The bartender clicks his tongue, watching the TV, too. ‘Crazy, right? Freakin’ terrorists.’

I lunge across the bar and grab him by the front of his apron before he can even think of reaching for his hidden shotgun. ‘When did this happen?’ I snap.

‘Damn, girl,’ the bartender says, sensing something in my eyes that makes him decide not to struggle. ‘I dunno. Like, two days ago? It’s been all over the news. Where the hell you been?’

‘Getting our asses handed to us,’ I mutter, and shove him away. I try to pull myself together, to beat back the panic. Nine’s been completely silent since the report came on. When I look over at him, his expression is completely blank. He stares at the television, watching footage of our penthouse headquarters and his former home burning, his mouth open just a little, his body completely still, almost rigid. He looks like he’s shutting down, as if his brain isn’t capable of processing this latest blow.

‘Nine …,’ I start, and my voice breaks his trance. Without a word to me or Marina, without so much as a look, he spins around and heads for the door. One of the pool players isn’t quick enough to get out of Nine’s way and gets shouldered to the floor.

Trusting that Marina won’t freeze anyone to death in my absence, I chase after Nine. By the time I’m out on Trapper’s porch, Nine has already made it into the parking lot, stalking intently towards the gravel road.

‘Where are you going?’ I shout after him, hopping the porch railing and jogging to catch up.

‘Chicago,’ he answers bluntly.

‘You’re going to walk to Chicago?’ I ask him. ‘That’s your plan?’

‘Good point,’ he replies, not slowing down. ‘I’ll steal a car. You guys coming or what?’

‘Stop being an idiot,’ I snap, and when that doesn’t slow him down, I reach out with my telekinesis and grab him. I turn him around so he’s facing me, his heels digging divots in the gravel as he tries to fight.

‘Let me go, Six,’ Nine growls. ‘Let me go right now.’

‘Stop and think for a second,’ I insist, realizing as I start that I’m not just trying to convince Nine but also myself. My fingernails dig into my palms – not sure if that’s from the concentration required to hold Nine with my telekinesis or from me straining to keep it together. Back on the roof of the John Hancock Center, I’d told Sam that we were at war and that there would be casualties. I’d thought I was prepared for that, but losing Eight – and now maybe losing the others in Chicago – no, I can’t handle that. That can’t have been my last conversation with Sam. It can’t.

‘They wouldn’t be in Chicago anymore,’ I continue. ‘They’d run. That’s what we’d do. And we know John is still alive or we’d have another scar. He’s got the tablet; he’s got his Chest. They’ve got a better chance of finding us than we have of finding them.’

‘Uh, last time I saw John he was comatose. He’s not up for finding anyone.’

‘An exploding building tends to wake a person up,’ I counter. ‘He got out. We’d know if he didn’t.’

After a moment, Nine nods reluctantly. ‘All right, all right, let me go.’

I let him loose from my telekinetic hold. He looks away immediately, peering down the darkened road, his broad shoulders slumped.

‘I feel like we’re screwed, Six,’ Nine says, his voice hoarse. ‘Like we already lost and no one’s got around to telling us.’

I walk up next to him and put my hand on his shoulder. Our backs to the neon lights of Trapper’s, I can’t really see Nine’s face, but I’m pretty sure his eyes are wet with tears.

‘Bullshit,’ I reply. ‘We don’t lose.’

‘Tell that to Eight.’

‘Nine, come on –’

Nine shoves both his hands through his tangled black hair, almost like he’s going to pull some out. Then, he brings his hands down over his face, rubbing it. When he drops them back to his sides, I can tell he’s trying to be stoic.

‘It was my fault, too,’ he continues. ‘I got him killed.’

‘That’s not true.’

‘It is. Five kicked my ass and I couldn’t help myself. Had to keep talking, had to show him. It should’ve been me. You know it; I know it; Marina damn sure knows it.’

I take my hand off Nine’s shoulder and punch him in the jaw.

‘Ow! Damn it!’ he yelps, staggering away from me and nearly losing his footing in the gravel. ‘What the hell?’

‘Is that what you want?’ I ask, stepping towards him, fists clenched and ready. ‘Want me to kick your ass a little bit? Punish you for what happened to Eight?’

Nine holds up his hands. ‘Cut it out, Six.’

‘It wasn’t your fault,’ I tell him evenly, unclenching my fists and then jabbing him hard in the chest with my fingers. ‘Five killed Eight, not you. And the Mogadorians are to blame. Got it?’

‘Yeah, I got it,’ Nine replies, although I can’t be sure if I’ve actually gotten through to him or if he just wants me to stop assaulting him.

‘Good. Enough with this mopey crap. We need to figure out what we’re doing next.’

‘I’ve already figured that out,’ Marina chimes in.

I was so intent on beating some sense into Nine that I didn’t hear her approaching. Neither did Nine, and I can tell by the embarrassed look on his face that he’s wondering how much Marina overheard. At the moment, Marina doesn’t seem concerned with Nine’s meltdown. She’s too busy dragging along the scrawny guy from the bar, Dale, the one who wanted to trade me his awesome story for a beer. Marina leads him across the parking lot towards us, holding his ear like a cruel teacher escorting a delinquent to the principal’s office. I notice the slightest coating of frost forming on the side of Dale’s face.