Iced - Page 23/120

“You just try that, dude.” I swagger onto the training green, between him and his men. A few dozen of them are in full armor, sweating up a stink-storm. Supersmell is a pain in the butt sometimes. He’s been working them hard. I wonder what’s with that. It’s night. He usually has his men out hunting at night, patrolling, keeping the streets safe.

We glare at each other.

He softens. He always does. He has a hard time looking at me and staying mad. He sees his own kids in my face. Jayne’s got a supersoft spot for children. He and his wife have been taking in orphans left and right. I don’t know how he feeds them all. But Jayne’s no dummy. I suspect he’s got stores stashed away, too. Till tonight, it seemed like most of us were playing by the same rules. Take a lot—but leave some.

No rules anymore. Somebody’s cleaning the shelves. That’s just not civilized.

“Damn it all to hell, Dani, I was worried about you!”

“Get over it, Jayne. I take care of myself just fine. Always have.”

He gets that look in his eyes that always makes me uncomfortable, like he’s about to put a fatherly arm around me or wipe a smudge of blood off my cheek. I shudder. My sword hand’s itching and I’m all about scratching it. “I’m here now. Quit wasting time. Which Unseelie you want dead first?”

“Do you know why we’re not out hunting tonight?”

I don’t like being cued to speak so I just look at him.

“No room in the cages. Go make me all of it. And don’t leave until you have.”

He glances again at the pucker of sword under my coat then does something he does a lot. He looks at his men, and looks back at me again, all cool and speculative-like. He’s not seeing a kid when he does it. He’s seeing an obstacle.

I know Jayne real well. He doesn’t even know he does it.

He’s wondering if they could take my sword. Wondering if he’d let his men kill me to get it. If I told him that, he’d deny it to the end of days. He thinks he really cares about me, and on a level he does. He thinks he’d like to take me home to his wife and make me part of their family, give me the kind of life he’s pretty sure I didn’t have.

But there’s four feet of a shiny metal problem between us, and it’s four feet of immense power. And it changes everything. I’m not a kid. I’m what stands between him and something he wants for all the right reasons. And he isn’t so sure he wouldn’t do something very wrong for all the right reasons.

My sword and Mac’s spear are the only two weapons that can kill Fae. That makes them hands-down the hottest Big Ticket items in—not just Dublin—but the world. A part of Jayne is like Barrons. He wants to kill Fae—and I have the weapon he needs to do it. He can’t help himself. He’s a leader. And a good one. Every time he sees me, he will instinctively assess whether he thinks he can take it from me. And one day he might make a move.

I don’t hold it against him.

I’d do the same.

I see when he decides it’s not a risk worth taking because he’s still not sure I won’t kill some of his men, maybe even him. I keep those doubts in his mind. The subconscious part where all this stuff takes place.

He says something nice to me, but I don’t absorb it. Jayne’s a good man, good as they come. It doesn’t make him any less dangerous. Some folks think I’m a little psychic along with my other superpowers. I’m not. I just see the ways folks telegraph. Pick up on tiny clues other folks don’t, like the way their muscles tense in their fingers when they look at my sword like they’re imagining how it would feel to hold it, or how their gaze darts to the side when they say they’re glad it’s my responsibility not theirs. Funny thing to me is how their conscious and subconscious seem to be so split, like they aren’t talking to each other at all. Like competing feelings can’t possibly coexist inside you. Dude, they do all the time. I’m an emotional Ping-Pong ball between paddles: one day I can’t wait to have sex, the next I think semen’s the grossest thing in the world. Monday I’m crazy about Dancer, Tuesday I hate him for mattering to me. I just go with it, focus on whichever feeling I have most often and try to keep my mouth shut when it’s the other. But most folks got Id and Ego living on different floors in their head’s house, in different rooms, and they’ve locked all the doors between them, and nailed sheets of plywood over that, because they think they’re, like, sworn enemies that can’t hang together.

Ro thought the whole subconscious/conscious issue had something to do with why I am the way I am. She said I have the neurological condition synesthesia out the ass, with all kinds of cross regions of my brain talking to each other. Old witch was always psychoanalyzing me (as in she was the psycho and I was being analyzed). She said my Id and Ego are best buds, they don’t just live on the same floor, they share a bed.

I’m cool with that. Frees up space for other stuff.

I take off, tune out, and do what I do best.



And it all goes boom, chicka boom,

boom-boom, chicka boom

“What is this place?” I ask Ryodan.

“You got lots of places around the city, kid.”

I don’t say “Yes.” Lately, everybody seems to know everything about me anyway. And he doesn’t say, “Well, I do, too.” When Ryodan wastes words, he does it in the worst possible way. He gets all philosophical. Yawn the feck out of me. There’s observation of fact that keeps you alive like understanding Jayne, and there’s philosophizing. Way different things. The former is my gig.

We’re standing on a concrete loading dock, outside commercial doors at an industrial warehouse on the north side of Dublin. Ryodan drove us here in a military Humvee. It’s parked behind us, barely visible in the night, black on black, wheels and everything, with black windows. It’s something I would’ve driven. If I’d found one. But I didn’t. It’s pure badass. And I thought Barrons’s cars were cool.

I begin my investigation. There are no lights on around the building. “Dude, got Shade protection?”

“Don’t need it. Nothing alive inside.”

“What about the folks that come and go?”

“Only during daylight.”

“Dude. Night. I’m here.”

He looks at me, looks at my head, and his lips twitch like he’s trying not to bust out laughing. “You don’t need that … whatever the fuck it is.”