Blue Lily, Lily Blue Page 26

Ronan just stared at him.

“Look, and it has to be something really horrible, something he wouldn’t want to go to prison for,” Adam said. Now he was feeling a little dirty; he couldn’t tell if Ronan’s visible distaste was just from the nature of the crime Adam had suggested, or from Adam being able to contemplate such a crime at all. But he persisted, because it was too late to back out now. “We want him too threatened to even think about opening his mouth or countering. If he was even accused of this, he’d be ruined, and he’ll know that. And if he did get nailed for it, people who commit crimes against children are treated badly in jail, and he’ll know that, too.”

Adam could see the two sides of Ronan warring. Could see, unbelievably, that the lie was going to lose.

“Only once,” Adam said quickly. “It’s just this once. I could redo it to actually be about your father, but it wouldn’t be as bulletproof. And then you’d have to deal with court cases. So would Matthew.” He felt bad about that last part, even though it was true. Because he knew it would sway Ronan, and it did.

“Okay,” Ronan said unhappily. He looked at the plan written in the dust, and his eyebrows furrowed. “Gansey would hate this.”

Because it was the worst kind of filth. Kings were not meant to drag their hems in this.

“That’s why we’re not going to tell him.”

He expected Ronan to balk on this point, too, but he just nodded. Two things they agreed on: protecting Gansey’s crumbling feelings, and lying by omission.

“Do you think you can do it?” Adam asked. “It’s a lot of specifics.”

It should have been impossible. No one should have been able to dream any of these things, much less all of them. But Adam had seen what Ronan could do. He’d read the dreamt will and ridden in the dreamt Camaro and been terrified by the dreamt night terror.

It was possible that there were two gods in this church.

Ronan crouched by the pew again, studying the list, his fingers running idly over his stubble as he thought. When he wasn’t trying to look like an ass**le, his face looked very different, and for a tilting moment, Adam felt the startling inequality of their relationship: Ronan knew Adam, but Adam wasn’t sure he knew Ronan, after all.

“I’ll do it now,” Ronan said finally.

“Now?” Adam asked incredulously. “Here? Now?”

Ronan flashed a cocky grin, pleased to have gotten a reaction. “No time like the present, Parrish. Now. Everything but the phone. I have to see what kind he has before I can dream that.”

Adam glanced around the still church. It still felt so inhabited. Even though he intellectually believed Ronan that the church would stay empty, in his heart, he felt crowded by … possibilities. But Ronan’s face held a challenge and Adam wasn’t going to back down. He said, “I know what kind of phone he has.”

“Telling me a model isn’t good enough. I need to see it,” replied Ronan.

Adam hesitated, and then asked, “What if I asked Cabeswater to show you his phone in the dream? I know what kind it is.”

He waited for Ronan to falter or wonder over Adam’s strangeness, but Ronan just straightened and rubbed his hands together. “Yeah, good. Good. Look, maybe you should go, though. To the apartment, and I’ll meet you after I’m done.”


Ronan said, “Not everything in my head is a great thing, Parrish, believe it or not. I told you. And when I’m bringing something back from a dream, sometimes I can’t bring back only one thing.”

“I’ll risk it.”

“At least give me some room.”

Adam retreated to sit beside Mary as Ronan stretched out on the pew, rubbing out the dingy plan with the legs of his jeans. Something about his stillness on the pew and the funereal quality of the light reminded Adam of the effigy of Glendower they’d seen at the tomb. A king, sleeping. Adam couldn’t imagine, though, the strange, wild kingdom that Ronan might rule.

“Stop watching me,” Ronan said, though his eyes were closed.

“Whatever. I’m going to ask Cabeswater for the phone.”

“See you on the other side.”

As Ronan fidgeted, Adam flicked his eyes over to the candles at Mary’s feet. It was harder to look into a flame than a pool of black water, but it served the same purpose. As his vision whited out, he felt his mind loosen and detach from his body, and just before he fell out of himself, he asked Cabeswater to give Ronan the phone. Asking was not quite the right word. Showing was better, because he showed Cabeswater what he needed: the image of the phone presenting itself to Ronan.

Time was impossible to judge when he scryed.

Nearby — what was nearby? — he heard a sharp sound, like a caw, and he suddenly realized that he wasn’t sure if he’d been staring into the light for a minute or an hour or a day. His own body felt like the flame, flickering and fragile; he was getting in too deep.

Time to go back.

He waded back, retreating into his bones. He felt the moment his mind clung to his body once more. His eyes flickered open.

Ronan was convulsing in front of him.

Adam jerked his legs in toward his body, out of reach of the disaster just in front of him. Ronan’s arms were streaked with blood and his hands were pinpricked with visceral, juicy wounds. His jeans were soaked black. The church carpet glistened with it.

But the horror was his spine, bent back on itself. It was his hand, pressed to his throat. It was his breath — a gasp, a gasp, a choked-off word. It was his fingers, shaking as he held them to his mouth. It was his eyes, open too wide, too bright, cast up to the ceiling. Seeing only pain.

Adam didn’t want to move. He couldn’t move. He couldn’t do this. This wasn’t happening.

But it was, and he could.

He scrambled forward. “Ronan — Oh, God.”

Because now that he was closer, he could see what a ruin Ronan’s body was. Beyond repair. He was dying.

I did this — this was my idea — he didn’t even really want to —

“Are you happy now?” Ronan asked. “Is this what you wanted?”

Adam started violently. The voice had come from somewhere else. He looked up and found Ronan sitting cross-legged on the pew above them, his expression watchful. One of this Ronan’s hands was bloody, too, but it was clearly not his own blood. Something dark flickered across his face as he cast his eyes down to his dying double. The other Ronan whimpered. It was a hideous sound.

“What — what’s happening?” Adam asked. He felt light-headed. He was awake; he was dreaming.

“You said you wanted to stay and watch,” Ronan snarled from the bench. “Enjoy the show.”

Adam understood now. The real Ronan had not moved; he’d woken exactly where he had fallen asleep. This dying Ronan was a copy.

“Why would you dream this?” demanded Adam. He wanted his brain to believe that this agonized Ronan wasn’t real, but the duplication was too perfect. He saw at once a Ronan Lynch violently dying and a Ronan Lynch watching with cool remove. Both were true, though both should have been impossible.

“I tried for too much at once,” Ronan said from the pew. His words were short, clipped. He was trying not to look like he cared about watching himself die. Maybe he didn’t. Maybe this happened all the time. What a fool Adam was to think he knew anything about Ronan Lynch. “It wasn’t the sort of thing — the sort of things I normally dream about, and everything got agitated. The night horrors came. Then the wasps. I could tell I would bring them back with me. That I’d wake up like that. So I dreamt another me for them to have and then — I woke up. And here I am. And here I am, again. What a cool trick. What a damn cool trick.”

The other Ronan was dead.

Adam felt the same way he had when he had seen the dream world. Reality was twisting in on itself. Here was Ronan, dead, and ungrievable, because there was Ronan, alive and unblinking.

“Here —” said Ronan. “Here’s your shit. The lies you wanted.”

He thrust a bulging, oversized manila envelope at Adam, full, presumably, of the evidence to frame Greenmantle. It took Adam too long to realize that Ronan wanted him to take it, and then a second longer to shift his mind to the mechanics of taking it. Adam told his hand to reach out, and reluctantly it did.

Get it together, Adam.

There was blood on the envelope, and now, on Adam’s hand. He asked, “Did you get everything?”

“It’s all there.”

“Even the —”

“It’s all there.”

What an impossible and miraculous and hideous thing this was. An ugly plan hatched by an ugly boy now dreamt into ugly life. From dream to reality. How appropriate it was that Ronan, left to his own devices, manifested beautiful cars and beautiful birds and tenderhearted brothers, while Adam, when given the power, manifested a filthy string of perverse murders. Adam asked, “What now? What do we do with …”

“Nothing,” growled Ronan. “You do nothing. No, you do what I asked before. Go.”


Ronan was quivering. Not from venom, like the other Ronan, but from some chained emotion. “I said I didn’t want you here in case this happened, and now it has, and look at you.”

Adam thought he’d taken the whole thing pretty well, considering. Gansey would have swooned by this point. He certainly couldn’t see how his presence had made the situation any worse. He could see, however, that Ronan Lynch was angry because he wanted to be angry. “Way to be an ass**le. This wasn’t my fault.”

“I didn’t say it was your fault,” Ronan said. “I said get the hell away from me.”

The two boys stared at each other. Insanely, it felt like every other argument they’d ever had, even though this time there was a Ronan-shaped body curled between them covered in gore. This was just Ronan wanting to shout where someone could hear him. Adam felt it whittling away at his temper, not because he believed Ronan was angry at him, but because he was tired of Ronan thinking this was the only way to show he was upset.

He said, “Oh, come on. What now?”

Ronan said, “Bye. That’s what.”

“Whatever,” Adam said, heading for the stairs. “Next time you can die alone.”


Back at the apartment, Adam stood in the shower for a very long time. For once, the part of his brain that calculated how much a long, hot shower might cost was silent. He stood in the water until it had gone tepid. After he got out and dressed, it occurred to him, belatedly, that Ronan might have been upset by the dream itself, not by watching himself die. He had gone to sleep intending to get evidence of murder, and had woken with blood on his hands. Adam knew that the night horrors only came to Ronan when he had a nightmare. Ronan must have known what would be waiting for him, but still, he’d charged in willingly when Adam had asked him.

Probably Adam should see if he was all right. Surely he would still be there.

But Adam stayed where he was, thinking about the other Ronan. The dead one. The strangest part was that the moment had been Adam’s vision from the tree in Cabeswater, but turned inside out. Not Gansey dying, but Ronan. So had that vision been wrong? Had he changed his future already? Or was there more to come?

There was a knock on the apartment door.

Probably Ronan. Although, it would be uncommonly unlike him to be the first to admit wrongdoing.

The knock came again, more insistent.

Adam checked to make sure his hands were no longer bloody, and then he opened the door.

It was his father.

He opened the door.

It was his father.

He opened the door.

It was his father.

“Aren’t you going to ask me to come in?” his father was saying.

Adam’s body wasn’t his, and so, with a little wonder, he watched himself step back to allow Robert Parrish to enter his apartment.

How narrow-shouldered he was beside this other man. It was hard to see where he’d come from without a close look at their faces. Then one could see how Robert Parrish wore Adam’s thin, fine lips. Then it wasn’t hard to see the same fair hair, spun from dust, and the wrinkle between the eyebrows, formed by wariness. It was actually not a difficult thing at all to see that one had sired the other.

Adam couldn’t remember what he had been thinking about before he opened the door.

“So this is where you’re keeping yourself,” said Robert Parrish. He peered at the thrift-store shelf, the makeshift nightstand, the mattress on the floor. Adam was a thing standing out of the way.

“It seems like you and I have a date together soon,” added his father. He stopped to stand directly in front of Adam. “You gonna look in my face when I talk to you, or you gonna keep looking at that shelf?”

Adam was going to keep looking at that shelf.

“Okay, then. Look, I know we had some words, but I think you might as well call this thing off. Your mother’s real upset, and it’s going to look pretty ridiculous on the day of it.”

Adam was pretty sure that his father was not allowed to be here. He didn’t remember everything that had happened after he’d pressed charges, but he did think it had involved a temporary restraining order. At the time, he thought he remembered finding it comforting, a memory that seemed foolish now. His father had beaten him for years before being caught, and a punch was a bigger act than a trespass. He could call the police afterward, of course, and report his father’s violation; he wasn’t certain if they would penalize his father, but the adult side of Adam thought that it seemed like a good thing to get on the record. All of that, though, would come after these minutes that he still had to live through.

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