“Far away isn’t the same thing as gone.” This was Adam. He stood at Ronan’s shoulder. He wore his Aglionby uniform, but his fingers were black with oil. He pressed his greasy hands to the mask. He didn’t ask permission, but Ronan didn’t stop him. After the briefest of pauses, Adam took the mask from the wall and held it up to his eyes.

Shrieking a terrified warning, Orphan Girl dove behind Ronan.


But Adam was already becoming something else. The mask was gone, or it had become Adam’s face, or Adam was carved from wood. Every tooth behind the smile was hungry; Adam’s elegant jaw was starving. His eyes were desperate and incensed. A long, fat vein stood out in his neck.

“Occidet eum!” begged Orphan Girl, clinging to Ronan’s leg. It was becoming a nightmare. Ronan could hear the night horrors coming, in love with his blood and his sadness. Their wings flapped in time with his heartbeat. He wasn’t in control enough to drive them away.

Because Adam was the horror now. The teeth were something else, Adam was something else, he was a creature, close enough to touch. To think about it was to become immobilized with the horror of watching Adam be consumed from the inside out. Ronan couldn’t even tell where the mask was now; there was only Adam, the monster, a toothful king.

The girl sobbed out, “Ronan, imploro te!”

Ronan took Adam’s arm and said his name.

But Adam lunged. Tooth upon tooth upon tooth. Even as he went for Ronan, one of his hands still tugged at the now-invisible mask, trying to free himself. There was none of his face left. Adam seized Ronan’s neck, his fingers hooks in his skin. Ronan could not kill him, no matter how much Oprhan Girl begged. It was Adam.

The mouth gaped, door to bloody ruin.

Niall Lynch had taught Ronan to box, and he had once told his son: Clear your mind of whimsy.

Ronan cleared his mind of whimsy.

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He seized the mask. The only way he could find the edge was to snatch Adam’s hand where it still doggedly clawed at the slender mask. Bracing himself for the effort, Ronan wrenched.

But the mask came away as easily as a petal from a flower. It was only for Adam that it had been a prison.

Adam staggered back.

In Ronan’s hand, the mask was as thin as a sheet of paper, still warm from Adam’s gasped breaths. Orphan Girl buried her face in his side, her body shaking with sobs. Her tiny voice was muffled: “Tollerere me a hic, tollerere me a hic . . .”

Take me away from here, take me away from here.

In the background, Ronan’s night horrors drew closer. Close enough to smell.

Adam was making peculiar, dreadful sounds. When Ronan lifted his eyes, he saw that the mask had been all that was left of his face. When he’d pulled it from Adam, he’d revealed muscle and bone, teeth and eyeball. Adam’s pulse pumped a globule of blood from every place a muscle met another muscle. Adam slumped against the wall, life leaking from him. Ronan gripped the mask, his limbs awash with adrenaline.

“I’ll put it back on.”

Please work.


Ronan curled on his bed, half-propped against the wall, his headphones still around his neck. His body was frozen, as it always was after dreaming, but this time he could feel fire through every nerve. The nightmare still pumped adrenaline through him, even though he couldn’t move to use it. His breath came in great, uneven puffs. He couldn’t uncurl or answer or stop seeing Adam’s ruined face.

It was morning. Early, gray morning, rain beating on the window beside his head. He floated above himself. The boy below him was locked in an unseeable battle, every vein standing on his arms and neck.

“Ronan,” whispered Noah. He crouched inches away, colorless in this light. He was solid enough for his knees to leave an impression on the bedspread but not enough to cast any sort of shadow. “You’re awake, you’re awake.”

For a long minute, Noah blinked at him while Ronan looked back, wrung out. Gradually, his heart slowed. With an icy touch, Noah worked Ronan’s fingers free of the dream’s spoils. The mask. Ronan hadn’t meant to bring it with him. He’d have to destroy it. Maybe he could burn it.

Noah lifted it into the window’s diffuse light and shivered. The mask’s surface was splattered with red-black drops. Whose DNA, Ronan wondered, would a lab find in that blood?

“Yours?” Noah asked, barely audible.

Ronan shook his head and sealed his eyes again. Behind his closed eyelids, it was Adam’s dreadful face he saw, not Noah’s.

In the corner of the room, there was a sound. Not the corner where Chainsaw’s cage was. And not a sound like a young raven. It was a long, slow scrape on the wood floor. Then a rapid sound like a drinking straw in bicycle spokes. Tck-tck-tck-tck-tck.

It was a sound Ronan had heard before.

He swallowed.

He opened his eyes. Noah’s eyes were already wide. Noah said, “What were you dreaming about?”


Gansey had woken before dawn. It had been awhile since he’d had to wake up early for crew team practice, but he still sometimes sat bolt upright at 4:45 a.m., ready to hit

the river. Usually, he’d spend those sleepless early morning hours quietly going through his books or surfing the Internet for new references to Glendower, but after the disappearance of Cabeswater, he couldn’t bring himself to be productive. Instead he had retreated outside through the drizzle to the early-morning Pig. Immediately, he had been comforted. He’d spent so many hours sitting in it like this — doing his homework before going in to class, or stranded by the side of the road, or wondering what he would do if he never found Glendower — that it felt like home. Even when it wasn’t running, the car smelled intimately of old vinyl and gasoline. As he sat, a single mosquito found its way into the car and worried at his ear, a high tremolo against the basso continuo of the rain and thunder.

Cabeswater’s gone. Glendower is there — he must be — and it’s gone. The drops pattered and dispersed on the windshield. He thought about the day he’d been stung to death by hornets and lived anyway. Gansey ran over the memory until he no longer felt the thrill of hearing Glendower’s name whispered in his ear, and then instead gave himself over to feeling sorry for himself, that he should have so many friends and yet feel so very alone. He felt it fell to him to comfort them, but never the other way around.

As it should be, he thought, abruptly angry with himself. You’ve had it the easiest. What good is all your privilege, you soft, spoiled thing, if you can’t stand on your own legs?

The door to Monmouth opened. Noah immediately spotted Gansey and made a generalized flapping gesture. It seemed to mean he wanted Gansey and, furthermore, that he was feeling fairly urgent about it.

Ducking his head against the rain, Gansey joined Noah. “What?”

More hand flapping. In they went.

Inside, the small smells of the building — the rusty fixtures, the wormholed wood, his mint plants — had been overtaken by an unfamiliar odor. Something damp and strangely fertile and unpleasant. Perhaps it was brought out by the rain and the humidity. Perhaps an animal had died in a corner. At Noah’s urging, Gansey cautiously stepped into the main room instead of continuing to the second-floor apartment. Unlike the second floor, the ground floor was dim, lit only by small windows high up on the walls. Rusty metal columns held the ceiling aloft, spaced wide to leave room for whatever the room had been designed for. Something substantial in both height and width. Everything was dust in this forgotten factory — the ground, the walls, the shifting shape of the air. It was unused, spacious, timeless. Eerie.

Ronan stood in the center of the room with his back to them. This Ronan Lynch was not the one that Gansey had first met. That Ronan, he thought, would’ve been intrigued but wary of the young man standing in the motes of dust. Ronan’s closeshaved head was bowed, but everything else about his posture suggested vigilance, distrust. His wicked tattoo hooked out from behind his black muscle T. This Ronan Lynch was a dangerous and hollowed-out creature. He was a snare for you to step your foot in.

Do not think of this Ronan. Remember the other one.

“What are you doing down here?” Gansey asked, vaguely unnerved.

Ronan’s posture didn’t alter at the sound of Gansey’s voice, and Gansey saw now that it was because he was already wound to the utmost. A muscle stood out on his neck. He was an animal poised for flight.

Chainsaw rolled in the dust between his feet. She appeared to be in the midst of ecstasy or seizure. When she saw Gansey, she stilled and studied him with one eye and then the other.

Outside, thunder rumbled. Rain pattered through the broken panes above the staircase. A whiff of that humid scent came through again.

Ronan’s voice was flat. “Quemadmodum gladius neminem occidit; occidentis telum est.”

Gansey had a strict policy of avoiding noun declension before breakfast. “If you’re trying to be wise, you win. Is quemadmodum ‘just like’?”

When Ronan turned, his eyes were shuttered and barred. His hands were also coated in blood.

Gansey had a pure, logicless moment where his stomach dropped and he thought, I don’t know who any of my friends really are. Then reason filtered back in. “Jesus Christ. Is that yours?”

“Ada m’s.”

“Dream Adam’s,” Noah corrected quickly. “Mostly.”

In the rain, in the dim, the shadows shifted in the corners. It reminded Gansey of the first nights he’d spent here, when the only way he could sleep was to pretend that this vast room didn’t exist beneath his bed. He could hear Ronan breathing.

“Do you remember last year?” Ronan asked. “When I told you . . . it wouldn’t happen again?”

It was a foolish question. Gansey never forgot. Noah discovering Ronan in a slick of his own blood, veins ripped to shreds. Hours in the hospital. Counseling and promises.

No point being coy. Gansey said, “When you tried to kill yourself.”

Ronan shook his head once. “It was a nightmare. They tore me apart in my dream, and when I woke up —” He gestured with his bloody hands. “I brought it with me. I couldn’t tell you. My father told me to never tell.”

“So you let me think you’d tried to kill yourself?”

Ronan allowed the weight of his blue-eyed gaze to rest heavily on Gansey, making him understand that he wasn’t getting another answer. His father had told him to never tell. And so he had never told.

Gansey felt the entire year reshaping itself in his head. Every night he’d been terrified for Ronan’s well-being. All of the times Ronan had said, It’s not like that. At once he was incensed Ronan would have allowed him such continuous fear and relieved that Ronan was not such a foreign creature after all. It was easier for Gansey to wrap his head around a Ronan who made dreams real than a Ronan who wanted to die.

“Then why . . . why are you down here?” Gansey said finally.

Overhead, something banged. Both Ronan and Chainsaw snapped their chins upward.

“Noah?” Gansey asked.

“I’m still here,” Noah replied from behind him. “But not for long.”

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