WOW. First, thank you so much for taking the time to send me this message. I have heard hints of this concern before in reviews and feedback (one on Smashwords in particular) but never so fully articulated.
Let me be blunt. I want to make two points.
First of all, Sky is a complex character. His behavior towards others is, I believe, unarguably fucked up and insufferable. He’s so emotionally immature, and so misguided in the way he relates to people that it’s really hard to say for sure whether he has the capacity to truly empathize (ironically enough!) or feel any real concern for them that isn’t rooted in his own emotional needs. This is where I think Ken’s distrust comes from. I think — I think — that Ken actually would like to give Sky a chance, or at least open a civil discourse with him, if not for the fact that all of Sky’s efforts to connect with him seem to stem from a self-serving need to assuage his own guilt and loneliness, rather than a genuine desire to make amends and be a friend to Ken. Tragically, this relates to my second point…
Second of all, I don’t think Sky knows any better. I completely agree with you here: Sky has been abused, exploited, and fucked up, and I don’t think the others understand or respect this. I think they see what Ken went through — horrific, visible, physical torture — and give him credit for surviving. Then they look at Sky’s life — a pampered concubine, indentured leisure, but glamorized sex slavery, basically — and they think he was just soaking up all this luxury, and that his failure to rescue Ken was some kind of sick sacrifice he made for his own benefit.
In my opinion, that is a really harsh judgment to make against a guy who was born into slavery, forced to witness horrific violence inflicted upon his peers, lavishly rewarded for compliance from an early age, and drugged out of his mind from adolescence onward.
Sky is stunted. He has lived his entire life locked away, drugged and exploited. He’s had no real social life, no experience with the world outside of the yakuza, no relationships with people his own age, no one to talk to but the predatory men who owned him. Thanks to his Talent and intelligence, he learned enough charm and grace to survive the lavish Hell he was born into, and to cope with the outside world once he escaped. But I think this apparent social aptitude works against him with Mark, Lip, etc., unfortunately; as in, they’ve failed to see through it to understand how incredibly, helplessly lost he is beneath his seemingly functional veneer.
Short version: I have the same concerns as you do, but the story’s being told through the characters’ perspective, not mine.
I do want to point out to you that Aki has a great deal of sympathy for Sky, and has given some clue of it in every single book so far — which is pretty remarkable, considering how off in his own issues he’s been the whole time. I’ll finish with a few examples.
From Book 1, Hidden Talents:
Sky turned abruptly on his heel and stalked out of the room, his perfect shoulder-length hair shimmering. Aki sighed and rolled his eyes, following him.
From Book 2, Minus Tide:
Aki wasn’t Sky’s biggest fan – he knew why Ken resented him, and the story made him sick – but he’d always made an effort to get along with him. It took some of the pressure off of Ken, and besides, Sky did have a good side. It was never malice or deceit that made him unlikable, but pitiful immaturity, astonishing weakness of character, and a total inability to understand when to cut the drama and shut up.
Book 3, Look Sharp:
Sky’s life, though luxurious on the surface, was as fucked up as anyone’s. Aki knew what life could be like in the yakuza underworld for people like Sky, glorified playthings with no real power – he’d seen enough of them in his own father’s orbit. And he knew how drugs were sometimes used to subdue and control, and how few of those concubines ever escaped that world. All things considered, whether or not Sky was ever truly capable of rescuing Ken was up for debate.
Later in the scene, after Jin ridicules Sky’s angst:
Aki’s frown tightened as he looked at the telepath. He wasn’t about to imply that he’d had it any harder than anyone else. He certainly wasn’t about to deny Sky’s hardship – infuriating as the blonde was, he had been a slave for half his life.
And most recently, in Book 4: Take Off, even as he’s been directly damaged by Sky’s lack of self-control, Aki immediately makes an effort to ensure that Ken won’t rashly go after him.
So, I hope that sort of convinces you that I do not want Sky to work as any sort of blame-the-victim character! Whether or not he’ll get the understanding and concern he needs remains to be seen. With this group, he might be SOL. I don’t know. We’ll see. Please keep reading! <3