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   Chapter 55

Damsel[ed] No Rescue Required By m i c h e l l e p a k Characters: 13939

Updated: 2017-12-12 12:04


Angel.

Watching Gats eat is terrifying.

And I guess that“s an odd thing to think when I should worry about lots of other things. Say, being stuck in the back of another stranger“s car with the windows tinted black, my hands bound in front of me, and my wings trussed up like a Thanksgiving turkey“s. But no. Too tiresome.

The car jolts, and I miss Gats“ BMW. Sure, It wasted a lot of gas and left a terrible carbon footprint, but it was comfy, and I used to fall asleep with my head pressed against the window, eyes slit open just enough to watch the lights of the city whoosh by.

But I“m too wired to sleep here despite exhaustion, my eyes stapled open, my wings smashed flat against my back. And anyway, Owl“s riding shotgun, so no one“s sleeping anytime soon with that nightmare fuel around. She“s turned to me, her chin propped on her hand.

Her smile is cruel and empty, and I refuse to look at her. The window, too, is a no-go, blacked out to make me blinder than I already am. So, I watch Gats and the donuts, listen to his chewing and tearing at the stale pastries, bits of them impaled on his claws and buried under his fingernails.

It all sucks. I shut my eyes shut and take a long, slow sip of caramel latte and try to dream myself away. I could be a teen pop star right now, or a handsome celebrity chef, or a chemist on my way to collecting my Nobel Peace Prize, chauffeured by a mysterious man in black who might be my biological father—not Fallout, he“s just a poser, trying to cash in on my coolness—but some other cool guy, a guardian angel like, and the woman in the passenger seat just a pesky agent along for a sweet, sweet ride on the glory train. I grin and try to capture the thought perfectly, the burning sweetness scalding my tongue, the happy pretending like a soap bubble I“m scared of popping.

"My little Lucifer," Mom says with a jolly shake of her head, and Gats hums the My Little Pony theme song a cool kid like him isn“t supposed to know. I wink my eyes open to the sight of Gats“ stuffed cheeks, and in the shadows of the darkened car, he looks a lot more squirrelly than cat-like.

"You suck at naming more than Jupes and Storm," I say, fishing my hands for the last Boston Creme in the box. She bought us eight boxes and an XL latte each, caramel for me, hazelnut for him. You might think that sounds excessive, but Gats and I tore through the first five boxes in about three minutes. Tearing and shoving chunks down our throats unchewed just to get something into our stomachs. And the thing is, the more I ate, the hungrier I became, like all that suppressed appetite come bounding to the surface. I mean, something“s gotta feed that aura, and it ain“t capture and sibling abuse.

But it“s Gats who scares me more than my own hunger. Precious Gats, who lays a lace handkerchief on his lap when he eats, even for popcorn at the movies. Precious Gats, who cuts his Big Macs into itty bitty pieces every time we brave McDonald“s. Precious Gats, who crash-coursed me before Mayor Curtis“ fundraiser dinner on the the difference between a fish fork and a salad fork and I swear to God, Angelos, if you mix one of those up with the oyster fork I“ll punch you in the face.

Watching that same precious Gats tear whole donuts into shreds and stuff them into his mouth, well, that was some scary stuff. Some part of me wonders if he“s going to tear up the upholstery and swallow that whole too. It makes every vessel in my body sing with rage at my mother who changed him. Screw her. My Gats would never eat like that, would never choose to sob out his internal angst in my arms instead of kissing Heaven like the two high school sweethearts they are.

"And do you know how hard it is to suck at naming children more than they do?" I ask my mom, my eyes heavy from exhaustion. My limbs feel bound up with lead, and I sink on my side, aware in a sort of blithe way of Gats“ eyes holed on me. The cat ears flop on either side of his head I haven“t seen them perked since Owl mentioned “donuts.“ My eyes half lidded, I lean back and look out through my lashes, which has a nice blurring effect. Makes me feel like I“m in a movi

ke as her sugary smile.

"No." I wave a hand, clinking my chain. "He“s fine."

"Yes. Tell him to shut up!"

I glance down at my latte cup, wondering if its contents are still hot enough to scald Gats“ face off. No, too cool. He shoots me another angry look, and I realize that“s all I see of him. Angry and sad. Shouting and sobbing. These are the fragments left of my Gats, the cool one who cared about Heaven. May he rest in peace.

Mother turns around in her seat and my heart sinks. She snakes her sword over the glove compartment. Dawn rays peek through her tinted window, casting more shadows than light. She turns the sword and it flashes white.

It“s long and dignified, the hilt carved with inscriptions. They“re unreadable, scrawled one upon the other in crisscrosses of scripts. They remind me of hieroglyphs, and even Gats recoils.

"Mom." I shoot her a snotty little smirk, my stomach twisting up inside. "Stabbing your son is child abuse."

She shrugs at me and tosses the sword onto Gats“ knees. He squirms back, tucking his head against his forearms, his widened eyes glued down at it as if it were covered in cockroaches.

"You want to shut him up," Owl says, tossing her ponytail over her opposite shoulder, "stab him through the stomach. He“ll heal, a super as he is, but he won“t be able to speak without choking up blood."

I laugh. Gut response. My hands fly up, the tiniest of shudders rippling through me. "Oh, mother. You clearly don“t know Gats. He doesn“t stab his friends unless it“s in the back."

"Will you quit it!" He squeezes the hilt, an unruly tuft of hair blown over his eyes. His face burns pink. "Shut up, Angelos!" From is rigid posture to his screwed up face, everything about him screams rage. On the inside, it rattles me. But I can“t let it show. The tip of the sword points at my stomach, then my mouth. It trembles in his hands, and I shrink back in case it flies out of his hands.

"Gats—"

"I swear if you don“t shut up I“ll—I“ll cut out your tongue!" He says it with a gasp. And I can“t help but blink a couple times, just to make sure the snarling cat-boy is Gatsby. The guy who calls himself Romeo. The one who fought off my bullies. The one who“s supposedly in love with Heaven. Then I lower my chained hands, stack them one over the other, the latte set neatly by my knee. I stare at my lap, blue flames leaping from the sword in my peripherals.

"I guess you really work for Owl now."

He gives me a swift, miserable nod, his eyes red and bleary. "Mrow." The guy can“t even speak right, so choked up, but I can“t look at him. Too disgusted.

Instead, I lean my head against the window, the lure of sleep a battle I“m unwilling to fight, and drift away to Mom“s chuckles and Gats“s quiet, choking sobs.

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