Yago and Amelia's dialogue will be underlined, as the signs used in the book are not accepted by ffn.


It was one of those days she gave to thinking. Tate was thinking of Jobs and Mo'Steel, Violet and Noyze. Anamull and D-Caf. Olga. 2Face, Edward, Roger Dodger. Billy.

All left on Earth. All dead.

And further back, she could remember the Board. Wylson, T.R., Burroway. Sometimes Shy. All dead. She could barely remember how it happened, but it had.

And there was Tamara. Amazing Tamara. The sergeant and her mutant, evil Baby. Shipwright. Maker, whatever the heck it was. Tate had wanted so much to save Tamara. Love? Lust, was that why?

No matter. Tamara was dead.

There was Kubrick. He died for 2Face. Cold-hearted 2Face, one of Tate's least favorite people. As she had never cared about anyone before, she didn't care about him then. She showed her gratitude by committing suicide. Violet had brought her back with the worm mutation, but who cared?

It made Tate think about her own mutation. The Mouth. Without an enemy, it laid dormant inside her.

Now… Dr. Cohen. Who was she again? Oh, yeah. Angelique Cohen. Olga Gonzalez's friend. And Noyze's surrogate mother and older sister. She had been killed by Blue Meanies or something. She wondered if the body was still on Daughter. Maybe, the Troika could only use living cells, right? But it did not matter now.

Tate could easily remember the Troika. Amelia, Duncan and Charlie. Charlie had lived in her head, Amelia still did and she killed Duncan. Who else was there? Alberto, he was with Kubrick. Big Bill had been Billy Weir's dad. Errol, Jobs's friend. Another doctor something died before she joined the other Wakers.

Not that it mattered. Of the Eighty, only three lived. And they shared a body. Namely, hers.

Penny for your thoughts.

Tate scoffed. "Yago. You don't have a penny."

Maybe if Yago had been physical, he would have smirked. The one thing about him that was genuine. You could get me one, he suggested cheerfully. The sarcastic cheerfulness, the resignation and maturity that come from living in Tate's head. I bet Daughter has files on American currency. Ask her for one, put it in your pocket, say it's from me, tell me what you're thinking about, everyone's happy. Please, he added. I'm about to go nuts. Amelia is in one of her fits and not speaking. Well, I guess I wouldn't enjoy it if she was, but… He trailed off. Silence almost huts, after Charlie.

"I know," replied Tate. "Sorry, I just needed some time alone." It ain't easy sharing your head with a pair of ex-power hungry psychos.

If you didn't want to share, little Tate, maybe you shouldn't have eaten my body, the former First Son chided, as if Tate had been a naughty girl and eaten too many cookies before dinner.

"Did you read my mind?" Tate demanded angrily. Furiously, even. Living this life, where her own body was not her own, she needed what little privacy she could get. Her thoughts and dreams were her only sanctuary.

Now, if I could do that, why would I offer you a perfectly good penny for them? Tate could imagine him rolling those catlike eyes, the product of a lot of money and a petri-dish. Duh.

"Sorry," Tate sighed again. "I was just thinking about… you know. The others."

Yago said nothing to that. Not that Tate was surprised. It was he who orchestrated their abandonment on Earth—or what was left of it. It was he who was responsible, if they died. His deal with the Troika. Their fate was his fault.

I'm sorry, he said quietly. Whatever good it does.

To his own great surprise, Yago felt… guilty. Guilt was a feeling he felt only since his… merge… with Tate. Before, he was the son of the first female African-American president. The One. Always right. Pure. Too pure to ever be petty, common things like wrong or guilty.

How could I have been such an idiot? It was a question Yago repeated to himself, day after day, year after year, cycle after cycle. How could I be pure? I altered nearly everything genetics gave me. When Tate… ate… me, was any part of me genuine? Green hair, cat-DNA eyes, not even my name was as it had originally been. Purity. The One. Right. He was purely The One biggest idiot to ever live. Hypocrite.

"Hey, Yago? You alive?"

In a manner of speaking, he answered dryly.

"Whatever. You still want to talk?"

A little, he answered. Hesitantly, Hey, Tate? How much did you hate me?

"A lot," she admitted. "I mean, I can't fault anyone who doesn't like 2Face, since only Jobs and Edward could really stand her, but he, Edward, I mean, was a little kid. It's not like we chose to be mutated." She laughed without humor. "When we split up, I kept wishing I went with Jobs and Mo. I liked them, a lot more real than anyone else. Can't say I cared for Violet, as girly as she was, though."

How could you not care for the lovely Miss Blake? We normally agree on women, said Yago, incredulous. Until I really noticed the missing finger thing, I thought she best-looking fem aboard. Definitely worth my time. He echoed her bitter laugh. Though Jobs beat me to her.

Tate shrugged, even though no one could see her. Old habits die hard. "She's pretty much the antipode of everything I stand for. Way too into the fem thing. I'm for equal rights, and she sets us back by centuries."

Yago chuckled a little. Well, you got it now, since you and Miss Prissy Amelia out-vote me two to one.

Amelia still wasn't speaking to them.

"Shame no one else is here to enjoy it, huh?" Tate asked wryly.

Yago quit laughing. Oh, they'd love this, all right. Me, trapped in your head? 2Face would sing. Pause. Of course, if it was the other way around, I would, too…

"Please," Tate groaned. "I can barely handle sharing my head with you and Amelia. One more power hungry psycho would send me over."

Yeah, no vacancy, huh? Yago agreed. Should have advertised for roommates. I'd rather be stuck in… hm… Olga's head.

"Just out of curiosity… Why Olga?"

She was always the only one smart enough not to argue. And as for company, the pretty Miss Violet Blake would be most desirable. God knows, she's more sociable than Smarty Pants Amelia.

Just how ticked off with us is she? Tate wondered idly.

Seriously, Yago continued. Charlie was better company. Or maybe even that Duncan idiot. He was weird, you know his mutation was to multiply his limbs and brain? The multitasker from hell. But man, wasn't Amelia gross, with the whole bacteria thing? He was goading her and he knew it. Almost made me sick…

Shut up, Yago. You're just jealous, Amelia snapped.

Amy, baby, how nice of you to join us! Yago schmoozed like a true politician. How's 'bout them Yankees?

God, why did I let this happen to me? Amelia grumbled. You ever hear that song? "Stuck in the Middle With You?"

Stuck in the middle of hell, yeah, Yago said brightly. God… if there is one… knows that's what this is.

"Shoot me," Tate groaned. And, paranoia high, she added, "Daughter, disregard that."

Amelia groaned in Tate's head. Don't go back to discussing the deceased, okay? It's boring and pointless. They are dead. So long, sayonara, ciao, bye-bye, and so on and so forth.

Yago, always Tate's defender since the 'Unhappy Meal,' retorted, Just because we knew people worth remembering and you didn't doesn't mean you need to be jealous. And in a sugary voice, added, Amy, sweetie, honey pie.

Get a life, Yago.

Real hard when you don't have a body, huh?

Well, that's not my fault! Amelia returned. Tate's the one who got hungry, not me!

"Don't bring me into this," Tate pleaded. "Please."