Iced - Page 89/120

That’s how I found Dublin-down. Couple of wrinkly old dudes playing checkers by River Liffey used to work for a mob family and knew some interesting stuff. Beneath a restaurant run by a dude name of Rocky O’Bannion, this big-time mobster that disappeared last year in the craziness of the walls coming down, I found it. A honeycomb of tunnels and hidden crypts beyond a pile of rubble and a series of grated entrances so complex only someone as curious as me or a criminal trying to hide bodies and booty would ever have gone through. Dancer and me mapped out parts but we still got a lot to explore.

That’s where I find him now, in one of the underground catacombs, down a collapsed tunnel (unless you knew how to find the hidden detour) beyond bolted steel doors, hinged into stone, all booby-trapped.

The room he’s in is long and narrow and made completely of stone, with those old vaulted fornix ceilings, supported by massive columns, like I only ever seen in ancient crypts and the library at the abbey. He’s got lights set up that I figure have to be battery-powered ’cause I don’t hear a generator, and setting one up to vent down here would take a lot of work. He’s standing behind a stone slab that used to hold a corpse but is now covered with notebooks and envelopes, laptops, bottles, beakers, and burners. Yep, this place is Dancer, just missing a TV to watch movies on, a fridge and shower, and knowing him, he probably has a hidey-hole rigged up nearby with all the conveniences. Another slab is crammed with bottled water and food. His head is down and he’s working on something, deep in thought.

“Dude, this is fecking awesome!” I say as I step inside.

Dancer looks up and the grin he gives me is blinding. His whole body changes, like he was strung up on wires hanging him from the ceiling and they just got cut. His shoulders ride lower, his limbs slide smoother, the hard planes of his face relax into the Dancer I know. “Mega!” he says. Then he says it again, “Mega!”

“That’s my name, dude. Don’t wear it out.” I swagger into the chamber and see he’s been collecting things from the scenes, too. Behind him is the pièce de résistance: a mystery board! He blew up maps and pieced together an enormous topographical survey of Dublin and the outlying areas and has pins and notes plastered all over it. I beam. I couldn’t have done better myself. “This place is the Shit,” I say.

“Thought you’d like it.” He picks his glasses up off the slab, pushes them back on his nose and grins at me. His eyes are red like he’s been studying too long. He’s tall and lanky and pretty much perfect. I grin back and we just grin at each other for a few seconds, ’cause we’re so happy to see each other again. It’s a big city. Sometimes I feel alone in it. Then I see Dancer.

I toss my backpack on a nearby folding table and pull out my ziplocks and photos to add to his board. He comes over and we sort through them in happy silence, brushing shoulders and grinning at each other. He keeps looking at me like he can’t exactly believe I’m there. Dude’s acting like he really missed me. We’re always glad to see each other, but something’s different today.

I go to start pinning my photos of the scenes on the board, and I look back at him, ’cause something don’t make sense to me, besides how strange he’s acting. “There ain’t this many iced places in Dublin!” I gesture at the pins on the board.

“There weren’t a few weeks ago. It’s been escalating.”

“Dude, there were only ten. You got, like, twenty-five pins on this board! You telling me fifteen more places got iced in the past few days?”

“Mega, the last time I saw you was nearly a month ago. The day we tried to get your sword back from Jayne.”

I gape. “That wasn’t a month ago. That was a couple days ago!”

“Nope. I haven’t seen you for three weeks, four days, and”—he looks at his watch—“seventeen hours.”

I let out a low whistle. I knew time moved different in Faery but it didn’t occur to me that the White Mansion was part of Faery. No wonder Ryodan was so pissed at me! I missed work for weeks. I snicker. It must have been driving him crazy. My snicker dies. I forgot for a sec that he was dead. I feel sick all the sudden so I tear open a candy bar and eat it.

“I was worried.”

I look at him. He’s looking me right in the eyes, more serious than I ever seen him. It makes me uncomfortable. Like I’m supposed to say something and I don’t know what.

I stare back and we just look at each other for a few seconds. I root around in my repertoire and come up with: “Dude, get over yourself. I’m the Mega. You never got to worry about me. I been on my own forever. I like it that way.” I flash him my trademark grin.

I get a faint smile in return. “Got the message, Mega. Loud and clear.” He turns around, walks back to the slab. He’s not moving smooth anymore. Some of those wires are back. I don’t like those wires. They look … I don’t know, grown up to me.

“Just saying, don’t worry about me. Stupid to worry about me. I can take care of myself.”

“Now I’m stupid.”

“I didn’t say you were stupid. I say it was stupid to worry about me.”

“And it—the act of worrying—isn’t to be confused with the person doing it.”

“Exactly. I’m the Mega, remember? I kick butt all over Dublin!” I don’t know what’s wrong with him. He’s not responding right to anything I’m saying!

“Ability to defend oneself has absolutely no bearing on or relevance to deportment or emotional comportment of others.”


“Don’t tell me what I can and can’t feel. If I feel like worrying about you, I buggering well will.”

“Dude, no need to get snippy.”

“I’m not snippy. I’m offended. You were gone nearly a month. Between dodging the psychotic jackass that stalks you day and night, analyzing evidence, and trying to save this city, I’ve been haunting every iced scene that pops up. Visiting them two and three times a day. Do you know why?”

“To collect more evidence?”

“I’ve been waiting for them to melt enough that I could see if you were in there. Dead. Never to be talking to me again.”

I stare at him. We never talk about stuff like this. It reeks of a cage to me. Like there’s one more person I’m supposed to check in with now. Like my life isn’t already owned by too many other folks. “I got my sword back now,” I say stiffly. “I’m not going to get iced.”