Iced - Page 44/120

When we walk into Chester’s the noise just about splits my skull from temple to temple. I’m so sick I’m wobbly. Ryodan tells Lor to get blankets warmed and take them to a room somewhere upstairs. I hope it’s soundproofed. Knowing Ryodan, it is. Like Batman, he has all the best toys. I don’t care where I go right now. I just need to lie down. I want them to stop making me walk but I insisted that they let me walk, because I hate being carried so I’m faking. Every muscle I’ve got is burning and cramping. I can’t think straight.

“Get the kid out of here,” Ryodan says to another of his men.

Two men move in, close their hands on his arms.

“Leave Dancer alone!” I say.

“It’s okay, Mega. I’ve got things to do anyway. You take care, you hear?” He looks at me hard and for a second I want everyone to go away and leave me alone with him. Life is so easy with Dancer. I want to ask him how he ended up in the street with me. I want to know what happened. Someone saved my life tonight. I want to know who and all the details.

But I don’t want him here. Not in Chester’s. I don’t want the stain of it on him. “See you tonight?” I say.

He grins. “Hope so, Mega. Got a movie to watch.”

“Get him out of here. Now,” Ryodan barks.

Dancer impresses the feck out of me when he shakes their hands off his arms and says real calm, “I can see myself out.” He doesn’t shake testosterone off his skin like a wet dog. He doesn’t turn into a stupid bull, throwing his horns around. He just takes care of himself.

I’d watch him go but Ryodan is suddenly turning me away, steering me like I’m a go-cart. He snaps an order for warm water and Jell-O and tells Christian to get the feck out of his club.

Christian laughs and settles on a bar stool in the subclub closest to the stairs.

As I hobble up the stairs, I see a funny thing. Ryodan pauses for a sec and I look back. He’s looking out over the dance floor, down at the kiddie subclub, and like she can feel him or something, Jo looks up, straight at him. Almost like she’s been waiting for this moment. Like there’s some kind of rubber band between them and she can feel him if he tugs on it. I think her highlights are even more dramatic than they were a couple days ago, gold in her dark hair. She’s sparkly between the boobs again—I wouldn’t notice except the sparkly makes you look there!—and wearing pretty bangles on her arms. She never wears jewelry. Even sick as I feel, I think Jo looks good. Ryodan gives her an imperceptible nod and she goes real still and wipes her hands on her skirt and swallows so hard I see her throat work from here. They look at each other and neither looks away.

After a long moment Jo nods back.

And I think what the feck? Is she an empath like Kat? How did she know what he was saying? And what was he saying anyway? And why is she turning her tray over to somebody else?

Then my legs are going out from under me because I faked as long as I could, and he’s got me before I hit the floor, carrying me, and I don’t even fight it because I’m too miserable.

They take me to a room a few doors down from Ryodan’s office and put me in bed. I burrow deep into the soft mattress, sigh with relief and pass out cold. Ryodan pisses me off what can’t be more than three minutes later by waking me back up and forcing me to drink warm Jell-O water.

At first I don’t want it but it tastes like heaven.

“What happened?” I say. “Did I, like, die and come back?” What an adventure! I wonder if this’ll get put into the legend of me when I do die. I wonder how many times I might kick Death’s ass in my life. How wicked cool is that?


“Where’d Dancer come from?” My stomach cramps. “Aw, it’s hurting my stomach.”

“Stop gulping. Take small sips.”

I see another funny thing when he pours a second glass of warm Jell-O water. “Dude, shake much?”

“I got too cold.”

Lor laughs and gives him a look. “Or too hot. Get out of here. I’ve got it.”

Ryodan looks at my empty glass. I’ve drained the pitcher already and I want more.

“I’ll get it,” Lor says. “Go do what you need to do, boss.”

I wonder what he needs to do, why he’s shaking. If this is his weakness, I want to know all about it. Too bad I’m about to pass out again.

Ryodan stands up. “Take care of her.” He walks out.

Lor says, “Sleep, kid. I’ll be back before you know it. With candy bars.”

I slump into the pillows, curl up and sigh. Candy bars. Life is sweet. All I have to do is lie here where it’s cozy and warm and wait for them. They heated blankets for me. Someone’s bringing me candy bars in bed.

I’m going to sleep for days.

I wonder what happened. Dying to talk to Dancer. But it’ll have to wait.

I’m drifting, just about to pass out again when I suddenly get wired, struck by a certainty that pisses me all kinds of off.

I know why Ryodan gave Jo that look!

Because they’re in his office right now, talking about me! Conspiring, with Jo all worried about me because I almost died.

And they’re trying to figure out what to do with me since I don’t follow rules and almost got myself killed tonight. I hate it when adults have their stupid powwows about me! They always end with me getting read the riot act and handed a whole new list of rules that nobody in their right mind could possibly obey, most of which aren’t even logical or smart.

How the feck was I supposed to know if I touched one tiny little thing it would snap me out of freeze-frame? Why couldn’t he have just told me that? I would never have done it!

Thinking about how I didn’t almost get myself killed tonight, really he did, I start to steam from the inside and warm right up from sheer temper. I crawl out from under my huddle of blankets, get my sword, stumble to the door and wobble out into the hall. I look up and down but don’t see anybody. ’Cause, like everybody’s probably already in his office, dissing me.

I careen down the hall, stumbling from wall to wall, using them to steady me until I make it to his door, then I slap my palm where I always see him put his, and the door slides open. I don’t even wait for it to finish opening before I begin airing my gripes.

“It is not my fault I almost got killed, dude. It’s your fault and here’s ho—ooooww—Ew!” I shake my head, horrified and … and … and …