Chapter 166

“Not so fast. I’ll have you know I’m a delicate sunflower,” Nick protested. Mary paid no heed, dragging him through the Melbrook entrance and over into the girls’ lounge. Snapping the door shut behind them, she paused to listen for the thoughts of Mr. Numbers or Mr. Transport. Both were absent, and with everyone else back at the infirmary waiting for Vince to come around, that meant they had the dorm to themselves.


“So are you going to tell me why you dragged me away from my buddy’s bedside or what?” Nick asked, flopping into one of the sizable plush chairs.

Mary paused long enough to gather her thoughts. What she’d learned from Globe, or even that he’d been there, all of it was too much to deal with. She didn’t know who she should tell, or how much she should reveal to other people. Too much could cause Vince to break down again, too little could result in an unexpected catastrophe. It was a morally grey area with large-scale implications, which was way out of Mary’s wheelhouse. Thankfully, she knew someone who felt right at home in these situations.

“I talked to Globe while I was in Vince’s head,” Mary told Nick.

“Can’t say I blame you; I’d be tempted too. Then again, my money says he was sort of boring given how Vince remembers him.”

Mary shook her head. “Not Vince’s memory of his dad. Globe. The real Globe. He was there, just like me.”

Had the situation not been so dire, Mary likely would have savored the look of genuine shock that came over Nick’s face. He leaned forward slowly, his hands coming together under his chin and a slight wrinkle appearing in his forehead. It was strange how with a few minute changes the carefree version of Nick could seamlessly evaporate away, leaving a very serious young man in his place.

“Tell me everything.”

So she did, explaining how she kept tabs on Vince in the dream, prodded him the right direction, went to check on him only to meet Globe, and how he asked her for more time with his son.

“I assume you did it,” Nick said as they reached that point in the story.

“With that deal? I’d be stupid not to.”

“Agreed. Were the results good enough to make it worthwhile?”

Mary nodded. “They were. And I didn’t see the harm in giving Vince a little more time with his father.”

“So what was the promise?”

“That he wouldn’t try to kidnap any of us again, nor would he allow anyone who worked for him to,” Mary recounted.

“Kind of a shitty promise now that we’re all watching for him.”

“I said more or the less the same thing. Then he reminded me that he’d just broken a heavily-guarded man out of a prison that was supposed to be impenetrable.”

“The man does know how to make a point,” Nick complimented.

“Indeed. He made another as well. What we are, and what we represent, it’s not a small thing. Many people are very interested in us, and it’s not impossible that they might try to kidnap one of us and hope he gets blamed,” Mary said. “So his promise only tells us that we’re safe from him, and that if one of us goes missing not to waste time chasing him down as a suspect.”

“I see the value, but I find it strange. What was so compelling about you last year that has now devalued so much that he won’t even try for it?”

“I get the feeling they hoped my kidnapping would succeed, but that they didn’t necessarily expect it to. Whatever piece of his plan that was, it seems like they’re past the part where it was useful. If he’s telling the truth.”

“From what you say, it sounds like Vince got his ability to lie or deceive from his father, so for the moment let’s assume he’s being honest,” Nick concluded. “Next was the piece of advice.”

“Right. This is where it gets a little weird. The promise was given to all of us. But you’re the one he wanted to receive the advice.”

Nick’s impassive stare gave away nothing; he merely motioned for Mary to continue.

“Globe wanted you to know that Vince is much stronger than any of us realize, and that his kindness is both the cage that holds him back and the key to unleashing his potential. Does that make sense to you?”

“Did he actually say ‘any of us’ in that statement?” Nick said back.

“Yeah. Exactly those words. He even seemed to emphasize them. Why?”

“Never mind for now. I need to ruminate on that for a bit before I can give a complete answer. What about the last one? The message?”

“That’s the one I understand the least,” Mary admitted. “Since dream-walking isn’t his ability, he had to call in a favor from someone who could get him there. He just asked me to tell Alice the name of the Super who brought him into Vince’s mind.” Mary started to say the name, but she was interrupted by Nick.

“Fuck!” Nick hopped up from the chair and began prowling about the room. “I’ve been afraid this would happen. You cannot tell Alice the name until after our final match. Promise me that, Mary.”

“Why? I didn’t even tell you what it was.”

“It doesn’t matter what it was, I already know what it means, and Alice will too the moment she hears it. The second that happens she will be completely unreliable, at least for a while. That cannot happen right now. Especially since Vince just became the confirmed son of the world’s most wanted villain.”

“So I should keep it to myself?”

“Only until after the final match. One week, Mary, that’s all I’m asking for. After that, not only can you tell Alice, I’ll even help deal with the ramifications. For Alice’s own sake, and for the rest of ours, especially Vince’s, please just give me one week.”

“Fine,” Mary said after a long moment to think. She’d come to Nick because she trusted his judgment in these affairs. It wouldn’t make much sense to throw out his advice, especially since he seemed to genuinely care. “So what about the rest of the information? Is there something we should do with it?”

“Absolutely,” Nick replied. “The first part is to get Mr. Numbers and Mr. Transport in on this. We’re going to need a lot of help with the next step, because you haven’t even realized the question that should have dawned on you by now.”

“Which is?”

Nick stopped pacing and strode over to her, far closer than Mary was comfortable with. He leaned in and lowered his sunglasses, giving her a rare stare with his naked eye.

“How did Globe know that Rich put Vince under in the first place?”