Iced - Page 14/120

She backs up a step, hands going to her ears. “Dude, my hearing works great. You don’t need to yell.”

I didn’t know I was. But a lot of things come out differently than I mean them to now. “Sorry. I’m just saying, you do realize what will happen to you if one of the Unseelie catches you. Right?”

“Never going to happen,” she says smugly.

“With that attitude, it will. Fear is healthy. Fear is good. It keeps you on your toes.”

“Really? ’Cause I think it’s a waste of time. Bet you don’t fear nothing,” she says admiringly.

Every time I look in the mirror. “Sure I do. That you’ll get sloppy and slip up and one of them will grab you. Snuff you out.”

She tilts her head, eyes narrowed on my face. Not many people look me full in the face anymore. Not for long anyway. “Maybe you aren’t all Unseelie prince yet. Maybe we can, like, work out some kind of arrangement.”

“What do you have in mind?”

“I want to shut down Chester’s. Torch it. Exterminate it.”


She cuts me a look of scorn and disbelief. “You saw it in there! They’re fecking monsters! They hate humans. They use them and eat them and kill them. And Ryodan and his men let them!”

“Say we do close down the place, say we burn it to the ground. They’ll just find another place to go.”

“No they won’t,” she insists. “They’ll pull their heads out. They’ll smell the coffee percolating and see we saved them!”

A rush of emotion, cloyingly sweet as funeral lilies, floods me, swells my tongue with a taste both familiar and sickening. She’s tough, smart, capable, a stone-cold killer when she needs to be.

And she’s so bloody naïve.

“They’re at Chester’s because they want to be at Chester’s. Make no mistake about that, lass.”

“No. Fecking. Way.”

“Yes fecking way.”

“They’re confused!”

“They know exactly what they’re doing.”

“I thought you were different but you’re not! You’re just like Ryodan! Just like everyone. Ready to write them all off. You don’t see that some people need saving.”

“You don’t see that most people are beyond saving.”

“Nobody’s beyond saving! Nobody! Ever!”

“Dani.” I say her name tenderly, savoring the pain she makes me feel.

I turn and walk away. There’s nothing for me here.

“So, that’s it, then?” she yells after me. “You won’t help me fight either? Gah! Sheep! You’re all big fat fecking sheep waggling big fat fecking sheep asses!”

She’s too young. Too innocent.

Too human. For what I’m becoming.


“Our house is a very very very fine house”

“Hungry?” Dancer says as I bang in the door and throw my backpack and MacHalo on the couch.


“Cool. Went shopping today.”

Me and Dancer love to go “shopping,” aka looting. When I was a kid, I used to dream that I got forgotten inside a department store after it closed with nobody around, which meant I could have anything I wanted.

That’s the world now. If you’re tough enough to brave the streets, and got balls enough to go into the dark stores, anything you can carry out is yours. First thing I did when the walls went down was hit a sporting goods store and cram a duffel bag full of high-top sneakers. I burn through them quick.

“Found some canned fruit,” he says.

“Dude!” It’s getting harder to find. Plenty of the ick-stuff on the shelves. “Peaches?” I say hopefully.

“Those weird little oranges.”

“Mandarin.” Not my favorite but better than nothing.

“Found some ice cream toppings, too.”

My mouth instantly waters.

One of the things I miss most is milk and all the things it made possible. A while back, a couple of counties to the west, some folks had three milk cows that the Shades didn’t get, but then other people tried to steal them and they all shot each other. And the cows. I never did get that part of it. Why shoot the cows? All that milk and butter and ice cream re-moo-ved from our world forever! I snicker, cracking myself up. Then I see the table and the spread of food and it cracks me up more. “You expecting an army?”

“Of one. I know how you eat.”

And he’s fascinated by it. Sometimes he just sits and watches me. Used to freak me out but not so much anymore.

I decimate the feast, then we sack out on the couch and watch movies. Dancer’s got everything wired for power, with the quietest generators I’ve ever seen. He’s smart. He survived the fall without a single superpower, no family, and no friends. He’s seventeen and all alone in the world. Well, technically he has family but they’re somewhere in Australia. With splinters of Faery reality slicing everything up, no planes flying and nobody about to take a boat out, they may as well be dead.

If they aren’t.

Nearly half the world is. I know he thinks they’re dead. We don’t talk about it. I know it from the things he doesn’t say.

Dancer was in Dublin checking out Trinity College’s Physics Department, trying to decide where he wanted to go to grad school when the walls fell, leaving him cut off and alone. Home-schooled by multiple tutors and smarter than anybody I ever met, he finished college six months ago, speaks four languages fluently and can read three or four more. His folks are humanitarians, über-rich from old money. His dad is or was some kind of ambassador, his mom a doctor who spent her time organizing free medical care for third world countries. Dancer grew up all over the world. I have a hard time wrapping my brain around his kind of family. I can’t believe how well he adapted. He impresses me.

I watch him sometimes when he’s not watching me. He catches me now.

“Thinking how hot I am, Mega?” he teases.

I roll my eyes. That kind of stuff isn’t between us. We just hang together.

“Speaking of hot …”

I roll my eyes bigger, because if he’s finally about to say something about how much prettier I am since the Gray Woman took my looks then gave me back a little extra, I’m out of here. He’s been cool so far about not commenting. I like it that way. Dancer’s … well, Dancer. He’s my safety zone. There’s no pressure here. It’s just two kids in a fecked-up world.