Blue held on to the armrest of the Pig's passenger seat as Gansey sped through an intersection with a red light. The Fourth of July traffic wasn't heavy yet, so they could still break the speed limit with ease.
"Just one question," Blue said. "What in the world is there that Ronan can't handle, but we can? Hey, ow!" Gansey had swerved around a corner so fast she was thrown against the door.
"Maybe he just needs more people," Gansey said. "Maybe he's moving furniture." He zoomed past a stop sign without giving it a second glance.
The text from Ronan to Gansey had said, At Monmouth. Need help. Come fast. When they got to Monmouth, Gansey asked Blue if she had her pink switchblade.
"Crap," she said. "I forgot to grab it. What about you?"
"I have one of Ronan's tennis racquets in my car. Here, you take it."
"How gallant. But you take it." She thought of St.Mark's Eve. "I'll take...this very heavy and threatening Latin textbook." She held it up, brandishing it for effect.
Gansey sighed, looking from the book to the racquet. "Well, in we go," he said.
They opened the door to Monmouth, and froze.
"Are we in the right building?" Blue asked.
The entire interior had been redecorated. Or rather, it had been decorated, which it hadn't been before. There were squashy armchairs and new sofas. There were pictures hanging on the walls. There were appliances in the Not A Kitchen area. There was a frilly "welcome home" doormat beneath their feet.
"Is this some sort of boy prank that only you'll get?" Blue asked.
Gansey shook his head.
"Why is there a fridge in the Not A Kitchen?" He opened it. "There's all this healthy food, too."
"Maybe Noah entered you in some home improvement thing and didn't tell you?" Blue suggested, then rejected her own idea. "No, he'd buy all the fun gadgets you don't need. He'd get one of those waffle irons that makes your waffles in the shape of a heart."
Gansey was still staring around in bewilderment. "There's a toaster. There's....a blender. It's like an extremely creepy wedding shower."
"It's like humans live here instead of teenage boys."
"It's creepy." Gansey went over to the table and picked up a bunch of bananas. "So creepy."
"Don't eat that," Blue said.
"Obviously." Gansey looked up. "Why? Do you have a psychic feeling about them? Do you think you know where it came from?"
Blue rolled her eyes at him so long, it hurt.
"Sorry," he said. "What, then?"
Blue peeled one of the tiny stickers off the banana and held it out. In tiny script, it read, Kavinsky.
Gansey looked around the room.
"Ronan. You here?" he called out.
No answer. Blue's heart began to thud.
Blue began noticing things, too fast. The "welcome home" doormat had R-rated phrases embroidered around the edge. The sofa was covered in a tiny repeating pattern of the letter K. The pictures on the wall were poster prints of famous artwork, but the faces of the people were all Kavinksy's face.
"Call the others," Blue said. "See if they know anything."
Gansey pulled his phone out of his pocket.
"It was off," he said. "I never turn my phone off." He pressed the on button and waited, and waited again. "It must be dead. I'll try the land line. Wait here, I'll-"
There was a metallic click, a few feet away. It was not loud, but it had weight behind it.
Blue turned. There was a gun pointed at the side of Gansey's head. It had "dream killer" written on it. Kavinsky was holding it.
Gansey put his hands up, his face a mask of calm, and said,
"We're all rational people. I'm sure we can find a way to talk about this."
Blue thought she had never heard a more inaccurate statement in her life.
"You know, Dick, maybe this is all just a dream." Kavinsky tilted his head so his face caught the light in a strange way. "Maybe if i shoot you, you'll just wake up."
Blue slowly started reaching into Gansey's pocket for his cell, just to test it one more time. Kavinsky lazily turned the gun on her instead and said,
"Stop trying to feel him up. Lynch will get jealous." Then he turned the gun back on Gansey.
Blue wondered if he would actually shoot her if she tried to call for help. She wondered why no one had ever taught her what to do in a situation like this.
"What do you want?" Gansey asked Kavinsky. "Money? I can give you money."
Kavinsky laughed uproariously. "Oh, Mr.Gansey! Money is for people who live in other people's realities." He snapped a finger at Blue. "Make me some toast."
"Make it yourself," Blue said.
The gun turned on Blue again. "I said," Kavinsky said, "make me some toast."
Blue walked over to the table. She was just about to make the toast when something silver caught the corner of her eye. There was another "Dream Killer" gun. It was on top of the fridge. Her back was to Kavinsky, so he hadn't seen her looking. She popped a slice of bread in the toaster.
She was planning on edging over to the gun. But five seconds later, the toast popped up. It was lightly browned, which normally took several minutes for toast. In the middle, in charred black script, was the name Kavinsky.
She turned and held up the toast.
"Am I supposed to give it to you, or did you just want to show me this?"
Kavinsky looked from her to the toast. And his eye twitched. It was just a second, but it was definitely there. He looked irritated and confused.
"Something wrong?" She asked.
But then the twitch was gone.
Kavinsky turned away from Blue like she didn't exist, and grinned at Gansey. He kept the gun gestured in the general direction of Gansey's head, but waved it around a little while he talked.
"You see?" He was talking to Gansey, and only Gansey. "You know, your dog dreamed up all this shit. I didn't do it."
Gansey paused, for just a second.
Then, as he was opening his mouth to speak, Kavinsky called out to open spaces and dark corners of Monmouth -
"PROKO! Bag him!"
Prokopenko slid out of nowhere, out of some dark corner, holding a black cloth bag.
Blue felt a very strong sense that she was no longer in reality, but had fallen out of time and into a bad spy movie. Gansey turned his head, his eyes locking on the bag, and for the first time Blue saw true fear in his eyes. She recognized it because she felt it, too. She'd known Kavinsky was despicable. She hadn't known he was so dangerous.
Just before the bag slid over his head, Gansey looked over at Blue, and there was no President Cell Phone, but there was also none of the Real Gansey, notebook-and-mint-leaves Gansey - just raw panic.
Blue lunged for the fridge and grabbed the Dream Killer gun. She'd never shot a gun in her life, but she aimed for Kavinsky's leg and shot him. The gun gave a startling crack, and Blue felt a jolt all through her arms and shoulders. She saw a splat of dark red blossoming on Kavinsky's leg. Then she heard Kavinsky laughing. They were all laughing.
"Check out her face! Check it out, man!"
The boy with eyeliner rolled up Kavinsky's pants leg. He held it up, smirking at Blue, revealing unbroken skin.
"Balls!" Kavinsky said cheerfully.
Blue stared. She felt like she was in a foreign film where the subtitles had been replaced by irrelevant phrases.
"Paint balls!" Kavinsky clarified. "Oh, did you think I meant some other balls? Perhaps Mr.Gansey's balls here? Such a dirty mind."
Blue looked down at the gun. She touched the blood-red liquid around the edge, and sniffed. It was paint.
Blue had spent a large portion of her life feeling powerless, but this was the pinnacle of it all. This was the height of her shame. That look in Gansey's face. It wasn't just that people with guns were slipping bags over his head. It was that he knew Blue could do nothing for him.
Blue wondered if Ronan had been kidnapped too. She wondered if there was anyone left who wasn't. If they would take everyone but her, because she had no worth.
She just wanted to do something to help.
All around her, teens in black clothing were sliding out of the woodwork of Monmouth, slouching towards Gansey. The boy wearing heavy eyeliner tied something around Gansey's wrists. Prokopenko rifled through the contents of the pockets of Gansey's khaki shorts.
Blue stared very hard at the bright turquoise polo-player logo on Gansey's yellow polo shirt, so she wouldn't have to see the rest of it. She had a sudden flashback to something he said the last time he'd worn it. Blue had been prepping for a job interview she was worried about, and Gansey told her,
"Fake it till you make it!"
"What is that, your campaign slogan?" She'd chided.
"No," he said, "it means, act like you know what you're doing, to buy yourself time so you can figure it out for real."
Now, Blue strolled over to the counter and examined the objects. She heard the sudden stillness behind her. They were watching her. They thought she was up to something. Good.
"I'm going to make some more toast," she said.
Blue checked over her shouldet. Kavinsky gave a magnanimous wave of a hand.
"Be my guest." His eyes were locked on her. All their eyes were. Proko had stopped the pocket search.
Blue casually slotted a couple pieces of toast in and pressed down the handle. She watched Kavinsky's face seconds later, when the toast popped up, he did it again: his eye twitched.
"Fast toaster," Blue said.
"Who the hell do you think you are?" He asked.
"Someone who missed lunch," she said, taking a bite of toast. He watched her for a second, then his expression turned from tense to bored. He snapped his fingers.
"Let's move," he told the others.
Blue grabbed the toaster with both hands. She didn't know what she was doing, but she had to keep doing it. She shoved the half-eaten toast back into the slots. She pressed the handle down. Five seconds later, the toast was charred black.
"Is this a standard feature of the Kavinsky Dream Toaster, or was there a glitch in the factory?" She asked.
Kavinsky turned to one of the boys. "Take her too. She might be useful."
That's when it clicked, just as they were squaring their shoulders and pulling out a black bag and moving towards her - Useful. Her whole life, when people talked about her ability to make things stronger, they called it "useful."
But not today.
This was a dream toaster. It ran on magic. Today, she was more than useful.
Blue popped the toast down, pointed it at the advancing boy with a gun, and thought as had as she could of Gansey with a bag over his head, Matthew kidnapped, Ronan who knew where, Adam lost, Noah vanishing forever.
With a giant roar, flames shot out of the toaster. Giant flames, long, leaping, reaching flames like arms. One of the boys' shirts caught on fire and he threw himself, rolling to the floor. Then he ran out of Monmouth, leaving his gun behind.
The others, too, abandoned Gansey and ran out of Monmouth, looking over their shoulders. Blue wondered if they had ever, in their life, witnessed someone who could manipulate Kavinsky's dream objects in a way he hadn't intended. She wondered if they had ever witnessed someone stop Kavinsky from doing anything exactly the way he liked.
When his pack members were all gone, Blue let go of the toaster handle. A pile of black ash fell out of the toaster and landed at her feet.
Only Kavinsky remained. His lip curled into a sneer.
"Nice party trick. The fuck are you?"
Blue set down the toaster. She picked up the little silver paintball gun. She felt it surge with energy in her hands. She aimed the gun a foot to the left of Kavinsky's head, and channeled her power into it, and - CRACK!
With nothing but a paintball gun, she shot a blood-red hole in the wall.
"I'm a bomb," Blue said, pointing the paintball gun directly at his chest. "Now get out."