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   Chapter 28

Damsel[ed] No Rescue Required By m i c h e l l e p a k Characters: 12776

Updated: 2017-12-12 12:04


Poison.

"Sucks for you," Ceres says, a guy with a true gift for understatement. I grab at a crumbling wall and press my face into it as people ebb and flow around us, rivers of criminals moving past us in a loud, boisterous current. My head feels like it“ll explode if I so much as think another thought. I lost Luce. I lost him. How did I freaking lose him? How does he even move that fast?

My knuckles bulge. Breathing quick and arms trembling, I start to swing. Crack. The hook-shot smashes a hole into the wall and my fist stings. The pain feels like nothing compared to the pressure in my head.

"Poison..." Ceres warns. Shocks of impact seer my balled fingers as I throw another. And another. And another. Crack, crack, CRACK! I hardly feel my arm sink into the drywall or seams inside meet my torn-up skin. "Why can“t you just stay put!" I shout into the yellowed plaster, my throat raw from screaming and my fists raw from punching. Gasps leave me in short wheezes, my lungs shuddering in my chest. "Why can“t you just play along! You freaking—"

"Poison... "

"I hate him." My voice wavers. "I hate him."

"Yeah, I noticed."

"If he had never been born..." I start, but I never finish. Ceres knows what I will say. I roll my head back, pressure still mounting. A corner would be nice to curl up in right now. I think I“ve said it a hundred or so times, to myself, to him, to my journal. If I were the only son, if this human weapon had never been created, if Dad thought about me half as much as he did about Luce...

"Relax." Ceres rests his hand lightly on my shoulder. "We“ll find him, He can“t run away, at least, not for long anyway."

I clutch my head. "Of course. Any hunches, Ceres? I“m open to suggestions."

"The worst place he could possibly go. He“s just unlucky like that." I drop my hands and glance to the side. Ceres smirks, his green eyes glinting. Mischief. That“s what Dad calls the stuff Ceres does when he isn“t being watched. There are so many sides to this guy, a panicked side that shows in those moments curls into a corner and shakes, a calm side that spews wisdom and builds plans, and a truly weird side that makes him seem like a kid. It“s true, what he says about Luce. We found him last time by asking Dingo, one of the alliance-less guys, to track him down, since Dingo had the power to sort of "feel" his presence. Usually, Dingo hangs at the Super Supply in the mall. Coincidentally, that“s where Luce went for God knows why. Probably for tips on his precious Catsby. Pathetic.

I nod, though the gesture is slow and hurts a little. "Okay. We“ll set up. And I“m sure we“ll see him again."

Ceres smirks, his shoulders quaking. I snap my hands to my sides. "What?" He holds out a clenched fist to me, and I can“t help but raise an eyebrow. "What“s this?"

Ceres smiles, throwing his fluffy brown bangs out of his face. He opens his hand and shows me a bundle of silvery-gray chips and wires, sloppily strung together. Pieces are duct-taped in, and a little red light flashes near the end. Beep. Beep. Beep beep. For a second, the pressure subsides, and a flutter of hope lifts through my chest. It could be too much to ask for, but maybe, maybe . . .

"A tracker?"

"I was rereading this Trinity comic a while back, and in this one scene Batman slipped this tracker into Wonder Woman“s hair. And I thought it was a really interesting idea. Like, how do you slip a tracker into someone“s hair without them noticing? And what if it falls out or whatever, and—"

"You“re not Batman." I cross my arms and glower. If I ever had patience. Ceres actually looks down at his feet for a second, as if ashamed by his non-Batmanness, but then he just powers up again, his face cut by a wicked grin.

"I“m not, so when I caught your brother back in the mall I had t

Ceres grabs at his neck, his mouth parted in a silent scream. It lasts a second. He hits the ground, still clutching at his neck and gasping to breathe. I feel a touch on my shoulder and I glance back at a doe-eyed girl in red flannel and high-tops. Her eyes are a dark sort of brown, like chocolate or leather or whatever else little boys and girls describe their love“s eyes to be like when they write their Valentine“s day cards. To me, they“re all the same. Piercing, brilliant, bright, warm, rich: who cares? They all react to my powers the same way. I grin at her.

Ceres struggles to get up and is still gasping like a beached fish when I bring my knee back and bash the raised heel of my expertly-sewn, French-crafted boot into his stomach. He falls back with a “thump!“ like a full coffin. He snatches his phone and shoots a message before I bat it away from him. The information is still all there, and I shove the phone in my pocket to absorb it all later.. Ceres growls and flings himself to his feet, hands up and feet in a fighting stance. But I“m prepared.

He swings. I react. Another elbow to the throat. A slash to the face. A kick to the waist. It“s like a dance. And here, I am the victor. My fists are pulpy and raw, so I shove them into my pockets. Ceres doesn“t take the hits gracefully, falling to the ground hard and skidding on his butt. Lying there like that, holding his neck, his whole face drained of color, he looks like prey. "Katris."

I chamber my leg and let fly one last kick. Ceres flails to get up, but my boot connects with his chin and in that instant, his body crumples like a moth“s wings. The girl“s still looking on, and I flip my hair back, wiping the rest of the blood off my face with my sleeve. Ceres lies at my feet, his breathing regular. He“ll be okay. "Hey," I tell the girl. People shuffle away, having had their fill of blood and blows and are now bored. She catches my eye. I pull out my wallet and with it a crisp fifty. "You mind holding onto him for a while?" I purr, and by purr, I do mean purr. My arm“s behind my back, my back crooked into a gentlemanly bow. "He isn“t as high maintenance as he seems, I promise." She stiffens.

"Uh..."

I straighten and walk by. "Great. I knew you“d come through." I pat her on the head and stick the fifty in her hand.

"Uh... "

I draw a long breath and sidestep an overturned coatrack. My fist clenches around the phone.

I have him. I finally have him.

And when I get to him, I can finally make game on my plans.

I can destroy him.

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