rubber mats were set out, leading down to what was a rectangular skating rink with rounded edges. The walls around it stood at just under chest high, all save for the entrance and exit.

 

 

Agnes rolled her eyes, there was a lot of ground in the childhood department they needed to cover. The closer they inched toward the ice, the more rigid her limbs grew. When her skates touched the ice, she let go of Niks hand only to have a vice grip on the walls. "Whydopeopledothisshit." She muttered bitterly under her breath. Fucking squirrels knew not to tread on ice, she thought.

 In the meanwhile, out onto the ice Nikolas had gone. He seemed to maneuver as if the skill hadn't left him when the ice melted the year or two prior. Going off a few feet or so, his skates pivoted to turn himself around, catching the wall. "Once you get goin' you'll know why. Now keep ahold of the wall, get your feet shoulder's width apart, got it?" Despite all amusement on his face, there was nothing but reassurance in his voice.

 Her feet were shoulders length apart, the problem was that she couldn't move her legs. They were as stiff as poles, her knees dare not bend. Nik would have to either pull her away from the wall or persuade her to let go.

 

"What now, Princess?"

 

 

"Princess? No... Eagle scout, remember?

And they taught us this, too."

 

Nik grinned. Pushing off the wall gently, he'd taken a stance a few feet away towards the center. A few people would pass by from time to time, making their way around the rink. "Now turn this way. Bend your knees, just a little, and push off the wall gently. I'll catch ya when you get here, promise."

 "Alright, boy scout." She muttered. Doing as Nik said, Agnes bent her knees slightly after much effort and pushed off the wall. Unfortunately, she did this entire thing backwards, so now she was drifting toward Nik with her back first. For the love of fucking holy catch me, she thought.

"Oh- I mean, I guess that works too... now don't move your feet any alright? Keep 'em that far apart." Eventually, the further she drifted, she felt a hand touch her back. Nikolas found her arm and took hold of it, slowly but surely getting her turned around.

 Agnes hooked her elbow with his, if she went down so would he. She clung onto his arm like a baby koala, determined to go wherever he went. Agnes did as was told, remaining in the position she was in, still as a statue.

 

"Alright, now we're movin'." Nik stated, seemingly pleased with himself. Getting them both turned around, he gave them both a small push with the toe of his skate, sending them down the rink's straightaway. "You see? Whenever you need to speed up you put a toe down, give yourself a push."

 Agnes watched carefully how he moved his feet. Gradually, her grip lessened, Agnes almost stumbled, but she caught herself. "How do I turn? How do I stop?"

 "Stopping... gradually point your toes in. When you get going slow enough you can put your toe down. If you want to turn, bend your knees a little, and angle your inside foot- like this." Demonstrating, Nik kept within arms width of her. Did he expect her to leave without having fallen at least once? No. But the later she did, the better.

  She practiced stopping and turning once she got down how to speed up, the first time she tried stopping made her fall suddenly forward. Bruised and sore, Agnes got back up on wobbly legs that went rigid once more. She kept practicing, falling once or twice, but Agnes got it down until she let go of Nik altogether.

 

"This...isn't half bad, boy scout."

 

 

"Yeah, you think so? I told ya you'd get the hang of it.

Trying doing a lap around, then."

 

"Easy peasy." She muttered. With moderate speed, Agnes glided down the rink, shifting her weight and feet during turns, and made her way back to Nik, almost tripping up as she stopped, but managed not to. "Done did it. What about you, Nikki? What else can you do?"

Nikolas kept up alongside as she went, sticking to his promise that he had her back. At least... until they'd made it around a time or two anyway. When the question was posed he skated ahead a pace or two. Maneuvering to be facing backward, he checked over his shoulder once before simply coasting. "A lot of things. Nothing that'd send me to the Olympics. My brother and I used to go on the weekends, or during snow days, way back." Agnes watched as Nik skated ahead of her, seeing how he would maneuver around. Now he was just showing off, she thought with a grin growing on her lips.

 

"Can I ask ya somethin'..?”

 

"Go ahead, Smalls. I'm listening."

 

“Why are you doing this?  This personal mission to help me experience what I've missed out on as a kid?  I appreciate it a helluva lot, but what's in it for you?"

A glance backward was taken while she paused her words to think. When she started in with the question, his head tipped to the side some. He listened in right to the very end when a jovial expression straightened up into something far more thoughtful. His eyes were contemplative on her final questioning until- 

-"Hey!"

 Nikolas' attention snapped back to where he had been skating, more or less on autopilot. As a person slipped out of his way in front of them, he turned himself back around sheepishly, hollering apology before glancing back to Agnes, cheeks a bit red.

 

"Well... I guess, I get somebody to do it all with... y'know?"

He uttered softly. Skating facing forward now, he shrugged. His hands went into his pockets, eyes on the ice in front of him. "And I can't imagine not doing this when I was a kid. I'd get out here and not want to get off."

 Agnes listened, every word. Gliding on the ice, casually, until she picked up her pace to skate beside him. "Yeah, but...me of all people?" Agnes assumed he had way more friends. More sane friends, as she'd like to believe. "You really like skatin', huh?" She said with a grin, nudging him with her elbow playfully. "I guess I asked 'cause, one of these days you might see do something...dark, and I guess I'm afraid you'll see me in a different light." Agnes had a bad reputation, she wouldn't be surprised if she were hanging out with Nik and someone just grabbed her away to exact revenge or demanded money they lost because of her.

 "Why not you?" He was quick to respond. Quick enough perhaps to put assumptions to the test. His brother was absent. One friend, long distance. The next was... questionable. Josh, maybe? His closest bet alongside Agnes herself. "You bet." Nik replied with a chuckle. The nudge wouldn't detour him as he moved a skate to keep alongside. Down the ice they had gone, rounding the last corner to make it another lap down. 
"You've got a demon... probably some scary friends out there, huh?" Or... not friends. Nik thought. He made the assumption back, speaking quietly at the shift in topic. His shoulders gave a brief shrug. "I guess... I don't know what to tell you there, Smalls. Other than I've got the benefit of a heads up." He tried for a smile, achieving some small success there until his expression ultimately leveled out. "But I know this side of you, that's something. I'm not gonna just ignore it 'till I know."

 

"Well 'cause, most people don't confide in monsters.

Or at least, that's what most call me."

Agnes said casually, playing it off like it was some kind of joke. "There's a lot of darkness around us Nikki, stay in the light." Agnes advised. "Y'know, yer the closest thing that I have to a best friend, a brother, I'll try to protect ya however I can, boy scout. It's best ya didn't know about that other side, for the sanctity of our friendship." Agnes said, grinning at him before she looked ahead.

 

"I shook hands with one."

Nikolas responded almost numbly with another shrug. An edge of remorse lingered in his voice where he would have rather gone for humor. He tried to muster up a smile anyways. "Yeah... and I'll try." Nik was... well, he was grinning. In an almost stupidly happy manner to where he had to remind himself to tone it down. "Thank you... really. I mean it." He responded. A moment or so went without saying a word. Pondering the weight of it he exhaled and looked forward again. "You wanna... head around a few more times, maybe go inside? Get some cocoa?" Nik suggested, shrugging. "Or we could stick around for a little while more, your choice."

 

 

Agnes caught his grin before he composed himself, smiling as she locked her elbow around his. "Anytime. Yeah, let's go inside soon. I dunno about you, but I'm craving wings. You taught me how to skate so I'll cover ya.”

"Excellent." Nik exclaimed, and there would be no arguing against food on his end. Another lap around the rink in order to get back to the opening, and they would have stepped off the ice to head towards the main building.

Agnes had a place in mind, they had both spicy and savory chicken wings. She gave his elbow a squeeze before letting go. Off the rink, she was quick to take her skates off.

 

 

 

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