Curt dumped the half-empty duffel bag onto the bed.
Packing was easy enough.
Over a year of living in fear, of not wanting to seem comfortable, of expecting to die. Over a year not decorating his room, not requiring things to keep for more than a few hours meant there was very little that he needed to take.
Almost everything of importance wasn’t kept at the Agency, anyway.
A dozen lockers on a the edges of a dozen blackout zones. Private boxes at three different banks. Money laundered through to both of his fae bank accounts at the piss poor exchange rate you got for human money in general, and required cash in specific.
All in all, it wasn’t a brilliant start to a new life, but it was something.
Whatever his future was, it wasn’t Agency. Not without Stef.
He slammed his head against the wall. Focus. He had to focus. Get packed, get gone, cry later. Slip away while they were still busy. Slip away before they could argue. Before they could begin to try and console him.
There was nothing anyone could do to make it better.
He stripped the few non-required pieces of clothing from their hangers in the wardrobe and threw them onto the bed – no sense in letting the expensive suits get dismissed after he was gone, and he’d need a good suit. Good suits, as the Agency proved, got you a long way. He pulled the pillow cases from the pillows, breathed in the smell of his hacker, then jammed them into the duffel bag, along with the clothes.
The gift shop stuff followed, the little light, and the plastic crown. Stupid gifts. Stupid gifts that had made her smile.
He screamed, punched the wall, and emptied the beside tables.
He zipped the duffel and slipped it over his shoulder, grabbed his regular bag and slipped it over the other shoulder, the straps crossing like bandoliers, then grabbed Frankie’s bag, dumped the signed termination papers onto the empty desk, and walked out of the room.
The halls were empty – all of the other recruits were still at the various safe houses, or at the Sydney Agency. It was good, it made his exit quiet and manageable.
He forced a smile at the elevator as it appeared exactly eight seconds after pressing the button.
The doors slid open, and let him out on the ground floor.
The reception area was empty, no one to see him go, no one to stop him.
He rolled his shoulders and strode across the empty lobby towards the door.
His reflection wasn’t his own.
Stef stared back at him from the vaguely reflective surface of the Agency front doors.
Wishful thinking. It was wishful thinking.
He closed his eyes against the illusion, then opened them again.
She was still there.
He raised a hand, and the reflection-Stef did the same thing.
Possibilities flashed through his mind. He was going mad. He was hallucinating from grief. He was going mad. She was really there.
He pressed his hand against the reflection, and her hand came to meet h is.
The only movements was the breathing of her chest in time to match his own.
Slowly, she looked at him, the reflection becoming a little clearer.
The reflection Stef looked at him. ‘Help me.’
Her eyes fell away from his. ‘Little mirror. Find me.’
She disappeared, leaving his own reflection staring back at him.
He shrugged off the bags, his earpiece appearing in his ear even as he sprinted towards the stars. ‘Shift me to Ryan’s office, now!’
The shift processed a moment later.
Ryan sat up with a start as he appeared.
‘Mirror,’ he screamed, ‘from Russia, where is it?’
The agent blinked, confused. ‘What?’
He rounded Ryan’s desk, pulling the drawers out and upending them. ‘Mirror. Mirror she made in Russia, where is it?’
‘Third drawer on the left,’ Ryan said as he stood.
He yanked the drawer out with such force that he heard wood splinter.
He found the mirror underneath a couple of folders, and held it up. He touched it gently, his breath catching in his throat. ‘Show me where she is.’
‘I saw her,’ he said, shaking. ‘She’s not dead, I saw her.’
He looked away from the Agent. ‘Reflected in the front doors.’ He looked into the mirror, but only saw a hedge maze. ‘Show me where she is.’
‘Did you pack, or did you leave everything behind?’
He snapped his head up to look at the Agent.
‘Any time a recruit requires the paperwork to quit, I’m notified,’ Ryan said.
‘I don’t have anything here without her,’ he said. ‘I can’t-‘ He swallowed. ‘Sorry, sir.’
‘I completely understand.’
He touched the mirror again. ‘Come on, newbie, I saw you.’
‘Curt, grief can-‘
‘I know what grief can do,’ he said as he put the mirror down. ‘But magic can do more.’ He laid the mirror flat on the desk. ‘And I’ll take the hope, even if it’s just for a minute.’ He pressed his fingers into the mirror, and felt them slid into whatever was beyond it. He held out his other hand. ‘Are you coming or not?’
Ryan grabbed his hand, and he forced his entire arm into the small mirror. The edges spilled out like liquid, allowing his head and shoulders passage.
A hand grabbed his, and tugged him through.