As we reach First Avenue I give a start, for sitting beneath a yellow street-light on our right, with his face buried between his knees and his arms hugging his shins, is Angel. He jerks his head up at the sound of our approach, and I see he is wearing mirrored sunglasses. Sunglasses at night—too cool for school, excuse me! Alaia and I stop in our tracks. He jumps to his feet and stands still, staring us down as if tensed to pounce, like the little she-wolf I’ve seen so often inside him; and something about his lone presence down here and the tilt of his sunglasses prompts me to cock the most powerful, intrusive and hypnotic gaze, right behind my eyes, ready for deployment at an instant’s notice.
Nobody moves. The silver ring in his right ear glints in the yellow street-light, beside a dark-red polo-neck the colour of dried blood, and I register that for the first time he’s not wearing his silver cross, unless it’s underneath … and that would be the bulge of his gun, right there in the left pocket of his black leather trousers, exactly where I saw him tuck it when he slipped out of the back door of Lucan’s house.
Without warning he slinks towards us, with an undulating movement like a skunk or a weasel, and stops just a metre away. “You!” he says, managing to seem as if he’s hissing out the word, even though it has no s and he’d have softened any s if there’d been one. I cannot tell, through the sunglasses, which of us this was aimed at. “Sound & Vision and Big Bang were incredible—you’re both absolutely incredible!”
His mouth grins, ferret-like. Being unable to see his eyes, I find myself focusing on his pointed canines, as well as on his left hand in case he reaches into his pocket. It is all this practical watchfulness that’s preventing me from just tuning in to him and observing his intentions: doing that would be way too distracting for the practical watchfulness to be maintained at the same time. “Thank you,” I say.
I hold that hypnotic gaze of mine on the very brink of being unleashed, and my concentration at peak focus. Again, no one moves.
This is seriously dangerous—no question. I need to take some initiative here, but what should it be? Keeping my speech slow, calm, quiet and deliberate, I say: “I think you know I’ve been watching you since the broadcasts, Angel…”
I watch something like a flash of dark electricity in him, as he registers what a mayhem of abuse and murderous emotions I’ll have witnessed in him while tuning in for the period I describe. Then he regains his composure. “So you know how it is, with Lucan and me,” he says with lethal quietness. “And you know why I phoned you to ask for your help.”
I nod. He stands immobile. Nothing good can come of this, I think.
He takes a deep breath.
You have a duty, Jaymi. I’ll pay you, I’ll work for you, I’ll worship you—whatever the hell you need—just do it, Jaymi! I’m begging you to do this.”
He has crept closer to me during this speech, so that we are now within arm’s length of each other. Alaia is somewhere on my left and slightly behind me, I believe. I think for a second. “Angel … I can’t start interfering between people like that. There’d be no end to it, and I’d wind up dead in no time—”
Another burst of black electric rage flashes through him. “Fuck you!” he hisses and I can see he’s about to explode.
As his left hand moves towards his pocket, I grab the sunglasses off his face at lightning speed and fire a colossal blast of hypnotic power into his eyes. Too late, I see he is wearing mirrored contact lenses, and my hypnotic blast slams straight back into my own eyes. I’m unprotected from it and unprepared for its gigantic voltage. I stagger, nearly collapsing, feel his sunglasses fall out of my hand, and feel within me some disastrous short-circuiting of an extraordinary kind I have never felt before. As I stop myself from falling, the horrible truth becomes plain to me: my special perceptive and hypnotic abilities are gone. This was the first time I experienced, as a target, the magnitude of my own powers—and the last time.
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