I’ve Got A Sweeter Song

Mandy has visions. Like, fingers to the temple, somebody catch her, there’s a girl in a place and oh the horror. I know we’ve established this before, I just wanted to remind you.

The Capes, we get to put on costumes and go out and be seen by crowds and news cameras and little kids holding their Mother’s hand while looking up and pointing and saying,  “I wanna be just like him.”

Mandy doesn’t get to experience that. She only gets the terror, and gets it secondhand.

Now that we’re hooked up with Project Dreamland, Mandy’s visions tend to act as second-source confirmation of D1’s scary accurate Hari Seldon-style computational predictions. But she’s still vital.

Sometimes she feels left out, though, especially when she hasn’t had a vision in a while, or when her vision doesn’t give D1 any new information; when that happens I try to take her out, have some fun, get in some us time. We’ll have a meal, get a hotel room, pretend we’re still young and naïve. It usually helps.

It’s not like we’re not young. Mandy’s not even twenty-six.

It’s been a long few years.

We were out on one of these dates, after Panix, after Berlin, after the big knock-down-drag-out with the Speaker that almost killed me, after the Nephilim. Mandy likes Thai food, so I took her to this place in the city.

We sat down, we talked anything but ‘shop’, we ordered. She made fun of me for ordering something safe. She grinned, excused herself to go to the ladies’, got up, kissed me on the top of the head as she went past towards the back of the restaurant.

I felt pretty good about the whole thing.

There was a commotion, like someone dropped a tray full of dishes, and so I turned around to see if I could help.

Crone had Mandy by the throat, long black fingernails digging into her ear. “Well, look what I have here,” she cackled. Crone, not Mandy: Mandy doesn’t cackle. Anyhow...

Crone had never really been a problem before, barely on Dreamland’s radar. She doesn’t have powers, she doesn’t have gadgets or money for gadgets. She’s just smart and evil and borderline insane. We usually leave her to the police.

“You look so handsome in your street clothes, Fleet,” Crone hissed. “And this must be your girl. So pretty, so young. I’ll bet you were looking forward to having her later.”

There are rules to what we do. I didn’t let Rapture kill Micro, even though he’d killed White Dragon and they’d been, I don’t know, at least screwing on the side, maybe more than that.

I don’t know what Crone intended. I didn’t wait to find out. It was Mandy. I can move fast, but that doesn’t just mean I can run; I can throw, too. I put a salt shaker through Crone’s head at ten feet.

Maybe Rapture would have stopped me, had she been there. She wasn’t.

I’m not sorry.

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