(i'd enspoiler this, but there's really no spoilers here. skull working for bickerstaff in the show/books is known pretty much as soon as bickerstaff shows up as an important character, and everything besides that is my personal headcanon due to there just not being a whole lot of canon backstory on my boy.)
I did want to join him, Skull insisted.
Liz looked unconvinced.
Fine, he relented. The two of you snot-nosed brats win. It wasn’t as evil as a thing as I’m making it out to seem. I wanted to see more, alright?
His arms were crossed again. Liz listened carefully. She also moved towards the light switch in the back of the room, suddenly realizing she had never turned it on earlier. When she flipped the switch, the room was flooded with light. Skull looked less like an ominous ghost and more like a regular old teenager, though he was admittedly a little younger and more messily dressed than she was used to seeing. This must have been the form he had before he came back to life.
Bickerstaff saw my potential, Skull said, and I thought I could work with him to see beyond the veil. There were…people I wanted to see again. People who hadn’t become ghosts when they died. When he approached me after seeing my power, I could only say yes. I didn’t realize what it all would involve.
“Was he…” Liz wasn’t sure she wanted to ask. “Was he the one who killed you?”
Skull gave a sad smirk.
Do you see any death wounds on me, Lizzie? he asked. Liz looked more carefully and couldn’t find any. What she could find, however, was how strangely his shirt clung to his body. She thought back to how young he looked, and vaguely remembered something she had read about once. You’re a smart girl. You’ve figured it out already, haven’t you?
“You…died from starvation,” Liz guessed. “Your ghost looks malnourished. Like you didn’t get enough to eat. And that can stunt your growth, so…”
I died when I was seventeen, Skull said, but my ghost has always looked a few years younger. The streets were a rough place to die, between the hunger and the cold. But they’re not that dramatic of a place to go. Better to think I died going up against Bickerstaff, or that I was blinded by my greed and was killed by the bone glass. It makes for a nice story, doesn’t it?
May 13, 2023
(they eventually settle on they/them pronouns with a little bit of she/her and he/him here and there, but this is before they've come to that realization. and before i came to that realization about them, too.)
overall, max and noah are really sweet, and i love getting to write them be soft together. i'd love to somehow capture that character dynamic in a future book. we deserve more soft platonic leads.