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Authors: Emily Thompson

Clockwork Twist : Dreamer (24 page)

BOOK: Clockwork Twist : Dreamer
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Quay insisted that Twist and Jonas get some sleep after being out all night.  Twist suspected he also wanted to separate them to keep them from speaking privately.  As Quay personally escorted them down onto the cabin deck, Twist glanced through the stairway opening that led into the hold and caught sight of a pair of large, dark-skinned men he didn't recognize, sitting together around a lantern and a deck of cards.  Though he couldn't see very much through the narrow opening—other than the two men and the crate they were using as a table—the game appeared to have four players.  Quay walked Twist and Jonas to the doors of their separate cabins and then locked them in from the outside.

“Pleasant dreams, boys,” he called, and Twist heard his heavy footsteps return to the stairs. “I'll wake you for lunch.”

Twist looked at the lock in his door and gave a light laugh.  Clocks were far more complex than the inner workings of any lock.  He took his clock-mending tools out of his luggage and waited for a few minutes, in case Quay was still close enough to hear something.  Then, he knelt down at the door and put his fingers over the lock.  It only took a moment for his Sight to show him exactly what needed to be done.  The lock surrendered easily.

Just as he was going to stand and open the door, he saw a shadow pass on the other side of the tiny keyhole.  Twist paused and stared in surprise as the doorknob turned slowly.  He sprang to his feet and backed away before the door opened just enough for Jonas to rush inside and close the door silently behind him.

“I knew you'd get your door unlocked. So, what's the plan?” he asked eagerly.

Twist stared back at Jonas.  Something was wrong.  Twist couldn't identify anything specific, but something wasn't right about him.  The smile seemed foreign or forced somehow.  His eyes seemed dull, and were only their natural green.  Twist reached into the buzz at his neck, looking for more clues.  It felt softer than it should have been, with Jonas standing this close.

“What?” Jonas asked when Twist didn't seem to respond. “Is there something on my face?”

Twist's face fell into indignation.  He glanced down. “Where did you hide your tail, Vane?”

Jonas's expression darkened and he leaned back against the door, his arms crossed.  He took a heavy breath. “How'd you figure it out?  That was damn quick.  I must be losing my touch.”

“Take his face off,” Twist snapped. “This is disturbing.”

Vane smiled with Jonas's face. “Come on, tell me,” he said on a perfect copy of Jonas's voice. “What did I get wrong?”

“Details,” Twist said with a sigh. “Just details.  Really, can you stop it?”

“Which details?” Vane asked curiously.  “It can't be anything physical,” he mused as he pushed himself off the door to lean closer to Twist. “I can't make a mistake on the looks after I've gotten the name.  The voice is right, isn't it?”

Twist shivered and backed a step away.  The voice was exact.  The face was exact.  Even his hands looked like Jonas's, right down to the faint calluses on his palms.  But even looking at such a flawless copy, Twist knew intrinsically that the light in those sea-green eyes was alien.  The buzz in his neck was almost nonexistent.  Twist couldn't feel any sense of the emotions in this man.  There was nothing familiar in the subtle vibrations of the soul before him.

“It's nothing you can fake, Vane,” Twist said. “You're just not Jonas.”

Jonas's face took on a knowing grin. “You know, I have fooled friends, family, and even a mother once—even if she
was
eighty-five.  But no matter which face I take, there is one person I can never fool.  The lover always knows.”

A thrill of indignation shot up Twist's spine. “Get the hell out.”

“Oh, found a nerve, have I?” Vane asked, Jonas's green eyes sparkling cruelly.

“You heard me,” Twist growled, taking his walking stick from where he had left it leaning against the wall.

“Oh, please.  You wouldn't hurt your sweetheart,” Vane said, with a dismissive wave and a smile unlike anything Jonas would ever wear.

“No, I wouldn't.”

Twist moved faster than he knew he could.  He raised the tip of his cane and hit the switch to bring the lick of lightning to life, thrusting it at Vane's throat.  Vane leaped backward and his back struck the door in his speed, making him wince as Twist followed and held the dancing blue light a hair's-breadth away from his skin.  Twist stopped, holding himself as still and calm as possible while his heart thundered in his chest.

“Now take his face off, and get the hell out of my sight,” he said softly, but firmly.

“When did you grow teeth?” Vane gasped, staring at him in shock as his face shifted and changed into his own.  The rest of him shifted as well, like rain dripping down cold glass, until he was fully himself once again.  The furry black fox tail appeared—the hairs of it bristling on end—hanging behind him.

Twist gave him a smile. “I've been busy.”  He moved away slowly and switched off the lightning.  He drew himself into a calm and steady posture, resting his hands casually on the top of the walking stick before him.  He forced his will to burn through his cold blue eyes.  Vane seemed to shudder.

“If you ever get bored of Jonas,” Vane said as a smile grew on his face, ”come find me.  You look like a lot more fun now.”

“Out,” Twist snapped, holding back a growl like a dog on a chain.

“Right,” Vane said, turning to open the door.  He stepped through and then paused, looking at the lock. “Of course, you understand that Quay knew your door wouldn't stay locked,” he said, almost apologetically.  He nodded down the hallway.  Twist glanced out the doorway and found one of the men he had seen in the hold, now sitting on the stairs.  The dark tone of the man's face only made his eyes appear all the keener as he toyed idly with a large, jagged knife.

“Yes, I see,” Twist said heavily.

“You only have to prove to him that you can be trusted,” Vane offered.  As he spoke, he leaned a shoulder on the doorframe and fell into a lax posture. “Then you'll be as free as I am.  You'll be able to see your lover whenever—”

Twist raised the point of his walking stick swiftly and pressed it against Vane's chest. “Good day,” he snapped, pushing Vane out into the hallway with a sharp jab.

“Twist, come on!” Vane said with an amiable smile.

Twist shut the door with a neat snap.  He stood still and listened as Vane's soft footsteps wandered away.  Then, he collapsed to his knees and took long, deep breaths until his hands stopped shaking.  The adrenalin seeped slowly out of his blood, leaving him hollow and exhausted.  He hadn't had a moment's rest since the night began, but the light of morning was already filling his sparse little cabin.  His thoughts wandered around Myra for long moments—wondering if she was all right, still handcuffed to a chair in the dining room.  She could be frightened.  She could be alone.  She could be alone with Quay.

Twist snapped his eyes closed.  He could try to attack the guard at the stairs.  He could try to free Jonas and they could attack the guard together.  His head felt unreasonably heavy.  His eyes didn't seem inclined to open again.  He had a sinking suspicion that the struggle to frighten Vane had taken the last of his strength.  Anything he attempted now would likely end up causing more trouble than good.  Cursing his own weakness, Twist forced himself to stand just long enough to fall back into his hammock.  He shut his eyes and listened to the silence in the room.

The buzzing at his neck was calm, even when he reached into it as deeply as he could.  Jonas wasn't particularly frightened or worried at the moment.  He might already be asleep.  Twist dug deeper, letting the soft, warm, electric sensation wash over him until he felt a subtle pulse.  It was slow, steady, and constant as clockwork.  Consciousness slipped away from him easily.

 

 

 

The first thing Twist noticed was the clean, icy scent on the cool air.  Then, he realized that he was standing.  He opened his eyes to find himself on a rampart that ran around the edge of the sloping slate roof of a tall building.  The streetlights far below flickered gold in their damp halos, nestled in a city of tall buildings that stretched out as far as he could see.  There was a figure sitting against the edge of the sloping roof a few steps away from him, gazing up at the sky.  Twist looked up and was startled to see that the brilliant stars were shining in a wide array of rich colors.  There also seemed to be more of them visible than Twist had ever seen before.

He suddenly realized that he had no idea where he was or how he had gotten there.  Hadn't he fallen asleep on the
Vimana
, flying over the Caribbean?  He walked towards the figure sitting on the slate.  As he got closer, the face cleared enough in his vision for him to recognize it.  At the same moment, the buzzing in his neck began to grow more noticeable.

“Jonas?” he asked, his voice echoing gently in the quiet.

Jonas looked to him, his eyes glowing a soft lilac, and smiled. “Hi, Twist.”

“Where are we?”

“Vienna,” Jonas said, glancing around at the city below.

“How did we get here?  Where's the
Vimana
?”

Jonas shrugged and looked back up at the sky. “I don't want to think about that now.”

Twist paused, looking at him more closely.  His eyes were glowing, and the buzz in Twist's neck felt exactly like it always did.  He didn't seem like a copy.  Twist took a step closer and reached down to take his hand.  Jonas made no complaint, and only looked back at him mildly as Twist felt the white fog rush over his Sight the same way that it always did.  There was no tension of any kind.  Jonas was perfectly calm.

“What's wrong, Twist?” he asked gently.

“I don't understand what's happening,” Twist said, frowning at his thoughts. “We're halfway around the world from where we should be, and you don't even seem to care.”

“It's only a dream,” Jonas said easily.

Twist looked up at him quickly. “A dream?  Whose dream?”

“Mine, of course,” Jonas said with a smile.

“Then why am I here?” Twist asked.

“You're always here.”

“I am?” Twist asked.  He could never easily remember his dreams.  Did he dream of Jonas?  He shook his head to clear it. “But you're not dreaming of me, I'm really here.”

“Fine, whatever,” Jonas said, smiling at him gently.

“No, Jonas, you're not listening,” Twist said.

“There you are!” a new voice said as the sound of hoofs on stone wafted close.

Twist turned around to see Storm running to them along the ramparts.  Then Twist realized that it was only the top half of Storm.  Below his waist, his legs looked much more like the hind-legs of a goat, complete with cloven gray hoofs, long and snowy white fur, and a stubby tail.  There were also two short gray horns sticking out of his hair.  He wasn't wearing anything in the way of clothing—besides the fur—and the copper skin of his human half seemed to glitter gently in the dim light.  He slowed as he approached, and a look of surprise bloomed on his face as he stared at Twist.

“Wait a minute,” Storm said as he came to a stop a few steps away. “You're not glowing.  You're really Twist.  Not dream-Twist, but real Twist.”

“Storm,” Jonas said, looking at him with concern. “Why are you a satyr?”

“You can see me?”  Storm asked, astonished.  “He's never seen me before,” he said quickly to Twist, pointing at Jonas. “I've tried everything to get his attention.  Maybe it's because you're here,” he added, frowning as he absently scratched at a horn.

“What the devil is going on?” Twist snapped impatiently.

“We're in Jonas's dream,” Storm answered. “But, how did
you
get here?”

“I haven't the foggiest.”

“That's just strange,” Storm said, shaking his head. “I shouldn't be able to see you at all.  But anyway, I'm glad I can talk to you!” he said to Jonas. “Are you on the
Vimana
?”

“No, I'm in Vienna,” Jonas answered.

“No, I don't mean in your dream,” Storm said with a sigh. “Are you on the
Vimana
for real, out in the waking world?”

Jonas seemed to give this some thought. “Possibly...”  Twist noticed the streetlights dim slightly below them, and the chill in the air took on a biting edge.

“Well, I fell asleep on the
Vimana
,” Twist said to Storm. “I'm sure Jonas was on the ship too, at the time.”

“And Quay has control?” Storm asked him.

Twist nodded. “He's going to try to sell Myra to Loki.  And our heads as well, if we cross him.”

“Okay,” Storm said. “Listen carefully because I don't know how long we have here.  I'm in Santiago with Moroni.  He saw the pirates attack, grabbed me, and jumped into the sea.  I don't think they even know we were on board at all.  Moroni's really mad at you for not telling him where you went, by the way.”

“Why would I tell him where I went?” Jonas asked. “He works for the man.”

“What man?” Storm asked.  Then he shook his head quickly. “Look, Moroni's called the mags and told them what happened.  But, apparently, around the time Quay took the
Vimana
, magpie spies saw Loki's ship set out at top speed, heading this way.  Moroni said there is a magpie ship in the area, but he isn't sure they can find the
Vimana
in time.  There's no way to track you now that you've left Santiago.”

“Oh look!” Jonas said suddenly, pointing to the sky.  Twist looked up to see a few brilliant streaks of light flash across the stars. “That's pretty,” Jonas said happily.  The air seemed to warm back to a gentle chill as he smiled at the sky.

“Pay attention!” Storm snapped.

Jonas gave him a frown. “You're mean when you're a satyr?”

“Twist, are you following what I'm saying?” Storm asked, exasperated.

“The Rooks are trying to find us, but Loki will probably find us first,” he said, nodding. “I imagine Quay is trying to meet Loki halfway.  But what's wrong with Jonas?” he asked, looking back to find him smiling at the sky again.  Were the streetlights getting brighter?

“He doesn't believe that we're real,” Storm said with a sigh. “Unless we can make him see that he's not dreaming up you and I, he won't listen.  I think he's stressed, and trying to have a nice, calm sort of dream on purpose.  He always comes here when he's worried.”

“How do we make him see that we're real?” Twist asked.

“I don't know,” Storm said, shaking his head. “I've never been able to get his attention before.  He always ignores me.  He would have recognized me when we met, if he had ever actually seen me in his dreams,” he added heavily.

Twist looked at the peaceful expression on Jonas's face with annoyance.  There had to be some way to get him to see the truth.  There had to be something he could do to make it clear to him.  But if Twist appeared regularly in Jonas's dreams, then what could he do that would be different than what his dream self would do?  Only one thing came to mind.  Twist knelt down directly in front of Jonas, and then put his hands on either side of his friend's face.  He looked back into Jonas's startled eyes, unblinking.

“Come on, look at me,” Twist said, watching the color in Jonas's eyes shift gently from blue to green.

“I am,” Jonas said.

“No, your eyes aren't purple,” Twist said. “Use your Sight.  Look at me.”

Jonas frowned slightly and reached up to try to tug Twist's hands away.  Twist didn't let him, and didn't blink.  Jonas gave a sigh, but his eyes shifted into a soft purple.  After a moment of silence, they dipped into a richer hue and recognition flashed through them.

“Wait...” Jonas toned slowly. “I can feel your heartbeat in my neck.”

“What does that mean?” Storm asked, peering at them from the side.

“I can't ever feel your heartbeat in my dreams,” Jonas said, still staring into Twist. “Only when I look at you for real.”

“I am real,” Twist said, finally sparing a moment to blink as he took his hands away and stood up again. “This is a dream, but I'm really here, in it, with you.”

“How can you do that?” Jonas asked, his eyes still deep purple.

“No idea,” Twist said, shaking his head. “Did you hear what Storm said?”

Jonas seemed to think for a moment. “Wait, you're real too?” he asked Storm.

“Yes, I am,” Storm said, relief breaking over his face.

“But you're a satyr.”

“I know!” Storm snapped. “Look, the mags have a submersible in the Caribbean Sea, and it's searching for the
Vimana
.  You have to stall until they find you.  Even if Loki catches up with you, you have to keep his airship over the water for as long as you can.  The mags sent an airship too, but the submersible has more firepower.”

“Firepower?” Twist asked.

“Moroni says that Aden has been waiting for a chance to attack Loki directly for ages, but he's never had a good enough excuse.  It's politically dangerous for him to attack without provocation.  But Aden put Myra under his protection when he sent her on tour.  If Loki tries to take her, he can call it an attack on his property and retaliate.”

“That's fantastic,” Jonas said, smiling brightly. “Does Loki know about any of this?”

“There's no reason he should,” Storm said. “Aden is hoping to catch him by surprise.”

“This is wonderful news,” Twist said, taking a deep breath. “Thank you, Storm.”

“I'm glad I could help,” Storm said, practically glowing with pride.

“So, is there anything else?” Jonas asked.  Twist and Storm both looked at him to find a placid smile on his face.

“No, I think that's about it...” Storm offered.

“So, you can leave now, right?” Jonas asked.

“I suppose,” Storm said, looking slightly confused.

“Twist, pat the satyr on the head so he can go, will you?”

Twist touched gently at the buzz in his neck again as Jonas looked back to the brilliant stars.  He was still perfectly calm, and still completely himself as far as Twist could tell.  He looked back to Storm.

“I guess we'll see you again in the waking world, then,” he said stiffly.

“Right,” Storm said, still looking a bit confused. “See you later, then.”  He turned and trotted away across the stone.

“Come, sit with me, Twist,” Jonas said softly.

Twist did as he was told and sat beside Jonas, against the edge of the sloping roof.  The moment he was in place, Jonas reached out and pulled him closer, wrapping an arm around Twist's shoulders.  Twist froze.  Jonas had reached out to him many times before, but now there was something in this touch that felt very different: casual, unconscious, and seamless.  Jonas didn't seem to notice anything amiss as he watched the stars turn slowly overhead.

“Jonas, are you all right?” Twist asked gently.

“Sure, fine.”

“Are you sure?”

Jonas laughed lightly and pulled away from him just enough to look at his face more clearly. “Will you just relax?  Enjoy the silence while we have it.”  As he spoke, his hand slipped to Twist's neck.

A chill ran down Twist's spine the moment before Jonas's rough palm found the sensitive spot at the base of his neck.  The fog in his mind thickened to full white, and drowned him in calm, numb comfort.  The quiet in Jonas's heart filled Twist's mind instantly, pushing everything else away.  As his vision began to clear again, he suddenly realized that there was something else lurking under the surface of the calm.  Everything around them—the silent city, the colorful stars, the chill in the air—had been carefully put into place.  Jonas had constructed even the silence itself.  As long as he was here, he felt safe.  But outside...

Twist looked at him thoughtfully as Jonas gazed at the sky.  He could only imagine how worried he must have been to need a moment like this.  Twist had no idea how much control he must be exerting to keep his dream still.

“Should I go, too?” Twist asked. “I can see you're busy.  I must be distracting you.”

BOOK: Clockwork Twist : Dreamer
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