82 – Mirrorfinish

Curt’s head spun as he was pulled through the mirror, then hurt as he dropped onto a cold, hard floor.

He saw dirty shoes.

He braced his hands against the ground, and pushed himself up, trying to see her, trying to see-

She disappeared as a puff of smoke.

‘No!’

‘Curt.’ Ryan’s voice sounded strained. Tired. Confused. ‘Look around.’

He pushed himself up and go to his feet. Stefs were everywhere – appearing and disappearing at random. Little Stefs – crawling babies and little children holding toys, teenage Stefs looking tired, naked Stefs covered in electrodes.

‘What the?’ he asked.

Ryan grabbed the closet Stef – one who was at least a recruit, judging by her uniform. ‘Stef?’

‘Lolhi,’ the Stef said, ‘aren’t we late for the meeting?’

Ryan hugged her, but then she disappeared.

He turned away from the agent, and tried to ignore the wandering Stefs, to look at where they were.

The moon hung heavily in the sky, far too close to be the real moon. They were in a garden, surrounded by entrances to a hedge maze, the walls all ten feet high. Stone benches sat next to each entrance, and a nondescript, broken statue stood in the centre of the small area.

‘Sir.’

He turned to look at Ryan, who was still going from Stef to Stef, trying to get some sense.

‘Sir!’

Ryan looked to him, holding a toddler-sized Stef. ‘None of them are real.’

‘I think they’re all real, but they’re- They’re all just a bit. A memory. Something like that.’

‘We need to find her,’ Ryan said.

He touched a hand to the maze wall. ‘She’s going to be in the centre,’ he said, ‘where else would she be?’

The took the entrance second from the left. There were Stefs in the maze as well – sad ones, happy ones, ones curled up in small holes in the hedge.

They began to walk faster, and faster, then broke into a run.

He let Ryan lead, trusting in his ability to map the labyrinth so they wouldn’t have to back track too much.

Stefs in hospital gowns. Stefs that had been in fights. Stefs from Russia.

Some Stefs blocked passages, and gave vague directions.

He lost track of time.

Ryan came to a dead stop, and held up a hand.

He stopped, and listened.

He heard crying.

Ryan sprinted away, and he struggled to keep up.

The maze opened up, revealing a circular, paved area. Stef sat at the centre of the circle, head buried in her knees, sobbing.

‘Stef!’

‘Newbie!’

She looked up, screamed and held her hands up. ‘No, don’t come any closer!’

Her hands shook. Her silver hands shook.

A dozen new Stefs appeared – ones covered in dirt and hay, and ones covered in a lot less. He blushed as four naked Stefs walked past him, each brushing a hand across his chest, or his arm.

‘Newbie?’

‘I- I- I can’t stop it! It just keeps happening.’

They walked closer.

‘Please,’ she said, her voice shaking. ‘I don’t know if I’m going to hurt you.’

She was mirror. She was entirely made of mirror. Illusions of skin or hair slipped across the surface, but never stayed for more than a moment, before disappearing to reveal the silver beneath.

‘Oh, gods.’

Ryan knelt in front of her. ‘We- We thought you were-‘

‘I don’t know how this happened,’ she said hoarsely, lifting her hands to wipe away golden tears. ‘I knocked on the moon, and then my mirror decided I wasn’t a planet it wanted to live on anymore, and it went away, and then- Then I was here. And there were lots of mes. And whenever I think of something new, there’s more mes!’

A ballerina Stef spun its way across the pavers before running out into the maze.

‘Have you tried making a wish?’ Ryan asked gently.

‘What the hell would I even wish for?’ she asked.

He reached for her hand. ‘Newbie?’

‘Hey.’

‘Why are you crying?’

‘Because one little bit of mirror nearly got me and Ryan killed, imagine what this is going to do!’

He threaded his fingers through hers. ‘You’re probably one of the most powerful beings in the galaxy right now. I don’t think the Agency has any power over you unless you want it to.’

‘But- But I just want things to go back to normal. This isn’t normal. See? Death said the choice wasn’t going to be up to me. Now I’m just wishes for other people to use up.’

‘Or yourself,’ Ryan said gently. ‘Stef, you can have whatever you want. You can be whatever you want. You can do whatever you want.’

‘But I-‘ she started. She wiped tears away. ‘What do I wish for then?’

‘I want to be normal. I don’t want to be crazy. I don’t want to be-‘

‘Stop it,’ he said quickly. ‘Don’t wish yourself different. Be careful what you’re thinking about.’

She pressed a cold hand to his face. ‘But I could be normal for you.’ She looked to Ryan. ‘And I could be the kind of daughter you’re proud of.’

‘I don’t want normal, and he is proud of you!’

‘But- But I’m-‘

‘We don’t want you to change,’ he said firmly. He looked at Ryan for backup, and froze at what he saw on the Agent’s face. Hesitation. Confusion. ‘We don’t want you to change,’ he said louder, making sure Stef’s focus stayed on him.

‘The choice is yours, Stef,’ Ryan said quietly. ‘If it’s what would make you happy.’

‘I don’t even know how to be happy.’

‘Yeah you do,’ he said gently. He got to his knees, and dug into his pocket for her necklace. He pressed it into her hand. ‘It’s not as easy as it is for some people, and it’s not as good, and it doesn’t last as long, but you know how to be happy.’

She held up the necklace. ‘I thought this was lost, or is it a new one?’

‘No,’ he said, ‘they found it. It’s scratched up though, I can get you a new one if you want.’

‘No!’ she said, slipping it over her neck. ‘I want this…one.’ She played with the chain. ‘Well played, Padawan.’

He smirked. ‘It wasn’t intentional. But- But you’re more important than some piece of silver I required. If you change yourself. If you wish upon a you and rewrite your brain, you won’t be you. You won’t be the you we came here to save. You won’t be the you we love. We’ll have to get used to the new you.’

‘Like Taylor,’ Ryan said. The hesitation was gone from his face. ‘Please- Please don’t,’ he said quietly. ‘You’re not perfect, but you’re perfect to us.’

‘But I can’t go back to work looking like this.’

‘Do you want to go back to the Agency?’ Ryan asked quietly.

‘Duh,’ she said, rolling her silver eyes.

‘Then it’s just one wish.’ Ryan stood, and offered his hands down to her.

She stood, and he followed.

‘You do it,’ she said, looking to Ryan. ‘You did ok the first time.’

He grabbed Ryan’s hand as it reached for Stef and shook his head. ‘Newbie, you’ve got to do this for yourself.’

‘But I can’t,’ she said, more tears leaking down her silver face. ‘What if I mess it up?’

‘It’s your life, newbie,’ he said. ‘You can do this. We trust you.’

She looked into his eyes for a moment, anger flickering into her expression. ‘I’ll fuck it up.’

‘It’s your life,’ he said again, ‘we don’t have the right to do this. You can ask us, because we love you, but- But you can do this. We believe in you.’

She pressed her hands to her chest. ‘I’m scared.’

‘Have you ever made one wish for yourself?’

She finally looked away. ‘No.’

‘Then it’s time you did.’

She looked to Ryan, and he saw the Agent nod out of the corner of his eye.

‘Daddy?’

‘Yes?’

‘Can- Can we have a minute?’

Ryan turned and walked away.

‘I could be perfect for you,’ she said, trying to smooth back her silver hair.

‘We’re not going to have this conversation,’ he said as he laid a hand on her face. ‘You already know I love you. You already know I accept you. You already know I’ll take the good and the bad and be there for you no matter what.’

‘But I could make it so it’s not so much work.’

He stared at the ground. ‘Newbie, if you were perfect, you wouldn’t love me. I know that’s so selfish to say, but- But really, you wouldn’t be with me unless there was something seriously abnormal about your brain. A normal girl wouldn’t be with a traitor, a normal girl wouldn’t cuddle with a guy who cut out her eye!’

She pressed a hand to his mouth. ‘You’re not supposed to talk about that anymore. I forgave you.’

He choked back tears. ‘Please don’t change. I lost you once tonight, I don’t want to lose you again. I don’t want you to be the cute version of Taylor.’

Even with mirror for skin, he knew she was blushing.

‘You think I’m cute?’

He kissed her cold cheek. ‘You know I do.’

She gave a little smile. ‘It’s still nifty to hear.’

‘I’ve got one favour to ask before you do this,’ he said. ‘Well, two.’

‘Anything, of course.’

‘I want two pieces of hair,’ he said. ‘One to wish us out of here, one for a present.’

‘Was that one favour or two cause it’s two pieces?’ she asked, yanking out a couple of hairs and handing them over.

‘Two hairs, one favour. The other is about the wish.’

She smirked. ‘You want me to get bigger boobs, don’t you?’

‘If you want to be an agent. A full, proper agent.’

‘I do.’

‘Then I want you to add in the condition that you can’t die from withdrawal. That way, if you ever decide to fall-‘

‘Do you think we will?’

‘This gives you the option,’ he said. ‘Please?’

She smiled. ‘I was already planning on it.’

‘Ready?’ he asked.

She closed her eyes, touched her hands to her chest, and mumbled for a moment.

‘Give me your hands,’ she said, her voice strange and echoing.

He reached for her hands.

‘Pull.’

He hesitated for a moment, then pulled at her hands, and pulled her free of the mirror like it was a cocoon.

She shook for a moment, then turned to look at the mirror. She pressed a hand to the mirror’s cheek, and it melted into a puddle.

‘What are you doing?’ he asked, holding her steady.

‘Agents can’t use mirror,’ she said, ‘it only causes problems.’ The mirror reformed into a child-sized pirate ship. ‘But the Lost will be able to make use of it.’ Wind filled the sails of the little mirror ship, and it sailed away towards the moon. ‘The Captain will know what to do with it.’

She took a couple more stumbling steps, then righted herself. ‘Are- Are you-‘ he started.

‘She’s an agent,’ Ryan said, sounding as full of pride as it was possible to be. ‘I can see it in my HUD.’

He looked at her. ‘You sure you ok?’

‘I’m so fucking tired,’ she said, ‘but- But yeah. I am.’

He handed her one of the small pieces of hair. ‘Wish us home, newbie.’

She took the hair, and the world split into a rainbow at the edges.

The conference room appeared. Ryan moved forward, and kissed her on the head. ‘I’ll go get everyone.’

Stef looked up at him. ‘You said something about a present.’

‘Close your eyes.’

He wrapped the hair around his finger, and made a wish. The stethoscope appeared in his hands, and he gently fitted it into her ears, placed the end in her hand, and guided her hand to her heart.

She kept her eyes closed, but wonderment spread across her face as she listened to her heartbeat. She opened her eyes, let the end go, and grabbed for him, and held him tightly.

‘How did you know?’

‘How could I not?’ he asked, wiping away her tears with his thumbs.

She backed up half a step, and grinned up at him. ‘Thank you,’ she said, and she jumped into his arms.

‘You’re-‘

She kissed him as he spun her.

‘-welcome, Agent Mimosa.’

81 - Mirror, Mirror

  43 comments for “82 – Mirrorfinish

  1. Lightdefender
    July 5, 2012 at 4:15 am

    !!!

    Okay, I forgive you now. So worth it.

    • Stormy
      July 5, 2012 at 9:46 pm

      It’s me. Everything usually turns out for the best, even if the “getting there” part is full of sad and fail and brainfuckery.

  2. Fantasy_Lover
    July 5, 2012 at 4:19 am

    YAY FOR AGENT SQUISHY!@!!!!!

    • Stormy
      July 5, 2012 at 9:52 pm

      Agent Squishy for real this time, with no stupid human leftovers, no workarounds to make blue work with mirror, and no stupid soul causing a bunch of conflicts.

      Yes: I neglected to put it into the scene, but Stef no longer has a soul. It’s ok, she doesn’t need it.

      • the leaking pen
        July 24, 2012 at 6:09 pm

        so one could say that she literally sold her soul to save the world.

        • Stormy
          July 25, 2012 at 7:43 pm

          …it’s not that important anyway (in terms of this ‘verse).

  3. ValkyriePhoenix
    July 5, 2012 at 5:12 am

    eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!


    >.>
    <.< ... EEE!. ok. i'm done now.

    • Stormy
      July 5, 2012 at 9:44 pm

      …it’s over, even if it wasn’t as epic as I’d hoped. ^_^

      • Lightdefender
        July 26, 2012 at 2:25 pm

        If that wasn’t as epic as you had hoped, the universe probably couldn’t contain that level of epicness.

        • the leaking pen
          July 26, 2012 at 9:34 pm

          agreed. An invocation to the muses and 25 chapter structured syllable folio wouldn’t increase the epicness.

        • Stormy
          July 27, 2012 at 3:27 am

          …feels like it’s a bit of a let down, cause it’s a relatively quick and low-key ending. -_-

        • Fantasy_Lover
          July 30, 2012 at 10:44 am

          BAH…. Yes Bah I say You had us all biting our nails and holding our breath (I literally turned blue and saw spots during one chap) while reading each chapter for the end and than begging for more between because it was SO EPIC that WE HAD TO KNOW!!!!

          Stormy you always think your work is not good enough but trust me this is one of the most epic series I have ever read… and I read Pratchetts’ diskworld

        • Stormy
          July 31, 2012 at 2:08 am

          …are always screaming between chapters…

          I literally turned blue and saw spots during one chap
          Ye gods and little hackers…what chapter was that?

          Stormy you always think your work is not good enough but trust me this is one of the most epic series I have ever read… and I read Pratchetts’ diskworld
          It’s not good enough, and it’s nowhere near as epic as Discworld.

        • the leaking pen
          July 31, 2012 at 4:32 pm

          maybe not, but its better than Xanth

        • Fantasy_Lover
          August 1, 2012 at 10:34 pm

          80 – Pure Mourning… I started holding my breath as soon as I saw the first lines on the front page… I was weeping before I was half way through that first paragraph.

          And Yes we all scream between chapters cus we HAVE to know it is not like a finished book where you are so excited you can read faster and flip the page so fast it almost tears. The waiting is agony simply because it just isn’t out of your head yet so there is not way to find out what happens.

          It’s not good enough, and it’s nowhere near as epic as Discworld.

          I call bullshit. I have read all of them except the very latest and while they are completely different genres they are on the same level of world building and story telling. Yes MH, MS, GE, and Obby need to be cleaned up but you have proven you CAN do a good clean up with out completely fucking over the main story line (I have seen some online authors do that) and changing the whole point of the Story. In fact the MF rewrite brought it closer to the main story.

  4. the leaking pen
    July 5, 2012 at 7:04 am

    phew. that was an emotional rollercoaster. I’ve had hour long sex less draining and emotional.

    • Stormy
      July 5, 2012 at 9:43 pm

      This is going in my list of top ten stangest/awesomest comments. 😀

      • the leaking pen
        July 9, 2012 at 5:47 am

        well, i love me my metaphors and similes, and I couldn’t think of any other emotionally draining and exhausting life events i could mention that might not be triggery for others.

  5. Takashoru
    July 5, 2012 at 8:12 pm

    Please, just please let her be done with the mirror now…
    Also, why didn’t she also wish for Blackout Zone Immunity? As much as I get ‘absolute power corrupts absolutely’, etc, I still get the feeling that between them somebody should have figured that out, and I can’t imagine that people won’t regret that not being an option later…
    Gah! Ultimate wishing potential, given up… My logic circuits are overheating…

    • the leaking pen
      July 5, 2012 at 8:31 pm

      screw that, designate herself as a system wifi hotspot…

      • Stormy
        July 5, 2012 at 9:55 pm

        …the system would kind of notice that, and then she’d probably be dragged away to be experimented on so they could try and replicate it. This at least, is a completely invisible advantage.

    • Stormy
      July 5, 2012 at 9:57 pm

      lease, just please let her be done with the mirror now…
      No more mirror. No more wishes. No more slightly-cheating second chances. Just Stef, agenty goodness, and the same vulnerabilities as everyone else.

      Also, why didn’t she also wish for Blackout Zone Immunity?
      Cause people would notice that, and it would just lead to more problems.

      I still get the feeling that between them somebody should have figured that out, and I can’t imagine that people won’t regret that not being an option later…
      She just wants everything to be normal, and turning herself into Supergirl isn’t going to achieve that.

      Gah! Ultimate wishing potential, given up… My logic circuits are overheating…
      Yeah, but Stef would kind of suck as a godlet, she’s better off as a hacker and a newbie agent.

  6. Anonymous
    July 5, 2012 at 10:21 pm

    First, you saying she would suck as a godlet reminded me of something. They might have crossed paths while I wasn’t paying attention, and the side story may not have been canon, but why hasn’t Jonesy formally introduced Stef to the Godling of the Internet? Srsly.

    Second, let me just lay out a chain of concepts here:

    She knocked on the “door” of the “moon” in the very figurative and metaphysical sense.

    What she found was the home of all phoenixes. A place VERY closely tied to mirror itself…

    …So much so that her own mirror was extracted? discharged? something. Yet by virtue of getting there she was granted uber-mirror status. (Yeah, I realize that may be some kind of reward for the whole “bringing home safe two being of fundamental cosmic force.” ignoring that for the moment)

    Mirror makes up the heart of all worlds. She visited what could be said to be the heart of all mirror…

    So obvious! Stef just visited Kingdom Hearts!

    • Stormy
      July 5, 2012 at 10:39 pm

      First, you saying she would suck as a godlet reminded me of something. They might have crossed paths while I wasn’t paying attention, and the side story may not have been canon, but why hasn’t Jonesy formally introduced Stef to the Godling of the Internet? Srsly.
      Everything is canon, silly, except where veryveryvery clearly marked – ie, the MLP fanfic isn’t canon, the Stef/Mags sexy romp isn’t canon, but all the other shorts and holiday specials are. ^_^

      And Stef knows Screen – in both the old version and the rewrite, Screen’s the first tech she meets (other than Jonesy), but Screen doesn’t tend to play up her ability, cause as the Christmas story shows, her powers kinda suck. -_-

      …So much so that her own mirror was extracted? discharged? something. Yet by virtue of getting there she was granted uber-mirror status. (Yeah, I realize that may be some kind of reward for the whole “bringing home safe two being of fundamental cosmic force.” ignoring that for the moment)
      Think of it this way: if Stef gets stuck in a blackout zone or injured or whatever, then dumped into a tank of blue, the immediate reaction of the blue is to fill her tank back up. It’s basically the same thing here – because a piece of mirror is keeping her alive, it’s enough for her to be recognised as a being operating on that level of magic, so it resonated, and filled her back up – maybe a little overboard because that little mirror remaining would be flashing a big “warning, almost dead!” sorta thing.

      So obvious! Stef just visited Kingdom Hearts!
      Hehehe.

      I wonder what world would be her favourite…

  7. Fantasy_Lover
    July 7, 2012 at 5:01 am

    … this set of chapters through and you still are making me cry… Love you Stormy you are an epic author!

    • Stormy
      July 8, 2012 at 8:09 pm

      It’s nothing like what I had planned, but I should be able to use that ending for a different story. ^_^

  8. edorfaus
    July 16, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    Remember how Stef is technically an experiment of Jonesy’s up to this point? At least officially?

    I’ve been thinking that, considering the results, the experiment pretty much has to be considered a success – as the result was an agent that, during its run as an experiment, used its specialness to save the world several times (when all else had failed), before ending up as a mostly normal (if somewhat inept) agent (due to the specialness being used up by the aforementioned world-saving).

    I figure this is probably one of the better outcomes for Jonesy’s purposes.

    After all, the whole “agent with mirror” plan was originally meant for Merlin, and science pretty much demands that successful experiments are repeated (for confirmation), leaving Jonesy with a still usable plan despite having already used it on Stef. 🙂

    (It won’t be quite the same experiment with Merlin as the subject, but that doesn’t have to be a negative from the Agency’s POV, as they might not much care for science’s exact repetition (considering their views on medicine).)

    • Stormy
      July 16, 2012 at 9:39 pm

      Stef’s status, as I’ll undoubtedly show at some point when I’m back to writing new stuff, is now that of a real agent*.

      *Caveat: She’s still muchly, muchly powered down compared to other Field agents, though she’ll slowly unlock higher and higher percentages of full capacity as she goes (pending reviews, performance, etc) – so she’s a real agent, but basically one on probation.

      She also now has a proper blue timer, so she can take a weekend and pop down to fairyland. ^_^

      After all, the whole “agent with mirror” plan was originally meant for Merlin, and science pretty much demands that successful experiments are repeated (for confirmation), leaving Jonesy with a still usable plan despite having already used it on Stef. 🙂
      Let’s just say that Jonesy’s plans have…evolved, and Agent-Mirror-Merlin is now not a step he will likely need to take.

      • edorfaus
        July 20, 2012 at 11:57 pm

        .. replace “plan” with “nth-level backup plan” then.

        I have trouble believing that Jonesy wouldn’t have lots of plans and backup plans and backup backup plans etc., just in case his preferred plans become non-viable and he needs another one quickly. (I figure this one was probably not his most-preferred plan at any point anyway.)

        So even if he isn’t likely to need this one, I’d imagine he’d still keep it in (the back of his) mind, just in case.

        (Unless you meant it was an old plan that had already become non-viable for Merlin, which is why he felt he could let Stef use it…)

        • Stormy
          July 21, 2012 at 12:47 pm

          …trying to figure out what I can that isn’t a spoiler.

          Agent Merlin is now no longer a viable option, or the best plan. Back up plans have been initiated, and more things can now be accomplished.

        • the leaking pen
          July 24, 2012 at 6:41 pm

          Yeah, plan one and two failed, so they moved on to plan tree. He’s going to leaf the agent plan for later, if they are ever out on a limb. He saw the dust in the wind, as it were, and prepared to move the moment the order was barked.

        • Fantasy_Lover
          July 24, 2012 at 9:28 pm

          *Groooooooooan* Ebil Man!

        • Stormy
          July 25, 2012 at 7:36 pm

          …there’s a special hell for people like you.

        • the leaking pen
          July 31, 2012 at 4:52 pm

          I know, I know. But I get to beat up child molesters all day!

          (sorry, I talk at theaters. I can’t help it. The people on screen are so STUPID!)

        • Stormy
          August 6, 2012 at 8:36 pm

          …I yell at my TV. I don’t think it’s a “special hell” level offence though…

        • the leaking pen
          August 8, 2012 at 7:40 pm
        • the leaking pen
          August 8, 2012 at 9:00 pm

          The SPECIAL hell.

        • Stormy
          August 8, 2012 at 10:06 pm

          Don’t blink at me like you think I have no idea what you’re talking about. I refer to the calming influence of blue as Pax, remember? I’m a Browncoat through and through.

          I just meant that yelling at the TV is a lesser-level offence, because, at most, it annoys my partner, not a whole bunch of people who’ve paid money to see a movie.

        • the leaking pen
          August 8, 2012 at 10:39 pm

          hence my shocked blinking! Okay, so you were arguing the quote, not missing it. my bad! mea culpa. mea maxima culpa.

  9. raven
    November 4, 2012 at 11:10 pm

    She maybe pure agent but she’s still pure stef. well worth the lack of internets grumpyness i’ve had since july

    • Stormy
      November 8, 2012 at 9:49 pm

      Internet and then the problem hits me. At least you now get to catch up on the MF rewrite and the MH rewrite. 🙂

  10. Elad Hen
    August 20, 2013 at 6:08 pm

    Marshmallow feeling 🙂

    Well, what am I supposed to read now?

    • Stormy
      August 20, 2013 at 8:42 pm

      I’d suggest reading what there is of Blue Dust – it’s not complete, and it’s on hiatus, but what there is of it is quite fun. And a bit horrible. But still, read it. 😀

      The read R:ET, then the fanfics, then the RP. 🙂

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