Riot is in a good mood recently. Carlton initially assumes that the symbiote is happy because he can go out and return with a full stomach. But later he discovers that Riot seems to enjoy possessing female nurse’s body to observe him by his bedside. Whether “she” is waiting for him to get up, or watching him handles a piles of company documents. Sometimes “she” can stare at him for the whole afternoon in that position. Carlton has to kindly reminds him to avoid blocking the nurse’s memory for too long. Riot will then return to his body and begin today's recovering work.
Carlton is able to write with a pen recently. Although he is slow and needs to rest after a short while, it’s much better than lying on the bed like a half-dead. Riot is getting tired of hearing those dumbfounded doctors exclaiming that it is a work of miracles. While laughing at those man's ignorance, he is also secretly being thankful of Carlton for staying awake to talk for a longer time. He has never properly chat with Carlton as they both were eagerly focused on achieving their long-desired goal. After the explosion, Riot has to mostly rely on Carlton’s memories or dreams to understand his comatose host. But these aren’t enough. The knowledge-thrive symbiote is interested in a species besides themselves for the first time. No, he wants to learn more about the way Carlton speaks and thinks, on how he views the world. To observe humans from the perspective of a supreme human leader will benefit his future ruling in time, Riot clarifies.
Riot believes he needed to know more, but what’s worse is that, he gets hungrier when he spent a longer time getting along with Carlton. At first he and Carlton thought that he didn’t consume enough nutrients, so they have extended the hunting time. But soon Riot realised that no matter how much he ate, whenever he came back and saw Carlton smiling at him, his stomach will instantly tear up a hole and everything he ate falls into another dimension.
However, this doesn’t mean that his host is being unhelpful. Instead, Riot receives a more delicious treat from the man than the foods he hunts. It is a unique chemical substance secreted from Carlton’s brain. The first time he tastes it, was on the night when he decided to return to Carlton.
Initially, Riot supposes it’s related to the medication that Carlton took. Then again the symbiote can analyse any side effects of each pill consumed, therefore he quickly ruled out that possibility. So how does Carlton’s brain secrete such sweets?
After several tries, Riot discovers that it only happens after he left Carlton to hunt. And the longer his host waited, the more sweetness is secreted, which intrigues Riot a lot. He even considers not going back for two or three days, will he able to savour more of these sugary treats?
But then that would mean he has to bear the cost of not seeing Carlton for days. Such thought makes Riot restless with anxiety. Although he likes those sweetness very much, he can’t leave his injured host alone for too long. Even if the man’s bodyguards are so-called the world’s first class elite, they are just small fries who can be “solved” in three seconds, in Riot’s opinion.
Human beings are too weak. That’s why he can't do it, not for the time being.
Nevertheless, the time spent with Carlton is interesting. Even though Riot can't eat those substances, he is able to temporarily forget about the endless hunger. Whether they are playing chess, or discussing how to deal with those “righteous” idiots.
Riot still remembers the first time when he deliberately switched on the TV broadcast news in front of his host. The man looked calm when receiving huge negative messages from the news. Riot thought that Carlton was pretending to keep his cool, but when he returned to his host’s body, he found that Carlton was unafraid and unexpectedly relief that things weren’t as bad as he imagined.
Wasn't that bad enough? Riot is slightly confused by human standards. Aren't people like Carlton, who is at the top of the food chain, afraid of losing this…-what did the humans call it? oh yes -reputation? Ironically, it is a hollow thing that a human society can’t live without.
"As long as the charges have one less critical evidence, everyone including the court and media will eventually forget about it. That’s all I needed." Carlton smiles lightly, pulling his healing jaw. He frowns slightly, but it didn't affect his good mood, "we simply need to cleverly dispose some of the evidence."
Riot is aware of the said evidences are not limited to objects. Oh, he likes this proposal very much.
However, Carlton doesn't ask for his help. If money can hire any top team of doctors, lawyers, and public relations, naturally, he can also pay for the "scavenger" team. Incorporate with his connection, there is nothing that can't be covered up.
Riot finds the process of healing Carlton far more interesting than he originally expected. Especially he enjoys looking into Carlton's mind. The nerves in his host’s brain are like those beautiful sparks scattered in the galaxy, they shine the brightest when Carlton is thinking, connecting the stars in his mind. It is the beauty which he thought he could never see it again after he left his homeland. In fact, this is the first thing he considers “beautiful” on Earth.
After living off so many humans, Riot has sorted out their definition of aesthetics, and discovers that he has missed recovering Carlton’s appearance. He has been prioritised Carlton’s organs and forgot about his skin. Not that he wants to see, but his host's body often dehydrates easily, making him uncomfortable.
During every bit of skin-recovery, Riot slowly compares the man's restored skin with the charred skin. He firmly decides that he likes the honey, tan color with soft texture better than the rough, cracking feel. Carlton will frown whenever Riot touches him, but never asks him to stop. Until the wound starts to bleed again which then the symbiote realises he had forgotten about how weak the human being is.
So fragile, yet so beautiful.
Realizing this, Riot will stare at Carlton in the middle of the night until his stomach rumbles. However, strong hunger sometimes woke up his sleeping host. Although Carlton doesn't blame or angry at him, Riot doesn’t like this. Which is why recently he likes to use someone else's body to observe, not only he doesn’t wake up his host, but also satisfies his hobby.
However, Carlton seems to have misunderstood his behaviour.
Riot believes his host’s IQ is much higher than any average human being, yet, Carlton’s reaction towards certain things is particularly bad, as if he isn’t equipped with these built-in functions. Well, today has proven it to be true.
Carlton wakes up to find his symbiote taking over the nurse's body and stares at him again. He finally can’t help but asks, "Riot, are you particularly fond of blonde?"
"...What?" Riot thinks he must have heard it wrong. He even sweeps “her” long, blond hair to the back and leans down closer, until Carlton patiently repeats the question.
"Why do you think I like blonde humans?" There aren’t many things that appeals to Riot, and there’s no way such low-life creatures to be included in his "favorite list". Carlton should know him best. What’s the point of asking such a question? To insult him?
Dissatisfaction burst into several blue veins, pulsing furiously on the beautiful nurse’s forehead. However, Carlton is unafraid. He doesn’t even understand why was Riot angry, so he explains his own deduction, "I see you have become more obsessed with these blonde nurses lately. Besides, I remembered you were a blonde girl on our first meeting. If blonde human is particularly helpful for your operation, I’ll be grateful to arrange them for you."
"That's because I didn't have a choice! The nurses you hired are all blonde... wait, don't tell me that was your doing ??!" Riot yells halfway through his complaint before he realises something was off as he thinks about it. Why hasn’t he noticed that all of the nurses who had helped Carlton with his medicine have long blond hair?
"Yes. If necessary, I can replace all of the guards with blond hair." Carlton proposes with ease as this isn’t some difficult request to be done.
"No, I don't like blond hair! I like dark hair and brown, tan skin! You’d better not act on your own again!" Riot’s angry grips on the bed lever is no surprise if he rips it apart in the next second. Carlton looks at the agitating symbiote, simply nods in understanding and then jots down Riot’s demand on the paper.
This further angers the symbiote. Riot snatches away the pen and paper, ordering his host to reflect on his words moments ago; or else, he will be punished for the next two days without the documents, letting him bored to death!
Carlton stares blankly on the bed as he watches Riot leaving the room in a tantrum. After pondering for a while, he calls the nurse bell and requests another pen and paper, a TV remote control and a stack of Asian candidate resumes.
Carlton swiftly reviews and approves several resumes before ordering his subordinates to get them done. At the same time, he calls in his secretary to make a few calls, assuring the progression of handling the aftermath of the explosion. Recently, there are much lesser TV news targeted on the Life Foundation, which is a good news for him. His lawyers are making an effort to reject some of the exhibit that wasn’t disposed of in time from the court by flawed procedure, let alone some missing important evidence. Any key witnesses who intend to attend court will either die in an accidental death or refuse to show up at the last minute, even with some of them retracting their own testimony.
After giving out his command, Carlton’s forehead has already beaded with a thin layer of sweat. When a nurse comes in, she angrily scolds the overworking patient with 60% burns, whilst pushing the secretary and his two written pages of report out from the room. Carlton is stunned to realize that the nurse isn’t Riot but a normal personnel on duty. So he quickly put on his polite smile. Of course, the smile can't fool the old nurse who has handled many difficult patients for over 40 years. She stares down at Carlton until the pill has disappeared in the patient’s mouth before leaving the ward.
Carlton actually hates taking medicine because of its drowsiness side-effect. Sleep is such a waste of time when there are things that needed to be done, Carlton sighs as he sags weakly against the bed. He recalls the reports from his secretary about the activities from the anti-Life Foundation in the dark, although their motives are still under investigation, it should have results by the next few days. Carlton sneers coldly, there won't be only one person who is curious about his living status. No matter how careful and thorough Carlton is to deal with the aftermath, there are bound to have “accidental” backslash. It’s not impossible for a cautious general to be cornered and defeated. Isn’t it the same case as the last rocket explosion he was caught into?
He recalls the furious symbiote who left earlier, and then glimpses at the unfinished chess game from the last two days. He has to plan all kinds of possible situations and countermeasures, including the worst possible. He should never repeat the same mistakes. Before the side-effects kicks in, Carlton picks up his pen and begins to write slowly.
When Riot storms out of the building, he quickly switches to another body. After Carlton’s misunderstanding, he refuses to host on any blonde human for a long while. Thinking back the words he blurted out without thinking, did he really prefer humans with dark hair and tan skin? Carlton simply fits those descriptions above. Riot passes by a magazine booth and absentmindedly flips through the unsealed book. The cover just so happened to be a recent famous and sexy, black-haired, brown model. He finishes the whole book without any feeling, except the thought of how tasty the model’s internal organs will be.
The symbiote has spent the whole day out, trying to possess every dark-haired brunette he finds, not a single one of them is alike to Carlton, the only one who can hook his interest even without talking. These humans are just delicious foods in his eyes.
He decides to tell Carlton about his own findings later. On his way back, he picks up a new book by Carlton’s favourite author before the bookstore closes. When he reaches at the checkout, out of the blue, a feeling of displeasure pierces Riot’s brain like a sharp needle. Originally he suspects this weakened body was rejecting him, so he transfers to the cashier who was concerned about his unwelliness. However, it is far worse than before as the blooming pain manifests itself and rings like an annoying alarm. Riot rubs his itchy nose and realises that he was actually nose-bleeding. What is happening? What is this growing uneasiness? This isn’t body-rejection. Then what...?
Grabbing the unpaid book in a beat, Riot hops over his former vessel and rushed to the building at a non-human speed. The usual guards are nowhere to be found when he arrives at the building entrance. His heart tightens uncomfortably like someone has squeezed it.
Every hallway of the whole building are filled with corpses. Bodies of the security guards, the nurses’ and doctors’. The air is clogged with the filth of blood and gunpowders. Quiet building echoing the sound of Riot’s hasilty steps. Then he hears it, a faint stretch of noise-
What was that? Riot almost going mad from it. He wishes for that deafening noise to die down right now.
As Riot inches closer to Carlton's ward, the mechanical beeping doesn’t stop at his wish, rather it becoming louder and clearer. He pushes the ajar door in dread.
Red. He sees redness painted the white sheet, hospital gown and bandages in a horrendous mess.
The usual wavy line on the interface is now a horizontal straight line, with both data hanging “0” on the side. The familiar, timingly beeping has long gone. Replaced by this annoying, monotonic and high-pitched noise, constantly screaming out from the machine.
Riot steps over the body of the old nurse on the floor. His favorite sweet scent of blood has turned foul and disgusted in his taste. He calls out Carlton’s name with a hint of hesitation, usually the man will instantly recognize his voice and gives him a warm smile upon his return.
But in reality, the said man is unmoving on his bed, as if he failed to hear his voice.
Riot rushes to the man’s side and seizes his wrist. When he melts into Carlton's body, a pang of coldness wrapped him in despair. It is the scent of death. He knew this better than anyone else. Unlike the time during the rocket crash, where Carlton was still breathing weakly in his dying state. But right now, nothing.
No matter how loud he called, or even with words of threatening, the man's heart doesn’t beat again. Even after he depletes all of his energy to repair Carlton's slitted throat and hypoxic brain, that idle heart never listened.
Time passes by as he panicked helplessly. Suddenly he remembers—— Defibrillator. It is a silly device that humans invented, which he has once laughed at.
The silvery fist smashes through the wall beside him and drags the said device from across the room over to his side. When Riot administers a shock for the first time, the exploding pain rips through his skin, almost killing him. It burns as much as the flame, but he can withstand that pain. If it can save Carlton, he can endure anything.
Riot remembers the question he once asked Carlton about faith. His counterpart answered that human beings are very fragile, hence, they need to rely on God, an unseen, higher existence to relieve their insecurity and center their faith. So they pray whenever they feel helpless.
" Carlton, you’d better wake up now. " Riot growls. He doesn’t want to do such stupid act—— praying to God? Nonsense. They can make their own luck, isn’t it?
“ Carlton, you can't die without my permission, you heard me? You are mine, you can only be mine. ” That damn organ is disobedient. Riot feels a little dizzy. Is this body dying? No, he refuses to believe it.
Carlton is the first human being he took a liking to. No one is allowed to take him without his permission.
" I beg of you, wake up! As long as you’re back, I don’t care if I can't return home for the rest of my life. " Riot cries as his burning tentacles desperately pumping his host's chest, leaving a layer of burn mark on the center.
Just when Riot is going for the fifth try, he catches the long-lost, familiar sound of beating. It is faint and weak, but Riot is ascertained that he heard it. He quickly uses every surface of his skin to envelop his host, the overflowing gray tentacles drop to wrap all of the nearby bodies, absorbing what’s left to fuel himself.
"I will heal you, Carlton, you still owe me too much." Deep, threatening voice echoes through the empty hallway. He will avenge, oh, those who dared to touch his human. He will make them pay as he has memorised the faces from Carlton’s memory.
But these aren’t his top priorities.
Wake up to me, Carlton.
The unconscious bastard finally opens his eyes on the 302th call, "...Riot?"
"...How long do you intend to keep me waiting, you damn idiot?" comes from the sharp and harsh voice in Carlton’s brain after a long silence, but why does Carlton think it sounded more like a tight string in distress, a little more pressure and it will snap.
"Are you crying?" Carlton feels puzzled. He doesn’t feel sad at all, yet big droplets of tears continue to flow as he speaks. It isn’t his, right?
However the rude voice in his brain becomes unexpectedly louder, as though with every intend to explode his eardrum from the inside, "I’m not crying! You are!"
"Okay, sorry." If Riot says it was him who cried, then let it be his doing. Carlton doesn’t think anything wrong in that.
" Why are you apologizing?! " Riot roars. How many sorrys does he has to hear?! Why is the person who almost die, apologizing to him?! It was clearly his fault for parting such a long hours and couldn’t protect his host at the first time of danger. In that 1 minute and 35 seconds long of dead silence, Riot regretted every second of leaving Carlton alone today. Undoubtedly Carlton's body is almost fully recovered. It doesn't matter if he doesn't go out hunting every day. He has been letting his guard down.
"I’m sorry that you have to waste your strength on me." Carlton blinks away the water in his wet eyes, recalling the last memory he had before he lost his consciousness. A man with a knife appeared and slit his throat, like a chess opponent declaring "Checkmate" with his chess piece. A phone had been recording the whole killing process beside him. This man must be a trained assassin, so Carlton didn't think he could survive. It must be troubling for Riot to save him again.
After taking a deep breath, Riot snorts, "Don't mistaken this, I’m not doing this for you, I’m just making sure you don’t disrupt my plan."
Riot’s tone is laced with suspicious whimper, but Carlton assumes the symbiote is only affected by his weeping body. So the self-aware host nods and reassures, "Yes, I know. Actually, I wrote a will after you left today. One is with my lawyer, and the other one is in the safe. That one has my father’s address and phone number, I think you already know that. Once I’m dead, you can go to him after he inherits my possessions, and you can continue your..."
"Shut up, let me heal you." Riot abruptly interrupts his host's nonsense. Fuck your will, you even thought of the countermeasure to get rid of me?! This human is really abominable. Where is the promised “we”? How could he think of plans without "we"? After this, Riot is going to teach him a good lesson.
"Oh." Carlton is unsure of what had ticked the symbiote, he thought that the other will feel secured after knowing about their plan won’t be affected by his death. It seems to have backfired.
The quietness lasts for quite a while. Just when Riot thinks Carlton is tired and wanting to sleep, his host softly calls his name, and he allows the man to speak.
"I just want to thank you, for staying with me when I’m dying."
"... Are you fucking kidding me?" Isn’t today’s accident happened because he wasn’t there?! He really wants to dissect Carlton's brain and sees what’s inside.
"When I fell from the rocket, my mind was blank and I couldn't see a thing. So I thought that the experience of reliving past memories at near death was a lie. There’s only darkness and coldness to meet my death. Nothing else,” Carlton’s tone is calm, unlike the reaction of a man who has just escaped death. He even elaborates it with a sense of discovery and curiosity, "-But this time, it's different. When my throat was slit open. I saw you."
Waves of images pour into Riot’s gaze. Carlton's memories before his last breath are full of the bits and pieces of them. Of them playing chess, of them reading books together, as well as the quarrel they fought for a petty blonde problem.
Then Carlton feels a thick fluid covering his eyes, turning his eye white into black before a sobbing voice greets his head, "I allow you to cry."
As the words drop, an endless stream of tears immediately race down his eyes. Gray tendrils climb on Carlton's neck, covering the healed, slit wound with a silent apology and remorse. Riot is unwilling to let go for a long time.
He won’t leave Carlton again, he promises, never ever again.